Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.






Monday, June 29, 2015

Carpet Bag

Ever since I saw Mary Poppins and her magical carpet bag, I wanted one.  She seems to be able to pull anything she needs, big or small, out of the bag. This love for carpet bags stayed with me for years. I had bought several bags made of tapestry fabric for overnight and regular luggage but I really wanted the one that looked exactly like what Mary Poppins had.


Mary Poppins carpet bag
Picture source: https://myliveactiondisneyproject.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/mary-poppins-1964/


A carpet bag was typically made from left over carpets that were popular floor coverings in the 19th century. These bags were used for travel since they were sturdy and relatively light weight. They were also esthetically pleasing to the eye. You can find many reproductions of the Mary Poppins carpet bag on the internet. They average in the $250 - $400 range depending on the workmanship and material used. I have bookmarked a couple for my Christmas wish list.

Meanwhile, I was itching for a new sewing project. I decided that I would make a carpet bag  to carry my knitting and crochet supplies, my quilting project supplies or even painting supplies. With a vague idea of the bag I wanted to make, I bought the materials - some thick upholstery fabric at Joann Fabrics, coordinating lining fabric, fusible interfacing and a set of wooden handles. I was able to get the upholstery fabric at a deep discount since I was able to find a remnant I liked  that would fit the size bag I was thinking of making.

For help and guidance with the bag construction, I checked online for instructions. I found The Mother Huddle.com site which provided  clear illustrated instructions for a bag that had the same wooden handle I bought. Here is the link:

http://www.themotherhuddle.com/how-to-sew-a-wood-handle-handbag/

I followed tutorial guidelines. My bag is longer than  the Mother Huddle bag  since I wanted to fit more in the bag such as long knitting needles, yarn or fabric for my quilting or sketchbooks or drawing pads for my painting.

Here's my finished product. I am pretty pleased with the way it turned out and I am sure that just like Mary Poppins I, too, will be pulling out all manner of magical things from my bag.  It's truly Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious !


Carpet bag with wooden handle, upholstery fabric, cotton lining
Finished size without handle 15" x 18" x 5"


Carpet bag opening












Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Icon Painting - La Dolorosa

One of my most favorite depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Virgin of Hope at the Basilica of Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza Macarena in Seville, Spain. When I first saw it, I was immediately taken with both joy and sorrow and have never forgotten the experience. The image is a Spanish national treasure with thousands venerating it and following its procession in full regalia through the streets of Seville during Holy Week. The image falls under the Marian classification of Our Lady of Sorrows aptly depicted with Her tearful demeanor.

Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, Seville
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan

It was so hot in Seville when we were there that everyone else on our tour group spent the afternoon poolside. My husband and I decided to visit a small church close to our hotel. We were told that Spain’s most venerated image of the Virgin Mary is in this church. Unfortunately, the church was closed when we got there but, in my broken Spanish, I was able to convince the priest lurking about to let us in to see the Macarena. She is so beautiful, resplendent in rich brocade and presented in gilt surroundings. Her face is that of a tearful Mary, so tender and touching. Of all the images of Mary, this is my hands down favorite. (From my book Passport to Creativity - Exploring the World with a Watercolor Journal)

The Virgin of Hope of Macarena (Spanish: Virgen de la Esperanza de Macarena de Sevilla)
Image Detail from Wikipedea
 


Ever since I saw  La Macarena, I wanted a reproduction of the image. I searched everywhere but could not find any. I even tried to have one made by one of the wood sculptors in the Philippines but could not find one who was willing to tackle it. So to this day my dream and quest continues.


La Dolorosa 2015
Watercolor on Arches 140# hot pressed watercolor paper
by jojo sabalvaro-tan

My latest painting project (above)  is another icon of the Virgin Mary. This time, I did not go the traditional route but painted it in a more contemporary style. When I completed the painting, I showed it to my husband and he asked, "Why is Mary sad?" I told him that Mary has been depicted as sorrowful since time immemorial because she is aware of what her Son would be going through during His life and leading up to His death. In the Catholic faith, there has been a long tradition to the devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary especially at Holy Week.

Tradition dictates that Our Lady of Sorrows would be wearing black or dark blue as a sign of mourning. I diverged from  tradition in choosing red for Her robes in my painting since I felt that even though Mary was sorrowful,  she had hope for eternal life and salvation and most of all, a heart filled with love and compassion. I gave the painting the title of La Dolorosa in honor of my mother who would have been 93 on June 30th and in memory of my maternal aunt whose name was derived from "Dolor" - Auntie Dolly (Dolores) and two members of my extended family who passed away recently, Manong Rene and  Manolo. May they rest in peace.


I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding.
  (From www.catholictraditions.org Seven Sorrows devotion)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Want to start your own watercolor travel journal?

Basic starter watercolor kit
Camera phone, sketchbook, watercolors, water container, brushes, pen, pencil and eraser
 
When I started travel watercolor sketching and journaling, I used to carry all the supplies I could think of that I might need, just in case. My stuff literally occupied a huge section of my suitcase. Nowadays, I keep my supplies to a minimum. My motto, 'The lighter, the better," especially with the limitations and rising cost the airlines have placed on baggage these days.


So in my bag, I stash the following:
(I have attached links for some of my favorite items)
  • Bag for my painting supplies
Pick a bag that is lightweight and water-resistant to protect the contents from getting wet. This bag should be small enough that it can be stashed in whatever day bag or backpack you would be using during your travels. I use a 12" x 8" x 11 1/2" mesh nylon zippered bag which allows me to see the contents but, a Ziploc bag works just as well.
  • Sketchbook
One could easily sketch on any kind of paper but for the best results, using paper that will stand the wet watercolor medium is important. You will find a variety of sketchbook journals for sale at art supply stores. My favorites are the ones that have 140# cold pressed watercolor paper such as Strathmore 400 Series field watercolor sketchbook (also has the bonus of  drawing paper sheets in between watercolor paper) but I also like the traditional Moleskin sketchbooks . I also prefer wire bound books since the lay flat when open. Moleskin books are not wire bound which gives you the advantage of painting panoramic scenes across two pages without the wires getting in the way. I also throw in a couple of hair ties (they are sturdier than ordinary rubber bands or binder clips to help hold down the pages while I paint
  • Pencil
A good drawing pencil is important. I usually use the Faber Castell brand because they keep their point and are easy to erase. And speaking of erasers, I prefer kneaded erasers since they leave the surface clean. You can also dab them on the pencil line to keep the sketch lines light. I would also take a pencil sharpener to keep my lead sharp. Nowadays, for travel, I just carry a cheap mechanical pen which is always sharp. You just have to make sure you have enough supply of lead refills.
  • Pen
On suggestion by a friend I met in Paris who also keeps a watercolor travel journal, I started using a pen when I sketch. Some people exclusively sketch with pens only but I mostly use them to go over my preliminary pencil sketch. I think my sketching skills markedly improved since I started using a pen. In choosing a pen, make sure it is waterproof and smudge-proof since you will be painting with wet water color over it. My favorite pens are fine point black in pens such as Faber Castell Pitt artist pens in small and extra small sizes and Sakura Pigma Micron size .005 and .003.
  • Round Brushes
I normally bring two round brushes, a large one (Size 10 or 8) for skies and washes and a smaller one (Size 4) for finer detail work. The best brushes for watercolor are made with Kolinsky sable hair but they are expensive so I leave those at home for fear of losing them. Artist grade synthetic brushes such as those of the Blick Master series work fine for me. I also sometimes bring along a couple of Niji watercolor brushes which already have a reservoir of water in its handle.
  • Watercolors
For watercolors, I prefer artist or professional grade paint such as Winsor Newton, Sennelier, Daniel Smith, Schminke or Holbein. On trips, I take along my Winsor Newton half pan metal palette which contains eight basic colors. It's compact 2" x 3" x 1/2" size makes it easy to carry. I leave my tube paints at home since I carry-on my painting supplies and the tube paints count towards your carry-on liquid allowance limit. I no longer carry watercolor pencils in the spirit of minimizing my travel sketching supplies. Artist grade watercolors could be pricey, so a beginner may opt to use one of the nicer student grades like Winsor Newton Cotman set.
My Winsor Newton Watercolor set for travel sketching
  • Paper towel sheet
Used for dabbing excess paint and clean up, paper towels are essential. I like the Viva brand. High end hotels and restaurants also equip their restrooms with great paper towels, just n case you need one in a squeeze.
  • Water container
My favorite is the Faber Castell collapsible water cup because it is small enough to fit in my travel sketching kit bag. Bottled water is available everywhere and it does double duty for use with watercolors as well.
  • Small Camera
When travelling, sometimes it is hard to find time to do more than a quick rough sketch or even sketch at all, especially if you are part of an organized tour where time is regimented. On these occasions, I try to capture as much information in my mind, mostly what it is that made me want to sketch the particular subject or scene in the first place and how I felt at that moment and then I would take a photo that I would later use as reference when I find the time to sit down and sketch, either at the hotel or at my studio. Most cellphones have good cameras nowadays, so you can substitute your phone for a camera.


Some paint manufacturers have come out with a complete travel watercolor sketch kit, such as the Winsor Newton Sketcher's set. It comes complete with paints, brushes, water bottle, sketchbook among others all packed in a bag for one stop shopping. But I find the thrill of the hunt for my supplies exciting and trying out the materials and seeing which one suits me best satisfying.

If I have one final advise it would be to buy the best quality you can afford - it does make a difference in your work.


Come explore the world with a watercolor journal with me! Happy painting!!!

One of my earlier travel sketches of our trip to Venice. I found this rifling through the pages of my old sketchbook. I do have to say that even in its unfinished state, it still evokes vivid memories of that trip. I do not recall why I never completed it. Well, another UFO (unfinished object) to add to my to do list.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Watercolor Travel Journal - The Trip Home From Florida

My brother and sister-in-law  joined us in Florida to accompany us on our trip back home to Illinois. Our route took us along the Atlantic Coast with stops at Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC and Asheville, NC . We  also traversed the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. The whole trip, at more than 1400 miles and 21 hours driving time, took us almost 3 days with overnight stops. Along the way, we passed by some of the most spectacular vistas - the banks of the Atlantic, marshes and estuaries,  marinas that made you wish you are a sailor, the enchanting Blue Ridge Mountains ,  farmlands of Kentucky lush with its blue grass and cows grazing and some of the most historic cities dating back to the birth of this nation where the plight of the new settlers come alive.

Here are some of my sketches from the trip:



We've Got "Georgia on our Mind in Savannah, Georgia
The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist 2015
Savannah, GA
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan



Driving into Savannah, Georgia, I was immediately taken by canopy of trees covering the quaint cobblestone trees. This being springtime, the azaleas are in full bloom adding sparks of color everywhere. The buildings restored or kept up to retain their old glory were majestically set. Our first stop was The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Lafayette Square. This cathedral built between 1873 and 1876 is a great example of French Gothic architecture. I love the cerulean blue ceiling and the stained glass windows. It was raining when we got to Savannah and they were predicting a tropical storm. Storms in this area are no joke, so our chances of seeing more of the city became quickly limited. We  felt the trip was worth it even if all we saw was the cathedral.

Lunch was at Mellow Mushroom a pizza joint with a very funky and lively vibe. We sat in a special booth hand-painted with portrait's of famous musicians. What a treat and the Holy Shiitake Pie pizza was delicious - one of the best. We wanted to take one of the trolley tours around the historic district but by the time we left the restaurant it was raining hard.

We did manage a short stop at the city market , a  four block square of shops and restaurants including one that belongs to Paula Deen, The Lady and Sons. After purchasing some mementos and a quick peek at Paula Deen's store,  the shops closed.


"Summertime and the Livin' is Easy" in Charleston, South Carolina


Sweetgrass Basket Weaver 2015
Charleston, SC
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
In Charleston, we joined a carriage ride tour around Charleston. To avoid traffic congestion in the narrow streets, each carriage participates in a lottery where lettered balls are placed in a drum and whichever letter comes out will indicate which route the carriage will take. We headed west which took us all the way to the waterfront. Here is another city that fully dedicates itself to preserving its cultural heritage so much so that you immediately get the feeling of being transported back to the colonial times as we trotted around.  Just like many cities/towns in the southern states with access to the sea , Charleston's history was embroiled in the slave trade and the American Revolution.  Here I had another one of those belt-out-a-song moments, this time the song Summertime, when I remembered that the play Porgy and Bess was set in. Press on the title to hear Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald's version of the song.

The City Market, which has functioned as a meat and produce market  and a place to gather and socialize since the 17th century, is now a place where vendors sell all manner of goods and the Gullah people (or Geechees) hawk the traditional sweetgrass woven baskets. I wanted to get one of the baskets as a souvenir until I saw the price. One small basket, the size of a small astray, can run as much as $50, maybe more. I think that if they price these baskets more reasonably, they will make more money in volume sales. But my guess is there is no need to since people are buying them no matter what the price is anyway.
 
 Keeping up with the Vanderbilts in Asheville, North Carolina
The Gate House Shop 2015
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
I really wanted to see the Chateau-style mansion owned by the Vanderbilts , a prominent family whose wealth stem from their shipping and railroad empires during the gilded age, a time of rapid US economic growth in the late 19th century.  The Biltmore Mansion is said to be the largest private residence in the US. The mansion was designed Richard Morris Hunt and the grounds by Frederick Law Olmstead, both preeminent figures in American Architecture.

The last time I was in Asheville, NC to see the Biltmore Estate, we arrived there when it was already closed so all I saw of it was the gatehouse and the estate gift shop. This time around, it was still open but only for about a half hour more, certainly not worth the price of entrance. So once again, I am disappointed and have to console myself with looking at the gatehouse and of course, shopping at the lovely little gift shop.

  Looking for "Dueling Banjos" at the Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina to Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains 2015
Along Route 441 North Carolina to Tennessee
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
The Great Smoky  Mountains are part of the Blue Ridge Chain and a sub range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Smokies get their name from the fog that hangs over the range that looks like large smoke plumes from afar. I don't often attempt to sketch or paint  landscapes since I can not put to paper or canvas the magnificence, grandeur, glory I see. Many artists have been able to do so and their art are sublime representations of God's creation. With a lot of reservation,  I  took a crack at sketching The Smoky Mountains on my watercolor journal. I reminded myself that I was not striving for perfection or making a masterpiece but just to capture a moment that made an impression on me. When we  crossed North Carolina to Tennesssee on  the Great Smoky Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was just around the time when the sky was ablaze as the sun was beginning to set  and the mountains appeared in ombre shades of blue. It was so breathtaking, My sketch did not come close to the scenery that unfolded then but I know when I see this sketch the memory of what I witnessed will keep coming back   .
"Grazin' in the Grass is a Gas"  in Kentucky Blue Grass That Is


Grazing Cows 2015
Kentucky
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
Cows, cows everywhere. It's springtime and the cows are all out grazing on the lush blue grass of Kentucky and every other state we passed by. The preponderance of cattle sightings all over made me want to include a sketch of a cow or cows in my travel journal.  It is a normal everyday sight in the farmlands of America but after a long winter of being cooped up, seeing the cattle out there in the newly green fields of spring is somehow such a welcome and pleasant sight.  


There's a "Traffic Jam " in Indianapolis, Indiana

Traffic Drum Barricades 2015
From the Watercolor Travel Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan
You can't drive across America without seeing these orange traffic drum barricades on the highway, more so in springtime when repairs to the havoc brought about by the cold, snowy winter on the roads become apparent. Spring is also the start of road construction season - new roads and bridges are built and old ones restored. We avoided most of the large constructions by taking mostly country roads on this road trip. But, we cannot fully avoid highway driving. In Indianapolis, for example, we came to a full stop on the expressway running into the much dreaded "highway parking lot syndrome."  This can cause an inconvenient travel delay of more than an hour or so. For my watercolor travel journal, I wanted to include a sketch of these traffic barricades, an omnipresent sight on any road trip.

Road trip anyone?


Notes:
  • These sketches, along with the others featured on the On the Road Gain - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See The USA Road Trip ( links below) were painted on Strathmore Windpower  140 lb cold press 6" x 9" spiral sketchbook using artist watercolors. Some of the paintings were sketched with a pencil and the lines gone over with a pen and then watercolor was applied, on others  I just sketched with a pen and then added watercolor. I'm not sure which technique I like better. I think it really depends on the subject matter.

  • Can you tell that the subtitles are derived from songs about the featured areas?

Please check out these related blogs

On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 1
On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 2
On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Miles See the USA Road Trip Part 3

Thursday, June 4, 2015

On the Road Again - The Roundabouts 2300 Mile See the USA Road Trip - Part 3





The Roundabouts, our band of intrepid road trippers who have braved the highways of Europe, Asia and the USA in search of  what Dennis' daughter refers to as  "EXPERIENCE", checked out of our hotel in New Orleans  right after breakfast and made our way to Florida. It's an early start, since we know we are travelling at least 9 hours and almost 600 miles if we do not stop. Gas, comfort and stretching breaks are necessary so our travel time could be as much as 12 hours. We would definitely have to do some nighttime driving. Our target destination is Hernando, Florida, with the option to overnight somewhere in between if need be.


Driving through Sweet Home Alabama
For the most part, we drove east on Interstate 10, crossing Mississippi and Alabama before we reached the Florida's border. In Alabama, all we saw was the highway. As road signs leading to Alabama cities such as Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma whizzed by, Alabama's history flashed back in my memory - the cotton plantations,  slavery and racial segregation,  which eventually led to Alabama being at the forefront of the American Civil Rights movement.

East Interstate 10 sign in Alabama 2015
from the Travel Watercolor Sketch Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan

We stopped at the Alabama Tourist information center to get maps and inquire about places that sell souvenir refrigerator magnets which had proven to be a truly challenging search. We were directed to turn off at the last exit before entering Florida  to a place called  Derailed Diner . It is considered somewhat of a tourist destination there. It is actually, a big barn with a diner and a store with food stuff, clothing, home décor and some souvenirs for the weary traveler.



Wishing Upon a Star in Florida


Day 1- Florida
Pushing on to Hernando, Florida, where our host was eagerly awaiting our arrival, we veered away from Interstate 10 and took the old Georgia -Florida Parkway where we stopped for gas at a vintage gas station selling Spicy Boiled Peanuts. We enjoyed the spicy flavor of the peanuts so much that I decided I would learn how to make it. Here is a recipe I found online from www.food.com.

Spicy Boiled Peanuts
       10 (2 pounds boiled peanuts)                 
Add all ingredients to a large pot and stir well. Set on high heat to boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer once it comes to a boil for a few minutes. Simmer until soft for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally. May be done in a crockpot for 5-7 hours on high or 12-24 hours on low.
 At Hernando's Citrus Hill community, Dennis and Lulu were introduced to the retiree lifestyle at one of the many gated communities in Florida replete with fully-equipped gyms, zumba and yoga rooms, indoor-outdoor swimming pools, golf courses and country clubs. One does not have to leave the enclave if they choose not to.  Most residents shop online via Amazon and the various TV home shopping networks. It is also a community where fights and backbiting can ensue over the attention of the Parish priest or Affection of the latest widow or widower. Yet these are the same folks that band together for the almost weekly funerals singing the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross."

Day 2 - Florida
The next day,  we were treated to lunch by our host at the country club and then we headed off to my brothers' vacation home in Kissimmee, Florida, about a 90 mile, one and a half hour drive from Hernando. We agreed that we would spend the rest of the day catching up on our rest and laundry and making final decisions on how we would spend our time in Florida. With so many things to do and see in the area, we narrowed it down to the beach and  EPCOT center.  For dinner, we ordered carry-out from Cid's, a Filipino restaurant since we were all hankering for Crispy Pata (Crispy Deep-fried Pork Legs), Egg Rolls and Pancit Canton (Stir fried Noodles with assorted vegetables and meat).




Day 3 - Florida

In this part of Florida, you are spoiled for choices of beaches. In less than two hours, you can be on the Atlantic Ocean to the east or the Gulf of Mexico to the west. We decided to go to Melbourne Beach on the Atlantic side and wade in waters that we imagined touched the shores of Europe.
Sunbathers on Florida Beach
from the Watercolor Travel Sketches Journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan

After a few hours at the beach, we drove along the coast to Cocoa Beach, whose once bustling economy was fueled by the NASA space program at Cape Canaveral but collapsed when the Apollo program was stopped even though there are still active space launches being made from Cape Canaveral today. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex  has tours of its facility which is a must-see for those who are interested in space flight and even those who do not know too much about it. We stopped for appetizers at Rusty's Seafood Restaurant at Port Canaveral just in time to see the cruise ships leave for the Bahamas, the Keys or the Caribbean. At Rusty's, we had chicken, shrimp and fish tacos as well as the steamed seafood platter with oysters, clams, mussels and shrimp.

Steamed Seafood Platter

Tacos

Fortified, we drove  to Orlando's Chinatown where we had dinner at my favorite restaurant in the area, LA Boiling Crab. This place is always on our schedule of places to eat when we come to Orlando. We always order a dozen large crab and shrimp prepared in Cajun garlic butter sauce. We always get it extra spicy. It has never disappointed.

Cajun Garlic Butter Sauce Crabs and Shrimps

Day 4 - Florida
The next day, we visited the Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe, a church built to provide for the spiritual needs of the many Catholic tourists that flock the Central Florida area. It is a beautiful large church, at the same time modern and traditional. It has a great choir. I love being there when there are very few people and I can light a candle, meditate and pray in relatively quiet surroundings. Even the gardens, invite quiet contemplation. It also has a fully stocked religious shop.

Basilica of Mary, Queen of the Universe
Photo from maryqueenoftheuniverse.org

Crucified Christ at the Main Altar
Photo from maryqueenoftheuniverse.org

We brought Dennis and Lulu to Downtown Disney for early dinner. It now has a new parking complex. Unfortunately, even at an early hour, the restaurants are full and the whole place felt very crowded and squeezed in. This is probably due to the construction currently going on to enhance Downtown Disney. There were a lot of areas boarded up. So we made some quick souvenir purchases and decided to eat  outside of Downtown Disney.

Lego Lochness creature at Downtown Disney


We ended up at a tapas restaurant called Columbia in Celebration, a Disney master-planned community.  At first glance, the community seemed too perfect or idealized, almost like a movie set (Why does Stepford Wives come to mind?). Yet, I would like to live there. All the homes had back alleys so that the garages are not in front of the house. Instead the homes feature balconies and porches facing the street inviting folks to hang out on the porch to catch the breeze or the latest gossip, similar to how communities were many years back when neighbors actually interacted with each other as compared to today's quick nod or wave as the car enters the garage.
The porches at Celebration

Enjoying some beer

Tapas

Celebration Movie Theater Sign

Day 5- Florida
Yikes, it is raining and this is the day we designated to go to EPCOT, a Disney park featuring a look at the future and a World Showcase. For first time visitors, the premier choice among the Disney and other parks in the Orlando Area would be Magic Kingdom, the fairy-tale themed park of Disney World. Both Dennis and Lulu have been to Disneyland in LA so we elected to visit EPCOT instead. The iconic Spaceship Earth, a huge white golf ball-like structure greets all visitors into the park. Inside the dome is a ride that goes through the development of communication from the prehistoric times to today.



Monorail against the backdrop of Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center
From the Travel Watercolor Sketch journal
by jojo sabalvaro tan 


Most of our time in the park was spent at the World Showcase  (mercifully, the rain stopped and we had a beautiful day) featuring re-creations of famous sites in eleven countries including iconic buildings, authentic food, merchandise and cultural specialties such as dance, music and theater. One is also given some history lesson about these countries. It is like going around the world in a day. We've seen many of the places replicated here in their actual settings and it is amazing how closely they were able to come to simulating the actual structures.

Unfortunately for Lulu, she can not escape a UP Prep 65 reunion no matter where she is. Dennis and I were classmates in high school at UP Preparatory School in Manila. Our class is relatively small and enjoy having reunions in the Philippines and all over the world. We are never lost for excuses to get together. This time was no exception, as we met up with another classmate who had his entire family in tow including his beautiful two month old grandbaby at Epcot.

Prepians at Morocco Pavillion, EPCOT

We took one last ride in The Land  called Soarin' which simulated a hand glider ride over California. It is one of our favorite rides in EPCOT. We avoided Mission:Space, a shuttle flight and landing simulator since we learned our lesson the last time we tried. We were air sick for days.



Day 6 - Florida
Dennis and Lulu flew out of Orlando to Las Vegas, NV and will be going to LA and San Francisco and then heading home. My husband and I are now waiting for my brother and his newly retired wife to join us in Florida and then on to the road trip back home via Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. Hey, did I say we are retired?


I selected the song On The Road Again by Willie Nelson as the theme for this road trip. I thought the lyrics were particularly apropos.

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again,
And I can't wait to get on the road again.
On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way
Is on the road again