WanderBoomer on the Move!

by Nancy Mueller
( February 1st, 2016 )

Alaska Cruise

Oh, what a ride it’s been!

I first met Chief Wanderer of Wanderlust and Lipstick, Beth Whitman, when she signed up for my “Travel Writing for Fun & Profit” class more years ago than I care to remember. We exchanged books, her then brand-new Wanderlust and Lipstick: For Women Traveling to India for my Work Worldwide: International Career Strategies for the Adventurous Job Seeker. We stayed in touch over the next few years, meeting up at various travel events throughout the Seattle area. Soon after my dazzling tour of Alaska’s Inside Passage in 2010, Beth invited me to join her roster of Wanderbloggers, and a fun, profitable partnership was born.

Too-many-to-count trips later for both of us, Beth has made the decision to take Wanderlust and Lipstick in a new direction. As her mission remains inspiring women to travel, especially solo, it makes sense for her to bring her site back to her original roots. In the meantime, we Wanderbloogers are using Beth’s news as a catalyst to move headlong into our own bold new adventurers.

My new travel site, WanderBoomer.com, is under design as I write this farewell post to you, my loyal readers. When my site launches, you will be the first to know. Expect continuing coverage of fascinating worldwide destinations, travel tips on how to travel smart, photography inspiration and much more! In the meantime, be sure to follow me for updates on my social media sites:





It’s been a joy sharing my travels on Wanderlust and Lipstick! YOU have inspired me, through your comments and conversations, to leave my cultural baggage at home, seek out new adventures, and above all, to keep on moving. I thank Beth for the opportunity to be part of such a fabulous community and you, my readers, for your on-going support and shared love of all things travel.

Nancy Mueller Travels

Wander on!


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Florida Keys & Key West Winter Getaway

by Nancy Mueller
( December 28th, 2015 )

Florida Keys

As you gaze into your 2016 crystal travel ball, imagine a getaway to one of North America’s friendliest, most fun-loving destinations. Head to the southernmost site of the U.S. – the Florida Keys & Key West – for your great winter (or anytime) escape. Enjoy blue, sunny skies, soft, sub-tropical breezes and emerald waters as you kick back, feed the fishes and sip a mojito, or two.

The Florida Keys

Book a flight directly into Key West or into Miami International Airport (MIA) to catch a shuttle or rent a car to the Florida Keys, a string of upper, middle and lower islands stretching from Key Largo to Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and finally, Key West, covering 125 miles. Highway 1 connects the Florida Keys to the mainland and the shuttle drive from MIA takes an estimated 3.5 to 4 hours (with drop-offs) at the highway’s highest speed limit of 55 mph.

Key West Historic 7-Mile Bridge

Florida Keys Historic 7-Mile Bridge

For your ultimate stay and play vacation, here are a few fun activities to add to your playdate in paradise.

Voyage on the African Queen.

In Key Largo, hop aboard history with a 1.5 – 2 hour day or dinner cruise on the one and only recently-restored (2011) African Queen from the same-named classic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn. Channel your inner Bogart and Hepburn with a turn at the helm and blow of the steamboat whistle.

Go Deep-Sea Fishing.

Captain Skip Bradeen

Continue your fun getaway with someone widely-respected as one of Florida’s national treasures, Long Island-bred Captain Skip Bradeen, who has been plying the waters of the Florida Keys for over 50 years.

Captain Skip’s musical medley on board sets an easy-living tone on his charter boat, Blue Chip Too. Apart from his mellifluous New York accent, we’re welcomed with throwback tunes like Mack the Knife, Cathy’s ClownI’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, and Kissing and a Hugging with Fred. 

Catch of the Day

Our afternoon mission, should we choose to accept it – and of course, we do – is to land red or yellow-tailed snapper, marlin, grouper, sailfish or possibly “shock”for our evening dinner. “What kind of fish is that, Captain Skip?” “Shock! Shock!” For a minute, we’re confused. Then we get it. “Ahh - shark!” Though the sharks elude us, by the end of our afternoon adventure, we manage to capture enough of the others to “cook our catch”  later that evening at Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada.

Kayak through Mangroves.

While adventure enthusiasts can follow the Florida Keys’ paddling trail from Key Largo to Key West, we opt for a shorter, alternate route through the quiet, backcountry No Name mangrove. What is a mangrove exactly? Just ask Captain Bill Keogh of Big Pine Kayak Adventures who together with his trusted canine companion leads our group of kayakers through a lush, mysterious waterway, a forested marine ecosystem for sea- and birdlife.

As we navigate through the shallow waters, paddling where possible or pulling ourselves forward on the branches dangling overhead, Captain Bill points out the abundance of wildlife all around us. It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying, peaceful way to spend an afternoon while learning about the colorful creatures who live here.

Explore Key West.

Sloppy Joe's

For an overview of popular sites and tourist attractions in Key West, we take the “hop on-hop off” Old Town Trolley sightseeing tour with thirteen stops along the way. Our ride includes a cruise down Duval Street, famous for its festivals and parades, shopping and bars like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Sloppy Joe’s and the Bull & Whistle.

Hemingway Studio

Of course no stay in Key West would be complete for Hemingway aficionados without a visit to his home, now a museum. From the estate’s luxurious grounds with built-in swimming pool, to the purring six-toed cats that grace the premises, to a guided tour through the Spanish colonial-style home and writer’s studio, the site offers a fascinating peek into Hemingway’s life during his years in Key West. The author’s legend lives on in the fun Papa Look-Alike contest held annually during Hemingway Days in July.

Key West Butterfly

Visitors can walk through a bird and butterfly wonderland at The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, another popular Key West attraction on the tour. Vibrant. Magical. Calming. Soft background music adds to nature’s sounds of cascading water and birdsong as we stroll among the tropical flora and fauna in the glass-enclosed surroundings. Exotic species of birds and butterflies fly freely around us. Occasionally a butterfly lights on one lucky visitor, while the rest of us gaze at the magnificent colors up close and personal.

Mallory Square

You have to love a town where locals and tourists gather nightly to view and celebrate sunset as a community event. Jugglers, musicians, artisans, and psychics all contribute to the festive atmosphere that takes over Mallory Square each evening starting two hours before sunset.

Key West Sunset Cruise

Or how about a quieter celebration with a sunset cruise? So many choices, each equally fun and memorable.

Eat, Drink and Make Merry.

Hogfish Bar & Grill

Hogfish Bar & Grill

Enjoy oceanfront and open-air dining at several restaurants throughout the Florida Keys and Key West. Whether having breakfast at the Morada Bay Beach Cafe or lunch at The Hungry Tarpon where you can feed silver kings from your bucket of baitfish in Islamorada; whether starting your day with huge cinnamon and sticky buns at Bob’s Bunz or having lunch at Hogfish Bar and Grill where the specialty is – you guessed it – fresh, flavorful hogfish; whether you “cook your catch” for dinner at Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada, check in for dinner at El Meson de Pepe, a Cuban restaurant, or Half Shell Raw Bar in Key West; whether you meet for breakfast at Blue Heaven in Key West’s Bahama Village Neighborhood (also the site of Friday-night boxing matches once refereed by Hemingway himself) or Mangrove Mama’s in Summerland Key – you can count on having fresh seafood, key lime pie and mojitos on the menu.

Key Lime Pie from El Meson de Pepe

Key Lime Pie from El Meson de Pepe

And remember – it’s never too early in the day for key lime pie. You be the judge about the mojitos.

For more information, visit The Florida Keys & Key West.

Many thanks to The Florida Keys & Key West for the chance to experience “Prime Time in Paradise.” Some, though not all, of my expenses were covered by my hosts.

Wander on!


What about you, wanderboomers? What are your favorite recommended experiences when visiting The Florida Keys & Key West? 



















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Roadtripping Down the Oregon Coast

by Nancy Mueller
( October 12th, 2015 )

Toyota 4Runner

Nothing quite beats the fun of roadtripping down the Oregon Coast to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. While not quite as iconic as driving U.S. Route 66, the Oregon Coast offers plenty of spellbinding scenes, best beach towns and destination dining. Whether planning a family vacation, girlfriend getaway or romantic escape, why not take to the road to explore the region’s bounty?

Getaway Vehicle: Toyota 4Runner

For a family adventure at summer’s end, we hit the highway in style, taking a gleaming red Toyota 4Runner for a spin. Our drive was smooth, comfortable and easy-peasy to maneuver as we (okay, I) belted out favorite roadtripping tunes with visions of off-roading exploits dancing in our heads. Though used to packing light (think carry-on) for my flight travel, I had no problem filling the roomy back of the vehicle with you-never-know-when-you-might-need-it-but-probably-won’t items.

KOA Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside


For the ultimate family camping experience, KOA (Kampgrounds of America) provides RV, tent camping and cabin accommodations. On this trip, our plans included a new travel experience: a two-night stay in a deluxe cabin at the Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside KOA .

KOA Cabins

Amenities at this site include an outdoor and indoor pool with hot tub, a free pancake breakfast (with lunch and dinner available for purchase), bike rentals, and a new activities center that houses arts & crafts, arcade and board games, ping pong and pool tables and basketball. Outside, the giant Jumping Pillow and mini-golf were favorites among the campers on site.

Entering the KOA site, we’re welcomed by friendly ambassadors directing us to the registration office. The friendly atmosphere continues inside the convenience store and at the registration desk. For office manager, Rosanna, “Seeing people have fun” is the best part of her job at KOA. Doris, HR manager, agrees: “When your employees like being here, it’s a good place to be.” In fact, fellow employee Hillary likes working at KOA so much that she planned her wedding to take place on site.

Happy to recommend nearby sites for exploration, the staff directs us to historic Fort Stevens across the street, Seaside with its landmark oceanfront Promenade and beachfront turnaround, and Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. For this short getaway, we opt for Seaside and Astoria, saving Fort Stevens for a longer visit.

Seaside, Oregon

Seaside Starfish Sign

Amazingly, though I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years, I discovered Seaside only recently while attending a Travel + Words Northwest Travel Writers Conference here. Northwest ocean breezes, a fun boardwalk that includes an oceanside aquarium, and plentiful outdoor recreational activities, have attracted families to this coastal town for generations.

Seaside Beach

Visitors can rent bikes, ride the carousel, stroll the Promenade or have a go at bumper cars. Be sure to stop in at Beach Books to browse the bestsellers, regional collection and everything in between, as well as other specialty gift shops and galleries. Or kick back on the beach and soak up the stunning ocean views.


Astoria Bridge

Once a thriving fishing, then timber town, Astoria showcases its heritage at the Columbia River Maritime Museum with interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages.

Maritime Museum

Visitors are also welcome to board the Lighthouse Columbia, a national historic landmark, just outside the museum. Throughout the town, a scattering of Victorian mansions dot the hillside, reminding visitors  of its historical roots.

Astoria Riverfront Trolley

To learn more about Astoria’s colorful history, ride the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. Hop on and off at designated locations or stay on for the entire one-hour journey for only $1.00.

Bowpicker Fish & Chips, a dry-docked boat, (think food truck alternative), came highly recommended, but alas! The first day of our stay the eatery was closed and the second day we stopped by, the lengthy line of customers – while an obvious testament to Bowpicker’s popular following and reputation – kept us at bay. Instead, we discovered the Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe, a worker-owned cooperative located in the historic Fort George Building that features delicious artisan breads, pastries and seasonal foods. Also highly recommended.

By the end of our short getaway, plans to include off-roading adventures in our rugged Toyota 4xRunner took a backseat to running trails and beach town explorations. But with so much more to see and experience along Oregon’s northern coast, it’s only a matter of time before our travels bring us back.

For more information, visit:

Toyota 4Runner
KOA Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside
Travel and Words – Northwest Travel Writers Conference 

Many thanks to Toyota and KOA for the chance to explore the Pacific Northwest in style for our end-of-summer family escape!

Wander on!


When and where are you planning your next road trip, Wanderboomers? 

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