When I mind-map each year, the four categories that I break down into small attainable steps are health, family/friends, travel, and writing/speaking. Stateside or international—planes, trains, or automobiles—for me, travel is a cornerstone.
Whether I go by myself, with Len, or with my sister, I enjoy the sense of adventure. I make a practice of packing light. Really light. I never check my baggage: just two pieces, a wheeled carry-on, and a laptop tote. And I enjoy arriving at the airport early so that I can people-watch.
The moment I buckle into my seat, I pop my earbuds in (the international signal for “please do not disturb”), pull out my Kindle, and read until the plane lands.
I currently have four sets of round-trip airline tickets waiting for use in my travel folder. My first adventure of the year is coming up soon. I’ll share more about that in next week’s post.
I love to travel, and when I do, I enjoy photographing the variety of doors I happen upon. A door is like a book—you don’t know what lies within until you open it. Something pleasant? Something scary? An adventure? Something that lulls you to sleep?
Remember the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves? All Baba used the magical phrase — Open Sesame — to open the mouth of a cave in which forty thieves had hidden a treasure.
And while there have been times I’ve not felt welcome, I’ve never had a door not open to me—regardless of my age, gender, skin color, politics, or spiritual tradition. I’m aware that’s sadly not the case for everyone.
Last year I hosted a writing retreat on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. It was my second time there, and I loved it! One of the interesting things about this exotic location is the potcake dogs.
According to Wikipedia, “a potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands. Its name comes from the congealed peas and rice mixture that local residents traditionally eat, as the rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot would go to the dogs. Although appearance varies, potcakes generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. A group of potcakes is known as a parliament.”
In my experience, the dogs—who generally travel in small groups—are friendly. They’re usually looking for a food handout. If you accommodate them (which I don’t think you’re supposed to, but I did), then you have friends for life!
The same thing happened when I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
And the same thing happened when I was on a writing sabbatical in Darby, Montana—only this time, it was with a small herd of deer!
Would you feed a stray animal—even if you’re not supposed to?
Last week Len, Willa, and I took a road trip to Puyallup, WA (just outside of Tacoma).
Len attended an EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter Leadership Bootcamp event.
I had uninterrupted writing to accomplish.
Willa? She simply loves road trips!
On the way back to Boise, we stopped at STONEHENGE. Yes, you read that right. We stopped at the American Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington.
The Maryhill Stonehenge—a replica of England’s Stonehenge—is built on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River, the border between Washington and Oregon. It was commissioned in the early 20th century by the wealthy entrepreneur Sam Hill, and dedicated on July 4, 1918, as a memorial to the people who had died in World War I.
We were wondering if the expression “What in the Sam Hill?” is based on the Maryhill Stonehenge Sam Hill. According to Wikipedia, it’s not. They explain:
“Sam Hill is an American English slang phrase, a euphemism or minced oath for ‘the devil’ or ‘hell’ personified (as in, ‘What in the Sam Hill is that?’). The ‘Sam’ coming from (sal(o)mon an oath) and ‘Hill’’ from hell. Etymologist Michael Quinion and others date the expression back to the late 1830s.”
I lived in Washington state for five years and never once heard about the Maryhill Stonehenge. Finding out about it rocked my world.
In July, I enjoyed a week at my sister’s beach-side home in Cardiff by the Sea during the first leg of my book tour at The Book Catapult in San Diego.
Moonlight Beach is but one of the many jewels in the beach communities of Cardiff by the Sea and Encinitas, California. It’s located in a residential neighborhood at the bottom of a steep incline that gently slopes into the Pacific Ocean.
This well-loved beach receives a lot of face-time from local volleyball players because of the three beach courts. And with a large playground, ample picnic tables, lifeguards, and a snack bar, it’s family-friendly and perfect for a picnic or a day in the sun. The icing on the cake? Plenty of clean restrooms and showers.
While there, I enjoyed breakfast at the ever-popular Pipes Cafe, shopped at Seaside Market, visited the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple, and checked out the Cardiff Kook Statue. Cowabunga!
When was the last time you hung ten or stuck your toes in ocean water?
Planes, trains, and automobiles—there’s no doubt that we travel a lot. Not only do Len and I love it, but Willa does too!
Willa catching G-force
One of the cool things about state-side travel in a vehicle is the rumble strips. They’re not in every state, but we’ve discovered they’re prevalent in the Pacific Northwest.
If your vehicle is just a wee bit further into the left lane than you intended, you hear a loud rumblenoise that captures your attention in a quick hurry. And if you were starting to doze off, it’s enough to wake you up!
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, a center line rumble strip is a longitudinal safety feature installed at or near the center line of a paved roadway. It is made of a series of milled or raised elements intended to alert inattentive drivers (through vibration and sound) that their vehicles have left the travel lane.
What was the last thing that grabbed your attention?
When I was in Minneapolis to speak at ModernWell, I rode the Blue Line train and was mesmerized by the giant, bellows-looking contraption that I sat near.
A bit of research informed me that they are accordion diaphragms, and their purpose is to ensure passenger safety between railway cars.
Much like a giant playing the accordion (think Jack in the Beanstalk), the membranes gracefully push together and pull apart as the train rocks, sways, and rounds corners.
Further research revealed that back in the day (the early 1900s), the spaces between the cars on a freight train were often occupied by migrant workers or vagrants—many people referred to them as hobos—who were “riding the rails.” Tucking into these in-between spaces kept them out of sight from the police and train crew, but thousands of people were maimed or killed by this dangerous practice.
I’m enjoying my last week on Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas. There’s something about walking along the beach—squishing sand between one’s toes—that incites inspiration; in turn, sparking creativity. A shift in gears from nonfiction to fiction, book three is coming along just fine.
I’ve turned the comments off for this post—simply enjoy.