Tag Archives: explore

I LOVE Door County

 

Just what we needed!

As you know, I have a very scientific way of choosing vacation spots. ūüėČ Even so, we happened upon a perfect spot for our family to unwind and enjoy time together, Door County, WI.

It took a little longer to get there than we planned as we hit some VERY strong storms on our way up but we made it in one piece.  Our cottage was just south of the town of Sturgeon Bay and was on Green Bay itself. The views were gorgeous.

We happened to visit the first week of June when the weather was perfect by my standards Рsunny and mild. Also, everything was open but there were very few other vacationers as most schools in the state were still in session.

We had a wonderful time meeting new people in the area. Some places not to be missed:

Cave Point County Park

Peninsula State Park

At Peninsula State Park, the only time in my life I’ve ever taken a picture timed this well. I caught the boat!

Patawatomi State Park

View from the top of the Patatowami State Park Observation over the water. Great view was worth climbing the open wooden tower!

Downtown Sturgeon Bay
Hands On Art
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

Yup, those are goats on the roof at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant!

Sunset Grill
Sunsets over Green Bay in general – chase them people!

Our first sunset in Wisconsin. This is the view from our cottage for the week!
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Fun Mom, How Traveling Brings Out The Best In Me

fun mom badge

When I go on vacation, I am kind of like Superman. ¬†I just need to get into a car or a plane and quick as a blink Everyday Mom turns into Fun Mom like Clark Kent turns into Superman in a phone booth. ¬†(Where does Superman change these days?) Everyday Mom is concerned about homework, deadlines, schedules and clean dishes, you know the sexy stuff. ¬†Fun Mom says “I wonder what’s over there”, “Let’s try that out” and “Let’s go adventuring” far more often than “Where are your shoes?”

This transformation is clearly one of the reasons that my child LOVES vacations. She gets to see lots of things and have lots of new adventures even if it means walking 11 miles in a day on her 9 year old legs. ¬†Nary a complaint on vacation! ¬†Everyday kiddo would be quite upset¬†with that mileage. ¬†We as a family are far more open to new experiences¬†while we are on a trip. ¬†Do you want to meet a penguin? Yes! ¬†Do you want to ride a horse? Sure! ¬†How about a hike up that mountain? Why not! Do you want to climb to the top of the tallest thing in this city and look all the way down? Absolutely! ¬†Do you want to order that thing that all the locals are eating but you can’t quite identify? Yup! ¬†Do you want to go to a country where you don’t speak the language at all? Oui! Do you want to go into the monkey infested jungle and explore ancient ruins? You bet! Do you want to drive a tiny car, on the wrong side of the road, down narrow lanes? ¬†Of course!

My ride, Martha.  The saddle was higher than my head!
My ride, Martha. The saddle was higher than my head!

Everyday Family contains a person who has issues with animals (ME! ¬†Seriously, I’m terrified.), someone who doesn’t care for¬†heights (hubby) and a very picky eater (kiddo). ¬†Vacation Fun Family will try just about anything we come across. ¬†If we, among the most straight laced, rule following, over-scheduled families you will ever meet can get out of our shell on a trip, you can too! ¬†Try it, you’ll like it. ¬†After all, you got time off from work, saved your money, got on a plane (or in a car) and came all this way. ¬†I’m sure your hotel room, cabin, tent or camper is lovely but you need to GET OUTSIDE and DO STUFF!

Do you want to know the secret of Fun Mom? ¬†She gets off the couch and out of her comfort zone,¬†embraces her sense of adventure and dreams big!¬† When deciding if I should try something I always think about what 80 year old me will say.¬†¬† Usually I hear her saying, “Do it now because you may never have the chance again and I don’t want to miss out!”¬† Eighty year old me likes to tell her stories of her adventures, it is my job to collect them.

I’m your mother, not your valet

I'm Your Mother, Not Your ValetMy child hears this one a lot. ¬†I believe in teaching her¬†to do for herself; as much as possible and as soon as she is able. ¬†I’m not lazy, I’m trying to teach self-reliance, life skills and a good work ethic. This is especially important when we travel. ¬†There are so many things to learn and when¬†we are traveling or getting ready for a trip it all seems FUN!

When my daughter was teeny tiny, we did everything for her of course. ¬†However, since she was about 4, she has been responsible for carrying her own carry-on or managing her own bag in the back seat on a road trip. She could bring whatever toys or games she wanted but it had to fit in the little rolling backpack we got her. ¬†Her clothes fit in a carry-on suitcase with mine and her father and I managed those. As she has gotten older, she has gotten incrementally more responsibility. Just this last fall when she was 9, she packed her own convertible backpack and small purse/entertainment bag¬†and jetted off to Europe with us for a wedding. ¬†Since we all had backpacks and flew carry-on only to Europe for 11 days, we were all REALLY careful about what we brought knowing it would be on our backs through airports and train stations aplenty. I was so impressed by her ability to cull her choices to those she knew she would need and those that she would use often enough to justify carrying. ¬†She was even very careful about her purchases knowing she had to carry them. ¬†She came home with postcards, pictures, a couple of books, bookmarks and candy. ¬†She’s 9, of course there was candy. ¬†She saved her money all year and we converted it to pounds and euros. ¬†She got to spend it on whatever she wanted but if she ran out, that was it. Thus continuing our lessons on budgeting. ¬†She was really careful with her money and even had some left when we came home so she could show her class what it looked like during her presentation. ¬†She made a scrapbook full of the pictures, postcards and her travel journal entries. (Whereas my scrapbook is still in pieces in a bag waiting for this¬†weekend’s crop!)

Since she started reading, my child has been responsible for getting us to our gates for our flights and helping us find exits on road trips. Have we ended up heading down terminals we didn’t need to be in? Sure, but that little girl can now navigate an airport with the best of them, even in French if she has to. ¬†With family all over the country, she will be allowed to fly on her own at some point and I will know she has the skills she needs to get from point A to point B managing her paperwork, money, etc. as she goes.

LondonHeathrowAirport

All this planning and self-reliance has earned her the ability to help plan our trips.  When we went to Florida a couple of years ago, we met Winter the dolphin for Dolphin Tale at her request. When we went to Europe this last fall, she got to choose museums and other locations to visit.

Our adventures encompass everything from science, math and literature to architecture, history and art of all kinds.  There is no major structure, just listening and talking. I always do some research before we go, usually with my child, and for everything else there is Google.

So please, give yourself a break, don’t be your child’s valet at home or on vacation. ¬†Have your kids pack and carry their own bags, manage their own money, lead the charge through airports, do their own laundry, keep their stuff organized. Teach them the difference between credit cards and debit cards, what it takes to earn money, and to manage every day expenses. ¬†Teach them to deal with disappointment when things don’t go their way. Teach them to travel and to see the great big world around us, to enjoy what others have created, to celebrate differences and understand that this place would be really, really boring if everyone was the same.¬†Encourage¬†them collect states and countries along with you. The memories and the stories will last a lifetime.

This is all very easy for me to say, it is how I was raised so I don’t know any differently. My parents made sure we had all the necessary life skills to survive in the world. ¬†They also made sure we saw as much of this great big country as possible and taught us both how to travel and how to it love every minute of it – even if it doesn’t always go as planned. ¬†The missteps and surprises make the best stories anyway.

Airport photo credit:
By Jnpet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There Are Two Ways To Travel

Yup, just two.  Here they are.

1) RUN! ¬†As fast as you can, with a packed schedule, taking lots of pictures and usually eating on the go. ¬†I have done this a few times myself, especially if I don’t have¬†a lot of¬†time to see a particular city or know I won’t return.

2) Pick 2 or 3 things to see each day and then just see what else happens.  This is my preferred method in most places and it is definitely the way I do it if I plan to return.

busy subway by Sam X - unsplashIf you go with option 1, you will see a lot but won’t experience as
much of the place. ¬†You likely won’t meet many people and you may¬†feel you need a vacation when you get home from your vacation. There is nothing wrong with this method. It is your vacation to do with as you please and some people really can’t stand to stay still when they flew (or drove) all that way. ¬†So run far, and run fast my friends.

If you go with option 2, you will see nearly as much but you will really get a feel for the place.   Meeting the people who live wherever you visit is the best part!  If you do it well enough, you will end up with new friends with whom you can connect on Facebook or your social media of choice.  That way when you are lucky enough to return you get an even deeper experience as your friends show you the secret local places that most tourists never hear about.  If you play your cards right, you may even get to stay with your friends for a couple of days on a return trip.  I hope your friends are as wonderful as mine.  I am awakened by a lovely singing voice who then brings fresh brewed coffee to my door on a tray.  I look forward to returning the favor.

man in cafe by Jeff Sheldon - unsplash

Dream up your vacation and see if you can’t balance the two. ¬†We’ve been known to schedule a “down day” every 3 or 4 days if we know that we will have a particularly busy schedule during the rest of the trip. ¬†It makes a world of difference!

 

There Are Two Ways To Travel.  Yup, Just Two.

Want to figure out who you are? Take a trip!

Well that’s a tall order for a vacation, isn’t it?

Hear me out. ¬†Travel is one of the best ways to figure out what you’re made of. ¬†It is life, concentrated. ¬†Lots of activity, locations, emotions all in a short period of time. No matter how much planning goes into your trip, something will go wrong. When things go wrong you figure out how to make the best of it and just how resilient you are. When things go right, you find great joy in unexpected places.

You Are Stronger

  • Your missed flight turns into a 7 hour layover, so you learn to find fun in the airport. You play silly games with your kids or treat yourself to that bestseller everyone has been talking about and enjoy the peace and solitude you never get at home.
  • Your hotel overbooks or loses your reservation. You learn how to find another quickly and how to get a refund.
  • You get stuck in a cab in a monster traffic jam. You learn to use the subway system.
  • You‚Äôre super hungry and can‚Äôt find an English menu, you learn to guess at the local language and enjoy the pulse of life in a new place.
  • The attraction you have traveled so far to see is closed. ¬†You learn to laugh at your misfortune and go looking for other adventures. ¬†At the very least, you learn not to swear in public.

Next comes the things that go right.

  • You visit museums and realize there are a few artists or schools of thought you just adore! ¬†Yay, a new hobby.
  • You score tickets to a play, concert or ballet and find a new passion.
  • You climb to the top of the tallest thing in the city and you are grateful for your health. Maybe you find out you aren‚Äôt so scared of heights after all.
  • You happen upon a warm local restaurant on a cold night and find a brand new cuisine that you didn‚Äôt know you enjoyed.
  • You sit next to a stranger on a plane and meet your soulmateNight Sky with Stars by Juskteez Vu - unsplash
  • You go camping for the first time and learn that you sleep deeply and fully outside. You find that you love to hike and that everything tastes better when cooked over a fire. ¬†You realize just how MANY stars there are and stare at the heavens for hours each night.
  • You keep up with a packed itinerary and you find that your legs are much stronger than you thought.
  • You test out your new camera and find out that you have a knack for photography.
  • You say yes to new experiences and learn that you are still young and fun after all.

No matter what happens you will come back changed.  You will be stronger, wiser, and more self-reliant.  You’ll have victories to remember for the rest of your life.  Share them if you can, you will change other lives too!

Text Added Road to sea by Gerard Moonen - unsplash

What’s In A Name?

Well that is in an interesting name for a blog, why’d you pick that?

I’m glad you asked. First of all, I had help, and lots of it!  I racked my brain for weeks trying to find the right name and couldn’t come up with it.  I decided to turn to some of my craftiest friends and ask for help, sometimes others see us more clearly than we do ourselves.  In 2 hours I had more than 50 suggestions and Dream. Depart. Explore. was born!

This feels like the perfect name as it encompasses the way I see travel and what I plan to share with you.

Dream is the largest part of it.  It is the planning; deciding on a place to visit, finding a good place to stay, learning some of the language, reading some guidebooks and travel stories, oh and Pinterest, lots and LOTS of Pinterest!  I am a planner by nature and planning a trip is so much fun for me!  I really savor this time since it gives me a taste of the trip before I ever leave my house.

Depart is the travel part itself on the way to your destination.  I have lots of tips and tricks because this may as well be fun too!  We have so many ways to travel and so many things to see and do along the way that the vacation starts as soon as you leave the house with your bags packed.

Explore is the new sights and experiences when you reach your well researched destination, where you spend some hard-earned money and where you learn who you are and what you love!  Take lots of pictures, talk to lots of people, find little hole in the wall restaurants and shops and try to become a local for a bit.  Your travel will be much richer and you will be better for it.

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin

Welcome to Dream. Depart. Explore.

Travel is important. This is the very reason why I started this blog, why I have a calendar full of future posts and why many of them are already written.   I love to travel and would rather do so than just about anything else.

I believe that everyone should travel as much as they are able.  Travel broadens your world view and changes you to your very core and I believe that it makes you a better person.  Perhaps it is that you have to step outside of your comfort zone in order to travel.  You actually have to leave everything you know about your daily life and go somewhere else to figure out the way they do it; how they eat, what they do for fun, and which awesome thinkers have left their mark in this new place.

Most of my favorite trips have been overseas. ¬†Does all travel need to be international? ¬†Absolutely not, but some should be. At least once in your life leave your beloved homeland even just for a few days. ¬†When you are a stranger in a strange land ¬†it changes you even more profoundly. ¬†You develop compassion and curiosity. You find out if you really have a taste for adventure or just wish you did. ¬†No matter what happens, you will get a story out of it. ¬†Even run-ins with border patrol agents¬†are funny stories later, as long as they let you back into the country that is. More on that later. ūüėČ

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” -Dalai Lama

 

photo credit: Sigismund von Dobsch√ľtz
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Seeteufel