Oh Christmas Tree…

You know how good friends sometimes just seem to know what you need even if you don’t know it yourself.  Peggy called me on Friday and said, “You’ve been working so hard, I want to take you to a magical place, a Christmas tree farm with great views of the mountains and snow on the trees.  You are going to love it.”  So off we went and YES it WAS magical at the Seekonk Tree Farm in Great Barrington,  Massachusetts and just as Peggy described.  Rows of Christmas trees in all shapes and sizes went on forever as did the view.  Snow on the ground, rolled bales of hay in the fields and horses grazing  at a nearby farm.  YES magic!


So it was all easy peasy….you can select from pre-cut trees (cut this past week) or cut your own which of course was our choice.   There was something for everyone, a regular “Christmas Tree” playground.  Families were arriving while we were there with the kids grabbing the saws nearby and rushing out to make their selection.   It was all so very festive, and yes it was cold!

After the cutting of the tree…Benjamin’s first “fresh cut” tree ever,  the rest of the  “process” was impressive and it was a process.   First the tree is  put into a “shaker” to remove the ice and snow…and if I am to believe the man that helped us they have had some mice fly out on occasion.  Luckily that was not our experience! Next to the “trimming” station  where the tree gets a fresh cut at the bottom and since we bought their tree stand (a bucket-like stand with a metal rod in the center) our tree required a hole drilled into the center of the trunk.  Then on to the tree wrapping station and mounted to the top of the car.  Voilà!

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Saws ready for action



BTW….The stand is amazing.  All we had to do is set it up, and place the tree onto the spike.  So not like the tree stands of old as in no messing with those crazy screws while attempting to keep the tree upright (which was close to impossible at times and the tree was never straight).  Lets see if the stand and the tree can survive our cats!   Kali hasn’t discovered it yet but that won’t last long.

More work to be done but the lights are on and all is good with the world!

Merry Christmas!




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Winter in New England

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

There is so much to be said for returning to a life and living it in the cycle of changing seasons not the least of which is feeling like  part of something much larger than myself.  It is brought home to me as I observe the changes in nature, the habits of the wildlife and embark on the cycle of seasonal chores to do around the farmhouse. It feels natural, comforting and even meditative at times.

In this season, yes the days are shorter, colder and darker….but all make for a perfect excuse to cook up all kinds of soup, reading more than ever, and having endless fires in the fireplace.   Mimicking nature we all have an excuse to “slow down”…kind of like the bears!


Holiday season in New England is in full swing, with so many of my favorite things going on at once, it’s hard to keep up… holiday fairs,  local artisan/craft shows, and buying the long awaited eggnog at the local Arethusa Farm Dairy.

Decorating for the holidays in New England is simple and understated and most decorations are nature inspired reminiscent of Christmas in Switzerland.  Pinecones and all sorts of holiday greenery are all available for purchase, however in keeping with my now ever more enhanced sense of adventure,  I have my garden gloves and pruning shears in the car at the ready to stop at public land to harvest bittersweet, winterberry, and pine cuttings.   It gets tricky for sure,  and I have been tangled more than once  in the brambles while misjudging the height or depth of the bushes!  Mostly it’s just peaceful and offers a good opportunity to laugh my own antics and to be grateful for not injuring myself.

We have been taking a crash course that should be titled, “Returning to the Northeast As An Adult” and I would be lying if I didn’t admit it has been a bit overwhelming at times. For those of you that know us and are old enough to remember you know we are part “Green Acres” part  “Beverly Hillbillies” so you will appreciate the magnitude of our learning curve.  Currently we are in the midst of “winterizing”.  Who knew there was so much to do?  I’ve learned that arborvidae are “deer candy” and need to be wrapped in deer netting, the water and heat to the barn gets turned off and after years of year-round swimming pools in Texas we learned about winterizing the pool, AND the need for a pool cover.  Chimney cleaning, firewood delivery and  oh did I mention wood stacking?  YIKES…who needs a gym?  The bird feeders are finally out (after the disappointment of learning that the over abundance of black bear make putting feeders out in Spring and Summer a bit dangerous)  and they are attracting all kinds of local birds and watching them is a bit of an addiction.  Our funniest adventure was removing the pond fountain before it iced over which required the purchase of a rubber raft and B having to row out to the fountain in his wetsuit to drag it to shore. We laughed so hard it was well worth the effort!  We survived …actually we are thriving, all with a huge sense of accomplishment for the magnitude of what we have learned.  Mistakes will be made for sure but we are just hoping to minimize the damage!

The farmhouse was built in 1799 by the Kilbourn family,  some of the earliest settlers in Litchfield.  We are only the 3rd family to live here with the original owners living here for generations and the second family for close to 50 years.  As B said, “we are just stewards of the house which comes with great responsibility”…and we take it seriously.

As crazy as all of this might sound to many,  for us, at least so far,  it all adds up to feeling more grounded, more connected to the universe and nature and more “in the moment” than we have been in a long time.  Feel free to check in with me in February as I am certain I will be screaming for some warmth and sunshine but for now… heaven is a winter landscape. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. xoxo





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Inheriting a garden…

I haven’t had a veggie garden since I was a child living in Blauvelt, New York.  Most years, some time around Memorial Day when we hoped we had experienced  the last frost of the season we would plant tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers in a modest 3 foot by 5 foot space in the corner of our backyard.   I was kid and only remember how much fun it was to watch the plants grow and the thrill of harvesting what we planted.

Fast forward and here I am in a whole new world where I inherited a large ( 24 ft x 56 ft) garden from the previous owner.  When we moved into the house the plants were already in place along with deer fencing and an entry gate. How lucky was I?   But on day 2 of our move I very inconveniently realized that the 16 tomato plants were not tied up to the stakes that stood vacant alongside them.  Deliciously large tomato plants heavily burdened with fruit were growing along the ground which even I knew was so not good.  In addition there were zucchini and cucumbers by the dozen that were surely going to rot if I didn’t pick them.  So in the middle of the moving chaos  we rounded up the veggies and hauled them over to the local food bank which was a good end to a hard day of work.

It is amazing…the garden. Five large stoically tall sunflowers overlook the eggplant, peppers, radishes (that have gone to seed), carrots, beets, onions, 3 varieties each of tomatoes and squash as well as cucumbers and chives.   On a daily basis I am overwhelmed and humbled by the beauty of the garden and all that I don’t know!  What do I do with the plant remains at summer’s end?  Do I need to prep anything  prior to winter?  When do I harvest the carrots?  Do I mulch and with what?

On that first day I couldn’t even identify many of the plants and had to reach out to friends for help.  Benjamin can attest to my ignorance as he made his morning shake with what I called spinach that actually turned out to be swiss chard (no wonder he kept saying his shake was a bit “bitter”). Shortly after that I learned  that the striped variety of squash I picked was actually butternut squash that had not yet turned that awful”band aid tan color” so it was all picked too soon! Grrrrr.  It made us both laugh so hard at our “farming” shenanigans.  Oh and have I mentioned the weeds?  If the weed in question bore fruit I could feed the world!  Definitely need to know how to get it under  control next year!  If you know how to control it please comment. (photo below directly under tomato photo…what the heck is this?)

Now that the moving boxes have dwindled, I’ve been busy making lots of ratatouille, roasting and freezing tomatoes for future use and zucchini bread has been on the menu too.  B and I drove a bunch of the veggies over to the previous owners who are only blocks away.  Seemed only fitting since she planted all of the seeds. I am only harvesting the fruits of her labor.

Aside from the physicality of the garden work it is truly a moving meditation.  I am totally present in the moment when I am in that space.  What surprised me was how when overcome by the familiar smells and visuals of the garden and the landscape I find myself relaxed and memories of all sorts/ ideas/emotions seem to come out of nowhere.  A testament to the space we can create in our heads when we can just “be” and get rid of some of the senseless noise that usually occupies our minds.

Marking time in the natural rhythm of the seasons is something I am appreciating getting used to again and there is so much to learn. A beautiful, artistic high school classmate Betsy (who seems to have an affinity for gardening based on the photos I have seen)  recently replied to me in a FB posting saying, “I always say I’ve learned how to garden by killing everything first.” which of course made me laugh as I  realized that might be my fate as well.  In the meantime patience, a sense of humor and a large dose of  trial and error will get me through.  So thankful for this gardening experience and yes Google is my new best friend!


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At home in Litchfield County, Connecticut

I haven’t blogged in so  long  it’s hard to  know where to begin but I think it makes sense to start at the beginning of our new adventure.  After selling our home in Fort Worth  in May we drove cross country to return to the Northeastern part of the USA.  I lived in NYC until I was ten but afterward the lower Hudson River Valley was my home.  It was so beautiful but like most young people spending their teenage years in a small town all I ever wanted to do was leave!  After moving to NYC, I moved to Dallas and lived there for 10 years prior to meeting Benjamin.   I loved Dallas and it was the perfect place for me career wise and personally at that time of my life.  It was the first time outside of college that I lived away from New York.   Our life together has been a series of moves (10 times in 25  years…all work related) but this was the very FIRST time we got to CHOOSE where we wanted to live. The options were daunting, but  the landscape of my childhood was calling me and luckily B had spent time in the Hudson River Valley and loved it too so it was a go!

We were doing this on our own, no safety net, no corporate relocation back to wherever after 2-3 years.  This was our choice,  we were charting new territory and it was very scary and filled with more “what ifs” that I ever imagined.   But we went with what was speaking to our hearts and our souls.  It was a calling that we had to heed. Of course,  I used my usual decision making metric question, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” and as long as I could live with that I was ready and B was too.

We narrowed the geography  from as far south as Annapolis/Washington D.C and as far  north as Boston.  We asked ourselves and each other lots of hard questions about places we had lived, what we loved, what we didn’t and most importantly what were our dreams.  We even  had a list of “features” we were looking for in a place and a home and we ranked them in order of importance.   Yes, that is what happens when two Capricorns fall in love and spend a life together.    Tied for 1st place on our list were ACCESS  (as in how many people/places that we loved were easily accessible and could be driven to) and A VIEW.  Both of these were influenced by our time in Switzerland where we had the incredible good fortune of waking up each day to an ever-changing view of the French Alps across Lake Geneva AND we could get on a train and be in so many different and interesting places  for the weekend.

So here we are… in Litchfield,  Connecticut. Situated in the NW corner of the state where I can be in New York or Massachusetts in less than an hour, NYC 2.25 hours (same for Boston).  Cape Code is just 3.25 hours away, Vermont less than 2.5. There are so many fun things to do and the weather and nature can’t be beat.

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I recognize now that what we did took courage but we have been happy, “annoyingly happy” as my friend Ruth would say.  Moving is stimulating… I feel curious/inspired/hopeful/energized but mostly I feel “at home” and like I belong here.

As we drive the country roads, or take in our view from the terrace, or work in the garden  I notice I feel grounded, safe and inspired…. to learn new things,  to meet new people and yes as always to write.   Following your dreams might be scary but it is also  liberating and filled with great life lessons.  Always follow your heart and trust your gut.  As Goethe said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” I am so very grateful for all of the forces that convened to help make this happen including encouragement from friends and family, my guardian angels and Spirit.

I need to find a better format for this blog so that I can organize by topic.   If any of you have any ideas/thoughts  on that please feel free to make recommendations.  In the meantime bear with me as I navigate this site, my new locale and my new life.  My obviously very wise friend Ruth  once told me that “I bloom where I am planted” and I think she is right about that and blooming is a good thing!

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The Peace and Power of Gong Meditation and Sound Therapy

I’m usually blogging about journeys of the physical kind… food, cities, states or countries that require the movement of the self from one geography to the next.  Today however I experienced a journey of the mind and spirit thanks to “BLISS” a twice weekly restorative yoga class  at The Sanctuary Yoga Room (www.sanctuaryyogaroom.com) that featured gong sound meditation.

Kenny Kolter

Kenny Kolter

My virgin voyage with sound therapy was in 2014 in a private session with Melanie Currie Adams (www.amelelani.com) and her crystal singing bowls. I learned that there is growing research that sound therapy has a positive effect on our health and well-being…reducing stress and even having healing properties.   I remember thinking, hours after the session,  that I felt as if my body had been massaged without ever being touched.  It had a lingering effect.  Later, while in Santa Fe,  I tried in vain to secure a spot on Christmas Eve for my husband and I to experience a  “Gong Bath” session at The Gong Studio (www.gongstudio.com).  I spoke with the owner who told me that the sessions always fill up weeks in advance and they were booked for the week.  Who knew? Obviously people were on to something and I wanted in!  But it was not to be…until today.

I’m not a stranger to Sunday “BLISS” at the Yoga Sanctuary Room. The 3pm time slot makes it a perfect  week-end restorative yoga class,  bringing a peaceful close to one week,  while preparing the mind, body and spirit for the challenges of a new one.    The class is dreamy in every way, from the serene, nurturing, creative space to Dena Walker’s peaceful voice that take us on a journey through asanas specifically designed to allow the body to surrender and relax.   Throughout class, towels scented with essential oils are placed over our eyes to block out the the light and to soothe our senses and our usually very overstimulated selves. It’s a gift.

Tibetan Bowls

Rest and Relaxation

Rest and Relaxation

Today’s BLISS class led by Rebecca Butler with Dena’s assistance, reflected on the effects of the tonight’s Blood Moon and lunar eclipse and offered a variety of relaxing and grounding asanas.  Featured in class today was Kenny Kolter (www.gongmeditation.com) whose skill  and ample collection of gongs, drums, and Tibetan singing bowls were meant to  move us  to an even deeper state of relaxation.  Well…Mission Accomplished!  I LOVED  the extra long Savasana while bathing in the sound and vibration of the gongs.   It was truly divine, mystical and magical. Many words come to mind to describe it but like so many of life’s great events this is one to be experienced to be appreciated.

I asked Kenny about the OM sound I thought was emanating from the gong.  It was a rich, beautiful and penetrating sound. Kenny said that it was his voice, combined with the gong.  He then explained “Toning” and how ” The gong acts as a resonator that makes one voice sound like many”.  I asked a few of the students about their personal experience.  One described the session as hypnotic and her face feeling as though it was tingling.  Another thought it  “a lovely moment of transcendence in a short period of time”.  For me, it was the deep tonal sound of the gong that went right to the core of my being, taking me on my little journey, similar in some ways to the Yoga Nidra experience where you are not asleep,  but rather you are transported!  I was “gonged” In a word….BLISS!

DISCLAIMER:  Gonging may be addictive.  Can’t wait for the next session! xoxoxo

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White Sands National Monument…Never Underestimate the Desert!

White Sands National Monument is just a 1.25 hour drive from Ruidoso, New Mexico.   From the first moment I read about it  I knew it was a place I had to visit.  We set off on our road trip through the austerely beautiful New Mexican landscape to experience one of the most beautiful, extraordinary, and unusual places I have ever seen.

Dune Boardwalk

Dune Boardwalk

We arrived in time for the daily 11am  “Tent Talk” on the dune boardwalk led by  a monument volunteer.  Walking toward the tent  it looked and felt as if we were approaching the sea,  but in fact we were in the Sonoran Desert in what is 275 square miles of landscape unlike any other on earth…geologically speaking.  We learned so many fun, interesting,  and geeky facts…there are 220 species of birds and 53 species of mammals most of whom  are nocturnal and have adapted their color to “white” to fit in with the gypsum sand as an act of survival in this extremely harsh environment. The dunes are “on the move” due to the constant prevailing wind and move around 12-18 feet a  year.  You can read more about the history of the monument here: http://www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm.

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Looks like the ripples of sand under the sea…but it isn’t !

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Sand Plow…sand on roads needs to be plowed just like snow!

Our visit was a bit tainted by the deaths just last week of two French tourists who were visiting the monument with their 9 year old son.   It seems they went for a hike on the Alkali Flats Trail with limited provisions, may have lost their way,  and succumbed to heat and dehydration.   Our hearts broke when we heard this news, thinking about this family,  like any other on their summer vacation, unfortunately with  a very tragic ending.  Luckily their son survived thanks to their efforts to hydrate him more than themselves.

We literally hiked in their footsteps which made for a more somber visit than we might have had otherwise.  After we wrote a makeshift memorial message in the “Trail Log” we offered a blessing for their souls and for the life of the 9 year old they left behind.  We thought of them on every step of our hike and it inspired us to appreciate even more the beauty of the location and to “be present” on our journey.

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Trail Register

Trail Register

Words in remembrance...

Words in remembrance…

If you do visit,  remember not to underestimate the desert … bring a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person for the hike, wear sunscreen, a large brimmed hat and protective clothing.

I loved this ultra modern picnic tables!

I loved these ultra modern picnic tables!

Beginning of trail, marked by sticks in the sand.

Beginning of the Alkali Flats Trail

Yoga on the dunes

Yoga on the dunes



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Other visitors "sledding"

Other visitors “sledding”

You know how song lyrics can just pop into your head and stay there? The entire time I was on the dunes the lyrics to the Kansas classic Dust in the Wind were playing over and over in my head…’I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment’s gone. All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity. Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind”.  I felt exactly like the tiny speck that I am in this universe.  It was humbling.

Besides hiking, you can rent sleds to ride the dunes, take a sunset tour , a  full moon tour and in winter there are tours of Lake Lucero which is on the premises and plays a critical role in the formation and ecosystem of the monument.  This is such an awesome place!  Yes the desert is harsh and unforgiving, but it is simultaneously  a place of spirituality, beauty and extreme serenity.  It is  so worth the trip and should not be missed should you find yourself out here in the American Southwest.  Happy trails. xo

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Wild horses couldn’t drag me away! In search of wildlife in the Sierra Blanca Range of Lincoln National Forest.

I keep dreaming of my National Geographic moment, the time when I will witness a great feat of nature, be part of a once in a lifetime wildlife experience. Something safe and not too disturbing of course, but something big… a bald eagle scooping up it’s prey, or observing a bear and her cubs.  But these creatures are very elusive and for me this has been trending.  In 2011 on a horseback riding vacation to the T Cross Ranch in Dubois, Wyoming in the middle of the Shoshone National Forest, famous for its moose, elk and deer all I saw was a single chipmunk.  No joke. We then drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming via the Teton National Park and saw some very outrageous scenery … but not one moose.

But I can be patient, and my enthusiasm hasn’t waned, so we set off this morning for Ski Apache (elevation 10,000 feet) the winter ski resort in the Lincoln National Forest in   Ruidoso.  It is home to wild mustangs, bear, elk, deer…all of the usual suspects. Happily and gratefully, within the first 3 miles we saw the wild mustangs nonchalantly eating on the side of the road not at all intimidated by me, my camera or the car.  It made me smile to see them  wild and free.

Wild horses of Ruidoso

Wild horses of Ruidoso

The 12 mile drive up the mountain from Ruidoso takes a while because of the many hairpin turns.  I  endured the scary, endless switchbacks, and steep drop offs , with too few guardrails for my liking, anticipating the moment when an elk would surprise me with an impromptu visit. Not today, but hope springs eternal.

Overall a GREAT day in the neighborhood… a very comfortable 70 degrees and my vision was blessed with beautiful wildflowers and fallen trees that looked like haunting natural sculptures and the reward of a most spectacular view at the top!

But not one hairy beast!

Wildflowers in Lincoln National Forest

Wildflowers in Lincoln National Forest



Love this view! Ride to Ski Apache in Lincoln National Forest.


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On the road again to Ruidoso, New Mexico!

We always end up leaving late, the planned 6am blast off absolutely did not happen but we were only an hour behind, not bad for our first long road trip with the dogs! We were inspired by the story of a man and his dog that was profiled on the evening news.   Long story short… owner of dog with a terminal illness takes said dog on a road trip,  kind of a doggie “bucket list” trip, documenting it all with photos of course.  We loved the story! Our dogs are old (14 and 10) with all the requisite ailments of older dogs so we decided to make it a “family” adventure.  Fort Worth to Ruidoso is an 8.5 hour drive which seemed very daunting, as long drives always seem to me…the woman with the 3 hour driving limit! But I live in Texas.  Texas is the size of France and Switzerland combined…you can hardly be anywhere in 3 hours.  So we packed Harley and Scout into their crate (along with their bowls, bed, blanket, harnesses, and a bag of “special diet for old dogs” food!) and headed west to the “Land of Enchantment”.

Wind farms north of Midland, Texas

Wind farms north of Midland, Texas

Love the open road!

Love the open road!

Branching out from our usual Santa Fe/Taos addiction we decided it was time to see Ruidoso. Described on Trip Advisor as, “Situated ideally at the center between the Lincoln National Forest to the south and the northeast and the Valley of Fires State Park to the northwest, Ruidoso is a still-sleepy mountain town despite its recent growth and popularity with tourists.”

For us it is always the call of mother nature,  perfect weather, green chile on everything and the smell of piñon that brings us back to New Mexico again and again.  Oh and of course the STARS!

Junk shop in Snyder, Texas

Junk shop in Snyder, Texas

Talk about a changing landscape! Horses, cattle, cotton fields, pumpjacks (the oil pumping machines that dot the west Texas landscape), wind farms, mountains, valleys, green and dry land, pine trees and the ever present big blue New Mexico sky dotted with clouds that appear to be waiting to be touched or painted…all made for a beautiful drive.  All of that, along with some good tunes and conversation, the time flew by and we arrived safe and sound.  Looking forward to the days ahead.  Nature is beckoning…


First wildlife sighting.


Beautiful sunset.

View from our deck

View from our deck

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All things Navy!! Annapolis…so many sites, so little time!

In May we met up  with family members from Chile for a long weekend in Annapolis, Maryland.  This was their first trip to the Chesapeake Bay area.  At first I was disappointed that our weekend coincided with “Commissioning Week” at the United States Naval Academy as all I could think about was how crowded it was going to be blah blah blah.  I once again learned the lesson of keeping your mind and heart open to the universe because it turned out to be the PERFECT time to be there.  Yes there were more people, however everyone was there for a time of joyful celebration so the mood was one of energy, accomplishment and the pride that comes with it.  The cadets, all wearing their starchy white and I must say, fabulously tailored uniforms,  were so happy  with the anticipation of the upcoming festivities.  So our week was filled with glorious food, history and nature and joy.  We were happy to be a part of the celebration. First stop, Middleton Tavern,  a fixture on the waterfront since the days of the American Revolution.  Oysters and crab cakes were pretty good too! The Blue Angels, part of the Naval Academy’s graduation celebration did not disappoint. We had a waterside view for a performance that lasted about 45 minutes and it was breathtaking!  For me it is always interesting to see the USA through the eyes of foreign visitors and to mark their observations.  Our family was in awe of the natural beauty of the area, the professionalism of the young cadets, the organization of the weeklong events and the skills, courage and daring of those amazing pilots.


Boats in Annapolis Harbor


Blue Angels over the US Naval Academy




Installation of birds by various artists sprinkled throughout Annapolis!


Baskets filled with Maryland crabs!


We loved the birds!


I originally balked at going to the Antietam National Battlefield, not for lack of curiosity, but seeing how I am usually landlocked in North Texas I just wanted to stay near the coast enjoying the Chesapeake in all its glory!  I was, however, so glad I went as this place is a must see for so many reasons. Antietam is the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War where 23,000 Americans were killed in one day on a beautiful stretch of Maryland farmland. It was so  hard to imagine all of that blood being shed in such a pastoral, peaceful and beautiful space. The  National  Park is 3200 acres of sad history and immense natural beauty. We were fortunate to arrive in time for a 20 minute lecture on the history of the battle and then spent hours walking thru the park, especially at the Burnside Bridge and around the cornfields, the sites of the most horrific battles.  It was nice to learn that the government leases the land to farmers so it remains as it was  at the time of the Civil War. 

Antietam National Park

Antietam National Park


Antietam Burnside Bridge

The Civil War Medical Museum brought us through the lovely and lively town of Frederick, Maryland.  Considering our group consisted of 2 doctors, a nurse and a medical device professional this was a great place for us…we were in awe of the collection of antique medical instruments, civil war memorabilia and history of conditions for medical care during the Civil War. IMG_1041 IMG_1024 The streets in Frederick were chock full of quaint antique shops housed in old buildings… I was in heaven! But fair warning, get there before 5 as everything was closing which is what usual happens when you jam packed your day with fun adventures.  We topped off our day trip with dinner at Firestone’s Restaurant which was randomly chosen by the menu choices and the number of people inside, but we lucked out as the food, and the ambience, which was high energy and  modern, still had the feel of a cozy neighborhood tavern!  http://firestonesrestaurant.com/2012/

Steak Salad at Firestone's

Steak Salad at Firestone’s

IMG_1033 Head on over to St. Michaels for a taste of another coastal town.  It’s about an hours drive from Annapolis, but worth it for the bridges on the journey and the charm of St. Michaels.

Main street in St. Michaels

Main street in St. Michaels

Crab cakes with a view!

Crab cakes with a view!

Hard to go wrong with crab cakes and oysters anywhere in the Chesapeake, at least that was our experience.  Heading home via Ronald Reagan Airport we passed Arlington National Cemetery, very fitting as it was Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you Maryland… we had a blast!

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

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Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

I am sooooo not a camper, but when my husband tried to lure me to spend a night in the cabins at Palo Duro Canyon State Park it was the promise of a starlit sky that lured me into agreeing with him.  I still had beautiful memories of the two other places where I was overwhelmed by the stars, Yosemite National Park and on a sailboat anchored in the middle of the ocean near the British West Indies.  At the time this did seem like the perfect place to stop for the night to break up the 10 hour drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Unfortunately for us, we read the email sent to us by the park months ago just prior to arriving at the park…just a bit too late… as we didn’t bring the pillows, blankets, sheets, and towels needed for the cabin.  Luckily the park rangers had some clean supplies.

Since we arrived at the Cow Camp cabin after dark we were unable to see the landscape as we descended to the base of the canyon. It was very dark and very cold.  I knew I was in trouble when Benjamin, after the first trip from the car to the cabin, looked me in the eye an said the cabin was, “very basic”.  Made me laugh so hard…I know he thought I was going to scream out loud when I saw it.  But I had seen photos of the 1930′ stone cabins and they seemed clean enough and after all, I knew we were in  a beautiful place even though I hadn’t seen it yet. photo 1



Palo Duro Canyon State Park, according to the park rangers, is the most popular state park in Texas and the canyon itself, though much smaller,  is second in size to the Grand Canyon…so how bad could it be???  Basic was an understatement, but what it lacked in comfort it made up for in laughs, and memory making, and the absolute awesome beauty of the canyon that we were finally able to see at sunrise! It was worth roughing it!

I continually reminded Benjamin that he absolutely knew I was NOT a camper when he met me and he appreciated the sense of humor that masked my fear, at least for a little while, until the sounds from the metal garbage can being bounced around scared me near to death. Did I mention that the park rangers said there were bobcats in the park?

I didn’t sleep much, didn’t drink any water so I didn’t have to go out to the bathrooms until daylight for fear of running into whatever wonderful wildlife was out there and I didn’t see any stars due to cloud cover but I would still do it again, albeit differently…like staying in the local hotel and visiting the canyon during the day! However, if you are a camper and want to visit the park you must reserve early (we reserved at least 4 months in advance and only the camp cabins were available) so you can get one of the cabins up on the rim that are still basic, but have great views. You can bring your horses or rent them during the summer months to see the canyon from an entirely different and I assume very awesome perspective. You will love the park rangers, they are so nice and warm and helpful, and the canyon is truly a site to see.  Be sure to eat breakfast at the Ranch House Cafe 810 23rd Street, Canyon, Texas, very local and everything is made from scratch including the green chile sauce.  Happy Camping!


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Cows on farm outside of the canyon

Outside Ranch House Cafe, Canyon, Texas

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Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River

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