Saturday found my friend Leah and I down in Ybor City, the Cuban part of town. A Cuban toasted cheese sandwich and coffee is the perfect way to start your Saturday, when you’ve been up far, far too late the night before.

Remember that. Melty, gooey goodness on Cuban bread, and strong coffee.

Ybor City has free roaming chickens. They are beautiful, with striking multi-colored feathers, and they are protected, so no, you may NOT have one for dinner! They are quite companionable, in a fussy, squawky, loud way, and are fun to have along while perusing the Saturday market items. We strolled, shopped (in my usual manner, I’ll be shipping a box home!), and talked to a photographer who said I should move there;  discussed plants with a brilliant woman working in a volunteer program with local at-risk kids to teach them where their food comes from; and chatted up the T-shirt girl wearing a UVA hoodie (her husband got his undergrad degree there). For those who need context, at least a third of my high school graduating class went to UVA!

Ybor City is full of great restaurants, shops, and bars, and old architecture blended with new. Beer was consumed at an excellent craft brewery–unfortunately, the distillery we hoped to visit was closed– then it was time for…

The Taco Festival!

I mean, The Curly Girl is from Missouri–our festivals are dedicated to other things, not tacos. But…I do love me some tacos.

We paid our admission fee and joined the thundering herds, all intent on dancing to the local cover band and tracking down tacos. Our first venture was the brisket taco, with caramelized onions and cheese. Three bucks a taco. It was….

Wrong. So wrong. A ridiculous amount of disappointing wrong.

The idea was good, but the portion consisted of a nearly flavorless scrap of meat, onions that had been walked past the grill and barely introduced, and a sprinkling of questionable cheese. We bravely consumed the portion, and started looking for beer.

Beer involved a tremendously long line to show a photo ID, get a wristband, THEN get a beer or other beverage. We began to seek more tacos.

This time our luck changed. Hanging out in line, we fell into conversation with a couple of guys, and all of us discovered the Tacos Al Pastor, cooked and spiced beautifully, with the proper add-ons. But yet, nothing to drink. Not even water. I finally flagged down a passing paramedic and, channelling the courage and charm of my parents, asked him most kindly if he had any water. While he had none, he did have Gatorade, bless him!!

We wended our way back to the car, and headed for enchiladas and beer at on of Leah’s favorite local places. I had never had a potato enchilada before! Something to recreate when I get home…

Tomorrow is my last full day here, and the weather is warming up…feet in salt water could finally happen!!


Intrepid as ever, I have made my way out of the doom, gloom, and gray of Missouri’s winter and jetted off to Florida for a quick break. I had hoped to pickle myself in the Gulf Coast’s salt water, kayak a river to find manatees, and wear flip-flops every day. However…..

nope. That’s a big ol’, Florida-sized nope.

I seem to have–accidentally, I assure you–brought cold weather along with me. But I did find the sunshine. I found an abundance of palm trees too–they are EVERYWHERE! Their leaves rustle in the wind, with a delightful sound that is no reminder of cold, or bone-chilling damp, or sadness. It’s a sound of expectancy, of something new and exciting coming in on that sea breeze.

The temperatures are in the upper 50s to lower 60s this weekend; chilly by Florida standards. But the pelicans don’t mind. I cross a very long bridge over the bay as I drive to visit friends here, and I watch them soaring past me, some pacing me, lifting themselves on that breeze. It’s been a long time since I watched pelicans, or heard the cries of gulls or other sea birds. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been around big water like this; it restores a part of my soul.

Just see those pine trees! Tall, slender, unexpected–to me anyway. If I’d thought about it at all, I’d have thought to see short, scrubby evergreens clinging to sandy dunes, such as we have in the Mid-Atlantic, but these reach up as though they–as do I–need the warmth of the sun.

Friday, I had intended to go and visit the Salvador Dali museum, but due to circumstances involving Google Maps, unforseen construction, and the fact that many St. Petersburg streets are one-way, I ended up at…..

an airport. Yes I did.

A teeny little local airport. The Albert Witted Airport, with Art Deco architecture, a wonderful restaurant, and biplane and helicopter rides available (I did not partake of the latter this time; as my grandmother was rumored to say, “always leave something for next time”). I sat out on the upper deck, took photos, drank coffee, watched the planes and helicopters take off and land, and….wait! In the distance….blue water? Sailboats? Aaahhhh…..contentment.

Adding to the serendipity of the day, my waiter’s name was the same as my son’s, and later a dear friend from my childhood met up with me for drinks and appetizers. Laughter and grand times ensued as the sun set in a blaze of color.



When I traveled with my dad, Konstantin Furness, adventure followed.  No matter where we went, or how we traveled, something was bound to happen. It might be minor—discovering a new food, meeting a new person, buying some new oddity for the house—or major: deciding to veer off the beaten track to “see what this is all about”; seeing a huge crowd of people and stopping to find out what was going on; or completely changing the itinerary because he’d heard about “something interesting there”.

On a trip to Greece and Bulgaria in the fall of 1989, several adventures happened.

First, the Berlin Wall came down.

Who knew that was going to happen? Well, in all honesty, there were prior rumblings.

Two years before, then-President Ronald Reagan called out in a speech, asking then-Soviet General Secretary Mikail Gorbachev to “….tear down this wall!”. By 1988 and 1989, Communism in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia was beginning to falter, and people in Communist East Germany were finding ways through those countries to the West.

As November approached, my Dad and I found ourselves in Greece, on a long-anticipated-but-relatively-quickly-planned father-daughter trip. I was 29 and “between jobs” as we say, and Dad was 88, a robust man for his age.  That time of year is glorious in Greece, with fewer tourists and cooler weather. In our week there we wandered through the Parthenon and the Acropolis, were accosted by unscrupulous “tour guides”, enjoyed incredible food, and refreshed ourselves with the sea air on the island of Rhodes. But then, it was November ninth, and time to pack up for the next day’s flight to Sofia, Bulgaria, and the loving arms of Dad’s family.

As I packed my bag, I kept an eye on CNN, inveterate newshound that I’ve always been. Suddenly, breaking news! THE BERLIN WALL IS COMING DOWN! THE CHECKPOINTS ARE OPEN! I shrieked at Dad, “Get over here NOW! The Berlin Wall is coming down! Look at this!!” Poor man, he was only about six feet away, but I was screaming like he was down the hall! We sank down on the end of my bed, all packing and preparations forgotten, turning up the TV. We looked at the TV, then at each other, then back at the TV.

Was this real? Were we witnessing history, a thousand miles north of us? My Dad had seen so many things in his long life—some amazing, some so awful—and now he was seeing this huge, long wall that had separated families and cultures come down. Was this the beginning of the end of Communism? We watched, entranced, as people took sledgehammers to it, helped each other climb up on top of it from both sides, hugging, singing, and cheering. It was, indeed, so very real. I grinned at Dad, hugging him, and he smiled back, shaking his head in wonder.

I stood up and opened the French doors to the tiny balcony of our hotel room. Leaning on the railing, I could hear, faintly, from other rooms and the rooms of the hotel across the street, TV’s and astonished comments in a multitude of languages. It didn’t take fluency in those languages to understand the phenomenon that had just occurred.

I remember thinking, “what now? What happens now? How do these two countries come back together? Surely this will take awhile.” And so it has. More on that later.

I turned, and went back to sit down beside Dad, as CNN moved to the next story. Nothing could be more unbelievable or astonishing, could it?

But the next story was that Bulgarian President Todor Zhivkov was resigning! WHAT? One of the most hard-line Communist leaders was RESIGNING?  Dad and I exchanged looks of utter shock, and he voiced in his still-heavy Bulgarian accent what I only dared think, “what will we find tomorrow, Mary? What will Bulgaria be like when we get there tomorrow?” But there was a twinkle in his eye, a raised eyebrow, the tilt of that head, and the smile he reserved for adventures.

We went back to packing, thinking, and hoping.

As we say in the news business—more on that story, next.

(*above photo taken overlooking Athens, Greece; November 1989)

No Bucket. No List.

Here we are in January, the month of lists, resolutions, goals, hopes, and dreams. As an inveterate wanderer and traveler, I’m often asked, “what’s on your bucket list this year?”

I have no bucket. And….I have no list.

When I say that, you cannot imagine the shocked looks I get, and the things that are said. “What? YOU? No list of places to go, experiences to have, things to see? YOU of all people???”

Yup. No bucket list. Actually, the term has always bothered me. It’s a personal thing.

For me, the term “bucket list” implies something very finite, something that boxes me in. The very idea, after I have checked everything off a highly specified list, that I’m somehow done with it all, absolutely doesn’t fit who I am.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have aspirations, dreams, and hopes. I call this my “package of possibilities”. It’s like a big bundle wrapped in colorful cloth, tied with silken cord, and I take it down from the shelf sometimes and stir it around. I add things to it, take things out, and wrap it up carefully again, putting it back in its place of honor. What’s in there? Oh, this and that: a line from Kipling’s “Mandalay” about the “sun coming up like thunder outta China crost the bay”–I’d like to see that. My mother’s descriptions of Vienna in the winter–perhaps I might see that someday. And so many other wonders. Last year, when an opportunity for a trip to Massachusetts with my cousin came up as a complete surprise I put it in there, let it sit, then took it out, shined it up, and made it ready to go! This year, prospects and possibilities are tucked away like jewelry awaiting an occasion; I shall see what the year brings.

Another reason I don’t rely on lists when it comes to wandering the world, is that often the best trips appear out of nowhere! As I write this, I am seated in the very coffee shop where, years ago, a friend looked me in the eye and said, “wanna go to Costa Rica?” (For the record, it took me about five seconds to say yes!) I’d never considered travelling in Central America, and this also involved travelling with a group, but when an opportunity comes along, I’ve learned to find a way to say a resounding YES, and to turn chance into reality. My trip to Egypt with my mom in 1987 came about that way, as did my trip to Bulgaria with my dad in 1989.

So there is no bucket. There is no list. There are no New Year’s Resolutions.  But there are always…ALWAYS….hopes, dreams, aspirations, flights of fancy, and castles in the air! Join me, won’t you?

After many months of blogging silence, it’s a pleasure to be back, and to welcome a guest blogger! Zach Cunning has spent a lot of time traveling and backpacking in various parts of the world, and has honed lightweight travel down to a science.

There are always new travel gadgets coming out. Something lighter, something faster, and invariably, something more expensive. Some of them are worth the price, but a lot aren’t; and as budget travelers, it’s important for us to know what’s worth the money, and what will just slowly shift itself to the bottom of our bag and eventually be left behind at the hostel for some other backpacker.

Here are five absolutely essential pieces of cheap gear you might not think of, all available at REI or Amazon:

  1. Duct tape…specifically duct tape that’s been taken off the cardboard roll and wrapped around a 3-inch piece of plastic coat hanger. I’m a fan of Gorilla brand tape since it’s about the strongest stuff around, but any duct tape you can get your hands on will work. I have a pair of shorts that ripped in two places after several months on the road, and I still had several months left to go. I stitched them up, but they ripped again a week later, same places. I reinforced the rip with Gorilla tape and then stitched it; a year later, and everything from one-hundred-mile hikes to being used as board shorts on a surf trip, they’re still going strong. Carry duct tape, it will save your ass. Available on Amazon or at most hardware stores–  link here
  2. Sawyer mini filter. Duct tape will save your ass, this thing will save your stomach. They cost 20 bucks, weigh almost nothing, filter out, according to Sawyer’s website, “99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli, and…99.9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium).”  As long as you don’t accidentally freeze one they’ll filter more water than you’re likely to drink (100,000 gallons). Available at REI: link here
  3. Light my Fire Spork. Spoon, little knife, and a fork in one plastic carry-on-able package. Hobos were budget backpacking before budget backpacking existed, and they had a little folding knife/fork/spoon combo that they carried for eating whatever food they got. While you’re probably eating off-brand Chobani from a Hudson news stand while waiting for your flight, instead of a can of beans next to the Big Rock Candy mountain, the principle remains the same. Variations on the theme are available from REI and other outfitters but my favorite is here on Amazon: link here
  4. Quick dry towel. REI, MSR, Sea to Summit, and pretty much any other outdoorsy company make these microfiber towels. They’re sizes range from roughly that of a paper towel to a full size bath towel, and even the smallest will easily dry you off after a shower. They do, however, begin to smell a bit if they aren’t bone dry when they’re put away. Spend a few dollars more on a linen bath towel. They actually dry faster in my experience, don’t smell, and roll down to about the size of a t-shirt. Search Amazon for “linen bath towel,” there’re too many options to link just one.
  5. S or “double gated” carabiners. Nitecore makes the official ones but there are knockoffs around too.  Made of plastic or metal, these things range from itty bitty two-pound-rated up to those rated around 75 pounds (and bigger, but past 75 they just get obnoxious). I use them for everything from attaching gear to my bag, to holding zippers shut, to improvising belts, even hanging flashlights from the top bunk slats at a hostel. The metal ones can also pry off a beer cap if you’re feeling creative. They’re available from REI and Amazon of course, and basically everywhere else from Walmart, to outdoor shops and even some convenience stores.

Bonus Round: 550 paracord. I keep about 100 feet of black paracord in my bag pre- cut to varying lengths between one and 50 feet. Rope has infinite uses, and with 100 feet costing about 10 dollars at any military surplus store and taking up less room than a pair of underwear, it’s well worth it.

George Carlin said, “That’s the whole meaning of life, isn’t it? Trying to find a place to put your stuff…If you didn’t have so much goddamn stuff you’d just be walking around all the time.” In other words, backpacking. I’ve found the above stuff helps me carry less stuff while making it easier to find a place to put my stuff when I’m done walking around for the day; hopefully it does the same for you.

Zach Cunning has taken trains throughout Europe; walked Roman roads along the Camino de Santiago; hiked and hitchhiked in Portugal, Peru, Colombia and many other areas: learned to surf in El Salvador; and taught people the fine arts of shaking up the perfect margarita and concocting the perfect pancakes wherever he went. His latest adventures found him in Morocco. When not sprinting for a connecting flight, Zach lives, works, and studies in Chicago.

A Tangled (Washington) Web

No, I am not writing about politics. Heaven knows there are plenty of websites, podcasts, and other places you can get your political fix.  Having grown up in the DC environs, I know only too well how tangled those political webs are.

This particular entry is about the tangled web of…..


Yes, the mess that is not only the Beltway, but the massive mess that encompasses 12-lanes-across, I-need-two-traffic-apps-on-my–phone Washington Metro area traffic.

My last trip wasn’t even a year ago, and it wasn’t that bad then…Google Maps got me reasonably easily from point A to point B. But this time was different.  Evidently Google Maps had not kept up with the fact that my first hotel had changed names! My hotel had neglected to tell me they’d changed from a Crowne Plaza to a Hilton Doubletree, but that’s a different story. I drove down an alley between high-rise buildings three times, around in several circles, down one end of Chain Bridge Road, then down the other end, before asking the valet in front of the Marriott about this. He (in a broad Cockney accent–so surreal, I am not kidding!) explained that it was the hotel next door–as in approximately 15 feet away–which had been bought out a week before!!

Several days later, while brunching with a friend at J. Gilbert’s in McLean (one of the few places I was able to find without using any app whatsoever) I mused on the easiest way to get from there to Dulles Airport, to pick up my cousin, who was flying in from England. Google Maps wanted to route me from McLean, east into Arlington, then waaaay out west to Dulles, which-for those playing at home-would mean a half-hour to 45-minute trip. She and I looked at each other with that raised-eyebrow-W-T-F-this-ain’t-gonna-happen-look that natives of a place get. We asked our waiter (Igor, heaven bless him!) his opinion, and he advised us to download Waze and try it on there. Waze gave me a much more direct route, and–long story short–I made it to Dulles in fifteen minutes. Nobody in the DC area goes anywhere in fifteen minutes, unless they’re walking their dog around the block.  Trust me.  Oh, and I found parking right by the International Arrivals terminal.

Yes, I believe in miracles.

So for the next five days I used a combination of Google Maps and Waze. Nothing was foolproof, however.  There was the time I used Google Maps to get to Arlington Cemetery, and ended up at the entrance to Joint Base Ft. Myers/Henderson Hall.


Nicest MP I’ve ever met let me through gate though, let me turn around, and come back. Helped me reprogram my app and we got to the cemetery and parked.

Then a day or so later, we missed an exit going to Mt. Vernon, ending up on some bizarre 12-lane highway I’d never seen in my life!  But, the sweet, calming voice on Waze got me where I needed to be. Ended up on a beautifully scenic back road I had no idea existed, and had a wonderful time.

So I (on my own), and we (my cousin Susan and I), managed to untangle the Washington Web. One knot at a time, with patience, humor, and technology!



Tomorrow, I take off on yet another solo trip; this time, to Washington, DC.  Not for business, not to rant and rave at politicians, but to return to the place of my birth.  I was actually born within the confines of the District of Columbia (how many people can actually say that?), although raised in nearby Arlington, Virginia. Nothing lifts my heart, and makes me feel like I have come home, like getting off the Metro at Smithsonian, coming up the escalator at the Mall exit, and seeing the museums on either side of me, with the Capitol in the distance. I turn around…and there is the Washington Monument. Amazing architecture, in a city that I love, yes, even with all its flaws.

I try to get back once a year or so, as I still have family there, and it’s important to touch base. And, I go back to revisit the old haunts….the old schools have changed, many friends have moved (although some have stayed or come back–see you soon!), but I go back to see the museums, the homes, the places where history came alive for me as a child.

Part of that history is very controversial right now, and some of my wandering through the museums and historic homes will be to look at it with fresh eyes. As the wife of a historic interpreter, I want to see how that history is being interpreted in our nation’s capital. Washington was pivotal during the War of 1812, and of course, during the Civil War. In light of recent events, how has the interpretation changed? Has it? Is it too soon for the programming to have changed? Do the museums and historic homes need more time to plan and execute programming?

So come wander with me as I stroll through museums and historic sites, take driving trips out to the hinterlands (some kind of adventure always happens when I get behind the wheel in the DC Metro area!), and shoot great food photos; Washington is becoming a foodie paradise, and I intend to partake as much as possible!

Have you had your own adventures in the DC area?  Let me know in the comments section!


Howth Cooking.jpg

“I could NEVER do that!”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“You brave girl!”

“How did you manage with all your luggage?”

“You mean your husband LET you go so far away all by yourself???”

“Weren’t you lonely?”

OK, my friends, time to debunk some myths here.

First, traveling alone is not for everyone. I happen to love it, but traveling with someone–or several “someones”–is fine too. It depends on what you want to do, and where you want to go. Do what works for you. On this trip, I traveled alone, for about 90 percent of the time. I met up with one of my dearest friends at the end of the trip, and stayed with her for a long weekend, which was glorious!

Ah, the fear factor. Um….I wasn’t in any country where there are travel bans or travel warnings. I could–more or less–understand the language, and I could read the signs, so it was all good. I had done a lot of reading and research beforehand; I kept a small map with me at all times; and I found several wonderful apps for my smartphone. (ALWAYS have a smartphone along!)  I have traveled with various family members, friends, and groups in countries where I could NOT read the signs–my German is very elementary, my Greek is almost non-existent, and I don’t read Arabic at all!–and those are places where it has been helpful to have others around. And the joy of discovery in places such as those is multiplied when there are people to share it.

Luggage. Two words….PACK LIGHT. Carry on only. I cannot stress this enough. No, I am not a backpacker, despite my nearly-20-year-old son’s efforts to magically turn me into one at my particular age. Been there, done that. However….I have researched (oh yes, as a former journalist, I love me some research!) the ins and outs of travel bags, proper dimensions for the airline(s) I’m flying, and what I can carry comfortably over long distances. I have switched between a drop-bottom duffel made by a name brand clothing and luggage company (the duffel, alas, is no longer in production) and my old, trusty, but-still-in-great-shape soft-sided rollaboard. Both are tough, with in-line wheels, plenty of space, and fit the dimensions for both foreign and domestic carriers. I believe in the power and organization of packing cubes, heavier items always go on the bottom by the wheels, and I pack for seven days. SEVEN. Unless I will be gone fewer days than that. Going for three weeks? Pack for ONE WEEK, and do laundry. One base color, other multiple colors to go with it. Scarves, inexpensive jewelry will change the look. My other bag, which stays with me at ALL TIMES, is a convertible shoulder bag/backpack or a messenger bag if I’m carrying my bigger camera. This goes under the seat and has my toiletries, documents, any medicines, my tablet, phone, etc. I also carry a spare set of underwear and something to sleep in, should my rollaboard and I get separated (heaven forbid!). A purse? It’s an unobtrusive cross-body bag, and I carry it empty in one of my other bags. When I get to where I can unpack, I put my basic necessities into it, and I’m ready for anything.

So, now, this is the best one. My husband “let” me go. By myself. People….seriously? It’s not a matter of “let”.  I’ve been flying on my own since my parents sent me off on my first airplane trip at the age of TEN! I went to upstate New York, a cousin from western Massachusetts met me, and I spent a week with her.  My husband understands my wandering soul, sees me off on my trips, and makes wonderful “welcome home” dinners for me when I return.  We stayed in touch daily via Facebook Messenger; when I travel in-country, we call each night.

Lonely. Yes, sometimes I was.  My husband was here in Missouri, our son off on a gap year; at the time, he was in Central America. Friends are scattered all over the world. Those of you who know me, know my gregarious personality. I’m definitely more of an extrovert than an introvert. But I do need my downtime…my time to listen to the sounds around me, to reflect, to watch and hear the people. Some of my most precious memories of Ireland are the hours I spent at a beer tasting and cooking class with 11 Irish people, and me the only American, laughing and talking and eating.  Equally precious–the hours spent alone sipping wine and eating my own simple dinner, watching the BBC and reflecting on the world news as I sat in the living room of my Airbnb rental.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. We have only one life, only one chance to see the world around us….I once lost a chance to travel with my dad (long story there), and promised myself that, if and when the chance came back around, I would grab it. I did. I have. And I have never, ever regretted it.

Will I take a friend or two with me? Of course!  Either virtually or in real life…come on along!

Questions? Let me know in the comments–if I don’t have the answer at hand, I have those mad research skills!

*(Photo is me at Howth Castle Cookery School, June, 2017, creating Mousse au Chocolat with a great group of people.  Yes, that is a cognac bottle near my left hand. Yes, a bit extra may have gone into the recipe…..or into me.)

Travel Without Leaving Home

Awhile back, I read an entry on a social media site about how many of us who travel need to stop talking about it publicly. The entry stated something to the effect that we are making it uncomfortable for those who neither have the time nor the money to travel, and that many who would like to go places and do things just can’t, for many reasons.

I’d like to speak to that.

With a trip to the grocery store, and a look through some recipes on line, you can start some virtual travel, right there in your kitchen.

Ever wanted to go to Greece? Look up one simple recipe for a Greek dish, with one or two ingredients you know you like, and make it. That’s a start.  Perhaps you envision Paris–stop off at your grocery store’s cheese section, and ask about French cheeses. Look at the wine section, and find a French wine, pick up some grapes and sit on your deck. What do you like about that cheese? What do you *not* like? Is that wine too sweet? Too dry? Think about what you like or don’t like. Read about French wine and cheese. How is it made? This is part of travel…learning about the place(s) you’re going.  With more education, and more adventure in tastes, you’ll find yourself “travelling by taste” again and again.

It’s not just overseas–I may have grown up in Northern Virginia, but I didn’t eat a corn dog until I was 15! Didn’t try biscuits and gravy ’til I came to Missouri. Never had chili verde (green chili sauce? That’s a thing? Says I) ’til I moved to Colorado after college.  Didn’t try the exotic, er, Rocky Mountain oysters (for the uninitiated, bull testicles–tastes like chewy beef), until I was 23. Tried bison meat, in a burger (tasty!) when I was 40.

I travel because I think it’s important. I come from a mother who felt it was an education, not only for us, but to be good ambassadors for our own country. My immigrant father felt it was important that we know as much as possible about the world, personally.  We were exposed to many different foods, at home and abroad, and were admonished to “mind our manners, as we were guests in (country)!”

Can you travel overseas? If you save your money, a few dollars at a time, yes. Eventually, you will be able to do it. I have no doubt.  And I encourage everyone to spend the money to get a passport, if for no other reason than it’s another good form of government ID. But in the meantime, see the world from your dining room table. Buy a world map, download recipes, find some fascinating foods to make. What do the immigrants in your neighborhood, or school, or office eat?

Let food be our joy, and our connection.


Are you back from that amazing summer vacation yet?

Yes, I’m talking to *you*.  I see you there on Facebook…the ones posting the photos from Cozumel and Jamaica; North Carolina and Florida; Colorado and the Grand Canyon. Or those who took mini-vacations, just a short distance away from home. And *you* who spent precious time with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents…HOORAY!

I also took a trip–actually, I took two, and I am back–Ireland and England, then Bardstown, Kentucky. More on those another time.

The important thing is….what did you bring back?  No, I don’t mean the T-shirts, or the sea-shells, or the other souvenir “stuff”. What memories did you make? Did you bring back the peace and quiet that comes with watching a sunset? Did you bring back the joy that comes from a long talk with a relative? Did you bring back the memory of laughter with a new baby nephew, niece, or cousin in the family? Did you wander a beach and taste the salt air, or hike a mountain trail for hours?

Yes, I brought back candy, coasters from pubs I visited, and books; but I also brought back the memory of original music echoing off ancient stones in a town square. I brought back the joy of a long conversation in a pub, and when we realized what time it was…it was closing time. John and I brought back bourbon from Bardstown, but we also brought back the memory of delightful meals, savored in a mom-and-pop restaurant, where time goes a lot slower.

Time. That’s what our trips can give us.  Let go of the frantic. Let go of the need to screech along at warp speed. Once the work day is done (and those work days are manic!!),  sit out on the deck or patio, with a favorite beverage and a before-dinner snack. Savor that time. Take a mini-vacation, right then and there. That time belongs to you. Remember what you loved about that trip, and relive it. Watch the sun set. Watch the neighbors walk their dogs, and the neighborhood kids ride their bikes. Listen to the birds.  Read a chapter in a new book.

Hold fast to the peace a vacation trip gives you, and let it carry you until you can take your next one.