In Tropica it’s always guest season. Living in a vacation destination means a lot of houseguests. I enjoy picking people up at the airport and having the stimulation and fun of visitors.

Being a good houseguest is an art, but it can also be a learned skill. If you have friends living in interesting places, and you are lucky enough to be invited to stay, it means you can travel all the more. So it behooves you to treat your hostess like the treasure she is.

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New Year’s eve morning as I write this. I’ve spent the week between Christmas and today pondering the events of 2016. I’m surprised at the number of surprises I had in 2016. It was a year of surprises.  And I’d like another please.  I believe this is because of my new commitment to extemporaneous living, instead of planning everything out.  There’s a flow going on.

Here’s my list. I suspect you had tons of surprises too.  What’s on your list?

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Hi everyone! After a trip I jot down my observations and what I learned about travel, packing, shopping and eating.  Hope there are some tips that will help you plan for your next trip!

Packing. For my three week trip I packed a carry-on wheelie with my usual minimalistic flair. Not much room for error.  Still, when I unpacked back home, I set aside what I did not use even once: two t-shirts, two long sleeve shirts, one pair of pants, two undies, one bra, two pairs of socks, bathing suit. Wow, really?

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Lone mountain

Montana is still “the last best place.”

Two days ago I returned from a vacation for a “big” birthday:  a long, dreamy road trip through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

I write this during a steaming hot Saturday afternoon in Tropica. The skies just opened up and I’m storm watching with my animals. But my mind is still dreaming of places richly named: the Gallatin Gateway. Cowboy Heaven, an upper valley on Ted Turner’s extraordinary Flying D ranch dedicated to land conservancy and free range buffalo roaming.  Skalkaho Pass.  Choteau.  Silver Bow. Medicine Lake. Bear Creek.

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Title: THELMA AND LOUISE ¥ Pers: DAVIS, GEENA / SARANDON, SUSAN ¥ Year: 1991 ¥ Dir: SCOTT, RIDLEY ¥ Ref: THE079BE ¥ Credit: [ MGM/PATHE / THE KOBAL COLLECTION ]

Liza and Jeanette go for a drive

I used to walk to high school with Jeanette every day.  Now, decades later, we’re going for a big walk hike together.

Two high school friends, meeting up for a girly road trip. We’re as opposite as can be: She’s slim, I’m curvy.  She eats slowly, I eat faster. She walks fast, I walk slowly.  Will we still be friends by the end?  I’ll try to post from the road, but I’m also trying to unplug.  [Read more…]

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As many of you know, I live in Tropica where it’s slow, hot and green. This past spring, I undertook the task of having my house painted. I had been putting it off for years and it was time to face the music. As is local custom, I hired one painter who methodically worked his way through the house, inside and out. I was prisoner of my house for the six weeks it took, rising early in the morning to let him in, driving to buy more paint and supplies, letting him in and out,  waiting until he finished at six.  It was relentless and mind dulling.

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Solo travel for me is the norm, not the exception.  I don’t even call it solo travel, I call it travel.

My first job out of university was as an aviation journalist.  I traveled the world on assignment. Europe, South America, Africa and memorably, to what was at the time Communist Eastern Europe. That job is where I learned how to travel.

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euro packing

There’s no better time to reflect on my packing than when I’m on the plane home and have a fresh experience with my travel wardrobe.  I spent two weeks of my “adult spring break” in Zurich and Milan with a carry on. I love carry on travel for the ease of maneuvering my way through airports, train stations, subway steps, buses and on crowded, uneven streets. A small bag, packed with some carefully chosen items makes me feel smart and powerful.

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Life Hacks

If I ever go on safari (and I hope I will) …Remember to NOT take pictures of wild animals. I don’t want to spend my time trying to capture a fabulous picture of a giraffe when I should be enjoying a live giraffe gamboling right in front of me.  I lost too many precious moments of family life because I was fiddling with focus, trying to turn on/off the flash etc.  You know exactly what I’m talking about. [Read more…]

Good morning from Oxfordshire © Amanda Brooks

⟡ A window on the world ⟡

I have adopted one of the habits of today’s young. I wake up and reach for my ipad mini.  I quickly scan my Twitter feed to see the breaking news.  CNN and The New York Times.  What’s happening, what’s trending. Then, I slow the pace and turn to my Instagram feed. [Read more…]