DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

And She’s Off!

TRAVEL THERE: AND SHE’S OFF

It’s hard to be a travel blogger when you’re not traveling anywhere. For almost a year I’ve been focused on settling in, not getting out there. That’s coming to an end.

Getting Back to What I Love

Traveling is who I am.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy resort on a sapphire sea, but it needs to be something.  Last June I made a marvelous trip to California.  There was a family reunion of sorts and I spent some time with friends from my days out there.  I visited familiar places like Monterrey Bay, but I also discovered new ones, like Lotusland.

Then I went nowhere.  We sold our Dallas house and moved to Wylie while the Heath house was under construction.  It was supposed to be a dream house, but it was a nightmare to build.  It also sucked the very life out of me.  I sure do hope we like it here in Heath, because I’m never moving again, ever.  Well, I should say we don’t plan to ever move again, but if for some reason we do, there will be no building project.  We’d find someplace nice and make do.

So now that I’m through packing and unpacking moving boxes, I’m ready to start packing and unpacking suitcases.  That’s much more my style.  And my first trip?

San Antonio Stroll

Well, I’m leaving tomorrow for San Antonio.  It will be a girl’s trip – just me and my bestie – revisiting favorite places with one of my favorite people.  We’re calling the trip The San Antonio Stroll.

Here’s how I know that traveling is my thing.  I even like the grunt work.  I spent several days doing research and mapping out an itinerary.  I made reservations at the wrong motel and had to change them.  Found conflicting information on the internet and chased down the answers.  I found coupons and verified which museums my Dallas Museum of Art membership would get me into for free.

Now my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…sounds like the lyrics to a song, right?  Come back next week and find out how it went.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Get Out Your Bucket List

TRAVEL HERE: LOCAL TRAVEL SHOW FOCUSES ON CRUISES

You know how one thing leads to another? Well, back in November I went to a big nationally-advertised travel and adventure show. I saw Pauline Frommer and Samantha Brown in real life! It was a fun day and I have a whole bunch of brochures to show for it.  I made sure the travel and adventure people would notify me next time they came to town, but I didn’t know I’d get even more.

Filling in my Bucket List Data

Just the other day I got an email from the Cruise and Tour Center, right here in Dallas, and they let me know they’re having a regional travel show.  It’s this Saturday and it’s virtually around the corner from me.  Even though I had a great day in November, there were a few items on my bucket list that didn’t have any representation.  You better bet that I’m re- loading that bucket and making my way to this show.

The most glaring disappointment in November was that no one from Norwegian Cruise Lines would be there for me to quiz about free-style cruising, but they’ll be there this Saturday.  Since the November show, I’ve done a whole lot of research and I may actually know more about free-style cruises than people who have been on several of them.  I might be much better equipped to enjoy this style of cruise vacation than a was a month or so ago, but there’s nothing like the horse’s mouth.  I can’t wait to get a real live Norwegian rep face-to-face and ask about all the stuff I’ve been researching.

You may not be on your way to a free-style cruise, but you should make it by the Doubletree Inn in Richardson on Saturday, between 11-4, anyway.  There’s nothing like a travel brochure to brighten a cold dreary winter’s day.  Did your boyfriend break up with you?  I recommend a glass of wine and a travel brochure.  Hate your job?  Looking at a travel brochure will give a reason to go back to work on Monday.  I could continue the list, but you catch my drift.

Yes, I know you can get on the internet and research any vacation that you want to – but a travel brochure is so much better.  There’s no searching to do, no pop-ups and no salesman will call.  I keep a file box full of brochures close to my desk.  When life goes in an unfortunate direction, I just grab a brochure and dream!

There’s another reason to go to the travel show.  Specials which will only be available at the show, so get over there.  Travel people also give away the best swag.  In November, I got a year’s supply of emery boards, an inflatable travel pillow, a clear plastic toiletry bag for carry-ons  and a new beach ball.  You can’t buy stuff this great!  See you there!

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

Off the Beaten Path

travel
Off the Beaten Path Travel Guides – One of My Favorite Travel tools

TRAVEL THERE: OFF THE BEATEN PATH – A TRAVEL BOOK SERIES

Off the Beaten Path (OTBP) books have led me to destinations I wouldn’t have found any other way.  These books have become so much a part of my travel experience that I can’t even remember when I picked up the first one.  Though many of my travel books have long since been thrown away, I’ve kept my OTBP’s.  With them I’ve taken dirt roads not found on any map and waded beaches even the locals didn’t know – but like any travel resource, OTBP has led me on a few misadventures, too.

AN OFF THE BEATEN PATH MISADVENTURE

Take the steamed fish in Florida for instance.  According to OTBP, the restaurant in question was a series of frond-covered shacks along a pier and the specialty was steamed seafood pulled from the sea on the day of your visit.  Who wouldn’t want to go there?  The OTBP authors apologized for recommending this restaurant, because even though it was off the beaten path, it was well-known and reservations were needed.  So, before I left home I made a long distance call and reserved a specific table recommended in the guide.

The clerk at our motel provided the first clue that we might be making a mistake.  When asked how to get to the restaurant, the clerk responded as if asked for directions to the Congo – he’d heard of it, but had never actually known anyone who’d been there.  My traveling companions were momentarily daunted, but we reminded one another that the name of the book was Off the Beaten Path.  Besides we’d already followed a few of its suggestions on this road trip with great success.

After a scary ride through some questionable parts of town, we found the restaurant.  Yes, there were palm fronds, but not only were they mildewed; bare patches of darkened wood showed between their bedraggled remains.  Everyone was starving or I doubt they would have walked down the dark rickety pier.  OTBP promised,even with reservations, we’d spend some time at the quaint bar at the far end – only the bar hadn’t been open for quite a while – as in years.  Though it was actually too chilly to sit at the table I’d reserved on the pier, getting another table was not a problem; we were the only patrons in the restaurant.

Safely seated in a musty hut, we had time to grow beards before a waiter showed up for our order, even though we hadn’t needed all that time to look at the menu.  We were sold on the steamed fish before we left Texas.  But you guessed it,  the steamer was broken.  Perhaps it was merely my imagination, but the way the waiter imparted the information, I sensed the steamer had been broken for a long, long time.  We made other choices, and then we waited.  Probably almost as long as the steamer had been out of use.    We drank every drop of liquid on the table, none of it alcoholic, and carefully inspected every dish, utensil and glass.  I entertained my traveling companions with napkin tricks.  Then we got a serious case of the giggles.

MISADVENTURE RESOLVED

We barely stifled our laughter as the meal was served.  Our appetites had long since dissipated.  The waiter offered to-go boxes and that was hilarious, too.  Just as our check was delivered, a couple was escorted to a table across the restaurant – the only other people to appear during this never-ending ordeal.  Someone suggested the couple had come for the steamed fish and fresh gales of laughter echoed through the restaurant, earning irritated stares from the newcomers.  Finally, sobered by our embarrassment, we left.  When we finally got back to the motel, we crawled out of the car and fumbled with our keys.  “Are we planning to eat at any other restaurants recommended by this book?” someone asked.  The hilarity returned.

Does your family have any of these cherished travel mishaps?