introductions…

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So, my daughter and I have been travelling since she was itty bitty, to use an expression that she thinks makes her feel too small for the grown-up 10 that she is now. But we have. I come from a long line of kin with what is commonly known amongst us as “wanderlust”. We get yearnings to be other than where we are – see the world. Enjoy another culture, explore another part of this amazing world.

I’ll start by back tracking and sharing thoughts from early adventures before posting about the tastes up-coming travel.

Hopefully this will be fun for all!

 

working backwards to go forwards

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I could start this all off with the first plane trip the girl ever took – heading off to the UK when she was no bigger than a minute. I could start somewhere in the middle and get completely muddled. So, to keep things straight in my head I’ll work backwards to go forwards.

Clear as mud?

Good!

Last summer found our wandering feet heading to London. 2015 was my 25th anniversary of studying abroad during my university days – ah, time, how you do torment one!

Five years before (that’s 2010 if you’re keeping track) the group of us that had studied together had an impromptu reunion in Alabama where our college is located. It was good to see most, great to see a few, and some were hard to ignore – though not for a lack of trying. We talked about how great it would be to have the 25th reunion in London – stay at the house where we had lived and studied and just enjoy going down amnesia lane. So I started planning, emailing the university to set a date, send in a deposit, etc. The years came and went and more people dropped out, which was disappointing, but the hearty few were determined to go and have a great time.

Memories from July 2015…

Currently, we’re back in one of my favourite cities, London. 25 years ago I was a student here enjoying studies, theatre – lots of theatre on the cheap, museums, and there day weekend outings. It was wonderful. Now I’m back with my daughter and we’re just taking things as they come. Oh, there will be things that I want to share and show her and there are things that she wants to see and do as well – she’s been reading up and she knows some of the sights from movies and telly. This trip is slow and easy because we know we’ll be back. But also because jet lag is tough and AEB takes change in a way I never did. She loves to explore and be new places, but she’s also a homebody. She likes her home and her routine there, so it’s important to try and help her balance the feelings of wanting to be home with the joy of exploring places away from that.

The day we arrived we checked in and took a short nap, (and a much needed shower!), and then “hit the ground running” because it helps with jet lag recovery time. We got out and walked, and walked, and walked. We explored Kensington Gardens to find the statue of Peter Pan and enjoy the Italian fountains. We walked up to Albert Hall oo-ing and awing over the gilded statue of Victoria’s beloved Albert. I told AEB that if she wanted to grieve for me upon my death with a gilded statue that would be fine, but I would much prefer something a little more understated. She agreed.

Day two she requested an outing to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, something I had never gone out to see before. As we walked up to the gates we burst out singing, “they’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace“. I suppose it was too touristy a thing for my all too grownup university self to do. But then, it’s also one of those things that, if you live in a place, you forget to do. Like if you grow up in NYC and you never go to the Statue of Liberty, you live there. You figure you’ll get there sometime, but then you never do until some out-of-town friend comes and wants to go, so you go. So, we watched the pomp and circumstance of it all. We weren’t on the roundabout/Victoria memorial in front of the palace, but at the side gating so we saw quite a bit, but missed the parade down the Mall to the palace. It didn’t really matter because we saw a lot with an unobstructed view so there’s nothing to complain about. Our girl kept asking if the band was playing “God Save the Queen”. “No dear, they’re playing ‘Let It Be Me’ (the Everly Bothers if you didn’t know)”.

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And we rounded off the day with a trip to Paddington Station to visit the bronze statue of Paddington. They’ve moved the statue from where it had been to under the large clock on platform 1 where the film of “Paddington” had the Browns seeing and meeting Paddington. It took a while to find it, but find it we did. The last time AEB was next to the statue she was about half the size she is now. But it’s always good to see an old friend once again, even if he is made of bronze.

…continued in the next post…

On the Rails towards the Land of Disney

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This is an old trip, two summers ago, but since I never stopped to tell about it I figured taking care of some backbloging might be in order since I seem to be on a bit of a roll with the writing thing.

We’ve been on the train before for long haul trips. We took our first train from Washington, DC towards Portland in the summer of 2012 on the Empire Builder. It was a wonderful trip, even with derailment delays and rerouting and not fully getting to see what we had planned on seeing. So we were looking forward to the new trip. This time we were to take the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles. We wanted this route as it would take us along the route that plays a prominent role in my mum’s Last Crystal trilogy. She wanted to make sure that what she remembered from her first trip was accurate so that the place setting would be true.  She was taking notes for the final book so we all went along on the train ride that took us to Los Angeles and then eventually to Anaheim and Disneyland! I won’t actually tell you about the traveling itself as some in our party did not pack things to keep “entertained” with so were rather grumpy along the 40+ hour journey. But there are interesting people to find a conversation with if you’re willing to start with a simple “hi” or “is this seat taken?” in the observation car.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Disney. I’ve gone through cycles of really loving the movies and the tv programs to really loathing them. I grew up with Sunday evenings being filled with supper in from the The Wonderful World of Disney and the movies/series they produced. And have hated some of the liberties taken with favorite fairy tales and legends. I never forced the movies onto my daughter, to some extent because they are rather terrifying and to another we don’t have cable so she wasn’t exposed to the channel of non-stop Disney stuff. I asked her once when she was in the second grade if she wanted to go to Disney World (lots of her friends were going with their families) and her response was, “Why would I want to do that?” So as we drew nearer to visiting Disneyland with my cousin and her husband who are true Disney fans she had one stipulation⎯KEEP ME AWAY FROM THE PRINCESSES. I did remind her that Disney was more than princesses, that they owned the Star Wars franchise so there would be plenty for her to enjoy other than running in the opposite direction should a Disney heroine other than Rey or Leia make eye contact.

I wasn’t expecting to fully enjoy Disneyland. I was expecting to enjoy the company of family, but not the park itself. However, being that my cousin and her husband and fans, go every opportunity that they can get away, are planning their retirement around joining the Disney family I had a blast!

We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa all the staff, or cast members, were lovely to interact with. Checking in was easy, getting to our rooms was simple, and the resort was well laid out. And best of all it had its own entrance to the park itself so no waiting in massive front gate lines, just the lines from one part of the park to the other but once the first rush got through there was really little waiting time and this was in July. AEB’s uncle (okay, so technically he’s a second cousin-in-law, but I decided a long time ago that children of my cousins’ should call me aunt as it was less confusing and didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to sit at the kids table because I was being called “cousin” by 3 year olds.) took us to the pool to relax and settle in before taking her to The VOID to immersed in Star Wars before hitting the actual parks the next day. AEB loved it! And begged to go back but uncle Richard only goes once because the story doesn’t change and he wants to keep it enjoyable. Bummer. But good on Richard for standing firm and not caving in to her puppy-so-sad eyes. He even bought the girl her first pair of mouse ears. They’re Star War themed and flash, very cool!

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poolside relaxation

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the VOID

 

One of the things that Disney does is try to help families by creating all inclusive packages. And I have to say that helps a lot. Many families have budgets that they absolutely can’t be flexible with and being able to plan a vacation that lets you know what you’re going to spend is so helpful. Of course, there are always the take homes that aren’t part of the package and you can get caught spending more on the credit card on a watch or the chance to have lunch at the Blue Bayou Restaurant with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride floating past you at regular intervals.

There were plenty of rides for those that aren’t into roller coasters or being turned upside down. So there really was something for everyone. Of course there were characters walking about the park and you could have dining with certain characters if you wanted, but we were there to enjoy and be led around by the professionals.

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nightly fireworks really does make for an incredible evening experience.

I’m sure I could say more, but since I was going with the flow and just enjoying myself and others did the planning. If I were to go again I’d probably do the same and find a time to join up with Shannon and Richard and just tag along for the ride. Being at Disneyland is a bit like being around bubbles. It’s hard to grumpy around bubbles, they just make people happy. And that, I suppose, is why they say it’s the happiest place on earth.

 

Taking a Moment for Ourselves

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So, this year has been bumpy. So bumpy that I’ve not stopped to work on updates here at all. But time moves on whether we are ready for it to or not and so I am now making time for some posts to catch up.

The year started out with my dad in and out of hospital. Eventually he died surrounded by friends and family. That blow, while not wholly unexpected, was a blow none-the-less. Then my health has been not that great over the last few years and finally came to a head at the end of June. I’m about to get a bit personal so if you’re at all “squeamish” Skip down to the next part. I’ll put ✤ at the start of the next bit so you know when you’re safe.

I have been deal with a rather large fibroid for some time which has made my menstruations something to fear. I had explored options other than a hysterectomy to deal with the issue and eventually had a fibroid embolization done to cut off the blood flow to the fibroid and get rid of it. Well, it worked so well I “gave birth” to the fibroid, but not all of it. I went in for surgery hoping that the rest of the fibroid could be removed, but knowing that it would not be so easy and I’d have to have the hysterectomy I’d been avoiding all along. I came out of surgery with one less organ than when I went it. Thus I spent most of my lovely summer on pain killers and just trying to recover from the surgery. Fortunately, it was done laparoscopically so it wasn’t the recovery of a full cutting, like for a caesarean birth.

✤ Okay, you’re safe now!

So, having had the surgery and recovering. It was time to give our family a little time away from it all and enjoy a bit of vacation time. AEB wanted to go to the beach, so I started hunting places to go. We’ve been to Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina beaches so I thought I’d search for some new beach that sounded interesting. I settled on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I’d heard of Hilton Head before, but knew very little about the island. When I’m going into a new place and planning for the family I feel pressure to plan something where no-one is going to be disappointed. My greatest fear is that I will have planned something and it will all fall to pieces at my feet like a washed out sandcastle. So, with fear in my heart, I started to look for places to stay.

I settled on the Sonesta Resort at Hilton Head. It had good reviews, though sometimes you have to take these with a grain of salt. And it seemed to be a good location on the island. There were some complaints that things were expensive, but being a resort I figured things would be more expensive. But my bigger criteria were that the rooms looked nice and spacious and it had beach access which I thought would mean it wouldn’t be as crowded as other areas of the beach. And the overall look of the place seemed inviting. I found a lovely reduced rate on TripAdvisor (I did look at Expedia and Travelocity for comparison and they seemed about the same so there really is no rhyme or reason as to my going through one over the other. I am, admittedly, a bit of a price whore and will go where I can find the best deal possible.) and so I held my breath and made the reservation. We were going in August so school was getting started in the southland so the place wasn’t as heaving as it might have been had we chosen to go in June or July.

We went the “long way” as as we were wanting to see friends along the way and breakup the driving time. We ended up stopping in Greenville, SC to see an old friend. In my youth, when we moved to New York City so my father could take on a pastorate there was a man who became known as the “pumpkin man” as he always brought me a pumpkin come Halloween. Mr. K eventually moved to the city and worked with my dad, but upon retiring he and his wife moved south to be nearer their grandchildren. We did drive further out of our way, but sometimes you do the right thing for the right reason, not because it’s convenient.

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Mr K with mum and AEB

We then made it Hilton Head Island and got ourselves settled into our room. We were greeted by very personable valets/bellhops who helped us figure out where to park, took our bags up, and gave wonderful information about the island with recommendations for food and explorations. The room we had enjoyed a view over the front of the resort, but the palms and the Spanish moss made the parking lots more bearable. But truly, we weren’t there for the view but the beach and the island to explore. The room, I will say, was wonderful. There was no smell – no must, no mildew, no overt fragrance from the cleaning products or washing powder. Since Hilton Head can be very humid it was wonderful to be a room that fought the humidity. I am sensitive to fragrance and do have asthma so it’s important to me to be in an environment that is comfortable for me. The room ticked all the boxes for me.

We decided to eat at one of the restaurants at the resort. It was pricey, but we were expecting it to be, but the food was very nicely done. Living in Maryland meant that we weren’t going to be doing crab, but trying any of the other seafood options. I had the shrimp and pasta and they did not skimp on the shrimp. I came to the end with shrimp for every bite. AEB had the salmon which is her go to choice and she complimented the chef. For dessert I was convinced to try the Key Lime Tart. I was disappointed. The crust was not very flavorful and the filling was rather grainy and not as lime-y as I felt like it ought to have been. It was beautifully presented, but ultimately dispiriting.

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points for presentation but negative points for flavor – disappointing

AEB wanted to swim before bed so we sat a let her enjoy the pool before heading down to the beach to see how close our room was to things. Our first night sunset was spectacular.

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I hardly read as I enjoyed napping and people watching far more than the book I brought.

We brought our own beach chairs and umbrella with us but the lifeguards will rent you chairs and an umbrella if you don’t have your own. We left our beach things in our car and then unloaded every morning. At the Sonesta they share the property with apartments and other living/rentals so the beach house for the community is open for folk to load and unload for easy beach accessibility. Most days we decided that we wanted to enjoy the beach in the morning, pack up in the afternoon, enjoy something on the island in the late afternoon and find some fun place to eat, come back to the room and then an evening stroll on the beach before just relaxing in our room with a movie or something else. We were there first and foremost to unwind, relax and enjoy the downtime at the beach and not really there to go to museums or other venues available for us to enjoy. Maybe next time.

Our first full day we enjoyed the beach and then went and had supper at Captain Woody’s which had been recommended by one of the helpers at the towel hut by the pool on our first evening. The food was fresh and really tasty. We had the place pretty much to ourselves as we were really eating a very late lunch and early supper. Then we just drove around to get a sense of the island’s size and finally a stop at the Piggly Wiggly to pickup some luck items so we could take a cooler down with us for the rest of the week. Though we didn’t have a kitchenette we did have a refrigerator in the room so we could prepare lunch to take with us.

Days 2 – 4 were filled with beach, more exploring, and good food. We enjoyed exploring the shops at The Sea Pines and specifically Harbor Town where the famous candy stripe lighthouse is located.

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Harbor Town Lighthouse 

 

The Sonesta has turtle feeding in the afternoons where guests can help feed the turtles in the large pond on the property. The turtles are so trained that even if you stand for some time at the edge they will all start making their way towards you in anticipation of a treat. One afternoon AEB and I were coming back to the beach and found a baby turtle trying to make its way across the path. I imagined it getting squashed by some unthinking child or adult and so I took my flipflop off and scooped it up and moved it across the way in hopes that it would find friends and not become a seagull or pelican’s next meal. I used my flipflop as I didn’t want to get my people smells on it in case that would mean its doom.

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We enjoyed ice cream at Hilton Head Ice Cream. They make their own and have interesting flavors like: Spumoni, Lemon Custard, and Kalua Chip. It was worth the stop after a day at the beach.

We also ate at the Quarterdeck Waterfront Dining one evening. We got in just before the rain of the evening arrived. The food was lovely and our view was made enjoyable as we watched boats coming and going and supper cruises getting ready to set out for the evening.

Our last evening we visited The Black Marlin for supper. So good! We ate outside and enjoyed the bayside view as well as the live music that started while we were there. It was a nice way to end our time at Hilton Head. We got back and decided to try a kite that we had brought. It was far too windy to get it airborne but it was fun trying.

Ultimately, we enjoyed just being together and having the downtime that we all felt that we needed more than anything. We all three highly recommend Hilton Head Island for the beach and the warm water. The rest of what the island has to offer: the shopping, the food, the museums, etc. we dipped our toes into but will have to wait for another visit another year. But don’t take our word for it ⎯go and find out for yourselves.

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The Journey Home

It’s been a long time since I wrote about our travels. We’ve been on a few more adventures since the road trip. But life has been happening around us and time to stop and reflect has been pushed aside for other things. I do stop now because the journey is changing and not everyone is coming along for the rest of the trip. I’m not ready to write about it, but I leave this here for those that know us and may not have heard the news.

We’re going to miss your presence, dad. 2 July 1940 – 7 February 2019

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Next train ride

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Now that mum’s first book is up and out in the world for others to enjoy it’s time to turn our attention to the next two books and summer travel plans.

Last summer we drove across the United States. It was awe inspiring and brutal. I only had two weeks vacation time and that’s what we did – across and back in two weeks and a couple days (we had couple of sick days on the road). As the girls said, “I want to do this again, but next time…NEXT time, we are renting a caravan and taking a month!” I agree. Whole heartedly I agree!

It was a a feast for the eyes. The United States just about has every sort of landscape you could want to explore, expect for rain forest or fire swamp with R.O.U.S.s. Our route started in Maryland and had us follow along I-70  mostly because of this sign:

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just an image I found on the internet. i don’t own the rights to it.

Which makes me want to just keep driving until the bitter end. We took I-70 into Colorado and then veered off. From Maryland I-70 takes you through a sliver of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and into Colorado. It’s a lot of ground to cover, but beautiful. Once in Colorado we started moving up and into Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and then into Washington. On the way back across the United States we followed the coastal route into Oregon and California before starting back across and going through Arizona, New Mexico, a bit of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas,  Tennessee, a corner of Kentucky, Virginia, and back into Maryland once again. Whew!

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both are from Rocky Mt. State Park near the continental divide

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Wyoming 

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how many of you know about the Stonehenge of North America? look it up! It was the first memorial built to commemorate WWI in the US

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Puget Sound, WA

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Oklahoma

This summer we decided to let someone else do the driving. We’re doing another train trip. This time we’re taking the Southwest Chief across. It’s something we’ve talked about doing after our first train adventure on the Empire Builder several years ago.  While the United States put their money into an interstate road system and not the rail system it’s still a great way to see the landscape. If you’ve travelled Europe it’s no Eurorail. It’s not always easy to get from a train station to a town you think might be worth exploring. I used to work at a Bed and Breakfast in an American Civil War town and I always felt bad for Europeans that were trying to backpack and rail their way across. It’s not like doing it throughout European countries and towns. But it is worth doing it you can deal with the quirks of the US rail system as it is.

We haven’t planned much further than getting things booked. And once in California there will be time to explore Disneyland, but the girl is more interested in the possibilities of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She’s never been overly enthusiastic about the Disney princesses, but I think there will be plenty of things she’ll like once we get to actually explore the Magic Kingdom of Disney.

 

let’s not make this a habit…

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what? two posts in a row? how’s this happening?

I suppose the shameless plugging of my mum’s new work of fiction has me figuring out every possible angle of getting the word out. Yes, she’s my mum, but it’s also a work that’s  a good read. She’s a story-teller by nature. I am not, so I know a good story when I hear it and I’ve been hearing them all my growing up and all of my own girl’s growing up.

This particular tale, this story started even before I was thought of as being in existence. The germ of a story, which is now the seed for the last book of the trilogy. The first two books came out of as my mum shared the story with her granddaughter who had questions, lots of questions and wanted to hear more and so the story grew, as good stories do. Think Tolkein, or C.S. Lewis. Stories that weren’t quite finished with one telling of a particular tale.

It’s been a fun process to watch and be part of as a bystander and somewhat reluctant participant. I got roped into taking the photo for the cover. Since the story takes place along the Santa Fe trail heading to California with a wagon train we wanted to get as near the landscape as possible. We have family in Kansas and Missouri so off we went for Thanksgiving to get our trail shots. We thought it would be a photograph with title, etc. on it, but it morphed into something quite wonderful instead – if I’m allowed to toot my own horn, which I will.

Here’s what happened…

 

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author staging the cover’s look

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trying to get an uncooperative dog to sit still. what’s the saying in show business,                    “never work with animals or children”?

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first photograph chosen for first cover ideas

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I used the Waterlogue App I had on my smartphone. It’s a pretty nifty app that allows you to do what the title says, turn a photo into a watercolor. Mum didn’t want the characters recognizable as actual people so that no one would have a specific idea of what the characters should look like. It’s important for each reader to picture the characters as their imaginations will. However, this ended up bleeding too much and didn’t feel like an image that would convince anyone to pick it up and read the contents.

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this photo was settled on next as the cover layout was continuing to take shape (the photo below)

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cover trial 1

I flipped the image from above for the first full version of the book cover with title, author’s name, and back information… still not quite right.

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the photo finally settled upon was the one used above, but the author didn’t want the characters to be clearly seen. She wanted them to be blurred enough so anyone reading the book could imagine them as he/she pleased rather than having a specific image in mind already. I used an App by Alien Skin called Snap Art and the Colorful Oil Paint preset was settled upon. 

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the painting setting for this one was Vignette Oil Paint by Alien Skin which we used for the back cover images as well. I used an App called Art Text to create the title image. The cover still wasn’t quite right but it was getting there!

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The copy editor sent his own idea which shifted our ideas about what the cover could look like. So, working with the author, aka Mum, we finally settled on what became the final cover. The font for the title is called Professor Minty which the publisher’s copy editor used in his creation. 

It was a journey to get it right, but I think it looks pretty good. Now we know what we’ll be aiming for when the second and third books of the trilogy come out. Mum’s working on editing the next book at the moment even as she plans her launch for later next month.

Mum’s own story of things can be found here

Long time no posts

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It seems like it’s been forever and a day since I did anything over here. Life has been moving – sometimes at a snail’s pace and sometimes going at warp speed through the galaxy.

But I wanted to share some news that’s pretty exciting for the bolin girls. The grammy that is often on our adventures with us, if not plotting and planning them for us, has been published! She’s been working a trilogy that is for middle grades, but it’s enjoyable for anyone.

We’re please to announce that it’s available in ebook format as well as paperback and hardback. She has a website where you can check out the first book in The Last Crystal trilogy, The Black Alabaster Box, book 1 and where you can find one to add to your bookshelf – actual or virtual.

Here’s the cover to get you even more interested and intrigued in the story…

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my trouble with blogging on the road

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So, I have found that on this particular trip it has been almost impossible to stop and write down the chronicles of this particular adventure. It has just been all get up, drive for 7 hours, stop to sleep, get up, drive for 7 hours, etc. with very few pauses to collect thoughts and put them down within the annals of this blog. I feel a bit like we’re running a race to see where we can get to fastest only to pause and start the race again. I know my daughter feels this way – “we’re not getting to SEE anything or DO anything interesting!” is the main complaint. And, quite frankly, I agree. We aren’t really stopping to enjoy any one place or another. But mostly that’s the time constraint of a two week vacation time frame for getting across and back so that I am back to my job in time. Having been a teacher for many years being in a job that has a two week vacation package is tough going. So this trip’s journal is mainly going to be a collection of pieces that recounts and reflects with other goodies thrown in for good measure.

Let’s see, we last left you as we were heading out of Indianapolis, Indiana having spent the night in the Pullman car and continuing our journey west…

We first met a relative for breakfast before continuing on I-70 to head towards St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. We ended up stumbling upon the home of the world’s largest Wind Chime, Golf Tee, Rocking Chair, Pencil, curbside Mailbox, and Pitchfork in the small town of Casey, Illinois.

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We spent the night catching up with friends and then it was on to St. Louis, Missouri – home of the Gateway Arch, which we could hardly miss going by. We didn’t consider going up in the arch since tickets during the height of the summer months are sold out pretty quickly and it’s hot up there! But we did go into the visitor’s center and we did wader around the base and then took a stroll down along the river, which cut the heat of the day.

 

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After exploring the arch and the water we met up with a former student of mine who lives in St. Louis. She gave us a driving tour of Forest Hill Park which was expansive and has an amazing history as well as present. We then decided on lunch and enjoyed conversation and great food at The Fountain on Locust. They make most everything they serve, are vegetarian friendly, and have the smallest ice-cream cone in the world as well as sundae. We celebrated mum’s birthday and then moved on to visit the Louis and Clark Boathouse and Museum.

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The Louis and Clark Boathouse and Museum is a bit further down the road from St. Louis, but worth the time and effort to get out there. It’s traditionally where the pair took off on their journey to map out a route west, much unlike our own trek out west! We go there with less than an hour before closing time, but made the most of the museum before getting shooed out by staff – not really. In the boathouse is a replica of the boat Lewis and Clark set off in. You can read more about it, but it was built for the bicentennial four year expedition that recreated the historic journey. They were lovely about letting us wander around and made sure we got the most out of our time before heading out for Kansas City, MO for the night.

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the road much travelled

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So, we’ve been on the road for a few days now, but this is the first stop that has given me even a moment to write of our adventures so far.

We left on Thursday from Baltimore, Md – home of the National aquarium, home of the Walters Art Museum, and last resting place of Edgar Allen Poe.  We started where I-70 stared and began our adventure westward. This was going to be the big push to get the trip started and we went farther than we had originally intended. We started in overcast skies and moved into driving rain which made the trip longer and feeling a bit treacherous at times – not being able to see the marked lines on the road made driving a little more exciting that I would have liked it to be! We made stops for a stretch and a rest about every 2.5 – 3 hours of driving to get the wiggles out. Our first big stop was to see a friend from university just outside of Columbus, OH. We only had an hour, but it was good to see him in person and to know that there are just some friendships where you can pick up and keep going without lots of drama or guilt for not being the best as keeping up. We then pushed onward to our over night stay in downtown Indianapolis, IN at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Union Station where they have Pullman cars that have been fitted up as hotel rooms. They were very comfortable, clean, and lots of fun! The hotel is filled with paster statues of various folk from past days of rail travel. The cars each have two rooms in them so they are spacious even if they don’t look much like it. BUT having ridden on Amtrak in one of the more modern sleeper cars, these are glorious! The staff was attentive, but not overly so. It was worth the push forward. The night’s rest was good and we’d all stop over again if given the chance.

crowne-plaza-indianapolis.jpgphoto0jpg.jpgcrowne-plaza-indianapolis-1.jpgAfter checking out we went to meet a relative (don’t ask me to give specifics, 2nd cousins or something like that) for breakfast.

One of the nice things about this trip is that it is giving us a chance to see folk we haven’t seen in some time. It may not be for long, but it’s nice all the same.

States driven through on day 1: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and into Indiana!

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itchy feet

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Yes, it’s been awhile since the wanderlust grab hold of us girls, but it’s summer and school’s out so…

So, it’s time to put on the hiking shoes and get traveling again!

This year we’ve decided to check out the scenes around the United States. We’ll be driving, okay not all of us will be driving – some of us can’t peek out over the steering wheel! Oh, sorry, I’ve been informed that it’s not the peeping over the steering wheel, but a matter of not being able to reach the peddles or knowing what they do! At any rate,  we’ll be driving from sea to shining sea!

The plan, so far, is to start in Maryland and work our way along the interstate. Having family and friends along the way is helpful in breaking up the driving and getting us out to see a few of the sights along the way. So far, the first big stop will take us into Columbus, Ohio. I have a good friend from uni days that lives there and it will be great to see his face in person again. Then it will be onward into Indianapolis, Indiana to stop and say hi to distant cousins – my mum’s family is scattered but keep the ties open for lots of love to be shared. From there we’ll stop in St. Louis, Missouri (that’s Miz-ur-ē or Miz-ur-uh depending on which side of the river you grew up on!) to hopefully catch up with a former student and a former secondary school classmate! Finally, on this bit of the trip we’ll stop off in Lawrence, Kansas to pick up my mum’s older brother who will join us for the rest of the trip which will take us up and into Seattle, Washington where my mum’s younger brother lives. We will be heading into Colorado and then up, but we haven’t worked out which route we’ll take just yet.

We are getting excited and tired just thinking about all the driving, but an adventure we will have!

We love suggestions of what to see along the way, and possible routes to take, so please fell free to share!

Next post will be when we make our first stop for the night on July 6th – if I’m not too knackered from the driving!