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.



Lobster Crawl planning

Succulent, buttery lobster has been on my mind.  For a few years now, I’ve wanted to take a trip back to New England to see the fall foliage and pursue my desire for lobster.

Years ago, my sister and I met in Boston and traveled up to Maine while staying in bed and breakfasts along the way and enjoying the local cuisine.  I don’t recall that she was as willing to seek out lobster as I was but she never complained when we made another meal of seafood our priority.  I discovered Lobster Rolls for the first time and am salivating while writing about it now.

My first thought, as a cruising aficionado and agent, would be to combine the trip with a cruise up the coast.  I’ve checked available itineraries from various cruise lines.  I am excited about cruising anytime, anywhere but for lobster to remain my focus, I think this has to be a land-based trip.

I’m a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of lobster offerings on the coast and since I can’t eat more than a few meals(of lobster) a day I have to be pretty selective about my itinerary.  If I make this a 5 day trip and have 10 lobster meals that means I can choose up to 10 restaurants and lobster shacks to visit on my trip.  Finding these eateries will determine everything:  the airport I arrive at and the car I will rent and the roads I will travel and the places I will stay.

Wish me luck and let me know if you have any favorite lobster places from Massachusetts to Maine!

Evening with friends

I am blessed with good friends that enjoy travel as much as I do.  While we may have different destinations, it is always enjoyable to get together and share our stories.  Last evening I dined with some good friends to catch up on our lives.  The weather was perfect; calm and near 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sunset cast it’s beautiful colors across the lightly clouded sky as we watched from our patio table next to the little lake.  I forget sometimes how wonderful my little corner of the world can be!

One of my friends had just returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta. She was traveling with a 93 year old woman and two other women in their late 50’s.  She’s in her early 70’s so they made a lively group of senior ladies.  Her stories had me in tears from laughter; it encourages me to know that the desire to travel and experience new things will stay with us throughout our lives.  It’s more important than ever to keep myself healthy to enjoy it!

Nine days crossing the Pacific

The pacific ocean is really, really blue.  I’ve heard the term “pacific blue” as defining a color and now I know what it is. It’s deep and rich but not an opaque color, there’s a translucency to it. The sunlight cuts through the shallow waters, highlighting the best of the blue.

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I watched the ocean.  Standing in the wind, gripping the polished teak rail I held myself steady as the vessel cut through the waves and split them into curling swirls of foam.  I would stand on the uppermost deck and feel the sway of each wave; I would stand on the bow with may face into the wind; I would stand at the rear of the ship and see the long trail of parted waves winding like a road in the sea.  Never was the view the same.  The ocean is the same but never the same.  It heaves and flows and tosses and spreads and smacks at us as we make our way across it. It refreshes me and clears my mind.

Ready to head out to sea?  Check out the many possible cruises at my website  I look forward to sharing the ocean with you!

Do you want air with that?

My first trip to Europe at the tender age of 16 found me on a group charter flight out of Chicago. I held a paper coupon as entry to the plane and got a free travel bag out of the deal. The plane, as I recall, was adequate. I’m sure it was not a large plane but at 16, loaded with the excitement and anticipation of going to Europe for 6 weeks, I was immune to any discomfort that might have existed on that flight. Just a few years later I was in college in Denver and flew back and forth to Chicago on holidays and breaks (Just couldn’t take the drive through Nebraska too often). I remember the planes had smoking sections and I remember being able to curl up in a seat and sleep. Even better: I sometimes had the whole row for sleeping! Pillows and blankets were readily available if needed. Paper tickets were still the rule for boarding and were obtained from our local travel agent.
I didn’t think much about pricing and comparing airfare back in those days. I just called the travel agent and let her do it.
Today the internet makes pricing and comparing airfare accessible to everyone. There are apps to help you choose the best plane, the best time to fly to your destination, the best seat location. You can choose multi city and book yourself to several destinations on one ticket. The dirty little secret of this wonderful advancement is the fact that you are never guaranteed to have the lowest or best price. It’s possible that all seats on the flight are slightly different prices!
While I agree that it’s very important for our own peace of mind to feel we are paying a comparative amount to our fellow air travelers, we have no way to know if our price is the rock bottom lowest.
So let’s set that aside and talk about the value of FLIGHT EXPERIENCE and convenience. Do you want to have a long layover between flights? Do you want to fly from a smaller airport or a larger airport? Do you want to fly out first thing in the morning to miss all the later flight delays of the day? Do you want to travel on a flight with a preponderance of business people or with a bustle of families? How much time do you invest to just get to the airport? The answers will be different depending on the reason for your travel and the time you have available for the actual process of “getting there”.
When booking a client on a Japan cruise I used their frequent flier information and compared ticketing direct with the airline, through a consolidator and also through the cruise line air program. Pricing was slightly different between the three and different flight times and combinations were shown on each of the sites. My client was impressed with the cruise line air offering: in this case I was using Princess Cruises EZ Air. Their system took the cruise embarkation and disembarkation information, factored in the approximate time needed to get from the airport to the cruise port, and provided a variety of flights at very competitive prices. A huge peace of mind benefit is the “next port protection” of booking through their site: they will route you to the next appropriate port of call if your flight is delayed or cancelled. This is a huge benefit when you are booking someone from the middle of the United States to Asia. Anything could happen.
Once we had the flight selections available we looked into the actual airplanes and seating on each of the flights (going to Japan takes a really, really long time and you need to have a comfy seat!)
The flights were chosen and my client enjoyed not only the cruise in Japan but the convenience of having the air travel part of his overall cruise itinerary.
I am happy to say that my website offers a wonderful airfare component called “Select Air”. You can find it on the EXPLORE MORE tab on my website. Don’t forget to sign up for exclusive offers and discounts while you are on my site.

Digitizing my past

In a cabinet in my garage hides 60 years of my life in images. There are over 30 photo albums, countless rolls of undeveloped 35mm film, 25 full slide carousels and an overabundance of VHS movies (and a few BETA thrown in. Early adopter.) Let’s not forget the boxes of negatives and duplicate photos too!
This is the year I tackle the mess. I do not want to pack all this up and move it to my next home when that time comes.
I like to order things so of course I’m going to put my images in life order. Why do I have so many loose photos that are from random years? It seems a hurricane blew through my cabinet and stirred everything up. Or maybe it was my kids looking for” that one photo” over the years. This is going to be a bigger task than I expected.
I will start with all my photos ranging from birth to high school. High school and college seem to have their own segment based on the volume of pictures I’ve found (and all that with a Kodak Instamatic!) Then I’ll group my marriage and family into two chunks:” pre kids” and the “life with kids.”
This is fun! Every image evokes a memory and most are very happy. I do notice that my photography skills were minimal at best and I can trash quite a few of these photos. I’m not sure why I was keeping them. They are either half exposed or showing some landscape view I can’t recognize. If the photo is not evoking a memory, it’s being tossed.

I must admit – this is a huge undertaking and will surely task me for a few weeks. What I am noticing is an early love for travel. My little Instamatic captured some great moments from my youthful journeys.

IMG_0516 (2)Do you want to start your family travel memories? Why not check out the special deals on my website and sign up for notification of upcoming discounts.
A cruise is one of the best ways to give everyone in the family a chance to pursue their own interests while still being together. And the per night cost is super affordable!
P.S. Most cruises offer classes in digital photography while you are on board. Start those digital memories today!