Who doesn’t want to travel more? Whether it’s a place you’ve always dreamed of going, or someplace you want to return to, maybe one of MJ’s trips will give you a little piece of that spot today!
FIVE PLACES I’VE ENJOYED TRAVELING TO
As I’m currently on a little trip, I thought I’d talk about some of the fun places I’ve had the opportunity to travel to, and maybe it will give you an idea about where you might want to take your next vacation.
Sonoma—since we are visiting this location right now, I had to include it. It is beautiful here, despite all the destruction of the recent forest fires. But even fire couldn’t bring the residents down. Amidst the remnants of burned out car frames, and houses with only chimneys standing, are signs saying, “Sonoma pride~ the love is thicker than the smoke.” And everywhere posters thank the first responders who saved the towns threatened by the inferno. We heard a story today about how Benziger Winery’s owner went out at two o’clock in the morning to dig trenches that ended up protecting the property from damage. Some vintners were not as lucky. We heard of one couple who fled and lost everything they owned, besides the clothes they brought with them. But most of the wineries are still open, and there are hundreds of them. And with the great wine is some absolutely breathtaking scenery. Today we hiked in Jack London Park, passing by the ruins of London’s farm buildings and the grape vines that he planted, still harvested today and pressed into special edition Jack London wines (we tried some at Kenwood Winery). Beyond the vineyard are mountainside trails, covered in humongous maple leaves and needles from the bunches of redwoods, which are amazing! Dizzyingly tall, and beautiful, huddled together like groups of students on the playground.
Bar Harbor— we hit this location in August and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We took a sunset cruise on a four-mast schooner, and followed it by watching the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the first place the light touches in the United States. Great hiking here, too. We took the path around Jordan Pond, listening to the sounds of all of the woodland creatures and relishing our stolen time with Mother Nature. The Prohibition Tour offered was interesting and informative. So there’s lots to see and do in Bar Harbor.
Boston— we loved both of our trips to “The Cradle of Liberty.” It’s cool how the old buildings, like the Old North Church, are nestled right alongside the towering modern skyscrapers. The streets, full of bustling commuters, echo the sounds of minutemen marching off to fight to establish our country. Our most recent trip to Boston found us at Fenway Park catching a Red Sox game. Even though we weren’t fans of either team, it was a surprisingly fun time. If you ever get a chance to watch a game there, take it!
Savannah— what can I say about the beauty and charm of this southern city? Huge oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, ornamental ironwork on balconies and railings, and residents offering the kind of hospitality that the South is known for. We were entertained on a ghost tour of one of America’s most haunted cities. Fort Pulaski is located on nearby Tybee Island and offered a lot of insight into what it would have been like to be a Confederate soldier imprisoned in a Union fort.
Ireland— this was an unparalleled trip, the highlight being our stay in Ballynahinch, a castle near Galway. The view from our window was so picturesque, it seemed fake. We took a jaunty cart ride through Killarney National Park, floated down the River Shannon while being entertained by an Irish musician, and heard Yeat’s poetry read by an expert while overlooking the landscape that inspired it. We visited the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, and the Giant’s Causeway, but found the Black Taxi Tour of Belfast to be the most informative.
What are some of your favorite vacation destinations? What are some places you’d like to visit but haven’t had a chance to?
Since we were talking about The Green Isle, I’ll share a bit of my Irish contemporary romance, DAMAGE DONE.
When an unhappy youth leaves him damaged, will Teddy Mckee be able to find love?
“Teddy Passmore McKee was born in Cork, Ireland, with a limp and a chip on his shoulder that threw his balance off all the more.” When he falls in love with the dark haired beauty born of an Irish father and a Spanish mother, will Gabrielle Quinn be able to restore his balance? And what about the charming Sean Hennessey? When Gabby catches his eye, too, will Teddy’s playboy best friend cause his own damage?
Fourteen years later, will Teddy and Gabrielle’s son be able to overcome the damage done to him in his childhood?
“Even through bloodshot eyes he could see she was different.” But can Michael leave behind the bottle, and his womanizing ways, to win over the lovely Tess Flanagan? Tess has sustained some damage of her own. Can she and Michael overcome the terrors of the past and learn how to love each other?
And if they do, will they be able to elude those after them who want to create their own damage?
On the run after an altercation leaves their boss in a pool of blood, will Michael and Tess be able to stay one step ahead of their pursuers? Or is it simply too late to correct the damage that has been done?
“Tessie…” He offered again. “We have to get out of here.”
She remained frozen in her spot, staring blindly over the cliff. He moved a step closer and gently grasped her elbow. “Tess—”
She whirled around and his heart caught in his chest as he stared into her wild green eyes. Tears shone on her damp cheeks, glimmering in the moonlight like trails of scattered diamonds. “Nay, Michael,” she said, her words coming out choked. “I have to tell them the truth. It’s my fault. …I k-killed him.” She sobbed.
He looked at her sadly, begging her, “Let me help you.”
The back door creaked open and light spilled out from the bar across the grass, startling them. He saw Jimmy Flynn’s outline in the doorway. “They’re out here!” he yelled.
Without waiting for a response, Michael took Tess’s arm and steered her along the cliff’s edge. He stepped over the railing and helped her to the other side as well. They stood on a narrow ledge. To the left a trail dropped off toward the sea. He led her skittering down the path, loose rock pebbling the beach far below. He had taken the pathway many a night when he was drunk and feeling particularly reckless. Tonight he hurried over it with only self-preservation and Tess’s safety in mind.
They heard voices above them, coming from every direction as searchers fanned out along the top of the cliff. Their eyes met. They hardly dared to breathe. A flashlight beam ventured over the railing and along the cliff face. She clutched his hand, squeezing it until he lost feeling in his fingers. He tried to flatten himself even more tightly against the rock face, wishing it would somehow melt and absorb them. Several seconds passed and the beam of light was joined by another, and another, each swinging away, and then toward them again.
He grabbed a quick look at the churning sea below then closed his eyes for a second, and his stomach dropped. He took a deep breath before turning his head to look at Tess. Her eyes were closed and her lips were moving fervently, but she emitted no sound. He swallowed, wondering again why the sight of her affected him so. After several minutes a voice called out, “You won’t get away with this, Mikey.” Had someone seen them? He heard Jimmy Flynn mutter, “Wherever they are, we won’t find them tonight.” One by one the lights disappeared until only a solitary beam shone.
MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh! Can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has a twenty-three-year-old (how did that happen?) and twenty-one year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.