Writing about: Family Travel, kids, places, food…

Category: traveling (Page 1 of 2)

Road trip USA: Colorado

We had another great house swap with people from Vail, Colorado so drove from Chicago out there (saw more corn than I ever need to again). It was a nice condo and certainly is a beautiful area. The three older boys and I lived in Colorado Springs back in mid 90s so it was nice to go back and see old spots.

House swapping really is a great system and we have stayed in some lovely places around the world for free! If you would like to sign up here is a link that gets both of us some extra guest points just to get you started:


One day we drove up to Leadville and took the old train trip. Darwin really enjoyed it too! And Leadville is lovely and much more old-style and characteristic than Vail I have to say. Not sure I could handle the extreme snow or cold as it’s 10,000 feet and we were told gets cut off easily. But still lovely in summer.

In Vail the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens are lovely to wander around and free! There are lots of shows in the amphitheater there but we didn’t manage to time it well to see any.

Another day had us driving to the Rocky Mountain Park and taking the Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake. It’s an elevation of 11,500 foot so be prepared for dizziness at the top!

In Estes Park I was disappointed to not recognize anything due to such growth nor did we see any of the elk that used to wander around the town. Maybe it was too early in the year but I was also surprised to not see any real snow on the Trail Ridge Road. Back in the 90s there was loads that had lasted all summer long. Global warming?

Another sad thing was the large areas of dead trees due to the mountain pine beetle infestation. They are battling it in the park but wow there were acres and acres of dead trees.

Despite all of this it is still an absolutely beautiful place to visit. The landscapes in Colorado change so rapidly that a drive is never boring!

Road Trip USA: Chicago

We spent a few weeks this summer driving from Florida to Tennessee where were started renovations of our Knoxville house. It was great to visit the old spots up in the Smokies and play with my grandson who is living there now.

Then we took off and drove up to Chicago to visit Ben and his lovely girlfriend who are living there to attend DePaul University for graduate school. We did the various iconic spots but particularly enjoyed the Field Museum. So much to see that we must go back and also to hit up the other museums that we didn’t have time for!

It was fun riding the trains and wandering city streets again. Oh and going to Eataly which is a large Italian food market and restaurants (yum). We had lots of good pizza of course!

Another great spot was the Morton Arboretum which is a little way out of the city but well worth the drive. Beautiful walks and fun searching for the huge trolls hidden around the park.

So lovely to have our own tour guides as well!

Flying with Interjet


We had a few flights booked on this trip with Interjet as they were extremely cheap and had decent times etc. Never having flown with them before, we weren’t sure exactly what to expect but the website luggage policy was pretty amazing:

“In all national and international destinations, you can check up to * 75 kg of luggage per passenger distributed in two suitcases (no suitcase can weigh more than 25 kg). As part of your baggage you can carry your pet, surfboard, bicycle, or your musical instrument.

If you get to exceed your baggage allowance, the cost per additional kg is $ 50 MXN national stations and $ 5.00 USD on international stations. If you need to travel with additional luggage, please check in counter that no limitation of space in the cabin baggage.”

We have now travelled from Cancun to Mexico City and on again to Oaxaca, back to Mexico City and then to San Jose, Costa Rica. Each time we boarded in a very laid back and relaxed manner. No one rushed or pushed in the craze to be able to get their huge carry on in the tiny space that always runs out. In fact there was very little carry on luggage brought on. The flights were about ¾ full and we were stunned with the amount of leg-room. My 6’4” son could spread out easily. I have never had this much space even on international flights. This is from their website:

“You can be up to 20% more space between rows! For us it is very important your convenience so we decided to remove up to 30 seats in each of our aircraft.

The most comfortable space consists of 34 inches between rows of seats , this allows you to stretch your legs and travel in comfort. The passenger in front of you, you can recline the seat without bothering you .

You can also choose your seat at the time of purchase of your flight, at no additional cost .

In short, the more comfortable space and seat selection at no extra cost , what you see is what you pay.”

And then to top it off the drinks and snacks were FREE – including alcohol; wine/beer and liquor. It was a little early for my gin and tonic but it would have been free even on the 35-minute flights.

Flight attendants and check in people were friendly and polite too.

I can honestly say this was a wonderful experience and I am so glad to be flying them again. Oh and the flights from DF to Oaxaca were about $45 per person (remember all that includes loads of luggage/animals and FREE booze:)  They are flying from the US now so watch out for this airline.

And no — we don’t have any freebies for saying this!



Leg Room!


Jacob is off to Peru!

My second son Jacob, 19, is heading out tomorrow for Peru. He is going to spend almost two months working in an orphanage there. As homeschoolers we have always talked about a culminating experience to celebrate graduation. Not a mission trip as that is not part of our belief system, but a launching into the world trip.

I think this will do it!

The orphanage he is working at is near Cuzco in the Sacred Valley.


I am embedding a video from YouTube. Hope this works!

LA trip

Last Wednesday I had to fly out to LA for a couple of days of consulting work. The amount of travel probably out did the number of hours spent in work but it was a great time as I got to meet up with people I have been working with for months now but never actually seen in person. LA was hot but actually had clear skies and I must say I longed to be heading over to the beach or hitting the theme parks with the children as we usually do there. This is one of only two times that I have left the two little ones and three days was hard enough without taking any longer time for relaxation.

I have to say though that as much as I love “being” in new places, I am beginning to dislike the “going” to new places. Travel, specifically airline travel, is just no fun. I understand the need for security but when you accidentally leave half a bottle of water in your bag it seems overdone to notch the interrogation and disgusted looks up to criminal activity level. And having the metal detector machine go off as you walk through with only 3 items of clothing already ON leaves you to wonder how much else you should be leaving off prior to flying. I’m only glad the potential UK bomber was using shoes and not underwear to hide explosives in. Imagine the interesting scenes we would be having now!

And when you finally hit the gate, having listened to an unintelligent but head splittingly loud intercom, you may be admonished to “WAIT OVER THERE” because you unwittingly tried to enter at the mumbled call for zone 10 and you are (gasp) zone 11!

Once on the plane you stagger down a sardine-can aisle giving internal prayers to any and all gods you so summon that the seat next to you will be empty or at least a noninvasive person in it. For my 4 hour flight segment this time I had the gods apparently against me when I had to hunker down sideways to try and squeeze into my seat from which about one third of the (already Tinkerbell proportioned) seat had been claimed by a woman whose weight I wouldn’t want to estimate (let’s just say big gal). She and her equally large window seat companion were I am sure delightful but, (and this could simply be my British roots coming through) I find it very hard to have someone else’s thigh, back and arms pushing me against my arm rest. There is something too personal about that level of touch at first meeting. I honestly feel great compassion for people of all weights and don’t want to sound discriminatory but if I cannot have the arm rest down (her body was too large to allow this) and I am forced to rest sideways with half of my body leaning against someone else’s for four hours of an overpriced airplane ride then I do think guidelines should be in place. It’s a tricky situation for the airlines given lawsuits and existing bad press but given the projected size changes for the next decades it doesn’t seem as if the situation is going to (dare I say it) shrink.

I will say I was somewhat cheered to hear my row companions’ self assurance despite their larger sizes. They entertained by loudly discussing the various people in the movie and subsequent advertisements with statements of “I’d ‘do’ him; would you?” Their range and lack of discrimination was quite amazing, with members of the Blue Man group equally included. I quietly read my book and tried not to let my mind wander.

OK rant over. And I am happy to report the flight home was much improved on that account; I think anyway. I was heading back on the red eye and determined to attempt sleep for at least 3.5 of the 4 hours, I took a Dramamine pill and thus have little memory of the flight. The only sad thing was I took it before the drive to the airport only to discover that on the return path the company had kindly sent a stretch limo to take my work partner and I back. We were both so exhausted (and I was doped up) that we couldn’t even muster the energy to press all the myriad buttons in the back seat and our exit in front of large, staring crowds at the airport probably fell short of their hoped for star sightings. Two rumpled, working moms bracing for long flights home to bouncy kids was probably disappointing.

And travel aside, the trip was very good. I spent 2 full days in the company of some fantastic women, all of whom are incredibly talented writers and artists and moms. The creative energy they produce towards helping young children learn through joy and excitement (and sound pedagogy) is wonderful and I am so honored to be a part of this team. Life is pretty darn good.

Jacob leaves

Well I should be grading papers as we hope to head to the beach tomorrow for a few days. We had planned to go last week but were rained out from two tropical storms hitting. About 900 people’s homes were damaged in the Guanacaste area and the rains caused local mudslides but we didn’t see anything too destructive around our house.

We were up early as Jacob (our 18-year-old) left to fly back to the US after spending three weeks here. His plane took off (hopefully) about 15 minutes ago and he will be picked up in Atlanta by his older brother Sam. Mark and he figured out the exit visa payment — $26 per person to leave the country. You pay at a main desk in the airport and everyone has to pay in order to leave. In other countries this is levied into the price of the ticket but here is separate.

We are all sad about Jacob’s leaving but so glad he could come for at least three weeks. Having experienced his older brother leaving home last year (well I’m actually in denial of this and like to think of him just being on a sleep-over somewhere), I am very cognizant of how short a time we have with our children living at home. All our travel memories include the boys; from Sam at 6 months fast asleep on an Amtrak train that had broken down in the middle of the Arizona desert to trying to wrestle a double stroller, newborn and toddler on and off the subway in London (including Mark carrying them all up a huge, steep and broken escalator to get out of the subway). Travel is not always easy or glamorous with babies and young children but somehow it gets into their very being and senses even at such a young age. Plus we have found having children is a gateway into being more accepted and part of new communities. Playing at the local playgrounds and pools gets children and parents interacting with new friends. We have had waiters pick up our children and carry them off to feed them snacks and treats that we hadn’t thought of ordering. Sharing a tired smile with another mother when your toddler is throwing a big fit about leaving the park connects you to moms from every culture.

So it feels full circle to see our 18-year-old take off on his first international flight alone. Knowing Jacob this is just the first of many journeys. I know all parents say this about their children but he really is an incredible young man. I learn so much from him as he quietly seeks to make the world a better place. He is an activist who doesn’t shout or yell or make others feel bad but rather just gently tries to model a different path. I have tried to talk him out of some demonstrations or events because I’ve been worried about his safety but he just explains the steps he has taken to be safe and manages to reassure me. Anti-KKK rallies, Food Not Bombs, Gay-Rights marches and more. He lives peacefully and gently in the world and tries to get others who don’t practice such tolerance to change.

Let’s just hope he and his brother who is house-sitting (see I said he was only on a sleepover) manage to get along for the next two months in peace – while figuring out who is going to cut the grass! He’s also a wonderful photographer and has taken most of the photos so far on the blog so let’s hope I can continue in his talented footsteps.

jacob at poas

Counting down

Well we have about three days until we leave for our three month jaunt to Costa Rica. I’m trying to pack and organize the multitude of things that must be done before a big trip. Each time we do this I have a goal of spreading the must-do list Anf?nger. out over a longer time and trying to ensure I am not racing around like a crazy woman the day before. We’ll see on Monday but heck why break with tradition — perhaps the last minute cyclonic activity is part of the fun of traveling.

Another issue I find before leaving for an extended trip is how I start to look at my home and find greater satisfaction cheap nfl jerseys and joy in it. I almost nostalgically pat my bed and favorite places to sit and las read, thinking how cheap jerseys free shipping much I will miss them. I look fondly at the plants and imagine how they will have changed by the time we arrive home.

I was comforted to read Frances Mayes sharing the same conflicting emotion. In a Year in the World she wrote “The need to travel is a Us mysterious force. A desire to go runs through me equally with an intense desire to stay at home. The balance just slightly tips in the direction of the airport.” Funnily enough I read this while waiting for a plane last week at LaGuardia airport. The airport was very chaotic and I was tired from two days of intense (but good) work. I was thinking quite negatively about why we do this and thinking fondly of home. But after boarding the plane, from which I was debarking in Dulles, I heard it was continuing on to Buenos Aires. I found the desire to be on that wholesale mlb jerseys plane and heading to Argentina quite intense. The travel bug is deep!

But to celebrate our lovely home here in Tennessee and remind Summer! us of how lucky we are to live here, I am putting in a few pictures from the last two weeks. Now back to cheap nfl jerseys list-making and last minute shopping!

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