In one of my newsletters, I related a humorous incident that occurred in a bed and breakfast near Dublin, Ireland. I received more positive responses to this piece than usual, and an idea was born. Travel has always been one of my joys, though the pandemic has taken its toll, of course. I’ve kept countless detailed journals over the years, intending to incorporate the settings into novels.
While not abandoning that idea, I’m thinking of starting a travel blog in which I take the reader to a few of the places I’ve been. My travels have been varied, from taking bus trips or river cruises to renting cars or traveling by train. Because my work has taken me most often to New Zealand (eighteen visits, averaging a month each) and Belgium, I’m likely to begin with those.
If I do this, in my newsletters I’ll incorporate a snippet and a link to the more detailed blog for those interested. In the blog I may talk about where I stayed, what I saw, food, history, what went well, and what turned out disastrously. Because I always figured I could see more places if I was cost conscious, I’ve stayed on occasion in hostels and campgrounds, but when the prices were right (Thailand, for instance) we stayed in some magnificent hotels.
As I keep writing, I’ll also keep you updated on my books, of course. Let me hear your thoughts on this. If you don’t like the idea, please don’t hesitate to say so. I haven’t decided.
In Song of Sugar Sands, Acadia and Peter run out of money on a trip to Gatlinburg and laugh over steak that’s too tough to chew and swallow. Their car breaks down, as did ours on our honeymoon (though we were in Nashville rather than Gatlinburg)—and, yes, I remember that grizzly steak, which was on an anniversary trip to Gatlinburg.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the novel. In this scene Acadia and Peter are on their honeymoon:
Our resources had dwindled considerably by the time we shopped for men’s clothes. Determined to be as generous as Peter had been, I encouraged him to spend most of our remaining dollars on shirts, ties, and trousers. More from necessity than choice, we dined at an inexpensive fifties-style diner decorated with photographs of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and old cars. I stared at a huge photo of Marilyn. How short her life had been, how sad too, judging from what I’d read.
We were starving by the time our food came, and I speared a particularly large steak tip. The meat was so full of gristle, I had to chew for what seemed an eternity before I could swallow. “This must be one of those foods where you burn more calories than you consume.”
“Yeah? What are some of the others?”
“Celery, I think,” I said and Peter grimaced. “You never heard that? They’re great diet foods because you chew for so long you can’t gain weight on them.”
“Maybe we should complain,” Peter said. He was still working on his first bite. “This is ridiculous.”
I giggled. “I’m trying to look on the bright side.” [end of excerpt]
That wasn’t the only time we ran out of money on a trip. I also remember having to ask my dad to wire money to eastern Kentucky when we visited the Red River Gorge. Nonetheless, I’m glad we didn’t wait until we could afford it to start traveling, or we would have missed a lot of adventures.
Let me know what you think of the idea; and, if you like it, which of the places listed you’d like to hear about first:
England—London, Lake District, Bronte Country, Cliffs of Dover
Italy: Tuscany and Umbria, Florence, Rome, Venice
New Zealand—north island
New Zealand—south island
Gulf Shores, Alabama
France—Monet settings, Van Gogh
Rio de Janeiro
Tennessee State Parks
Kentucky State Parks
Canada: Nova Scotia, Maritime provinces
Christmas markets in Europe
Land between the Lakes
Gems of southeast Europe: Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia
As I look over the list, I’m amazed by how many places I’ve been. I also see some big gaps. I’ve barely touched on Asia, and not on Africa at all. These remain on my wish list for future travel.