Travel

 
Here we are on the coast of France, in the town of Toulon.
LIFE SHAPED BY ADVENTURE, TRIPS, NEW FOOD AND FACES
MAKES FOR CONTINUING FUN

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS

PHOTOS By BRUCE  KELLER

COUNTING DOWN! Our next big trip begins in a few months. We'll visit the Far East in February and March of 2016. By summer's end, we'd done 38 readings for the novel, "Lilian's Last Dance." This included readings in Europe and aboard the Serenade of the Seas during an Atlantic crossing. We read in Scandinavia, France, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Nova Scotia.
 If we don't have a ticket in the drawer, we're sad campers, for travel has shaped both of our lives.
Cookie's on a sailboat, not the paddle surfboard! Watch for Keller
on a surfboard, though, or deep sea diving!
KELLER grew up surfing near his Oceanside, Calif., home, and traveling to Mexico and Hawaii in search of more exciting places to ride the waves!   He lived two years in Saudi Arabia, doing undersea research and Red Sea exploration.
  I was born in Montana but being landlocked didn't stop my parents from seeing that I saw both oceans -- and plenty of land in between -- and that I had that important European exposure.
View from our favorite parador, Aiguablava, on Spain's Costa Brava. 
THE SIGHTS, sounds and scents of a new city excite me. If I don't have a trip or two planned, I feel anxious.  So it surprised no one when I announced at age 14 that I wanted to be a travel writer.  Through a series of lucky breaks and encouragement from editors, that, as the cliché goes, came to pass.  I’ve written for airline magazines and daily papers, including the San Francisco Examiner and Chicago Tribune.  I’ve been at it for more than 40 years -- journeys by plane, train, ship and rental car.  I’ve logged nearly ten million airline miles in my own version of “Up in the Air.”
MY MILES are on a half-dozen airlines, though, and my carry-on often contains two Yorkshire terriers.  Oh, yes, and I don’t keep a paramour on the side but I follow George Clooney’s character’s advice when choosing a TSA line: avoid one with children or the very elderly, large families and shabbily dressed people.
  Get behind a businessman with a small carry-on and his shoes, belt and computer already in the tray!
Cookie revels in the wonders of Ephesus.
Cookie in 1966, two years after
 the family's 1964 New York trip

 and the year of her first "adult"
trip abroad with girlfriends.
Cookie and Keller at a market in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
I've sipped champagne on an eleventh-floor ship veranda and fell off a camel in Egypt. All in the spirit of adventure, and the good far outweighs the unfortunate.

MY LIFE has been enriched by each trip, from short train journeys with


my grandmother to three-month forays in Europe, Asia and South America. I’ve danced on a table in Israel, tossed a note in a bottle into the sea off Bora Bora, played a 300-year old church organ in a Tuscan village, attended a cremation in Bali, fished for trout the size of salmon in New Zealand, shopped for carpet in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.  I’ve also had my purse sliced off my arm in Madrid, dropped a camera from a penthouse balcony and set off smoke alarms lighting candles in ship staterooms! (Bad Cookie.)
Clouds, turrets, splendor in southern Europe, here
the summer palace of the royal family in Lisbon.
          I BECAME a travel junkie during 80-mile round trips from Columbus, Montana, to the “big city” of Billings, in the heyday of train travel.   It was elegant, convenient and relaxing, treasured time with my beloved grandmother, Olive, who also taught me piano, the times tables and how to separate and plant cosmos seeds.  The journey took about 75 minutes in the 1950s, a meandering chug-chug-chug along the Yellowstone River valley with just enough time for lunch.  The tablecloths were linen, the service attentive, with lovely china and a silver vase containing a single red rose.

AFTER MUSIC lessons, my sister, Peny, Gram and I would stay at the Northern Hotel, go shopping at Hart-Albin, see a movie at the Fox, Babcock or Dolly, eat a leisurely dinner in the Golden Belle, have room service breakfast and take the morning train back home.

Keller and Cookie enjoy the splendors of  Lisbon's Belem Castle.
           Our family’s 1964 trip to the New York World’s Fair, also by train, established my lifelong love of that transportation mode and introduced me to Broadway theater (more about that in theater tab).  Our family took to New York and New England with unabashed gusto, reveling in side trips to Hyannisport and Nantucket, Plymouth and South Carver, Providence, Washington, D.C., and more.  We climbed into the torch of the Statue of Liberty, strolled the paths of Mount Vernon, saw “My Fair Lady” in the round at the Plymouth Playhouse and had orchestra seats for “Oliver” on Broadway, the year it won many Tony Awards.  
Portugal's famous Maritime Museum.
          BOTH MY late husbands, Bruce Meyers and Bill Jones, shared my love of travel and I’ve seen the world with them.  My late sister, Peny, and I made a ritual of our San Francisco weekends with plays at the Geary and American Conservatory Theater, dinner at the Mark Hopkins and a room at the St. Francis.  I’ve spent weeks in New York, at the Plaza, Ritz Carlton and Parker Meridien, toured Europe several times with my late sister, Robbie, and with her spent three weeks in the former Soviet Union shortly before its demise and the fall of the Berlin Wall.



A stroll topside entertains this fellow cruiser.
  I'VE CELEBRATED on cruise ships with my late mother, Ellen, my brother, Rick, and sisters Robbie, Olivia and Misha.  How we loved the Queen Elizabeth II – I logged seven Atlantic Crossings before she was retired to an uncertain future in  Dubai.  And, ah, the wonders of the Sea Goddess, the venerable old Norway (once the SS France), and my favorite contemporary vessel, Crystal’s gorgeous and pampering Serenity.
   Brother Patrick and I spent a wonderful weekend in Lake Tahoe, where we sprinkled some of Bruce’s ashes, and I’m continuing to cultivate the travel chip with the next generation – niece Amarylla joined us on a sailing out of Amsterdam.
    
Just in time for the holidays, last year, "Two Wise Men"
on an adventure in Tenerife.
WITH MY partner, Bruce Keller, I’ve enjoyed and written about many  trips to Europe, South  America, Australia, New Zealand and the Carribean.  We’re reveling about our last journey to the Holy Land, and a return to Turkey and the magnificent ruins of Ephesus.  I’ve written about that all here, including a recent seven-week odyssey "Down Under." Barcelona and the Costa Brava remain high on our "return" list. We're hoping to head "North to Alaska" again.
Remember to explore, learn and live.
And catch us some weekdays and every weekend at:
www.whereiscookie.com

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