We arrived in Belfast, Ireland on day 157 of the Nowhere To Be Project. Our ship, the Viking Sky, was docked about 15 minutes by shuttle bus from the center of town. We jumped out at the beautiful City Hall ready to roam. The city was just coming to life on this cloudy Saturday morning so we made good use of the quiet time to visit St. Anne’s Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Church, both of which offer stunning architecture and a glimpse into the history of Belfast.
Our time at the churches gave us a free pass for some pub time, right? We assumed so and headed to Crown Liquor Saloon, a well-preserved Victorian tavern. Refreshed and ready for action, we headed back out and right into a massive political march. The marchers are asking for freedom from British interment which means detention without trial. There were British loyalists present at the march as well and a nasty banter was rising between the two groups. The good news is that the police (in tactical gear) kept everything under control. Belfast is known as a city with strong political convictions and today gave us a small taste of that spirit.
A visit to St. George’s Market closed out our day in Belfast where I met two Dublin-based sisters who are the proprietors of the Melting Pot Fudge Company. Their vegan fudge is so tasty that I left with three flavors! Every day that ends in fudge is a good one in my book.
My seemingly endless tank of traveling energy ran dry on day 117 of the Nowhere To Be Project. I have been entertaining guests in Vail for the past couple of weeks and have been constantly exploring, celebrating and indulging. This isn’t uncommon for travel addicts because we just want to see and do it all. The funny thing about travel is that it is, by nature, self-indulgent because we’re focused on seeing things and places of interest to us. Yet we betray this selfishness by burning the candle at both ends to experience it all, all the time! Over time, this can be grueling for both mind and spirit. With the exception of spa-centric trips, scheduling down time during a trip is not the norm. Due to my depleted energy levels, I am making a vow to schedule time to unplug from now on. This means mixing in time for a twenty minute nap in the midst of intense sightseeing. A long hot shower in the middle of the day might do the trick as well. Likewise with a dip in a local pool or hot spring. Whatever it is, wherever you are, make time for renewal as this ensures that the passionate flame of travel endures.
On Day 114 of the Nowhere To Be Project I spent the evening at one of my very favorite summer activities in Vail, Bravo!Vail Music Festival. This amazing concert series brings renowned orchestras and musicians from around the world to Vail for short residencies. There are an average of three concerts a week, each offering a different theme. Tonight’s show was “Women Who Rock” performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It included tunes from bad ass rocker babes like Janis Joplin, Pat Benetar and Joan Jett!
I am a season pass holder and attend as many shows as possible throughout the summer. I pack a picnic and spread a quilt out on the pristine lawn at Vail’s Ford Amphitheater. There’s nothing quite like the sound of beautiful music floating through the aspen trees and up into the mountains. If you ever find yourself in Vail in the summer, Bravo!Vail should be at the top of your “to do” list.
Most travelers, myself included, spend a lot of their time searching for the perfect spot. It might be a locale, a resort, a restaurant, a chair on the beach, or even a parking spot. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and what seems just right for one may be the exact opposite for another. Take a second to consider what these might be for you:
❤️your perfect spot for watching the sun rise or set
❤️your perfect spot for being one with nature (sea, mountains, lakes, forests, plains…whatever lights your fancy)
❤️your perfect spot for feeling at peace
❤️your perfect spot for feeling inspired
❤️the place where you can truly be yourself
Okay, where is your spot? How did you find it? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet and if that’s the case, keep on searching!
On Day 109 of the Nowhere To Be Project I languished in the luxury of my perfect spot. I awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains. I had coffee on the deck as I listened to the rushing of the nearby waterfall. I meandered through the village enjoying the farmer’s market packed with fresh local foods. I’ll doze off tonight to the cool mountain breeze flooding through my open window. My perfect spot is Vail, Colorado. It is my chosen hometown. Give it a visit if you’ve never been. You never know, it might just be your perfect spot too.
On Day 103 of the Nowhere To Be Project I had the privilege of revisiting the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Florida. The museum presents key events in the history of Central Florida ranging from Native American occupation to the Florida Cracker pioneers to Walt Disney World and beyond. Sadly, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting has been added to Orlando’s historical timeline since my last visit. The two year anniversary of the incomprehensible mass murder of 49 innocent people just passed on June 12, 2018.
At first I wondered if the wound was still too fresh and raw for a museum exhibit to be appropriate. However, upon viewing it, I found the museum’s exhibit to be a moving, respectful and tasteful memorial to the victims. The museum’s approach is geared toward presenting the event through the lens of the overwhelming response from the community. Included in the exhibit are heartfelt letters and toys left at the nightclub in the aftermath of the terror, quilt blocks made to comfort the injured and the families of the victims and to memorialize those who were lost, and impassioned anti-hate artwork. The exhibit closes with a trip down a flight of stairs embellished with ribbons, each carrying a personal sentiment from a visitor. I hope you’ll make your way to the Orange County Regional History Center should you ever find yourself in Central Florida. We must never forget or relent. #OrlandoUnited
On Day 97 of the Nowhere To Be Project we left Tiki RV Park in St. Ignace, Michigan after a restful night. This despite the fact that the park was constructed on an old Indian burial ground. Tiki is in a great location with easy access (on foot or by car) to dining, shopping and ferries to Mackinac Island. Several lots have limited views of the lake (ours included). It is a small establishment with friendly people. So friendly, in fact, that they reached out to me by phone when the power went out. They wanted to make sure my dog was okay and I REALLY APPRECIATED THAT!!! Even though it was only 67 degrees when it happened, the inside of a RV can get hot quickly, so we were quick to return to check on him after receiving the call. The park itself isn’t glamorous with no paved spots at all. However, it offers full hookups, a bathhouse, limited cable and a laundry facility for just over $30 per night.
While St. Ignace is a nice small town, if we were to do it all over again we would have parked our RV at Shepler’s Ferry and stayed on Mackinac Island instead. Shepler’s charges $5 per night for overnight parking and dogs are permitted on the ferry. This makes overnighting it in a hotel on the island a wonderful option. As much as we love RVing, the lure of a night in a fancy hotel is literally unstoppable!
I spent some time with nuns on Day 30 of the Nowhere To Be Project. I love nuns. I collect them actually. Not literally, but I do hoard a bit of nun-themed art. Also, Mother Teresa is my spirit animal. I think the reason why I am so invested in nuns is that they inspire me to be better because they dedicate their lives entirely to the service of others.
The nuns I interacted with today were young and vibrant, wearing very modern-looking habits. They were gracious, joyful, open and somehow peaceful. On a long-haul flight a few weeks ago I watched a film about the life of a young girl as she worked to become a nun. It was no easy task. It wasn’t necessarily difficult because of the vow of chastity, but because of the vows of silence and poverty. She went months without speaking. She lived without the comforts we take for granted. She did these things to prove that she was capable of relinquishing all personal motivations. Those who could not were released. Needless to say, very few candidates stayed the course. Those who did entered a life of willing and eager servitude.
What if we could all emulate the work of nuns for just an hour each day? How many good works could we accomplish in that small amount of time? Just imagine how the world might change for the good! I am proud to say that I have a full-blown case of nun envy.
I get a lot of odd questions from people about my near-constant travel. They ask me if I miss my kids. They ask if I hate my home. They make comments that indicate that it is excessive and perhaps even selfish to spend so many days on vacation. I do miss my kids, but they are grown now and often join me. I do not hate my home and return rather frequently. Is my constant travel excessive? Perhaps, but I choose to travel in lieu of other things like a big house or fancy car that just do not do it for me. Am I being selfish? Maybe, but I figure it is my time and my money and this is how I choose to spend it. All of these questions led me to a bigger one…why do I need (yes, need) to travel so much?
Like countless others, I grew up in a toxic environment. My home was riddled with violence, addiction, and profound sadness. This caused me to avoid going home. I was the kid who was always somewhere else. I’d take off on my bike to explore and would invariably find new streets, new trees, new parks and new people. These jaunts gave me peace and freedom, two things that, in my eyes, were priceless. Still are. I also learned that there were happy and safe places and faces out there, and that some people actually had hope. So this is where it began.
In my profession, I teach a lot about mental health and addiction. Therefore, this discussion begs the question, “Am I addicted to travel”? There is even a pop-psychology catch-phrase for travel addiction: hyper-mobility. Could I, or you, be suffering from hyper-mobility?
When we talk about addiction, one or more of several key factors must be present. For instance, the individual may express the desire to quit, or cut down, and may have physical or psychological reasons for being unable to do so. He or she may have experienced negative life events or even failed relationships as a result of the behavior. The behavior may not give the individual the same level of satisfaction, or “high”, as it once did. There are a few others, but these are the most obvious signs that someone is struggling with addiction.
Hmmm, let me see, I do not desire to quit or cut down on traveling. I do not experience any significant physical or psychological problems when I’m not on the road with the exception of occasional boredom and extended periods of daydreaming about the next adventure. Harmless, I think, don’t you? Traveling hasn’t caused me any problems in life or in valued relationships either. Finally, I still get immensely satisfied, or travel-high, with each trip, so that one’s out too. I guess I’m not hyper-mobile. Phew! I’d hate to stifle my wandering spirit because, quite simply, each new place and face reinforces all the wonderful things about life and humanity that I first learned on two-wheels.