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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Travel Tales and Pacsafe Giveaway!

"I am not the same 
having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world."

~ Dave and I in Russia ~

Dave and I began traveling in 2008 when "Dr. Jammy", a professor at Bluefield State College, asked me to go to Russia and teach Agritourism which is, simply put, agriculture married to tourism. Dr. J. had written a US State Department grant, which was accepted, and there was room in the budget for me...woohoo! Dave went, paid his own way, and for that I am forever thankful. Long story short...Dave and I flew into the Sheremetyevo International Airport where we were...not greeted...hmmm. Dave plopped me down to guard our luggage while he went in search of our group who had flown in the week prior. He didn't find them but he did find a couple of men who looked like "alphabet soup guys". Of course, I wouldn't put my hand on the Bible and swear to it but there's a certain swagger (and sometimes bulges, iow guns) that ABC (what I call alphabet soup) guys, maybe women but haven't met any of them, have that sort of screams CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA and, in this case, KGB. gulp.

~ Dave and I in the Sahara Desert ~

One man spoke better English than I do Russian (I know about six words in Russian) and said, "Jammy said you come with us." I looked at Dave...umm, I don't think so and now that I've thought about it another second, I know we're not going with you! The Russian gent showed us a photocopy of our passports and I said, "I need to speak with Jammy." Only then did he led me to a phone booth and dialed an out of country number for Jammy. Turns out there'd been a slight problem which resulted in more than a weeks' delay and Dave and I were to get in a van and these men were going to drive us five hours to another city. GULP.
~ Dave and I, with Pacsafe purse, in Alaska ~

It turned out, as far as teaching, I was on my own for a day or three longer than a week so Dave and I made the best of it. We had each other, we had each other's backs and life was very good, fun and exciting! Although, our Russian/English translator did have a slight problem with alcohol...meaning he was gripping the table so hard his knuckles were white and this at 10:00 in the morning. That man could put away some alcohol and if that sort of thing impressed me, I'd be very, very impressed with his abilities. However, I was never really quite sure what he was translating. No one ever got angry with me, some were really excited and I hope that was in a good way -grin- and, in one word, the trip was fabulous! That was the first time I'd ever had a passport and, four years later, I had to get a new one because the old one had so many stamps that border guards and customs folks were peckish when they had to thumb through the pages looking for an empty spot to stamp. Oh la, get over it!

~ Dave and I, with Pacsafe purse, in Tarifa, Spain ~

Over the years, I've gotten better at packing and, toward the end of our travels together, Dave and I had one rule...never carry more than we could run with. Dave could travel for a month with his "man bag" (as he called it) and an under the seat case that he could fit three pairs of pants, three shirts, socks, undies, some toiletries and a few other goodies. I had a Pacsafe purse and a twenty-one inch carry-on suitcase on wheels and we each wore travel vests with about a dozen pockets where we'd stuff things we needed at hand. Now I have added another rule which is..."if it don't roll, it don't go" which is horrible grammar but helps strengthen the point. (I've strolled London streets, alone, at 1:00 a.m. searching for my hotel and loving/cursing my rolling suitcase for the noise it was making over the cobblestones.)
~ Dave and I, with Pacsafe purse, in the Azore Islands ~

There are some things that, in addition to passport, credit cards and money, always, always, always go with me on my travels: my Pacsafe purse or wallet, my Macabi skirts (look silly on me but love the convenience) and Mephisto walking shoes. As an aside, Mephisto shoes are expensive but I bought mine on sale about ten years ago and they still look new and an added plus is Mephisto will resole the shoes when needed. I have literally been in those shoes for more than twenty hours and my feet were the only part of my body that weren't screaming in exhaustion. They are...the best shoes I've ever worn!
The Pacsafe purse is a dandy and looks new due to the care it's been given. It's not new but it is now out of production.It has two straps with a velcro strip that encloses both straps and gives a cushion when thrown over the shoulder. The sleeve in the front of the bag is open, top and bottom, so it can be put over a suitcase handle and rest on top, letting the suitcase bear the weight.
The opposite side of the bag has a large pocket, with velcro, where travel tickets, agenda, maps, book, etc. may be stored within reach.
Inside the bag are more pockets with velcro, slots for credit cards, identification, pens, two elastic pockets on either end of bag and an inside sleeve that zips shut and is the length and height of the bag. This zippered sleeve is where I kept passport, boarding passes and other things that needed safe keeping.
Safety features include top zipper locks to keep anyone from dipping into the bag
and locks to secure the bag to a chair or table.
What makes Pacsafe THE bag to carry can't be seen because it's the eXomesh beneath the fabric shell (that may be cut) and prevents the bag's contents from falling out or being removed. Click on eXomesh for full story on the many security features. I know a woman who was targeted for a slash and grab in Rome; she was getting off a bus and a man offered his hand to help her down the steps. She accepted but didn't realize his true intent was to step into her personal space, slice the bottom of her handbag with a box cutter and steal her wallet. By the time she realized what had happened, it was over and he, with her money and identification, had disappeared. I never travel without my Pacsafe bag or wallet (sometimes both); they give me added security for keeping my money, credit cards, identification and my precious passport safe.

The Giveaway: You must be a follower of this blog, you must leave a way for me to contact you, you must answer this: where is your dream vacation/holiday and why? If you win by random drawing, you'll receive the Pacsafe bag shown in this post and a few goodies for good measure that will aid in your wanderlust. A week from today, Monday, April 6, at 5:00 p.m. a name will be decided randomly. You'll have 24 hours to respond to the e-mail stating you've won; after 24 hours, another name will be drawn.

May you use for many travels in good health and happiness!

Blessings ~ travel ~ Pacsafe ~ Macabi ~ Mephisto ~ Dr. Jammy ~ travels with Dave and now by myself ~


  1. You have had some wonderful trips
    Christine from Ontario

  2. Count me in, please

  3. Your traveling stories are awesome, truly amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  4. I smiled my way from the top to the bottom of this post, looking at the happy expressions on you and Dave. What wonderful adventures you two had!

    My dream vacation lately has been to stay home. We have traveled a lot (not nearly as much as you have, tho) and I'm getting to the point where I am happiest here, in my own space with my own family and critters. We (or I) still go away a couple of times per year. This year we will be a long trip to Montana and thereabouts toward the end of summer, and I have a rose trip to Texas in November. Perhaps a quick trip to southern California to see family. Friends are pushing us to see Iceland and Scotland ... soon, I hope.

  5. Anonymous7:58 AM EDT

    What lovely travels you have had! My husband and I travel a lot as well. I would love to own that bag! MY prayers go with you each week as I read your blog. I feel as though I have grown and struggled with you in the past couple of years! Hugs!

  6. I was surprised to find I wasn't a follower! I am now!! I think my dream trip would be a cruise that I saw advertised several years ago. Out from Vancouver and up the coast of Alaska, then back through the Rockies by luxury train. Sadly I think it will always be beyond our price range, but it's good to dream...!

  7. Ooops! I neglected to say why - because I think it would just be SO amazing, and unlike anything I have ever done or would ever do. The thought of seeing Glacier Bay, and whales/dolphins etc would blow me away. And I like the idea of a luxury train too!!! Ah well...we can dream.
    I think you can contact me through my blog, but if not, I'm at alison (dot) wale (at) hotmainl (dot) co (dot) uk

  8. CRAP! I mean "hotmail" not "hotmainl" Obviously!! Does my ineptness mean I get three goes at this great Giveaway?! :-)

  9. Count me in . . .
    Sounds like the PERFECT travel purse/bag.

    Not sure when our next trip will be, but I it will be back to Ireland, north, trip #4 . . . and we do a bunch of hiking, exploring off the beaten track. I am getting older and older but I will never be too old for a trip to Ireland!
    (I might order those shoes too!)

    I am amazed at your filled up passport. What travel memories with Dave you must have.

  10. Oh, please count me in on the giveaway! And you know that I am a dedicated follower. I would love to go to Alaska one more time and stay in the Lake Clark area to photograph grizzly bears. And I'd also like to go to Iceland for landscape photography.

  11. Please count me in your giveaway.

    My dream vacation would be travelling to Venice, Italy. Slow travel, time to spent wandering the streets, taking pictures, visiting markets....eating...some wine...
    And while this is my dream vacation then fly off to Mykonnos and spend slow time there.
    Your Pacsafe bag sounds wonderful.

  12. That sounds like the perfect travel bag. I carry one of two Bagalini bags - one black and one brown, depending on where I'm going and for how long. I think we are kindred spirits as far as travel and adventure go. There really aren't too many places as intimidating as the Moscow airport after hours! Where would I like to go? I think I'd like to take a walking holiday in the UK. Maybe Offa's dyke in Wales or a long stretch in the Yorshire wolds.
    I'm your newest follower and look forward to more posts!

  13. Hi Sandra, Loved this post and reading about your adventures with Dave. The pics you share are awesome and filled with joy.
    What an incredible life you have and I love your stories.
    What a great giveaway. The travel bag sounds like the best ever companion to keep important travel items safe.

    We are trying to plan a trip in the near future to Dublin. I would love to enter your giveaway and you know I am a happy follower.

    Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed Easter!
    Hugs, CM

  14. You have been to so many amazing places. The only time I've been out of the country was pre-passport requirements for Canada and a border town in Mexico (both for the day only). I really need to get a passport but keep forgetting. The "pac" and shoes sound wonderful. Wish I had a place to try the shoes on. I never buy shoes over the internet anymore.

    My "dream vacation" is anytime I'm in the Texas Hill Country. There's a multitude of reasons why, but it's mostly: excellent motorcycle roads, fantastic bird watching, and friendly natives.

    Have a blessed day! ~:)

  15. I love that you have such fantastic memories of such wonderful times with Dave.
    For me, it's Maine. I love Maine, and never tire of vacationing there.
    I think that Maine is where I feel most "me", without all the baggage.

  16. What a wonderful way with this wonderful best heart-friend of your amazing life. Nothing is lost. Everything will be perfect.

  17. I enjoyd reading about the travels you made with Dave. My favorite vacation is going to Arizona, especially toward the end of winter. Love to go hiking in the high desert.

  18. I sure enjoyed reading about your travel adventures and my hubby has Mephisto shoes and loves them . I am planning a trip in September with my mom and my sisters so this bag would be lovely to win , thanks for the chance .

  19. What wonderful memories you and Dave created. So important now to have them.
    Christine from Ontario

  20. I think I am just beginning my world traveling time. I went to Nigeria in 2013 and this year I go to Italy, both mission trips. Your bag would come in mighty handy and it would be pleasure to use it in your honor. I hope I win! (But it's OK if I don't!)

  21. I would love to travel to Greece and visit the islands there too!

  22. The dream of international travel seems utterly unattainable to me at this time, but I still dream of wandering all over the British Isles, from Shetland at the north end through Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.

  23. Looks like an absolutely fantastic bag. And I loved the photos of you and Dave. Very precious. :)

  24. Please count me in too....I would love to travel the Pacific Northwest...perhaps with a side trip to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. Loved your story too...great memories.

  25. A blessed Good Friday to you, Sandra. I've been reading your blog for a year or so now but this generous giveaway prompted me to follow you formally! I can't remember how I found your site but I'm truly glad I did. I, too, am from the Appalachians. My husband and I were born and raised in Greenbrier County WV. We have lived in PA since 1968 but we have a little cabin in WV on an acre of my husbands old home place. We go "back down home" every chance we get. We've done lots of traveling over the years. A two week trip to Ireland several years ago was a highlight of our lives, but these days our trips are closer to home. We hope to do a Missippippi River cruise next year for our 50th anniversary. I've read many of your older posts, including the account of your beloved Dave's passing. How blessed you both were to have found each other, even though your time together was not nearly long enough. Your farm is beautiful. I hope you find a buyer very soon, and I wish you a joyful spring.

  26. Very interesting and also humorous . I love the packing plan, "never pack more than you can run with !"

  27. I would love to go to Alaska! Since my husband has always wanted to go. It has been a rough year but in the future with lots of saving I'd like to travel with him! I understand the pack with what you can run with after a trip to Scotland and had to mail my clothes home to bring the wonderful things I found in my suitcase. It took three months for that box to get home. The bag would be wonderful!

  28. Oh goodness! Looks like I just squeaked into this giveaway in the nick of time! Loved this post, especially the photos, Sandra. What adventures you two had! You really went to some unusual places and faced some unusual people -- together, which is so nice.
    Well, as far as my dream vacation ... I know Adam would love to go to Greece, or one of the Greek islands, and I would like that too, so I pick that. A quiet place with some real, rural culture, friendly people and great food. Not a tourist trap. Just the two of us.

  29. Sandra, It is so fun to see photos and hear of the travels you and Dave took. This June, we are going to Ireland(our first trip there)and it is a dream trip of mine because all my grandparents came from southern Ireland. I'd love to have a bag like this. Also going to check out those shoes-they sound like some I need.
    Hugs and blessings, Noreen

  30. Late to the party and the giveaway. No worries! Lost track of time when I was graced with four lovely granddaughters for the week beginning the 30th. Catch up blogging now. Love this post Sandra you make me laugh , a rare commodity some days, and this post contains many a giggle. You are awesome!

  31. Hi Sandra, I have always wanted to visit Great Britain. Particularly Wales, Shetland Islands and the Orkney Islands. :)


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