Travel


After 18 months away from corporate life, I finally really experienced what it means to be ‘unleashed’.

This past year, I’ve done some independent work out of my home. Enough to satisfy my interest in new things. Enough to provide the opportunity to share with others. But not enough to tie me down.

But I didn’t really realize the beauty of that until this past December. We were fortunate to have a very mild winter in 2012. But this year, during the first week of December, it became apparent that 2013 would be very different. We were going to be affected by the same severe storms that 98% of the country were going to be experiencing.

We woke up 24 hours before the predicted storm was to hit, and we looked at each other and realized that there was no reason we needed to stay at home and endure this abomination.  A road trip was in order!

Dylan loves a road trip

Tom got online and did a little mapping and researching (of dog friendly hotels, of course). I cleaned out the fridge, wrapped up some immediate work and put together doggie meals. We both threw some clothes in a suitcase, and by the next morning, we were out of here.

Sunny and warm in southern Florida

Initially, we planned only as far as getting us to Florida, which appeared to be the only state that wouldn’t be snowed in. This was a drive of 2-3 days. In route, we heard from Terry and Mike that their home in a Fort Myers Beach would be empty while they were vacationing elsewhere and they encouraged us to stay there.

A tropical setting

So, we planted ourselves in these new and cozy surroundings. I did the same kind of work that I would have done here. But breakfast was outside under a palm tree instead on inside by the fire.

Dylan and me on the beach

In the evening we strolled the beach, instead of bundled up against the cold to walk Dylan. The climate made all the difference.

Mantees in Crystal River, FL

A leisurely route back home even took us to Crystal River and its protected reserve for the endangered manatees.  What amazing creatures they are.  And what a memorable experience it is to have them swim right up to your kayak.

Sunset behind the palms

In the end, we were away from home for for more than three weeks.  It was a lovely, warm, time… exploring new areas and seeing old friends.

And most importantly, realizing the potential of being unleashed… And opening our minds to all sorts of new adventures!

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Probably the nicest business trip that I’ve done. The Food and Wine Classic in Aspen was in a gorgeous setting with a relaxed atmosphere. The production of video content for In the kitchen With David was very well done, and the live show on Sunday a success!

Who could resist the vision of a 100 acre sustainable farm and gardens to roam at will? Especially with the promise of sheep, cows, and fainting goats.

The Glasbern Inn was just such a place. Only 1.5 hours north of West Chester in the Leighigh Valley. Several charming cottages in addition to the main barn and farm-house made for a lovely retreat. And the variety of vineyards on the nearby wine trail were an added bonus. A jazz concert in the barn of one of the wineries made for a perfect afternoon.

The only disappointment? No more fainting goats.

Mother’s Day in Seattle was a gorgeous warm Sunday, which we took advantage of by heading to St Michelle’s winery. We skipped the tour and went directly to the gift shop to buy crackers, cheese and a Pinot Griegio for an impromptu lunch on the grounds.

We snagged a small table near a giant wine barrel, in the pathway for perfect people viewing. The grounds were filled with young families, picnicking on the lawn with blankets spread out under them. A family next to us had bicycled to the winery and were so terribly efficient in the dining, that we knew they did it often.

For some reason, the crowded grounds still had a calmness to them, and the surroundings did not lose their charm despite the numbers. To the contrary, it was a mezmorizingly tranquil day.

Bucks County.  What a beautiful spot.  Tom took me there on a spontaneous weekend trip.  Very spontaneous.  No reservations.  Decided to go and one hour later had some things thrown in a bag for an overnight stay.

The bright sunny weekend was the perfect backdrop for the wonderful views of Bucks County.  I’m enamored with walking trails, and the area along the Delaware River by New Hope is one long, never-ending (or it seems like it) walking path.  Thanks to the canal system where horses used to pull barges up the canal along those trails.

Charming Inns and rustic homes line the drive.  Antique shops and restaurants are everywhere.  We stayed in a cute little borough called Stockton, NJ.  Just a handful of buildings made up the town.  After settling in, we walked the length of the town, and crossed the bridge over to the PA side, investigating our dinner choices.  The two Inns had cozy and well-appointed dining rooms, already lit festively for the holidays.  The local firehouse as an interesting option, and one of the firemen enthusiastically encouraged us to attend their spaghetti dinner (homemade meatballs, garlic bread, salad, cannoli and cookies) to help them raise money for a new truck.  The “garage” of the firehouse was decked out with folding tables covered with white plastic table clothes in the bright and functional surroundings.  If gregariousness alone were swaying our decision, that is where we would have dined.

But then we passed a Sicilian restaurant.  The perfect atmosphere.  Warm, cozy, friendly, all at the same time.  That is where we returned.  The couple sitting next to us were retired and had been coming to this restaurant for 3 years.  You can’t get a better recommendation than that.  We had an expansive dinner (in terms of time), starting with calamari.  I don’t think I’ve ever praised marinara sauce, but this was wonderful – made fresh, with chunks of tomato and not at all heavy.  Then we shared a Cesar salad.   And lastly we had a pizza with sautéed peppers, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, and prosciutto.  Heaven.  We couldn’t finish it all, and the server sent us home with leftovers and some birthday cannoli.

A long stroll the next morning after breakfast was the ideal end to our stay in Stockton.  And encountering a Corgi ensured not only a good day — but a good year ahead.



Have you ever been kissed by a complete stranger?  Someone you’ve never seen before and have no idea what his name is?  It’s incredible.

French Photo and FrameEven if I had to bend down to receive it.  You see, this kiss was from  a shy (well, not too shy to ask for a kiss!) French boy about 3 1/2 feet tall.  He was smitten with me.  Or so his mother said as we encountered each other in the garden of the French villa we were staying at.

It was one of those perfect moments that creates a sharp, clear, and smile-producing memory.  Ah, France.   Ah, the kiss.

Living in another country –  immersed in another culture –   was one of the best experiences of my life.

I often thought I would have majored in International Business and made a life out of it, if I hadknow it’s effect on me.  I went to Mexico in my 30’s.  We lived there for 3 years.  I would have liked to stay longer, but my job was done.

Peach colored flowerWikipedia mentions this about “expatriates” which I find interesting:

In its broadest sense, an expatriate is any person living in a different country from where he is a citizen. In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an ‘immigrant’.

Quite a difference to live in another country sponsored  by a corporation – not just of your own accord.  When we were asked to go to Mexico, we considered that it was one of the safest adventures that we could undertake.  If we didn’t like it – or if anything went wrong – the company would certainly bring us back to the US.

Aside from the wonderful cultural learnings, we also had some of the most satisfying friendships that we’ve ever had.  Twelve couples in a similar situation.  In a foreign place.  Away from other friends and family.  Learning new customs and language.  It created quite a bond between us.

Admittedly, it was a little unusual that I was the working half of our twosome.  In every other case, the wives were staying at home and starting families.  Planning lunch dates and sipping margaretas.  But on weekends, we found true compadres amongst this group.

We’ve long since dispersed throughout the world to other lives, but the memories and connection remains strong.

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