Saturday, June 14, 2014

Travel tight rope: take a road less traveled,but balance planning with spontaneity


One of the continent's largest markets was a surprise find for our travelers in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

The rugged Costa Brava provided a scenic vista with surprising views.

MY GRANDFATHER said, "When a plum falls from the sky, open your mouth."
Thanks for the wisdom, gramps. I've enjoyed many a "plum" on your advice. The trick is not letting it hit you on the head!
Keep your eyes on the prize but watch where you're going.
TRAVELING WELL  is a balancing act, as is the art of living itself.
Jerusalem's cavernous Church of the
 Holy Sepulchre and nearby 
Western Wall yielded a surprise. 
I  plan our large trips two and three years ahead, spending hours, days even weeks checking resources, making reservations, researching hotels, cruises, museums.  I scour brochures and the internet for car rental options, theater choices, eateries, hikes and outings that make the locale unique.  I consider the appeal of cities and towns themselves, weighing their strengths against our preferences.
A visit to Key Largo, Florida, prompted a cocktail party.
ONCE ON the road, though, I'm ready for adventure. I like to be happily surprised.  Good thing, because my partner-photographer Keller likes to explore.
A spontaneous city tour led us to one of South America's largest markets in the center of Sao Paulo Brazil. We're still enjoying the cumin and cinnamon from a wonderful spice shop, and we feasted for two days on the fruit.

An unplanned hike to a Costa Rica park introduced this lizard.
WE'VE TAKEN side roads that lead to dead ends, with cattle grazing in open range.  We've taken roads that lead to splendid vistas and riverbanks with migrating geese. Once, in remote eastern Spain, we stumbled upon a 12th Century village with only one other stroller and a golden lab snoozing in the sun.
BEING FLEXIBLE and curious on the road means having a more relaxing time.
 A recent  day trip in Guatemala produced friends to lunch with. 
I like to take off my watch on a sunny southern European morning. Shedding that reminder of time and the "real world" opens my mind and heart.
Our Costa Brava adventure last November yielded not only the beautiful village, but a small town with a hardware store!  Keller found a transformer to step our electronics down from 220 volts to 110.  He was a kid in the candy shop, in the Spanish version of Ace Hardware.
MEETING HELPFUL, friendly people is another bonus of flexible travel.
We've never had a problem getting grounded or back on track and we've been lost countless times.
Sailing off the beaten path yielded this lovely picnic setting near Seattle.
Don't be hesitant about pulling over into the farmer's yard if you see him baling hay.  He'll point you to the little lake down the road with a stunning view of the sunset. He'll tell you where to find watercress or a waterfall up the trail.
We happened upon a pretty park in Yuma, Arizona, which became our picnic stop on many trips between Phoenix and San Diego
ANOTHER TIME -- and this was a Keller solo -- we were touring Jerusalem with friends. Entering the Western Wall, honoring tradition, we went our separate ways -- men on the left side, women on the right, separated by a stone wall.
Keller and Cookie took time to be silly on a Las Vegas trip.
I watched from the female side as Keller followed a group of male mourners into a small room.
"Oh, my," I thought.  "He'll miss the 4 p.m. tour departure for the Church of the Holy Seplulchre.
He made the meeting time, though, wide eyed from his discovery.  He'd been invited to join the family as the kaddish was offered and took beautiful photos the rest of us missed.
IN COSTA Rica a few weeks ago, we took a hike on a trail recommended by new friends, and came upon a lizard who inflated his throat into an amazing red balloon!
Smelling the "flowers" in travel is literal and figurative.
In Guatemala, we met a couple from Sweden who invited us to sail with them and join them for lunch!
In Florida, we toured with two couples who invited us to a spontaneous cocktail hour and a fascinating boat ride where we came upon mating turtles.  Stopping to "smell the roses," we enjoyed a rare bloom in the ocean's garden.
IF YOU do get lost -- or lose your companion --  e calm.  Have a game plan before, as we do, that if you can't find one another you'll return to your last meeting place.
Finally, don't be afraid to be silly and have fun. Inspired by the crazy mix of people in
 Las Vegas a couple years ago, we changed our hair styles had  fun with a "punky" self portrait.
James Hayes, with his dog Millie, grows organic vegetables and makes wine in a
  northern California farm with a social conscience. Next up at

 NEXT UP:  California's north coast yields many pleasures, including this special farm, where wine is made and organic produce is grown and sold to a restaurant with healthy and tasteful delights for the palate.
We're about travel with a sense of fun and adventure.  Join us to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends at

1 comment:

  1. California DreamerJune 9, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    What a delightful place.
    Can anyone visit? Or must one be a relative.
    I like the sound and look of these folks and their idyllic setting.