Category Archives: Travel

Stories that take you on a journey, vacation, voyage, trip,; “Let’s go somewhere.”

Antarctica Marathon ©

Running the Antarctica Marathon with Shinazy

“Hey, Janice, let’s run a marathon next February.”




antarctica marathonJanice and I live life with passports in our back pockets, so this dialogue would not surprise anyone who knows us.  Being adventure junkies we understand anything can happen at any time.  Being marathoners we believe we can run out of any situation. These characteristics make us invincible; the race in Antarctica would test our resolve.

Once we decided to run, we had to plan our training.  For previous marathons we would replicate the event’s terrain, which provided a physical and mental advantage.  The Antarctica race pamphlet described running over ice fields, up a glacier’s flank, and through gravel riverbeds.  Living in the San Francisco Bay Area there are no glaciers and streambeds cover only a few feet not the 138,435 feet we needed to duplicate the marathon course.  If we couldn’t adapt our training we would acclimate our bodies; into storage went sweaters, coats, and all long sleeve shirts.  When strangers questioned why we were dressed for summer when it was “freezing outside”, we would answer, “Training for Antarctica Marathon”.  Our response always ended the conversation, but never removed the you-crazy-running-people expression.

antarctica marathonAfter planning for a year and training for six months our craziness was imminent.  With luggage containing layers of 50-mph-wind-subzero-temperature protective clothing that would transform us into Abominable Snowgals, we embarked on our journey.  8,460 flying miles later we arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina.  Walking the gangplank we assumed all decisions were behind us, now we thought, ‘time to relax’.  Intrepid travelers pride themselves on their ability to adapt.  This trip and our ship, Lyubov Orlova, a Russian research vessel masquerading as a cruise ship, would require constant attitude adjustments.

To maximize our on-board comfort, Janice and I upgraded to a ‘State Room with ocean view’, which translated into ‘area equivalent to three side-by-side twin beds and a porthole’.  There was no TV on the boat.  We moved from deck to deck using stairs because there was no elevator.  When ordering dinner we asked for “meat, fish, or vegetable”.  The only five-star feature was the swimming pool – it was empty which allowed lounging in the deep-end to escape the skin piercing, horizontal flying, ice needle sea spray.

Despite having no amenities we remained excited; before us was open water and time.  Or so we thought.  The first omen was the Drake Passage weather, known for its brutal storms.  As we motored across the Passage we experienced no waves.  No clouds.  No sea life.  No seasickness.  This first calm day would be our last until our last day became as calm as our first.

antarctica marathonYou need peaceful water when you use an inflatable dingy to commute to King George Island.  For three days the race organizer attempted to get the 108 runners to land and every day Mother Nature distorted seas causing us to duct tape drawers closed and bungee cord doors open.  With each 5:30 AM wake-up call we proceeded to wrap toes, moleskin blisters, greased bodyparts, diluted electrolyte, eat oatmeal, and wait.  And wait.  And snooze.  And wait.

Before we ran out of time we ran out of oatmeal.  At our final breakfast the organizer’s grim face told us the waiting was over; tomorrow we headed home. When 140 people focus on one problem some solution will surface.  Because we were in Antarctica water, over Antarctica dirt, a marathon run on decks 5 and 6 would qualify.  Over the next five hours and forty-four minutes I ran the gangway, stepped over the fiddley, jogged the hatchway, stepped again.  I repeated this procedure, around and around, for 422 lapses.

Crossing the imaginary finish line I pondered, “Would I do this silliness again?”

You betcha’.

photos courtesy  23am, shinazy, & longhorndave

Road Trip ©

Shinazy’s first road trip

road trip Before the age of 6 my universe boundaries consisted of the Sunday drive to Nana and Granddaddy’s.  Peering through the car window I saw no division between cities, one community melded into the next.  All space was filled with houses, stores, and people.  Pruned trees shaded front porches or held a swing.  When it rained, water flowed down the streets disappearing into a grate at each corner.

At the end of summer number six, my grandparents, Gigs and Bussie, took several of us grandchildren on our first road trip.  We drove across the San Francisco Bay Bridge; as long as I could see the bay everything looked the same as home.  As the sun moved to shine through the windshield, our Plymouth turned away from the water and my world changed forever.

Passing a lonely, windowless building I saw nothing but dirt … empty space.  Now and then a house with a long driveway or a cluster of shops with fading letters would appear and disappear.  Large animals chewed on grass as their wire enclosure stretched for hours.  Driving through the Sacramento Valley even the occasional tree vanished.  The scenery’s monotony was a lullaby and upon awaking a never-ending lot of giant Christmas trees enfolded me.  Everything was green.

road tripWhen we stopped for the evening, at what I now know to be a tributary of the Feather River, I could not understand where all the flowing water had come from.  When did it rain?  Where was this water going?  And, where was our bathroom?  My bed?  Walls?  While Bussie unloaded the car, Gigs handed me a roll of toilet paper and pointed to the shadows.  Why I did not get lost or die from a bladder condition is a sign of our survival instincts.

Forest sounds grabbed my attention and curiosity.  Something was in the bushes.  Something was outside my vision.  Something was overhead in the trees.  Cuddled in my sleeping bag filled with flashlight warmth, a bit of security returned.   Here I could pretend I was home in a blanket tent.

That evening, with Gigs encouraging me to turn off the flashlight and step out into what I knew was blackness, my reality transformed, again.  Although my only desire was to keep my eyes closed, I had to peek.  There above my head were more wishing stars than my imagination could invent.  I rapidly ran out of wishes and yet stars continued to fly across the sky.  I decided I could live here and make new wishes, forever.

I have a secret.  One of my wishes was to stop being scared of this thing called a ‘road trip’.  This wish was granted for all my days since.

photos courtesy  JoelinSouthernCA & Shinazy

Catalina Island – Ultimate Beach Town ©

On Catalina Island with Shinazy

catalina islandThere’s a feel to Beach Towns.  I live on the San Francisco peninsula, where I try to live as if I were in a beach town – this takes effort.  Living in a beach town you just connect with other people – that’s simply how you live life.

I’m on Catalina Island, the 26 miles across the sea Santa Catalina Island.  I’m here with my sister and brother, we’re on our Third Annual Sibling Reunion.  We arrived yesterday afternoon from Long Beach, after staying on the Queen Mary.  Once you leave the Catalina ferry dock, you can sense you are in a Beach Town.

We asked the cab driver where he eats when going out and he recommended the Buffalo Nickel.  Our GPS showed it was near to our condo, when actually it was a 20-plus-minute-up-the-hill-no-sidewalk trek.  And, of course, we go lost.  We stopped a man named Campos and asked for directions.  He told us the Buffalo Nickel has a shuttle, he then called them; and told us to wait by the two palm trees.  A few minutes later, a van arrived.  This pick-up service is offered to everyone and when your meal is over; someone in the kitchen will drive you home.  Would this happen in your downtown?  Not mine, but remember this is a Beach Town.

catalina islandThe next morning, while walking to the Zip Line, I stopped a man driving a golf cart, carts are the major mode of transportation on the island, and I asked the man if we could pay him to drive us to the Zip Line.  “No problem, hop in.” and off we went.  It was his day off, he was driving to the store, and although the zip line was out of his way . . . well, this is what folks do in a Beach Town, they do favors for each other and for strangers.  Folks do this without thinking about pay back.

Wherever you are, you can make that place a Beach Town.  But How?  Well, talk to the person behind you while you stand in line.  Chat with the store clerk about something other than what you intend to buy.  Hold open the door for the person entering or exiting.  Offer to take the vacationing couple’s picture.  Try talking to folks you just met  . . . You will be surprised how open people are and how much joy you will get from the conversations.  You, too, can live life in a Beach Town.

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Going To Death Valley ©

Shinazy’s trip to Death Valley

death valley

For four weeks starting mid February the North American desert is in bloom.  Even in the hottest, driest desert, Death Valley is awash in flowers.  Some are tiny; these are the ones you only notice when you bend to tie your shoelaces.  Others hide among the protected thorns offered by otherwise menacing plants.  Regardless if the winter rains make puddles or ponds, the desert will put forth a floral spectacle.

Appreciating the desert’s Spring display was among the lessons my grandparents, Gigs and Bussie, taught me.  From age six to sixteen, I accompanied them into the California deserts to hunt for unusual rocks and survey the annual color splash.  Our camping trips were simple excursions.  The day before our departure, Bussie would pack the station wagon with survival provisions.  I was an observant and helpful child, so now as an adult I thought I too could attempt a similar journey.

As with any journey I started with a plan: what clothes to pack, route to take, canned rations and tools to bring.  For weeks, every time a needed item passed through my thoughts I’d add it to The List.  Since I was going alone into the Death Valley wilderness I had to ensure I remembered everything – if I did not bring it, there was no place to get it.

Part of the fun concerning this trip was to duplicate how my grandparents travelled, so I left the GPS and cell phone at home.  I never went online to plot my route.  With confidence, a paper map, and my one-‘n-only credit card I set off to rough-it in the outback.  The only thing I needed to buy was gas.  I was prepared!

death valley300 miles into the trip I encountered the first flaw in The Plan.  What my memory neglected to tell me was my grandparents only used cash; plastic money had yet entered their lives.  With teaspoons of gas remaining in my truck’s tank, the station attendant reproached me, “Your card’s no good.”   I never carry cash; I get frequent flyer miles charging … everything.

The word ‘stranded’ seized my mind.  What was an electronically dependent girl masquerading as a pioneer to do?  A frantic call to CitiBank, who informed me, “Your card was hacked.”  This news told me why my only source of currency was corrupted, but did not help me buy fuel to resume my expedition.  However, after I answered every security question about my life since birth, CitiBank agreed to allow me to purchase gas, but absolutely nothing else.  And, I had to call them before every purchase.  It was then I realized, “Maybe some of the old timer ways had benefits.”

With the credit card crisis cured I continued, knowing this one lapse in judgment was the only mistake I made.  Although I had no paper money I did have a paper map.  But time had a surprise for me.  It seems today’s paper maps show less detail because “everyone has GPS.”  No longer able to navigate my route, I asked a local for directions.  This was my second faulty plan omen.  After missing the you-can’t-miss-it intersection, it started to snow.  I travelled up and up, mile after mile.  The smaller the hole on the windshield became the more petrified I became.

Was panic going to turn me to stone before the zero temperature?

Where was a turn-off so I could escape?

What would my grandparents do?

death valley

Twelve hours, three snow flurries, and two gas refills after departing home I arrived at my campsite where I would build a fire and evaporate the day’s troubles.  But, alas, the National Park Service had another plan.  Posted on the sunburned table was a sign, “No Campfires”.

As I stood there in the Death Valley blackness, shrouded in every thread I packed, listening to my stomach symphony, I wondered . . . Did I pack the can opener?

photos courtesy shinazy & calsidyrose

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Good Morning Teacher! ©

A Story by teacher, Mr. Will Jones


I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to visit Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most expansive and beautiful ancient Hindu temple complexes on earth.  As excited as I was about that visit, I was equally excited when I saw a poster on the wall of the Bliss Villa Guest House where I was staying offering guests the chance to teach English for a day at a small rural school operated by local Theravada Buddhist monks.  So after spending New Year’s Day on an astonishing tour of Angkor the World Wonder, I awoke the next day to an adventure at the Angkor Buddhist Organization School.

On the morning of January 2nd, my guest house host, two orange robed monks, and a traveling companion and I boarded noisy tuk-tuks and bumped along dusty red dirt roads for 30 minutes.  Habitations of all descriptions, vegetable gardens, rice paddies, cattle and water buffalo were the most prominent features of the landscape.  We arrived to find a small, open air pavilion and three dirt floor and palm frond walled classrooms on a narrow strip of land receding about 50 yards from the roadside.  Across the road was a rough field for recreation, and a palm roofed open walled kitchen where the locals prepared lunch for the monks.

After a brief orientation about the curriculum by the gentle, soft-spoken monks, I was escorted to my classroom.  The second I entered, roughly fifteen beautiful children ages 10-16 stood at attention, raised their hands in an attitude of prayer and respect, and, in perfect unison, greeted me: “Good morning teacher!  How are you?”  Imagine the smile that spread across my joyous face and the warmth that filled my heart at this greeting.  In all my years as a secondary English teacher and a high school administrator, I had never received such a warm welcome.

teacherWith a small instruction booklet, a dry erase marker, a beat up white board and a lot of imagination, I taught four forty-five minute English classes.  By the end of the day my students knew a lot about my family, the names of the items of clothes I was wearing, and in a leap of instructional faith, synonyms, like “pretty” and “lovely.”

I watched and smiled as eager students wrote names and phrases in their copy books, as they chanted rhymes about purple sneakers, as they giggled with delight when I overreacted comically to their mispronunciations or when I encouraged and rewarded them by drawing stars beside their work.  Sadly, I learned that the two beautiful young girls with shaved heads had recently lost their father, their appearance a part of their mourning.

My biggest reward came at the end of the day when the students gathered around to thank me and ask if I would be their teacher the next day.  No, I said, but thank you.  I will remember you forever.

photo by will jones

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Hike Half Dome Alone ©

Hike to Half Dome with Shinazy


Last year three of us decided to climb the Half Dome Cables.  We trained and then went online to capture our permits – first come, first get.  We watched the webcam and saw the snow slowly melt, too slow to install the cables – no cables, no climb.  But we decided to hike anyway just to see a record water flow; we wanted to experience everything … but the cables.

During that 12-hour hike, we stopped at every sight.  After catching our breath from the altitude and the beauty, we took pictures of waterfalls, rocks, rainbows, valleys.  We travelled together, encouraging each other to continue, sharing our thoughts as comrades.   All this togetherness enriched our experience.

This year, with a lighter snowfall, the cables were installed on scheduled.  Our luck held, permits from the Lottery arrived and our group swelled to five.

On hike day, as sunrise removed the evening we set boot to trail.  Within 5 minutes the group split, taller Half Dome hikers with longer strides pulled away.  Then my quicker pace had me increasing the distance from the other short-hiker.  Now, I was alone.  I was hiking the same trail as last year, but with only one set of eyes – mine, and this made it a different path.

If asked, I would say I’d never been there.  Last year, Vernal Fall was a fire-hose pounding my black-plastic-garbage-bag poncho.  I knew there were 600 steps carved into the granite cliffside, but I could only ‘see’ them with my feet as I clung to the wet stonewall.  But this year, there was only a modest spray and I could see the steepness and the uneveness and the majesty of each step.

That 2,000-foot climb is rewarded by the flat, hot, and sandy Little Yosemite Valley.  Previously the Merced River roared, drowning all sound.  Now, I could hear birds and I thought I could even hear a squirrel rolling a pinecone.

As I continued, the solitude allowed my mind to see oddities.  In a wide sandy trail why are all the pinecones resting exactly in the middle?  Why do people stay on the sandy path instead of hiking on the firmly packed game trail that runs along side?  And, on and on my mind wandered.

When alone in the forest there’s no sense of time.  One minute I’m blinking my eyes to wake-up and the next I’m blinking because Half Dome just materialized.  Five hours had passed, but no fatigue just excitement.  The goal of this hike was before me; it was time to climb the 45-degree incline of the massive granite slope called Half Dome, and not alone, I had the seed of memories . . . and my camera.

photo by glennwilliams

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Sierra Redux ©

In the Sierra again with Will Jones

sierraWhen it comes to hiking in the Eastern Sierra, I agree with the person who first said  “You can’t get too much of a good thing.”  In back-to-back weeks I was able to hike many beautiful trails, first on an annual backpacking trip with a good friend, and then on a series of day hikes out of Bishop and Mammoth Lakes with my wonderful and intrepid wife, Melinda.

We left San Luis Obispo and drove to Bishop on the day after Labor Day.  It was her first time traveling glorious Highway 395, the road that gives access to all of the Eastern Sierra trailheads, most noteworthy of which is Whitney Portal out of Lone Pine, the trail to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower forty-eight states.

The beauty of driving 395 north is the ability to turn left at 3000’ and end up at anywhere between 7000’ and 10000’ in thirty minutes or less.  The climb in the Eastern Sierra is steep like a roller coaster ride with breathtaking scenery.  We first hiked the Rock Creek Trail, nine miles round trip through Little Lakes Valley to Morgan Pass and back.  Turn left at Tom’s Place, drive to Mosquito Flats at 10100’ and start hiking.  Think Shangri La, and when your hike is over, stop at the Pie-in-the-Sky Café for an outrageous slice of homemade pie-a-la-mode.

Our second big day, twelve miles altogether, included three hikes in Devil’s Postpile National Park: the Devil’s Postpile trail, the Rainbow Falls Trail and Shadow Lake.  The Devil’s Postpile is astonishing, a dense collection of vertical hexagonal basaltic columns that look like pipe organs from the bottom and like nature’s dance floor on top.  Rainbow Falls is a wide, majestic 100’ drop along the middle fork of the San Joaquin River, still running strong in November.

After lunch at Red’s Meadow, a resupply stop for John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail hikers, we completed our Eastern Sierra trip with a seven mile round trip to Shadow Lake, the last half mile including a 900’ elevation gain on granite switchbacks to a pristine lake surrounded by jagged peaks dotted with snowfields and glaciers.

In addition to the exhilaration experienced from moderate to strenuous exercise, Melinda and I both felt the sense of “being here now” and the serenity that being surrounded by majestic Big Nature (as my brother calls it) evokes.  Since it was her first time in the Eastern Sierras, I felt like I was giving her a special gift.  It was a splendid holiday that concluded with a drive home over Tioga Pass Road and through Yosemite.

As John Muir wrote, “Keep close to Nature’s heart.  Break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.”  Hiking in the Eastern Sierras will make your heart sing and your spirit soar.

photo by will jones

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness ©

A Story by Will Jones

Standing in the Reception Room in the big brick building on Ellis Island where millions of immigrants first arrived in America, it was easy to visualize the wooden benches lined with hopeful people of every age and nationality, and to hear the din of a dozen languages echoing off the plaster walls and tile ceiling. In 1926, my mother, then six years old, her mother and three siblings were among those hopefuls.

After a long trip in steerage, they arrived from Scotland on the USS California to join my grandfather who had come to the states in 1923 to work on the railroad in Philadelphia until he sent enough money home for his family to follow him. My grandmother, already thirty-seven and desperately seasick for the entire trip, bore two more children and lived to be one-hundred-and-four.

My wife and I visited Liberty Island and Ellis Island on a recent trip to New York to see some Broadway shows and visit with family.  The Big Apple was kind to us, especially gracing us with spectacular spring weather which led to lazy strolls in Central Park under full sunshine and an amazing canopy of new green leaves. And, biggest miracle of all, no humidity!

From New York we traveled to Boston to visit our son and daughter-in-law, and our three-month-old granddaughter, Saskia, our first grandchild. For a full five days we were enchanted by her beauty and her emerging personality. I think I learned more about love from watching her and interacting with her in those five days than I’ll ever be able to teach her.

I looked for traces of her great grandmother and her great great grandmother, who made that perilous and courageous journey eighty-six years ago, and I think I saw them in Saskia’s eyes, those windows to the soul that told me this baby, who neither of them will ever see, was worthy of their sacrifice. God bless America. God bless Saskia and her wonderful parents, Devin and Sarah. God bless us all.

photo by will jones

Cowboy Bill and the Ranch©

This story written by Bobbi Rankin

I still remember those long Sunday drives up the Bayshore, through the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge, on our way to the country, with the three of us sisters sitting in the backseat (without seatbelts) of our parents ’49 Plymouth.  The backseat felt huge and as we sank into the cushions, barely able to see out the windows.  Being the youngest, I saw only the sky as we rode over the bridge wanting to so badly to see the wide-open spaces of the ocean that stretch out to the west of us.  My sisters would often exclaim, “Look, I see a boat out on the bay, an unusual sight in those days.

My excitement soon overtook me and I cared less about the ocean or the boat, as we got closer to The Ranch.  The Ranch was where my cowboy Uncle Bill lived with his wife, Julie and their horses.  The Ranch is where the haylofts, buggies, horses and hammocks were beckoning me to hurry up.  As my mind swiftly began to enjoy my time there, I tried to stay calm but to no avail, annoying the heck out of my older sisters.  When we’d come to that last bend in the road, one of our parents would always say, “First one to see the house gets a pony” and we would immediately sit up, straining to look over the high front seats, wanting to be the one who gets that first glimpse of Uncle Bill’s Ranch.  I’d yell, “I see it, I see it” simultaneously with one of my sister…….” jinks, jinks you owe me a coke” she says to me as I waited in anticipation of getting out of the car and breathing in that wonderful hay and horse fill country air.  As far back as I can remember, I have always been tantalized by the smell of horses and hay.

As we climbed the big wooden stair to the front door, it swung open and there in its huge wooded frame stood my tall, rugged and good-looking Uncle, welcoming us into their home.  I was instantly engulfed with the familiar smells of leather, wood stove and wool rugs as if warm caring arms were wrapping themselves around me.  I loved that feeling.  I loved that place.  I loved being there.  I was in awe of my cowboy Uncle Bill.  Everywhere I looked; there was evidence of his personality and passions.

The simple Craftsman home fit their style and needs, two bedrooms and a bath, with an all-in-one living and dining area.  One of the first things I did upon arriving was to go look in my Uncle’s bedroom.  This bunkhouse style room was a delight for me, a one-day-only cowgirl.  The walls were paneled and hanging from them were his stirrups, holsters and a Stetsons hat.  He had a wooden bunk bed with an original Indian blanket for a cover.  Being born and reared near a Montana Reservation, the whole family was familiar to the ways and wears of the Crow and Blackfoot.  The wooded rocker atop a wood floor was the only other piece of furniture besides a small dresser.  The room spoke western, cowboy and manly.  I could just feel myself on a ranch is the wilds of Montana.  Stark is a good first impression but I could see his past and his present lifestyle all wrapped up in one.  If I was a cowgirl that day, this was my favorite room and I remember thinking that it must have smelled like a bunkhouse.

This was heaven to me or at least what I thought heaven should be or was it just that I was always so happy to be at the Ranch.  To me it felt like we had driven to another world or maybe Montana, for surely this is what Montana must be like.  I was sure the books I would read could never give me the thrills and adventures I had on the Ranch.

It was beginning to get dark as we climb back into the backseat of my parent’s car and begin our trip home.  That cowgirl was being left behind waiting for my return…..and I would return.  By the time we started over the bridge I would sit in anticipation of the foghorn as it signaled the approaching ships that the “gate’ into the bay, was near.  As we winded our way south through the city, I would slowly return to that city girl who had arrived at the Ranch just that morning.  My day-visit felt like a month, a place to become whoever I wanted to be and use my imagination in ways the city could never provide for me.  The many adventures left me tired for sure but bored, never!

photo by bobbi

Vacation vs. Hurricane©

This story written by Will Jones

 With summer approaching, I recall a memorable vacation my family took in 1964.  My father, a captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department, decided it would be a good idea to visit Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A high school classmate of mine had moved there, which seemed to be the only motivation he needed to suggest the most ambitious adventure we had ever undertaken.

I was fifteen when my parents, my younger brother, my sixty-four-year-old grandmother, Nanny Jones, and I piled into our ’61 two-tone Chevy Biscayne, a cheaper model with a “three-on-the tree” manual transmission. No air conditioning. Think about it: twenty-five hundred round trip miles through the south in the hottest, muggiest month of the year.

The outbound trip is a story in itself. Details include mechanical failure, wrong turns on blue highways in Georgia, withering temperatures, and all five of us sleeping in the same motel room at night.  Even worse, dad and Nanny competed to see who could snore the loudest.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale with no reservations, but found wonderful accommodations right on the beach at the Sandy Shoes motel in Ft. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. I visited my friend, and we enjoyed the warm water, but on the third day a hurricane blew in.  It was spectacular to watch the storm develop, but not so hot when we had to evacuate to a motel across the road, away from the ocean surge.  Torrential rain followed howling winds. We watched part of a roof blow down the street. The next morning there were fish in the swimming pool and the beach was essentially gone. A day later we had to pack up and head for home.

We caught the storm in Georgia and struggled through wind and rain for two more days.  Right after we arrived, riots broke out in the city, the rest of my father’s vacation was canceled and we didn’t see him for a week. In late September our beloved Phillies blew a six game lead over the last ten days of the season and missed going to the World Series by a game or two. The ill-fated vacation, the turmoil in the city, and the historic collapse of my home town team are forever linked in my mind. What a summer.

My three sons are grown men. I wonder what vacations stories they’ll tell their children?

photo by Leszek.Leszczynski