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My Favorite Place to Travel?

18 Nov

I was browsing the racks at a little boutique in Meredith, NH, when a store clerk struck up a conversation. She asked if I was on vacation.

“Yes.”

“Do you travel often,” she continued.

“When I can,” I replied, offhandedly.

Then she asked a question that completely disarmed me: “What’s your favorite place to travel?”

To her, this seemed like idle chit-chat. But it struck me as deeply personal. If she had asked me my weight or if I believed in God, it wouldn’t have felt more intrusive.

I lied, said something about Arizona’s desert landscape (lovely, yes, but my favorite?), and made my way out of the store and into a neighboring bar.

While I sipped a beer, I wondered: Why had this simple question rattled me? And what is my favorite place?

Panicked, I searched my brain for an answer. Looking over London from the rooftop of St. Paul’s? Exploring the labyrinth of the Metropolitan Museum in New York? Winding up the California coast along US 101? Riding the ferry out to Block Island to spend day at the beach? None of it seemed quite right.

And the idea of choosing felt strange, felt wrong. Like picking your favorite child. Who could do such a thing?

Not me, I decided.

Maybe I haven’t found my favorite place yet. Then again, maybe I have. Either way, next time I’m asked, I’ll be better prepared.

I might say, “I’m not sure,” or perhaps, “My next trip is my favorite, I going to ________ this summer.”

Or maybe I’ll turn it around, and ask, “What’s yours?”

Because really, it’s not such a bad question.

Goodnight, Irene: Photos from Narragansett, RI

31 Aug

Tropical Storm Irene ripped through Rhode Island on Sunday leaving downed trees and power lines throughout the state. Luckily, we escaped with only a split tree and a yard full of branches:

Ironically, the day after the storm was a perfect 10–sunny, 70 degrees, no humidity, and not a cloud in the sky. After a quick yard clean up, we drove down to watch the surfers take on the waves at Narragansett Beach:

Wipe out!

A little bit down the road from the beach is a hidden outcropping of rocks called Black Point where we got a great view of the waves and some water birds:

Our thoughts are with all those still without power and flooded. Please be safe.

A Quickie in South Beach, Miami

25 Aug

With four days to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we left the autumn leaves of New England behind and hopped a plane to South Beach.

From our first mojito, Scott and I knew we picked the perfect kid-free getaway.

These are some of our favorite spots:

Stay: The Hotel of South Beach

Todd Oldham’s geometrical patterns and sea-foam palate were everywhere in this art deco, boutique hotel. Just a block off of busy Ocean Drive, the location was perfect. If we wanted to escape the Miami Beach crowds we went up the elevator to the secluded roof-top pool and Spire Bar. (Even if you don’t stay at The Hotel, its restaurant, Wish, is worth a visit for the romantic atmosphere and great food.)

From our rooftop pool at The Hotel

 

Get Pampered: The Spa at the Shore Club

In an attempt to live the celebrity lifestyle, we decided to treat ourselves to the spa at the Shore Club, one of Miami Beach’s swankiest hotels. After a full body scrub and hydrating treatment (me) and a 90-minute massage (Scott), we relaxed on the spa balcony overlooking the palm trees and waves below.

Post-spa treatment at the Shore Club.

 

Explore: Posh hotel lobbies

The hottest hotels in South Beach may have untouchable room rates and bouncers guarding the pools, but the lobbies are open, free, and offer views of art and architecture to rival some of the world’s best museums. Don’t miss a walk through lobbies at The DelanoShore Club, The Tides, and the Sagamore.

The lobby of The Delano hotel.

 

Drink: Love Hate Lounge

Operated by the same guys who own Miami Ink, the Love Hate Lounge feels more like a local bar then a place to be seen. You can dance, you can drink, and there was no cover or intimidating velvet rope.

Eat Dinner: Nemo

No one has to walk the sidewalk in front of this restaurant to talk patrons in off the street–a common occurrence in South Beach. We got a table by the hammered copper bar in this crowded eatery located in the stylish South of Fifth Street (SoFi) district. Perfectly cooked sea bass, lobster hash browns, and warm ocean breezes made for a memorable 10th anniversary dinner.

When the Vacation Ends: Burning Up On Re-entry

6 Jul

A new art installation in our bedroom is called "I'll Unpack When I Need The Suitcase."

When the alarm went off this morning I was in denial. The dog scratched at the door, and I pressed my eyes shut. The cat pawed at his food bowl, and I yanked the sheet over my head.

There is one universal, no-good, sucktastic thing about all vacations. They end.

A mere eight days ago, I was so naive. Full of joy and anticipation for the upcoming trip. “Stressed” about which bathing suit to pack and which winery to visit. Smugly, I told co-workers, “Oh, sorry. Can’t make it to the meeting. I’ll be away next week.” I didn’t even try to suppress a grin.

Away. Sigh.

Clearly not thinking about how the house will get painted.

Away is such a lovely word. When you are away, lunches for summer camp don’t have to be made. Weeding and lawn cutting can wait. Someone else can walk the dog and feed the cat. When you are away, your time is your own. And there feels like there is an abundance of it.

Until you have to come back.

Back is just no damn fun. “Oh, you’re back,” everyone says cheerfully. What are they so happy about?

Back is doctor appointments, and checking account balances, and responding to overdue emails. And, gasp, eating and drinking in moderation. Back is unpacking (eventually), exercising (well, maybe tomorrow), and laundry.

Did I really expect to eat this and still fit into my clothes?

I tried to cheer myself up by reading posts from travel bloggers about how they’ve made “away” their everyday. It helped a little.

Maybe someday, but for today I’m here.

I’m home, where there’s a comfy bed with no chance of bedbugs and a fridge stocked with non-indigestion-inducing foods. There’s a pool where I can float without being splashed or bumped, or forced to listen to Margaritaville for the seventieth time. There’s time for my blistered feet and sunburned shoulders to heal.

Ah, well. Maybe it’s not so bad. At least I have reliable Internet–so I can plan my next trip.

The Walmsley Family Road Trip: Part 1

28 Jun

The alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., and I’m instantly cranky. Ten hours in the car with the kids should help. We can’t find Will’s birth certificate, and our chances of getting into Canada are now questionable. Whose idea was this anyway?

A Lifetime in PA

Route 80 in Pennsylvania is long, boring, and sprinkled with endearing attractions like dead deer in various stages of decay. Watching Sam with his headphones on rapping to Eminem provides some entertainment, but soon even that loses its charm. An iPhone app called Best Road Trip Ever alerts me that we are approaching the home of the World’s Largest Hamburger. Now it’s a party.

Football and a Pedicure

We arrived in North Canton, OH, road weary but cheerful. What do you do on a Saturday night in this land of strip malls and chain restaurants? We, um, went to the mall. Will got a haircut, I got a pedicure, Sam and Scott got smoothies.

On Sunday morning, we were at the Pro Football Hall of Fame before opening and tossed the ole pigskin (well, Nerf) around on the HOF field. I love football, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how many game jerseys and commemorative films I could take. I needn’t have worried. The Hall was awesome—cool exhibits, lots of Patriots stuff, and blessedly few Jets fans.

From Canton we were on our way north to Sandusky, OH, home to roller coaster mecca, Cedar Point.

 

 

Cedar Point: On The Beach

The minute my feet hit the sand I knew I was going to like this place. On the beach, which was right outside of our hotel room, you could gaze out on Lake Erie, or face inland and see some the best roller coasters on the planet. It’s unique, for sure. We ate dinner at a lakeside restaurant, watched the sunset, and ended the night soaking in one of several, large outdoor hot tubs.

Roller Coasters Make Me Feel Young (and Old)

Good thing we spent some time relaxing the night before, because Monday was all about the rides.

Cedar Point has more roller coasters than I’d ever seen. They ranged from speedy to absolutely terrifying. Guess which ones Sam and Will wanted to go on? I’m convinced I lost years off my life, but it was worth it. Highest, fastest, longest—you name it, we did it. Zero to 120 mph in 3.8 seconds? OK. Spin, swing, and be flung hundreds of feet in the air? Why not.

It was an exhilarating day but exhausting. Scott and I started trading stories about our bodies in revolt by midday. At 7 p.m. we were searching for coffee and Advil. We limped out of the park past 9 o’clock with Will still begging for more.

No worries, we assured him, we’re doing it all over again tomorrow.