American female on the loose

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American female on the loose

Something I really do not spend a lot of mindshare on is my gender.  I love being a woman; I am proud of it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  But, I simply don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it.

During all my travels, it has become clear that the rest of the world sees me as a woman, first and foremost.  Some of the my most colorful memories are directly related to the fact that I am a woman, and I am thankful for each and every one.

Here are just a few cherished nuggets…

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Ants on the Tracks

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Ants on the Tracks

A focal part of my relationship with my niece and nephew is reading.

Sure, we do a lot of tickling, and kissing, and hugging, and chasing, and shoulder rides, and laughing.  There are water slide parks, and cheeseburgers, and musicals…and other things, too.

But, every time put them to bed, we read.

So, it is no surprise that traveling with them involves books, too.

First, there is deciding which books they will bring on any given trip (they are allowed three each).

Then, at each gift store we visit, there is deciding if they will buy a book or a toy, and which one.  I love that they are completely torn by the decision: to them, a book is just as tempting as a toy.  It is so gratifying to see them struggle over whether they want a new book or a something that beeps and lights up and moves.  They fully understand the magic of books:  books are magic carpets that can take you to new and exiting lands where you’ll join new friends on an adventure of sorts.

Finally, there is the joy of reading the new books when we get back home, and, in a very real way, reliving the vacation a little bit.  The book becomes a special kind of magic carpet, that no only transports us to the places within its pages, but ALSO has the power to transport us back to our vacation.  It becomes a secret ticket that only has that power for us, the people who were on the original trip when the book was procured.

Several summers ago we went to the Wisconsin Dells, and visited two train museums.  We got the book, “Ants on the Tracks”.  Every time we read it, we of course visited the ants on the tracks.  But, we also got to remember the whole vacation: water slides, fudge, trains, pools, duck boats.  Go figure — all that in a book about ants on a track.

I am incredibly passionate about books.  And travel.  And spending time with my niece and nephew.  When all three of these activities marry, I am absolutely giddy with joy.

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Bird by bird

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Bird by bird

Starting something new, like writing, is exciting.  But it is also scary.  Having Lamott to look up to as a woman ahead of me on the trail, and not only surviving, but thriving, is reassuring.

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Belly dancing

Belly dancing

One of my favorite parts of the Blue Voyage is the Turkish dance lesson we do onboard. The crew is really committed to helping us all learn. And the joy of dance and laughter and being free and silly is contagious. Even those guests who opt out at the beginning are tying on sequenced scarves and kicking their legs by the end. And if you’re really lucky, Rebekah may join us.

Fun and games

Fun and games

And, we’ve started to have backgammon competitions on each of our Voyages, which are an absolute hoot! The first step is teaching everyone the Turkish rules, (captain’s boat, captain’s rules) and training the novices in the basics of the game. Then, we draw brackets and let the games begin. We’ve had some unlikely upsets, which is what brackets are all about, really. And, it’s a great way for people who may not know each other well to spend some quality time together.

Love letter to Mali

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Love letter to Mali

After having no idea what was going on for hours, and getting up to board for every flight that was departing, only to be told “non”, I learned that apparently “the plane needs to be plugged in and charged, so we will be taking off at 11am”???

I think in this kind of situation where frustration feeds off frustration, and since I was by myself I was happy just to sit and wait.  If I had been with someone else I am sure I would have been agitated.  There were 6 other Americans also waiting, 2 men I didn’t meet, 2 women from Miami (Nancy and Arlina) and 2 women from outside Atlanta (Barbara and Suzy).

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Milestone celebrations

Milestone celebrations

Travel is a great way to celebrate most milestones. We’ve have birthdays, engagement celebrations, and honeymooners on the Voyages with us. When you’re celebrating something important, adding the dynamic of a special trip can really elevate the whole experience and make that memory stand out.

We are family

We are family

We love traveling together as a family, and our favorite vacations involve water. There is a formula of sun, water and family that makes a week full of smiles laughter and love!! 👩‍👩‍👧‍👦+🌞+🏖=😂+😄+❤️

It’s a treasure to be together when the distractions of friends, homework, devices are all muted.

I’m going to Graceland

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I’m going to Graceland

When describing myself, “Elvis fan” would not make the list of characteristics.  But, I do love me some Elvis.  And, I have always wanted to make the pilgrimage to see his house (and car museum, and plane).  And, I was looking forward to a lot more than just Graceland:  I wanted to see the duck parade at the Peabody Hotel, try Guss’s famous fried chicken, and listen to some music on Beale Street.

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Inspection voyages

Inspection voyages

We love voyaging with our guests. But sometimes inspection voyages are magic! It is during these Voyages that we seek out locals who may tell us about a hiking trail that brings us to a historical ruin. We also venture off those trails, and are open to the serendipity of a “wrong turn” that will let our guests experience the magic of a majestic view, maybe one that is perfect for sunset and a bottle of wine! 

Feed your belly, feed your soul!

Feed your belly, feed your soul!

Through my traveling I’ve also discovered some of my favorite foods thanks to sampling local treats from around the world. Sure, you can buy an expensive meal at a renowned restaurant, but those local delights can’t be beat.

Living abroad: travel or life?

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Living abroad: travel or life?

I’m just trying to figure out what the milestones are that made his stay there living, and not an extended business trip.

Every milestone I think of, I can think of a time I did that activity somewhere that I wasn’t remotely considering a home.

So, what is it?

I’m starting to think it’s intangible.  It’s a state of mind.  If you think of someplace as home, then it is.  Can it really be that simple?

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Red Light, Green Light

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Red Light, Green Light

We can use the red side to signal, politely, to our seat mates that we aren’t open to talking at the moment.  And the green side can signal that, yes, if you want to tell me about your grandson’s clarinet recital, now would be an okay time.

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Happy new year!

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Happy new year!

Years ago, my friend Ellen and I decided that instead of celebrating NYE with a party, champagne and noisemakers, we would travel.  That way, we could remember how we capped off each year from a distance, and move forward to launch the next.

So far, we have traveled for every New Year’s since we made this decision, often with other friends joining us

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Hawaii deserves better from me

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Hawaii deserves better from me

I know this paragraph will sound snobbish and off-putting, but here I go: everyone speaks English so it’s comfortable and easy.  And it’s American, so it’s clean and modern.  There aren’t any bugs or snakes.  Or exotic diseases.  You can drink the water.

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Lietuva: what's thicker: blood or vodka?

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Lietuva: what's thicker: blood or vodka?

The Colonel drove us to my Dads’ wife’s cousin’s farm outside of Kaunas, where I was greeted with a warmth and enthusiasm that was touching.  And overwhelming.  The only English speaker was the eight-year-old, and she was also the only shy person in the whole family.  So, things were a little chaotic for my jet-lagged brain to process.  And even more so once the bottle of vodka was opened, the Euro-techno music started playing, and the dancing began.

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