Close to home

Today will take me 115 miles west to a small Minnesota town.  Although I have elected the fastest route utilizing the interstate, the miles will still be long and solitary with lots and lots of green to view.  These drives allow me to relax and let my mind drift to whatever topic it needs to explore.

This is the travel of my work and I find it so pleasant!  Gone are the anxious feelings brought on by too much traffic, congestion and missed appointments.  My days in California are behind me now.

The country roads of Iowa and Southeastern Minnesota are beautiful and peaceful; farms of rich soil and abundant produce cover the area.  Sometimes the only other vehicle I encounter for hundreds of miles is a tractor.  The roads are flat for the most part and run straight for many miles at a time which is almost hypnotic in a way but also cleansing for my spirit.  Winter drives enchant me with the blowing and drifting snow swirling before me and the total quiet of the air;  Spring and summer rains wash the dust off my car and my windshield wipers provide a syncopated soothing rhythm.

I look forward to my drives because they allow me to watch the progress of the seasons as they march through the plains.  I am thankful to be in this place and able to enjoy and appreciate it.



My 5 favorite travel necessities

It doesn’t matter if I’m heading for an overnite with my sister or a month-long cruise; there are five things that are always part of my trip.  If you keep these stored in your luggage you will always be ready to go!

  1. Spacebags for clothing. The medium and large sizes are perfect for your garments and fit nicely in a typical 21” carryon bag.   Be sure to get the kind that expel air without a vacuum.  I usually just fill the bag with my clothes and lay on top of it until all the air comes out.  These things allow you to organize your clothing for easy unpacking at your destination because you can use one for pants, one for shirts, one for dresses, etc.  They protect your clothing from moisture, spills and smells.  They are great for separating your dirty clothes from the clean ones when you are packing to go home.
  2. Hanging toiletry bag.  This “go to” bag contains everything I need in small sized containers.  It’s always ready to go with my essentials.  I just add my makeup bag and hairbrush.  When at my destination, it comes out of the suitcase and hangs in the bathroom either on a towel rack or hook.  This clears the small bathroom counter for other things!
  3. TSA approved clear bag for carryon liquids. Invest in a strong clear vinyl bag with zip top and keep your carryon liquids ready to go anytime!  These will be less prone to puncture and leakage and because they are more substantial, I find it easy to pull out and put back during the security process.
  4. Kipling bag. These stylish lightweight bags are made of durable nylon with lots of zippered compartments.  My favorite style is the crossbody flat bag with three zippered full sized compartments and additional layered zippers in rows on the front.  I can put passports in one section; etickets and confirmations in another.  I can keep my currencies separated and allocate a specific pocket for my travel receipts.  There’s still room for a camera and phone and maps!
  5. Packing cube for electronics. Make sure you have all your chargers and cords and universal adapters in one place.

Enjoy your trip knowing you didn’t forget anything because you are so organized!

An enjoyable day at the river

The small river town of Guerneville, California sits alongside the Russian River as it winds it’s way to the Pacific Ocean.  Today, the river is calm and low; the current fights to flow against the wind and the ripples on the water catch the sunlight in little twinkles.

Driving along River Road from Santa Rosa, we comment on all the new vineyards being introduced on the old farmlands.  Small plastic tubes support the young vines in symmetrical rows stretched across the sunlit areas of the land.  Redwood Trees are prevalent along the road and the vines are even planted into the small open spaces between the shade of these large trees.

This area is known as the Russian River appellation and produces grapes for some world renowned Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines on the market today.

We aren’t here for wine today; this is just a short excursion to have some swedish pancakes at the Little River Inn, Guerneville.  Arriving at our destination we park on the street in front of the restaurant.  We enter and find a table; the restaurant has two other tables of patrons.  It’s a quiet Monday but it’s also 2pm; the local lunch crowd has come and gone.

After lunching at the Little River Inn we sometimes continue around the corner and down the road to Armstrong Woods for a quiet walk through the  Redwoods.  Not today.  Today we head to the Stumptown Brewery which is located on the river and has a wonderful patio and large grassy area at the river’s edge. Dogs are welcome and can be seen chasing balls out into the river.  There’s a canoe on the sandy beach just across the river which makes me wish we’d planned some extra time for canoeing or kayaking.  We enjoy our drinks on the patio and watch the river run.  It’s a warm sunny day with a gentle breeze and the trees are just beginning to sprout their new leaves.

This is something we don’t do often enough; explore and enjoy those parts of our environment that provide such peace calm to our lives.  As we get in the car to drive home I make a quiet promise to myself to drive out to the coast and watch the whales migrate north this weekend.