Queen of the Road

flagstaff AZI must tattle on myself: I am having the best time rolling across the country in my trusty truck. Wednesday, I was rhapsodizing about the forsythia and redbud in southern Virginia, today I delighted in the snow storm that hit Flagstaff, AZ. (I love that town. Seven Starbucks, moose crossings, a Barnes and Noble, and that terrific mountain…)

burnsMy truck looks like a couple hobos with their dogs have been living on the floor of the passenger’s side. An oil portrait of my dad occupies the seat next to me (long story). I’m listening to my Jim Malcolm CDs over and over, singing about “Robin was a rovin’ boy, rantin’, roooooovin’, rantin’, rooooooovin’, rantin’, roooooovin’ Robin!!!” (A poem Burns wrote about himself, but he’s dead so I can sing it any way I please, right?)

When I tire of caterwauling about Robert Burns, I’m listening to the Romance Writers of America national conference workshop CD, and hearing such gems as Jude Devereaux complaining that politically correct heroes (“May I please make love to you for an hour and half?”) are a deplorable development. If I tire of that, I can roll along in silence for a couple hundred miles and arm wrestle my imagination for some plots to go with novellas I’ve recently obligated myself to write.

grand canyonWhat FUN! And then there’s the scenery. I did not have time to visit my old friend the Grand Canyon, but I did stop in to see one of my brothers near Santa Fe. On the way home, I’ve booked a night at La Posada, the last of the grand railway inns of the Southwest, in Winslow, Arizona. (Might have to take a selfie standing on a corner, of course.)

La PosadaWhat I’m NOT doing is being a lawyer, racking up words as an author, or dealing with people who expect me to solve their problems. I wasn’t sure why I decided to drive cross country (again) rather than fly, but the decision has borne wonderful fruit so far.

Still don’t know what I’m going to do with Daniel Banks, though. Fortunately, I have the 2700 mile daniel day lewisdrive home to get that one figured out, right?

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Would you take anybody with you? Stay for a long time? A mere week? What would you do while you were there?

To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.


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69 comments on “Queen of the Road

  1. Grace have a happy, happy wander.. For myself back to the ocean that I grew up next to for a lovely stay and wander up and down the towns. Just to get that sea air and recharge. I have not been there for Many, Many years… A little nostalgia here I guess… Enjoy your recharging trip…Happy Spring….

    • Hope you can plan that trip. My parents SWEAR by the benefits of living in view of the ocean. When you fall asleep at their house, if the window’s open, you hear the waves…

      They’re 90 and 93. Might be something to this theory.

  2. When I was young I joined the Army to see the world. And during the last year and a half of my tour I got to see a lot of Europe (Germany, Italy, Holland and France). But I was always so disappointed that I didn’t make it to England. I specifically wanted to see London. Not because of my love of historical romance – I didn’t read a lot of anything back then. I just always loved history and thought it would be a wonderful place to visit.

    Given my age, financial and physical restraints, I’m not likely to see it now. But thanks to you and others I can pick up a book and go there in my mind.

    In reference to Daniel Banks, that man does need a story Grace. I have every confidence you will find it for him!

    • Mary T, London is an interesting place, and VERY interntional. We must find you a tour that will cart you about from site to site without demanding physical heroics from you.

      I’m taking my first Elder Hostel tour later this year and they grade their trips by physical demands. I think I’ll be the one guarding the bar and chatting up the cleaning lady… that’s every bit as fascinating as Greek ruins, right?

  3. I’ve always said if I won the lottery, I would pack up my little Pomeranian and head to Europe. I would rent an apartment in the major cities and stay in each one for 2 or 3 weeks so I could really explore each city and surrounding area without rushing like I normally do on vacation.

    • You want to make a Grand Tour, Moriah, like all the young men of affluent English families in the Georgian and Victorian periods. I’m still fairly focused on the British Isle myself, but what I’ve seen of the rest of Europe has also been delightful.

      Though the Coliseum did have a certain tom cat scent to it.

  4. Hi Grace,
    Lately, I’ve been thinking I’d love to visit the hot air balloon festival in Baton Rouge, LA that is held every August and hopefully get to ride in one. I used to live there and could see the beautiful sight of all of those ballons in the air, but never attended. That would be cool. I’d take my 3 daughters or maybe have a girlfriends weekend.

    I would also love to visit any tropical island, but I have a fear of flying over the ocean and am also afraid of being on a big boat in the middle of the ocean, so that is just a fantasy of mine. I’d take my husband on this imaginary tropics trip. I think that would be romantic.

    • So for you, Key West. A tropical island you can drive to. Ernest Hemingway found it inspiring, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to fly over water.

      I used to date a guy who worked for the National Transportation Safety Board, though, and he said the transoceanic planes were subjected to the most rigorous maintenance and inspection. Not much comfort, but some.

  5. I’d like to spend several months travelling the east coast of Canada, walking, bike riding, staying in bed and breakfasts, meandering, checking out local arts & crafts, etc.

    • And if you knew exactly where to listen, hearing some Scottish Gaelic. There are still a handful of people who’ve learned it as their first language in Nova Scotia. I was very surprised to learn that.

  6. If I could travel anywhere right now, it would be to spend a month in England, visiting mostly the Jane Austen sites, but others as well. Someday. Really.

    • Some day soon, I hope. On my next jaunt to Europe, I want to see Waterloo battlefield. That has been in my bucket for more than 30 years. No time like that present (my piggy bank is ignoring me).

  7. Enjoy your trip! Post some photos when you return!
    Sounds fabulous.

    I would pack up my trusty Suburban and take corgis Molly, Celeste and Greg on a trip to Maine. We’d stay at a few dog friendly Holiday Inns along the way.

    I would drive to the Sebago Lake area and then head to Arcadia. Sebago Lake is a gorgeous area. I have visited there before and enjoyed it. Arcadia is awesome and the dogs would love the walking paths. I’d love to have a few days of alone time and I’d stay a week or so…..if I went! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I thought I saw you waving from the north. I saw lots of posts from friends in Flag about the snow. See, were not all heat in here in AZ. You have me tempted to just hop in my van and drive to San Diego for a weekend. I would probably drag my mom along because we were just discussing the fact that it would be nice for the two of us to just getaway and have “girl” time. I know how you despise that word to describe women in adulthood.
    I am still dreaming of a trip to Prince Edward Island, but I am very much looking forward to a trip across the country in a couple of months. AZ-PA and then to Upstate NY. While it’s nice to see my husband’s family and the friends we have there, I most look forward to the drive and being with my boys and husband for three days with no distractions. We have such a unique family situation that it is rare for us to all be together for meals and when we drive across the country we are eating every meal together and the twins do well sitting for the whole meal in a restaurant, at home they take a bite and get up and wander and then come back to the table for another bite. It’s a wonderful happy time for me and it’s been almost 4 years since we last went on a family vacation. It will be interesting to see how Seth does now that he is four and mobile and not a stationary baby of 9 months. I have a feeling he will do amazing.

    • PS. My parents did a trip across the old Route 66 of AZ last year and stayed in Winslow and did indeed have their picture taken on that famous corner.

    • The first time I traveled cross country, I was about five, my younger brother Joe was three. He was all boy all the time, and my mom was worried how he’d do, cooped up in a station wagon with four siblings and both parents.

      He loved it. At that point, our family was all together for much of anything. Somebody always had football practice, piano lessons, choir rehearsal, and for those few days, we just had each other, picnic meals, and great scenery.

      Wishing Seth status as Prince of the Road.

  9. Have Fun Grace!!

    I would like to take a very long time to travel cross country — the South in the winter and the North (specifically the Northwest) in the summer. I wouldn’t have a set schedule, and would just stop where ever I pleased. State and National Parks would be stops for sure. I’d take my husband (and if we could swing the cost the critters — maybe get an RV). The kids could meet us when they had breaks from school — college has long breaks, right?

    I’d love to do the same thing across the British Isles and Europe. Just think of all the historic locations! Then there’s Australia and New Zealand…..

  10. I would love to visit all of Great Britain – England, Wales, Scotland, and especially Ireland. (my roots, don’tcha know) Since we’re talking dream trip, part of it would be with my beloved spouse, John, and part would be with my lifelong BFF, Kim. I don’t want a whirlwind tour, I want to spend time to savor and enjoy. Dreams are good. Safe travels, Ms. Grace.

    • Dreams are indispensable. I’d like to walk across England, as author Elizabeth Selvig did–I think the trail is 166 miles, and you will be rained on.

      It would take me a long time, but what’s the rush when you’re having fun?

  11. London…I’ve always wanted to go. However, the last 3 or 4 years I have started reading historical romances set in London or Scotland, and now it’s really a must. Just need to find the time, energy, and travel companion and do it! I’m thinking two weeks for England, Scotland, and Ireland? I’m a bit of a, want to see the places, learn a little about each one, and then move on. We’ll see…for now I will visit each through literature. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • AJ, you can easily spend two weeks in London! I’d say at least two weeks in each country, and you’ll still only be dipping your toe in what’s there. For small countries, they are all packed with history and culture and wonderfulness–also excellent libation.

      I hope you get to go soon.

  12. I would go to Scottland, Ireland, All-Places-British,and France. I would go by myself, and I would be gone for so long, that my family would forget what I looked like. ***SIGH*** Tomorrow please.

  13. So many ideas come to mind when asked the question where would I go and who would I take. Last June I spent my 60th birthday in Winslow,Az…took a picture standing on that corner right next to that red , flatbed Ford. And toured through LaPosada. ( I too would love to stay overnight there)
    My daughter Sarah and I have always had a dream of going to Prince Edward Island.Just the two us with no worries or cares. But pretty sure it will just stay our little dream.
    My favorite place to go is northern Wis. with all its little towns and villages. I love the feeling of small town America and the myth that all is right with the world.My favorite person to have with me there is my husband.And if I could I would love to stay there 2 months.
    I have never had grand ideas about traveling the world, just a few places right here in our country.
    Happy traveling to you Grace and stay safe.

    • I don’t think we need to travel far geographically to get the benefits of travel. We pay closer attention when we’re not at home, we’re more alert, more curious.

      I hope you and Sarah get your shot at PEI, which last I heard, wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

  14. I swear it often depends on the day of the week where I want to travel to. There are so many places I’ve not seen that I could really go just about anywhere and it would be new.

    However I do love the idea of “around the world in 80 days.” I think that’s why I like to watch “Amazing Race.” I think that would be so, so much fun.

    And, one day, on one of your cross-country treks you need to tell me when you’ve made it to exit 287 in Tennessee and I’ll direct you to the coffee & cupcakes (or doughnuts) or to the best fro-yo place in town.

    • Just don’t direct me to the Cross Fit gym. I would walk in and have to be carried out very soon thereafter. Not sure which route I’ll take home, but will keep you and those donuts in mind!

  15. If I could travel anywhere I’d love to make a trip to DC. I would want to take my three oldest granddaughters and spend at least a month doing the tourist thing. We would first visit all the different war memorials, then visit Arlington for the changing of the guard ceremony, then we’d spend as many days as we wanted in the different Smithsonian museums. We’d also visit the presidential memorials, the capitol, and if possible tour the White House.

    • Just don’t go in the summer Molly. The crowds are thick, the temperatures often near 100 degrees, the humidity choking, and it doesn’t cool down much at night. Then there are the bugs…. who in their right mind builds a nation’s capital on a drained swamp?

  16. This post makes me so happy! You sound so free, and that brings me joy. Wish I was travelling to San Diego so I could cadge a tea with you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Right now, my dream trip would be NYC. I spent three days there once and have a deep need to spend at least another 2 weeks exploring it. Broadway, Off-Broadway, musicals and plays, museums, Central Park, WTC memorial, etc, etc … Hmmm. Maybe I should just move there next.

    Travel safe, and best wishes for great moments that become treasured memories.

    • I first saw New York when I was in college, and attended a musicology conference. I don’t recall much about the conference excerpt Joshua Rifkin playing ragtime, but I recall that feeling of dwelling at the bottom of man-made canyon.

      Very…. different.

  17. I am very pleased that you can take the time to be neither a lawyer nor an author these days and just drive across the country. I can only imagine the wonderful sights youโ€™re seeing as you drive through this vast country. And hopefully, during one of the lengthy, stimulating drives you obviously enjoy, an inspiration will come from the depths of your thoughts to what future Daniel Banks awaits him. I am one of those who wait with abated breath!

    Given the chance, I would like to tour parts of Europe that I only read about in the books. I would like to see Scotland; grand palaces and people in the lowland and the highlands. Jolly, old England is definitely a place to go; royalties and all. Then traverse the high seas to reach the greenery of Ireland.

    Those are the 3 must-see countries in Europe for now. Would a month be enough to enjoy and savor their offerings?

    I have to bring dear husband for not only do I unquestionably enjoy his company (cough); admittedly he has a much better direction sense than I do. Between the two of us, he also has a superior understanding converting miles to kilometers, pint to liters, pounds to kilos โ€“ pretty much the necessary things needed to expound and explain the English and the Metric system when travelling. One has to make sacrifices, you know **wink, wink**

    I cannot sleep well without seeing my kiddo to bed so he will be hauled along with the luggage, the camera and the sunglasses.

    Thank you once again, Grace, for the chance to express my wants, wishes and desire.

    • Merci, the most important unit of measure, the smile, converts easily to all known currencies and systems. I like to vacation on a “drive ’til you get there, drink until the ale’s gone,” approach. Not so easy with a kid in tow.

  18. Your trip sounds like the one we’ve been taking to move our things from Pennsylvania to California. I particularly like the route from Gallup, NM to Barstow, CA. I take CA 58 over Tehachapi Mountain to Bakersfield. But the first time we took the route was in 2006 when we drove our oldest to Frosh Orientation at USC. Then the drive on I-40 forcibly reminded us of the Radiator Springs vistas in Pixar’s Cars. If I could go anywhere with anyone, though, and money was no object, I think I would go back to Lichtenstein with my hubby and kids. I first saw it as an impressionable college student in 1972. The views of the Alps, living in the home of terribly sophisticated college friends of my dad and trying to uphold the ‘family honor’, and seeing the Rembrandts in the national museum were highlights. Also realizing that Lichtenstein cows were the prettiest in Europe, since they have Weimeraner-colored coats. Since I traveled on a student Eurailpass from Dijon to Sofia on the Orient Express, I made an official study of the cows in different countries. I think re-creating, as much as possible, that trip with my family would bring back some of the magic I felt that summer.

  19. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I don’t think I’m brave enough to travel alone (no sense of direction and not much of a driver lol) and I love being around people. I don’t think there are many places that I wouldn’t want to visit. There is so much out there to explore. I enjoy all aspects of travel from seeing new sights, learning the history, meeting the people, learning their customs and trying new foods. If I every win that lottery…lol

  20. I can say that my dream vacation is Scotland and Ireland. I would love to go there and spend a month or so. I would have to go alone because my husband would rather go on a cruise or something. I want to see it all!!!

    • Many a marriage has benefited from separate vacations. When I last toured Scotland, about half the group was spouses operating on that plan. A very congenial group, with nobody feeling crowded and nobody feeling lonely.

  21. Glad to see you’re having a good trip ๐Ÿ™‚ . I’d love to go back to the Highlands and just fardle about for a month or so down and around the west coast or failing that a wander n look see over Nova Scotia …
    Hope the ‘folks’ are fine and that your meanderings continue to bring you pleasure.
    The capacity to meander is the best thing about road trips, I like having my old man poodle along and have one friend I like fardling with for those moments when it’s good to share a view or a meal or just the sashaying along…. Don’t mind alone either. Speaking of the old boy..off for an Autumnal evening stroll.

    • Teresa, you sent me to the Oxford English Dictionary online, because I was pretty sure I’d come across the world fardle–fardel?–before. Turns out fardle is a variant spelling of fardel, which as a very means to “furl,” or wrap up. As a noun it means a small bag, a parcel, luggage.

      Byron used it, referring to “fardels of the heart,” and Shakespeare did to, “who would these fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life?” in Hamlet’s soliloquy.

      Now I’m happy, fardling around in OED with my word fardels…

      • Lol , local/ familial usege = pack a bag with some stuff n food for travelling and just wander ,…Teresa

  22. I would love to go to YellowStone with my husband and dogs. I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I would love to travel the USA via RV when I retire.

    • You’ll be in good company, Robin. All over the west there are RV parks, most of them with wi-fi, lockerooms, some of them with pools… seems like a nice way to spend a few months of the year, dropping in on old friends and making new friends.

  23. Daniel Banks get his own story? Yes! I love to travel give me 30 minutes to pack and I’m ready to go. Hmm… if I am visiting places I already know, it would be New Orleans, London, and then Edinburgh. I enjoy traveling with my best friend, her husband, and little girl. I have another friend I enjoy traveling with but she has moved to Seattle and I live in Charlotte. I don’t know when I’ll see her again, but Facebook is a good thing.

    • Seattle’s a lovely place to visit, too! My daughter lived there for a few years, and it’s about the greenest place I’ve spent time. But then, Colorado’s kinda halfway in between, right? YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park? Maybe???

  24. Grace, enjoy your trip! As a tax attorney counting down the hours until April 16th, anywhere that’s not the office sounds good to me! My fiance and I have day dreamed about eloping to Scotland or holing up in a houseboat on the Seine in Paris, but our student loans have us reconsidering. Honestly if I could alight from my desk at this moment–I would head for Camden, Maine. I would watch the sunrise on Mount Battie,have a whoopie pie and some needhams, enjoy the picturesque New England seaside village before the crowds descend, and take a book to Cappys for an afternoon of local pints, chowder and cheer. Thank you for this mental mini vacation–now its back to the grind.

    Safe Journey.

    • Why doesn’t the IRS let people choose their tax year, the way a corporation an choose it’s accounting year? ARGH…. Best racket I know of for seeing Scotland is to get a master’s degree there and put those student loans on pause.

      Not sure how much American tax law they teach over there though… The IRS isn’t noted for its sense of humor either.

      Hang in there until April 16!

  25. After Hubby retired, we took a three-week trip to Europe. We’d like to go back for another trip, and spend some time in Germany, Austria, and a few other locales. Thanks for the post and giveaway.

    • German micro breweries… German bakeries, German cheese, German scenery, German music…. I spent a few months in Germany right after college. My dad was an exchange professor up in Schleswig-Holstein, so I had a base from which to rattle around.

      Marvelous place. Much to enjoy there.

  26. I love that you got in your truck and are driving cross country! That is definitely on my bucket list! I would also love to spend some quality time in the Scottish Highlands and the British countryside. However, I’m a beach girl at heart, so I have to agree with your sweet parents! The beach is a magical place to me. I live in a landlocked town in Central Virginia. My husband laughs at me when we reach the coast because he can actually see my entire body relax. I hope to retire in a small beach town when the time comes. Stay safe during your travels! Let me know if you pass through the Lynchburg, VA area! I’ll take you up in that cup of tea!

    • Connie, I’m usually over on I-81, west of you, but for research purposes I might have to tour Jack’s distillery some fine day.

      My parents are 90 and 93, and I think being near the ocean has something to do with that for them. My dad loves the ocean, and my naturopath swears there’s something about ionized air that’s good for us.

      I’m NOT keen on the ocean. Darned thing makes me anxious and can get quite stinky. Not to keen on flying over it either, but until Scotland re-attaches itself to Appalachia, I’ll manage it.

  27. I knew it! Daniel Banks deserves a story. He needs a story. He must find a way to be who he really is. He is so, so kind. Loving, of course. Well-liked by his former parishioners. He sort of ended up in a vocation he isn’t passionate about. He somehow ended up with a beyond horrible wife that he didn’t love and would probably still would be enduring if circumstances didn’t reveal her true colors. It seems like, good man that he is, that he has never made a true choice. He just accepted the everyday of life. He needs to find and choose a task or job he is passionate about so he can test his mettle and end up stronger for it. He has to be himself before he can find and love his soul mate. Perhaps he should meet a woman whom he doesn’t like much at first. Somehow they are forced to work together on a project and through that find out what each is made of, find admiration and respect for each other, and then make the decision to choose love.

  28. Yay for solo road trips! Those are the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

    A few years ago one of my childhood friends got married in Sedona, AZ. I road tripped it solo from Southern California and met up with everyone at her mother’s house in Flagstaff. Everyday I drove the canyon road between the two cities. Sometimes with my friends, sometimes solo. It was beautiful no matter what.

    Two days after the wedding while everyone was trickling back to their homes and jobs, I opted to explore a bit (the bonus of an unconventional work schedule!). With the “Best of The Eagles” CD player, I hit the road! Winslow, AZ is a charming little town. The street corner is close to the train station and down the block from La Posada. You MUST take a picture with the bronze rocker statue and also sitting in the flat-bed Ford that is a permanent fixture there. La Posada is gorgeous. Lucky you will be seeing it after the construction has been completed (it was still a work in progress when I went through).

    I also swung by the Meteor Crater. It is a rather large hole in the ground and much more impressive in person than the pictures describe.

    If you get a chance to see Sedona, I definitely recommend it and the canyon road between there and Flagstaff (did I mention the fabulous microbrewery in Flag? It has the best pretzels and cheese dip…). It’s interesting seeing the scenery change from towering Ponderosa pines to red-rock desert. Friendly people, gorgeous red rocks (just don’t wear flip-flops too close to the edge of the cliffs…). And if you like Native American pottery and fetishes, search out the Kachina Doll Shop. It’s not on the main drag, but is tucked away in a residential neighborhood. Being a horse lover yourself, I recommend you look for the horse hair pottery and read about how it’s made. Very unique!

    As for my own road trip? Wherever the wind takes me, I suppose. The best trips I’ve taken have not been planned, or if they were planned, there was detour or mix up that made the best memories. I do like to travel solo, but I have a couple of friends who I’ve had some wild times with. And when I say wild, I mean we got lost in Compton at midnight, locked the keys in the trunk of the car in the middle of the wilderness or were frantically looking for an open motel at 2am when the cabin we rented was double booked. Good times!

  29. Hi Grace!

    What a wonderful trip! When I went to college in the 1960’s in Tucson, Arizona my favorite trip was to visit the northern part of the state. Prescott and then east to the Grand Canyon then drive south through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona.

    Wen he was in the Navy I think he visited every country in the world but never went to the one place he wanted to go the most – Italy! His father was the 3rd youngest of 15 children and all of his older brothers and sisters had been born in Italy before the family immigrated the the United States. While he wants to see the area his family lived those many years ago I have always dreamed of going to Venice and going by a gondola for a ride in the Grand Canal!

    I can also picture us taking a trip to one of Italy’s vineyards and sitting under a tree with a glass of fine wine!

  30. “Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona
    And such a fine night to see.
    I’ts a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
    Slowin’ down to take a look at me.” (Eagles)

    I’m sure you absolutely know the rest.

    You have a lovely trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. If money was no object, which alas it usually is, I would live in the UK for a few months. Thanks to the ever-increasing digitization of old records, I have been able to trace my family back to a knight who came to England with William the Conqueror. My dream trip would be to go to all the places my ancestors lived, see their knightly tombs, explore the stately homes built on their land, and especially learn more about them. I even have one ancestor who was executed by Henry VIII for supposedly having an affair with Anne Boleyn! Records indicate he did not, but inquiring minds want to know more.

    I recently got to spend three months in France, Spain, and Italy doing research for my dissertation. The experience of living in another culture is one I will never forget and soon hope to replicate. I wish everyone had greater opportunities to travel, because you learn so much more about other cultures and about yourself when you live in another country.