Archive | Travel

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Planning a Vacation? Try Packing Cubes

As I have recovered from my jet lag, and am back into the steady rhythm of life back at home, I’ve found myself reminiscing about our Italian adventure and everything that went along with making it a wonderful trip.

Because I knew we were going to be away for two weeks, I really wanted to be smart about how much and what I packed. In the past, I was always an over-packer and would often come home from a trip with an overstuffed messy suitcase and lots of clothing that was never worn. So, I did a little preparation and research for this trip. I went on many travel blog sights (my favorite is travelfasiongirl) chatted with friends who were seasoned travelers, and made a detailed list of essentials that would get me through a European vacation without over or under doing it- a happy medium if you will. On more than one occasion, I read about the benefits packing cubes.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, packing cubes are nylon mesh bags that come in a variety of sizes and styles, and are used for packing clothing. They provide extra room in your suitcase, plus they keep the contents of your suitcase super organized. The bags zip and have some give so you can fit a lot into them and they work with carry on bags, suitcases and backpacks.

This was a work trip for my husband with us extending several days and I needed more clothing options for dinner with clients, so I opted for a regular size suitcase and a backpack, leaving my carry on at home. (I also wanted room for souvenirs.) The packing cubes are great for t-shirts, blouses, and skirts. It was recommended that clothes be rolled and tightly packed into the cubes to prevent wrinkling. This was a plus for me because in Italy, irons aren’t available in the rooms and there is a fee to have them ironed for you. Now I can’t say that my clothes were completely wrinkle free, but they were definitely wearable plus I was able to release any lingering wrinkles in a steamy shower.

I heard good things about the ebags brand and ordered a pack of three from Amazon to try them out. I was able to get all my t-shirts, blouses, and skirts into the bags and if there was room to spare, I added a few more items. When we arrived at our hotel and I went to unpack, everything was still organized plus there was extra room in my suitcase. Before my next big trip, I plan to order a few more in different sizes.

Unpacking when we came back home was easy and this was the first time I wore everything I packed. Plus, there was extra room for me to bring home a few goodies.

Enjoy your week!

~May

Going on a trip and need about 4 outfits. I’ve packed 35 just to be safe.

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May Meets Pompeii and Sorrento

We have spent an incredible two weeks in Italy and before we journeyed home, we made a few more stops. Our wonderful guide, Sandra, suggested we do a tour of Pompeii followed by an afternoon in Sorrento. The fast train in Italy is amazing. A three hour car ride takes one hour so we left early in the morning, and made it to the city of Naples before 9am.

The Fast Train

Pompeii was just a short drive away and neither Bob or I were prepared for the beauty left in the ruins of this Roman city. In 79 A.D., the city was buried by the unexpected eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The city, which was basically left intact,  was submerged in a thick layer of volcanic material where it was left untouched until excavation began in 1748. If you don’t know the history of Pompeii, it’s definitely worth checking out.

View from the Bath House

A Pizza Oven

Pottery

A Road in the City

The Interior of a Home

After our tour of Pompeii, we took a short drive to Sorrento where we had another delicious lunch and spent the afternoon walking the city. Unfortunately, it started to rain, but we were prepared  and the wet weather did nothing to diminish a beautiful afternoon.

Sorrento

As I write this post, I am back in the comfort of my home. After two weeks away, it’s always nice to get back to a routine again, however, I will never forget our Italian adventure and a piece of my heart will forever remain in Italy. Arrivederci!

Have a great week!

~May

“Even now I miss Italy dearly, I dream about it every night.” – Eila Hiltunen

 

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May Meets Rome

I can’t believe we’ve been in Italy over a week already!! We have been having such a wonderful time on our Italian adventure. After spending several days seeing the sites in Florence, we are now  slowly eating our way through Rome.  This sprawling city is the capital of Italy and nearly 3,000 years old. We have walked between 5-8 miles everyday trying to soak it all in, and have loved every minute. Some of our best moments have been spent sitting at little outdoor cafes with our favorite gelato or a cappuccino, and simply people watching. Today we are taking a train to Pompeii  for a tour, and then to the beautiful coastal town of Sorrento before we have to say Arrivederci to one of our favorite destinations.

The view of Rome from our hotel balcony

Another view of the city with the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica to the right

The Borghese Gardens

The Coliseum

The Spanish Steps

An amazing meal that we had at a vineyard on the outskirts of Rome

Sunset at that same vineyard

One of many Margherita pizzas we demolished

This is how the cars park when there isn’t enough room to parallel park. Our guide said in Italy the street signs are for decoration only, because no one follows them. She also said the traffic is crazy here, so every time you cross the street you should do a sign of the cross….because you never know. 

Have a great week! ~May

Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to — Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.” Audrey Hepburn

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What To Do When Everyone Else Is On Spring Break

This week is spring break in our local schools.  Sadly, I am not on spring break but instead currently sitting in my windowless office.  From Facebook, all of my friends and neighbors are in exotic or at least warm locations like Mexico, Tennessee and Florida (especially Florida).  May is on the trip of a lifetime to Italy.  I am a bit envious of these warm weather vacations.  In the meantime, my husband and I feel like the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse when we walk Gatsby through the neighborhood when not another soul is seen or detected.  So what do you do in order not to die of jealousy when everyone else is on spring  break?

1.   Enjoy Your Free Time.  Many of my usual weekly activities have been cancelled this week.  So I am going to enjoy having some free unstructured time.  And with that unstructured time I am going to do whatever I want which could be cracking a book on my TBR pile or working on a writing project.  I am still working on my 40 bags in 40 days project too (I think we are up to 15 bags donated or thrown out plus a very big extension ladder), so I can use some free time to keep up the work.

2.  Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.  We live in the world recognized city of Chicago and rarely do we take advantage of all the city has to offer.  Being a tourist in your own town can be a lot of fun and the best part is you already know you way around.  I plan on taking some time soon to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Botanical Gardens.  Both of these have been on my list of things to do that I have not quite gotten around to.

3.  Run Errands.  As weird as it sounds, run errands this week.  Everyone is gone which means the stores will be empty.  I am always happy when my trip to the grocery store is fast.  Go wander the aisles of Target and look at the new spring decor and outdoor furniture.  Go to the mall and do some window shopping.  I always find errands to be more pleasant when I am not being run over and knocked into by other people.

4.  Go Out to Dinner.  Similarly, because everyone is gone the restaurants are less crowded.  Pick a popular place that is impossible to get into and try and snag a reservation.

5.  Go to a Nursery or Garden Center.  This past weekend the weather was miserable.  A steady cold rain kept us company all day on Saturday.  My husband and I took a ride out to a garden center that we had never been.  We wandered around.  We bought some new string lights for our screened in porch, enjoyed some fresh plants in the greenhouse and got some ideas for our yard when the weather turns.  Because planting does not traditionally start until Mother’s Day weekend in Chicago, the garden center did not yet have outdoor annuals and perennials but we plan to go back once they do.  It is not a tropical landscape but at least you can enjoy a few plants.

6.  Catch Up On Work.  This might be a great week to catch up on work.  A lot of your colleagues and business contacts are out of the office which means you can tackle some of those projects uninterrupted by emails and phone calls.  And next week when everyone is stressed and catching up on the backlog, you will know that you are ahead of the game.

7.  Be Thankful You Are Not at Disney.  Finally, be thankful you are not at Disney World this week.  My mom, who winters in Florida, happened to be at Disney World this past Saturday and she said it was so very, very crowded.  She told me Spring Break is not the time to visit unless you like crowds.  They were not able to enjoy very many rides or shows because of the lines and crowds.  I think an off-season trip to Florida or another popular location may be more enjoyable for us when it is not Spring Break.

8.  Enjoy Where You Are.  I find it very easy to get caught up in what others are doing and forget to enjoy where I am in the moment.  I may not be enjoying the beach or some sunny warm weather, but I can enjoy the moment.  I will remember to enjoy sleeping in my own comfortable bed.  I will remember to enjoy taking Gatsby for walks.  I will remember to enjoy the slight hint of spring weather that is in the air.  So while I am not away on Spring Break, I can still enjoy the simple things in the moment and look forward to the anticipation of trip away in the future. –June

Wherever you are, be all there. -Jim Elliott

 

 

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May Meets Florence

Bonjourno from Florence, Italy! I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and fell in love the minute we walked out our hotel door and started roaming the narrow streets. We had a bit of jet lag when we arrived, but who can sleep when there is so much to explore? The fashion, food, and the people are wonderful and we have enjoyed learning all about this picturesque city which is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. As much as I love the fashion and food, I can’t say enough about the people here. They are helpful, courteous, considerate and so very friendly. As in most European countries, they love when you at least try to speak their language and are more than willing to teach those of us whose understanding of the language is a little more limited.

Although I have taken some photos, I am truly just trying to be in the moment and take in the beauty of this city through my eyes, and not a lens.

The beautiful garden outside our hotel window

 Il Duomo di Firenze in the distance

 the Ponte Vecchio Bridge

The Arno River

He was amazing!

 Later today we will be hopping the train for Rome where we look forward to more adventures in Italy.

Have a wonderful week!

May 

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May Meets June - Charleston - Featured

How Many Steps Can You Walk in One Day? – Charleston Edition

This past weekend, June flew down to Charleston, South Carolina to reunite with May for a few days of much needed R&R. It was to be a weekend filled with the sites and sounds of the city, great food, shopping, girl time and of course we had to walk the beautiful beach on Kiawah Island. May had the weekend planned and we were all set, with the exception of the one thing we could not control, Mother Nature.

Our day started off beautiful with sunny skies and warm temperatures, and with a very wet weekend on the horizon, we decided to explore as much of the city as possible. We pretty much fit a three day weekend into a day and a half, walking about 12 miles in that time. Charleston is a very walkable city and we covered a lot of territory which included shopping on King Street (including a trip to one of our favorite stores, Anthropologie) a walk through the open market, a carriage ride, drinks and duck nachos on the rooftop of the Pavilion Bar, and a beautiful sunset stroll along the water. We were even able to sit and enjoy the sunset on the large swings along the pier, which are always occupied. It was truly a perfect day.

A carriage ride on Rainbow Row

The Pavilion Bar

A Beautiful Sunset on the bay

We knew our outdoor time was limited when we awoke to cloudy skies on Saturday, but we decided to make the most of it and headed down to the Kiawah Island beach right after an early breakfast. The wind was calm and even with clouds looming, there was something so peaceful about walking barefoot along the waters edge. Now, without the sun to warm the sand, our feet were a little cold, especially as we dipped our toes into the surf. Brrrr. We toughed it out though and even collected a few shells for June to take home with her, a gift of nature from the sweet South. We had walked quite a way when we heard thunder rumbling in the distance, our dry weather about to end. We hustled back to the car with the black clouds chasing us and literally made it back just as the big old fat raindrops started to fall, thunder crashing down over our heads.

June on the Beach

The rest of our weekend was wet, wet, wet. In fact it was pretty much a deluge. We didn’t let that stop us though. We did get a small break in the rain on Saturday afternoon and decided to go back to the city to check out a little vintage jewelry shop that June read about, called Candy Shop Vintage. It’s a cute little boutique that sells vintage and vintage inspired jewelry. The store is known for their vintage inspired rice beads that pay homage to Charleston. They sell beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and rings in different colors, and yes, we bought ourselves a little treat. Before going back to the car, we took a stroll down a neighborhood street, enjoying the charm of the historic homes. Even though both of us are planners, there is something so fun about being spontaneous. We just happened upon a beautiful old home, the  Aiken-Rhett house, that gave tours, and we were one of the last visitors in before the house closed for the day.

The house was so interesting because rather than restoring it, the historical society is simply conserving it.  That means that while rundown, there are original touches such as remnants of the old wallpaper still on the walls and select pieces of furniture. Parts of the house tour gave us chills. Living in the North, the dark period of slavery is not a part of our history. However, as part of the tour, we walked through the outbuildings which included the slave quarters.  It connected us to the part of our country’s history that many would prefer to forget.

Now, we realized as our weekend came to a close that we probably could have taken many more photos to show y’all, but we were having so much fun simply enjoying the moment and each other’s company-  focusing too much on taking pictures would have taken something away from our experience. I guess you will just have to plan a trip to this great city, and see it all for yourself. And don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes.

Have a great weekend. ~May and June

Never. Stop. Exploring.

 

 

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A Weekend of Creativity and Vintage Finds

Good morning and happy Friday! We have officially entered the dog days of summer and it has sure been steamy here in the Midwest. It is hard to believe that school begins again in just a few weeks, with fall just around the corner. Two weeks ago, May and June enjoyed a girls weekend away while attending the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, at the University of Iowa. This was the second time we attended the festival together, and we were looking forward to going back for another creative experience.  We attended a seminar on Jumpstarting Your Creativity, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  The weather was very hot and sticky, but that didn’t stop us from leaving for our trip a little early to check out a few of the many vintage shops in and around Iowa City.

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Our journey took us to Sisters Garden, a quirky resale shop located in the rural town of Kalona, Iowa. We actually spent quite a bit of time roaming the two farm homes and large yard filled with retro  goodies. We found some wonderful items that could dress up any backyard or garden, including architectural pieces, as well as unique accessories for the home. May discovered a great vintage mirror, but alas it was too large for her car. If you plan to do some serious shopping, make sure you bring a large vehicle to transport your lovelies back home.  June fell in love with those aqua chairs in the above picture, but again we had a space consideration.

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In addition to the vintage pieces, the store also sells their signature brand of natural soy candles that come in many heavenly scents. May personally loved the honeysuckle.

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Years ago, June saw a planter in a magazine that looked like someone’s head, and the plants grew out of the top like hair.  She has been on the lookout for one ever since.

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And look what she found!!!!  June had trouble picking which one of these lovely ladies to bring home.  These were not vintage, but a lot of vintage stores have some great and unusual gift items as well.

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She is sporting a lovely little mum headpiece right now while she lives on the patio, but expect her accoutrements and location to change with the seasons.  Maybe a bunch of twinkle lights for the long dark days of winter?

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June also made a new friend with this bear rug.  He was ferocious looking, and we both laughed about how Sawyer and Gatsby would react if he came home.  We decided for the sake of our dogs’ hearts, it would be best to leave him at the store.

There were also a few fun shops right on campus that we had to re- visit this year.  While we did not necessarily find a treasure to take home, we did have fun poking around.  We also stopped into a great secondhand  bookstore called The Haunted Bookshop.  The bookstore is more interesting compared to some traditional bookstores since you never know what you are going to find.  The two cats living there can assist with your purchase too!  We also visited a store in Iowa City called Om, which we loved. Yoga books, crystals, and jewelry made with precious stones.  We both came home sporting gorgeous moonstone rings to remind us of our trip.

While we jump started our creativity in our writing workshop, we also enjoyed some creative inspiration from our vintage shopping.  It is so enjoyable to discover interesting things, imagine the history behind them, and just have some fun with a friend.

Have a good weekend. –May and June

Vintage means pre-loved.

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Why You Need to Go on Vacation

I went on vacation last week.  For most of you this is probably not a major event, but for me this was a major milestone.  The sad truth is that my husband and I could not remember the last time we had taken a true vacation.  My husband’s family lives very far away from us and over the last couple of years, there have been many family events that have required us to travel to them.  So, most of our time off has been used to attend these events and while we love visiting family, it is not the same as a true getaway.  Plus there is always an excuse for not going on vacation- not enough money, not enough time, too much to do at work, etc.

This time though we were locked in.  My husband had a conference for an organization he volunteers for, and the conference happened to be about two hours from Nashville.  It was fortuitous because we have been talking about visiting Nashville for a couple of years.  I love country music so I was excited to visit.  So we booked our hotel, got a dog sitter for Gatsby and packed our bags.  I do admit on the day before we left I had some second thoughts, when I was dealing with my crabby boss giving me a hard time because I was going to be gone.  However, this is the thing, vacation is so worth it and while I can tell you all of the fun things we did in Nashville (which I will be happy to do if you want to know) I got so much more out of it than just seeing a few interesting things.

While we cannot get away from it all because it seems that information, the news and social media are everywhere, it was rejuvenating to reduce the amount of it for awhile.  For most of the week we did not check or watch the news, which meant we were not inundated with the crazy presidential campaign, plus we were a bit insulated from others tragedies and there was just less noise.  I think being informed is so important but at times it is also overwhelming.  I enjoyed for a little bit to reduce some of the outside noise from the media.  I think I am going to try and remember this at home and turn off the television and step away from the computer at times.

In a similar vein, I also reduced the number of times I looked at emails, Facebook and Instagram.  I also tried to be present to where I was and to the company I was with, and reduced the amount of texting I did.  I really tried to enjoy the present moment.  Often, we get so caught up in all of these relationships that we have, that we sometimes are not as present in the relationship that is occurring right in the moment.  My husband and I sat and enjoyed each other’s company at meals, we enjoyed concerts and other entertainment and yes, while we did share some of that on social media, we tried not to be sharing every moment.

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(Our moment of fame on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry)

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(Under the moon of the neon lights…. Oh wait I think that’s the lyrics to a country song)

It is good to just go have fun.  I will admit I am very goal oriented.  As a result my days are often scheduled and full of routine.  Vacation is a nice break from that routine.  Yes, we did have some scheduling.  And yes I did make some plans.  But we did try and go with the flow for some of our time on vacation.  We often ate meals at non-traditional times.  I did not eat a lot vegetables during the week and I went to bed late.  It felt good to get out of my box.

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(I was pretending that I could sing)

Experiencing something new even if it is not a great experience with your loved one can bring you together.  Because the first night of our vacation was actually my husband’s volunteer conference, we had to stay in a hotel booked by the organization.  It was a skeevy and creepy hotel.  The best thing I can say about it is that we did not get bed bugs and we were not murdered in our sleep.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement.  However, going through this together actually gave us a lot of laughs for a good part of the week.  And on a better note discovering new restaurants, new bars and a new city together was exciting and bonded us in a way that does not happen when we are at home and in our day-to-day routine.

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(All the pretty boots lined up and no I did not go home with any new boots.)

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(I love magnolia wreaths but I think I am going to need a lot more leaves before I can make my own.  Maybe I should just order one.)

One thing I really loved about Nashville is because so much of the city revolves around the music industry, and especially up and coming artists, it has an artistic vibe that was good for my artist’s soul.  I am by no means musical (although I did have a fleeting thought that I should learn to play the guitar) but just being around all those people following their artistic dreams inspired me to be more creative.  One cool thing we did was attend the Bluebird Cafe open mike night.  This is an opportunity for undiscovered songwriters to perform.  Some of them were more experienced than others but I give all of them a lot of credit for getting up there on stage and performing their original work.

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(The famous Bluebird Cafe.  Garth Brooks was discovered here.  Parts of the television show Nashville are filmed here.  We enjoyed this view from the parking lot for a while when we stood in line.)

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(I wanted to take her home from Antique Archaeology but alas she was not for sale.)

IMG_3825(I loved that the songwriters hand write their songs.  I often hand write things because it helps me think.  Note to schools that are no longer teaching handwriting.  This was Taylor Swift’s first hit song “Tim McGraw.”)

 

I love fancy hotels.  This is not a new discovery but just something I am reminded of every time we have the opportunity to stay in one.  We had the chance to stay in the fancy Hermitage Hotel for one night as a treat. It was lovely.  There is nothing like staying in a hotel that is heads and tails far superior to your own house.  We came back from being out for the evening to the bed neatly turned down, fancy slippers and robes and bottles of waters and cookies.  There is nothing like that level of service and pampering that says it better that you are vacation.  I was ready to move in but Tom would not let me, so sadly I had to come home.

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(My fancy slippers)

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(Selfie in the lobby of the Hermitage Hotel)

 I think I must be a bit of a Southern girl at heart.  I have always lived in the Northern United States.  My paternal grandparents and my dad (for part of his life) were from the Ozarks.  Listening to true country music (not the pop country music on the radio), blue grass music, eating fried chicken, driving through rolling hills and seeing the rocks where the road had to be cut through brought me a sense of peace.  It’s strange because other than probably a week or two each year, I never spent any time in the South.  And because my grandmother died in 2001, I have not spent any time in the South since then.  However, I felt like there was a little piece of me that was complete being in that space.  Maybe I need that sense of place for my soul.

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(Rosco P Coltrane and Flash from the Dukes of Hazard.)

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(We enjoyed some country cooking at the Loveless Cafe.)

Finally, I needed a vacation to be better at my job.  Before leaving on vacation, I was just plain tired and work was drudgery.  I cannot say that I was excited to come back to work, but I did come back a little refreshed and renewed and ready to tackle the challenges of the next few months.  I also brought back a few cool souvenirs to remind me of all the fun we had, and also to help me to remember that the next time I question whether or not to go on vacation, we should just do it.  –June

 

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The Comfort of Home

My husband and I have been travelling quite a bit in the past couple of months.  Most of it has been for various family events and while we are always excited about going, there is just something about coming and staying home for awhile.

I think that for the most part I am a bit of a homebody.  I have always loved to be home.  That’s not to say that I do not like to go out and do fun things, go to parties, see new things and hang out with friends, but I am almost always happy to just be home.  As a kid I never really liked sleepovers at other people’s houses.  And living in a dorm room was torture for me because there was no place to just hang out and relax.

When I come home from a long weekend away there are many things I appreciate including:

  • my bed
  • my shower
  • Gatsby (he does not usually travel with us because he gets car sick)

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  • making coffee
  • my couch and almost sole possession of the remote control (I do have to share with my husband)
  • my closet and all of its contents
  • my weekend routine of yoga class and errands and reading the Sunday paper
  • wearing my lounge clothes around the house
  • Friday night pizza, a movie and falling asleep on the couch
  • being able to be quiet and still

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How about you, are you happy to come home after a trip away?  As Dorothy said, “There is no place like home.” –June

 

 

 

 

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Road Trips

Road trips always sound idyllic.  There are songs and books written about lovely road trips.  The open road, the beautiful scenery, the quaint restaurants and the characters you meet along the way.  You always plan your road trip is going to be like this:

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(Me taking my brother for a little “drive”)

But sometimes your road trip goes like this:

 

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(National Lampoon’s Vacation)

I have taken a lot of road trips.  Growing up we always traveled by car.  My grandparents lived 10 hours away from us in a little town in Southern Missouri, leaving us no good alternative other than to travel  by car.  So twice a year, at Thanksgiving and one other time of the year, my parents would load up the van with their three kids and the dog and travel down to my grandparents.  We took the trip often enough that we knew where  the best rest stops were, and where to stop for food and for gas.

Most of our vacations were also road trips.  We drove to Colorado and Yellowstone.  One summer we drove from Chicago to San Francisco.

The part about  a road trip is that you have to look at getting there as part of the fun.  As kids we definitely had our share of touching, poking and aggravating each other.  I’m sure my parents did not want to hear our squabbles over the back seat territory, smelly feet and stinky breath.  They also got tired of hearing us ask if we were there yet and that we were bored.  But we also found ways to entertain ourselves.  This was in the days before in-car entertainment centers and iPads so we played the license plate game, travel bingo and my youngest brother’s favorite, travel Yahtzee.  We would sing along with performers like Barry Manilow, John Denver and Kenny Rogers played on the eight track player.  No road trip was complete without a box of Cheez-Its and other snacks packed in a bag that Mom controlled.  We had fun as a family just talking and spending time together.  And we learned how big the country was, how crops grew, and saw that we were very blessed and privileged to grow up where we did.

I still often go on road trips.  My husband’s family lives in Buffalo, New York, which is about a 10 hour drive for us (I seem to keep ending up with family that is 10 hours away).  We could fly but air travel has become a hassle and does not save us as much time as you would think, so we often drive.  We do not have any squirmy children to entertain (yet), but we still  try to entertain ourselves.  We do spend time talking and listening to the radio, and when the trip starts to get really long, I play DJ with our downloaded music so that we can have a little in the car dance party (as much as you can sitting down).  But even then, we start to get a little bored, and unfortunately I cannot read in the car since it makes me motion sick.  On our last trip to Buffalo we started listening to the podcast, Serial.

Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story – a true story – over the course of an entire season. Each season, we’ll follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. And we won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order, starting with Episode 1. 

We often watch old episodes of Law & Order, so the description of this sounded interesting and there had been quite a bit of buzz about it.  I downloaded it on my phone before we left since we would not have access to Wi-Fi on the road.  Each episode was broken up into 45 minute to an hour segments.  We could easily take a break when we needed to rest our ears or the passenger needed a nap, but it made our trip go so fast because we had a compelling story to follow.  It also gave us something to talk about on the long ride (there is nothing interesting on the Ohio turnpike that can spark a conversation).  My husband and I had some interesting conversations about the theories presented in the episodes and tried very hard to “solve the crime.”  I think we only have one episode of Serial left, but we have at least 18 more hours in the car this weekend to fill up.  Season 2 of Serial, with a different story, is supposed to start later this year (hopefully before our two other road trips to Buffalo in October).  Do you have any good ideas for podcasts or audio books for road trips? And have you listened to Serial (I would love to hear your theories)?

–June

 

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Weekend Away

It seems like everyone is on vacation right now.  My Facebook feed is full of pictures of people at lakes, in the mountains and man made attractions.  Because of work obligations and several out-of-town family weddings this fall, we are unable to take a week long vacation this year.  However, a few weeks ago we were able to get away for a weekend and it was amazing how refreshing just a short trip could be.

We went to Wisconsin Dells which is about a three hour trip from our home.  Wisconsin Dells is known as the “Water Capital of the World” as every other television commercial tells you.  Wisconsin Dells is also known for tons of tourist traps, go-karts, and the infamous “Ducks.”  Because we were traveling without children we managed to avoid all of these attractions, and had a nice adult weekend.

This area holds a special place in my heart because for several years my family had a vacation home on Lake Redstone which is about 20 minutes northwest of the Dells.  It was my dad’s favorite place in the world (and it’s always nice to be somewhere that brings back such happy memories, although it makes me miss him terribly) and we still have family that lives on the lake.

We traveled with my mom, her husband and my brother and stayed outside of the main Wisconsin Dells drag at Christmas Mountain.  We  had a lovely three bedroom townhouse which let us visit, but gave us all our own space.  So fortunately there was no couch sleeping for us which is important for a relaxing weekend.

We started our Friday night with pizza at Sarento’s.  We have been there several times and find one of the best places to sit is in the bar area to enjoy the live music.  The man that typically performs I think is “famous” for the area as he seemed to have quite a few groupies.  It is a fun change of pace to enjoy some live music with your dinner.

The next day the boys went golfing and my mom and I went to Baraboo for lunch and some vintage shopping.  I love Baraboo.  It is a small artistic town about 45 minutes from Madison.  It was home to the Ringling Brothers Circus in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Currently it is home to the Circus World Museum.  I love the vibe in the town.  It is built on a courtyard square.  I can’t imagine practicing law in that courthouse rather than the skyscraper one I frequently visit.

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My mom and I had a delicious lunch at Vintage Port Catering.  This place used to be called the Java Cafe but it is the same owner and the same yummy sandwiches and it has a fun San Francisco vibe.

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My yummy sandwich

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And my mom graciously posing with her sandwich.  Thanks Mom!

We then did a little shopping in some stores on the square.  Cornerstone Gallery carries art and jewelry from different artists some of which are local.  Also, if you are looking for a great art fair, Baraboo hosts Art on the Square in August.  Also, they are the sponsors of the Fall Art Tour in October which is a self-guided tour of various local artists’ studios.  I have not done this yet but it is on my list to do one fall.  We picked up some funky earrings here (although I forgot to take a picture).

We also did a little antique and vintage shopping.

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These did not come home with me.  I thought they were rather creepy.

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This did come home with me.  It is new but looks vintage.  I found this at Raven House. Raven House has artisan, antiques and vintage home goods.  This is a huge palm reading sign that I thought was very unique.

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And my fairies got a new family member and a gnome.

And after all that walking we needed some iced coffee at the Coffee Bean Connection.  We then met up with the boys at my aunt and uncle’s home on Lake Redstone.

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The view of the lake.

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Relaxing while waiting for a boat ride.

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Dega enjoying the boat.

We followed up our boat ride with a delicious steak dinner and grilled vegetables prepared by my wonderful aunt and uncle.

We went home on Sunday feeling refreshed and renewed.  Of course I would’ve loved to run off for a whole week (preferably the Four Seasons) but a little trip close was the temporary solution.  A good thing to remember that it only takes a little break from the every day to renew the soul.  I hope you all find a little time to take a trip this summer and enjoy the summer.  -June

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Girls Road Trip 2015…..It’s in the Journey

Recently, May and June took a weekend road trip to the University of Iowa, in Iowa City.  Our reason for the getaway was to attend the annual Iowa Summer Writing Festival, which offers a large menu of enriching classes to all writers, no experience necessary.  We were there to learn about the art of blogging.  This was June’s third trip to the festival and May’s first.

We hear that so much about life is in the journey and travel is no exception, especially road trips. Many travelers are so focused on reaching their destination they miss out on some of the interesting scenery and towns along the way.  May and June decided to make the most of this trip by scoping out some possibilities ahead of time.  For us, it was the quaint towns and quirky little vintage shops.  We found a cute town along the way called Le Claire, Iowa, a historic town nestled right along the Mississippi River.

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As we pulled into the parking lot, we immediately discovered it was home to Buffalo Bill.  Who knew?

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It was a beautiful day and we had lunch outside overlooking the river, and explored many of the lovely shops including a famous one that some of you vintage buffs may recognize.  Antique Archeology, home to the American Pickers television show.  As you can see from the following photos, we had a lot of fun exploring this little gem of a town and ended up staying much longer than we had originally planned.

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We wish we could’ve taken this home and made it our official May Meets June vehicle

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A cute gift shop in a historic home, Grasshopper’s.

We also had a great time in Iowa City.  In addition to the informative workshop, we enjoyed everything the city had to offer including some great food and fun shopping.  The sudden downpour one evening was not about to stop us from enjoying ourselves.

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Yummy Sushi at Takanami

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Dinner at a charming retro diner called the Bluebird Diner.  May had the best ratatouille ever!

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Spotting Herky the Hawk

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And while vintage shopping at a store called Decorum, we spotted May’s dog, Sawyer’s doppelganger made out of paper.

Everything in life is a journey.  Taking a walk, commuting to work, meeting friends, etc… Being mindful and enjoying what each path has to offer, no matter where it takes us is part of the fun of getting to wherever it is we’re going.  When we were planning this blog we knew we wanted to explore being more fully present in the everyday.  This “business trip” gave us the opportunity to achieve our goal of completing our class but also allowed us to set the tone for what we want this journey to be.

Have a great weekend!!  Hopefully have some adventures, both planned and unplanned.  -May and June

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