About Elaine-iaK's Travels

As a graduate of Recreation Administration, from San Diego State University, I have made recreation and travels my career and life’s passion. After graduation, I traveled solo for one year throughout the South Pacific, doing travel photography in a wide variety of settings. Upon my return, many of my photographs became the subjects of my newly created line of handcrafted photographic greeting cards, "Exquisite! By, Elaine", a business I have had since 1986. Check them out at: http://ExquisiteCards.fototime.com . In 1983, I began teaming up with my mom, Goldie, teaching arts & crafts to cruise ship passengers, aboard Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean. In addition, I lectured on travel photography, as well as Australia and New Zealand history, aboard Princess Cruises. In 2004, I formed a new teaching team with my recently retired husband, Bruce, who serves as my "humble assistant" until 2010 when the cruise lines shifted the arts and crafts program to mostly being taught by their own staff. Currently, our favorite mode of travel is by river boat. Along the way, we enjoy poking around small European towns, meeting the people, seeking out interesting photo subjects, and always stopping at every chocolatier to make a purchase. Adding to my chocolate label and wrapper collection is a bonus! And, as a U.S. Masters swimmer, if I can find a pool to get in a swim with the locals, all the better! Cheers! Elaine-iaK ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations~ -Karla Peterson


April 27, 2021.  I was so looking forward to that glorious day:  Full vaccination!  The countdown started after my second jab, on April 13.  Bruce was already fully vaccinated, and we decided to take a celebration road trip the moment I qualified.

On April 27th, we hit the road to St. Petersburg, a Florida city we hadn’t yet visited.  The draw?  The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Art Center.

Glass blowing demonstration at the Morean Arts Center.

Dale Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, is one of the world’s most famous artists of blown glass.  We had enjoyed his temporary exhibits at the Mingei Museum, in San Diego, as well as the Atlanta and Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens.  In addition, we were in awe of his permanent installations at the San Antonio library, San Antonio Museum of Art, Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel, and Maker’s Mark Distillery, in Kentucky.

We decided to make our celebration a one-week vacation, so we could also enjoy the other art glass galleries, museums, and so much more that St. Petersburg has to offer.

Notice how Flipper is masked to keep us all safe!

Whenever I travel, I also look for a pool facility, so I can start off at least some of my days with a good swim training session.  I found it in St. Pete, at the North Shore Aquatics Complex, located right on the downtown waterfront at Vinoy Park.  I was in swimming heaven! The 50-meter pool was run short course the days I swam, so I always had my own lane in the perfect 80-degree water.  (The facility also has a 25-meter pool and kids water park. 

While I swam, Bruce walked along the waterfront park watching the dolphins and birds as he enjoyed views of the St. Petersburg skyline and marina.  One of his walks took him along Vinoy Park, past the marina, and to the end of St. Pete Pier and back, for a 75-minute roundtrip.  Nice!

Bruce was really impressed with the uniqueness of this pier—unlike anything he had ever seen; so, I had to see it for myself.

The new version of this pier on Tampa Bay opened in July, 2020 at a cost of $92 million dollars.  It includes five restaurants, a playground, an environmental education center, artwork, and sculptures, including this life-size pelican. 

Next time we visit St. Pete, we are going to make sure to return to the pier at night to see the “Bending Arc,” a net sculpture that lights up in bright colors.

We really enjoyed the downtown area of St. Petersburg.  It’s an easy city to navigate by car or on foot; however, if neither of those options sound appealing to you (or, you just want to relax and leave the work to somebody else), you can ride the Looper.  The ride is free, and there are twenty stops along the route where you can get off to enjoy one of the many restaurants with outdoor dining, visit a gallery, or shop ‘til you drop.  It even stops at the local hospitals, but I’m hopeful you will never need to do that!

St. Pete has an artsy vibe, and there is plenty of arts and culture to take in while you’re there.  My next two posts will give you a taste of it with visits to the Duncan McClellan Gallery and Imagine Museum.

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite crafts from Florida Craft Art:


It was a bit of an untimely visit to Sun City Peachtree by this ol’ chap, today, since  it is raining, and he has come to water the grass below the bench. 

I wonder how he got here.  After all, according to a story in the April 30th edition of The Week, the recent blockage of the Suez Canal caused quite the gnome crisis.  It worsened the U.K.’s already desperate shortage of garden gnomes.  Countless gnomes are “stuck in containers trying to come over here,” said Iain Wylie of the British Garden Centre Association.

For their weekly contest, The Week used that story as its subject.  Their request?  “Please come up with a headline for a British Tabloid story about the gnome crisis.”  The contest winner?  “Gnomadland,” by Mary Stahl, of Arvada, Colorado.

Knowing next to nothing about the origins of these personable-looking little fellows, I poked around the Internet to get the 411. 

According to Wikipedia, gnomes originated as a decoration for the wealthy in Europe, and they date back to the ancient Roman period.  In recent years, they have become quite popular across all social classes and have made their way across the Atlantic and into North America.  During the 1970’s, more humorous and light-hearted gnomes came on to the garden scene; and, in the 1990’s, it was all about the traveling gnome.  Pranks with the pointy-hat-wearing, bearded fellow was all the rage and made national news.  As a practical joke, people would kidnap them from gardens to keep them company on their world travelers.  The kidnapper would send the owner photos of the gnome drinking a beer at Oktoberfest, eating pizza in Italy, or sunbathing on the French Riviera before returning him to his home garden.

I thought about kidnapping this one for our 2022 travels abroad, but I think I’ll just leave him on the bench, so he can keep the grass nice and green after the rains have gone.


The Peanuts Gang is back!  I was so happy to see little Franklin out there on the bench today.  Bloom County got me in a fowl mood, so it was uplifting on this gorgeous spring day to see Franklin smiling up at me with open arms.

I have always liked Franklin, because he is such a kind and smart kid.  We also share some things in common.  Like me, he is a swimmer and a member of a swim club.  Cool!  He also stays busy with all sorts of other interests, just like I do.  The active boy is into playing baseball, hockey, and guitar; and, he’s a member of 4H.  He is also quite the skilled dancer, from leading Marcie in a waltz to busting some hip breakdancing moves.

Thoughtful and supportive, Franklin is always available to help out his friends.  What a great kid!  He even likes hanging out with his grandparents, and often swaps grandfather stories with Charlie Brown.

Franklin and Charlie first met at the beach, and their friendship began when he offered to help Charlie fix his crooked sand castle.  When Franklin took up Charlie’s offer to visit him in his neighborhood, he met Charlie’s friends who he thought were a bit odd.  (It freaked him out that Linus believed in the Great Pumpkin!)  He became friends with all of Charlie’s buddies anyway. 

Peppermint Patty and Marcie live in Franklin’s neighborhood, so they already were friends and classmates. 

Franklin, thanks for visiting us here at Sun City Peachtree.  It was an honor having you grace our bench today!


How fitting for Milo to make the trip from Bloom County to visit our Sun City Peachtree bench.  After all, he is worldly and makes a point of knowing what is going on outside of his town.  Although this was a domestic trip for Milo, it often seems like another country down here in the south.

Milo is a reporter for the Bloom County’s newspaper, so perhaps he is going to write a travel story about his trip to Griffin, Georgia.  His writing can be quite controversial, though, and he follows politics; so, perhaps the story will be about Georgia’s new voting laws.  The thing is, Milo is known for putting quite the fictional spin on his reporting of the “facts,” so who knows how he’ll spin this story?

Thanks to my friend, Cynthia, for snapping a shot of Milo for me!


Well, look who strutted into town. It’s Bloom County’s cool (only in his own mind) Steve Dallas.  He’s the dude women despise—or, at best, tolerate, due to his aggressive womanizing and male chauvinism. 

The only friend Steve has is Opus the Penguin, who, for some reason, actually idolizes the despicable and unscrupulous lawyer.  Little does Opus realize, he is being manipulated by Steve into doing his dirty work for him. Still, Opus idolizes the low-life.

There is nothing good to say about this guy who is actually (and, unfortunately) based on a real person.  Bloom County’s creator, Berkeley Breathed, once said, “Steve Dallas… a frat-boy lawyer who I knew in school.  He’s never written me.  I suspect he was shot by an annoyed girlfriend, which save me many legal fees.”

In the early days of Bloom County, Steve Dallas would frequently hit on schoolteacher Bobbi Harlow.  They dated briefly, but she left him for Cutter John, and Steve was never able to win her back.  He tried to make Bobbi jealous by dating her dimwitted cousin, Quiche Lorraine, but it didn’t work. 

Politically, Steve is ultra-conservative.  During his teenage years, he read conservative books such as William Buckley’s, God and Man at Yale.  Later, during the Reagan era, he said, “Haig and the generals should run Reagan and his liberal pack right out of the White House.”

As a lawyer, the reprehensible jerk defended psychotic and obviously guilty criminals and murderers, much to his overbearing mother’s chagrin. 

Hmmm.  I have never read Bloom County, but the more I learn about Steve Dallas, the more he sounds like our recent past POTUS—all except the lawyer part.  Although, if our past POTUS had been a lawyer, he surely would have taken on a similar clientele.

This is where I’ll take a pass on any more research on Steve Dallas.  NEXT!


Ha!  A day late and a dollar short.  A cat shows up after the birds have already flown off somewhere else.  First, it was Woodstock, and then Toucan Sam.  You missed your opportunity, Bill!

Well, Bloom County’s Bill the Cat isn’t known for hunting birds; he has had bigger aspirations than that.  In 1984 and 1988, he ran for President of the United States.  He didn’t win, though, thanks to his drug abuse and shenanigans.  One of the times Bill lost was because he coughed up a fur ball on Connie Chung.  He was also mixed up in several scandals.  In one, Bill was the primary source for an illegal cat-sweat-based baldness cure.  Then, his brain was replaced with Donald Trump’s (who had been hit with his yacht’s anchor while sunbathing in New York Harbor).  That explains it all…

What drove Bill to abusing drugs?  A psychoanalyst may reach back into Bill’s past as far as his birth.  After all, the orange cat was the illegitimate son of Garfield the cat, and we all know about Garfield…

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Bill grew up wanting to be a film star, so he moved to New York City, and starred in a few films, including, Terms of Bill’s Endearment.  Like many actors, though, Bill drank heavily and got into drugs.  Eventually, it was all about sex, drugs, and rock & roll, when he became a rock and roll musician.

Wild Bill was unpredictable, made poor decisions that never ended well for him, did random and extreme things, and had a string of love affairs with celebrities.  His career as a rock star was ruined due to reading the bible with nun Edith Drock.  Being the opportunistic cat that he was, though, he used it to become a TV evangelist and got even richer.

Unfortunately, Bill let it all go to his head and get the best of him.  He spiraled out of control with his drug use; and, on September 30th, 1983, drove his Ferrari into a cactus at 140 mph and died on impact.  His body was never found, though, so Blinky and Milo Bloom released his death as being caused by acne(!).

By now, you may be thinking to yourself that those previously listed dates don’t add up.  Bill died in 1983, but ran for President in 1984 and 1988?  How can that be?  Well, let me tell you!  Oliver Wendell Jones found Bill’s tongue and used his “DNA doohickeys” to successfully clone Bill, just in time for the 1984 presidential election! 

Here’s an ironic bit of trivia in the real world:  Bloom County creator, Berkeley Breathed, described “Bill D. Cat” as his attempt to create a character so repulsive that it would have no merchandising potential.  Although he succeeded in making Bill utterly repulsive, he failed at making him a merchandising bomb.  Bill the Cat trinkets and figurines have been a huge sales success and have even appeared in comic strips!


Yesterday, it was a toucan, and today, it’s a penguin!  Opus is visiting us from Bloom County.  I guess the Falkland Islands Brit needed a bit of a getaway and found our Sun City Peachtree community a pleasant place to kick back, after his long trip across the pond. 

Opus must be exhausted!  Although penguins can swim up to 15 mph, their average speed is 5 to 6 mph.  After the long swim from the Falklands, he would have come ashore somewhere along Florida’s panhandle, and then walked the rest of the way to Griffin, Georgia.  At 1.7 mph average walking speed, that was a very, VERY long commute.  Perhaps he hitched a ride.

I wonder if Opus was searching for an adoptive family along the way.  He got separated from his mom at a young age, so he has been searching for a mother figure ever since.

One thing for certain; he sure showed up here looking spiffy with his trademark bow tie.  (Although, he switches it up to a neck tie when he runs for public office.)

Opus is quite the well-rounded character, having worked a variety of jobs throughout his career.  He was a legal secretary, a tuba player in a heavy metal rock band (“Deathtongue”, later renamed “Billy and the Boingers”), a newspaper personals editor, lifestyle columnist, comic strip writer, farmer, garbageman, cartoonist, and a vice presidential candidate on the National Radical Meadow Party ticket.  Whew!  That’s a lot of jobs!

Unfortunately, though, the money Opus earned from those jobs didn’t last long, because he just couldn’t resist buying goods from those infotainment commercials.  Oh well, at least he won’t go hungry.  He has a very nice and healthy selection of fruit he brought with him; and, if he gets thirsty, the golf course pond is just up the street.

Hey!  I have an idea!  Sun City’s indoor pool water is saline, so perhaps Opus would want to join me for a swim tomorrow morning!  I sure wouldn’t challenge him to a race, though!


Well, look who flew in to pay us a visit at Sun City Peachtree!  It’s Toucan Sam (a.k.a. the Froot Loops mascot)!  I wonder if he was looking for Woodstock…  Marcie and Frieda are hanging out on other benches in the community; however, the rest of The Peanuts Gang has gone off to play somewhere else. 

Meanwhile, Toucan Sam, sans his bowl of Froot Loops, looks happy to be here!  Why not?  It’s a beautiful day, the azaleas are blooming crazy all over the community, and it couldn’t be prettier.

Some of you may not know who Toucan Sam is, but I saw plenty of him on our breakfast table, thanks to my brother who was a Froot Loops fan.  Not me; I was a Cocoa Puffs girl, until I grew up and realized that I was putting a lot of empty calories in my gut to start off the day.

Toucan Sam has been around for a while, and he is almost as old as I am!  He’s 58 years old, and he still has as good of a nose for sniffing out a bowl of Froot Loops as I do for chocolate.  “Follow your nose!  It always knows!” is what he used to always say.

Now, here’s a bit of trivia I’ll bet you didn’t know about the colorful bird:  In commercials, Toucan Sam was voiced by Mel Blanc, best known as the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig.

How about those colorful stripes on his beak?  Back in the 1970s, each stripe represented the flavors of Froot Loops cereal:  cherry (red), lemon (yellow), and orange.

Last year, Kellogg’s changed the look of Toucan Sam to a neon-colored bird with a six-colored beak, to represent the six colors of the current Froot Loops cereal.  Big mistake; all hell broke loose!  The hate mail that followed was relentless.  Artists even took it upon themselves to improve (or, in some cases, not) on the new look and post their artwork on social media.

I would have to agree with that negative feedback.  I liked Toucan Sam just the way he was.


After a short hiatus, The Peanuts Gang has returned to the bench.  I had anticipated the pony-tailed Violet Gray eventually making an appearance, and, sure enough, she did—in a violet dress!

Violet was alone today, but she can usually be seen hanging out with her best pals, Lucy and Peppermint Patty.  She joins them on the baseball field playing left field and sometimes third base.

Did you know that Violet was the first one to not let Charlie Brown kick the football?  She didn’t pull it away to be mean (like Lucy always did); she simply was afraid of having her hand kicked along with the ball. 

I’ll have to admit I never cared much for Violet, because she was a bit of a snob from a higher-class family than the rest of the middle-class gang.  Always bragging about her father, she was constantly aggravating and annoying Charlie Brown.  I felt sorry for the poor little guy, because she was always picking on him!

That brings me to Lucy, who I disliked even more, because she was so darn mean to Charlie.  Most likely, she stopped by the bench for a visit prior to the rest of the gang I’ve been writing about, but I missed her.

I don’t know who will visit next.  Perhaps Charlie or Lucy will stop by again for another visit to my Sun City Peachtree neighborhood bench.


Frieda (with her “naturally curly hair”) stopped by to keep Marcie company, today, on the Sun City Peachtree bench!  Although, at least it looked that way…

More likely, Frieda wanted to show off her beautiful head of red curls to Marcie and (try to) make her jealous.  She is that vain!  The thing is, none of her friends, including Marcie, are jealous of her hair; she just thinks they are and wants to brag about it.  Marcie is too down to earth, though, and Frieda’s hair doesn’t register on her radar.

Frieda is so all about her “naturally curly hair,” that she refuses to wear a baseball cap while playing on Charlie Brown’s baseball team.  She couldn’t possibly cover up those gorgeous curls!

The vain little redhead also has a nasty streak with Snoopy.  She has called the pooch “lazy” and “useless,” because he would rather sleep atop his doghouse than hunt rabbits like other beagles.  This gave Frieda the idea of buying a cat to motivate Snoopy to get over his laziness; however, “Faron” ended up being even lazier!

At least Frieda is nice to Charlie Brown and Linus.  She doesn’t tease them and is sensitive to their feelings.  In fact, Frieda is the only one of the kids that doesn’t tease Linus about his security blanket.  Good on her for that!

As for Frieda’s relationship with Lucy, although they got off to a rocky start, they became friends.  Frieda and Lucy are both outfielders on Charlie’s team; so, during baseball games, they always get distracted chatting with each other, rather than keeping their attention focused on the game.  Oh well; at least it keeps Frieda’s attention off her naturally curly hair!