Saturday, July 5, 2008

Traveling Mercies


By Kirsten Scott

I've been doing a lot of traveling lately.

Now, when I say a lot, I don't mean the "commuting to work and leaving town for the weekend" sort of traveling. I mean the "Washington DC, Denver, Los Angeles, Montana, and Florida in one month and home to Oregon in between" sort of traveling. So if you've noticed that I've been scare around the Lair, that's why. I'm actually writing this blog while on vacation on Sanibel Island at a family reunion. The internet connections here are few and far between, and not particularly consistent, so I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

The amazing thing is, besides being completely exhausted and ready to stay home for a few weeks (until San Francisco, that is!), I've actually been loving all of the places I've been. Yes, I've been homesick, and yes, I've often repeated Dorothy's words in my head to remind myself that I CAN get back home, but I've also had some amazing experiences along the way. So I thought I'd share them with you!

My first stop was Washington DC. I was there for a work-related conference, and got to stay at a great hotel two blocks from the White House. Now, I don't care how cynical or jaded you think you are -- the sight of the Mall, the Capital, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial will make you stop and stare, open-mouthed with pride. I have been to DC a handful of times, and every time I get that giddy, full-of-awe feeling when I look around and think about how amazing this country is and how incredible were the people who built it.

Next stop: Denver, Colorado. I was only in Denver for 24 hours, but while there I got to see my brother and take a walk outside along Cherry Creek. Visiting with my brother was the best part of that trip (though seeing the mountains is always a treat). He's much younger than I am, and I still think of him as my baby brother, even though he's within spitting distance of 30. He's doing great -- he has a beautiful, sweet wife, an adorable little dog, and new job with Apple that keeps him traveling even more than me. In short, he's a successful guy with a lovely family, and I still want to muss his hair and pull him into my LAP when I see him. How ridiculous is that? (By the way, that's his little dog. Isn't she cute?)

In Los Angeles, I attended BEA (Book Expo America) and met up with Bandita Kate!! This was so much fun. You know we Banditas are all buddies, but many of us have never met in real life, only chatted over the internet, so the face-to-face is awesome. I admit, I walked right past Kate at BEA, and she had to scream my name for me to recognize her. San Francisco will be even worse. Thank goodness for name tags! I can't put faces with names to save my life. But Kate is just as charming and intelligent and kind as you would imagine, and I hope I get to walk around with her again very soon.

I was in Whitefish, Montana for another conference, right outside Glacier National Park. It was breathtaking. There has been a tremendous amount of rain this year, so everything is green and lush, and the rivers are double their usual size. I took a trail ride in the mountains and bought myself a cowboy hat, and decided when Oprah picks up my book and I become a millionaire, I'm going to buy a few acres in Montana and spend the summers there. But not the winters. I'm too weak for that.

Finally, Florida. I have a seven and five year old, so you can imagine where I spent two of our days. HINT: think mouse. But by far the most fun we had was going to Weikiwa State Park, where we swam in a spring-fed lake and canoed among the turtles and huge, tropical fish. A close second to that was touring the wildlife refuge on Sanibel, where we saw a three-foot gator, incredible birds, and (hopefully later tonight!) a dolphin.

So I've been to the biggest of cities, the dead center of the country, the mountains and the swamps. And this is an incredible country! Now tell me about where you live. What makes it special to you? The scenery? The people? The buildings? The wildlife? Tell me about your hometown -- and if you can convince me I've got to leave home for a visit, I'll send you a $15 AMAZON gift certificate!

77 comments:

Helen said...

Do I have the GR for a visit

Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

Great post Kirsten I love travelling and seeing new places although I don't get to do it at often as I would like to.

As you all know I live in Sydney NSW Australia and have lived here always I have been to Victoria and South Australia and Queensland and have seen some wonderful places I have a sister who lives in Queensland and try and get up there to visit her whenever I can we usually drive because Hubby and I love road trips and we stop a lot a along the way to do some sight seeing, I am going to Melbourne next Feb for the first Australian Romance Readers Convention I have a nephew who lives in Melbourne now and we are staying with him to keep costs down we haven't been to Melbourne since our honeymoon 31 years ago so we are really looking forward to that trip I can't wait to meet the authors that will be attending.

Our capitol is Canberra which is about a 3 hour drive from Sydney and our parliment house is beautiful I have done a guided tour of it a couple of times very expensive to build but worth it there are lots of sites in Canberra and the city is built in a circle (which I musy say we have got lost in a few times) a lovely place to visit. I will let Anna and Christine tell you all how beautiful Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef is.

Love the pictures Kirsten the little dog is so cute.

The Gr will be having dinner tonight with all of the family so he will have some little playmates to keep him copmany and I will keep my eye on him. LOL
Have Fun
Helen

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, you do, Helen! Lucky you? I am beginning to wonder after recent revelations about his questionable "activities!"

Kirsten, I am so jealous. Even though I am sure it was loads of fun, I understand completely the desire to come home after a long period away.

What do I like about my hometown? Hmmm. I know I joke about the way some people dress and about the rampant redneck behavior, but Wetumpka really is a sweet little town. If you have seen the movie BIG FISH or the movie THE GRASS HARP, you have seen "downtown" Wetumpka.

The courthouse is one of those stately old buildings that presides over the town square. Walk around town and you will find a quaint old fashioned drug store and my favorite spot in the world - Tammy's Book Basket. There is a great picture of Tammy's front window on Anna C's site as Tammy featured both of La Campbell's books in her Christmas display. Next door to Tammy's is a homestyle restaurant - Lil Sam's. There is a set menu for each day of the week (closed on Sunday, of course) and while all of the food is good, I recommend Tuesdays as that is beef tips and rice with homemade gravy, fresh green beans (as in they were on the vine yesterday) and creamed corn with corn bread.

The best thing about this town is the people. I love hearing "Hey, Miss Pam. How are you, Miss Pam? Got that book published yet, Miss Pam?" when I walk down the street. I like that the Fed Ex man delivers my packages to the Wal-Mart bakery because he knows that is where I work and it saves him a trip on the worst dirt road in the history of dirt roads.

Everyone's favorite weekend spot is Lake Jordan, just a few miles from my house. It is a gorgeous lake with many beautiful vistas and some of the best amateur water skiing displays you will ever see.

Then, of course there is the spot where the meteor fell about a billion years ago. Basically a HUGE valley carved out by the crash of a meteor. There are walking trails all around it and some really lovely scenery.

The most beautiful spot in Wetumpka is Jasmine Hill Gardens. A lovely old couple of Greek extraction had turned acres and acres of their property into a piece of ancient Greece. Hundreds of statues imported from Greece are surrounded by some of the most unique and incredibly beautiful gardens you have ever scene. If you visit any weekend in the summer you are very likely to see a wedding in progress.

I think that is what I like the most. You have Greek gardens in the same town as an annual tractor pull. You have a pie eating contest after the Children's Fourth of July Parade and you have a fantastic little theatre troupe who turned the now defunct Winn Dixie into a terrific and up to date community theatre. You have movies filmed here because the city looks the same as it did a hundred years ago and you also have the White Water Canoing Extreme Canoing Championships.

So, when are you coming to visit? I will put on the kettle and brew up some Earl Gray. We'll eat some scones and maids of honor cakes. Then we'll wander downtown and browse through Tammy's before we go to Lil Sam's for supper!

Keira Soleore said...

I thought for sure I'd be the first Stateside Bandit-friend to be be here but Louisa beat me to it (fireworks over in AL, hm?). Of course, Helen, you have us both beat!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Louisa, I wanna come for a visit! That sounds fantastic! And as you know, I'm a fellow tea drinker so I'll fit right in. And I definitely want to eat at the cafe!

Helen, congrats on the bird. Has he settled down yet?

I live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Subtropical which means lots of palm trees and plants that look like they want to eat you (philodendrons can look quite primeval when they take over a garden!). I'm about five minutes walk from the Pumicestone Passage which is where Moreton Bay finishes and flows out into the Pacific. It's actually Australia's largest tern sanctuary - aren't you glad you know that? Actually the birds are my favorite bit of living here. We've got lots of parrots - lorikeets and rosellas in amazing colours, water birds like herons and ducks and gulls and pelicans, magpies and willie wagtails and butcher birds and, well, you're getting the picture. And the lizards - primeval little dinosaurs that think they own the place. Cool!

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, looks like you've had a busy but stimulating time. The more I read about the United States the more I realize how diverse and interesting the country is. San Fran will be my first time there and I wish I had more leisure to explore.

Funny you should ask why we like our towns. I got up at 5am this morning to get some pages done and heard the kookaburras laughing at the rising sun and thought how much I love living in Brisbane.

Fo can keep her lizards though! Unless they're small and cute I'm not crazy about those.

Helen--I've never been to the Barrier Reef. Isn't that terrible? Hoping to go soon, though, when dh is on sabbatical. Congrats on the GR! Hope you get him fat and happy on lots of Tim Tams.

Helen said...

Louisa you have won me I want to come and visit I would love to have a cuppa with you and walk around the town.

Anna totally agree love the birds we gets lots a lorikeets in our backyard here in suburban Sydney and Christine we still hear the occaisonal kookaburra I love hearing them.

And I forgot to mention Sydney Harbour that is something everyone should see at least once absolutley beautiful sailing through the heads on a cruise ship the only way to go.
And so far the GR is behaving himself we have had some Tim Tams and a bit of a rest before everyone arrives.

Have Fun
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, you SHARED your Tim Tams? Now, that I'd like to see! ;-)

kim h said...

well stockton, ca was named an 2 time all american city. we have our aspaugus festival, nice arenas.

Helen said...

Anna I did let him have a couple I don't want him to get to big to travel and I did force myself to let him have them.

We are having a rest now the grandkids have gone home and they really tired him out Jayden wanted to give him dog bisciuts that he was "cooking" LOL

Have Gun
Helen

Maureen said...

Hi Kirsten,
It's great that as you are going here, there and everywhere you can appreciate all the places you've been. Since you have a 5 and 7 year old you would enjoy our area since we live ten minutes from Sesame Place. If you like history there's Washington's Crossing to visit.

Eva S said...

I'd love to travel more and visit you all but you're all so very far away from my hometown!
I live in a small town called Pargas on an island in the Archipelago Sea in Finland. This archipelago is really beautiful, the largest in the world by the number of islands, although many of them are only small rocks or skerries.
Here are some beautiful pictures http://www.saaristo.org/eng/index.htm

We don't have many old buildings or big events here but Turku, one of our oldest and biggest city,isn't far away,if you'd like to visit Turku Castle, dating from 1280s or the 700 years old Turku Cathedral.

And I like the people here too, a small town and everybody knows you (ok, when I was young it wasn't always so fun!) and cares about you. Now in July Pargas is filled with people,tourists and it's great to meet old friends here on vacation.

Buffie said...

Kirsten, sounds like you have been having a wonderful time traveling. Hope you are having a blast in Sanibel -- my old stomping grounds!

I live is a very small town called Locust Grove. It was named for all the beautiful locust trees that are all around the city. The town is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta and 40 minutes north of Macon. Since we are close to the interstate, the major attraction is the outlet mall which is actually on the outskirts of town. But that is not where you can find the charm.

In the mid 1800s the city was a major rail distribution center for cotton, peaches, and other farm products. Sherman and his troops marched through Locust Grove after the burning of Atlanta.

We are basically your average small Georgia town. On the north end of town is, naturally, a peach grove. We took the boys there a few weeks ago, and picked peaches, raspberries, and blueberries. They had so much fun walking around that place!

The city building is a huge, beautiful brick building that was originally built in 1894 to house the Locust Grove Institute, which was founded by a local church and Mercer University. The Locust Grove Institute was a college prep school and one of the first schools in Georgia to be certified. The grounds of the facility are beautify -- green grass and trees and red geraniums. There is a small park for the kids to play.

The small downtown part of the city is filled with little shops, including a great little store called The Zebra House. It has so many unique gift ideas. There's the pharmacy with a soda fountain, and the local little diner.

We live a few miles outside of town. My favorite thing to do is to sit in the rocking chair on my front porch, looking at all the green trees and plants and listening to the faint sound of the train blasting its horn. Sounds like home to me.

Gannon Carr said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen!

Great blog, Kirsten. I live in a lovely little town in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina called Valle Crucis. We just moved here about a year ago and we just love the charm and beauty of this area. Here's a blurb about Valle Crucis from the vallecrucis.com website:

"Nestled high in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina is a peaceful rural community that has stayed untouched over the years. When Levi Ives, the second Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, visited the area in the 1840s he looked into the valley from a hillside, noticed three streams forming the shape of a St. Andrew’s cross and deemed the location Valle Crucis, Latin for “Vale of the Cross.” Pronounced valley crew’sis, the bucolic area was first formally settled over 200 years ago and is a place that historians and visitors alike have called "uncommon."

The community has grown in recent years, as the valley’s scenic beauty and majestic quality continuously mesmerizes residents and draws visitors from throughout the world. Located in Watauga County, near Boone and only a few hours from the hustle and bustle of bigger cities, day and weekend getaways are possible, but most eventually return for a much longer stay.

Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first rural historic district and the entire community is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nationally recognized historic buildings are abound in Valle Crucis, with many like The Baird House (1790), The Mast Farm Inn (1812), the Old Episcopal Mission (1842) and the Mast General Store (1883), restored to their initial splendor and still serving the area today."

The entire High Country is a popular tourist destination, especially in the summer. Loads of Floridians come up here to escape the heat. I grew up in Florida, and I had no desire to move back there--too hot, too many large bugs!

Valle Crucis has 4 ski resorts within 25 minutes; Appalachian State University is in Boone (15 min. away); Grandfather Mountain (25 min), a fantastic place to hike or visit their nature reserve, and home of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (largest clan gathering in the world) which will be next weekend--we never miss it!

But even with all of these wonderful places to see, my favorite place is in the rocking chair on my front porch, looking over the valley with the mountains in the distance. It's my little slice of heaven.

Lois said...

I've been to oh so few places, and never outside the US, but you did forget one place in Florida -- Kennedy Space Center. THere might be a shuttle on the launch pad that you can see, but most especially, something I never did, see a launch. Granted, they are always better on tv because of closeups and zooms and that stuff, but still, to say you saw one in person, gotta be pretty cool. :)

Other than that, there was the drive to Gettysburg, not for what Gettysburg is known for, but for the Boyds Bear store. ;)

Lois

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh my, I was all set to pitch the beautiful state of WV but I think I want to go see Louisa now. :::Dianna going off to ponder the highlights of WV before posting again::::

Kirsten said...

Congratulations on the GR Helen! Though after skimming through his blog the other day (I haven't had a chance to catch up on all I missed yet!) I'm very concerned. Do I understand correctly that he's some sort of spy?

With a French accent?!

Kirsten said...

Helen, you don't need to say much to convince me to visit Sydney -- the pictures I have seen of the harbor look incredible! And isn't that gorgeous building in the harbor the Opera house? Perhaps we should bring Louisa over and have her sing for us there!

Your road trip sounds great fun and enjoy that conference -- there are few things in life more wonderful than hanging out with a bunch of romance writers. ;-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Kirsten, the first thing you have to do is search your house for surveillance equipment. And look real good because he is a sneaky bird.

Kirsten said...

Louisa, I can see this will be very difficult. I am already sold on Australia and now you're making got me all tangled up. Your town sounds just lovely -- and what a fabulous description. You should be a writer!! LOL.

I love the combination of tractor pull and Greek statutes, and the homemade gravy...YUM. I would love to see the extreme canoeing, too. Somehow "extreme" and "canoe" seem like they shouldn't go together, don't you think? ;-)

When I was going to school in North Carolina, I used to drive home through West Virginia (I am from Buffalo, NY), and I was always struck by how gorgeous it was. I do hope I get to have the cuppa with you sometime!!

Kirsten said...

Anna, I'm afraid that you didn't help your cause by mentioning the lorikeets. I love birds (we just did a fantastic bird watch on Sanibel island) but they have a lorikeet exhibit in our zoo and those birds are terrifying!! Very Hitchcock. They give you cups of juice to feed them, and they land on you and make an unbelievable amount of noise and are far more aggressive than little birds ought to be (shudder).

Now the other birds, the palms, the primitive plants and animals, that all sounds great. But the lorikeets? Not so much. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Christine, didn't you blog once about the gigantic SNAKES that invade your house on occasion?

Hmmm....and you've got lorikeets, too?

Louisa Cornell said...

Y'all come on down or over or whichever direction it takes! We have an annual Readers Luncheon which usually features mystery authors, but I know they would love to see all of you! We always get a good review from the authors who attend as their goodie bags include homemade fudge - peanut butter, chocolate, white chocolate and a variety with nuts oh and peppermint fudge - from the little gift shoppe on the town square.

You may have to wait because I want to come to Australia!! You girls live in paradise, truly! La Campbell, you had me at "parrots" and "lizards!" I am an avid bird watcher and I owned parrots for years. Well, I owned some really big lizards too. Just the scenery you ladies described alone would be worth the visit!

And Eva, your slice of Finland sounds heavenly and fascinating. We really need a Bandita World Tour, don't we? Complete with the GR, Gladiators and Cabana Boys to schlepp the luggage.

Gannon, I am so jealous. I have seen travel shows about Valle Crucis. It is GORGEOUS! And that view from your porch! We'll just come and sit on your porch for a few days!

Buffie, I've been to Locust Grove and it is a lot like my little town of Wetumpka - small, historic, quaint.

Oh, and ladies, I forgot to mention that Wetumpka has gambling! The Poarch Creek Indians have a casino set up on the property they got back from the city about ten years ago. Seems the city fathers leased the land from those wiley old Indians, but forgot to read the small print. The lease was only for 100 years! The tribe decided not to renew the lease as the land is some of the prettiest riverfront property you have ever seen!

Kirsten said...

Hi Kim! Thanks for popping by! You know, I had to google Stockton to find out where it is, and discovered that it was the first inland seaport in California! Who knew?! :-)

It sounds like you've got a lot of agriculture there and I bet the asparagus festival is great fun. I love local festivals. We went to the 4th of July parade on Sanibel Island and it was so fun. Everyone decorated their cars and threw candy at the kids and had a blast. I'll take that over some fancy fireworks display any day!

Joan said...

Tea is lovely, Louisa, Anna and Helen but where I live it's...Bourbon!

Seriously, I love to see new places and am psyched about going to SF. Not just for the city and the fact that I've never seen the Pacific Ocean but because I get to see....THE BANDITAS!!!

I could look up all the statistics and Tourist Board info about Louisville, KY but I'll just dive into a few.

We truly are a metropolitan city but with a small town feel. Our encompassed areas are divided into specific, unique ones....Irish Hill, Germantown, Highlands, Smoketown, and the burbs Shively, Jeffersontown and my own little spot Pleasure Ridge Park. Yes, my little piece of Louisville used to be THE place for city dwellers to take a train out to, stay at the Paine Motel, listen to music, have picnics and enjoy "nature".

Old Louisville has one of the largest (if not THE largest) concentration of restored Victorian homes. They have a festival each fall called St. James Art Fair. A very prestigious journeyed fine arts event.

We were a major port in river traffic and one of our enclaves of Irish folk took care of boat business at Portland.

And the Highlands? Well, it's our Hatte Asbury :-)

I could go on and on but suffice to say Louisville has one great thing going for it...it's home.

Kirsten said...

Maureen, I have got to visit Washington Crossing! And I've got a sister in Philadelphia, so I've got another reason to come visit! :-) Sesame Place looks adorable, though I might start screaming uncontrollably if I had to listen to Elmo's voice all day. ;-)

Kirsten said...

Eva, those pictures are gorgeous! I would absolutely love to visit Finland (and I would stop by Latvia while I was over there, so I could see where my mom was born). Has your weather changed a lot over the past few years? Do you get less snow over the summers than you used to?

The water and the islands are absolutely extraordinary -- I 'm not sure how I could ever choose between all these options! :-)

Kirsten said...

Okay, Helen, did you mean to write "Have Gun"?

I guess the GR is really rough these days! Yeesh! :-)

Kirsten said...

Buffie, when I'm done with all my travels, I definitely want to come stay with you and hang out on one of those rocking chairs. Yum. It sounds just heavenly and so relaxing! And the fruit picking would be great, love those peaches (but someone has to peel them for me -- I can't stand the fuzz!).

I thought about you as we explored Sanibel, by the way! It's really a gorgeous place. Lots of mosquitos and a bit hot this time of year, so we didn't get out as much as I would have liked. We did spend HOURS in the water (perfect temp, perfect for swimming for the kids, perfect shells and sand...) and the Oregon beaches are going to seem very different now that we've experienced Sanibel! :-)

Kirsten said...

Oh Gannon, you've mentioned my second favorite place in the world (besides Oregon, of course) -- the NC mountains!! I spent a lot of time in Pisgah National Forest when I was in college and I dream a lot about those beautiful green mountains. Valle Crusis does sound like a piece of heaven on earth. I would love to come for a visit. We will have to go for a hike, of course, and try not to get lost in all the dense rhododendrons and the lush forests. I would love to see all the historic places and spend some time chatting over a sweet tea. :-) Thanks for sending me down memory lane!

Kirsten said...

Lois, my sister in law and her kids (10 and 13) went to Kennedy for the day and just loved it. It's a bit too much for my little ones, but when they're older, it will definitely be on our "to do" list! :-)

Kirsten said...

You know, I thought Louisa was in WV -- I see, Dianna, you're in WV? I love WV! It's beautiful! You barely need to sell me on it! :-)

Kirsten said...

Joan, I spent two weeks in Louisville (Lou-i-ville, right?) in high school. My best friend was from there, and we went back and stayed with her family who had lived there for literally hundreds of years. They had a huge old house and I remember spending time running around listening to the old wood floors creaking. I also remember a 3rd degree sunburn I got from being in the pool all day! But it was beautiful and I completely appreciate why you love it! :-) Thanks for popping by -- and I can't wait to meet the other Banditas either! San Fran here we come!!

Kirsten said...

Well, we are headed out for a little swimming. I will check in later today!! Enjoy the sun, everyone! :-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Yes Kirsten, I am the one in WV, if Louisa were here too I would be trying to talk her into letting me read her book before anyone else does.
I am so, so glad I don't have to talk you into visiting. I think WV is a very visual state, you just have to see it to believe it, I am not a writer so I don't have the words to describe the beauty and grace that is West Virginia.
We are an outdoorsman's dream come true. Mountains to climb, white waters to raft, birds to watch, rivers to fish, we have it all in abundance.

Minna said...

Well, if you love countryside, then Kiihtelysvaara would be the right place to visit. And the nearest town is worth to see, too. Especially at summer. There's plenty of things going on at the market place in Joensuu. Oh yeah, and we have an annual mushroom carnival in Kiihtelysvaara.

By the way, Pargas is also called Parainen. And Turku is also called Åbo. In certain parts of Finland places have both Swedish and Finnish names.

Wendy said...

HI Kirsten!

I'm jealous, I'd love to travel. So far I've only been to Miami (about a month) New Jersey (another month) and Tampa, FL (about 8 years - and counting!)

I admit, at first I didn't like living here at all, mostly 'cause of the weather, it's just so hot! And I've gone from hate to a slight dislike. So I'm making progress lol.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - you give a whole new meaning to jet lag. Hope you get some time to decompress before that long flight home.

Great post! I'm really enjoying all the comments and all the places I'm putting on my to-be-visited list. The sad thing is - I've traveled to most of the big cities in the US, but the real charm of the country is in the small towns, the rocking chair on the porch in the mountains, on the lakefront, on the beach. At the hometown fourth of July parades and pie eating contests. You don't see those when you go to the big cities.

I'm not sure central Ohio is a great tourist attraction, or a great place to visit (unless you come to visit me *g*)- but it's a wonderful place to live. We get all four seasons, none too extreme. We don't get hurricanes, or massive woodland fires. We're high so no flood worries (down state along the river maybe, but not in central Ohio). We get a rare tornado threat, but it usually falls runs out of steam before it gets here. It's extremely green in Ohio, I think that surprises most travelers.

The people are wonderful here. Very, very friendly, honest and forthright. It's a wonderful place to raise a family, but no disney castles, or must-see historical attractions (other than the occasional Indian mound). Just wonderful people enthusiastic about sharing their homes and their barbeques while the kids run about the street with sparklers.

Ellen said...

First let me say that I so agree with what you said about Washington, DC. I have been there 4 times and it is absolutely amazing. I particularly enjoyed the Smithsonian. I have been to Colorado 4 times (twice to Colorado Springs; once to Denver; and once to Estes Park and everytime a side trip to Rocky Mtn National Park.
I have also been to Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park.
Now having said that I live in Texas on the coast and there is a national seashore not more than a few minutes away. I also live only a few blocks from a bay so I can walk down to the water and it is very soothing.

Jennifer Y. said...

Hmm...

Well, I am from Stone Mountain, Georgia...home of a giant granite mountain. The mountain and it's park are probably what the city is most known for...if you are willing to pay to get into the park you can find all kinds of things to do and during the summer you can view the Laser Show...a nightly extravaganza involving lasers and the side of the giant mountain. I have fond memories as a child of going to see the Laser Show and fireworks with my family...it was a real treat. I haven't done it in years though.

And because I was curious, I looked it up and my city was chartered in 1839 making it the second oldest city in the county. The city area itself has an old-timey town feel with little shops (including a Stone Mountain Handbags store...which apparently is something else we are famous for...fashion-challenged me had no clue though until a few years ago). The rest of the area is mostly suburbs.

Our closest big city is Atlanta. We are about 15 miles east of Atlanta. Atlanta is famous for quite a bit...some good, some bad.

I guess I like my hometown because it has a big-city feel and conveniences without a lot of the inconvenieces life in a big city may provide...yet it still has some of that small town charm (particularly in the Stone Mountain Village shopping area).

There's plenty to do here that is within driving distance, so you can't get bored really. And if you want to go downtown, but hate traffic, you can always hop on the bus or on MARTA (our subway system) and go...the buses and train run here.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Kirsten! Are you trying to rival Aunty with all your gadding about? Well, it will be good to have you back in the Lair for a few days before we all head off to San Francisco.

While Aunty as not quite been everywhere (haven't been to Finland or West Virginia), I've been to most places mentioned and they all have their charms (BIG YUM on the Stockton aspargus festival). One of the things I loved most about Australia (and there were SOOO many things) was the birds! So many different kinds and so colorful! And lorikeets in the wild are not nearly so obnoxious as those in captivity.

I happen to live in the capital of California. *GASP* NO, not LA or San Francisco, but good old Sacramento. And because I live in a capital city, when I travel I try to visit state capitals whenever I can. I highly recommend this! Most of the buildings are quite beautiful, open to the public, and if they don't have guided tours, then they have self tours of the inside.

Utah, Georgia, and Montana's capital buildings are almost identical to California's and all are modeled on the US Capitol dome in DC. Many others are too. A couple of unique ones that are not domes are the high rise in Louisiana, the modified French chateau in New York, and what looks like an over-grown carriage house in Delaware! One capital I've somehow missed seeing is Florida. Can't believe I've never made it to Tallahassee, must correct this grievous oversight...

Congrats on the GR, Helen, I think. Glad the grandkids kept him busy.

AC

Anna Campbell said...

I'm really enjoying hearing about everybody's home town. Thanks, guys.

Kirsten, you're right about the lorikeets. They're gorgeous - the most amazing colours, red and green and blue. An English friend of mine calls them flying stained glass windows. But they're BULLIES!!! The poor rosellas (also very pretty but more subtle colours) just can't compete with them. And like all bullies, the lorikeets move in gangs which makes them even more aggressive towards other birds. And noisy! Man, a train whistling in a tunnel makes less noise!

Nonetheless, they are beautiful! A bit like the supermodels of the bird world. Demanding, spoilt, difficult, temperamental, but it's hard to hate something so pretty!

Hey, meant to say the dog is WAY cute!

Anna Campbell said...

Ellen, there's something wonderful about being able to walk down to the water and just chill out, isn't there?

Eva, I want to come back to FINLAND!!!

Louisa, I wanna come to the readers lunch. You had me at fudge!

Actually, Cindy, you're right about the wild lorikeets not being Hitchcock critters. Actually they're the clowns of the bird world and are quite funny to watch. And they certainly won't attack you or anything! A nesting magpie, however, will swoop you and they have a razor sharp bill and they can do quite a lot of damage. But they have a gorgeous voice (the Louisas of the bird world?) and they're really handsome so I tend to forgive them that too. And they're only protecting their young - it's not because they're naturally vicious.

I love kookaburras too. On the farm where I grew up, we had lots of them, not so many up here. I'm not sure why. As Christine says, Brisbane has lots of them. That's a bird with personality!

Eva S said...

Kirsten, it's true, our weather has changed a lot over the past years, rainy, cold summers and rather warm,rainy winters with only little snow. Nothing like it justed to be when I was a kid...

I forgot to tell you about our Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights, I wish I could take you to see them! In northern Finland a long summer day lasts for over two months and here in my hometown in the south the night in July isn't dark, it's only twilight.

Wonderful places you all have, I wish I could visit them all, especially Australia!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Fo,
I LURVED the kookaburras! The first one I saw (not in a zoo) was sitting on a light post in a small coastal town just north of Sydney. Also loved the cockatoos. But I think my favorite is that pretty grey and pink galah.

Magpies are rather aggressive around here too, but not as much as the scrub jays. Those lil buggers will dive-bomb dogs, cats, and people, and they have very harsh sounding voices.

Suzanne Welsh said...

OOMG!! Inara, you were at WeekiWachi? I used to live in a town near there!! My kids had season passes to the park and spent at least half their summer in that dang cold spring fed creek!!!

Okay you guys, that was my favorite part of living in Florida, that and the fact that we could drive 2 hours to Disney World, stay for fireworks and drive home again!

Glad you're enjoying the Sanibel stay, too. We never quite made it there. We did stay in a beach house of friends a time or two, but that was on the other coast.

catslady said...

I live in a large - small hometown - Pittsburgh. We're known for our friendliness. We also have every type of sport from The Pgh. Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. We have lots of museums - Carnegie to Andy Warhol and more and the Pgh. zoo. We have the Pgh. Symphony and many live plays or small local ones. We have hiking/biking trails and 3 rivers that all covnerge at the Point. There's boating and fishing. Of course there are many malls or quaint shopping areas. Lots of night life and/or quiet dining. Alas our casino isn't quite done but soon. We have Kennywood which is known for it's old wooden coasters or newer versions. I'm sure there's more and there's hardly anything you can't do here :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay, y'all are, by turns, making me homesick for western NC (where I'm from originally), proud of my current home (DC area) and eager to see some more of the world! :>

AC, I LURVE the state capitol buildings too. Wait till you see the one in WV! It's GORGEOUS. The dome is painted in gilt and this gorgeous shade of lapis blue. It just vibrates in the sun. The NC one is impressive too, but more for it's solid presence rather than for any gilt or dome.

I so want to see Kookaburras and lorrikeets and galahs. *jealous pout* I love birds. When I went to Kenya they started calling me the Bird Lady. I got these great pictures of a martial eagle, and lilac rollers...gorgeous.

As to visiting, Kirsten, come to DC again and let us take you on a guided tour. The Jefferson Monument at night is a sight to behold. Talk about taking your breath away! And there's the spy museum. Grins. Fab-o. The museums alone are worth a visit, but the sheer simple grandeur of the Capitol, the White House, the Washington Monument will boggle the mind. Kirsten did you stay at the Hilton, the St. Regis or the Hay Adams? My DH works right there at 16th and I, two blocks from the White House. :> You could have waved at him.

Next year, when you're all in DC, we'll do a tour, it'll be SO fun!!!

As to my hometown, Boomer, NC, it's like Valle Crucis for gorgeous scenery, but it's only got one flashing stoplight, about five churches, a community center, store, etc. I truly think of Asheville more as "home" since two of my sibs live there. What a fab town. Kirsten, you've been there, right? You mentioned Pisgah, so you were up there amongst it. You made me homesick with the talk of the thick rhodo thickets. I could "see" the laurels, the rocks springing through the earth giving you a place to rest while you appreciate the wonders laid out before you. Ahhhh. Pisgah. :>

Of course, WV and AL have such wonders too. And I love Stone Mtn. I lived in Atlanta for a while and got to visit the park. It reminded me of Rumbling Bald at Lake Lure, NC (Where Dirty Dancing was filmed). Gawgeous.

Okay, I could go on and on and on...I love Sanibel too...

Amy S. said...

I live in Manchester, Ky. It's a small town in Southeastern Kentucky. We have the Daniel Boone national forest and the Appalachians around us. I found an area pic to show the mountains.

http://www.city-data.com/picfilesv/picv21148.php

Pat Cochran said...

I live in Houston, Texas, the one and only place I have ever lived! We are the home of one of the world's most outstanding Medical Centers. Within the city itself,
or within easy driving reach, are several educational institutions, museums, shopping centers, Galveston for the beach and the Gulf of Mexico, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Pres. G.H.W. Bush's Presidential Library, and so much more. The entire state offers something for everyone!

Pat Cochran

anne said...

Travelling is the most enjoyable and enticing fun there is. Learning about new places and seeing them for the first time is uplifting and inspiring.
Where I live the climate is ideal all year, the sun shines constantly, the sky is blue and the vistas stretch forever. The sheer majesty and beauty of this area is unsurpassed. Many who visit here are entranced, surprised and enthralled. The locale is unique and historic, a hidden gem within the Southwest. Living here has brought me great happiness, joy and many years of exploring this region that I appreciate. A genuine, down to earth beauty that outshines everything else. Albuquerque has it all. Mountains, mesas, culture, endless skies and gorgeous sunsets, fascinating history and interesting adventures that await.

brownone said...

I'll tell ya I live in a wonderful area! I'm in Ocala, which is about one hour north of Orlando and its wonderful! We have Silver Springs which also has a water park attached to it, we have a forest with wonderful camping and trails if that floats your boat, and this is horse country! You can catch a rodeo or find a farm to ride! We moved here about 8 years ago from Miami and I have yet to regret it!

Helen said...

All these posts are making want to visit everywhere there really are some wonderful places in this world.
Yes Kirsten the Sydney Opera House is defiantly a place to see and I would love to see Louisa singing there. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all get together and travel around to see all these wonderful places. I could see myself on Buffie's porch with a great book a cuppa and I would supply the Tim Tams. Too many places that I would love to go and see.

Have Fun
Helen

Joan said...

Lou-i-ville, right?

LOL, Kirsten. Well the Convention folks would insist it is "Lou a vuhl"....Few people round here really care but it does sell T-shirts!

Our local zoo has a lorikeet exhibit. You get to go stand in their midst for like 15 min. at a time. They land on you and chirp and carry on. I've yet to do this as I do not have a HAT! But they are beautiful.

The birds in Ireland always were warbling, chirping especially in the morning. I have no real clue what type they were...but they warbled with a lilt :-)And I spotted a quail sitting on top of a stone pillar. Got real close and we gave each other the eye....cool to me.

Currently, I have a mockingbird who has...since the very start of spring....stationed himself at the top of a street light pole opposite my driveway. Every morning and evening he sits there singing and fussing and using every bit of bird language he knows...just for the heck of it.

I suspect his father may have been a loon....

Jeanne, I can't wait for DC either. I've never been and REALLY want to see the Smithsonian.

Another Kentuckian!!! Hi, Amy {waving madly} Years ago, I worked with a lady named Ruby from Manchester.

Man, ya'll are making me want to head for the road. Guess I'll just have to get out my suitcase in preparation for SF...only 3 weeks to go!

Kirsten said...

Okay, Minna, you've definitely peaked my interest -- a mushroom carnival? WOW! :-) That sounds fun! And I just love the names of things...I think your language is absolutely beautiful.

Kirsten said...

LOL Wendy on the move from hate to dislike! I admit, I wasn't that thrilled at the idea of a vacation in July in Florida -- but I've been really pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the state. We flew into Orlando, visited the mouse for two days, and then drove across to Sanibel, and fly back out tomorrow from Orlando. I really have loved all the nature we've seen here. There are incredible birds everywhere you look, beautiful thick forests that feel just like a jungle, and we did get to see my favorite mammal -- DOLPHINS -- when we took a cruise on Tarpon Bay. So maybe after some time you'll grow to love Florida, too!

Kirsten said...

Donna, I love the way you described Ohio. It really sounds like a lovely place to settle down and raise a family. And since I grew up not far from there, I know it's got its own kind of beauty. There's beauty in the people, and in the rolling hills, the lush greenery, and of course the great big lake to the north!

Of course, the wonderful thing about home is it doesn't really matter what it looks like, does it? It matters that the people you love live there. :-)

Kirsten said...

Ellen, it sounds like you are quite a traveler yourself! Your seashore sounds lovely. Someday I need someone from Texas to show me around and introduce me to the beauty of the state. I stayed a few days in Houston once, but never really got out much, and I suspect there's some gorgeous country in that gigantic state, but I need a local to help me unlock it. Sounds like you've got your piece of heaven by the shore. There's nothing quite as peaceful as a walk by the ocean. Thanks for mentioning it! I will definitely add Texas to the list of places I need to visit.

Kirsten said...

Jennifer, I'm glad my little blog taught you a couple of things about your hometown! LOL! That laser show sounds very cool. Wish I had known about it when the RWA conference was in Atlanta a few years ago. That would have been something to see -- and maybe I could have picked up a handbag while I was there. :-) The combination of small town charm and big city amenities is pretty appealing, I must admit. I will definitely have to make my way over to your neck of the woods sometime soon!

Kirsten said...

AC, you should know I could NEVER begin to rival your traveling ways! I've been to almost every one of the 50 states, but I've never been off the continent, I must confess. Mexico is as far out of the country as I've made it. (And Canada, but that doesn't count. Snork! Don't tell Kim I said that.)

I think state capitals are fascinating, and almost always more interesting in their way than the big cities because of their history. I must get to Louisiana. That and Alabama are the two states I have yet to check off my list.

Kirsten said...

Anna, thanks for creating a new paranoia for me -- those magpies sound fierce!! LOL.

Actually, while we were on Sanibel we saw on the news that a woman was in the gulf and a brown pelican dove into her (on purpose? not clear!) and its beak went right through her cheek. I think she survived, but there was a lot of blood and reconstructive surgery involved. **shudder**

The animal kingdom is a scary place! :-)

Kirsten said...

Eva, that's so sad that your climate is changing so fast. I would love to see the northern lights - I never got to see them when I lived in Minnesota and I am a little bit bitter about that. ;-)

Aren't all these stories making you want to go buy an airline ticket right now?!

Actually, as we've been on vacation here I must say that it seems 90% of the people we've met have all been from Europe. I guess America's a cheap date right now!

Kirsten said...

Suz, we just loved that park!! But then on the front page of the Orlando paper this morning was a story about the algae growing in the spring that gives people rashes. Ew. I guess many of the natural springs here are in trouble from fertilizer use, run off, pollution, overuse, etc. Very sad.

But it's a gorgeous park and I can see the kids spending ALL SUMMER there if we lived around here. Even with the rashes.

Kirsten said...

Catslady, Pittsburg reminds me so much of Buffalo (my hometown) how could I not love it!? Sports, great people, a wonderful symphony, and lots of biking and hiking near to the city. :-) Thanks for taking me down memory lane!!

Kirsten said...

Jeanne, I was at the St. Regis! How funny! I would love the guided tour next time I'm there. :-) And yes, I was all over Asheville, and absolutely adore Pisgah. And you've been to Sanibel too! How funny. It's a small world...oh no, now I'm going to be singing that song for the next 24 hours straight! Eeek!!!

Kirsten said...

Okay, Amy, that is an AMAZING PICTURE!! Does it really look like that? Wow! I need to go there!

Kirsten said...

Pat, you're making Houston sound pretty great! I considered going to Rice for college, so I spent a little time visiting the college MANY MANY moons ago. Naturally, I didn't do any of those things! I'll have to get back. Is there a good time of year to visit? I don't deal too well with the humidity... ;-)

Kirsten said...

Anne, you don't work for the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce by any chance, do you? LOL. I spent some time driving through the southwest a few years ago and loved the whole area. It is beautiful and definitely somehow mysterious and mystical. I love the weather and the mountains and the desert. It's one of the few places I could consider leaving Oregon for! :-)

Kirsten said...

brownone, I wish I could have come to visit you! I really have gained an appreciation for Florida on this trip and all the natural beauty here. It's a lovely place -- unfortunately, a bit too hot to spend all day outside right now as we would have liked, but that means there's lots of things left for the next visit, right? And horse farms! YES! Must see! :-)

Kirsten said...

Oh Joan, I can just picture my friend Jennifer saying Louisville just like you wrote it! :-) Aw, now I'm missing her -- my best friend from high school. :-)

But you mentioned Ireland, and you know I'm dying to visit there!! And it's kind of your second hometown, right? ;-)

Kirsten said...

Well kids, I've got an early morning flight, so I think I'll sign off!! thanks for playing today! I can't imagine how I'm possibly going to decide where to go next!!! :-)

Gannon Carr said...

Brownone, I grew up in Leesburg, FL, just down the road from Ocala. Small world, huh?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Brownone, I love Ocala, I have relatives there. :> Kirsten, the St. Regis shares the block with my DH's office, so you COULD have waved at him! :>

flchen1 said...

Kirsten, it sounds like you're ready for some at-home time! I used to think I was such the adventurous type (I guess I still like to think of myself that way, but I know better now!)--you know, go see the world and all that! And that would still be lovely in small-ish doses! But nothing beats returning home :)

As for visiting my current hometown, we aren't far from San Francisco, so you'd be able to easily get here using one of our three conveniently located international airports, and then you could take advantage of all the exciting city attractions (which I won't bother to try to enumerate), then have just a short ride back to a pretty quieter paced suburb--you're more than welcome to stay here, if you don't mind our lived-in look and the big stacks of books everywhere ;) I guess that's what I appreciate most now--being close to all the nightlife and culture and wine-tasting and restaurants, but not having to live right in the middle of it.

Happy travels, or not! (As the case may be ;))

Congrats on the GR, Helen--now there's a world traveler!

jo robertson said...

Great post, Inara. Sounds like you're having a wonderful time.

Helen, kudos to you on the Golden Rooster.

Northern California redwoods, the most majestic and beautiful trees God ever made!

Keira Soleore said...

Hey Inara, don't forget gorgeous, beautiful, green Seattle for the hiker in you!! :)

Amy S. said...

Kirsten, yes it does look like that. My favorite time of the year is Spring and Fall. It's so beautiful here in the Fall when all the leaves are changing on the trees.