It’s summer, and it’s time to hop in the family car, or the RV, or on a plane and travel. For most people that sounds like fun. For me? Eh, not so much.
I discovered in my early teens that I am not a happy traveler (my family had the obligatory summer family vacation — don’t get me started –really).
Yes, I am that rara avis — a “nester.” I hate getting ready to leave, and I hate getting caught up once we get home. I like my routine, and traveling upsets it. Consequently, I don’t find traveling restful or fun or any of those things that most people like about going to new places. If I want to travel to new places, I do it through reading (Mary Stewart’s and M.M. Kaye’s books anybody?) or television (Discovery Channel is a fav).
But I married a traveler, so we compromised. Well, I compromised, because I love my husband and he likes to “go” places. We traveled a lot before we had our son (son was born 14 years into the marriage) and then we did the family thing with our boy. I attended my hubby’s many medical conferences and then once I started writing, we went to many writer’s conferences (oh and some legal conferences when I was a full-time practicing attorney).
Since I have traveled frequently over my umpteen many years, I will share the places that a “nester” such as myself would willingly leave home for. Hope they are some of your favorites, too.
1. San Francisco. — Love and adored this city. For over fifteen years, we would annually attend a medical meeting in S.F. I got to the point I could give directions in downtown S.F. like a native. We went over the Memorial Day week. Lovely weather. Not too hot, not too cool (I like cool, btw). We also went several other times in August (for legal meetings and to show our son the city). The coldest I have ever been in my life was in S.F. in August — and I live in Indiana where it snows.
What do I love about San Fran? The cosmopolitan atmosphere. The food. The shopping. The fresh sea air. The easy access to wine country. The food. Oh, I mentioned that before. Some of the best memories in my life were made in San Francisco. Yeah, Tony Bennett got it right — you can leave your heart in San Francisco. If you’ve never been, go. I dare you not to fall in love with San Francisco.
Golden Gate photo is used through a Creative Commons license. Photographer and copyright holder is Jon Sullivan.
2. Cayman Islands. — I’ve been there three times. I don’t like to fly, but this is one of the few places I would get on a plane to return to (San Fran is the other.) I love Grand Cayman Island. It is not crowded like Nassau. It is not over-developed. Georgetown is small and not a shopping mecca. Yes, it is outrageously expensive, but worth it. Why? Because the beaches are white sand and gorgeous. Even though it is hot, the breezes keep it pleasant. Everyone is friendly, speaks English (it is part of the British Commonwealth after all). The fresh seafood is to die for. Snorkeling and scuba diving among the coral reefs. Swimming with the manta rays. Sailing on a huge pirate ship at dusk. Peace and quiet and time to hear yourself think without the modern world intruding with all its noise and pollution. Paradise.
Picture taken of my son (when he was around 12 years old) looking at a moray eel that had come out to play while he was snorkeling. My husband took the picture with a disposable underwater camera.
3. Chicago. –I’m from the Midwest. This is our big city. It is a short four hour drive from my house. I love to go there for the museums (fabulous!), the food (again with the food, Moni?), and the shopping in the Magnificent Mile. If I don’t want to drive, I can hop Amtrak and take the train into Union Station and I’m a short cab ride from Michigan Avenue. Chicago is my kind of town. And I can do it in one day and still be home to sleep in my own bed. When we do stay over, we like the Drake and the Fairmont. Just in case you want to go. Oh and forget all those other steak houses, you know the ones I’m talking about – the national chains. Go to Gibson’s — the local fine-dining steak house and a favorite of all the theater district people. And you don’t have to go to NY to shop– Chicago has a Barney’s on Oak Street. 😉
Photo of Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) is used under a Creative Commons license. The photographer and copyright holder is Daniel Schwen.
4. Inn at Spanish Bay and other areas along 17-Mile Drive. –My husband plays golf. ‘Nuff said. Usually I don’t like to go on his golf trips. I don’t play. But when he wanted to drive down from San Fran one year after his medical meeting and play at Pebble Beach, Spyglass, and Spanish Bay, I tagged along. We decided to stay at the newer (at that time) Inn at Spanish Bay. This is, second only to the Caymans, one of the most relaxing places I have ever stayed at. Dramatic ocean views. Serene forest views. The rooms were luxurious with fireplaces in the bedrooms. Loved it. And a short shuttle to the Lodge at Pebble Beach I could catch another shuttle into Carmel. A wonderful little town with a unique charm all its own and some nice shopping and restaurants. So, yeah, I would go again.
This photo is of a view from the Inn at Spanish Bay and was taken by and is copyrighted by Dante Alighieri and is shared under a Creative Common license.
It was also the only trip my family ever took I enjoyed. Well, I didn’t enjoy sharing a bed with my sister, but that’s understandable, she hogged the bed. We couldn’t afford to stay on the island – the Grand Hotel was too expensive for a factory worker’s salary, but we did stay in a motel on the mainland and took the ferry over for the day. No cars on the island so I went on my first buggy ride as we toured the island. Had fish and chips. Taffy. And bought trashy souvenirs. I have not been back since that time, but would love to go now that I can afford to stay on the island. Yes, it is probably crowded, but the island still has no car traffic (other than emergency vehicles). I know they still make taffy and am betting they still have fresh fish and chips.
And there is just something about Mackinac that still calls to me over the years. That trip is why I put Risto Smith’s home on an island in upper peninsula Michigan. After my family left Mackinac, we went north into the UP and then into Canada so my dad could show us where he went fishing and hunting as a kid. It was a time when my dad was at his most accessible (my dad was not a talker). It was a time when I was a happy kid with no worries.
So I share my childhood love of the UP with you in my books. Okay, some bad things happen in my SSI books, but I write romantic adventure. I feel I show my love for the area through Risto, Callie, and Big Earl and their love for the UP. And I know I’ll be back there in future SSI books with the Walsh twins. 😉
Photo of the Grand Hotel is used through a Wiki-Commons license. Photographer and copyright holder is David Ball.
Well, there they are. The five top spots that I’d drag my ass out of my house for. What are your favorite vacation spots? Please share.