Adventure planning

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the open road - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

We’re full steam ahead in the planning stages for our next adventure. No name for the trip or anything yet, but accommodations are booked, national parks have been chosen and the route has officially taken shape. We’re open to suggestions and hoping you’ll come along with us for the ride.

How do you plan? Do you have favourite books, blogs or big-time travel fans you look to? Are you the research all or none type or somewhere in between? We fall somewhere in the middle. Plan a bit, book accommodations, have some ideas, get suggestions and see where the day takes us. Some of our favourite memories come from the road less traveled, last minute advice of a local, a random Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives® find or an afternoon picnic in an off – the beaten path spot. We’ve already been told of a few side roads to take within parks since they’re far more scenic than the main ones. And there’s also the possible stop at the Corn Palace in South Dakota, a hopeful view of Half Dome in Yosemite and maybe even flying fish in Washington. It’s all taking shape.

We’re in the market for suggestions if you’ve got them. Favorite camp sites in the US National parks, best roadside kitsch found along the way, best food stops you’ve had, special photo spectacles that would be on your ‘must’ list if you made one and anything in between. The parks/monuments will be: Australia’s Red Centre, Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Black Hills, Yellowstone, Niagara Falls (Canadian side), Glacier, Yosemite and Australia’s Halls Gap (Grampians). The cities chosen: Melbourne (Australia), Alice Springs (Australia), Toronto (Canada) and in the US – New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Cody, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Kalispell, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, and Lake Tahoe.

We’ll of course do our best to zigzag through places far and wide (because, why not?) and take in as much of the authentic bits as possible. Often on road trips, we find it’s the people, the conversations and the experiences that make the trip special. Stepping foot in places so many have been before and thousands will after truly connects you to the land. For so long, hearing about spaces in the world and then actually having the opportunity to be in the moment in said spot is truly spectacular. Along the way we hope to meet up with travel friends and connect with new ones. Why not have Huckleberry Pie in Montana, deep dish pizza in Chicago and organic food truck fare in Portland? When in Rome, right?

Meet us along the way. Send us your favourite stops. Text us with last minute thoughts if we’re in the neighborhood of something or some place you think we’d enjoy. As always, thanks for being a part of our journey.

Pastimes and Fans

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A few weekends ago, we spent a lot of hours in the car. San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training baseball and then onto Las Vegas, Nevada for the International Rugby Sevens competition. It was a three states in a day type of weekend complete with dust storms, trips to Subway and accents the world over. There was time to play and time to think. There were hours of throng-filled crowds and others of shared silence between a couple in a car. No matter the moment, there was far more than sport.

Spring Training Baseball 2016 - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Yes, there were hours of baseball and rugby, but the soft skills or colour commentary that played out amongst the spectators spoke far more than the chants for their home teams. It all told a story of something much bigger, much greater than a country’s pastime or a people’s favourite sport. Here, in these stadiums, life was being lived. Louder than chants or jeers, there was a spirit that filled the air. People, from all walks of life had driven, bussed, or flown to a spot to spend an afternoon or a few days to purposefully bring out their happy. There was so much unspoken wisdom in those stadium seats and bleachers, so many untold stories that played out on fields and screens – it was a pleasure to be a part of it all. Read the rest of this entry

Firsts and trails in a cross country visit

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San Diego's USS Midway - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

The USS Midway at San Diego’s Embarcadero

My dad came to visit for a long weekend at the end of February. It was the longest flight he’s taken in over a decade and he managed beautifully. If you didn’t already know, my dad is a pancreatic cancer survivor. Hopefully, his story of surviving and thriving will become a greater reality for more in the future instead of an anomaly.

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Enjoying the sun and sand at Coronado Beach

This visit was the longest time I’ve spent with my dad (without my mom – she doesn’t like to fly) probably, ever. He was in from Thursday to Monday and we followed a path of warp speed the entire time. Hikes, sights, wanders, parks, beaches, new haunts, breweries, stadiums, waterfronts and more – we experienced, challenged, learned, and enjoyed together.

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Hiking La Jolla’s Torrey Pines State Reserve

Aside from the most important TIME together and the fact that we had a wonderful visit – there were many FIRSTS on this trip. His comment that stuck with me the most is , ‘you’re never too old for firsts’ (it’s one of many that should be emblazoned on a t-shirt). My dad is 71 years young. He lacks a bunch of internal organs, lives with Type 1 Diabetes (from the removal of the pancreas), works out more than many I know half his age and can fall asleep most nights the moment his head hits the pillow. For the past decade, he and my brother have been taking a trip every summer. They’ve gone to many National Parks, explored cities and adventured the country together. He’s enjoying these experiences and continues to treat each 24 hour period as ‘a bonus day’.

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At San Diego’s Balboa Park

This trip, he conquered trails, disavowed jet lag and so much more. The man whose eyes glaze over after half a beer bellied up to a bar at a San Diego craft brewery and not only ordered his own ‘flight’ of craft beer, but finished most of it and found a new beer to add to his arsenal. When we meandered through Balboa Park (San Diego’s Central Park), we stopped to enjoy the melodic tones of a digeridoo. Although his son-in-law is Australian, Dad has never seen or heard a ‘didge’ up close and stated, ‘I may have had to wait 71 years, but I guess you’re never too old for firsts’. I was thrilled for this first (the sounds of the digeridoo) but, most of all, the sentiment! And, the man who is very specific about his likes and dislikes of types of cuisine decided ON HIS OWN that he was ready to try Indian food. I almost fell over. Not only did he try it, he enjoyed it and it might even make it into the lunchtime rotation of Manhattan restaurants.

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First time eating Indian Food

Every morning he met us ready to greet the day with excitement. He marveled at the mighty Pacific, awed at his up close and personal first sightings at an aircraft carrier, held a fish at a fish market, ogled at La Jolla’s seals, hiked various trails, took in the view atop Cabrillo National Monument, wandered the walkways of Balboa Park, stood on the greens at the renown Torrey Pines Golf Course, followed the roar of the Naval fighter pilots as they zoomed overhead and grabbed a sundowner at Coronado’s famed Hotel del Coronado. Never deterred by jet lag, my 71 year old Dad took the city by storm and left with more than a taste of his daughter’s (for now) chosen city.

at Torrey Pines Lodge/Golf Course - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

At the Lodge at Torrey Pines Golf Course

While, of course, I hope Dad comes back for more visits for as long as we choose to stay in San Diego, that to me wasn’t the most significant take away of the weekend. At any age and stage in life, taking a leap is still a big decision. No matter the size, the belief that firsts are not only possible – but; necessary, helpful and intriguing lead to growth in thought and perspective and put the expansion of that comfort zone into the category of exciting instead of frightening. No matter the age, stage or location…here’s to many more ‘firsts’ for us all.

Saturday Fish Market at San Diego's Embarcadero - thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com

Being a ‘local’ at the Embarcadero’s Saturday Fish Market

Interview: Travel with Bender

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I met the Benders online. Through connections about Australia, traveling, blogging and world wide adventures, we connected through social media. I’ve followed their adventures and we’ve chatted about favourite spots across the globe. As an educators who spent years in traditional public school, I am constantly thrilled to see children exploring the world, learning by doing and families figuring out education that works for them. This family is sharing their joy of adventure and exploration with the next generation. Erin and Josh traverse the globe with their little ones in tow. Whether you follow their journey or their lead – their story is compelling. Check them out at Travel with Bender.

April2014 Bender Read the rest of this entry

Finding ease

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There’s an award that many primary and secondary schools provide students who have 100 percent attendance for their entire school career. It’s a great feeling to win an award, but what does this one show our students for the future? Like so many others, for the first decade of my teaching career, I did my best to never miss a day. I went to work no matter what, traveled on those extra icy and snowy days, paid the extra fees to be back from holidays on time (no matter the jet lag), and like so many others suffered through allergies and sickness while at work. Blame it on the good ethics instilled by my parents, the desire to make a good impression, or enthusiasm and dedication I felt towards my profession – but, like millions of others who felt the same, I showed up.

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The changing face of friendship

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I was ten when I first went to sleep-away camp. Each day after lunch and dinner there was a songfest. Upbeat and filled with energy songs came after lunch while those with more calm and heartfelt messages came around a fire in the evening. Our stories had lessons and our songs, meaning. It didn’t matter if there were ten of us or two hundred – each night, before breaking from our activity, we ended with a friendship circle. With arms crossed in front of us, holding the hands of the people adjacent to us in the circle – what started with a squeeze from one hand went through us all and ended with a smile. Connections, relationships, kindness, kinship and friendship were of utmost importance then and it’s the same today. The only thing that shifted was all the years in between.

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At our first beach together…friends meeting up at camp to remember… (photos from our youth remain in our memories and scrapbooks)

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Change of venue

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Welcome to San Diego

In geographic terms, my life went from New York, to Massachusetts, and then back to New York via travel and a stint in Melbourne, Australia. As a young child, I had ear infections and respiratory yuck often. In training for my lifeguarding exam, my arms and legs could always go longer and further than my lungs. My university suite mates had to deal with a lot of late night coughing through countless bouts of bronchitis, viral tracheitis, pneumonia and more. My students got used to their teacher constantly having some sort of something including varying degrees of laryngitis or insane sinus pressure from October through April and then the itchy, sneezy, teary attack of allergy season would begin. By twenty-five I was diagnosed with asthma and have been on bucket-loads of meds since. Insert San Diego – this may be the biggest change yet. Read the rest of this entry

Clarity in a cup

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Have you ever had a coffee date that provided much more than the liquid in the cup? A few weeks ago – that happened. The intention of the meet up (aside from a lovely cup of peppermint tea) was to get more information on the world of Chinese medicine and to begin to understand the benefits of acupuncture. The results were far greater. Yes, I got a few names of books to read, the cost of an eval and treatment session, and the knowledge that apparently I should eat more beets – but it was more than that. Read the rest of this entry

What’s on your travel list?

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Every other day, there’s another quiz to take, list to click or post to like. Magazines post their 2016 list of places to visit and newspapers tell you exactly what to do with 36 hours in a city. Tour groups share their ‘best’ itineraries while bloggers respond with their favourite top 10 list for a specific spot. We all sit somewhere in the middle either ignoring it all, clicking like and share or retweet with gusto, mad that we can’t figure out how to get to that destination with the cash that’s under our mattress or looking at it all and saying ‘I want to go there, but not like that’!

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Beach cricket, sunshine and change

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I used to hate change! I had counselors at sleep away camp who felt the need to explain the benefits of changing cabins and counselors each camp session. I didn’t want camp to end, university to finish or any holiday I’ve ever been on to come to a close. Change was not my friend. Fast forward a few decades…..change is not only embraced, it’s craved. Life is weird.

the stanceCredit yoga, aging, travel, an unlimited supply of vitamin D…..credit whatever you like…..there’s been a switch and this weekend was a perfect example. With a crazy amount of rain (for southern California standards), beach erosion, school holidays, a long weekend, an unearthed shipwreck and rising temperatures, our usual beach spot became packed. No complaints….only a change of plans. We switched spots. Having no idea how we would feel in a new beach spot after so long, we took a risk (no, no not a huge one – I mean really, it’s a beach, right?) and shifted course to the other side of the island. Greater sand depth, far more people, a further walk and who knows what…and we were in a new spot. Needless to say, the end result was a perfect day. Read the rest of this entry