From My Travel Bucket List

I’m one of those people who like to read travel books like “1000 Places to See Before You Die” or “The Geography of Bliss.” Book CoverSometimes I find myself planning my next vacation when I’m not even done with my current one. Well, not really planning but dreaming. Where will I go next?

There are so many places I feel I should go – places I’ve read or heard about all my life. Places like Venice, Rome, and Florence; Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Oslo, or even Prague. Then there are the places which intrigue me, the activities or people which sound more than just interesting – exciting, challenging, and even educational.

Map

Here are just a few of those places I’d like to go, in no particular order, taken right off My Travel Bucket List!

The items may change as the years go by, whether by necessity or choice, but I look forward to dreaming about each trip in the days to come. What’s on your Travel Bucket List?

THE BOSTON PUBLIC MARKET | Edible Boston

Whenever I visit San Francisco, I make a trip to its Ferry Building.  Now Boston has its own market full of unique and artisan vendors, and I don’t have to travel as far. Located near Haymarket and Quincy Market, the Boston Public Market is unique – it’s a culinary adventure (you can eat gourmet donuts, local cheeses,  fresh pasta or drink locally made tea, coffee, or hot chocolate). It’s a a gourmet lunch spot (try the smoothies, smoked fish, Vietnamese sandwiches, or ice cream). It’s a wedding and hostess gift go-to (buy wine, jams, cutting boards made from stone, and bowls turned from wood). It’s a market (fill your basket with flowers, locally grown vegetables, meat, and fish). Read more about it here:

Source: THE BOSTON PUBLIC MARKET | Edible Boston

Are You a Coke Fan?

Do you like Coke? If you’re in Atlanta with little (or even big) kids you won’t be able to escape a trip to the World of Coca-Cola. Billed as an “experience,” it’s really a 4-D movie, museum, and taste testing place all-in-one. 

IMG_0634_2.jpgAs part of our whirlwind tour of Atlanta, we spent a couple of hours learning about the history of the soft drink and seeing all kinds of Coca Cola memorabilia.

IMG_5665.jpg

The best and most memorable part of our experience was tasting the different soft drinks (over 100 according to the website), from various Coke iterations to other fizzy drinks from around the world, like Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Brazil, Japan, and Costa Rica. At first, the liquid slid easily from our tastebuds down our throat, but after several samples, we were more selective, enjoying some and gagging at others. When our tongues and our tummies couldn’t handle anymore, we made our way to the exit and the gift shop where you can buy just about anything emblazoned with the Coke logo. 

Though not inexpensive, it’s a fun way to spend a few hours. But whatever you do, don’t go on an empty stomach. For more photos and another person’s experience, check out this blog.

Trip taken February 2015.

The Birthplace of GWTW

“Fiddlydeedee,” Mom would often say with a smile when she disagreed with something or someone – when she really meant, “That’s ridiculous.” She wasn’t from the South and she wasn’t a brunette, but Mom loved Scarlett O’Hara, and she loved “Gone With the Wind.”

IMG_5651.jpg

At 11 years old, Mom saw the movie “Gone With the Wind” for the first time. She was entranced and decided then and there that she would name her future daughter “Tara.” Another 20 or so years later, I was born.

Mom brought me to the theater to see the movie when I was 11 and soon after gave me a Scarlett O’Hara doll. I read the book by Margaret Mitchell some time in high school and when a fluffy flirtatious kitten entered our lives, we named her Scarlett. I showed the movie to my own kids when they each turned 11, but it wasn’t until my last birthday that I first visited Atlanta and visited the home of Margaret Mitchell, the American birthplace of my namesake.

_MG_5658.jpg

We toured Margaret Mitchell’s apartment, heard stories about her life and stories behind the making of the movie. At the gift store, I couldn’t resist buying a few things. A magnet of Scarlett O’Hara now adorns my file cabinet. I have a coffee table book on the making of the movie and a new copy of the 1,037 page book. When will I read them? Soon. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Trip taken February 2015.

Places to Go With Kids in SF

How do you keep four kids, ranging in age from 4 to 12, entertained for a day in San Francisco? Equipped with the cards “City Walks with Kids: San Francisco: 50 Adventures on Foot,” we explored Chinatown, discovering new places and unfamiliar parts of the city one cool winter day.

China Town

We visited a tiny fortune cookie factory, where we sampled and bought a bag of cookies.

Fortune Cookies

We walked by a building where a dragon in the window reminded us that Chinese New Year was just around the corner.

China Town

We listened to a Chinese band as the kids played on a jungle gym in Portsmouth Square. We shopped at a small market, bought trinkets, listened to street musicians, and ended our adventure with lunch at the Far East Cafe, a family favorite from my childhood years.

Far East Cafe

Trip taken: December 2010.

Snow Shoeing Along Meeks Creek

The sun was out, and the snow was deep. It was a perfect day for snow shoeing. We parked along side Highway 89 (south of Tahoe City), strapped on shoes rented from Tahoe Dave’s, and stepped off the road onto the snowy bank near the Meeks Bay Resort.

We followed the gated dirt road now packed with snow about 1.4 miles, admiring and hugging the trees along the way, stopping as the road ended and the trail began to climb.

IMG_4793.jpg

We ate our snacks on logs then headed slowly back to the car, this time across frozen Meeks Creek, choosing to make our own trail through the snowy meadow.

IMG_4806.jpg

Trip taken December 2015.

Tootling Around Truckee

Truckee still has the same sense of community that it had when I first moved here, the woman behind the counter said. “In the 18 years I’ve lived here, the population has grown from 4600 to 16,000, but it’s still the same.” And when I mention her quote to others who’ve been visiting Truckee for at least that long, they agree, though they tell me that the week between Christmas and New Year’s the winter enthusiasts have elevated the population to 50,000 or so.

It’s been years since I’ve visited Truckee. So long that I didn’t remember it’s charm. Most of what the tourist visits when they’re not hiking or snow shoeing or skiing is on one long street in downtown Truckee filled with boutiques, a fudge shop, and local artisan galleries.

Truckee

There are old railroad tracks and tiny bungalows just a block away, and plenty of places to spend money.

Truckee RR Tracks

We ogled and coveted the beautiful locally crafted items at Riverside Studios and Bespoke, wishing we could add to our Christmas list. We ate burgers and sampled beer at Fifty Fifty Brewing Company. We drank coffee at Coffee Bar, trying its lavender and chai spiced lattes, and gluten-free desserts. We enjoyed the uniqueness, the character, the charm of this mountainside community.

Coffee Bar

Mocha Latte

Trip taken January 2016.

Have You Skied at Tahoe?

My first memories of Lake Tahoe are of my dad, taking a dip in its cool waters. It’s summer, and the sun has warmed the air to the 70s, but the water is in the 50s. Brrr. He looks cold after his summer plunge, even to my young eyes. The lake is so cold, so big, and so blue.

It’s big (there are 121 square miles of water in both California and Nevada). It’s deep (at 1645 feet, it’s the third deepest lake in North America and the second deepest lake in the U.S.). It’s high (the highest lake in the U.S. at 6225 feet above sea level). But why is it so blue? Click here to find out.

When people talk about skiing at Tahoe, they’re really talking about skiing the Sierra Nevada mountains located near or around the lake. There are at least 19 mountain peaks, jagged and majestic at 9500 feet high. Tahoe is known as the site of the demise of many in the Donner Party in 1846-1847 and the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics. The first California chairlift was funded by none other than Walt Disney in 1937 at Sugar Bowl. Now there are 17 ski resorts with downhill, cross country, or back country skiing – some big, some small, each with a character of its own.

IMG_4832

I started the new year at Alpine Meadows. Though the morning was cold with minus zero temperatures and snowflakes blurred our vision, by noon, the sun was out and our view of the lake from the summit was unobstructed.

IMG_4823

Trip taken January 2016.

Traveling Through Each State’s Quarter

Are you a coin collector? Do you practice numismatists, the study of coins? Or maybe you just like to collect United States quarters, you know, the ones made for each state?

Though we started collecting quarters when our kids were little, not long after the U.S. Mint started the State Quarters Program in 1999, I still enjoy looking at them and wondering about the place, object, or person which was chosen to represent each state.

State Quarters

I haven’t been to every state, nor have I seen everything depicted on each state’s quarter, but I have seen Oregon’s Crater Lake and hiked up Vermont’s Camel’s Hump, I’ve driven by Nebraska’s Chimney Rock and climbed California’s Half Dome. I’ve seen New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain, walked around New York’s Statue of Liberty, and even seen a grizzly bear in Alaska. But I haven’t been to Kentucky’s Bardstown Mansion nor have I eaten a peach in Georgia. I’ve seen many American bison but never in North Dakota or Kansas. I haven’t crossed West Virginia’s New River Gorge Bridge nor been to the Indy 500 in Indiana.

SD Quarter

Here’s a list of states with the elements depicted in each of their designs. Where have you been and where do you need to go?

Where Can You Find Good Mexican Food in Tucson?

When searching for good Mexican food last June, we went to the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, El Charro Cafe.

El Charro 1

We arrived early and were seated quickly inside. Northern Sonora-Mexican food choices and a few Tucson ones fill the menu with the typical Mexican items of burritos and enchiladas plus grilled asada, hand-made tamales, chilaquiles, and ribs. There are gluten-free options and vegan ones, and plenty of cervezas. Overwhelmed, I gave up the opportunity to eat my usual Mexican food standby, fish tacos. Instead, I elected to sample many of the menu’s flavors by sharing a taco platter and a plate of tamales with my family.

The “Charrocuterie” a la Plancha includes a large vintage platter of carne asada, carnitas ranchero, grilled chicken, grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, pico salsa, sour cream, queso casero, applewood bacon, salsa, arroz, frijoles refritos, and corn or flour tortillas.

El Charro Tacos

The tamales looked good, too, so we added an order of three handmade tamales: pork carnitas, chicken tomatillo, and fresh corn.  The flavors were rich and deep, with just enough spice. 

El Charro Tamales

El Charro opened in 1922 and is the oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family in the United States.

Trip taken June 2015.