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Locals present program on kayaking in France

ADVENTURE TRAVEL – A program on kayaking rivers in France will be featured Monday (Feb 25) at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear Corporate Office at 6021 E. Mansfield, Spokane.

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Club members Jim Nelson and Charlene Longworth will discuss their river adventures on Corsica, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Travel: An American Grandmother in Paris

    Walking down a street in Paris, I had to step aside to let the woman pushing an infant in a pram pass on the narrow sidewalk.
    My first glance was for the baby, small, bundled in blankets against the cold, damp, winter weather. Then I looked up at the woman. She was about my age, dressed for a stroll, yet still effortlessly elegant in that Parisian way. As we waited at the corner for the light to change, our eyes met and we returned one another’s smile. Our eyes met again.
    I smiled down at the baby, tapped my chest and said “Grand-maman.”
    “Oui,” she replied, nodding back at me and smiling. “Grand-maman.”
    I don’t speak French and I have no idea if she speaks English. But some things are universal.

    In the year since my first grandchild was born, as I’ve traveled I’ve become aware of a new kind of landscape. Grandmothers. I see them in parks, on busy sidewalks, on busses and trains. Sometimes they are with sons or daughters, an extra pair of hands or simply along for the ride. Often, like the woman in Paris, they are alone. Taking care of children while mother and father work. Exactly what I do when I am not away from home.

    My phone is loaded with images of beautiful destinations. On it is a visual record of the places I’ve been for work and for the pure pleasure of traveling. I also have photos of my children and the whole family together. But the images I go to so often, when I’m on a plane or in a quiet hotel room in some beautiful city thousands of miles from home, are those of a little girl smiling up at the camera or sleeping in my arms. My grandchild.
    My favorite is a copy of the first photo made of us together. She is only hours old and I have just walked into the hospital room my son-in-law has just gently given her to me. I am wrapped around her, cradling her, focused only on the tiny person in my arms.
    Now, each time I look at that photograph, I see myself, in the instant the photo was taken, falling hopelessly in love.

    The light changed and the woman, leaving me with one more smile, crossed the street and walked briskly away, turning down another street.

    There was a time, when my children were still small, in my arms, on my hip or walking beside me, that I exchanged glances and smiles and unspoken empathy with other mothers. Women who, like me, were navigating sleepless nights, nursing, tantrums and all the countless little milestones of mothering. Now, I am in a new club. I look into the eyes of women all over the world and acknowledge the deep happiness of being the Grand-maman.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington whose essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel Brings Couples Closer Together

   If you're looking for a way to strengthen your relationship, try hitting the road. Together.

   According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Association, couples who travel together find more satisfaction. They experience better communication and have longer-lasting relationships. They are more romantic.

   Today is Valentine’s Day and millions of cards, boxes of candy and restaurant dinners will be purchased. And then tomorrow morning life will go back to the old routine. But that’s the thing important thing about travel. After a trip, nothing is ever quite the same again. Even if it is only the addition of a few more photos on your cell phone, or a kitschy souvenir on a shelf in the living room, the everyday world we live in has been subtly changed.
 
   Shared experiences deepen our connection with one another. We can be one of thousands of passengers on a cruise ship but the memories we will bring home are intimate and singular: sunsets watched from the deck, wine at dinner, a kiss in the dark.

   Whether it is crossing Europe by train, watching geysers in Yellowstone, thrilling to the sight of whales breaching off the coast of Alaska, exploring ancient ruins in Mexico or even a spur-of-the-moment weekend in the city, what comes back with us after any shared travel experience is the sense of having been a part of something that now belongs to us alone. We linger over memories of having had an adventure, of overcoming the ordinary obstacles that complicate any kind of travel. We celebrate the planning and saving and scheduling that made the trip happen or the exhilaration of giving into an impulse to escape.

   Travel with the one we love sparks the imagination and teases curiosity. It soothes us and relaxes us. It helps us remember what drew us to one another in the first place.

   Humans are hardwired with a need to share and couples who travel together fall into another kind of love. They get hooked and want more. They look forward to another destination, another pin on the map, more photos in the album. And, always, one more kiss.


Read the U.S. Travel Association study here

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

  

Vintage Shopping on Etsy

On a recent trip to Paris, I did everything I wanted to do except one thing. I didn't get a chance to scour the flea market for the vintage linens I love to collect. The days were too packed with museums, monuments and sightseeing and I was there with my 17-year-old daughter who has no interest in spending hours shopping for "junk.".

However, a few nights after my return, I did the next best thing. I logged onto Etsy and selected the "Vintage" shops. Immediately, items listed by sellers from all over the world filled my screen. One particular vendor, located in a small town in France, quickly caught my interest and sure enough, I made a purchase. Soon a package from France arrived in my mailbox and I unwrapped the beautiful old monogrammed linen bolster I'd ordered. It was exactly what I would have chosen if I'd found it in a flea market stall and even with international shipping, the price was comparable to what I would have paid in Paris.

Etsy gets a lot of attention for its endless selection of handmade and handcrafted items, but more and more the vintage side of the online marketplace is making the news. There are sellers who specialize in new items made from vintage materials. (the latest issue of Country Living Magazine features an iPod charger crafted out of repurposed vintage books) and it's worth noting that there are quite a few Spokane sellers listed on Etsy.

It's a cliche to talk about how small the world seems to be these days. But it's not always a negative thing. I loved every minute of another visit to Paris. And the quiet moments I spent shopping another corner of France from the comfort of my favorite chair in my own living room, were just as much fun.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer and antiques lover based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Travel: Soaking in the View From the Tub

(Photo of the Hotel Welcome 'Bali' Room, by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)      

 

       For many of us, there are few elemental pleasures that can equal a long hot solitary soak, especially when it is in a tub filled with bubbles or scented oil. Time and troubles seem to vanish with the steam.

        I think this is especially true for bath-loving travelers.

            There have been times that the first thing I’ve done after checking into a hotel and discovering the room came with a tub, was fill it with hot water and let the stress of travel melt away before I set out to explore. And then later, after the day was done, I’d slip back in for one more soak before turning in for the night.

            Looking back at the places I’ve been, most stand out for the scenery, the history and the culture of the destinations. But a few trips, in addition to everything else, are also memorable because of the bathtub. The white marble bathroom and expansive downtown view from the tub at the Shangri La in Vancouver, British Columbia comes to mind. Or the big tub in my private cottage at Blackberry Farm, in the rolling countryside of Walland, Tennesse. Or the deep soaking tub, complete with champagne and chocolate, at the Hotel Le Littre in Paris.

            So many trips, so many tubs, but my favorite might be the big bathtub in the exotic garret “Bali” room at the Welcome Hotel in Brussels.

            Each of the 17 rooms at Hotel Welcome is decorated in the theme of an exotic location around the world, accessorized with furniture, textiles and objects d’art brought back from the travels of the owners.

            The walls of the Bali room are painted a deep red and gold. Rich fabrics and authentic architectural elements and decorative objects accessorize the space.  Elaborately carved wood doors open to reveal a large jetted tub, surrounded by a pebbled floor and faceing a set of French doors and a narrow balcony that overlooks the city.

 

            I’d spent a week in Belgium before flying on to Estonia and then Lithuania and I had returned for one more night in Brussels before catching my return flight in the morning. The hotel, part of which is in what was originally a 19th Century home, is located in the beautiful and historic Saint Catherine district, adjacent to the Fish Market. Surrounded by wonderful shops and restaurants, the hotel is only a few minute’s walk from the bustling Grand Place, and yet it feels like a private hideaway.

           

            After strolling through the historic heart of Brussels, stopping for one more Belgian beer and one more plate of delicious food, I made my way back to my room, packed my suitcase and prepared for the next morning’s flight back to the United States.

            Finally, just as the sun went down, I filled the tub with hot water. Turning out the lights, I opened the French doors and stretched out in the big bathtub. From the privacy of the dark room, I could see the city come to life. Lights came on in apartments and hotels. Footsteps rang out on the cobblestones of the street below. Voices and laughter floated up to where I was. Church bells and music serenaded me.

 

            I thought about all I’d seen and done in the last weeks. Relaxed, well fed, my mind still replaying images from the trip, surrounded by the trappings of Bali but cocooned in Brussels, a city I love, I was filled with a deep contentment. The moment sealed my happiness.

 

            Travel is about new experiences and new frontiers. But there are times when the ancient pleasure of the bath is enough.

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

 

Travel: Chasing Paris

   It was not the first time I’ve taken a daughter to Paris. Two years ago my middle daughter and I spent a January week in the City of Light, but that’s where the similarity ends. There is a world of difference in 17 and 21.

   At 21, my middle daughter was living away at college and was getting close to graduation. She’d missed me and was ready for time together. Not so with my 17-year-old. She sees a lot of me. Maybe, if I’m reading the subtly of closed doors and rolling eyes correctly, a little too much of me.

   This is her senior year. College comes in the fall. She is so close to independence, to getting out from under my wing and stepping out into her own life, that it’s all she thinks about. She’s been left here at home with us, without her brother and sisters who have grown up and have lives of their own. She wants what they have. She wants out.

   Still, a trip to Paris is a trip to Paris. When I suggested we go just after Christmas, she signed on. For a while it looked like her sister, the one who’d gone with me before, might join us. But the real world—in the form of a real job—stepped in and it was back to one (disappointed) girl and her mother.

   We landed in Paris, checked into the hotel, napped for a couple of hours and that was it. She never looked back. The minute we walked out the door of our hotel each morning, the race was on. We picked a direction, a museum or monument or quartier to visit, and she would set out, quickly leaving me to lope behind her like the family dog.  Occasionally, she would realize she’d left me too far behind and would wait, her impatience only barely masked, until I could catch up. Then, after a block or two, she was off again.

    She’s tall and her long legs speed her along. I am short and was carrying the bag full of cameras, umbrellas, maps and everything else that marked us as tourists. She looked like a local. I looked like a porter at the train station.

   I quickly quit trying to keep up and began to enjoy the sight of her moving across the cobblestones, toward the Eiffel Tower, down narrow lanes and along the Quai Saint-Bernard skirting the Seine. I have a series of photos snapped on my phone as I trotted along behind her, sometimes quite a distance behind her. My beautiful daughter melted into Paris and I was able to watch.

   Chasing her, I remember wanting desperately to be on my own at that age, without the weight of parents and siblings to slow me down. I wanted to travel alone, unencumbered. If, at 17 I’d found myself in Paris with only my mother for company, I would have done my best to shake her like so much dust out of the rug.

   She led me on a merry chase from one end of Paris to the other but I’ll win in the end. She’ll go to Paris again, on her own or in the company of friends. But it will be too late. I will have marked the place. She’ll remember the little hotel I like so much, the one on a quiet street with a school and a market and rows of beautiful apartments.

   She’ll order in French and think about the way I simply couldn’t pronounce Croque Monsieur without traces of my Southern accent coming through. She’ll get tired and remember the way I insisted on stopping each afternoon for a cup of chocolat, demanding a moment to savor the strong flavor and rest my sore feet.

   She’ll return to Paris on her own terms but memories of our trip together will be folded into every crepe, waiting around every corner and strung like lights across the Pont Marie.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of 'Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons' and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com



  

1930s Depression Glass juicer still has a place in the kitchen

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  

 

   Each morning I put bananas, blueberries, oranges or clementines, yogurt and a big handful of spinach in my blender and whip up smoothies for our breakfast. Last week I noticed the clementines were just old enough to be difficult to peel in a hurry, so over the weekend, when I had a free moment, I stood at the counter, peeled them all and then reached into the counter for one of my most low-tech pieces of kitchen equipment.

    The green Depression-era juicer was my grandmothers and I’ve carried it with me from kitchen to kitchen for more than 30 years. The glass juicer fits on top of a measuring cup—I also have a larger cup found at an estate sale—and all it takes is a twist of the wrist for fresh juice.

    I sliced the clementines and twisted each half around the grooved top of the juicer until they were all done and the cup was filled with sweet tangerine juice. I gave each an extra twist or two in order to get as much pulp as I could.
    For a moment, as I worked, I was able to connect to my grandmother’s kitchen, a place I spent so many happy hours as a child

    I put the juice in the refrigerator to be ready for the morning’s breakfast smoothies, washed the glass juicer and measuring cup and put them both away.

    It occurred to me again how much sentimental weight the old objects we treasure can carry. And how sometimes the simplest tools can remain relevant and useful in our harried and hectic modern lives.
  

Travel: And All the Boys at Sea

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)


    Crossing the deck of the busy cruise ship, on my way to get something for lunch, I noticed a little boy crouched quietly, oblivious to the crowd around him as he bent over his shoe. He’d dropped to fasten the buckle and his mother stood patiently by, parting the sea of passengers that streamed around them. That, as every mother eventually learns, is what you do when you have a preschooler. You stand and wait while they master each new, seemingly monumental task. To do anything else is to invite tears and tantrums.

    I watched the boy’s fingers, small and deliberate, as they worked at his task and I remembered my son doing the same thing at that age. I remembered the way my breath caught at the tender vulnerability of his neck, his thin back curved over knobby knees, his concentration evident by his frown and the tip of his tongue peeking out of the corner of his mouth.

    I was on board the big ship to cover the launch of the brand new Carnival Breeze but the ceremonies were over and we were underway, already out to sea. I had nothing but time so I stayed where I was, watching the boy while fragments of other conversations drifted around me.

    “We’re on our honeymoon,” I heard a man’s voice say, and I turned to see two couples, one young, the other old, on lounge chairs by the pool.
 
    The old man replied that he and the old woman beside him had been married more than 50 years.

    “Wow, that’s impressive,” the young man replied, his voice lacquered with a gloss of interest and respect. “So, what kind of advice would you give us?”

    I knew, and the old man knew, it was a superficial question.  Still, the old man seemed to take it seriously and was silent for a long moment and I waited to hear what he would say. The little boy worked on his shoe. The young woman smoothed sunscreen over her flat belly and along her arms. The old woman, her skin browned and leathery from years in the sun, rummaged through the basket on the deck beside her chair until she found her sunglasses. The young man sipped his beer.

    Finally, the old man, his voice rough and graveled by years, spoke.
    “You got it pretty good right now, son,” he said, nodding his head toward the young woman. “But one day, when the sun ain’t shining on you, and you’re mad at your pretty little bride over there and you hate your boss and the kid needs braces, you might think about doing something stupid. You might think about walking away.”

    The young man looked a little shocked at the old man’s plain words.

    “My advice is to remember how you feel right now because one day you might need it.”

    “Yes, sir,”  the young man said. “I sure will.”

    The old man, having said his piece, closed his eyes and the young man went back to his beer.

    I looked back at the little boy just as he finally slipped the strap through the metal buckle. Dusting his hands on the back of his swimsuit, he stood up and said “Okay,” in a satisfied tone. With his mother beside him, he walked on and disappeared in the crowd.

    I moved on too, got my food and walked back to where my husband was reading. He looked up from his book. “What took you so long?” he asked, and I realized I’d lost track of time. Again.

    “Oh, you know me,” I teased, sitting down beside him. “I was just watching all the boys.”

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of  'Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons' and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Emergency Smartphone Power

A decade ago, when I started freelancing after a long hiatus at home with my children, I realized that in order to be competitive and to produce work professionally and independently, it would be important to be as mobile as possible. So—before I’d even heard the term “backpack journalist”— I carried in my work backpack a good digital camera, a digital audio recorder, a cell phone and, because I needed it for a regular newspaper assignment that made it necessary to duplicate readers’ family photos, a small scanner. And a reporter’s notebook, of course.

Now, most of those and the other regular tasks are done with one small tool. My iPhone. 
I can take notes, photos, audio and even scan with it. I use it for research, editing, texting and other forms of communication and, once in a while, to make a phone call. The downside is all that use requires a lot of battery power. I’ve learned a few hard lessons along the way, when the phone died just as I needed it, and I'm not alone. (The traveler's joke is you can spot the iPhone users because they're always clustered around the nearest outlet at any airport.)

But smart phones are more than work tools and entertainment hubs. With more and more people dropping traditional land lines, the cellphone is a lifeline. Recent events have made that obvious.
After Super Storm Sandy hit the Northeast, in addition to the other aspects of the natural disaster, people were left without any way to charge phones, laptops and tablets. That meant they weren’t able to reach family, friends and coworkers. Communication was lost just as it was most needed.

Red Cross officials and other emergency preparedness officials urge us all to keep emergency supplies, including food and water, batteries, copies of important documents, medical records and other necessary and difficult to replace items at home. We’re also encouraged to keep a similar kit in our cars for weather and other travel emergencies. It’s a good idea to add an instant cellphone power source to that list.

I use a Mophie battery case for my phone every day which gives me a complete battery charge when necessary. I bought it at an airport kiosk and it has saved me more than once. My FatCat PowerBar holds a charge for as long as one year and can provide necessary power for a phone or camera in case of emergency. I keep it on hand to make sure I don’t run out of juice exactly when I need it most and I’m going to add one to our home emergency kit. I just gave one to my son to keep in his mountain cabin so he’ll have power in case of emergency.

I’m not just dependent on my phone to meet deadlines, post photos, keep in touch with my children and play Words with Friends. Like many people, it’s my link to the rest of the world.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country.

  

Travel: Sail Away From Winter



   We weren’t even on the ship when the party started. I was still making my way through the embarkation process, listening to piped-in dance music and having a welcome photo made when the 70s dance anthem, I Will Survive filled the air.

   Almost immediately, one of the Carnival Cruise Line employees joined in (Is it even possible to listen to Gloria Gaynor sing that song and not sing along?) In the next moment a group of women, all traveling together on the 8-day Caribbean Cruise, turned the corner and someone in the group started singing with the attendant.
Another woman, then another, joined and soon they were all standing side by side, arms linked, belting out

“Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive…”


   The song ended. In minutes we were crossing the gangplank and stepping on board the brand new Carnival Breeze and I realized I was still smiling.

   It was an excellent way to start the trip.

   Even on a ship as big and busy as the Breeze, with more than 4,000 passengers of all ages and another 1,300 crew, I saw the girlfriend group once or twice— all dressed up on “elegant” nights or gathered in a circle of deck chairs, chattering and laughing—and each time they looked like they were having the time of their lives. I asked and they told me they were from Chicago and like those of us who live in the Northwest, they were already tired of slogging through wintery gray skies and cold winds.  They’d been counting the days until they could turn their back on winter and spend a week sailing to the Caribbean with nothing to do but sit in the sun, a glass of something tall and cool in hand.

   Winter has its pleasures, of course—skiing, sledding, hot chocolate and marshmallows—but for the most part it is a season that requires us to bow and surrender or, once in a while, escape. That’s what I was looking for. While the Windy City ladies were partying, I planted myself on a deck chair, my husband beside me, and simply soaked up the Vitamin D, hoping to store enough sunshine to see me through until spring.

   I figured out pretty quickly that the Carnival approach is to pack up the party and hit the waves. All you have to do is relax.

   And always, right overhead, shining down on the ship, there is the star of the party and the secret to surviving the greyest days of winter in this part of the world: that big hot Caribbean sun.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. She is the author of 'Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons' and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
       

    

  

Travel: Paris in Winter

   Most people dream of Paris in the springtime, when the city blooms and leaves unfurl like tiny pennants on tree-lined boulevards. Or, they look forward to a summer vacation in the high season, when the grass in the parks is lush and green, the warm breeze ruffles your hair as you cruise down the Seine and the sidewalk cafes are crowded with people-watchers and those who love to be watched.


    But I long for Paris in January, when the weather is unpredictable and, on occasion,  unfriendly.
    In winter, Paris is imbued with a faded, elegant, melancholy romance. The sky is low and the air is heavy and darkness falls early. The river looks dense and cold and the top of the Eiffel Tower is occasionally shrouded in fog. Walking down narrow streets the aromas of the bakeries and tobacco shops and coffee houses linger and capture you as you walk past, drawing you in.


    In January, Paris is a study in shades of gray and black and walking down the rain-slick cobblestones, it’s easy to imagine you’ve stepped back in time, back into an iconic Henry Cartier-Bresson photograph. I marvel at the architecture, the beautiful Hausmann buildings, Art Nuveau Metro stations and arching bridges, all somehow more prominent without the foliage and crowds that will come in warmer weather.


    I took my middle daughter to Paris just after the first of the year in 2011. We arrived early, just as the weak morning light was stealing across the city.  I watched her face as she looked out the taxi window and caught her first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.


    We stayed at a small pre-war hotel in the 6th Arrondissement, a short walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, and each day after breakfast we walked the streets of Paris. From the Latin Quarter to the Champs Elysse  to the banks of the Seine we explored grand avenues and winding side streets. We stood in the hushed Cathedral of Notre Dame. We gazed at the paintings and sculpture at the Musee D’Orsay, buying postcards to bring home as souvenirs. We stopped at the sidewalk creperies and sipped espresso in tiny cafes watching the city go on about its business. And all the while a soft rain fell, washing the city in soft hues. We spent a companionable week that I will always remember.


    This is not to say Paris in winter is without its flaws. The noise and congestion and the ubiquitous dog waste on the sidewalk are still there, just as they are any time of year. But for an incurable romantic, the dark and mysterious days of January are the perfect time to experience the city of light.


    I loved it so much I returned this year with my youngest daughter. She’s been to Paris before on a school trip, but it was hurried and only superficial. This time we explored the city on our own, the way I did with her sister, visiting the places she chose. And once again I got the chance to see one of the world's most beautiful cities through a daughter’s eyes.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. (Portions of this essay were first published in Spokane Cd’A Woman Magazine.)
  

Travel: Starting the New Year with Edible Souvenirs

We were fortunate again this year, the whole family was together for Christmas. We gathered, exchanged gifts, caught up on one another’s lives and enjoyed one another’s company. And we ate. We ate a lot.

When we weren’t sitting down to our traditional Christmas dinner, we were snacking on things I’d gathered on my travels and brought home to share with my family. That’s come to be one of my travel traditions and now wherever I go I spend time looking for goodies to bring home with me.

This year, while playing board games or working on a jigsaw puzzle we opened a can of Virginia peanuts that traveled back from Roanoke tucked into a corner of my suitcase.

We made pots of good Door County Coffee & Tea Company coffee and nibbled peanut brittle from Silver Dollar City in Branson Missouri.

I passed around a can of delicate and delicious Clear River pecan pralines I bought in Fredericksburg, Texas and hand-carried home. And we cracked pecans I gathered from where they’d fallen from the trees around the same city.

I spread tart cherry jam from, also from Door County, Wisconsin, on our toast at breakfast. In the afternoon I sliced a block of Wisconsin's Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese to go with the bottle of crisp white wine I brought back from Rhine River valley in Germany.

One night I made a big pot of chili and seasoned it with heritage chili pepper powder I bought at the Chili Pepper Institute in Los Cruces, New Mexico. I made a batch of brownies with brownie mix spiced with the same chilis.

We warmed up with mugs of hot buttered rum, savoring the bottle of Koloa rum I picked up in Kauai and saved especially for this holiday season.

This is the time of my life when I can travel freely and I don’t take it for granted because I know that could change at any time. My children are mostly grown and my work takes me around the world. I can’t always take them with me, but I can bring the world back to the ones I love and share it with them one delicious bite at a time.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Old World Christmas at Elkhart Lake

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)


   When Christmas comes to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, it is wrapped in a big white tent and filled with music, food, handmade crafts and the ancient tradition of German Advent markets.

   Osthoff Resort General Manager Lola Roeh spent time in Nuremberg, Germany before returning to Wisconsin and coming to lead the Osthoff. Nuremberg’s famous Christkindlesmarkt left an indelible mark on her imagination and she was determined to bring the tradition to the resort. Fifteen years ago she did just that and now the Old World Christmas Market at the Osthoff Resort has grown to be an important part of the region’s holiday season, catering to those who return each year to add to a collection or simply savor the tastes of an authentic German Christmas by eating schnitzel and red cabbage or sipping Glühwein.

   Some vendors, including the sausage maker who flies in each year to sell authentic Nuremberg sausages—made with his secret recipe— have been with the market since the beginning.

   While shoppers move from booth to booth, Father Christmas parts the crowd, calling out Christmas greetings. Seasonal music fills the big heated tent.

   I had only just walked in when I spotted a booth filled with beautiful handmade paper mache Santa and Father Christmas figures. Each exquisite piece was made in authentic vintage German molds, hand painted and decorated with glass glitter or tiny glass beads. I spent almost half an hour looking at each one, trying to decide which would come home with me. Finally, I chose a petite Father Christmas, ornamented with glass beads and holding a tiny Christmas tree. He was wrapped and packed for the trip home and the little figure was the first decoration I put out when I returned.

   Elkhart Lake is beautiful any time of year but the elegant white structures of the surrounding resorts, including the crown jewel, the big, rambling, historic Osthoff Resort, shine brightest in winter. The summer crowds are gone and the small town becomes a place to escape the hectic pace of the holiday while celebrating the best of the season.


More information:
The Osthoff Resort

Old World Christmas Market


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons and  can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Carol Hicks Bolton ‘Antiquities’ in Fredericksburg, TX

The first time I read about Carol Hicks Bolton, in a magazine in the late 1980s, was the first time I’d really heard anything about Fredericksburg, Texas. The description of the German heritage of the historic small town, and the photos of the architecture of the soft, white, limestone buildings of the area, intrigued me. And Carol’s work, her flair for creating personal, elegant interiors with what was, at the time, an almost unheard of combination of fine antiques and rustic and tattered objects and materials, was unique. 

I put Fredericksburg, and Carol’s store on my list of places to visit and finally made the trip to the Texas Hill Country in early December of this year. The first stop I made as I pulled into town was at Carol Hicks Bolton’s Antiquities, her newest retail venture. I’d just read about the new store in Jo Packham’s Where Women Create magazine and that had once again piqued my interest.

Antiquities is big. The 15,000 square-foot interior is spare and elegant, filled with an eclectic collection of antiques and linens, with furnishings, books, ephemera, natural objects like bones and rocks and antlers all beautifully displayed. Sunlight streams through the windows and the open door.

I could have happily spent the rest of the day looking at every little thing in the store but unfortunately I was on a schedule, with more stops to make before checking into my guest house.

Since Carol home-schools her children, she wasn’t there. But I was able to talk to her husband Tim, who’s been by her side as she built the business. He gave me plenty of room to explore and shop, but any time I had a question he was there with an answer.

Since time, and space in my suitcase, were limited, I decided to focus on the rows of iron shelves filled with old books. And almost immediately I found my prize: a 1929 'Les Guides Bleu' guidebook to Paris. The small book is filled with maps, delicate little works of art all on their own, and when I opened it the pages fell almost immediately to a map of the neighborhood where my favorite hotel, also built in 1929, still sits.  I’ll be at that hotel in a few weeks, celebrating the new year in Paris with my youngest daughter.

I closed the book already knowing it was mine.

Treasure hunting, when done right, is like eating dessert. It’s sweetest when you have only enough to leave you wanting just a bit more. That’s just how I felt when I walked out, the vintage book in my hand.

Just as I suspected I would when I first read about it, I loved everything about Fredericksburg and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. And the time I spent exploring the objects Carol Hicks Bolton and Tim Bolton have gathered and brought back to Texas was memorable, as well.

I have the feeling this was only the first trip. I’d like a little more, please.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance travel journalist based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com


  

Travel: The Beauty of Christmas in Germany

(Photo by R. B. Millsap)

 

   One night, on my first trip to Germany during the month of December, hungry and still a little jetlagged from the flight, I walked into a tiny restaurant in a residential district near the center of Munich. I opened the door and then, dazzled by what I saw, stopped to take it all in.  
    

   A forest of dozens of small, elaborately decorated Christmas trees were hanging upside down from the ceiling of the room. I’d never seen anything like it before. Beautifully-wrapped packages of all sizes were stacked on windowsills, strung like ornaments on garlands of ribbon and greenery, and piled into corners. Evergreen boughs, woven with tiny white lights that glowed in the fresh snowfall outdoors and were reflected in the mirror over the bar, trimmed every door and window. 
    

   The intimate neighborhood eatery was filled with locals enjoying a big plate of schnitzel or wurst and crowded with friends who’d stopped by for an after-work drink. I felt as though I’d walked into a scene from an ornate Victorian picture-book, but I quickly realized the over-the-top decor was no show for tourists. It was just a perfectly fine example of the way Germany dresses up for the holiday season.
   

    Anyone who has ever spent time at one of Germany’s Advent or  Christkindlmarkts can relate. It’s the same kind of over-the-top feeling. Strolling down the rows of wood huts, most strung with white lights and wrapped in garland and decorations, it’s easy to feel you’ve stepped back in time.
   

    Most markets are held in the traditional market square or city center. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, the air is filled with the sweet and spicy scents of sausages, pastries, potato pancakes and warm candied almonds and other nuts. Shoppers crowd around booths buying gifts of handmade wood toys, knitted items, ornamental gingerbread and hand-carved wood figures for the family creche. And the Glühwein stands are the most popular by far, with friends gathering to enjoy a mug of the hot, spiced and fortified wine that is so much a part of Germany’s holiday season.
   

    Each market has a distinctive feel. The walled city of Nuremberg is famous for its red and white striped market canopies. The Munich “manger” market is where families come each year to select hand-carved pieces for the creche displayed every Christmas season. And the sprawling, busy, Frankfurt market stretches from the old city center to the river, highlighting both the history and contemporary culture of the vibrant city. The beautiful market in Cologne is consistantly voted one of the most popular.
    

   If you have the time and want to explore Germany at a more leisurely pace, consider booking a Rhine River cruise.  With frequent stops at villages between Frankfurt, Germany and Basel, Switzerland, a December river cruise down the Rhine River gives you a trouble-free way to enjoy the scenery as you cruise past ancient castles, beautiful and productive vineyards, old fortifications and picturesque villages. Each day brings a new opportunity to explore holiday markets in towns along the river, each with its own flavor and vibe, without the crush of peak-season tourists. Small-ship cruising combines the best of cruising—fine dining, comfortable staterooms and leisurely travel—but most river cruise ships carry fewer than 200 passengers so one never feels lost in the crowd.
    

   No place is as beautiful as Germany this time of year. Every year when I hang the wreaths and decorate the tree I think back to that small but beautifully and exhuberantly decorated restaurant on a quiet street in a very busy city. And I'm always inspired to do just a bit more.

    

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington, whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
       

    
  

Shopping: Catching Sunlight in an Old Jar

One recent afternoon in Chappell Hill, Texas, touring the area around that antiques Holy Ground, Round Top, I stopped by Heritage Garden and Mercantile on the town's main street, looked around for a few minutes and was on my way back out the door when a display of lids meant to fit old canning jars caught my eye. The neat thing about the lids was that each one held a tiny solar light. They could turn any jar into a lantern.

I loved the idea and bought two, dropping them in my suitcase. Later, when I got home I put the lids in the big English armoire I use as a china closet, filling it with linens, dishes, serving pieces and candles.

When I pulled out candles for the Thanksgiving table, I saw the lids and a few days later I put one on a jar from the pantry. I left it on the table to charge and then forgot about it again. Very early in the morning, when I got up to get ready to catch an early flight, I walked into the dark kitchen and the room was lit by the glowing jar.

I went online and discovered there are several brands of solar jar lid lights at various price points. And, if you're particularly crafty, I found instructions for making your own. I used the solar lid on a clear Kerr jar but it would be just as pretty with a vintage blue Mason jar.

I may be late to the party, but I'm happy to have found the little lights. They give new purpose to empty, unused jars and bring a beautiful new glow to lovely old glass. And, it's a good reminder that we never know what we'll find as we travel.

 

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Travel: Riding the Rails with the Branson Scenic Railway

   When I travel to a new place, one of the first activities I look for is a train ride, especially when the cars or locomotives are vintage workhorses that have been restored and put back in use. There’s no better way to sit back, relax and see the countryside, as well as capture a bit of local history.


    In many places such excursion trains are located at the edge of town, in the rail yards where the engine and passenger cars are stored between trips. But Branson, Missouri, is different.


    The Branson Scenic Railway depot is right in the middle of town. In fact, I could look down on the depot and one of the big engines from my room next door at the Hilton Convention Center. The morning of my ride, all I had to do was walk out the front door of the hotel and straight into the historic 1905 Branson depot.


    Each day, depending on the season, two fully-restored locomotives, Number 98 built in 1951 and Number 99 built in 1962, carry the seven cars, all built between 1939 and 1956, on three to four trips. The excursion train operates on working Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad lines and travels as far north to Galena, Missouri or south to the Barren Fork Trestle in Arkansas.


    Once on board, seating is open so passengers are free to find a spot they like and settle in. The dome cars fill up fast so I bypassed those and picked a seat in a car in the middle of the train, at a small table so I could take notes as I rode.


    Rolling through the beautiful Ozark Mountain foothills in fall is about as pretty a ride as you can imagine. The trees were beautiful. As we rolled along, deer, turkeys and even wild pigs could be seen from the wide windows. The train was full—I understand it almost always is—and most passengers were visiting Branson from all over the country. At one end of the car a group of seniors from Indiana laughed and talked and at the other end a family of four from Texas took photos as we rolled across the tall trestles. It was the kids’ first train ride.


    During the 40-mile roundtrip excursion, a narrator pointed out not-to-be-missed views, gave wildlife alerts and filled us in on the history of the train and the region. The rail line we were riding was built at great cost due to the ruggedness of the landscape and it was the primary reason the town of Branson grew and thrived. The car attendants, most of whom have been with the railway for years, stopped by frequently to chat.


    Branson is known for big shows and glitzy entertainment but, no surprise here, the train trip was my favorite activity. There is nothing contrived or artificial about it.


    So many places raze the old to make way for the new, but Branson went to great lengths to not only preserve its railroad history, but totally reinvigorate a tangible, and still thoroughly enjoyable, link to the past.

More information about the Branson Scenic Railway
    
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Travel: Exploring Round Top, Brenham and Washington County, Texas

    Too often, when we travel to big events, the only thing we see of a town while we’re there is the crowd and the attraction. There’s no time to take the side roads and explore. But as a traveler I’ve learned it pays to make another trip when the crowd is gone, to see a town or city or part of the country when it’s not on show. When the roads are clear, the diners and cafes are more relaxed and rooms are not scarce.

    Anyone who’s ever been to one of the Round Top, Texas, antique shows knows what it feels like to roll right into a big raucous party. Acres of antiques, miles of traffic, parties and people everywhere. It’s all great fun but if you make the trip between shows, you get a different view.

    I’ve spent hours treasure hunting, moving from one vendor to another in search of the perfect antique, but this time I was looking for more than that so I spent an off-season week exploring the small towns in and around Washington County, Texas, including Round Top. There was still a trace of autumn color on the big oak and pecan trees and although the temperature dipped at night, the days were warm and golden. But this time, instead of antiques, music and food, history took center stage.

    I stood in the reconstructed Independence Hall at the Washington-on-the-Brazos historic site at the edge of the Brazos River and listened to the story of the fierce struggle to gain independence that happened at that site. A town was born, transformed and then faded away but the legacy of fiery confidence and determination still remains in the pride of native Texans.

    At the same park I strolled through the home of Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic before Texas gained statehood and I traced the timeline of events that led to the creation of contemporary Texas at the Star of the Republic Museum.

    I spent time in Brenham, one of the state’s oldest settlements and toured the Simon Theater, a 1925 movie palace and show hall that is undergoing a complete restoration. I explored Chappell Hill, an old stage coach stop that has a rich history of cotton farming and was home to Polish immigrants who traveled to the United States in search of a better life.

    And the day I stopped by the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum just happened to be election day. I traced the story of the man who became the nation’s 41st president while at that moment, across the country, men and women were casting ballots to elect the 45th president. One of the rights that was fought for by men and women who built the simple Independence Hall I’d toured the day before.

    Nothing beats the fun when the tents are up and the antiques are everywhere, but that’s only half the story around Round Top and Washington County. The beautiful rolling Texas countryside is rich with history and the stories of ordinary people who did and continue to do extraordinary things.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Travel: Don’t Get Caught with Cold Feet

In the Departures section of the latest issue of AAA Western Journey Magazine, I contributed a list of my own  travel tips and tools; suggested uses for items you might have at home in your own closet or medicine cabinet.

One tip that didn't make the list is actually my favorite. In fact, I use it often.

Hotel rooms, especially in Europe, can be chilly in winter. So, to combat cold feet, before going to bed I fill a disposable (and watertight!) plastic water bottle with hot water. As hot as I can get it without actually softening the plastic. Then I slip the bottle into a soft cashmere sock kept in my luggage for exactly that purpose, tuck the homemade hot water bottle under the covers and slip in with it.

Of course, my quick fix doesn't stay hot as long as a traditional hot water bottle, but it helps me stay warm, relax and get to sleep. The next morning I either put the empty bottle back in my day pack or, it there's an option, recycle it.

Most frequent travelers find a way to "MacGyver" fixes for issues that come up. But, as a friend said, leave it to a woman to figure out a way to warm up her "popsicle toes."

North Cascades Highway closed by snow, avalanches

TRAVEL — The Washington Transportation Department closed the North Cascades Highway at noon today because of heavy snow and avalanche danger.

Three slides occurred and more than 4 inches of snow fell within 90 minutes, according to a department media release.

At this point, the closure is temporary, but the section of Highway 20 over the North Cascades typically closes for the winter this time of year.

Vehicle emergency kit cheap insurance for winter travelers

WINTER TRAVEL — Slippery roads this week are a reminder that drivers should be prepared for mishaps that might catch stuck, stranded or off the road in winter conditions.

A bag of items stashed in your vehicle could spell the difference between comfort and misery if not — in the worst case scenario — life and death. 

Carry a survival kit in your vehicle.

  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Cellular phone and charger
  • Windshield scraper with snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Extra winter clothes including shoes, hats and gloves
  • Compact shovel
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or  cat litter) and tow strap
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Road map
  • Candles, matches, non-liquid firestarter.
  • Special-needs items vehicle passengers may require.

Travel: Seeing the world with 1940s Wollensak Rambler field glasses

(Photo by R. B. Millsap) 

 

    When I’m traveling and working I usually have a big digital camera slung on my shoulder and, more often than not, my iPhone in my hand. I know it probably looks odd to have what seems to be a child’s toy hanging around my neck when the rest of my tools are expensive and modern, but I’d put my shabby old Wollensak Rambler field glasses against just about anything I could buy today.

    The Wollensak Optical Company originated in Rochester, New York, in the late 1880s and made precision camera lenses and shutters until it closed in the mid-1970s. During WWII, Wollensak manufactured optical equipment for the US military. The company also produced a series of small binoculars for sportsmen and opera lovers. My aluminum glasses were made in 1940 and were fairly expensive—for the time—at $9.95. I love them because they are small and lightweight and easy to pack—slipping neatly into my purse or my suitcase—but they focus easily and the view is crystal clear.

    I picked up the little Rambler glasses at an estate sale in Spokane more than 10 years ago and I’ve taken them all over the world with me since that day. The original leather strap was brittle so I fastened a lanyard that allows me to hang them securely around my neck.

    Recently, on an InnerSea Discoveries small-boat voyage to Southeast Alaska, although there were plenty of binoculars around for passengers to use, the Rambler binoculars were my constant companion. As we sailed along the beautiful wild coast, I scanned the beaches for bears and the waves for Humpback whales and Orcas. When I spotted something, and it seemed as though every time I lifted them to my eyes I was rewarded, the focus was sharp and instant.

    I spent many contented hours either standing on the deck or sitting on my bed in our stateroom, gazing out at the beautiful scenery. I brought them along when we left the boat and paddled a kayak through crystal-clear and ice-filled water. When I wasn’t taking photos, I was getting a closer look through the lenses of my old field glasses.

     I will admit to a certain romantic attraction to the back-story of the ordinary old objects that find their way to me. And when I look at the worn exterior of the glasses I do like to imagine who else might have gazed at the distant horizon through the lenses.
    It pleases me that even with the most modern equipment, when I pick up my Rambler field glasses and put them to my eyes, I have a clear (and vintage) view of the world around me.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Travel: Posting a filtered view of memorable moments via photo-sharing apps

   At a rcent media event, I watched as a friend showed another woman—a professional photographer—her latest post on her Instagram feed, the mobile application that allows anyone to take photos with a smartphone camera and then manipulate them, filtering to add color, texture, vintage graininess or even bizarre special effects, before posting online.
    
    “That’s pretty, but it’s crap,” the photographer said dismissively. “Those photo apps let people who don’t know what they’re doing take a bad photo and then ‘save’ it by adding special effects. It’s basically junk.”


    My friend laughed off the other woman’s dismissive and, to be blunt, rude, words and moved on.    


    I’ve heard that kind of exchange before and it always strikes me as foolish. Photo apps are creative toys, outlets for expression, not a threat to professionals. And there’s a reason they are so popular. A photographer with skill and the right equipment can take a technically perfect photograph. But sometimes technically perfect is just not real enough.


    It’s the same with words. If I were to tell you that recently, at the Peaks of Otter Recreational Area near Bedford, Virginia, I walked a trail to the top of a mountain on a 67-degree weekday in October, climbing until I stood at the overlook gazing down at a forest of hardwood trees that were no longer photosynthesizing, and then when I had seen enough I took the rocky path back down, you’d have a pretty good idea of what I’d done and where I’d been. But I wouldn’t have communicated in any way what I felt.


    But when I tell you that not too long ago, on what felt like a perfect fall day, breathing in cool air scented by forest smells of fallen leaves and woodsmoke from distant cabins, the sun warming my back, I climbed a winding, rocky, path crisscrossed by the roots of the gnarled trees that clung to the rich dark soil of the southwestern Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains and when I reached the stacked-stone overlook I stood still and silent as my heartbeat slowed, gazing out as far as the eye could see at a beautiful carpet of golden Hickory and scarlet maple treetops; when I tell you I stood there a long time taking it all in, acknowledging my instinctive reaction to the beauty of the season before turning to make my way back down the steep path, I bring you a little closer to my experience.


    I think that’s the appeal of Instagram and other mobile phone camera apps. They let us take what we see and paint the image with nostalgia, sentiment and other emotions.


    Of course, there’s a time and a place for artistic license. I carry a professional camera with me wherever I travel, and the camera on my iPhone 4s is surprisingly good. I shoot on both so I come home with a not just a photo suitable for traditional publication, but, because I love the creative flexibility, I usually post a lightly-filtered or focused version of the same image online on my Facebook page, Instagram feed and Tumblr blog.  One captures what I saw, the other what I felt. But what’s most interesting to me is the reaction many people have to a filtered image. They look at it longer, closer. Perfect focus, balanced composition, color and scale, draw our approval. But emotion, the “junk” so many deliberately remove from their work, draws us in.


(Click "Continue Reading" to see an unflitered view of the cover photo.)

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

(Travel) The War to End All Wars

Silent testimony to 11/11.

WWI bunkers in Flanders Fields, Belgium.

Travel: Roanoke’s O. Winston Link Museum Chronicles the End of America’s Steam Engines

(Photo courtesy O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, Virginia)  

   Once you see one of his photographs, you never forget it. Inky darkness is frosted and silvered by pools of light. People and places, most in small towns in rural Virginia, are frozen in the moment. And always, dominating the scene in sometimes startling ways, is the presence of a massive engine, billowing a plume of smoke and steam.


    O. Winston Link was born in Brooklyn, New York, 1914 and like most boys of his time, he had a fascination for the big steam engines that roared down the tracks through small towns and big cities across the United States.  But it wasn’t until after World War II that he found an outlet for that fascination. While on an industrial photography assignment in Staunton, Virginia, Link traveled to Waynesboro to take photos of the Norfolk & Western Railway steam engines, the only railroad still running steam engines at that time. For the next five years he would spend more than $25,000 of his own money and countless hours photographing the trains and the people who worked and relied on them.
    
    Today, the exhibit at the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia perfectly illustrates the power of Link’s single-minded devotion to chronicling the last of the giants.

    When you see the photos, most taken at night and almost all done in black and white, they at first look like moments of photographic good fortune; being in the right place at the right moment to capture a tableau of ordinary life in the mid-1950s. Light casts strange and eerie shadows on the gigantic engines as well as across the land, houses and people in the photos.


    But Link, who studied engineering before going on to become a professional photographer after World War II, and who was a skilled craftsman in his own right, was more than just a man with a camera. Nothing in his photographs was left to chance. He captured larger images by rigging a line of cameras to fire at exactly the same moment and then stitching together the photos.The people were placed, the composition worked out as elaborately as the lighting that illuminated the scene.


    "You can't move the sun, and you can't move the tracks, so you have to do something else to better light the engines," Link said. He chose to take his photographs at night and controlled every aspect of the photos. Through his lens and his genius with lighting, wiring dozens of bulbs to fire at exactly the right moment, replacing lanterns in the hands of railroad men even lamps in nearby homes, he conjured exactly what he wanted to see. And, ultimately, what he wanted us to see.


    When the last steam engine ran in 1960, Link photographed it from behind a couple standing on the front porch of their home. It was the end of an era and the end of his project.


    At the time no one was interested in photos of steam engines. That was yesterday’s technology. Photos, when he could sell one, went for next to nothing. He did better selling high-quality recordings of steam engines and whistles and it wasn’t until the 1980s that Link got the recognition he deserved.

    Today, strolling through the O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, next to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, studying the images he produced you are drawn into the scene, compelled to look closer for the tiniest details of the composition.


    Link painted with light on photographic paper creating stark, indelible, dramatic images of mechanical dinosaurs rolling and belching clouds of steam on their way to extinction. To stand and look at his work is like being taken along on that historic ride.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com




  

Travel: Black Dog Salvage on DIY Network

(Robert Kulp, co-owner of Salvage Dogs, is one of DIY Network's latest reality stars. Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)   

 

   While traveling through Southwest Virginia recently, I stopped by Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke. I’d read about the architectural salvage and design company in Garden and Gun Magazine’s profile of the Roanoke area and I knew I couldn’t get that close without stopping by.


    Black Dog owners Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp have filled a rambling 40,000 sq.ft. Roanoke warehouse on the edge of the hip Grandin Village with a treasure trove of interesting architectural pieces, antiques and one-of-a-kind designs made onsite in their wood and metalwork shops. Select dealers occupy one end of the building and regularly bring in antiques and collectibles to fill their spaces.


    The minute I walked in the place I knew there was no way I’d be able to take it all in with a quick visit. Most of what caught my eye was too big to bring home ( but I need that 10-foot MAZAWATTEE TEA sign!) so I spent almost an hour walking through taking photos with my iPhone thinking I could follow up online.


    While I was there I met Sally, the laid back black Labrador retriever who is the business namesake and talked to Kulp who told me Black Dog Salvage will be the focus of Salvage Dogs, a new DIY Network reality show.  Beginning early next month, cameras will follow Whiteside and Kulp as they explore and dismantle old buildings and find new ways to use old objects. In the first episode the pair will salvage an 1890’s farmhouse that served as both post office and school house.


    I loved Roanoke and I’m already scheming to get back. And next time I’ll set aside a full day for shopping at Black Dog. But, until then, at least I can follow the action on DIY’s Salvage Dogs.
    
    
Salvage Dawgs is set to air on the DIY Network, Thursday, Nov. 8 at 11pm EST. and again Friday, Nov. 9 at 9pm EST. Check your local provider for updated information.
    


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Gas prices tumble nationwide, but not in Idaho…

Gas prices across the nation have just posted their biggest one-week decline since 2008, AAA Idaho reports, but Idaho hasn't yet felt it. In the Gem State, gas prices are averaging $3.82 a gallon, 19 cents higher than the U.S. average and down just a penny in the last week. The national average dropped 13 cents in the last week to $3.63 a gallon.

AAA predicts that national average gas prices will fall to between $3.40 and $3.65 by Election Day - just two weeks away - and down to $3.25 to $3.40 by Thanksgiving. But in Idaho? "We don't know," said Dave Carlson, director of public and government affairs. "I would think it's safe to say that we should see some decline in prices." You can read AAA's full news release here.

Travel: Back to Memphis

   Some places belong to our deepest memories. They are the source of the sights and sounds and experiences that define us, that make us the into people we become. Because I was born in the Southeast, less than a day’s drive from Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a place my family particularly loved, Tennessee became that kind of touchstone for me. As a child I camped along Deep Creek, explored Pigeon Forge and Cade’s Cove and looked out the window, staring into the clouds, lost in my thoughts as we drove the winding roads.   

    When I was a teenager my friends and I drove to Nashville for the weekend and we walked to Ernest Tubb’s Music Store to hear the musicians who gathered there late at night to play for the fun of it.

    One fall day when I was in my 20s, I took a single seat on a day-long excursion train to Chattanooga and started talking to a tall man who was there with a couple of friends. We spent the rest of the day together and in a few years we were back again, this time with our children.

    So when I had a chance to return to Memphis recently, a place I hadn’t been since we moved to the Northwest more than a decade ago, I didn’t think twice. The first day, not long after checking into The Peabody Hotel, the grand hotel that has been the heart and center of the city for almost 100 years, I walked down to the lobby to join the crowd around the fountain and the ducks swimming in it. If you don’t know, The Peabody is famous for its ducks. What started as a practical joke has become a treasured tradition and each morning they march single-file down a red carpet to spend the next few hours swimming in the hotel lobby before marching back to the elevator at in the late afternoon.

    The ducks always play to a crowd. Young children were gathered along the red carpet, anxious to have a front-row seat for the duck parade, and I realized my own children must have been about that age when we brought them to Memphis to see this particular show. I thought back on that day, wondering at the speed with which time grabs so many little moments and sweeps them into the corners of our minds, to sit there until we stumble on them again if we’re lucky.
    

   The woman standing beside me told me she comes to the city and to the hotel at least once a year. “I’m like one of these ducks,” she said, laughing and taking a sip of her cocktail. “I keep marching back.”

    After the ducks marched past me and into the elevator that would take them to their rooftop “plantation” I joined a tour of the building offered by an employee.  As he led us from one beautiful room to another he talked about growing up in Memphis and how the hotel has been a vital part of the community for most of its history. And for most of his personal history.
   

    “That’s the thing about this place,” he said, looking around him. “Everywhere you look you see a scene from your past.”

    For the next few days, as I explored a part of the country that used to be so much a part of me,  I said the same thing again and again.

    Memphis is a vibrant city. The music never stops on Beale Street. The food is spicy and delicious. I sat down to a plate of ribs at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous and could have spent hours just looking at the memorabilia  on the walls. I joined the crowd at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken and savored every bite. I toured Graceland and stood in front of the microphone at the old Sun Records studio. I walked through Soulsville, The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and listened to the music that was the soundtrack of my youth. And, just as it has forever, the river kept rolling.

    That’s the thing about Memphis, I guess. It was full of the familiar but it held so many new experiences I didn't get around to everything I wanted to do and see.  I should have told the woman in the Peabody lobby to save me a place next year.

       

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
       

    
  

The Year of the Goo Goo Cluster

The Goo Goo Cluster is 100 years old this month.

Anyone who grew up in the South or has spent any time in Nashville (and that includes the airport) will recognize the distinctive package featuring a piece of candy with a big bite missing. The Goo Goo Cluster is everywhere.

Created in October, 1912, by Howell Campbell and the Standard Candy Company, the chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and peanut patty has become a Southern food icon. During the Great Depression Goo Goos were advertised as "A Nourishing Lunch for a Nickel" and the South's favorite candy has appeared in a number of movies, including The Nutty Professor and Charlie's War.
Today, the factory cranks out 20,000 Goo Goo Clusters an hour.

I loved Goo Goos when I was a kid and I always bring home a box when I'm in Nashville or anywhere close.

I'm flying out of Roanoke, Virginia later today. I think I'll keep my eye out for a chocolately souvenir. I mean, after all, I'm going to have to get something for lunch.

Travel: Autumn Shines Along Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula

(Photo by Kaki Smith)  

  The house was just an ordinary little cottage in Sturgeon Bay, not one of the tall old farm houses—part of the dairy and agricultural legacy of the area—that line the roads along Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. It was just an average family house in a nice little town.  But the Maple tree in the front yard was another matter. Even in a place crowded with trees in full color, that tree was enough to make anyone slow down and take a second look.  Covered in brilliant and beautiful leaves, it seemed to be even more intense than any of the others around it and everyone in the car, each of us adults who’ve seen beautiful autumns before, people who might have become jaded at some point, had some comment. Out came the cameras and photos of a beautiful Maple tree were added to the albums on our smart phones.

   All that fuss over a tree? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter if you’re not happy about summer slowly fading away to be replaced by winter’s chill. It doesn’t matter if we complain about the shorter days and nights cool enough to chase us indoors when just a few weeks ago we would have lingered over one more cup of coffee or glass of wine. This time of year, when nature throws a party and colorful leaves fall around us like confetti and drift onto sidewalks and stick to the windshield of the car, we celebrate. 

   But, of course, that party is better in some places.

   I got lucky. I could have been anywhere in mid-October. But at the peak of the most beautiful time of the year, I was in Door County traveling along the narrow peninsula that juts like a thumb on the east side of Wisconsin, a place that is sometimes called the Cape Cod of the Midwest. It’s an apt description. Small villages dot the shoreline of Lake Michigan or, on the other side, Green Bay. White clapboard houses, big red barns and, of course, hardwood trees whose leaves show their true, beautiful, colors for a few weeks each year, dot the landscape.

   And during those weeks everything changes. Ordinary roads turn into picturesque leafy lanes that curve and meander under an arching canopy of trees so beautiful you crane to look up through the windshield as you drive. Hillsides become a patchwork quilt of color with scarlet, green and gold, stitched together as far as the eye can see. Markets are filled with apples and pumpkins and even a rainy day is beautiful.

   It’s easy to see why people allot precious vacation time to this season, booking cottages or hotel rooms in the quiet weeks before winter sets it. Especially in a place where for a few weeks each year even little trees in front of an ordinary house dazzle us before they settle down to sleep the winter away.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com