My Guest Post Blog at FrugalFirstClassTravel — Walking The Rhine Vineyards and the Vosges Valleys

Check it out!  Enjoy my new guest post about walking in Germany and France at http://www.frugalfirstclasstravel.com, a wonderful travel blog by my Australian friend, Jo Karnaghan.

August: Osage County — Not Far from Home

Susan Heiligman's Blog

When I heard Tracy Letts  was developing his Pulitzer prize-winning  play August: Osage County for the big screen, I was thrilled.  I saw August: Osage County when it played on the LA stage.   “All roads lead to home.”  I could see the country, the sweeping prairie, the old hills encrusted with huge boulders, the gnarled oak trees and the miles and  miles of blue sky with breathtaking sunsets.   I knew the place Letts revealed.  The conflicted characters and how they have endured heartbreak while looking for  happiness seemed like people I knew.

Tracy Letts is the son of Oklahoma writer, Billie Letts, whose works many of us know and love.  Her best-selling novel Where the Heart Is was made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd.  Both mother and son write about women, women who stare down fear and bitter disappointment to journey forward and rebuild their lives.  The expectant teen mom abandoned in an…

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On the California Wine Trail

Find my latest publication “On the California Wine Trail” at http//www.neauxmad.com where I write about a recent trip to rediscover 4 historic wineries in Napa Valley that I first visited in the ’70s before the blind tasting in Paris.   Cheers!

In neauxmad.com you will find my travel piece “Finding Zen In Searchlight: A Haibun”…..

Link

Finding Zen in Searchlight: A Haibun

Finding Zen in Searchlight: A Haibun

My Gypsy List — 8 Places I Love

One of my early experiences with travel was written up by my dad and published in a travel magazine.   At the time I was mildly impressed that our family vacation was put to print, but now it’s wonderful to look back on his pieces as I reflect on the magic of travel.  My case of wanderlust, no doubt, is in the genes.  Travel is beyond visiting interesting spots on the globe.  Travel is a way to view life and culture.  It becomes a chance to feed the soul.  As my dad wrote,  travel allows us to experience the vibrant environment of a new destination where we can linger almost too long, drinking in the pleasure of feeling like a roaming gypsy immersed in the vibe and people at hand.   My gypsy “short list” of place I love and a bit why…

  1. Paris, France — Centre Pompidou,  hot chocolate at Angelina’s, walking along Champs Elysees. Pont Neuf,  Rive Gauche and the galleries,  the Grande Arche, the TGV to Nice
  2. Taos, New Mexico — Taos Mountain, a tuna sandwich at Michael’s Kitchen, dancing at the Sagebrush Inn, the turquoise shops, Ghost Ranch, the High Road to Santa Fe
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii —  outrigger canoes rowing the Ala Wai Canal, Tahitian hula dancing, lunch at the Halekulani, North Shore, Haleiwa Bridge, lanais, Hawaiian quilts, puka shells necklaces
  4. Venice, Italy— water taxi across the Grand Canal, Hard Rock Cafe,  Peggy Huggenheim’s Villa, the gondolas,  Prosecco, Piazza San Marco, Carnivale masks, the Rialto, macchiatos
  5. London, U.K. —  the Thames, the pubs, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, the Tube, walking in Richmond Park, Hamm
  6. Newport Beach, California– Crystal Cove, Balboa Island pier,  the bay, surf shops and beach boutiques, the ferry, koi pond at Fashion Island, the Lido, Pacific Coast Highway to Laguna Beach
  7. Prague, Czech Republic — the steeples,  the crystal, walking the Charles Bridge, the jazz bars, hat shopping, the Astronomical Clock
  8. Medicine Park, Oklahoma — the one-way wooden bridge, the bikers, their hogs, burgers at Meers, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, cobble-stone cabins with screened-in porches

Take A Hike! Sunday afternoons and Summer vacations

Growing up I recall countless afternoons after church and the proverbial Sunday lunch putting on hiking boots to walk the trails in the nearby wildlife refuge.  My dad, of course, was the “hiking master” as we took our stride up the mountainside.  The party of hikers besides my dad and me would include my sister, my mother who often joined in reluctantly, and maybe a neighborhood friend or two if we could twist a few arms.   We’d fill the canteens with water and set out for an afternoon of adventure among the wooded footpaths and the grassy, rocky meadowlands.  Walking over leaves and branches, detouring around streams and boulders, our band of walking warriors always found excitement along the way.  Any sighting of a scissortail or a large bird that we were certain was a bald eagle would simply send us over the moon.  We might see a buffalo and an elk.  My memory of those times lingers on happy hours spent walking trails lined with  shrub oak and holly berries, cedar and pine needles.  I can close my eyes and smell those Sunday afternoons.    My dad, without a doubt,  was motivated on those hikes among the Wichitas by, not only, a time to savor nature’s beauty, but also, a chance to explore, to feel adventure, to imagine life far beyond the horizon.  To widen the expanse of what we could  explore within driving distance on a Sunday afternoon, our summer vacations often took us to the Rockies of Colorado.  There the hikes took on a majestic vibe.  We were beyond the reach of home.  We were serious hikers now setting out from the trailheads surrounding Estes Park.   The summer mountain journeys were a way to venture together as time moved on and family vacations like these would end.  Yet, what was lasting would be the sense of wonder my dad had shared with me.  He’d talk about geography as more than a physical location but rather a state of mind, places not bound by borders and endless worlds to discover.   To look at life as a chance to marvel at its beauty, its mystery and to seek new horizons, to wander different places was his wish for me and my siblings.   His travelogues about some of our summer vacations were published in those early travel magazines.  He referred to our trips as pilgrimages and I quote “Already we could feel the exuberance that goes with vacation time.  We had our road maps marked…rain dampened neither our gear or our spirits…we had lingered almost too long, drinking in the pleasure of being roaming gypsies.”  Today I’ve volksmarched in Germany and France and walked the beaches in Hawaii and California.   I set out mornings to run the trail by my house all the while looking around for the next adventure and still in awe of this world,  still feeling the magic of what’s beyond.   I say, take a hike!