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4

Rüdesheim with AmaWaterways: Riesling, Castles and a Musical Cabinet Museum

Even if you cannot pronounce “Rüdesheim,” you’ll want to visit this picturesque German town that sits at the south end of the Rhein Gorge, a 41-mile section of the river that has the world’s greatest concentration of castles. A town of 7,000 people, all of whom apparently grow wine grapes, Rüdesheim’s history dates back to Roman times, as evidenced by some of the ruins in town.

Rudesheim on the Rhine

The medieval town of Rüdesheim on the Rhein

As part of our Rhein River cruise with AmaWaterways, we had an evening tour of Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum (itself situated in the remains of the 12th century Brömserburg castle), followed by a 3-hour morning hike through family-owned vineyards that produce Riesling so popular it can command over 1,000 Euros per bottle.

Viola music instrument

These cabinets opened up and the violins began to play of their own accord. No other instrument in the museum was similar to this one.

One thing that is appealing about going on a river cruise with AmaWaterways is that you get loads of activity choices, all geared toward a variety of fitness levels and personal interests. When we docked in Rüdesheim after dinner, we had a choice of touring the music museum (which we discovered means the instruments are all self-playing) or relaxing in a cafe that serves Rüdesheimer coffee, known for its cream and brandy. AmaWaterways included a short sightseeing train ride from the ship into town, and if it’s raining, as it was when we arrived, you’ll be glad to hop aboard. In fine weather, it’s a short 10-minute walk.

Rüdesheim w/ @AmaWaterways: wine, castles and a musical cabinet museum Click To Tweet
Clown musical instrument in Rudesheim

One of my favorite instruments at the Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum

doll carousel music box, Rudesheim

This is a very small doll carousel music box at Siegfried’s Museum in Rüdesheim

door and wall at Siegfried's, Rudesheim

A well-preserved, colorful door and wall in the museum, built in 1542.

Arabian musical instrument, Rudesheim

Housed in the cellar, this wonderful floor-to-celing music box still works. All tours are guided, as the tour guide plays these instruments for guests.

Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Kabinet

Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett on a rainy night in Rüdesheim

In the morning, the rain was no longer pouring, though it was still cloudy, so we stuck with our plan to hike to the ruins of Ehrenfels Castle via the vineyards. During the hike, we passed under the gondolas that took most of the group to the top of the hill to view the town and river. On our way back to our ship, the Ama Prima, we were passed by the people who took the third option – a 13-mile bike ride. One advantage (of many) of the hike is that the vintners keep a small fridge stocked with free wine along the hiking trail. So thoughtful. If it’s sunny, bring water and sunblock, as there’s little shade. We hiked in cloudy weather, and it was perfect, as we stayed warm without getting hot. Our tour guide was a retired civil engineer who owns a potato farm in Wiesbaden. Not only was his English fluent (as are all the local guides), he knew the history of all the families who owned the vines. He also admitted to being a bit of a snob who only buys Rüdesheim Riesling, not the Riesling made on the Bingen side of the river.

hills of vineyards in Rudesheim

Yup, we hiked up hill and over dale, through the vineyards of Rüdesheim.

grapes for Riesling

Riesling grapes in Rüdesheim

Riesling producers in Rudesheim

One of the families that owns wine grapes in Rüdesheim. Sadly, the bottle was empty.

bird in vineyards

This lovely bird was supervising us as we hiked through the vineyards. If you know what type of bird (falcon?) it is, please let me know.

Ehrenfels castle, Rudesheim

The ruins of Ehrenfels Castle, Rüdesheim, on a rainy day

Part of what made the meals served on the Ama Prima extra special is that the meal is based on the local specialties. So besides wine, those of us who huddled under blankets up on the sun deck (it was cold and rainy) to get pictures of the many castles we passed after leaving Rüdesheim were offered some of the Rüdesheim coffee. Remember how it has brandy? That helped keep me warm enough to stay up top to get pictures of every single castle we passed as we cruised downstream along the UNESCO World Heritage designated gorge. Those pictures will be in an upcoming post, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already.

We were guests of AmaWaterways on the 8-day “Enchanting Rhine” cruise. They made no requirements of us, except to enjoy ourselves, which we did, oh so much.

 

2

Redding: Kayaking, SUP Yoga, Hiking, Aqua Golf & Lorikeets

Does kayaking on a lake with a park ranger sound enjoyable? Or hitting golf balls into a river? How about practicing yoga on a stand up paddle (SUP) board in a quiet bay, or hiking to the top of a waterfall? Perhaps you’d prefer to stay still and become a landing pad for butterflies and lorikeets.

Crystal Creek FallsThese are the activities we had planned for our final two days in Redding last month. To learn about our adventures for the first two days, please read our recent post about Redding.

Whiskey Creek Lake
SUP yogaWhen we woke up Sunday morning, the sky was drizzly, but not too bad, so the SUP yoga class with Audrey was still on. Swimsuits on and towels packed in the car, we drove out to Whiskey Creek Boat Launch to find a few hardy souls ready to brave what had now become a very strong, cold rain. A quick vote was taken and it was decided to cancel class, a rare occurrence. We hope you’ll give it a try when you go to Redding, and say hi to Audrey.

Of course, as soon as we drove away, the weather turned sunny. Isn’t that how it always works? So we gathered up our good attitudes and hiked to the top of Crystal Creek Waterfall. By the time we came back down to the main pool, kids were swimming in it, and splashing under the falls. We imagine it’s a perfect spot to cool off when it gets over 100 degrees in the summer. On the way back to town we stopped at the Tower House Historic District to check out the former hotel, gold mine and cemetery.

Tower House Barn, Redding

Aqua Golf
Aqua Golf, ReddingIn the afternoon, we went to the Aqua Golf Driving Range, where you get to hit golf balls into the Sacramento River. Or, in our case, in the general direction of the river. The area is enclosed by a net, and the golf balls float, so it’s a recyling-friendly event.
We laughed so hard, and had a really fun time. We also discovered (my 19-year-old beat the pants off us) that being athletic has no relationship to golf swing skill. Face it, we were awful. Even the geese were impertinently walking right in front of us, daring us to hit a ball near them.

Turtle Bay and Sundial Bridge
Turtle Bay lorikeetsMost people who have heard of Redding know about Turtle Bay and the Sundial Bridge, and for good reason. We were at Turtle Bay at the right time to see the lorikeets and butterflies start their day, before the crowds arrived. butterfly Turtle BayWe even saw ducklings drop from the sky onto the ground just in front of us. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. Later we learned from Ranger Jim (see below) that they were probably wood ducks dropping from their tree nest. Wood ducklings, Turtle BayWant to know a secret about the Sundial Bridge? If you go during nesting time (we were there in May), look down through the glass partitions where the bridge supports attach to try and spot the swallow nests. We saw all kinds of nest-building going on, with the sparrows going in and out with their building materials. Super cool.

Sundial Bridge, Redding

The National Parks Service is celebrating its centennial, and Redding is the perfect base for… Click To Tweet

Kayaking
kayaking on Whiskeytown LakeWhiskeytown Lake has 36 miles of shoreline and 3,200 surface acres for recreation, and I think we had that entire space to ourselves. Park Superintendent Jim Milestone was our private guide, and he even spotted a bald eagle with two chicks waaaaaaay up in a tree. (Note to self: Get a really good zoom lens for future kayaking adventures). bald eage with chicks, Whiskeytown LakeThe kayaking (they also have SUP) is free, though they do have a donation box, so be a good citizen and put in a few Tubmans.  Besides showing us the lake’s treasures, Ranger Jim also shared stories about the history of the lake and President Kennedy’s visit in 1963.

The National Parks Service is celebrating its centennial this year, so we encourage you to hie thee hence to the area, using Redding as your base. And if you spot Ranger Jim (or bald eagle chicks), you’ll know it’s your lucky day.Ranger Jim, Whiskeytown Lake

by Alexandra Williams, MA

photo credits: Alexandra

15

Stretching: Before or After Walking, Running, Hiking, Fighting?

DearStretching cat K and A: Is stretching better before or after doing cardio exercise, such as a hike, walk, or run? We believe that the couple who hikes together, stays together. This morning on a lovely hike, we found ourselves debating the truth of exercise advice ONE of us learned long ago: to leave the deep stretching until after the heavy workout — as opposed to stretching before a hike or run, when muscles are cold and maybe a little cranky.  Thanks, from your fans, Gordon & Erika, Goleta, CA

Kymberly: The couple who debates together stays together … until one of them loses this bet. Yes, we’ve been around this walking block and see the dangers that lie ahead. But we persevere anyway to bring righteous truthiness and stretchiness to the active world. Once we answer, will one of you be cranky even though your muscles will no longer be?

And the winnah winnah winnah is …………….. ONE of you is correct. Ok, I’ll give. First, we assume you mean “static” or holding still when you say “deep stretching.” In that case, stretches are best held when muscles and the core body temperature are at their warmest. For static  stretching, that spells “post activity.” Your heart rate is up, you’re possibly sweating, your internal temp is toasty  – good time to ask the muscles to ex–teeeeeend. Is ONE of you hot under the collar now?

In warm-up, do the type of movements you'll be doing in your workout, but at a lower intensity… Click To Tweet

Statically Stretching Post-Exercise

Kymbelrly stretching w tree splits at Rancho la Puerta

Don’t split up over stretching disaTREEments. Do the splits instead.

Alexandra: We covered some of this (including a lovely picture) in our post When to Stretch. But the full truth and nothing but the truth is essentially whatever Fun and Fit say it is, for the simple reason that we sprinkle a light dusting of truth over nothing everything we do, so we’ll give you even more info. While doing your post-exercise stretches, please hold and argue, yell and scream politely discuss your differences of opinion for at least 15-30 seconds so that you can get improved active range of motion, rather than a quick 5-second dish-throwing tirade discourse about improved passive range of motion. Keep in mind the goals of stretching: 1) to maintain or improve range of motion (flexibility) and 2) to reduce the risk of injury and soreness.  You will reach these goals better with warm, happy muscles that have been contracting and extending throughout your aerobic workout and are now ready to solely lengthen.

Which Movements Belongs in Pre-Exercise?

Kymberly: Let’s divide and conquer – umm, this is the segment that is not couple’s advice. To prepare to move, (i.e. hike, run, walk) you need to actually move. Yes, indeedy. A warm-up needs to literally heat up the body by mimicking the workout to come. That is, in your warm-up, do the type of movements you will be doing in the workout, but at a lower intensity and graduated pace. Rehearse the joint actions and movement patterns you are about to perform.

Bob walking up beach steps

A loooong stretch … of up

For example, if you are about to take a power or dog walk, the best warm-up is walking – not jogging, side stepping, or squatting. Start at a moderate pace, ideally and initially on flat terrain. About 3-5 minutes later, pick up the pace and stride intensity. Holding still and stretching statically would be the opposite of this.

Dynamically Stretch in Warm-Up

Guess what? As you warm up, you are actually building in the necessary stretches — dynamic (moving) ones. By definition, if I am contracting my quadriceps, my hamstrings are simultaneously lengthening. As I swing my heel forward to take a step, my shin contracts. Its antagonist, or pair, the calf muscle has to extend. So you really are stretching pre-workout, but in a dynamic way that meets the warm-up goals.

Static Stretching Before Exercise Neither Reduces Soreness nor Minimizes Injury

Kymberly: The muscles are most helpful when warm, pliable, and extensible. Also, all the latest research concludes that static stretching before exercising offers no injury prevention protection. Nor does pre-activity stretching help minimize muscle soreness. ARE YOU LISTENING PEOPLE AND COACHES?!  ALERT ALERT –EXIT THE 80’s DOOR AT THE END.


Action: Stretch your horizons and knowledge about what and how to exercise by subscribing to our blog. Enter your email in any of the handy dandy boxes around and about our site.  We come to you with active aging advice twice a week, FUh -REee!


Alexandra: This post took us 15-30 hours to write in a non-passive way because that’s how long it took for us to conclude that no stupid, **&^*^%$ reputable research exists about “cranky” muscles. As a sop, though, here is a nice, compassionate saying regarding cranky, angry people.

Kymberly: So who won the bet, G or E?

Dear Readers and Crankyfoos: What is your favorite stretch after a long hike? What do you argue about during your strolls?

ACTION: Subscribe if you have not already. Enter your email in one of the boxes and claim your bonus.
Photo credits:
Photobucket.com

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

38

Hiking with the Leeches and Wildlife in Thailand

Travel to Thailand? You bet! Then we got to the jungle.

Both of us managed to set records on our first big hike in Thailand. Unfortunately.

Rocking the leech gaiters!

Rocking the leech gaiters!

It all started with what we thought was a 70 baht ($2.20) joke perpetrated on unsuspecting tourists. “Buy the leech socks from the Khao Yai National Park gift shop before you venture into the jungle,” advised our tour guide. Uh huh – good way to raise a little money, we thought.  But we dutifully bought them just in case.

Alexandra’s perspective: First off, let me say that I loved Thailand. Khao Yai National Park is beautiful. At this park we saw monkeys, an elephant and deer.

Wildlife, as opposed to vampiric, blood-sucking leeches, at Khao Yai

Wildlife, as opposed to vampiric, blood-sucking leeches, at Khao Yai

See how sweet and innocent they look? Exactly. It’s the tiny leech that’ll get you. It’s the Gollum of the jungle world. Nasssssty. We loved all our hikes in Thailand except this one! When the park ranger showed up in leech gaiters to lead our group, we knew it was no joke. We were nervous, but not anxious. That changed about 10 feet into the jungle when we saw leeches all over the wet ground, lurking and stalking us! Over the course of several hours and 8 kilometers, Kymberly won the leech count championship – she pulled 28 of them off her gaiters! Winning was not her goal. I “only” pulled 7 off me, but one was partially embedded on my wrist, sucking my AB+ blood by the gallons! I managed to stay calm while Kymberly scraped it off using my credit card (yes, I brought it along; they said knives and credit cards worked on leeches), but I’m pretty sure I hyperventilated for a while.

For the record, we did a lot of truly enjoyable hikes during our trip. I would happily repeat any of the other ones. For this particular hike, I think I’ll enjoy nature via a documentary or museum next time. P.S. Our guide (his name was Not) laughed at me and my whimpering ways! We definitely hope you get to travel to Thailand. And we’d go back. With our gaiters on.

DSCI1957

DSCI1958

I used my magic scraping stick to remove 28 leeches

DSCI1963

Should I wade through a leech-infested river or not? Do I actually have a choice?

The only good part of the hike - getting to the observation tower! Travel to Thailand

The best part of the hike – making it out of the jungle to the grassland and getting to the observation tower!

Thai People Make Travel to Thailand Memorable

Kymberly’s perspective: First off, the Thais are very honest and generous so we were way off base thinking they wanted our 70 baht for any reason but leech protection.  By the way, anyone want to buy a used pair of lifesaving sock gaiters? Only 80 baht.

Secondly, keep in mind that this jungle trek was designed as a wildlife viewing adventure. Once underway we saw a butterfly and lizard. The monkeys, deer, and elephant were along the road before and after our dangerous race through the leech death traps. Temperature – an oppressing 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity – high. Visibility – well the leeches could see us, and we saw them, but only once they were on us. Topography – up slope the first 4 kilometers, over hill and dale, through thick greenery, and across a stream. Sweaty, pretty, and a great work out. But not exactly relaxing or fun except for the part where Alexandra and I kept telling each other that we’d laugh about this one day. Or post about it at least. Ha ha ha ha pant pant puff puff glug water glug screeeeeaaam! Or as Alexandra pointed out, we should have stayed back at the Visitor’s Center and walked up and down the road to maximize wildlife viewing.

What Triggers Leeches to Fall on You?

And when I spotted the embedded leech on Alexandra, I felt particularly bad for her. Though she is one great hiker and a good sport, she is no nature girl. She and one other woman were the only two to have leeches suck on them. Overachiever! She did stay perfectly still when I told her “don’t panic, but….”  If you wonder why I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt with my hood pulled up, it’s simply a survival tactic. Apparently Thailand leeches climb, crawl, drop, and brush off on you.  I thought they were attracted to me because of the red Vasque Velocity trail shoes I had on or my scent. Turns out they are triggered by vibration. Clap clap to that!

Moral to this story: Venture on all the hikes that come your way in life and travels. For sure travel to Thailand. Unless high muslin socks are recommended. Cuz’ leeches really suck!

Am I safe from leeches this high up? Travel to Thailand

Are we safe from leeches this high up?

The leech that attacked Alexandra (as described by her) Travel to Thailand

The leech that attacked Alexandra (as described by her)

What a Thai leech really looks like (before it sucks you dry)

What a Thai leech really looks like (before it sucks you dry)

 

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Photo credits: Leech – Flickr. All others are by us.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

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15

Easy Tips to Stay Active While Traveling: Climb Stairs, Hike Paths, Sweat a Lot

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Stairs in the heatTraveling boomers on a bus. Could make your fitness plans go bust. If you sit on your butt. So don’t be a nut. Hike if you must. Climb if you can. Cross that bridge and make a plan. To move when you can. It can be done. And be lots of fun. We advise this plan for everyone.

During our recent trip to Thailand (courtesy of our mom – Thanks mom!), we had a lot of “sit on the bus” time, plus lots of “stand in the heat while we describe this wat (temple) or park to you.” It would have been easy to get out of the movement habit. It would have been even harder if we had not already been active beforehand.

Whether you need motivation to improve your conditioning in anticipation of travel or simply want to enjoy some pics and group tour tips, take a look at the following:

1) When you have 15 minutes to wait for the group to gather, go for a quick hike in the vicinity, even if it’s just around the back of the building. We took a short trail that circled around the back of the visitor center at Khao Yai National Park. Yippee Khao Yai, Yippee Khao Yai!

View from Temple Top2) If you are visiting any building or ruins with stairs, climb them. You’ll have a great view of everything, including your friends who stayed below. And your pictures will be more fun, even though your descent might be a bit nerve-wracking (we had to hold onto the rails all the way down for a few of the very steep wat steps).Ayuttaya wat steps

 

 

3) Jump on the suspension bridges. You’ll almost immediately get the entire bridge to yourself!

Kymberly on Khao Yai bridge

4) Go to the top of observation towers and observe. Besides, it’s a great spot from which to make bird calls that fake out your fellow travelers.

The Outlook Tower Leech Hike

5) Faced with a steep hill? Go up it. At some point, there HAS to be a downhill part. Don’t believe us? Listen to Blood, Sweat, and Tears sing “Spinning Wheel.” Sweat with us since what goes up, must come down!

1 km straight up

6) If you travel when it’s really hot, you’ll be drenched no matter what, so you might as well have a contest to see who can create the sweatiest shirt.

Hiking makes you sweaty

7) Travel with someone who will be active with you, and encourage you to climb the 209 steps to the waterfall (yes, we counted).

Heo Narok Waterfall

8) Plank on top of a mountain ridgetop viewing deck. This might have been one of our more daring actions.

Kymberly planks all

9) Relax at some point. Active boomers know when to take a break.

Meditating after Sukhothai hike

Our trip had 3 huge, delicious meals a day, so we knew that if we didn’t find ways to move, we’d come home out of shape and out of our clothes. No matter what activities you manage to find while traveling, take pictures. They are a good reminder of your go-getter attitude.

What ways do you incorporate movement into your travels?

Group shot from village trek -

Outlook Tower

200 steps to the Waterfall

Holding up the stairs

IMG_2730

Sukhothai wat

IMG_2908

Up for 1 kilometre

Stairs to Buddha - Kymberly

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Photo Credits: Alexandra and Kymberly

17

Your Fitness Bucket List

Why do you exercise? Deep down, on those days you have to talk yourself into getting your sweat on, what motivates you to work out?

On my bucket list? Climb ever higher!

No doubt you are inspired by more than wanting to look good or have a 6-pack, or lose weight. Even with those goals, what happy thing happens once you achieve them? We were posed with this question and had to think a moment.

Actually, we had the question posed a different, more fun way: “What is on your Fitness Bucket List?”  That sounds more enticing, right? So tell us – what’s in your bucket? Does your list include performing certain exercise feats? For example, do you want to:

  • Complete a half marathon?
  • Hold a plank for 3 minutes?
  • Finally do the splits (and walk afterwards!).
  • Hit a certain time or distance on the treadmill?

Or would you put activities on your bucket list that you would enjoy once you are more fit? For instance, sky dive (let’s just state here and now for the record that neither of us has that particular goal. Hurl! But you might!). Or you’d tackle that hiking trail over the mountains and through the woods? Maybe you have a plan to travel the world and haul your own luggage or backpack as soon as you get stronger. (We like the plan that offers bellpersonage service, frankly).

Pinterest Board of Bucket List

Kymberly's Fitness Bucket List

Now if you are wondering about OUR Fitness Bucket List, why thanks! Don’t mind if we do share! We worked up Pinterest boards entitled “Fitness Bucket List.” I know, we got all creative and wacky on you there! To be accurate, the CEO of FitFluential,* Kelly Olexa challenged us to create such a board. And we take doubledown dares as we are double time twins!

Alexandra: It took me a while to start my list, because I feel like I’m mostly doing what it is I like to do already, but I do love walking and travel, so I really want to go to various places in the world and walk. I love walking in the mountains, the city, country trails, along the beach, almost anywhere. Not hiking and camping – bleech. I hate camping. I love walking. And I’d really love to learn the Dougie from our First Lady Michelle Obama. And anything that involves disco would be on my list too. Maybe a lesson on dancing the entire scene from “Saturday Night Fever” that John Travolta did to “You Should Be Dancing.” If I could memorize that routine and do it that well I’d be pretty happy.

Pinterest Board with Fitness Bucket List

Alexandra's Fitness Bucket List

Feel free to check out our Fitness Bucket List boards to discover our activity/ movement/ workout/ exercise/ fitnessy dreams. Follow our boards while you’re there.

Kymberly’s Pinterest board

Alexandra’s Pinterest board

Kymberly: If you have followed our blog for any time you will not be shocked to hear that my numero uno dream is for us to be the first twins on Dancing With the Stars. And not the first twins to be eliminated either! I also recognized how much I enjoy water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling – as long as the water is warm and calm.  This is one area Alexandra and I  totally differ as A-twin re-enacts the melting scene from Wizard of Oz when she gets near water.  Another huge item on my list is for medical technology to make strides and find a way to give me back the knee joints I had in my twenties. Aaaaaah, to run and jump again with ease and freedom!

Once you make your list or create a Pinterest Fitness Bucket board, you will notice something veeeeerrrry interesting – themes and trends reveal themselves. At least for us, they did. Give it a whirl. Then tell us all about it in the comments below. We’re waiting! Impatiently.

* Oy vay – an asterisk to track. Such calorie burning work we’re asking of you. FitFluential is a continentwide network of fitness enthusiasts sharing their journey both online and off via multiple social media platforms. Take a peek-see and maybe even join. You’ll get access to a great community, good info, discounts, jetsam, flotsam, and lots of motivation.

You’re just one click away from subscribing to our YouTube channel and our blog. Grab a GPS and follow us on twitter (@KymberlyFunFit / @AlexandraFunFit)  and instagram (@KymberlyFunFit / @AlexandraFunFit).