Category Archives: Travel

It has never been a goal of mine.

But I’m getting close.  Twenty more.  Think I should go for it?

visited 30 states (60%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Free ipad travel guide

What about you?


Filed under Travel

Flashback to September 28, 2007

I didn’t realize that the entire history of planetpooks is not here on  Several years still live at  I had no idea, and need to decide what to do about that.  In the meantime I’m reposting this for Billie Sue Mosiman, thriller and horror writer, and old friend from the magical world of GEnie, who is contemplating a cruise. She mentioned curling up with a book, and I remembered, oh yes, I remembered…


September 28, 2007

As we leave our last island, my view from my wing chair in the library:




And my chair by the window:




Sorry for the whiplash, but I’m yanking you back to 2012 now.  Almost five years have passed since that cruise.  I am not a cruise person.  That’s the only one I’ve ever taken.

I sat in that chair for more hours than I can count, and wrote thousands of words. The views were amazing and the atmosphere quiet.  I only recall one other passenger entering the library while I was there.  Who goes on a cruise to sit in the library?  I guess I did, and believe me, I’d love to spend a writing week there again.  It was a beautiful library, and I propped my feet on the window sill with my laptop in my lap and wrote a new world.  I had to rearrange furniture a bit to do so, mind you.  The chair usually faced into the library, not out.

We were on the Pride of America, the Norwegian Cruise Line.

Just for the record, it is the only cruise in the world that is governed by American (in this case, Hawaiian) law. It departs from and returns to Honolulu, and in the meantime visits four islands.  With the exception of the last day, all travel is done at night.  You wake up already docked, ready to take off and explore the island.

Unlike other cruise lines that were docked where we were, we were allowed to stay on the island hours longer than they were.  It seems like there might have been one night where passengers weren’t required to come back at all, but my memory may be bad on that. We were told it is because the other cruise lines originate in Canada, the US or Mexico and thus don’t have to follow Hawaiian laws unless they are in American waters.  Thus they grab their passengers early enough to get back out into international waters for the nightly gambling.  There is also an issue of port fees.  Our cruise paid to stay longer than the others did.

Because this cruise has to follow Hawaiian laws, its crew is 90% American (that percentage may not be exact, but it was a high number).  This also makes it different from other cruises.  Some passengers liked the fact that all the crew wore name tags with their hometown listed and the general atmosphere was casual and friendly.  I also heard complaints from seasoned cruise folks who preferred the less casual atmosphere of their previous cruises. The dress code is also different and more casual from most cruises.

There were some restaurants that required reservations and were not part of the package. The main dining room had an upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs was for those who wanted the more upscale experience and had a dress code. Downstairs was more casual.  I think they served the same menu. The food on the cruise was plentiful and good.  We hit most of the restaurants at one time or another, including the sports bar where I watched the Cowboys win (and was the only Cowboys fan present, which was fun).

Those are just a few of my memories of that trip which may be of interest if you’re considering a Hawaiian cruise. I personally like the fact that the boat is under American/Hawaiian jurisdiction, since there are a lot of scary things that happen in international waters and the US hasn’t been that successful in getting justice of our citizens. That wouldn’t stop me from taking another cruise if I wanted to, mind you. But it was definitely something I liked.

Now, the other part of looking back.  That state room held the week-long slumber party where the four of us–my mother, sister, niece and I–were crammed into too small a space all together due to various confusions prior to boarding. We often laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks, I said a few words that made my niece laugh hysterically, my sister gasp and my mom pretend she hadn’t heard them. It’s where we gave my mom the time of her life.

It’s also where we saw my mother’s back covered with unexplained bruises and discovered that her doc would start running tests when she got home.  That was the beginning of the end, though like my mother, there was no tragedy involved, just a lot more love and laughter as her body finally let go.

I’ve just returned from Hawaii again. This time, we were there for my youngest son to get married to my beautiful new Hawaiian daughter-in-law.  Once again, I return filled with memories of laughter and love and beauty, and the constant presence just over my shoulder of my mother’s memory.

Damn, she would have loved that trip.

In fact, I’m pretty sure she did.








Filed under Hawaii, Travel, Writers, Writing, Writing Process

Where in the World Wednesday (18 April 2012)

Yes, it’s back!  Where in the world Wednesday.

Today we’re playing a game.  Guess where these images are from! (No prizes other than smug satisfaction if you’re correct.  The prizes are over here!)

I’ll give you three hints.

It might sometimes get cold there.

It has rocks.

And last hint, it is a beautiful isle.

The answer is on Bruce Percy’s website The Art of Adventure Photography, with this podcast. More gorgeous photos, music native to the land, and Bruce’s lovely narrative.

Enjoy your Wednesday mini-vacation!

(Now, should I do WWW Wednesday, too? Not sure. Stay tuned. Or… not.)


Filed under Photography, Travel, Where in the World Wednesday

Shooting windows

I love photographing windows, usually the view from within.  And when it comes to windows, there is nothing I love more than leaded glass. When we were in England in March I shot several views from Erinyes Manor Baddesley Clinton.

It’s difficult to explain what it’s like visiting a place after you’ve already absorbed it into the fantasy world you’re building, absorbed it because of its floorplan, its history–chosen for very practical reasons, when there was a prettier manor actually located in Cornwall that ought to have fit the bill. But it didn’t. And even though it was suggested that I use the exterior of the pretty manor and just make it be what I want it to be inside, I felt that with everything I was making up in this new world I was building, it felt necessary to have some solid walls to contain, and yes, to limit me. And so I chose the less-pretty manor because it fulfilled my needs, and with it came priest holes and a chapel and a moat.  A moat!

And once chosen, this place that was only images and words in a guidebook and on the internet evolved into a place similar and yet very different.  I let the original wing, built in medieval times, survive instead of vanish.  I added an apple tree and a fountain where I have now see lives a wall of wisteria. My manor has ancient oaks so close to the moat, their long branches provide midnight escapes for children who want to explore in the moonlight, and midnight access for abductors whose aims are far less innocent.

But the one thing I never expected when I was writing? That I would walk its corridors, scale its stairs, inhale this place’s real magic in real life within months.  The unexpected trip to England was not only a trip to my spiritual home, Cornwall, but an opportunity to visit a place that hitherto only really existed in my imagination.

So when we landed at Heathrow, we picked up our car and drove straight to the Midlands (not exactly on the way to Cornwall, mind you).

How to describe? It wasn’t Erinyes Manor. And yet, it was comfortable and familiar to me. I kept saying, “I could live here.” Unlike many stately homes (St Michael’s Mount, you gorgeous thing, I’m looking at you) this one felt oddly historic and yet livable at the same time.  The scale was human; the atmosphere was warm.

I could imagine family dinners more easily than stiff, formal occasions (okay, I’d replace the sidechairs).

The kitchen begged to be the center of a family’s life (even though it probably wouldn’t have been at the time built) and the library only needed some paperbacks and more comfortable seating to be utter bliss.  (The Resident Storm Chaser has the best pics so I will wait until I get them before posting more.)

Baddesley Clinton was the embryo of my Erinyes Manor, for which I am ever grateful. But it is more.

I love windows. I love looking in. I love looking out.

But in this case, I stepped through the window and into another world, a world that had been fully lived in and fully loved, and if I manage to capture a bit of that reality in my fantasy, I will be very happy indeed.


Filed under England, research, Travel, Writing, Writing Process

The Magic Hour

In photography, the magic hour is approximately an hour around dawn and an hour around sunset, when the rays of the sun are so low that the atmosphere provides extra color. In other words, a time when even a total amateur photog like me can take a pretty picture of pink mountains.

Rocky Mountain National Park. One of my favorite places on earth. This is what I see when I step outside of my tent, if I step outside early enough.

Tell me again why I came home to three digit heat?



Filed under Photography, Rocky Mountain National Park, Travel