Train It to the Slopes

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By , February 21, 2013 9:45 pm

Nothing can spoil a ski trip out west quicker than a major winter storm coursing through the mid-section of the country that causes your flight to be canceled along with hundreds of others. Traveling by air these day has lost a lot of its thrill and charm.  Navigating through airports on a normal day with long security lines seems more like an excruciating run through a gauntlet instead of an exciting adventure. The journey becomes even less enjoyable trying to check luggage like ski equipment and filing on to planes with cramped legroom and narrow aisles.


Winter Park

For those with an extra spare day or two a trip to the Colorado Mountains can take on a romantic journey of years gone by. Amtrak offers train service from the Midwest to the doorsteps of ski resorts like Winter Park in Fraser, Colorado. Originating in Chicago the California Zephyr takes the traveler through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado with a majority of the trip through the plains occurring during the nighttime. Passengers will want to take a seat on the right side of the train for morning time in Colorado. At daybreak passengers awaken to the sight of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains getting closer as the train travels toward Denver.

After a stop in the mile high city, the train makes the climb up the mountain heading for Winter Park. The trek will be reminiscent of your childhood as you watched model trains take an imaginary journey around a mountain complete with tunnels.  A panoramic view of Denver and the Great Plains will develop as the train chugs higher and higher up the mountainside. After passing through a series of tunnels passengers will be treated to a Kodak moment as a snow encased village creeps by. You may even see a cowboy complete with a red bandana on a horse trudging through the drifts of white powder. The next stop is Winter Park where the train literally stops at the base of the resort. No need to worry about picking up a rental car as vans and buses are available to take you anywhere in the village.

The Winter Park ski resort has slopes for every type of skier from the novice to the expert. Except for the very beginner, a trip to the summit is a must see. After snapping a few pictures at over 11,000 feet of elevation, an individual has several options to swoosh their way back to the base. Advanced skiers can streak down the face of the summit and then weave their way through the tree line below before joining up with the main trail. For the less daring skier a trail on the perimeter of the peak leads the individual gently down the mountain.

In addition to the beautiful scenery and extra legroom, the train also plows through weather that normally cancels flights or closes the interstates. And looking at the twinkling lights of Denver below is not a bad way to fall asleep for the journey home.



How Much Do Americans Spend Over Christmas? [INFOGRAPHIC]

By , December 3, 2012 7:07 am

With the holidays fast approaching, Funsherpa decided to do some research on American holiday shopping trends. Did you know that the average family spends $750 on christmas gifts? Learn more interesting spending facts below.

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2012 US Christmas Gift Spending

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C’est La Vie – Great Travel Inspiration Across Europe and the US with Boyd Lemon

By , November 6, 2012 7:30 am

Funsherpa catches up with Boyd Lemon – writer, lawyer, and world traveler.  In this feature, Boyd talks to us about his transition from being an attorney to spending a lot of time in Paris.  We find ourselves quite fortunate to feature such an experienced traveler who has chronicled his journeys in vivid detail – check out his blog on boomers and traveling to discover great tips on senior travel destinations that don’t break the bank.  So, read on and discover some great travel secrets!

Can you talk to us about your experience transitioning from being a high profile attorney to retiring in Europe?

I have always thought it would be exciting to experience a different culture by living in another country. When I decided to retire I knew that it would be a difficult adjustment to change from a life that had a lot of structure and scheduling (as an attorney) to a total absence of structure. Would I be motivated to get out of bed in the morning? I thought it would be easier if I lived in a new place. I loved Paris when I visited twice for a week each time, so I decided on Paris. How could I not want to get up in the morning if I were living in Paris? I discovered that living in another culture was not quite as easy as I thought, but Paris is a magical city. It had its frustrations dealing with the French bureaucracy and trying to learn the language, as I describe in my book, Eat, Walk, Write: An American Senior’s Year of Adventure in Paris and Tuscany. But I am very glad to have lived in Paris for a year. It was the experience of a lifetime.

What are some of the best discoveries you’ve made while traveling around Europe as a retired boomer?

  • The history I learned fascinated me, although most of Europe’s history has been extremely violent and full of human suffering.
  • Art of all kinds (visual, performing and written) is a bigger part of European culture than it is in America. They take it very seriously. I like that.
  • I loved riding the European trains; it is a great way to see the country. It saddens me that we in America chose the automobile.
  • I like it that Europeans live in less space than Americans do. The middle class in Europe does not live in 2,000 square foot houses, and it is not necessary.
  • The big cities in Europe are easy to get around in because they are compact and have excellent public transportation, something we don’t have on the west coast of the United States (except for San Francisco) and most of the east and middle parts of the country (except maybe New York, Boston and Chicago).
  • I loved sampling all of the different foods in the various countries of Europe. American food is boring by comparison.

You recently wrote about money saving tips on your blog, can you share some of the best ones with our readers?

  • Learn how to ride the subways and buses.
  • Stay in two or even one star hotels (why pay a lot to sleep), and make sure they are clean and safe by reading the reviews on websites like
  • Ride the trains between cities.
  • Tour the city on a hop on-hop off bus that for less than $20 in most cities shows you the major sights and allows you to get off when you want to spend some time at a sight and get back on and go to the next one that interests you.
  • Pack light and do your laundry at your hotel.
  • Don’t buy a bunch of stuff that will end up in your next garage sale.
  • As much as you can, eat away from the major tourist areas.

What are some of the unique things you’ve seen in your road trip across the US and what are some of your favorite off-the-beaten path locations?

  • There are so many.
  • A great sushi bar and Japanese restaurant in Yucca Valley (the desert), California in a Travelodge Motel.
  • The Roadkill Café in Seligman, Arizona.
  • Sedona, Arizona. It is popular with tourists, but it is so beautiful!
  • The Mayfield Dairy just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Think ice cream almost straight from the cow.
  • Avila Café for Mexican food in El Paso, Texas.
  • Austin, Texas.
  • Two Sisters Kitchen in Jackson, Mississippi for authentic southern food in an authentic southern ambiance like you can’t imagine.
  • My new home: St. Marys, Georgia (50 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida.

Can you tell us a bit more about the French cultural differences you’ve experienced (compared to typical American culture)? What are the real French people’s views on Americans?

There are at least two cultures in France: Paris and La Provence (which is anywhere outside of Paris). I have mentioned some observations about French culture above. Keep in mind these are cultural generalities, and so they have some of the same problems as racism. Parisians are brusque, in a hurry and often rude and will not help you with their language, but I ask, is it any difference being a foreigner visiting New York City. I don’ know. In the rest of France I found people quite friendly. As for the differences from Americans, I think the French and all Europeans don’t expect as much out of life as American do, so they are more accepting of what happens. They are also more group oriented and less individualistic. Many French people embrace socialism. As for their views on Americans, I found them very curious, envious and full of a lack of understanding of American culture and politics, for example, they could not understand why American made such a big fuss over the Monica Lewinsky affair, or why we elected George W. Bush––twice.

Given all your travel experience, if you could design a perfect city, what would it look like?

Boston with better weather and better drivers.

What’s on your bucket list? Anything you plan on crossing off soon?

As for travel, I haven’t traveled much in Asia, so: Thailand, China and India soon. I also want to go on a cruise through the Panama Canal soon.

As for writing, I am going to start on a novel when I get my next book published, Retirement: A Memoir and Guide, which I hope will be next month.

2012 Trends Shaping the Travel Industry

By , October 3, 2012 4:55 pm

Despite the tough global economy, travel seems to be one of the industries still growing. Did you know almost 80 million foreigners visit France each year? That definitely dwarfs the 8000 visitors Turkmenistan gets every year. With fuel prices at an all time high, it is no surprise that most people spend their travel dollars on airfare.

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2012 Travel Industry Trends

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Illustration, Art, and Unique Portland Experiences with Steven Resig

By , September 29, 2012 9:00 am

Steven is an artist who enjoys trying new things. He draws a lot of crazy creatures and round cartoon people. We saw his site, found his illustrations interesting and decided to feature him. He reveals amazing insights about his background in art, unique things to in Portland and his bucket list…good luck discovering BigFoot. Read on to discover more about Steven, and you can thank Funsherpa later. His illustrations can be found here.

How did you get your start in art? What inspired you to start creating fun and colorful illustrations?
My first interests in art began as young as any other kid I would assume. But it wasn’t until high school when I really began to focus on art as more than just a hobby. My first step into the art world was during my junior year when I started to draw realistic graphite portraits of people and pets. It was a pretty basic gig, but I had to start somewhere and I knew how to draw things the way they looked. I then went to college for art and honed my skills with a couple other mediums. My friends and professors kept telling me that the only way to make it as an artist was to have art shows in galleries. I didn’t know the first thing about organizing my own show, so I began displaying some works around the city in local coffee shops and clubs. Things were slow going in terms of revenue from selling artwork, and I was not exactly motivated to keep buying more paint and canvas, so I then started looking into quicker ways to create and distribute art. That’s when I found digital art! Being able to create finished pieces in less time and then send them to whoever had access to a computer was the way to go. As a result, I’ve been focusing on digital illustration and graphic design ever since.
I’ve always had fun doodling on paper scraps in my downtime. The subject matter usually consists of goofy critters and unusually round cartoon people. A few years back, I was an art teacher for a public elementary school. It became a very popular thing among the students to challenge me with the task of creating cartoon animals and characters for their personal use. I could see how much fun the children had watching me draw pictures for them and how even more excited they were to receive those pictures when I finished. It was at that point I realized how awesome the situation was. I discovered that I could create fun illustrations for a group of people that liked them, and enjoy doing it at the same time!

What are your favorite illustrations? Can you share some of them?
I am a fan of many illustration styles and artists, but I would have to say that my absolute favorite illustrations come from N. C. Wyeth. He was an artist and illustrator in the early 1900’s who did the artwork for tons of classic literature. His paintings from the book Treasure Island are an inspiration and push me to continue practicing on my realism and painting skills. A much more recent illustrator who inspires me is Noah Bradley. He specializes in digital painting and fantasy landscapes. Much of his work has been used by the organization Wizards for different strategy games. I’m mainly a fan of his technique, monochromatic colors, and use of lighting.

Can you talk a little bit about how you see the digital/web art scene evolving?
Having just joined the digital art world a little over a year ago, I can’t say much about its’ growth in the past few years. But in the amount of time that I’ve been involved, I can definitely see the scene growing and evolving in both good and not-so-good ways. First off, getting started in the digital art scene is becoming increasingly easier for anyone to join. Concept art forums, graphic design and logo bidding sites, simple website creation, and cheap online digital design options are everywhere on the web and extremely easy to find. Which is great news for any inspiring artist who wishes to give their talents a shot on the web. But on the same note, it also creates a flood of artwork and artists to choose from, making it very difficult to stand out and be noticed in the digital art world. I think that the digital art scene is both an awesome opportunity for aspiring artists to get a taste of exposure as well as chance to see the challenges involved in becoming an artist.

What are your favorite things to do in Portland? What about favorite food?
I take full advantage of the nature and wilderness that surrounds the city. Hiking, biking, walking the dog, pretty much anything that gives me an excuse to explore the forests of the west coast. Being so close to two major rivers and the Pacific are just an added bonus. Now the city itself is pretty much amazing. I’m not the most adventurous person when it comes to trying new foods, but that has absolutely nothing to do with how much I love the foods that I’m comfortable with. And food is an area where Portland is, in my opinion, above and beyond so many other cities in terms of variety, quality and pure deliciousness. I’ve been trying to get a taste of what every food cart in the city has to offer over the past year or so, and I’m not even a quarter of the way through the list. And that’s just the food carts! Restaurants are an entirely different, but just as amazing, animal. I’m a sucker for burgers, any kind will do. I would have to say that the most memorable one that I had was at the Grilled Cheese Grill. It was a monstrosity, consisting of a 1/2 pound patty with all the fixings with two grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns. Let’s just say that I’m sadly starting to realize that I don’t have the metabolism that I used to.

You mentioned your interest in ancient cultures – which ones are your favorite and why? Any strange things you’ve learned about them?
Ancient history in general is incredibly interesting to me. The cultures that I tend to show favoritism towards are Japanese and Greek. Whenever I read about how these civilizations developed in science, agriculture, arts, and war always make me imagine what life would be like in those ancient times. Greek culture is a favorite because of their focus on artwork and mythology as a part of society. Including sculptures and ornate carvings on a majority of buildings in cities, towns, and even villages shows how much the Greeks appreciated the fine arts. I love the Japanese for their focus on serenity and nature when it comes to combining architecture and surrounding scenery. A great example of this is actually found here in Portland on the west side, the Japanese Gardens in Washington park. As with all cultures around the world, there are always “strange” things to be found when compared to ones own culture that they’re used to. For example, in ancient Greece, it was considered rude to wave a greeting to someone with your hand open, revealing the palm. And in ancient Japan, women would dye their teeth black, as white teeth were considered ugly.

What’s in your bucket list? Which ones do you plan on crossing off soon?
Skydiving, climbing Mt. Hood, sailing in the Mediterranean, being published, taking art classes in Italy, and going on a Bigfoot expedition, just to name a few. I plan on crossing off the ones that can be done nearby, such as the expedition and climbing Hood. The mountain is going to take a good bit of training and preparation, and I like how it’s a measurable goal that can be seen. The Bigfoot expedition on the other hand, is just something goofy that I always wanted to do when I was younger and never got to. So it’s more for the sentimental value than the actual hope that I’ll find anything relating to sasquatch. Yes, I know it’s strange, but it’s also fun.

A True Atlanta Experience with Keith Echols

By , September 5, 2012 10:12 am

Funsherpa Atlanta explores the magnificence of Hotlanta with Keith Echols. In this feature, we learn about the amazing food down south, Keith’s inspirations, and future plans. From Salsa dancing to Hillbilly Handfishin, Keith shares his unique perspective on living life to the fullest.

Your blog has an interesting name, the Sojourner. Any interesting journeys to share with us?

The name “The Sojourner” has a couple of different meanings for me. The chief meaning and the main focus of my blog is my spiritual journey and travels. As a follower of Christ, I feel it is important to share my feelings in regards to my faith journey in the hopes that it will bring light to others and help them in the search for truth. Beyond my spiritual journey, my wife and I love to take the opportunity to travel when we can so I will talk about those travels on my blog from time to time. Most recently, at the beginning of July my wife and I went on a mission’s trip to Ecuador. It was amazing! It was so awesome to be in another country, interact with another culture and people, and most importantly share the love of Jesus with many people. We met a lot of awesome folks, ate a lot of great food, and had many fun experiences that we will remember for a lifetime!

What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta? What about your favorite places to dine?
Atlanta has a ton to offer to just about anyone. I encourage anyone who visits or comes here to live to find your niche and dive in! I have certainly done the touristy thing like going to the Georgia Aquarium, Six Flags White Water, and Stone Mountain. I have also done some things that are not as well known, but fun all the same. My wife and I met Salsa dancing, so very early on when we arrived, we made it a point to shake our hips to some Latin beats. Atlanta actually has a pretty lively Salsa scene! Piedmont Park is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Some friends and I took in a Greek festival not too long ago. Beyond those kinds of activities it is always fun to find a nice place to share a good meal with my wife and my friends. I am a big fan of BBQ and my favorite place that I have found is Moe’s BBQ on 14th Street in Midtown. Another place I really enjoy is a Mexican fusion restaurant named Tin Lizzy’s. I mean where else can you get a Philly cheese steak taco and a southern fried chicken taco in the same order. To top it all off, Tin Lizzy’s has the best chips and queso I have EVER had at a restaurant! My final and by far my favorite place to eat in Atlanta is a restaurant called Tacos La Villa. The restaurant offers authentic Mexican fare at a very low price. The best part about Tacos La Villa is that it is in an old Quiznos! They still have the Quiznos tables and chairs and the “Mmmm Toasty” sign on the wall. So fun! So I say all that to say, if you are ever board in Atlanta…you don’t have a pulse.

What was it like growing up as a preacher’s kid? How did that shape your life?
I am the man I am today because I am the son of a preacher man. I am so grateful to my father and mother for raising me in a strong, biblically based, Christian home. I have always appreciated how dedicated my father is to his faith, but I certainly appreciate it now more than ever now that I am a husband and as I hope to be a father myself one day. What was it like growing up as a preacher’s kid? It was fun! I had a lot of good experiences growing up in the church. People have this perception that preacher’s kids are either boring or spawns of Satan. Both perceptions have been formed for good reason, but ultimately neither was my experience. I learned a lot about my faith while living under my parents’ roof, but what was great about my parents is they lovingly allowed me to be me. They did not make me become a Christian…they only thing they made me do was go to church. I didn’t mind going to church though because I made a ton of friends and I felt like I had my place. I eventually developed my own relationship with Christ and it has been awesome ever since.

You seemed to have lived in many different places. Can you talk about some of the favorite places and why they are your favorite?
I have had a lot of opportunities to live in many amazing places during my life. As a young child I lived in Japan for three years. I do not remember much about my time in Japan, but what I can recall is that Japan is absolutely beautiful! I would love to go back now that I am older. I also spent six years in Florida. For four of those years I lived in the Fort Walton Beach area and the other two years I lived in Tallahassee. Florida is by far my favorite place I have lived. Great weather, awesome beaches, fun attractions, and some of the best people I have ever met all were in Florida. I would move back there in a heartbeat!

What’s it like working with students? How has residence life changed? Where do you see it going?
Working with college students is a really enjoyable experience! I mean where else can you be an adult and get away with doing fun stuff on a daily basis. The students certainly keep me young, and there is never a dull moment. Residence Life for me really has not changed because I understand that this field is about constant change. Every day is different and every situation is different. It is odd to say, but the change has become a bit monotonous. Which leads to where I see this path going for me? Not very far would be the short answer. While I love what I do, I know that I am meant to do something else. I have a passion for orphan care and I am currently strategizing on how I can make the switch to that type of work. Time will tell as to where I end up, but for now I am content.

What’s in your bucket list? Which ones do you plan on crossing off soon?
If I am being honest, I have not fully fleshed out my bucket list. If I had to say right now the biggest thing would be to travel to all seven continents because as I said before my wife and I love to travel. I have most of them checked of the list but I still need Australia, Africa, and Antarctica. Outside of that, I have always wanted to go “hillbilly handfishin”. I would love to knock that one of the list in the next year or so!

Experiences and Enjoying the Gift of Life with Akilah Richards

By , August 31, 2012 10:21 am

Quick, jump ship and drop the corporate mindset for a life designed just for you. Funsherpa discovers ways to experience the gift of life with blogger Akilah Richards. Finally crossing the chasm in 2007, Akilah has never looked back at the corporate world and now helps others with her Life Design Agency.

Can you talk about your initial transition from a traditional career path toward an entrepreneur? What were the big surprises?
It took me two tries to fully leave the traditional corporate career model behind. When I left for good in 2007, I had a really good first year (financially and emotionally). The big surprises came later on (years 2-4) when I realized that even though I had left corporate, I was still using my corporate mindset (following, not leading – needing external validation – allowing others to manage my time, etc) in my entrepreneurial journey. That was a huge eye-opener, and it piqued my interest in cognitive science, specifically NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), fear sciences, and self-exploration.

What are your favorite things to do in Atlanta? What about your favorite places to dine?
I enjoy hanging out in Little 5 Points (East Atlanta) because I always see people willing to risk expression, and I get to enjoy Indian and Caribbean foods nearby. I also love going to public parks with my daughters.

What exactly is a Life Design Agency?
The Life Design Agency is where I get to put my passion for cognitive science and personal development to use. I help people to recognize and explore their “perfessional” (personal and professional) patterns, and design alternatives based on what they crave in life, not what they think they “should” be doing. I focus on emotional wellness, because I find that most of our struggles with life/Self come from being victims of our own emotional patterns and baggage. I LOVE what I do, and I would be doing it whether I owned The Agency or not, so this lifestyle I’ve built is really serving me on all levels.

Some of our readers want to venture out into a better designed life. Can you provide us with some tips into how they can best explore life design to move away from the trappings of a 9 to 5 job?
Absolutely. I offer a complimentary Life Design webinar for subscribers to my blog ( I created that webinar with your specific question in mind, so I’d say start there. It talks about patterns, self-inquiry, and some of the other tools I’ve found incredibly helpful in my own Life Design practice.

If you could design a perfect life, what would it look like?
Okay, here’s what’s so freakin’ awesome about my life—I’m living the life I craved for a long time! Awesome, right?!! *Squeeaaal!* I’m married to one of the coolest people I’ve ever met; I birthed two warrior princesses (Marley and Sage-Niambi) who motivate me to keep honoring my gifts; I work with amazing women who are interested in showing up more as themselves in their lives; and I get to travel doing work I love! Sure, I’d like to own property in several parts of the world, and I’d like to have my own personal tailor to make clothes that fit me like “Whoa!”, but while I’m working on that, I’m happy with my current Life Design.

What’s in your bucket list? Which ones do you plan on crossing off soon?
I hiked Mt. Shasta in 2001, and I want to do it again since I’ve learned/grown so much since then.
I crave ownership of five acres of land in Jamaica (where I’m from).
I want to see my body at its absolute best (washboard abs and all!)
…and the personal tailor bit.

I’m walking in the light of all of those cravings, so they’re on their way to being crossed of the list.

Life and Parenting from the Eyes of Lisa Weidknecht

By , August 29, 2012 11:35 am

Funsherpa sits down with life improvement blogger, Lisa Weidknecht chats with the crew about parenting, children, and blogging. Well, what’s it like to blog, and be a parent? Read on to discover Lisa’s unique life and perspective on everything.

Can you talk to us a bit more about being a mom and a blogger? Why do a lot of moms take up blogging?
I don’t really consider myself a mom blogger, but more of a life improvement blogger because my blog encompasses so much more than just parenting. I think many mom begin blogging as a way to be creative, reach out to other moms for support and friendship, and to share their lives with others.

There have been some interesting stories about Tiger Moms and The French Way of raising kids. As a child development specialist, can you talk about some of the best practices in raising kids?

Raising kids is truly the most difficult job in the world. Each child is different and parents must be flexible in their parenting. I believe children need a stable family environment, a consistent schedule, clear boundaries, a good education, and a religious and moral education.

Nutrition seems to be a big focus of parents these days. What do you do to ensure your children are eating well?
The easiest way to provide children with good nutrition is to buy groceries that are healthy. Children will eat whatever is given to them, whatever is in the pantry, whatever is in the fridge. If the house is filled with junk, that’s what they will eat. If the house is filled with fresh fruits and veggies and healthy grains, that’s what they will eat.

Your blog hosts a bunch of giveaways, what’s some of the coolest things you’ve reviewed and given away?

I love finding products for families that can help improve their life, whether through child development materials, fabulous books, or delicious new foods. I love to review products that help moms feel beautiful, like handbags and beauty products. I also love to review products that help parents provide children with creative outlets.

If you could design a perfect product for kids, what would it be?
Actually the perfect product for kids is already designed…it’s called nature. Getting children outside to explore the world in all its beauty and to marvel at the creation of things that are real is fun, educational, and open-ended.

What’s in your bucket list? Any experiences that you plan on crossing off soon?

My bucket list is filled with travel desires. Since my children are almost grown and headed to college soon, I am on the verge of a huge change in my life, almost like a freedom I’ve thirsted for, and I want to see every corner of the world. I think it may change some of the direction my blog takes, but I’m excited for what the future brings!

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