Traveling--It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller.

-Ibn Battuta

North America » United States » Hawaii » Kaua'i January 25th 2018

My son was the only one who received the alert. Owen turned around and looked at me completely ashen and afraid. “Mom, I think we’re going to be bombed,” he said. Now, these are words I’ve never heard someone speak, not in real life, and certainly not in MY life. “Owen, this is just some kind of hoax. It’s not real, don’t worry.” But that white look of terror remained on his face. “Mom, this alert is from Apple. Apple doesn’t send jokes.” The message on Owen’s phone read, “Emergency Alert. BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” My heart sank. This is really happening. We turned the car radio on and the message replayed over and over, “Ballistic missile threat. Seek shelter. Go indoors. Stay away from windows.” ... read more
India with her new ukulele

Oceania » New Zealand April 25th 2016

I knew I was standing on the most beautiful spot on earth. I don't remember exactly where it was, but it was somewhere in New Zealand's South Island. Jeremy and I had decided to drive the length of the two islands in twelve days, Queenstown to Auckland. The rental car was old and the radio didn't work and we'd often wake up in the morning to a dead battery. As the trip's navigator, it was twelve days of, "Stay to the left!," "watch the road!," "Oh wow that's beautiful," "stay to the left!," "wait stop here!," "I'm hungry," "where are we?," "stay to the left!" I stood in that spot, wherever it was on the South Island and reflected on my other travels. I knew without a doubt what I was witnessing at that moment was ... read more
New Zealand
New Zealand
Coming into Queenstown

North America » Mexico » Sinaloa » Mazatlan January 27th 2015

As told through my daughter: I was too young to see the obvious differences in our lives, but old enough to know how I felt about her. I loved when my mom brought me to play at Janeth's house. Her house was so different than mine and that made it exciting and fun; an adventure. Janeth's house always smelled so good. Her mom would be busy in the kitchen making tortillas, mashing avocados, slicing onions and cilantro. It was the most delicious Mexican food I'd ever eaten. I loved her tiny bedroom, just big enough to hold her bed, dresser and a window with a sun-catcher of a butterfly dangling. There was a hole in the wall, big enough to peek my head through and see into her brother's room. Janeth and her brother would shout ... read more

Europe » France » Île-de-France June 27th 2013

I threw the heavy watermelon rind into the trash only to see it rip through the bottom of the bag and spew the red juice all over the inside of the trash can. Irritated that I had just made more work for myself, I dumped the rind outside and drug the wastebasket to the bathtub to clean. After spraying it down, putting some soap on a sponge, I stuck my head inside the trash can and started scrubbing. Then it all came back to me. I remembered a pivotal moment in my life where I also had my head in a trash can. I took my first solo trip to Europe a month before my 17th birthday. My parents told me I could go but I'd have to pay for it myself. The travel agent said ... read more
My daughter in Paris
Her first time
Mont St Michel

North America » United States » Iowa » Amana June 2nd 2013

I stood in the beautiful old barn, the only female under fifty, along with six hundred grinning, gesticulating, enraptured men surrounded by the thing they felt most passionate about—woodworking. Woodworking doesn't particularly interest me. Its this thing my husband loves and always talks about. This thing that fills my garage with saw dust and piles of wood. This thing that keeps him standing in the cold, on a concrete floor in January til 2 a.m. This thing from which emerges something beautiful, personal and completely unique. I'm familiar with the vocabulary woodworkers use. I know words like hand plane, jig saw, dowel and spokeshave. I know the difference between a dovetail and a miter joint but that's about it. Road trips to Iowa and displays of hand tools don't particularly get my pulse racing, but meeting ... read more
Don Williams
Handworks Tool Show
Jeremy on shave horse

Europe » France May 11th 2013

He was quite beautiful in form, a replica of chiseled Greek perfection. He lay seductively before me completely nude and exposed. But despite his provocative pose all I remember thinking was what beautiful light there was in the Louvre. I went from statue to statue in the courtyard admiring and studying each piece of art feeling glad there was enough natural light I could take a decent photo with just my phone. That night I laid in my hotel bed and flipped through all the lovely photos I had taken that day at the museum. As I typically did before bed, I posted my favorites to my Instagram feed and within minutes would have a variety of nice comments. Not long after posting my photo of the "Sleeping Faun" I received a comment from a woman ... read more
Sleeping Faun
Appreciating the Louvre

North America » United States » Illinois » Urbana March 17th 2013

I hadn't put hot rollers in my hair in ages. You see, I've got about two feet of red-ish, brown-ish, curly-ish, wild-ish hair. I usually let it fly untamed and tangled like I was tapping my inner Chewbacca. But this night I was going to meet one of my greatest travel heroes; the man who helped me plan numerous trips to Europe, Rick Steves. I slept where he told me to sleep. I ate where he told me to eat. I walked where he told me to walk. I believe his guidebooks are invaluable for planning a trip to Europe. I took out the hot rollers my little brother had gotten me as an eighth grade graduation gift twenty years ago. I plugged them in and was delighted to feel the cold plastic rollers slowly turn ... read more
Making him scratch his head
Rick Steves

North America » United States February 8th 2013

Reading the news a couple weeks ago, I came across a story of a black woman in Chicago, a single mother, who had just buried her fourth and last child. All of her children had been killed from gun violence. One of her sons was named Jerome. My heart sank as I thought this could possibly be the Jerome from my last blog. I learned that it wasn't. Even so, it's heartbreaking to learn how difficult and dangerous life can be for many so close to home. It got me thinking though. Its not just Jerome that touched me. There are many others I've gotten to know close to home with unbelievable stories; people that deliver mail, make coffee at Starbucks, cut hair, clean carpet. They all have a story to tell. Take the time to ... read more

North America » United States » Illinois » Chicago January 7th 2013

I remember stepping onto the train and looking for a seat. I knew I had to be strategic about this decision. After all, I'd be sitting next to this person for the next few hours. I made a quick scan of the back of heads trying to determine which one held the brain of the person I'd like to talk to. I tend to gravitate toward the out of place, seemingly lonely, foreign or extremely over or under dressed person. They have the most interesting stories. To my left I noticed a young black man starring blankly out of the widow, wearing a black hoodie pulled over his head and hiding most of his face. The way he sat curled in his seat it was if he was almost hiding from something. “Do you mind if ... read more

Africa » Egypt » Lower Egypt » Giza January 4th 2013

I've yet to meet a traveler, or vacationer for that matter, who doesn't have a trip to the Pyramids on their 'must see in this lifetime' list. By the time you get there, chances are you've coughed up a serious amount of cash and your parents are worried sick they'll be stuck raising your children. So make the most of it. I'm always a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to traveling. I want no part of the pre-packaged, shrink wrapped, "watch your step and stay with the group" trips. But Egypt humbled me. Egypt is the exception. Jeremy and I took a taxi from our hotel in Cairo to Giza feeling self-assured that our travel savviness would be sufficient. The taxi driver hadn't put the car in park before the vultures descended upon us. The guide that ... read more
Mena House Oberoi

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