Tag Archives: travel

(364) Stay Tuned

Yesterday a friend gave me this awesome shirt:


I decided it was perfect for my musings today. I am typing this as I go, after thinking about the theme a lot, after going to Lakes Park and sitting in my power spot. Here goes…second last post!


Moving toward 2016, I understand my life is going to be more and more about sound. How the world sounds. How I sound. How we sound to each other.

Walking in the park today, I was behind two people who both had ear buds in, yet were talking loudly to each other. They obviously were listening to something, but decided it was important to communicate.  But here was my thought: If we really want to hear each other, we should be cognizant of shutting out other noise. It is like the people who talk on the phone when the television is on. Why?


This year has opened me up to sound. I planned a whole vacation around sound. We heard bluegrass music and blues music and synthesized music and musicians talking about the sounds specific instruments make, the sound of Jim and I singing together in the music booth at the Birthplace of Country Music, the sound of the Flint, the Cumberland, and the French Broad Rivers, the sound of old blues musicians wafting across Dockery Farms, the sound of The City of New Orleans speeding next to Money Road in the Delta. These sounds have stayed with me and I call on them from time to time.

Today as I walked I brushed my hand through all the palm fronds I passed. “How can I duplicate that sound” was my constant question.


Paul Simon had an exhibit on his songwriting at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. I was unable to get there, so I purchased the exhibit booklet. In it is Simon’s speech when he was inducted into the Rock Hall.  He said:

I thank Sam Phillips for Sun Records, for rockabilly’s Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, whose recording of ‘Mystery Train’ remains my all-time favorite. I spent a career trying to get that sound.

This stood out to me for many reasons. First, because “Mystery Train” is my favorite Elvis tune, mostly because of the way it sounds. And second, because this came late in the book and I had already read Simon’s words over and over again about trying to get to a sound.  The exhibit was called “Words and Music,” but from what I read it was really about sound.

As I stay tuned to the sounds in my life, I am looking to get them into any music I create. My music teacher talked mainly about sound when I told him I wanted to write songs. Silly me — I thought it was about lyrics. Seems that isn’t always the case.

Not sure why I’m just learning that.


A friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook:


We are the music we love. I want to do this experiment. Tell me the song that matters most to you, and I will listen for you in it.


Years ago I heard that our DNA, when related to various musical notes, creates a different musical composition for every person. This idea has never left me, and continues to intrigue. Today I found there is a website for it (of course there is) where you can actually send in your DNA information and the type of music you like, and they will create the composition for you. Here is a future birthday present!

If interested, check it out here.

They have created songs for all kinds of things, including this one for whales:


So, yes, sound is in our very DNA.

With sound comes vibration. This is why crystal bowl meditation and bells during ritual services and chanting monks lift us to new dimensions. Sounds and vibrations are our lifeblood. They can heal or poison.


As I finish up this blog, my plan is to stay tuned to the Five Questions in my life. They have truly become a part of me during this journey, and now I cannot imagine living life without seeing it through the lens of the Five Questions. Not writing about it will free me up to be in the moment, to search for the sound in the message, to stay tuned to doing the next right thing. All year long I have been listening, and this message comes to me continually like a drumbeat.


Here (hear).






(361) Unity

Today is my “U” entry for Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I picked Unity for the subject today because it typically was a Sunday experience.


What It Is

Unity School of Christianity was founded on the principles that Jesus’s ministry was one of healing. It takes a metaphysical, rather than literal meaning, to the bible and teachings of Jesus, opening up new ways of seeing and applying to our own lives.

I am not exactly sure how I started to attend Unity of Greater Cleveland. I think it was because I was already studying A Course in Miracles, and Unity had a study group. The minister, Joan Gattuso, had been raised Catholic like I was, so her experiences mirrored mine in many ways.

Although Unity Worldwide is based on Christian teachings in general, the Unity ministers have a lot of flexibility. This allowed Joan to teach from Buddhism, Taoism, A Course in Miracles, even Judaism as it fit the overall message.

My sister also attended Unity with me, as well as A Course in Miracles study group. It was a comfortable place to be on Sunday morning. What I learned to love best is that it was multi-cultural and inter-religious. People from all backgrounds could feel welcome at Unity, and there was something there for everyone.

The Five Unity Principles:

  • 1. God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere.
  • 2. We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.
  • 3. We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.
  • 4. There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our awareness of God.
  • 5. Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.

My Experience

I began attending the services in fall  of 1991. In the spring of 1995, I received the church’s newsletter in the mail. I saw that they were looking for a new youth sponsor for the teen group Youth of Unity. I heard a “calling” at that moment. I tried hard to ignore it.  I tried to talk myself out of it privately, then talked to Jim and my friend Iris about it.  Instead of talking me out of it, they both urged me to pursue it.

The next day, I told my minister and within a month I was on a plane to Unity Village in Missouri with a couple of teens from our Y.O.U. group ready for the annual conference. I was scared out of my mind. This was the big event of the year, and I barely knew these kids, let alone anyone else. It was crazy.

But, oh, so wonderful.  A week in a beautiful setting, with the right focus, the right people, and the right lessons.  I was assigned to an all adult “family” where we learned the curriculum for the Sunday classes and also got to do some writing with a published poet.  It was pretty awesome. The music, the energy, and the things I learned — simply out of this world.


The Y.O.U. gathering in Missouri brought me one of my dearest friends — Kate. Her son was in a Y.O.U. group from the other side of town, and she was the sponsor. She became my guide throughout the week. Kate helped me immensely with all things Y.O.U., and at the same time became a friend and confidante in many parts of my life. I simply cannot imagine life without her.

At the Y.O.U. Conference, Unity Village, July 1995

The best part, however, was the relationships I built with the young people who were in the Y.O.U. during the years I was a sponsor. I am on Facebook now with many of them, all who have grown into wonderfully principled people, pursuing their dreams, having families…it is wondrous to me when I think of who they were then, and who they are now.

Where It Led

I made the decision to stop being a sponsor about as quickly as I made the decision to become one. It was sometime in the spring of 1998 I decided to call it quits, allowing a few months time for them to find a new sponsor. (I knew at the time that my life would be going in a different direction, as I was going to pursue going to college.) What was weird was that my last day of being a sponsor we had the Wings Ceremony for three of the girls who were graduating and moving on to college. When I left Unity that day, I never returned. I never made a firm decision to leave Unity — I somehow just never went back. My friend Kate, always the wise one, said that Unity is a school and sometimes we graduate. I guess that is what happened.

I am convinced I would have never had the nerve to pursue teaching if it had not been for my time working with youth in this way. My commitment to Unity obviously was about that part of my journey. I grew in countless ways, found excellent principles to live my life, and can see the continuity with what transpired there in my every day life. I would venture to say that every day I have some memory related to my time with Unity. It was a wonderful foundation in which to build the second half of my life.

My first and last camping trip ever was with Y.O.U. at Punderson State Park, July 1995
There were two rallies a year, besides the conference. The spring rally was held in Holland, Michigan at Hope College. Every chapter had to give their report. Zander is shown here giving ours. According to the back of the picture, he told the audience, “We wanted to go to Mexico, but went to Chi-Chi’s instead.”  June 1996
Rally at Hope College, June 1997.  Our group had grown!

(356) Zanies

As I wind down this blog, it is on my mind that I never finished my Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. According to what I have documented, I was up to the letter “S” on September 2nd. I’ve been wanting to get back to it, but most of what I want to write about demands a lot of time — something I just haven’t had.

For the letters T,U,V, and W I have some things planned that will be fit in well with ending this blog year. That leaves X-Y-Z, that are always considered as one.  I’ve decided that since I can basically make the rules on my own blog, I am going to do these out of order, and attack X-Y-Z today.  The rest will be coming within the next week.


Why is it that some days just stand out in our minds? I have a handful of days in my life that actually don’t have anything outstanding that happened —  they are ordinary days — yet somehow become memorable days. Such was July 28, 1979.

At the time my parents, along with two of my brothers and my sister, were living in the Chicago area.  I found out that my brother’s girlfriend, Donna, was going to be in Chicago in late July. Flights were pretty cheap to Chicago from Cleveland, so I decided to fly in for the weekend. My brother Matt was going to be driving Donna back to Cleveland on Sunday, so I decided that I’d ride back with them.

I flew in Friday night, and I remember nothing about that except that my parents were heading to Cleveland for some reason, so we were alone at the house. There was something about us all being young adults and having the whole house and city to ourselves — it was a first for us.

On Saturday we decided to go hang around downtown Chicago. Matt and Donna were college students, and Martin was still in high school, so this plan was not to do anything fancy. It was just to be there. Donna had her camera and took pictures. Here is a little photo journey.

Yes, there we are rolling down the hill in a park, downtown Chicago
Buckingham Fountain, later to become popular in the opening of the show “Married With Children”
The Air Show was taking place in Chicago that weekend. Everywhere we went, loud planes were flying overhead and entertaining us.
Taking a break to watch the show, our 70’s perms blowing in the wind. And look at those snazzy flip-flops!

After hanging around downtown all afternoon, we drove back home to change and grab a bite to eat. Then Matt, Donna, and I went back to Old Town, the entertainment strict,  to Zanies Comedy Club.  These types of clubs were just getting popular, and I don’t think I had ever been to one before we went to Zanies. We laughed our asses off! The main attraction was a female comic with an accordian by the name of Judy Tenuta.  She would later become fairly popular on cable television comedy specials (see video below to see if you remember her.)  We bought Zanies t-shirts that were a take-off on Superman shirts (also popular at this time with the Christopher Reeve film.) All in all, this day sticks in my mind for the perfect weather, relaxing company, and the excitement of big city Chicago on a small budget. No need to go to fancy restaurants or do any shopping. Just walking around, rolling down hills, and watching the free air show made for a perfect day with family.

Matt and Donna are still together after all these years.

(349) Time and Distance

In 2007, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I produced a draft of a book, much of it set in Athens, Ohio. The problem was I hadn’t been to Athens since 1978.  I was going from pure memory.

My plan was to work on revising the novel, so when I made a trip to Ohio in 2008 I enlisted my niece Cheryl to be my tour guide around Athens. She graduated Ohio University in 2006, so had recent memories of the place.

On a beautiful late July day, we drove to Athens. Cheryl has a degree in Journalism and works as a writer, so she was the perfect companion to assist me in my writing project. We spent the day at the University and around the town. The locations of certain places were quite different than my memory had allowed, and Cheryl also introduced me to some places I wasn’t familiar with, like the unmarked graves of the patients of a former mental hospital, and the other graveyard with the angel statue that is said to cry real tears. All great stuff for my book.  I insisted we go to Stroud’s Run, a park that I recall going to for cook-outs when my boyfriend went to school at OU.

On the way home, we stopped in Columbus to catch up with her sisters Emily and Kim. All in all it was a great day.

And the novel — hasn’t been touched since. By the time I got home in early August school was starting once again. I did do some more planning work around the book, and I have my notes.  Not sure if or when I will ever get back to it.

Perhaps my inspiration is near.  I just found out that Cheryl will be in Florida next week, and we have plans to get together. As an active and paid writer in our family, she remains a kind of muse to me. Let’s see what happens once we get together again. I know that part of the process of writing involves time and distance, so I don’t feel bad about not pursuing the revision.  But now, as I sit and write this, I am thinking that perhaps there is more here for me to think about. So I will. Promise.

(348) My Personal Favorites 2015

All the lists of top books, songs, albums, etc. are permeating the media right now, so I thought I’d weigh in on some of mine.

Favorite Concert: Smokey Robinson at Barbara B Mann in April.

It is hard to choose when having been to Nashville for some shows, but Smokey’s concert was a real standout in my mind. His smooth vocals and dynamic stage presence marked me for life!

Runner Up: Grand Ole Opry  with Vince Gill, Chris Janson, and Bobby Osborne

Favorite Museum: The Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, Tennessee.

A totally engaging experience for the five senses.

Runner Up: The B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi.

Favorite Historical Site: Dockery Farms in Sunflower, Mississippi.

The land, the buildings, and the very sky are soaked with the sound of the blues.

Runner Up: Robert Johnson’s grave, along Money Road north of Greenwood, Mississippi

A place where fans of the blues pay their respects to the enigma.

Favorite Event: Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference

Surpassed my expectations which were pretty damn high!

Runner Up: Women’s Writing Retreat at Lover’s Key Resort

Favorite Book: Chinaberry Sidewalks by Rodney Crowell

Not a new book this year; an exceptional memoir that is hard to forget. Right up there with other favorite memoirs: Glass Castle, Angela’s Ashes, and Wild.

Favorite Movie: Woman in Gold

Fine acting by Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds  as they re-enact this true story of stolen art

Runner Up: The Intern

Favorite Television Show: Catastrophe on Amazon Prime

The main characters Sharon and Ron are my new favorite couple.

Runner Up: The Grinder

Favorite Restaurant while traveling: Blue Biscuit in Indianola, Mississippi

Out of this world barbecue and beignets

Lunch at the Blue Biscuit in Indianola was fabulous–unbelievably good barbecue and complimentary beignets. Harlan Malone, the owner, made us feel welcome and toured us around his place he worked two years to create.

And now for the music, which was incredible this year!

#1 Favorite Album: The Blade by Ashley Monroe

Largely overlooked, but maybe finally getting some recognition with the Grammy nomination, I have not been able to stop listening to this fine collection of lyrical perfection and musical production. I continually recommend it, yet I don’t think anyone listens to me! (Hear title song below.)

#2 Cass County by Don Henley

If I’m not listening to Ashley, I am probably listening to Don. I figured his album would be good, but I had no idea it would be this good!  Lots of competition for my listening time, yet Don wins out over others time and time again.

#3 Angeleno by Sam Outlaw

Another overlooked artist.  Love the Mexican influences in the very SoCal sounding album produced by Ry Cooder.  (Hear one of his selections below.)

#4 Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves

One of my favorites back with a fine collection of her wit and cynicism and yes, even some hope.

#5 Traveller by Chris Stapleton

If you haven’t caught on by now, there’s no hope for you.

Other artists with great collections worth checking out:

Coming Home by Leon Bridges (Sam Cooke reincarnated…lots of soul. Hear him below)

Something More Than Fine by Jason Isbell (just as good as Southeastern)

25 by Adele (needs no explanation)

Daytime Turned to Nighttime by Patrick Sweaney (not even sure how I found him…Ohio boy…country blues…listen over and over)

Heartbreaker of the Year by Whitney Rose  (just discovered last week. Sweet voice, old time sound like Patsy Cline with some other influences.)

Favorites who never disappoint in no particular order:

Before This World by James Taylor

The Traveling Kind by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

Hoody by Dan Bern  (Hear him below)

Django and Jimmie by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Here are some choices for your listening pleasure:





(320) Letter to a Stranger

During the weekend of the Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference, I attended a flash memoir workshop with essayist Leslie Jamison. She offered up the “Dear Stranger…” prompt. We were encouraged to find in our memories a stranger that has crossed our path — someone we don’t really know — and write our ways into the mystery of why we have remembered them.

The stranger in question for me showed up immediately. He was a man I saw while on vacation in Toronto in 1981 with my first husband. I knew this particular person was “loaded” since my immediate reaction was to find someone else to write to. Then I knew by my resistance that he was the one.

Here is what transpired:

Dear Gruff Little Man,

I came across you and your family while touring the Casa Loma in Toronto, Canada. You were scolding your wife publicly for having dared to wander away from you, to perhaps discover the castle in her own revelry, amazed and engaged by the grandeur of it all. As you scolded her, she stood in front of you, her head bowed down, surely feeling she deserved the public tongue-lashing. Your boys stood nearby viewing the familiar scene, quiet and wide-eyed, another vacation mom had ruined by doing the wrong thing. I wanted to grab your wife and pull her away from your monsterousness, to take her to a safe place. But it was impossible. You, Mr. Gruff Man, were vocal and demeaning in your castigation of your wife. You did not choose the passive aggressive approach — the one I had gotten familiar with in my own marriage, the one that was about non-communication and shutting down, or shutting a door, or getting high so the discomfort would go away. Conflict was not my husband’s forte.

And within a year from that vacation in 1981, I would have taken advantage of his lack of willingness to engage in conflict. It became an escape hatch for me when I knew that I could no longer live with the subtle put downs and unspoken lack of support. When I decided I deserved more, I would walk away with my head high, leaving him to his marijuana, paranoia, and closed doors.

Helen  11.6.15

(293) Sunrise in the Rear View Mirror

miami-book-fair-international-tentsLast week when my writing circle met, the singer Joe Cocker came up in conversation. The general consensus of my friends was that they didn’t care to watch him sing. I didn’t say much because, I too, have found it difficult to watch him.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about Joe and a time he was significant to me.

In the fall of 2004, a group of us who were part of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society decided to meet in Miami for the Miami Book Fair.  We met for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe at Bayside, then walked across the street to Miami-Dade College for the Fair. I drove to the east coast with my friend Diane.  We had managed to get one of the last hotel rooms available, at a place that sounded like it would be fine.  I cannot remember the name of the hotel — it was a Best Western or a Comfort Inn or something like that.

After a fabulous day of workshops and browsing the books, Diane and I went to Little Havana for a yummy Cuban dinner, then went to find our hotel.  It was not easy to get to — we kept seeing the place and going around in circles trying to find out how to get to it. Finally I went down a highway up ramp with Diane freaking out beside me, just so we could finally get checked in.

The place was a dump. The furniture in our room looked like someone went to a flea market and picked up the most mismatched and ugly furniture they could find. We just wanted to get some rest at this point, and we knew that we had been lucky to get this room.

I cannot remember everything, but I think the hotel was pretty noisy with people in the hall, or a crying baby, or something. I know we had trouble getting to sleep. Then at 3:30 in the morning, a loud bass beat came booming through our walls.  It was from the convention center next door where they were setting up for an event. After lying there for a half an hour watching the room shake and with no hope of getting back to sleep, we decided to just head back to Ft. Myers.

We managed to find a cup of coffee somewhere and were on our way across Alligator Alley in the pitch blackness of night. Joe Cocker’s album Heart and Soul accompanied us.  This is an album of covers he did that is one of my favorites. Songs like “I Put a Spell on You,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Everybody Hurts,” “I Keep Forgetting,” and my favorite “I Who Have Nothing.”  Joe’s music — and his rusty voice — was the perfect accompaniment as we watched the sunrise in our rear view mirrors, content to drive without conversation, leaving the busyness and noise of Miami far behind.

(262) The City of New Orleans

New Orleans Thanksgiving weekend 1979. Jackson Square and on the Natchez on the Mississippi River

For as long as I can remember

when I heard the song “City of New Orleans”

I thought of the actual city

even though I knew it was about a train.

Whether it was Arlo singing, or Willie or Steve

I thought of Jackson Square, the Mississippi River,

the rain that enveloped us as we walked the Quarter,

Lake Pontchartrain, beignets and hot chocolate,

the raised graves, the delicious seafood.

But now when I hear the song

my thoughts are quite different

for I have spent time in the very place

The City of New Orleans travels

“through the Mississippi darkness rolling down to the sea.”

I know Money Road and Bryant Grocery store

where Emmitt Till made his famous mistake.

Money Road

It is there, on Money Road, I stood

 by great bluesman Robert Johnson’s grave,

the Tallahatchie River behind me as I faced east,

and saw The City of New Orleans, speeding by on a

sunny Saturday morning in July,

making its way south, and I thought,

“Good Morning America, how are you”

there is a famous song about you, “rocking to the gentle beat”

of the mesmerizing clickety-clack and whistle

and “the disappearing railroad blues.”

The writer of the song having died quite young himself.

You, The City of New Orleans, so epic I couldn’t even get a picture.

And for me,

it all came together,

in that place,

in that moment.

History and music, the river,

life and death,

everything I knew

and all the things I don’t.

Johnson grave

Steven Goodman singing his epic song:

(242) Pyramid Climbing

In 1987, Jim was given a special bonus for raising sales at his company. The bonus was a trip to Cancun, Mexico for the two of us.

This was a wild adventure for me. First, I had never been much of a beach goer, so I wasn’t sure how to cope with that. And second, it was a foreign country! But, Cancun was the new, up and coming vacation spot, and we were very fortunate to have a week there, all expenses paid.

I will never forget when we got off the airplane onto the tarmac at the Cancun Airport that October day. The heat and humidity hit me like a brick — I had never felt anything like it before. It was then I knew I was someplace very different.

On the van cab ride to our hotel, we were talking to other people. One couple had been to Cancun a few times and talked about renting a car and driving around. I thought they were CRAZY. I had no intentions of ever doing such a thing.

Checking out the water and sand, first day in Cancun October 1987

Our week in Cancun was great, of course. We took a few interesting tours, spent time at the beach and pool, attended a couple of fiestas — it was all a blast. We also bought into a vacation club while there, assuring our return.

One of our trips was to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. It was on that bus ride we learned about the Mayan people who live in the Yucatan. In fact, most of the people we were meeting in Cancun were not of Mexican descent — most were Mayan. On the two lane road our tour bus took, we passed many Mayan villages. Some had electricity, some did not. It was made clear to us that the Mayans love their life. It is only when the young people go to work in cities like Cancun they become unhappy without refrigeration or television. This was a new thought to me, but one I embraced. Not everyone has to live like Americans.

One of the most stunning buildings at Chichen Itza is the El Castillo, the Temple of Kukulkan (a Maya feathered serpent deity similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl).  This four-sided pyramid has 91 stairs on each side. When the platform at the top is added in, that comes to 365 — same as the number of days in the year. The serpent god is represented by the stairs, and during the spring and vernal equinox, the sunset lights the pyramid in such a way it appears the serpent is moving down the steps. We were not there for that, but it is a huge event twice a year at Chichen Itza.

Anyway, what I noticed was that people were climbing the pyramid stairs, which were extremely deep and steep. It  terrified the part of me with the lifelong fear of ladders, and I wasn’t having any of it.  What I also noticed was that a lot of people were sitting on the steps, or coming down backwards. The whole thing struck me as unnecessarily risky. Besides, our tour didn’t allow for much time to take the steps, unless we gave up seeing other things. We visited the other temples, the observatory, the ball court, the sacred well.

This Mayan city was active 600-1200 AD, and was very cosmopolitan for the time; I don’t recall everything, but I do recall they knew about seven of the planets. The city was eventually abandoned for reasons unknown. So much knowledge that got dispersed mysteriously.


By the time we made our fifth trip to Cancun in May, 1992, we were pretty used to getting around. We had pretty much abandoned taxis, and instead used the local transport for most of our adventures. This particular year we rented a car with the express purpose to do one thing — I wanted to climb El Castillo.

In the years in between, I had become a business owner and was active in a lot of local clubs and organizations. My life had opened up quite a bit from the days of sitting in a room operating a computer and doing data entry. I was ready for a challenge.

Jim and I made the two hour drive to Chichen Itza, driving through the various Mayan villages, where children would be standing by the road trying to sell newspapers or orange slices. When we stopped at a rest stop/market, we were approached by a hoard of kids looking for money. There was a large sign in the parking lot begging tourists not to give the children money; the Mayan people wanted their children to go to school.

Pyramid Jim
Jim pointing the way to El Castillo, my big challenge that day.

We arrived close to lunch time, so the sun was hot and bright. Of course, I was no longer a wimp about the weather, having been there many times. Jim and I climbed those stairs! He took pictures of me along the way to document this minor feat of mine. I had overcome a very intense fear to make it happen.

Pyramid up
That’s me on the steps. I think you can tell how steep they are. The serpent god’s head is in foreground.

On top of the pyramid was quite a view.

Pyramid top
I made it! On the top platform.
Pyramid view
View of Temple of the Warriors and across the Yucatan Peninsula

Coming down — well, I could see how people found it easier to go backwards.  At first it isn’t too bad, but the height of the steps increases as you get closer to the ground. The steps were each so deep and a bit uneven, so that to step down directly could be painful if your foot landed wrong. We took plenty of breaks going up and down. There was no rush.  Instead, it was something to savor.

We visited Cancun about four more times, and then finances no longer allowed for these trips. It was good for the time we had it, and we went on to other adventures in the mountains of North Carolina and moving to Florida. But we will always have great memories of our days in the Mexican sunshine.

Always looking forward!

(238) North Carolina

I have written a lot about the family cabin we used to visit in the mountains of North Carolina. This is the story of my first trip to North Carolina and how it turned into a better trip than I ever imagined.

My cousin Doreen was getting married in Greensboro, and I desperately wanted to make the trip. At the time Jim and I were living together and he fully supported our making a trip down for Memorial Day weekend, 1983. We drove down on Friday, with the wedding being on Sunday.

I had told Jim that I had never seen the ocean, but he said we would be too far away to make a trip to the beach. I put it out of my head.

On Saturday morning we decided to drive over to the Raleigh/Durham area where there was a huge outlet mall. This was back when “outlet” meant a true outlet — you could get real deals.

We spent some time at the mall — I remember I bought a few pairs of earrings — and then Jim said, “Let’s drive to the beach.”

I was so excited! It was about a three hour drive from where we were, but would be longer to get back. We hit the road, driving a highway and then a back road to Carolina Beach. I got to see the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time, collected some shells, saw a live crab hiding in its hole, and enjoyed the sand and the waves. I had never been in anything called a beach town before, so was delighted with the surf shops and beachwear and hot dog stands. It was a long day of driving, but so worth it!

Jim at the tender age of 40, Carolina Beach
I wasn’t dressed for the beach!

We didn’t get back until well after dark, and the wedding was the next day.


We remain close to Doreen and David, even with the miles and the years between us. Seeing them during the summer is now a tradition, as they now live in Asheville, after years in Tennessee and Virginia. Next year they say they will come to Florida. I hope they do. I would love to show them the Gulf and all the beautiful nature we have here.

Doreen, me, Jim, David Asheville, 2013