Jamaica 2017

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The Whole30…Who’s Disturbed Now?

Ok, so it’s still me, but you’re right there with me correct? Let’s all pause for a moment of clarity…


I am tired of being hungry and continuing to gain weight. Sure it creeps on slowly, but it just stays and stays. I am tired of not fitting into my good jeans anymore. What the Hell happened?

I don’t know….

I’m lying. I do know. It was me. I ate every ounce of whatever I wanted. I tried a smoothie diet for a couple of weeks. It worked, but yuk! I don’t want to drink my food and I don’t want to be unhealthy. Even more than that, I don’t want you to drink your food or be unhealthy either, because I care about you, my dear reader.

OK, so I decided to give up sugar on Sunday of last week. That went alright for the day, so I decided to give up wheat. Well, that proved to be even more difficult for me than sugar! But okay, I was still alive after day 2 so, I began to think, “What else is in my diet that could be problematic?”

I have had digestive issues for about three years which leaves me bloated and with a belly ache, like all the time. They said they can’t do anything about it, something about spasms, blah blah blah. I soothe this belly ache with oatmeal, bread, crackers, cheese, yogurt…Whatever I feel like my body is craving at the moment. The G.I. doc said eat less fiber and more bland food because I was not processing all the fiber in my leafy greens and whole wheat products efficiently. It didn’t really help anything, but it made me feel better for the moment. In hindsight, I knew exactly what I was doing. I am a gerontologist. I have a very good understanding of the functions of the human body and how we change as we age, psychologically as well as physically.

But when aging happens to YOU, it feels very personal and scary; even very normal aging processes like a slowing metabolism. When dietary changes are necessary and you ignore them, fat happens. Fat, fatigue, lethargy, laziness, being angry at your clothes and in a bad mood each morning as you have to decide what to wear, they all happen.

                     Karen Bradberry

So, as I was weaning myself off of what I thought were possibly problematic foods, I searched the terms, “what to expect when giving up wheat.” I read a blog post, (I am so sorry I don’t remember where), and there was a link to the Whole30.

I thought, “nope. nope. HELLS to the NO!” I always fail at diets. They feel like punishment and let’s be realistic, NO ONE is going to tell ME what to do! I make the rules about what I eat and I am a foodie. I am NOT, I repeat NOT doing this “diet”.

Then as the week went on I became curious to see how long I could go without reintroducing wheat and sugar into my diet. I was feeling not as hungry all the time, which I thought was just a fluke because I wasn’t eating as much. Sometimes we have those days when we just aren’t that hungry, you know? I also immediately accepted the fact that the lack of blood sugar spikes and drops were because of the absence of sugar and wheat. So, I was like hey, maybe the articles I read are actually true and “Wheat-belly” exists. I am not allergic to any food (dammit), but that doesn’t mean I need to eat it. So I decided to give up dairy and legumes. You know, just to see what would happen.

Today is day 8 without those things. Except yesterday I ate two pieces of fried spam and the day before that I ate a half a package of liverwurst. They were both very delicious to me. They both have corn syrup or sugar in them. It may be a negligible amount of sugar, but it’s sugar all the same, and it’s a no no. If I say I gave something up, then I have to be truthful with myself.

Today I started the Whole30. SHUT UP! I know what I said. But I was like, “dangit….I’m already almost there anyway. Let’s see if I just tweak this thing a little more, I could start counting the days toward the Whole30. ” So, I did. I’ll keep you posted.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 1 of the WHOLE30:

I gotta tell you. I am still reeling from the weekend. I hadn’t really had any cravings past the first three days. I also hadn’t really done any physical labor of any sort aside from light cleaning, cooking walking at work type things. Then Saturday morning came and I sat with my coffee, in my spot, and thought about all the delicious sweets I could be enjoying with it. DING DING DING…There you have it folks. I wanted sugar and wheat. Little Debbies to be exact. And I sat and wrestled with those emotions and talked to myself.

I gave my kid the Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Cups I had bought last week and asked her to take them into another room to eat them. I also warned her, “If you see me running toward you, run…” She got it. But alas, I made it through the hour, with the realization that I HAVE AN EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO FOOD! Like I really felt like I deserved a treat for making it to Saturday and I felt jipped that I didn’t get it in the form of sweet cream filled corn syrup laden wheat cake covered in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil chocolate flavored coating.

About an hour after this “episode” I realized, if I am going to continue to have my coffee on the weekends then I am going to have to look at the coffee as my reward or find some other way to reward myself. After eating my three eggs and veggies and a banana, the cravings went away. I gave myself a reward. Self-love and a little pride.

Good. I learned something.

All the cravings I had vanished and I packed my “dinner” for the trip I was about to take. I went out to play the show at the Greenbrier. Ate a healthy snack on the way. The other boiled egg I had, some peppers and raw almonds. We unloaded equipment and although I don’t do much heavy lifting these days what with four men in the band, I worked up an appetite.

Well, we missed dinner and the employee cafeteria closed.  So, I ate the rest of my peppers and my guacamole, a few homemade almond meal crackers (I’ll tell you about my issues with mushy foods later) and a banana. Then the employee cafeteria opened back up before we went on and they were serving something that smelled delicious. POT ROAST!! The boys were eating the mashed potatoes and peas too…(Those mashed potatoes are why I couldn’t start the Whole30 Saturday.)  I only took a teeny tiny bite of the potatoes but ooh lala they were heavenly. I counted them of course. STRIKE!! I need to be as aware of what I am putting into my mouth as what is coming out of it…Both are a challenge for me.

I ate the pot roast. It was very yummy. I didn’t eat any other unapproved foods that evening. Man was my energy level LOW by 3AM. I was like a slug. Note to self: I need to eat more leafy greens and more carbs if I am going to be dancing and singing all night.

Well, after watching some disgracefulness on the dance floor, (Alcohol knows no socioeconomic boundaries people) and after a girl got up on stage, grabbed my mic and yelled “Hey all you Mother F****” throughout the casino and hotel, (clearly she was disturbed) and after we packed up and hit the road back to VA, I was totally DONE.

The next morning, afternoon, whatever, I had a terrible headache and I smelled SPAM cooking. Yep, I ate it. I ate the SPAM. It was delicious. It also had sugar in it. So, there’s that. STIKE!!

And that’s the story of how today, Monday, became my Day 1. I had almond milk in my coffee, a banana chopped up in some cereal- type concoction of toasted coconut flakes, almonds and walnuts. I ate a can of soy-free Raincoast tuna and I am just not hungry for anything else right now. Real food that doesn’t cause my body to have an immune type response keeps me feeling full much longer. And that my friend, is why I am going to complete the Whole30 and totally change the way I look at food.

Join me if you dare.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 2 of the Whole30- Well that was interesting….

So this is day two for me and so far it has gone pretty well. I realized late last night that I MUST add eggs back in because although I wasn’t hungry yesterday, I got hungry last night and had bad cravings. I ate the beef that went into the fajitas I love so much, but I didn’t like it. I always LOVE it! As it turns out, I guess what I LOVED was cheese and sour cream and the bite and rubbery tug of the tortilla as I ate it, not so much the meat….

Good, I learned something.

So, I looked in the freezer and behold, my farmer’s market chorizo was in there and dat- da-da!! It contained no sugar! This was surely good news for me because I have about four lbs of it left. It isn’t my favorite sausage by any means, but it’ll do a lot. I sauteed some random veggies and made an egg bake. Then I was like, what to do with this extra chorizo?….So I stayed up entirely too late and made mini muffin cups with potatoes, chorizo and eggs. I just sauteed a couple of potatoes in the chorizo, dumped them in the muffin pan and poured some egg over top. They were great. It was all great. I had it for breakfast so far and I feel much better today already.

I think I ate too many nuts yesterday. Had a stomach ache. But it could have been the coconut because it was the first time I had ever eaten coconut in any bulk.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 3-4

So sorry but the week got away from me. In fact, it’s 11:20 and I’m just stopping by to say, it gets easier…. then hard for a few minutes a couple of times a day… then easy again. When bananas and sweet mini peppers taste like candy, I think you’ve officially reached some sort of cleanse pinnacle. They’re lovely, really. I don’t try to limit the peppers but I do only have a couple of bananas a day and I try to not snack on them. But they’re good for me in an emergency and there seems to always be one within arms length when you work at a school.

I gave up the raw nuts and toasted coconut cereal concoction I bragged about eating the other day because it definitely did not agree with me. I’ve also limited my coconut milk to a little in my one cup of coffee each morning. It’s definitely helped the tummy issues.
I can feel my body thanking me each day for doing the Whole30. Sometimes my mind has other ideas though. Things are going good. I’m going into day 5 tomorrow! Hooray! I feel accomplished and I’m not nearly ready to throw in the towel.

Day two and theee were nap days for me. Today, I was good to go for the long haul.
I’ll tell you what helped me the most. Once I realized it was the nuts that were bothering me and probably the coconut, i reintroduced eggs. I made a zucchini, spinach, onion, peppers and Rotel tomato egg bake in two big old pans. I’ve eaten it every day for the past three days and it has been yummy!! Baking the eggs makes them a little chewy which I can deal with since I don’t like mushy foods. And I get a load of sautéed veggies in each serving. I also added the farmers market chorizo to that mix and it’s a hearty filling meal.

I’m going to bed. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 5: Salad is my friend 

I slept like the dead last night, which is a great thing for this old insomniac. Today I ate a Larabar with my coffee. Is that okay? I checked it out and since there was no other compliant food available, I decided just to aware that this is an emergency food for me. I have to make sure that I don’t use it to feed my sugar monster, which is always a raging beast. Done.

I am eating a ton of veggies in salad form due to my texture issues and I have to find my way around that.

Challenge accepted.

Day 10: I feel good

I have been sleeping better, feeling better and my digestive tract thanks me every day. I’ll spare you the details. However, I have this little problem. People ask me about my “crazy diet” all day long at work. When I tell them I am absolutely still doing it, they scoff. They ask me why and say they would never do that. So, I think I have decided this about them, if they had serious gut issues like I have for the past four years, where “healthy eating” was actually a present and active practice in the conventional sense, but still felt bad all the time with bloating, fatigue, pain, constipation, occasional fleeting relief only to be countered the next day by worse pain and bloating, they wouldn’t think this is “crazy” and they would actually want to do it.

Meal planning is a lot less stressful now that I am fully aware of the boundaries of this plan. The egg bake in the fridge is a great way to get extra veggies in without eating salad every meal and without mushy cooked veggies. I have found that bloating and pain have subsided if I do a few things differently and they’re not that hard! I cook a couple of pots of soup each week. I blend them in the blender and drink them up at lunch and they are so yummy. Broccoli was bothering me. I love it raw, it tasted great to me and has a nice texture. But it left me feeling gassy and bloated. I don’t like it cooked, because if I cook it enough that it doesn’t bother my gut, it’s mushy. When the water left in it squishes out in my mouth, it gags me. Who wants broccoli soup? Not me. But I’ll eat some cream of broccoli soup like crazy….I can’t have dairy so I dismissed it the first week.

Then I was like, hold the phone. I can cook it down in some chicken broth, onions and ghee. Add some almond milk or almond and coconut milk and blend it. It becomes a creamy, salty, very healthy comforting bowl of goodness and I don’t feel bad about eating it at all. In fact, I feel really good about eating it. Boom, I get more veggies in, I feel full and I don’t have to stab at a salad with a plastic fork on my lunch break. My gut thanks me. It turns out that if I cook the broccoli and blend it up with the other ingredients I love the fluffy texture and I digest it perfectly. This week, I also added spinach and carrots to the blend. It made a gorgeous green soup that my co-workers said “eww” to. That’s fine with me. I am comfortable with not having to share it. People always want some of your salad, but they don’t typically want your grass colored “whatever that is in your bowl.”

Keep eating, my friends.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 14: Procrastinating wears me out 

Ok so i have a confession… I procrastinate about school work, cleaning, opening mail… you name it. The only thing I do in a timely manner is eat. But guess what… today I procrastinated myself right into feeling exhausted. I was so stressed out because I waited too long to send my interview questions to a friend for a school paper of mine, I ended up emailing my professor and telling her my paper would be LATE. How embarrassing. But anyway, the reason I made this great Confession is to tell you, stress really does lead to a lot of bad things. I was feeling pretty stressed out all week because of some family stuff, then all weekend I piled on, “I’ll do it tomorrow” with my schoolwork, but still continued to think about he fact that I hadn’t done it. It’s like I couldn’t get up the nerve to turn on my laptop.

I started freaking out about my last assignment due, snapping at everyone, wishing for some peace and relaxation. Trying to genie blink myself back to Tortola… so the moral of the story is…. stop doing the same thing and expecting different results. I guess this 10% off my grade will make me HAVE to turn the other assignments in on time.

Jeremy made soup today and we both continued on our way to feeling better and being healthy. For the first time in many years I had an entire basket full of healthy food that I knew would not go to waste. I knew exactly how and when I was eating this stuff cause I’m 14 days into the Whole30 and I’m basically a pro.  The salad stuff would be eaten in a few days, the veggies for soup would go today, (ok I’m throwing that cashew milk away if I can’t cook the taste out of it) the fruit would be gobbled up as breakfast a dinner sides, the eggs, EVERYTHING would be gone and into our bellies. No wasting. Why would I let it go to waste now? I wouldn’t have anything at all to eat 😦 And I am not failing at this.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Day 18- Go to Hell donut 

Ok, so today there was a training and my daughter had a long awaited specialist appointment that got moved from Friday to Thursday. I really wanted to be the one to take her. But I had to do this training. So I go, believing there would be donuts, cereal bars, juice and coffee with creamer, and there was. A new donut shop just opened up in this small town and it is ALL THE RAGE. Everyone is talking about how yummy these sourdough circular sugary wheat bullets are and I was finally faced with them in person. I resisted. I’m proud. Not because I didn’t crave them, I could smell them from the freakin elevator. But because I knew how yucky they might make me feel later and I respect my body enough not to want to do that. Also, I’m on day 18 of the Whole30 and have been compliant thus far. Donuts will still be there when I’m done. They’re still going to taste the same, should I dare to eat one. They will not fall off the face of the earth 🌏 just because I didn’t eat them yet.

Let me tell you what a donut will do to me right now. I will get a lovely sugar high, fill my belly with that sweet starchy bread and feel all warm and gooey for about five minutes. Then, I’ll still be hungry and my veggies and fruit won’t taste so good. I’ll get a headache when I come down off my sugar high.  Then later and probably for a couple of days I’ll have a belly ache from whatever it is in things with wheat that sets my immune system into a tailspin. Not worth it.

I had a stressful day so I wasn’t that hungry overall, and probably didn’t eat enough calories for a girl my size. But I still don’t feel as bad as I probably would have if I had eaten the donut. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about them all day though.

I had a bad temper this afternoon when my kids came home telling me that after they had only a half day at school and had played for seven hours at their afterschool training program, they didn’t have time to get there homework done. As they flopped down in their beds all mad at me because I wouldn’t let them stay up late and do their homework, I decided I’m a mean mom. And that’s ok.

Personal responsibility and accountability have to start when you are young and natural consequences are the best teacher. Some people would stay up late with their kids and help them do their homework and hope that next time they made a better decision. That wasn’t me today. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with the donut though.

Are you doing it? Have you done it? Do  you think I am disturbed? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

So here are my results on day 31 of the Whole30 according to Myfitnesspal, My Aria Scale and Fitstream. For all you who said, “that’s crazy” and for all you who are just curious. There’s no shame in my game. 

Then. Now 

165.9. – 156.9

waist 36/ 34

hips 42/ 38

neck 14/ 13

I lost an inch in every other one of my measurements except my thighs…. Lost 4 inches on each thigh at that fattest part. The part that keeps your phone from falling in the toilet. That part.

dude….. I feel fantastic about this … 9 lbs… I’ll take it. I’m 5’8″ and although I know it’s only 9 lbs, I feel like it was 30. That’s how good I feel. I am never crazy hungry now (hangry) and when I’m hungry after dinner, I don’t feel bad about having a little something because I haven’t put junk in my body throughout the day. I’m surprised at how little food it takes to satisfy me when I feel like I need a little snack. It’s actually a LITTLE snack. A couple shrimp or the rest of a salad I had earlier at dinner. 

So much has changed for me in 30 days. Severe grouchiness in the morning, stomach aches all the time, headaches, sinus infections, lethargy, anxiety, depression, inattention, back aches, and insomnia, all gone! I’m still mean as Hell but that’s just me I guess…It’s not like me to gush, so take me seriously here folks. I didn’t do this for weight loss but I am stoked about it as well. 

Things you will probably need to successfully complete the WHOLE30 (In my opinion) 

Ghee- Serves as a cooking oil, probiotic digestive aid, mix in (think mashed potatoes with ghee and almond milk), spread on, dip in.

Whole30 Approved Buffalo Sauce- You know, for wings and dipping things in.

Whole30 Approved Dressing and Marinade (Zesty Ranch)- It is like an oil based dressing and marinade which I used for marinades, dipping and dressings.

target=”_blank”>Safe Catch soy free tuna- I am not a huge tuna fan, but you can get these in many stores and it served as a good emergency food for me.

Why have tuna when you can have Smoked Trout though? Its almost $4 a can in the stores. I included a link here but couldn’t find one with a decent price. Just go to Walmart.



Karen Bradberry, MA is the owner and sole writer for “Disturbing Clarity”, a humorous yet factual blog found at http://www.clearlyiamdisturbed.com. She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to: clearlyiamdisturbed@gmail.com

GrubMarket | The Farm Has Never Been Closer


Imperfect Parent- You are not alone…

Ok, so I know this is a travel and health site I have created here, but who needs to get away from reality and be exceptionally good to ourselves every now and again more than parents? I want people to understand that there is more to me than my last funny vacation blog, last song I wrote, my job, where I buy my organic veggies and where my band is playing next. So please, if you are an imperfect parent, or know one, please continue reading that my experience won’t be lost with my passing.

I Apologize 

Sometimes people just do bad things. It doesn’t have to mean they had shitty parents or a crazy home life. It doesn’t have to mean that kind of behavior was seen or condoned in the home. In fact, in hindsight and in regard to all the times I may have passed judgement on a person’s parents because of their own atrocious behavior, I owe a few apologies.

Perfect Children

I hope my struggles will help someone else, because I don’t want anyone else to have to feel so alone. Like they cannot identify with anyone in their peer group because their peers have perfect scholarship children who come home on holidays and actually show their parents they love and appreciate them. I’m not knocking that kind of child, we all want that.

You Should Put in the Effort Anyway 

What I am saying is that many many of us did put that kind of time and effort into our children and had the same hopes and dreams and the same blood and sweat sacrifices were made, but our children decided to go against it all.
Sometimes we kid ourselves or listen to others tell us, “if you just put in the time” “if you just put in the effort” “if you stay home and be constantly present” “if you go to work and set a good example” your children will follow a righteous path and all your dreams and wants for them will be realized.

Guess What!? 

Well, no. That would imply that life was fair and deserving people always rise to the top. I should know this. I know a ton of people who are so wealthy, they never have to wonder where their next Louis Vuitton bag is coming from, have been spoiled their whole lives and turned out shitty. I know people who don’t have a pot to piss in and treat everyone they meet like gold and always have, but still struggle. Life is not fair. Deserving people don’t always or even often get what they deserve. Why should I think that would not apply to child rearing? The desire to leave a legacy through the good works our children carry on after we die, does not guarantee their realization.

My Decisions Probably didn’t Matter that Much. I gave myself too much credit. 

You can pick apart my life, my decisions to move around and experience the world, to not stay with people who mistreated me, to sing in a band, to not join a church, to live without credit cards, to sometimes put myself first, to not buy my kids a million gifts all the time, to refuse to let them sleep over at people’s homes, to spend too much money on organic food that could have been spent on things they could play with and I could trip over … all the good and the bad decisions… none of them should result in this phase of my life where I wonder each night and day if I will see my child alive again. And if you’re going through this, then I just want to tell you that there are other decent parents out there who raised their children void of any major traumas or abuse, who are also hurting right now. I don’t know what to tell you to do about it. But I want you to understand and find peace in the fact that you are not alone.


Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Really Traveling”, a humorous yet factual blog found at http://www.clearlyiamdisturbed.com. She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to: clearlyiamdisturbed@gmail.com
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Seven Days in the BVI (on a budget) by Karen Bradberry

Recently the bf and I visited the British Virgin Islands for seven fun-filled but relaxing days. As someone who always feels unnecessarily anxious when I have an itinerary, I decided to travel without one. I suggest you do the same, as it worked out beautifully!

Of course, I did some research about the islands, the climate and the people, for safety’s sake and to eliminate unnecessary baggage. The best tip I got was “pack light”. No problem there, I hate lugging around bags and I figured since I was going “budget friendly”, I wouldn’t need anything fancy to wear. 

We flew into St. Thomas, destination Tortola. Tortola is one of the larger islands and so my thinking was “if traveling by ferry or water taxi turns out to be something we cannot afford once we are out there, there will probably be enough to do on the island within driving distance.” Another great tip I got was “rent a car,” a four wheel drive to be exact. So, that is what I did. 

I had a couple thousand dollars saved up because I was worried about getting over there and running out of money, but I still played it safe and spent as little as possible. After all, it was Christmas time and I didn’t want to be broke when I got back either. 

Man cannot live on “salt air” alone

The first thing I want you to know is that food is very expensive over there and I am not just talking about eating out. I am talking grocery store food was super expensive. For instance, a small can of condensed Campbell’s soup ran about $3.00. Orange juice was about $8.00. A loaf of bread was $6.00. Normal everyday staples were outrageous! I spoke to many locals about the cost of food on the island because I was convinced there must be some secret to shopping more affordably. I mean, this is a tourist industry with most locals working for minimum wage of about $6 an hour.  They told me they had to take the ferry over to St. Thomas for any real shopping, at $35 one way! Overall, the locals agreed that the price of food on the island was not affordable and made life quite a bit more difficult than was necessary. This would explain why most locals with even the smallest bit of land had vegetable gardens.

*So here is my “I’m gonna do this next time” tip for you, check a bag with some non-perishables for your flight over. I’m talking ramen noodles, bread, mayo and dried fruit, the kind of things that customs won’t care about. This way, you’ll pay normal, reasonable prices for your food, a $25 checked bag fee and have an empty bag to take back souvenirs or just throw it out if you don’t love it. You will still come out on top monetarily since a case of canned soda in the BVI will run you about $18.

Where the streets have no names 

The second tip I have for you is to rent a car. After having rented a car on Tortola, I am not sure I will ever visit another foreign land and not rent a car. At $50 a day, we saw every part of the island we cared (or dared) to visit, and paid $0.00 in taxi fees. Yes, it took some getting used to; driving on the left, crazy roundabouts and a few close calls, but totally exhilarating and absolutely cost effective. Having our own means of transportation meant we could go to almost any beach, any day, for free. Technically, I could have spent each day at a different beach with a packed lunch and been back at the rental in time for dinner. We used a total of 3/4 tank of gas in seven days, driving every day. So, just do it and thank me later. 

Crow’s Nest Guest Cottage 

We rented a studio guest house on the West End of Tortola. It was the cheapest thing I could find and it had a hot tub, beautiful views of Soper’s Hole and was oh so quiet. It also had a kitchenette which we took full advantage of each morning and evening.

Adventure Awaits 

So, what did we do besides lounge in the hot tub, cook steak and shrimp kabobs on the grill and watch movies on our Amazon Fire Stick every night? Here is a list of my favorite cheapo adventures and things I would enjoy doing again if I return. 

P.S. They don’t really tow on Tortola, so you can park right next to any little beach access with “no worries”.

. Smuggler’s Cove(Free) Snorkle, lounge on the beach, swim, collect rocks and coral. It’s a small secluded beach on Tortola’s West End. Taxis don’t like to drive there because the roads are so rough. Your rental car will get you there with no problem, once you find it. There is even a little bar there called Nigel’s Snack Shack if you need a drink or two…. or four. The first day we went there were four other people there. We went there each day though, before dinner on our way back from wherever we had been, just to look at it one more time. 

Above: Smuggler’s Cove

2. Cane Garden Bay(Free) Snorkle, Swim, Lounge, rent a paddle board or kayak for around $20 including a lesson. Have lunch at Myett’s. If you do, I recommend their catch of the day, conch fritters and Blue Chair drink. They also make a great Pain Killer, a local favorite. 

Above: Cane Garden Bay from Myett’s  

3. Brewer’Bay- (Free) I didn’t take any pictures here because I was too busy snorkeling, which is exactly what I recommend you do here as well. The beach didn’t look as picturesque as some of the others so I reluctanlty got in. Once I stuck my mask under water, that was all she wrote. We swam around for hours looking at the beautiful reefs. Ask a local how to get down to this beach and you will not be disappointed. The road to it is paved and there is a parking area, if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s a little restaurant and bar here as well. 

4. Road Town(Free) Ok, so I’m not really into hustle and bustle or shopping, but since we planned to go to another island the next day, we thought we would venture over to Road Town, get our bearings and figure out where the ferry dock was. (This is also where the real grocery store is, so unless you’re eating out every meal, you must make your way there eventually.) At this point we had been driving the island for three days and decided we could deal with the traffic. We parked at the ferry dock and stopped into Pusser’s where we had a fantastic quesadilla and an even better Pain Killer…A Disney cruise was docked and there were a lot of people around shopping at the typical port looking shops. We ventured over to Sunny Caribbee’s Spice Co., bought some teas and spices and browsed local artists’ creations. I also bought some magnets for the kids from one of the port shops. Not a bad haul for the day considering my aversion to shopping. We got the ferry schedule and got the heck out of there. But… not before making several heart-thumping trips around the roundabout pictured below… 

5. The Baths, Virgin Gorda- ($3.00) Swim, snorkle, walk through the caves, hike along the paths, swim in the pool, people watch. We took Speedy’s Ferry from Road Town to Virgin Gorda for $50 round trip.We rented a car through the ferry service for $50. We drove down to the baths in the rental car and spent several hours there snorkeling, hiking and had a drink at the bar.

The locals at the rental car pick up recommended Hog Heaven for lunch. Since we rented a car, we had no taxi fees,  and we weren’t forced to stay and eat at the high priced restaurant at the Baths. The food was cooked on a smoker (except for the honey-dipped fried chicken I had, which was also delicious) and was easily the best food/drinks we consumed, that we hadn’t prepared ourselves, since arrival in the BVIs. It was only about $15 per meal there, so it was worth not packing lunch. 

Below: View from Hog Heaven on Virgin Gorda 

Still, there was one more destination I wanted to visit on Virgin Gorda. A five minute drive landed us at the old Copper Mine. No one else was there, and I got several lovely photos. Oh, did I mention this was free? No one mans it, so it was an easy self tour. 

We returned to the Baths because we still had about an hour to return the rental car and get on the ferry. Everyone was gone and it was perfectly legal to then go down and walk around unsupervised. Given the chance, I would probably repeat this trip exactly the same way, and at least twice in the week. We spent about $6 in gas on the island. Taxis run about $30 per person per trip, so, we definitely came out on top by renting a car. 

6. Sage Mountain- Hiking, banana smoothies and the best stories from Jim. Ok, so although you can’t tell from our photos, it rained a lot while we were down there. Mostly it rained at night and you really couldn’t tell in the morning. But when we got up to Sage Mountain to do the hike, Jim, recommended not wearing our “only shoes,” but our “only shoes” were all we had since I “packed light.” So instead of a muddy hike and regretful ruining of shoes, I asked Jim for a banana smoothie and a story. Specifically, I asked him for his story because he had a strong English accent and definitely a worldly look about him. He also seemed like such a happy person, I immediately wanted to know all of his secrets. We spent an hour or so listening and enjoying the stories of a traveling ex-Navy chef who came very close to working on the Queen’s yacht. So, while I can’t recommend the hike on Sage Mountain, (because I didn’t do it) I can recommend asking Jim at the restaurant and other local transplants to tell you their stories of how they came to live in the BVI. This is absolutely free. 

7. Norman Island (Treasure Island)-($20 Round Trip) That’s all you really need to spend to get over to this little island for the day. Eat breakfast first and pack a lunch if you’re not planning to spend $50 per person for lunch and a drink. The dive shop was open first and the people in there were very nice. We snorkeled for free all day and laid in the sun on the beautiful beach at Pirate’s Bight. If you don’t have a boat and don’t pay for a scuba trip, you really don’t get to see the caves or anything fancy like the part of the island where you might find treasure,  but it is a cheap way to get a boat ride and see a new beach. Snorkeling was excellent here. You won’t be disappointed unless you planned to see the caves…. (sad face). 

If this isn’t enough to keep you busy, but not too busy, all week, feel free to repeat recommendations 1-7. No one will hold it against you.


Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Really Traveling”, a humorous yet factual blog found at http://www.clearlyiamdisturbed.com. She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to: clearlyiamdisturbed@gmail.com

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Tortola BVI for Christmas Part 1… Getting Acclimated                 Written by: Karen Bradberry

View from Where we Stayed (Soper’s Hole, West End) Crow’s Nest Cottage

Guilt Trip
I had things as perfectly planned out as I could considering I was going somewhere I had never been before. My childcare arrangements fell through two weeks before departure and no family would commit to help me out with my 9 year old. But I didn’t panic. It did make me feel a bit unloved and under appreciated, but, hey, that’s my gig.

Luckily a friend agreed to help me out and take her for the week, so I could have my once in a lifetime (I hope this isn’t true) vacation without kids. Because no one I am kin to volunteered to help me out, I gave myself a bonus guilt trip which I wasn’t planning on, deducing that they all thought this was a majorly selfish thing for me to do,leaving at Christmas, and they were punishing my selfishness by refusing to even take her to their family gathering for a day.  I’m still not quite over that one but, hey, another life lesson in who you can count on when push comes to shove. It worked out fantastically and I want to say a big “thank you” to Kristyna Lathem for spoiling my daughter while I was spoiling myself.

On to the awesomeness that this trip was… Tortola was very interesting and relaxing in a unique way. I had worried about my “never traveled anywhere before” boyfriend handling the culture differences and ins and outs of traveling in general. He did so great. It was like going on a vacation with all of the best parts of him. He was relaxed when I was tense, reassuring when I was doubtful and brave when I was frightened. I had read somewhere that traveling out of the country as a couple was a good way to gauge compatibility… I would say we passed that test, having never argued or even disagreed that I can recall.

At first he said he was worried about driving on the left. So I drove for about 45 seconds, pulled into the wrong driveway, which was very steep and altogether ridiculous. I got out, walked up the driveway and said “meet me at the top”. And that was how he became a super- confident and competent driver in Tortola. He drove us everywhere and trust me, it was no short feat. The roads over there are rough, largely unpaved and mostly singletrack full of switchbacks. He said he loved driving over there. It was his favorite part.

First, Making it to the Island…

I apologize for getting ahead of myself. I realize there are people who actually want to know details about the travel part because, I looked for the same types of articles and blog posts before I left. So I will try to be as explicit as possible in that area.

We took a flight on a little commuter jet from Kingsport TN, where there were zero wait times at 6:10 AM. This put us in Atlanta around 7AM. Since it had been some time since I traveled through Atlanta, I left us a little layover time to get to the gates.

Customs entering the BVI 

** I should mention to those of you who are worried about customs and wait times where catching ferries and connecting flights are concerned, when you go to Tortola through St. Thomas, you don’t have customs until you reach Tortola on the ferry.  So don’t worry about a wait in St. Thomas for that until your return trip. They give you a customs carbon form to complete at the ferry dock and you can complete it on the ride over… eh hem…unless you ride on top and it gets wet… Then you have to start over. Remember, dates on that form go: dd/mm/yyyy… apparently this is very important. 😬

Connecting Flight from Atlanta to St. Thomas

We then took a larger plane where we rode Delta Comfort Class and had free drinks 🍹 and two more square inches of space.. and a movie 🎥 ….these are good things. We arrived about 1:30PM. We lost an hour. When we got off it was pretty warm so I went into the restroom to change clothes. Came out and had to:

1. Take a taxi to the West End Ferry Dock. (It is important that you know where on the island you are staying. I had a rental car already waiting for me at West End. DeDe’s Car Rentals did that happily. If you take the wrong ferry, it’s a 30 minute cab ride to Road Town or West End. Whichever place you were supposed to be for your stay. It’s not the end of the world but it’s an extra expense)

This taxi from the airport to Charlotte Amalie Ferry Dock cost $6 each and $2 for bags 💼

** It is also very important to get to St. Thomas before the last ferry ⛴ of the day. Checking those schedules is easy and can be done online while booking your flight. But remember you do not have to account for customs times so “no worries” as they say on the island.

A quick ride in the Taxi got us to the Charlotte Amalie dock in just a few minutes.

2. Take the ferry to Tortola (West End for us) this somehow cost $90 but I was too excited to figure out why. Also if your bag has wheels, they make you check it on the ferry. I didn’t care because I was sick of lugging that thing around anyway.

A caveat here to describe my experience on the ferry. 

We took the Native Son Ferry which I am quite certain is one of the most preferred ferries here. However, we chose to ride on top on what seemed like calm waters… On this ride I learned all about how when you are at these little ports and docks the water is usually calm no matter WTH is going on at sea… so we rode on top and the seats were just plain hard metal (with some sharp corners) and it was all la-tee-da until we hit the open waters and started getting splashed and beaten around. I tried to move up to the front and fell down and got some lovely 😊 bruises and a hard lesson. And no one… (I was certain at the time), is going to come save you if you go flying off the damn thing….See before and after ferry ride photos below. 

My tip for you, ask how the waters are before you get on top, if the locals say it’s rough, go ahead and stay inside and complete your form. There will be plenty of time to see the islands and beautiful views later. As a bonus you won’t have bruises, sopping wet forms and a continuing irrational fear of ferry rides for the rest of your life. 😳

3. Wobble off the ferry and take your form through customs. They will usher you in the right direction. Passports at the ready, it took us about 10 minutes to get through customs and boom we were thrust out into the dirt parking area where our rental car was awaiting us. There was a half tank of gas and the key was, get this, under the mat. 😂

(Part two through ?? of this blog will include tips we learned and more photos and videos of our adventures in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Norman Island and St.Thomas. I’ll include a link here when I get it written.)

Karen Bradberry is the owner and sole writer for “Really Traveling“, a humorous yet factual blog found at http://www.clearlyiamdisturbed.com.  She began this blog in effort to try to fill in the gaps for travelers like herself, ready for adventure and avoiding disaster. As a parent, college student and full time counselor, Karen strives to bring a better understanding of the places she visits, how to get there and how much it really costs to readers who have always wanted to travel. You can reach Karen Bradberry by writing to: clearlyiamdisturbed@gmail.com

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Vacation WITHOUT the Kids? Yes, I believe I will!

I am a guilt-ridden single mom. I’m not complaining about being single or being a mom. I just want you to know that usually, wherever I go with the kids, it’s just me and the kids. Like, I don’t have any helpers really, no other money being throw into the kitty aside from my own and unfortunately, no one there to say, “Don’t talk to your Mother that way!”  It is what it is. It is life. It is work and it is usually not easy. I feel guilty when I can’t give them what married couples can give their children, like IDK…. attention… But, I still want them to experience life in such a way that one day, when they are old enough to understand, they can look back and say, “I had a great childhood that was full of adventure!”

So, I finally decided to take a vacation without the kids. Why? Well, each year I plan what is meant to be a wondrous, stress-free time at the beach with me and my two daughters, and each year by the end of the first day, I wish I had left them at home. When I say wish, I mean, the curse the sky and kick myself kind of wishing, that only comes after the guilt of wishing them away has passed.

Neither of them are spoiled brats. They haven’t always gotten what they wanted and we have lived more for experience than possessions their entire lives. So, of course, I always assumed they should be with me on vacations. Life is an adventure right!!?? I had step- children as well, who are grown now and it occurred to me recently, that since I was 20 years old, I have always vacationed with children. So, pretty much my entire adult life has been spent not really relaxing, even at designated relaxation destinations.

For the past two years in a row, I have taken my own children camping at the beach and to my dismay, they have been eager to go but reluctant to allow me any peace once we arrive. Two years in a row I have endured (through them), sun sickness due to refusal to put on sunscreen frequently because, “it feels gross”, complaints of bug bites when camping because, “bug spray stinks”,  multiple showers per day (where I must assist due to age and possible campground creepers), no towels for me because I apparently didn’t bring enough for my teenager to have ten of her own to throw down in the sand and then still need one for a shower. This year in particular, my oldest daughter turned 18 while we were on vacation and informed me that babysitting her younger sister wasn’t her job and it was my problem. (I just wanted to go to the fruit stand alone without fear that she’d be kidnapped from the campground.)

Then there was the fact that my 18 year old wanted someone to take her home, a seven hour drive. And when I said, “NO!” She began to use social media to have someone driving that direction come and pick her up! Like a stranger…. So, if it wasn’t the younger child needing constant supervision and help with the simplest tasks, it was my older daughter being incomprehensibly obnoxious. Yeah, it ruined my vacation. No, I did not have a good time and NO, I do not feel like spending my money or my vacation time that way again.

Am I saying I won’t take my nine year old on another vacation because she needed supervision, regular feedings, somehow was always covered in sand which made applying sunscreen scratchy and felt gross which then led to screaming through the campground “It’s hurting me!” “Don’t touch me there!” (….sigh….pause for the thought of what other campers might have thought was going on….another pause because no one ever came to her assistance and the realization that this is the world we live in) No, I am saying that my big vacations this year and next, will include a house sitter, a babysitter, a dog sitter and me sitting on a beach with no children around AT ALL!

Have you ever gone back and asked your kids if they remember this or that from a vacation  say from age eleven and younger? Have you ever been sorely disappointed to realize that they don’t even remember the vacation at all? You ever think maybe you should have left them somewhere safe and taken this ghost vacation yourself? I am sure traveling with some kids, and if you have the  money and if you are a super-patient awesome parent feels like a vacation to a lot of people. But I feel like maybe it is asking too much for them to go EVERY year.

Selfish me…I feel like a vacation should be a vacation. I should return feeling rejuvenated and not like I still need a vacation. I am spending Christmas in Tortola. My youngest will go to her God Parents’ house, because they’d “LOVE to have her!!”… and my oldest…hopefully will have a job to go to.

I am spending spring break in Jamaica, also sans the kids. And I don’t plan on feeling one bit guilty about it.


Karen B. @clearlyiamdisturbed.com