United States

Family Travel

Gone are the days when family travel was considered a luxury. With the wide-range of travel promos being offered today, and (thanks to the internet) easy online booking process of airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel agencies, families are now going places to have unique experiences together.

Family Travel

And it looks like the upward trend will continue. A study commissioned by the Embassy Suites Hotels indicates that millennial parents take trips with their kids significantly more than older generations, and 38 percent of them do so three or more times a year.

The difficulty of traveling with kids may be slowing down the trend though. The same study mentioned earlier says that 11 percent of parents surveyed find family travel stressful, and that stress was a top reason why some did not take trips with their kids more often. Dealing with child tantrums while waiting for boarding at the airport, finding ways to entertain a bored child at a resort, trying to get hot meals for the kids while away from home are just a few of the demands of traveling with children that parents need to deal with while on vacation. Who would want to travel again soon with their children after a nerve-wracking trip?

Embassy Suites Bumper

To address these family travel concerns and enhance the family travel experience, the Embassy Suites launched the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks program in March 2015.

The program includes an online community that engages parents and provides fun and useful tips from family travel experts and fellow parents to help make traveling with their kids easier and more fun. After all, a vacation is supposed to be time away from the stresses of daily living!

Embassy Suites Dance Party

Here are nifty samples of the ‘hacks’ on the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks hub:

  1. Pack your kid’s outfits in separate bags.
  2. Do not pack clothes that require ironing.
  3. If you have an early flight, get the kids dressed the night before in comfy clothes so they are ready to roll out of bed and make that early morning flight.
  4. Wear your baby. It’s helpful to have your hands free in the airport when you’re lugging around two suitcases, three carry-ons, three personal items, two kids, and the overpriced lunch you grabbed in a rush on your way into the terminal. Bonus: the stroller is then free to be used as a luggage cart.
  5. A pool noodle can act as a bed-bumper on the fly.
  6. No speakers? No problem. Put your phone inside an empty glass to amplify the sound and let the dance party commence.
  7. Use the hotel garbage can as a stool. When they can’t reach the sink in the hotel to brush their teeth, flip the garbage can over and let them stand on that.

Tic Tac Toe Napkin

Aside from the online community, the Embassy Suites is adding new family-focused amenities as part of the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks program. Families can expect coloring books and crayons upon check-in and cocktail napkins with family-friendly games during the evening reception, among other stuff on the house. Select hotels are even providing baby care amenities such as baby wash, wipes and other essentials this summer. These are on top of their usual family-friendly two-room suites, free made-to-order breakfast each morning and complimentary drinks and snacks for two hours every night.

Embassy Suites Buzz Lightyear
Photo: Lisa Niver, We Said Go Travel

 

And, further to the all-suite brand’s commitment to providing families with a great guest experience, the brand is incorporating family-specific training into its orientation program and on-going team member training sessions. This is to equip its team members with the necessary skills to ensure families staying with them can focus on enjoying their vacation time together, discovering awesome places and building beautiful memories.

*****

Photo credits:
Family Travel: Colleen Kelly via Flickr
All other photos: (c) 2015 Embassy Suites

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Big Rocks and a Brave Heart

By Nicole Dacanay

I am not a brave person. I like comfort. I like warm tea and blankets and happy movies. But I also have a fierce desire for wanderlust in my soul. The need to travel and experience new things is something my husband and I both feel within us, so for our honeymoon last summer, we decided to take a road trip. One of the stops on our road trip was Zion National Park, a high desert paradise located in Springdale, Utah. Among many things, Zion is famous for its extreme hikes, from a trek through an endless river to a trail that leads straight to the sky. That trail is named Angels Landing, and when we arrived at Zion National Park, my husband and I placed it at the top of our “to do” list. But the more I studied the hike, and the more I learned about it, the more terrified I became. The numbers made me nervous: 5 miles, 1488 feet in elevation gain, and a peak that hits over 5,000 feet. Hours after studying, I felt lost. The “once in a lifetime opportunity” tagline no longer made me feel inspired – I felt my confidence beginning to spiral as I considered excuses to tell my husband. “I can’t do it” wasn’t enough.

The following morning, I was too awestruck to complain. Mornings in Zion are unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever seen. The luminous orange landscape contrasts starkly with lime green trees that line the banks of the Virgin River. High above, sheer cliffs beg to be climbed, and trails cry out to be explored. And I couldn’t say no – not to Angel’s Landing, my husband, or myself. So we hopped on the shuttle and I crushed my hands into fists, facing the fact that I was about to attempt something I truly thought I was incapable of doing. The trail pulsed with a river of people, up and up toward switchbacks that looked like they belonged in an Indiana Jones film. I felt my stomach churn. I can’t do it.

We wound through the switchbacks steadily. The hot desert sun threw orange light from the rocks into our eyes, and the cool breeze spread dust over our faces. But as we climbed higher, we remained in a constant ebb and flow of other hikers seeking the same prize. Despite the sweat, sand, and sun, I focused on the man at my side and the trail at my feet.

Finally, the switchbacks ceased. We were met with a cool, quiet canyon punctuated with trees. For a few glorious minutes, we breathed easily. As I stood still beneath the shade, I suddenly realized something: my fears were slowly dissipating. I’d been so focused on keeping one foot in front of the other that I’d completely forgotten to be afraid! And just like that, the most strenuous part of the hike was behind me. All I had to do was focus on the present.

A second set of switchbacks led us to our ultimate goal: the road to Angels Landing, and a rest at Scout’s Point. At first I stood my ground, frozen by the fear of looking down and seeing the endless drop to Zion’s floor. I couldn’t move. I looked up and saw crows and vultures circling like veteran acrobats, their eyes on the ground far below, and I felt my heart race. The cool, gusty wind was urging me forward, reminding me that I did not come this far just to shrink beneath fear and self-doubt. I’d already conquered so much – what was a few more feet? So I took a deep breath, strode forward, and stood beside my husband. Together, we surveyed the vast desert land below Scout’s Point. It was a singularly inspiring moment, and one that I will never forget. Standing at what felt like the edge of the earth and facing my fears with a thrilled smile, I finally felt like the adventurer I always wished I could be. I’d taken my fear of heights and stared it down, challenged it, and overcame it. I was finally brave.

Bravery should be boxed in by any one definition. To me, bravery was staring my fears face to face, and overcoming my perceived limitations. Bravery meant that I was taking a new step, conquering a new challenge, and sharing an experience with my husband. Zion National Park helped me feel brave, because it gave me an opportunity that I’d never be given at home. Even now, when I’m writing or running, I consider my moment in the sky, staring at the earth below. And every time I think I am not enough of anything, I remember what I conquered on Zion’s peaks last summer.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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Adventurer

There came a point when the routine of my life began to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely routine that involved the blessings of children, but with that came dishes and shopping carts and lots of time in a car. I understood the need and comfort of it all and even thanked God for it, usually on Sundays at ten o’clock.

I began to regard this ordered life with a sense of claustrophobia, like living in an alley. A beautiful alley, but still it had narrow walls and shadows and, for some reason, I kept gazing toward the light and water of a distant world that taunted me with an attitude of don’t think for one minute that this is for the likes of you.

So I stayed in the comfort of shadows and busied myself by keeping my alley nice and clean, knowing that I was safe and acting reasonable.  And I kept my dreams at bay. But once in a while I’d catch a glimpse, as I rested my chin on the broom handle, of this boat that kept crossing my narrow view. Its name Adventurer was scrawled across its bow with a flourish. I resented his fanfare and intended to tell him so, so I began to inch toward the opening, one hand on each wall to steady me in my boldness and was careful not to make noise or startle the mice that had made a nest at the base of the opening.

I stood for a moment, when I finally felt the sun on my face, and breathed in the cool salty air of the sea. With my eyes clamped shut I listened to the sounds of birds and laughter and it reminded me of the summer I turned eighteen. All I wanted to do was get on that boat and sail away.

Then it occurred to me with sudden, sickening clarity (like the day I realized Santa’s beard was fake) that my alley had no door. It never had. All those years I had been carrying around a make-believe key.  And I wondered how it was that I just assumed that we, my children and the man I loved, would be safer in the beautiful alley, painted the color of routine, than on a boat with a name etched in handwriting that must have come from a king.

 

I called to the captain, a swarthy young lad in a red striped shirt and asked if he had room for four. With merely a nod he welcomed us as we climbed aboard with unsteady feet and sat, with held hands tight, four across on a flat wood board.  As we steered out toward an uncharted sea, the sun slid down the sky and exploded into sunset, and we agreed that we had never seen such majesty and color. And with a new content and hopeful sighs we lifted our faces to the rising moon and waited to see the stars.

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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The Canyon is Grand

I am awoken for the 3rd night in a row before the sun has even risen.  As I struggle to lift my body, every bone aches.  It’s so dark outside that I cannot even see my own two feet but I certainly can feel the painful blisters that are still covering them. As I change from my somewhat clean shorts and t-shirt to my filthy, smelly ones, I feel a twinge of disappointment realizing this will be my last morning waking up this way. 

A sound in the bushes distracts me from my thoughts.   Assuming there’s a giant spider or rattlesnake, my two biggest fears of the canyon, I abruptly turn and face my brother wearing the same tired look myself and the rest of my family wears.  He looks ready to go, ready to conquer the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and our last leg of our 33-mile hike. 

Throughout my last morning hike, I drift back to my thoughts and consider the exhilarating experience my family and I have had over the last four days.  Being one with nature, surrounded by constant beauty, seeing the sunrise and the sun set and experiencing the breathtaking view of Plateau Point are some experiences my descriptions could not properly justify.  The accomplishments of defeating the dreadful Devil’s corkscrew, taking a dip in the chilled Colorado River and withstanding 130-degree heat make every day life back home look like a piece of cake. 

As I climbed that last mile of the canyon, avoiding the oblivious single day tourists, holding my breathe to avoid my own four-day old stench and looking forward to the Lemon-Lime Gatorade that awaited me at the top, I continued to reflect on what this trip meant for me.  This was no ordinary family vacation.  We each had our own connection to the canyon over the past several days.  For me, it was developing a strong appreciation of the beauty of nature and escaping the craziness of technology and my everyday life. 

As unprepared as I may have previously felt, as scared of rattle snakes, scorpions and spiders as I may have been and as difficult as the journey may have seemed, I overcame all my fears to have one of the best experiences of my life.   

With my last step, reaching flat land at the peak of the canyon, I turn around to once again view the breathtaking wonder of the world.  This is where I want to be every time.  I feel fearless and accomplished.  I am up for any challenge.  This adventure inspired me to travel and explore the millions of opportunities of the world.  The Grand Canyon and its amazing wonders helped shape me into what I’ve become today.  Someone who believes that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. 

As agonizing as it may have seemed when I woke up that last morning in the canyon, the worst part was knowing that this journey was coming to an end.  The best part was knowing that this was just the beginning. 

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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If you look at a map of our great country – the United States of liberty and justice for all who can pay – you will not find Ruby.

Somewhere in the middle of hopelessness sits a small reservation called Pine Ridge. There, alcoholism runs rampant through the streets, tearing victims away from everything they thought they knew. It leaves them lying, oblivious to reality, in the middle of a deserted alley where they wait for shame, who makes her rounds when the sun rises over this tiny little town. There, suicide wraps its dark, forsaken fingers around the necks of teens desperate for a form of escape. If love is a sea, these kids are lost in the sand. The leaves will turn from green to gray but the sorrow of this town is fifty shades of our throats are hoarse from yelling for help, so let me drown my blood in alcohol while you pretend you can’t see. It is in this worn out, broken town that you will find Ruby.

The drive to Pine Ridge was as long as their history; it went on for centuries. The middle of hopelessness is many miles from the comfortable bubble of never wondering whether the muscle in my chest will still be sending rivers of red throughout my body when the moon sinks back into the horizon. Fourteen hours on the road to nowhere. Fourteen hours on the road to Ruby.

The heat is spectacular, burning images of red onto the portions of my skin where my fingers could not reach. Two sunsets ago I had arrived somewhere in the middle of hopelessness, my heart aching for each and every pair of feet that could not run away from this disaster of a town. Today I was on the roof of a shed, pounding shingles into the framework that would keep the sun from burning all the memories that would ever take place within those four walls.

Hours upon hours did my hammer strike nails into shingles. Hours upon hours were my shoulders hunched over, the tendons and fibers stretched to the point I swore was the breaking. I gave myself fifteen minutes to stretch out tightened limbs and pour some water down the dry and dusty landscape that was my throat. Down the shaky ladder, across the dirt path, into the house of Ruby.

Ruby’s eyes are the color of the determination to overcome. Her skin is paper thin and it clings to her bones, giving away the fact that she only eats what the government provides. This elderly woman is stronger than every man I have ever encountered, yet she can barely bend her waist enough to reach the weeds that infest the earth she strives so hard to preserve. So this is what strength looks like. It looks like 5’ 3’’ with second hand clothes and lines etched into her delicate skin that can only come from a kind of sorrow that I cannot fathom into existence.

“Welcome to my mansion.” she says as I cross the brick red doorframe.

“ Hi Ruby,” I reply and sit in the rickety chair across from hers. She peers at me over the golden frames of her spectacles. I imagine the fifty years she has seen through those round pieces of glass. I imagine the destruction she has watched overthrow her community bit by bit, until this invisible reservation is on its hands and knees, being crushed by the ignorance of those who have always had enough.

“Thank you for helping me,” she says in a voice as rich as the velvet she can’t afford. It sounds as though she’s lived a hundred lifetimes, fought a thousand battles, lost a million dreams. “I’m turning that shed into a safe place for teenage mothers who are in trouble. And that garden you weeded yesterday? That garden feeds a fourth of this community,” she adds proudly. Respect bubbles up inside my chest, pushing itself through all the curves and corners of flesh that make up a body, the heart and the mind that make up a person.

The fifteen minutes I have given myself to stretch out these aching limbs of mine have

long since passed. Ruby’s story had entranced me, enchanted me. Her words had curled themselves around my legs, had encircled my wrists, had anchored me to the chair while she painted a picture of every hue and every emotion there was to be felt.  However, my legs wearily carried me through the brick red doorframe, across the dirt path, up the shaky ladder, and back onto the roof of a safe house, somewhere in the middle of hopefulness.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

italki websiteOne of my favorite parts of traveling is getting to meet locals and learn about new cultures. And, if I can, I like to communicate as much as possible in the native language of where I’m going. I took Spanish in high school and I’ve been able to get by a little when I’ve traveled to Spanish-speaking countries, but except for those trips, I never practice and my Spanish is pretty rusty. And when I travel to places that primarily speak other languages, I usually get a phrasebook or buy an app and wing it. But now that there are easily accessible web-based language lessons, I decided to try out one of them, italki.com, to see if I could really improve my language skills.

Italki helps you find language teachers for one-on-one lessons, tutoring and conversational practice via Skype. You can search through hundreds of profiles of professional teachers and community tutors in countries all over the world. Professional teachers must be credentialed, while the community tutors are native speakers, not necessarily experienced teachers. There are also forums and a language exchange, where you can find other students to practice with.

The site uses a currency of “italki credits” with a rate of 10 credits per US Dollar. The price of sessions varies greatly, some as low as 50 italki credits ($5) per hour to more than 200 credits (still, that’s only $20.) It seems that teachers set their own rates, so price doesn’t necessarily reflect quality.

Many of the tutors offer a shorter trial session at a reduced rate, starting at about 10 italki credits($1) to about 100 ($10.) If you have the time to shop around and the teacher you find offers a trial session, I recommend going this route, as it might take a few tries to get someone that works for you.

italki fbThe interface is quite easy to use – once you search by language, you can browse though any available teachers or filter by their schedule and rates, as well as other languages they speak and where they live. Once you have chosen your teacher, their available sessions are conveniently converted to your time zone (super helpful since they can be anywhere in the world.) It can take a day for them to accept your session, but if you are in a hurry, there is an instant tutoring option which shows you teachers that are available now.

I tried out a couple different teachers and my experience varied greatly. I admit that I was a little overwhelmed by all the options. The profiles include a short bio, but how can you really know how good they’ll be? I decided to just dive in and choose teachers who were available when I was. The first one I tried was not a good fit. Using video chat makes it that much more difficult to understand someone and when I had trouble following her, she didn’t slow her speech or try to explain or translate when I missed things. Although she was able to teach me some key phrases that I didn’t know, I knew I wouldn’t be going back to her. The next teacher I found was great. He was much easier to understand and gave me really good feedback. I will definitely continue my lessons with him. Again, that’s why the trial sessions are a great option – they are shorter and mostly cheaper, so you don’t have to spend too much time or money while trying to find the right teacher.

I’m not sure that italki.com can really replace live language classes or other established programs, but it’s a great and relatively inexpensive way to learn a few basics before traveling or to practice or brush up a language you already know.

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The Escalante was the last river discovered in the lower forty-eight. To call it remote is a weak understatement.  It is a deep , vast maze of Utah slickrock, petroglyphs, snakes, mountain lions, and ancient ruins left by the mysterious Anasazi.

I arrived alone, one year to the day after my heart had crapped out at the age of thirty-seven.  I’d been implanted with a pacemaker. An avid hiker and outdoorsman, I had spent months afterwards afraid to exert myself. I went to the Escalante because I imagined that the best cure was to do the hardest thing I could imagine: I would spend two weeks raftpacking  the canyon alone, and learning to trust my heart again.

I confidently launched my raft, laden with my carefully organized and stowed supplies, and sat proudly at the helm, prepared to live life to the fullest, to face my fears head-on.

A hundred yards later I hit the first rapid, the boat flipped, and I helplessly I watched my supplies explode into the white water and down the river.

I spent the remainder of Day One searching for my supplies, and hauling them back to the launch point.

The next day I relaunched, much the wiser.  Over the next thirteen days I got to know the Escalante intimately, and myself as well.

The canyon progressively deepens and darkens as it winds sinuously towards Lake Powell.  The walls  tower to incomprehensible heights, alive and electric with the neon paint of desert varnish. The rushing water has undercut the stone for millions of years, causing the cliffs to overarch the river until the sky overhangs with rock a thousand feet above.

Every alcove and slot canyon glowing red with reflected sunlight begs exploration; but the river slides you slowly past and the canyon opens around the next bend, revealing an even more spectacular and haunting vista.

One morning before dawn, I sat with my back against a sheer cliff, sipping my coffee. Suddenly something flew past my shoulder.  I heard a meaty “PLUMF!” as a stone the size of a softball buried itself in the soft sand beside me.  This stone had fallen hundreds of feet, and missed the top of my head by a mere foot.

I sipped my coffee, smiled, and thought about the fragility of life, the wonders of luck, fate and chance.

On the ninth day of incessantly bumping down the river, I was laid low by back strain. For three days I lay unmoving, staring up at the towering walls.  From a nest far above, an eagle led her chicks in ever-widening arcs across the sky, teaching them to fly.

When one is alone for long periods, the inner voice becomes a burdensome, nagging companion.   It thinks everything you think, and then repeats it back to you. If you think, ‘I need to get water,’ it says “we need to get water.” If you tell it to shut up, it simply tells you to shut up. The Voice is never, ever quiet.  It is absolutely maddening.

On the twelfth day, eager to escape my beautiful prison, I cached most of what I’d brought for later retrieval, and started hiking out with a light backpack. I was many miles from where I had planned to emerge. Fence Canyon wound up and up onto the plateau, and with each passing mile I felt stronger. Unable to sleep in the chill of the open desert without a bag, I walked through the night. By noon the following day, I had hiked for nearly 31 hours straight.

The trail petered out at a dead wash. I stood stunned.

Quickly I realized my grievous error: I’d made a wrong turn in the desert during the night.

The last known spring was a day behind me. The desert heat was blinding. I had an inch of water left.  The battery on the satellite phone was flashing red.

There was no more room for error. Not one inch.

I stood there, and had a great struggle with Ego.

“If you have to be rescued,” said Ego, “you will feel like a buffoon.”

Replied Sensibility, “If you wind up dead because of Ego, you are an idiot.”

This was the most difficult challenge I had ever faced.

Pride can propel us to great heights – but the deserts and mountains are littered with the bones of proud, dead hikers.

I admitted defeat, and sheepishly made the call.

Over the course of that call, I made an amazing discovery, like a cool, refreshing breeze through my soul: I felt great about myself. I’d not only survived all of the physical challenges, I’d also battled EGO – and won!

I hung up the phone and crawled under a juniper bush into the shade, laughing at myself proudly, and waited for rescue.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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Hidden Wonders in the USA

Who would have thought an island in the middle of a river would have anything worth seeing.   But you really have to visit Blennerhassett Island in the middle of the Ohio River in Parkersburg, WV.   From the main land side it looks just like an overgrown island of nothing but unpopulated dense trees and woods.  But once you get there, by boat, you can see the huge Blennerhassett mansion and surrounding green lawn as it looked over 200 years ago.  Once you learn the history of the island, it becomes a whole lot more interesting.  The man, Harmon Blennerhassett, who build this magnificent plantation like estate, and the plans he had for it, had way too much money, and ideas that were beyond realistic.

In 1796 in Ireland, Harmon Blennerhassett, a wealthy Irish landowner, married his niece Margaret.  Because of the persecution from their family and church, they left Ireland for the United States.  After living in New York and Pittsburg for a little while, they discovered and bought the little island on the Ohio River.  They intended to make their private little island a utopia and spent exhorbent amounts of money to achieve their dream   for a few years the Blennerhassetts enjoyed being the toasts of local society; giving lavish parties in their mansion and hosting guests by the thousands to their island paradise.  But their extragravant lifestyle soon ended when it turned out their rumored riches dwindled away, a bit exaggerated by the Blennerhassetts themselves.     They had little income left other than the interest earned by their capital; nowhere near enough to support the lifestyle they lived.

Then In 1806, they met Aaron Burr who, recovering from political devastation, needed the influence, investment and political ambition of someone like Blennerhassett.  Secretly meeting on the island, Burr and Blennerhassett hatched a plan that would separate the western states from the union and they would set up a new government.    News of their plot spread quickly throughout the area and finally reached the President, Thomas Jefferson.  The President ordered the arrest of Burr, Blennerhassett and their followers.   Burr and Blennerhassett was arrested and imprisoned for treason but later acquitted when the trial failed to produce any concrete physical evidence of the plot.  They both regained their freedom but were broke and their reputations ruined.   Burr left the country and went to Europe.   Blennerhasset moved his family to Mississippi where they purchased a cotton plantation that failed.    In 1811, the island mansion accidently caught fire and was completely destroyed.  Archeologist rediscovered it’s foundation in 1973 and it has been rebuilt as a replica of its former glory.

    Blennerhassett Island is well worth the trip.  It’s inexpensive and there’s plenty to see.  First you have the slow boat ride down the Ohio River to the island on a paddle boat.  Then once you get there you can visit the mansion or take a bike ride around the island or ride the horse drawn wagon around the island on a shaded tree lined lane with a guide giving the island history.   Spend the day, enjoy the peace and quiet and bring your picnic. But most important, visit inside the mansion and step back 200 years ago and see  all the extravagance and riches the Blennerhassetts  put into it to make the island their own private utopia.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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There are over 50,000 miles of American highway, crisscrossing the country like heartlines on the palm of the ground or veins under skin. Between the towns of Salina and Green River in Utah, there lies the country’s longest stretch of highway without services. It is an empty forest without trees, sand and grass and road and sky and you are alone. There are no gas stations or fast food restaurant chains or cell phone service. It is only you, the sky, and the road.

Two Novembers ago, my dad I took a 3-day roadtrip to the Pacific Ocean. It was made of last-minute Subway runs, empty coffee cups and crumpled Burger King wrappers in the backseat, strange radio stations, and Florence + the Machine’s then-newest album “Ceremonials” on repeat.

As we neared the end of Salina’s city limits, a road sign proclaimed a 106-mile long piece of highway, completely empty of civilization, and a friendly recommendation to fill up your car’s gas tanks. My dad looked at me. “Wanna drive?”

Windows rolled all the way down, speedometer dipping 90 mph, wind thrashing our hair and watering our eyes, the SUV raced down Interstate I-70. It was as if something had been freed inside of us, and we could hear the heartbeat of the desert around us, could feel the breathing of the sky, and we never wanted to do anything else, just drive and listen.

 The sky was yellow-gold and the road was the color of dull smoke, cracked and gray. Around us rose stony golden cliffs and giant rock formations like they were constructed of asymmetrical Legos houses and uneven Jenga towers, earth-colored. Isn’t it funny how so something so dead can be so beautiful?

 It was like that for what felt like hours, as if we had somehow spent our entire lives driving on that cracked gray road that cut through the desert like the full force of the Colorado River slicing through the Grand Canyon, slowly wearing its golden-ridged walls further and further into sandy oblivion. I considered privately that perhaps I wouldn’t mind being buried here among the sand and sky and rock, because as they are infinite, perhaps so should I be, not a yellow-boned skeleton silent underground but a piece of construction paper sky, a grain of gray-yellow sand, and a single slab of pale yellow-gold rock. And then I wondered if I would ever die, this way.

 We drove all day and into the night, and even once we reached Green River, I couldn’t seem to get that 106 miles out of me, like I had learned an old secret and was expected to keep it.

 When we finally reached the sea it was like cold feet in a warm bed but we didn’t care, just ran in with our clothes on, wanting to fill the empty with seawater and sand and the uneven breathing of the waves.

 That night, we fell asleep to the tide crashing against the sand and we dreamed of yellow skies and empty roads.

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Lisa Oscars Red Carpet 2015

Lisa Oscars Red Carpet 2015Exciting March 2015 updates from Lisa & We Said Go Travel:

“Lisa runs the wildly popular and stupid prolific blog We Said Go Travel.

Every time I turn around I am being besieged with updates from said blog through my Triberr feed. I almost feel like a speed bag. But this is in a good way.

The content is wonderful, the stories are emotional, and Lisa’s ultimate goal is to spread global awareness.

She shares the platform with many up and coming travelers who cover all corners of the globe.

Super inspired blog and a great person to connect with.”

  • Lisa Niver Ireland green landsend clothesAND I am going to DUBLIN for St. Patrick’s Day. See my new green clothes from Lands End below. This is my very FIRST trip to Ireland and I cannot wait to share it with you! Thanks for all your support. Lisa

THE WINNERS from the 2014 Gratitude Writing Contest:

10best march 2015 lisa niver usa todayRecent Articles for USA TODAY 10Best:

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