Tag: Midlife Road Trip (page 1 of 2)

Where Will You Be in 7 Years?

This photo popped up in my timeline. Not the greatest picture, but I wanted to reflect and share where I was 7 years ago and where I plan to be 7 years from now.

Has it been 7 years since I took my travel dream into my own hands. 7 years since I quit complaining that no one could go on a trip with me for my 40th birthday.

7 years since I took a 3 1/2 week road trip BY MYSELF picking up Jessie McArthur (whom I had never met) in Denver where we attended a small writer’s conference with Danica Favorite, Chip MacGregor, Susan May Warren.

7 years where in Denver I first experienced the SWING DANCING (in all my awkward awe) having no idea of what I was doing, and VOWED next time I went out dancing I would know what I was doing. (Now I teach)

7 years since I drove Jessie home from Denver to Idaho via Yellow Stone Park and Old Faithful, where we got off schedule for over an hour waiting for Old Faithful to blow and driving in the dark to find a little dive hotel.

7 years since I spent time in Portland with Jana Gigi Garner and visited Multnomah Falls and Cannon Beach and all the “weird places,” then drove down the California coast to Sonoma Valley where I had my first wine tasting BY MYSELF and then traveled south via the beautiful scenic highway to visit Liz Farkas and my family in Santa Barbara before I headed across the desert to see  Georgiana Daniels, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, then on home.

7 years… before SIRI, before a smart phone guidance.
7 years when I took my Midlife Road trip that would change the course of my future.
7 years when I decided to start living my life and not wait for things to be perfect to travel.

7 YEARS LATER, my life looks so different. I am different all because I stopped waiting for life to happen, for friends to say “Yes, let’s take a trip!” I took control of my life and made little steps forward to get to where I am today. Have I “arrived?” Nope! Because life is a journey, and I plan on traveling every blessed mile with gratitude and faith. And if by chance I can help and encourage someone else to start living beyond their excuses, and join me in the journey, well, that will be worth every mountain I had to cross alone.

Only you have the power to get to where you want to be!
Where were you 7 years ago?
Where will you be in 7 years from now?

Ponderings on Portland and Beyond

I wrote this while in California…just too busy to finish and post it then. Keep reading for one of many Life Lessons from the Road…

I’m here in Sonoma and the last thing I want to do is hang out in this hotel suite/ studio apartment, no matter HOW amazing it is with it’s Jacuzzi tub, two televisions, kitchenette (no microwave??) livingroom with fireplace and balcony. Can you feel the refreshing breeze from the open door?

But I wanted to get some thoughts down. This vacation has gone WAY too quickly and this time in Sonoma is where I get to slow down for a day or two before I’m off again!

On to Portland. A beautiful, eclectic town full of real, sometimes strange people…okay more than sometimes. Heck, they’ll even tell you they want to “Keep Portland Weird!” Though I didn’t witness the nude bike-a-thon through the park (thank goodness,) I did witness a guy in a kilt at an organic beer festival lifting up his leg so a girl could take a photo…um, TMI, I know!

There was also Pedal Palooza where the riders felt free to pee in the corner of the yard with the NO TRESPASSING sign right across from the coffee house. And I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention the creepy bathroom at Rimsky Kaffacoffe House. I would have messed myself if I wasn’t forewarned.

Yes, Portland can be weird, but it’s also wonderful and magical and nice.

Growing up on Long Island, NY, I noticed immediately how NICE Oregonians are. Even their bums are nice. Homeless…I mean homeless! And Portland has their fair share of the homeless, but they don’t assault you with dirty rags and spray bottles insisting on cleaning your windshield like the ones in NYC. They just push their carts, minding their own business or stand on the street corner chatting with another homeless friend. And people just hand them coffees, especially outside of Powell’s book store.

I don’t know if it’s the beauty of the mountains or the mystery of the ocean or the tranquility of the gorge, but homeless or housed, the people in Portland are genuinely nice.

Cars hit the brakes for pedestrians at cross walks before they’re actually IN the crosswalks…disregarding the the flow of traffic, I might add. Nice AND psychic! Who knew?

I’m used to waiting for traffic to clear or walking like a New Yorker where you step into the crosswalk and dodge traffic like a pinball, but NO Oregonians just hit on the breaks and let you pass.

I love that Portland is a walking, biking, hiking city, though the hills are killer. Yet, it would be nice to know that when my friend tells me we’re going to see the Pittock Mansion, she meant we’re going to climb the hour and a half trail to the top only to realize it had closed a half an hour earlier and there’s not short cut down the trail. I’m just saying! I expected to drive right up to the place.

All kidding aside, there feels like there’s no pretenses here. You can be yourself. Dress up or down and you’re accepted! So different from NY where I grew up. In fact, you can say that NY is the antithesis of Portland and the funny thing is I like them both in all their uniqueness.

Old Faithful, Forever Faithful!

Keep reading for one of many Life Lessons from the Road…

One thing I was looking forward to on this Midlife Road Trip was driving to and through Yellowstone park with Jessie Gunderson. I met Jessie online less than a year ago when she found my blog and commented. I commented back and we soon realized we had a lot in common (homeschooling moms and both of us trying to write and raise kids…three boys and a girl) though we were ten years apart and practically polar opposites in that she was a whole lot of country (farm, horses, chicken and pigs included) and I was a born and bred girl from the New York suburbs. Yet, we clicked. Some how across the miles and cyberspace we got each other!

So meeting her in Denver and then getting to drive with her through Yellowstone was one of the highlights of my trip. We enjoyed the drive getting to know each other better and really solidified our friendship. The drive through Wyoming was breathtaking with the snow capped mountains and Jessie has most of it documented on her camera. Go here for the breathtaking shots! But we almost missed our chance of seeing Old Faithful in all of it’s glory.

We arrived at the geyser shortly after it had already “blown.” Not many people were around the viewing area and those that were looked at it for a while, heard rumors that it wouldn’t spout for another 90 minutes, and then reluctantly went on their way. Jessie and I snapped a few photos and were ready to jump in the car and move on. We had a long day of driving ahead of us, but I decided to buy some trinkets from the gift store.

Call it indecision or divine intervention, it took me about an hour to decide on four different rustic looking bracelets for my kiddos. We decided to go back to Old Faithful since it was only 20 -30 minutes before it would blow. When we got there the seats in front of the geyser were packed all around the huge viewing area. It was standing room only. So we stood and waited and chatted and watched and Ohhed and Awwwed when a little water spurted after 20 minutes. Could this be it? We all raised our cameras, I pressed play on my video. Old Faithful settled down. False alarm!

This scenario played out every few minutes, but nothing more than a little spurt. Was this what we had waited for?

Thoughts of leaving started to creep in. We’ve already wasted so much time, could we chance staying and being disappointed. But that little voice inside (and the park ranger’s) reminded us that Old Faithful got it’s name for a reason. He WAS faithful! And though it was ten minutes later than originally projected, Old Faithful started to cough a little more water until he was blowing his water to a huge, magnificent height! It was glorious and lasted long enough for us to snap multiple pictures. I’m glad we waited and that we didn’t miss it!

As I reminisce on the event, I can’t help wondering what if we had grown impatient and left too soon? What if the little few spouts of water were all we thought we were going to get? What if we had come all that way and missed all Old Faith had to offer?

And it makes me think of my walk with God.

What if I grow impatient and give up too soon on the blessings He has for me? What if I can’t see or understand all that’s going on beneath the surface? What if I am satisfied with the little things God has for me and settle, believing that’s all He has to offer.

What if I walk away before His outpouring hits me?

What if?

Just like waiting for Old Faithful, I’d miss God’s glory and fullness for my life if I walked away impatient or thinking the little spurts were all God had for me.

But God is Forever Faithful and his blessings are richer, higher, wider and sweeter than I can ever imagine.

And if I wait on Him, I won’t have to! I can experience it for myself!

Portland Day 1: A Photo Essay, Really!

Portland is a beautiful, fun, eclectic city filled with college students, hippies and everyone else in between. I loved hanging with my old college roomie and seeing the sites in Portland. Here’s just a glimpse of why stay!

A view from the balcony where I was staying!
Imagine waking up to cool weather and eating out here with this view!

Look right! Mt. Hood

Look left! Mt. Adam’s, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Rainer, though they’re all hard to see.

Cannon Beach!

For some reason I imagined it would be warm the end of June!

Haystack Rock

Great seafood dinner with my agent Chip MacGregor and my roomie Jana “Gigi.”
Thanks for showing me around Cannon Beach, Chip!

Portland Fun

Call me lazy…This is a status update (start at the BOTTOM and read up) of my day yesterday! I’ve been updating fun happenings and thoughts from my phone to twitter which feeds to Facebook. If you want to keep up with my travels (and I wish you would because sharing via comments makes it that much more fun) then subscribe to my twitter feed (@portraitwriter) or facebook page. And be sure to visit my photos

# The WIZ…was…nuff said. about 9 hours ago via txt

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The Wiz: we’re definitely NOT in Kansas. about 10 hours ago via txt

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We’re going to see The Wiz in the park. How appropriate after a beer tasting festival! about 11 hours ago via txt

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Organic beer tasting festival and movie in the park or Netflix movie and warm comfy jammies? What would YOU decide? about 13 hours ago via web

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Too much chocolate after hiking… about 13 hours ago via txt

* Delete

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Stick a fork in me. I’m done hiking. Nice weather. No bugs, but hot tub is calling. about 14 hours ago via txt

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You’ve seen 1 mansion you’ve seen them all. Prob was THIS 1 was CLOSED!!!!! about 16 hours ago via txt

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Um…Pittock Mansion CLOSED 30 MINUTES AGO while we were hiking the wildwood trail!!! about 16 hours ago via txt

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If you don’t hear from me in 30 min. Send out a search party on the Wildwood trail… about 16 hours ago via txt

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Seen one tree seen them all. I’d rather be drinking a latte. about 17 hours ago via txt

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Then maybe i’d wear hiking clothes & not care if i’m SWEATING in 70 degrees. about 17 hours ago via txt

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Next time tell me we have to hike 2 miles up the stinkin mt. To get to the mansion. about 17 hours ago via txt

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The Pittock Mansion better be worth this looong hike. about 17 hours ago via txt

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Wish my camera was a smellophone. about 19 hours ago via txt

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Inhale deep. Can you smell the fragrance of the Portland rose garden… about 19 hours ago via txt

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Taking care of some nail maintenance, then seeing sites in Portland. about 21 hours ago via txt

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I’m at the top of the world looking down on creation…okay…Portland! about 21 hours ago via txt

Photo Essay: Midlife Road Trip

Rocky Mountain Foothills Denver

I’m having trouble loading pictures to my blog because the files are too big, but click here to follow the rest of my trip!

Firsts: Mountains, Nature and Swing Dancing

Denver has given me a lot of firsts.

Driving into Denver was a lesson in self control and driving safety as I couldn’t help gaze upon the mountains in the distance while singing “America…” Thankfully Danica did the driving around town and I was able to soak in the wonder and beauty of the mountains. Seeing the foothills of the Rocky Mountains up close and then driving through them was an awesome sight.  I wish I could have spent more times outdoors at the foothills. Nature truly is God’s cathedral and I would have loved to soak in his presence. Maybe on another trip…

Another first came when Susan May Warren arrived and the girls went out swing dancing. It’s been one of my goals to learn to dance swing, ball room etc, and though I had no clue of the steps and was wearing the wrong shoes, I was nervous and eager to try. The coolest thing about the swing dance club, was that it wasn’t a “club” at all. No creepy guys (well, mostly) no tacky pick up lines, just people having fun dancing and listening to the music of the good old days. Since we were guyless, Happily-married-Susie (whose favorite dance partner, her husband, was at home,) gave us a few pointers in getting a guy to ask us for a dance.

“Look needy!” she said. And it worked for her. It also helped sitting closest to the dance floor. After Susie was whisked off a couple of times we dubbed it the “pick up chair” and we each took our turn and got our dances. A simple extended hand and a “would you like to dance?” was all it took to get us on the dance floor. Young, old, cute and creepy, no one was denied…well, I actually pushed a few guys toward my friends when I needed a break and knew they wanted to dance.

Keeping my shoes on was the hardest part of swing. Word of advice: Don’t wear sandals! I always started the dance with an “I’m new at this” or “I’m not very good” or “this is my first time swing dancing.” But that didn’t seem to deter them. The steps were basic, except when the guy decided to push me around…but don’t worry, that’s part of the fun though one time I got accused of being a modern girl for “leading,” but in my defense he was putting me in a spin and I had no clue which was to go!

Watching was even more fun than dancing. It’s one thing to know the steps and go through the motions, it’s another thing to add some flair and personality to your dance. It was awe inspiring to watch dance partners who obviously had danced together before. The way the girl was easily lead by her partner and knew just what to do with a simple tap of the shoulder or push into a spin. I know there’s an analogy for life and marriage in there, but I’ll save that for another time.

But the most impactful moment of the night was watching an “awkward” middle-aged man stand on the sidelines, watching and dancing, trying to simulate the steps. My heart went out to him. I don’t know why I’m a sucker for a lost and lonely soul, but that’s how he seemed to me.

Silently I prayed and hoped he would have the courage to ask someone to dance, yet the night went on and though he moved around the room no girl was on his arm.

I joked to Susie that she should ask him to dance, though my heart just wanted to see this man, who God loved and all his socially awkwardness, part of the dance community and not a wallflower. Well, my prayers were answered. He sauntered over with an extended hand, reached out to Susie in the pick up chair and got his dance. Then later, he extended a hand to me and eventually made his way around the table.

His dancing was just as off beat as his soul probably was, and though I didn’t preach to him, I hope he felt the love of God in that one dance. Keeping in step with him was hard, but we had fun dancing and chatting about our own lack of rhythm. I don’t know what this man’s life circumstances were, but in that room it didn’t matter. On that dance floor he was accepted, though not as light on his feet like the other dancers on the floor, his soul was just as precious to God.

Maybe this man was part of my journey.

Maybe this trip isn’t just about me, but about opening my eyes and helping me focus beyond myself and my little life. Whatever the reason for my journey, I’m going to be looking for more people who might be waiting for someone to ask them to dance.

Hopefully, I’ll be bold enough to extend my hand.

Denver on my Mind

I know that’s not how the song goes, but it being my last day in Denver, it’s on my mind.

The beautiful, breathtaking Rocky Mountains which makes me question my sanity for living in the flat lands.

The fun time I’ve had with friends Danica, Jessie and Susie.

The wonderful teaching I got at the Master’s Seminar which gives me hope that, God willing, this next novel I write could be the one!

I’ll be posting on each of these subjects over the next couple of days and uploading photos, but right now I’m getting ready to go on my next leg of this journey which I’ve dubbed “My midlife road trip.” I’ll be blogging about that later as well, but if I had to put it in a tag line maybe it would go some thing like this “Sometimes you have to leave home in order to find your way back.”

I’m not saying this is anything like a midlife crisis, more like a retreat for my soul. Amidst the fun and the sightseeing, I’m hoping for a rejuvenation for my soul, reconnect with God and possible new direction or insight on this next chapter in my life.

Whatever happens along the way, it’s all good and in the words of my good friend Georgianna “Good Times, Good Times!”

Rocky Mountain High: Day 2 Roadtrip

We took a drive through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Breathtaking! Nuff said!

Road Trip Day 1

755 miles later and I’ve arrived safely in Denver! It was a pretty uneventful trip (thanks for the prayers.) Mostly overcast for the first 300 miles, but NO rain!! And the roads were empty. At times there were only a few cars in front of me. I guess summer travel has not begun yet and that’s fine with me. Hope the roads are empty for the next three weeks!

So how about the interesting stuff? About an hour into the trip I realized I’d forgotten my pillow! Wah! Then when the radio faded out I reached for my book on tape, Jody Picoult’s Tenth Cirlce and realized the tape player didn’t work. So I detoured to Walmart, found a really old fashioned tape player, and it worked fine…as long as it was on my lap so I could hear it! That was in the first four hours…I have eight more to go. Not sure where all the time went, but between the book on tape and the hour long chat with a friend, I made it. A little sore in the back and neck, but I made it!

Last time I was in Denver I never got to see the mountains. Today as I drove along I 70, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them (which was why I was weaving all over the road!) Talk about beautiful and majestic. I couldn’t help but sing “America” as I drove along side them! Yes, I did sing! No one else was in the car. 😉

As I type this I’m still getting my road trip legs…I still feel like I’m moving, but it’s all good. I’m here. The drive was great without arguing kids (though I miss them, truly), and I’m ready for some rest, relaxation and rejuvenation!!!

Note to self: Take photos of the mountains and post them!

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