Category Archives: My Favs

The Summer Wind – Sailing in Baltimore

Sailing Excursions in Baltimore MarylandEvening comes and as the sun begins to set. A warm glow lingers among the soft breezes drifting across the Chesapeake Bay. Late summer is the  season that sailing is at its best here in Maryland. The Summer Wind brings a new charter option to sailing in Baltimore.  

We all have our, “Happy Place.” A boat with billowing sails gliding across glassy water is that place  me. Funny that a kid who grew up in the desert loves to be on a boat. Perhaps more odd that the entire time I was in the Navy I rarely set foot on one. Now that I’m living just a short drive from the Chesapeake bay I sail as much as I can. 

Typically that means either a jaunt to Annapolis or taking the bridge over to the Eastern shore. I was thrilled to recently learn that American Sailing Tours has pulled anchor from its original home, sailing the Delaware River off the coast of Philadelphia, and docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor bringing The Summer Wind with them.

I’ll admit they pretty much had me at the name of this 48-foot long schooner. “The Summer Wind,”  is one of my absolute favorite Sinatra songs. 

Owner (and skipper) Tom Kirwan captained us out onto the harbor for our latest Travel Massive meetup.  As the 50-foot sails unfurled guiding us past the iconic Domino’s Sugar sign, Tom and I chatted about his life as a sailor – which started before he was even able to walk.

The Summer Wind - Sailing in BaltimoreKirwan brought The Summer Wind to Baltimore in 2015 for its first season. Today, she is the only sailboat of her class offering public sailing excursions out of the Inner Harbor. While American Sailing Tours offers the staple harbor tours and sunset sailing, what sets it apart is Tom and his crew.

There is zero pretension aboard The Summer Wind. You won’t find stuffy folks with ascots and jauntily positioned sailing caps here. When you sail with Tom and his crew you feel a true connection to people who love what they do, and where they do it. They’ll regale you with tales of Baltimore’s maritime history, fill you in on the points of interest as you pass by, and make you feel as though this were your boat. 

Relax on deck with a glass of wine. Here you’ll find comfy seating, polished wood siding, and of course some great conversation. Below decks is more seating and the head {sailor-speak for the facilities – I swear I never even used that term in the Navy, past boot camp. It’s just weird.} 

Saling Excursions in BaltimoreBe sure to make some time either before you set sail or when you drop anchor, to explore the Harbor East area where you’ll find upscale boutiques, a movie theater, and great eats. Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons is the perfect place for a wonderful meal or nibbles. It is just steps from The Summer Wind’s birth.  Lobster corn dogs, mesquite smoked mussels in a champagne beurre blanc, black truffle popcorn… need I say more?

The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea. Next time you’re in Baltimore… come sail with me! 

The Summer Wind - Baltimore

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Great Smoky Mountains in Pictures (by a 9-year-old)

The Great Smoky Mountains in Pictures (taken by a 9 year old) Leave only footprints. Take only memories. A motto that accompanies the wandering spirit. I’d only make one small tweak to it. Take photos. Lots of them, taken by lots of people. 

That lots of people clause is key. None of us see things exactly the same way. Put a camera into the hands of someone else and your whole experience changes. Light reflects differently. Angles transform and small details give new meaning to the memories.

About a year ago my youngest asked to start taking pictures with my phone. Not able to part with that piece of codependent technology at the time, instead I let her use an old point-and-shoot. She had a blast. There may not have been many ‘usable’ images but remember this is about perspective changes. Those early photos gave me a whole new perspective on the cat’s toes.

Flash forward a year and she’s moved through an old-school-style instamatic, her own point-and-shoot, and the occasional borrowing of a smart phone. What she loves most though is mom’s Cannon Rebel.

After toying around with it in Coney Island, during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and several trips to the park, she felt ready to move onto bigger things. Like shooting photos near water. Gulp!

Our most recent trip was to the hills of Tennessee. I took a deep breath, and leap of faith {lord, please don’t drop it in a creek!} and turned it over to her on a hike up to Alum Cave.

Never one to subscribe to the less-is-more theory, she shot over 275 pictures. I’ll take partial blame for that though as I never told her to just push one button and not fiddle with anything else. Turns out the fiddling actually allowed her to  capture some great shots. Though I doubt her older siblings will appreciate the clarity of some of the faces they were making – or that time one was smacking the other with a tree branch.   

Great Smoky Mountains in Pictures (taken by a 9 year old) When we went over the shots to pick the best for saving, she asked if I’d put her pictures in my post about the trip. I think her photos worthy of their own post entirely. I give you The Great Smoky Mountains as photographed by Em.

Great Smoky Mountains in Pictures (by a 9-year-old)


the wonder of art

Some may say that the happiest place on earth is found in South Florida. I’d argue that it is wherever you happen to be standing when you see your child fall in love with art. We are a family of museum nerds. From the MoMA to roadside attractions, we’re game. When the Smithsonian American Art Museum recently reopened the Renwick Gallery we were more than willing to stand in the line stretching around the block to see the Wonder exhibit — and WOW!

Large crowds didn’t take away one iota of the amazement on the faces of my kids as they strolled through the Wonder exhibit.  Truth be told, they were even in awe of the Renwick Gallery building itself. 

Wonder Exhibit Built in 1859,  Renwick Gallery was the first purpose-built art museum in America. Over the front door the words, “Dedicated to Art,” are carved in stone. Which gives you some idea of what’s in store when you walk through the doors.

1.8 by Janet Echelman

On March 11, 2011 the earth moved, quite literally. The Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami were so powerful that the earth shifted on its axis. This resulted in a day  shortened by 1.8 millionths of a second.

Wonder Exhibit At first blush 1.8 looks like an artfully hung net with some really cool undulating lights. Then you look down at the floor, and – as my nine-year old daughter pointed out – even the carpet looks like art. We grabbed a spot on the floor, laying down with dozens of other gallery-goers, and watched the lights.  It was nice, but pretty much just that.

In a near frenzy the sixteen year old drug me over to a small plaque on the wall that changed everything. The sculpture corresponds to a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Talk about being moved by art. It was breath-taking. In a rush all the memories of the sights after the disaster came rolling back. 

Wonder Exhibit at the Renwick GalleryDid Termites Make These?

She was sure this was some natural formation, rather than the man-made work of artist Tara Donovan. These towers are made of everyday objects we tend to miss or toss out… index cards, scotch tape. Here they become a forest for the imagination. 

Touch the Rainbow

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to find the end of a rainbow. When in Ireland this past spring these refracted sunlight wonders were so vibrate you could almost convince me they were solid.  Standing in front of Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe the illusion is nearly as complete. The difference being that this piece is an architecturally scaled weaving rather than light dancing on particles of water. 

Wonder exhibit rainbow

Folding the Chesapeake
One of our favorite pastimes is tossing together a picnic and heading into D.C. for a few hours. Nothing beats free museums and monuments. There even worth dealing with parking – most days.
 
Among my personal favorites is the Vietnam War Memorial designed by Maya Lin.  The power of names simply carved into a reflective stone surface is moving beyond any words I have. It drives home the stark reality of loss and the impact on what is left behind. Yet, there is a peace in this place like few other places.
 
Lin has a way of taking the monumental and transforming it into moving simplicity. She did that again with her piece Folding the Chesapeake. 
Wonder Exhibit Folding the Chesapeake
Glass marbles are laid out on the floor and walks of the exhibit room. At first blush you think, ‘well this is neat… but…’ Then the docent hands you an aerial photograph of the Chesapeake Bay and you stand in awed wonder at the detail. It stretches all the way down to the small river behind our house. 
 
Like 1.8, Folding The Chesapeake has a way of humbling you. Making you feel the smallness of your humanity when standing next to nature. 
Into the Trees
Middle Fork by John Grade has been dubbed, The Tree Matrix by my kids. I sort of get that. Grade made a plaster cast of a 150 year old hemlock tree from Cascade Mountains to create this sculpture that is assembled of half a million segments of reclaimed cedar, and is nothing short of mind-blowing.   
Wonder Exhibit
If you’ve the chance to come to Washington, D.C. don’t let the long lines outside The Renwick deter you. You’ll leave with a whole new sense of wonder.

Requiem The Soundtrack

requiem the soundtrack
photo credit: Julie Cohn of Cork, Fork & Passport

The waning months of 2015 and the beginnings of 2016 were hard on the world of music and arts.  Rare voices and singular talents were lost. Bowie, Frye, Rickman… those were hard losses to take.  Each had a place in the soundtrack of my life, maybe yours too? Requiem The Soundtrack is a bit of a love letter to voices gone but still so much a part of the story.

Did you know Alan Rickman sang?

Okay, so maybe Alan didn’t sing well. He might not even be deserving of inclusion in Requiem The Soundtrack save for the fact that his voice is inextricable from my memories. Truth be told, I could listen to that luxuriously deep voice reciting tax code. You’ll forgive me for subjecting you to Johnny Depp’s screeching in Sweeney Todd… eventually. 

Bowie may have been the biggest loss. It’s a very short list of people that have had such enormous impact on music, art, fashion and culture. Our youngest daughter may have been the biggest Bowie fan I’ve ever met.

In the days following his passing there were lots of tears. Stuck in DC traffic a week after the news, Under Pressure came on the radio. Before I could turn the channel, her brother was misty-eyed. It was his favorite song too. I let them cry it out. For the span of 4:08 minutes they bonded. That was the power of Bowie in our lives.

Before we could recover enough to listen to Space Oddity the news of Glenn Frey’s passing came. This one hit me harder.

Though I’m a kid of the 80’s I’m also the child of a musician. My Dad plays dozens of instruments, shared a stage with Chuck Berry, and knows the girl in Dan Fogelberg’s song Same Old Lang Syne {he and Dan went to school together, my dad played for his dad}.  Music has always been how I connected with him. Songs from The Eagles were the first chords that bonded us, musically.

I can vividly recall sitting outside on cool nights in the California desert town where I grew up, watching him sing to my mom, “I love the way your sparking earrings lay against your skin so brown…”  She was his Witchy Woman, her spell cast from sapphire eyes under dark lashes. Frye’s voice harmonizing  with my dad’s, true magic. 

So many disappeared voices make their way onto my playlist of memory.  The Optimistic Blues of Allen Toussaint. Nobody but Townes Van Zandt should ever sing Poncho and Lefty. Down in the Boondocks they’re missing the dulcet voice of Billy Joe Royal.

As vividly as though it happened yesterday, I can remember driving down a single-lane road headed from Boston to The Cape and hearing that Amy Winehouse had died. We were in two cars and my oldest son called to be sure I didn’t need to pull over and cry. They all know how much music means to me, because it’s the same with them.

Then there are the bands that won’t ever quite be same without members that made the music; Pete de Freitas from Echo & The Bunnymen, the Chilis without Hillel and The Stooges without Dave. There is no INXS without Michael Hutchence – no matter how many reality shows they dream up.

I can think of a song for almost any milestone in my life. When I look back there seem to be a whole lot of holes where amazing talent once lived. Perhaps that’s the inevitability of aging. The beauty in that though is that those songs don’t go away. Technology these days lets us dive into the pool of memory anytime we want.

Not a day goes by where I’m not on Spotify, or offline with my collection of tunes. Music is as much a part of my everyday as it is my memories. We have a playlist for road trips, work days, house cleaning, there is even one a bunch of us put together in morbid homage to my bestie’s thyroid cancer. {for the record, she kicked cancer’s ass}

Any time I need to hear the voices of those gone, I just turn my smartphone and wireless headphones on and they live again. 

 

 

This post was inspired by weekly #VZWbuzz chats that often feature ways that technology impacts our daily lives. As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events.   All opinions – and playlists – are entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less! 

Inspired by Instagram

Sunset on Baltimore - travel musings inspired by instagramInto the life of even the most afflicted travel junkie a little stuck-at-home time must come. To envy the people out there who’ve taken the plunge into a location-independent lifestyle is only natural.  In real life though, not many of us -especially we of the parenting variety– are able to do more that wax philosophical about living the wanderer’s life.  While we wait for our open ended ticket around the globe it’s fun to get inspired by Instagram. 

The first stop on any of my daydreaming junkets always begins with Skimbaco, both the account curated by founder and CEO Katja Presnal,  and the hashtag. Each Thursday afternoon I add #IGTravelThursday into mix along with a good cup of coffee {life is far too short for crappy coffee!} and my laptop. No matter where I am that day I can “travel” the globe, if only through WiFi.  Frankly, if I didn’t schedule this time I might never do anything but surf Instagram for travel inspiration.  Heck, the two hashtags alone have over 58,000 amazing photos of places I long to be.

Come “travel” with me through the lenses and adventures of some of the Instagram accounts that inspire me most.

@Pointsandtravel

Cacinda has an eye for capturing points of view that most might miss. I love traveling the world through her eyes. I imagine festooned members of gilded age aristocracy descending this winding staircase in Latvia. 

@elenasonnino

Elena travels with a passion for life that translates into every picture she posts. She truly lives life to the fullest and her Instagram stories welcome you to do the same. She’s currently readying herself to climb a volcano in Chile and I can’t wait to follow along!  

@cherylhowardblog

Cheryl is a Canadian expat living in Berlin who captures images with what is clearly a wandering spirit. This photo taken in Prague looks to me like F. Scott Fitzgerald should be driving Zelda around in that car.

 

Featuring #Prague on my Instagram account this week. Photo 1 – tourists being driven around in a classic car.

A photo posted by Cheryl Howard (@cherylhowardblog) on

@houseofanais

Reeta Laaksonen is one of my favorites! If ever I feel in need of a holiday in the English countryside, I stop by her Instagram page. Beyond the gardens and brick facades though, she takes you on picturesque journeys around Europe.   

 

Yet another glorious Autumn day in England 💗 A photo posted by Reeta Laaksonen (@houseofanais) on

@todestinationunknown

If ever I had an adventuring alter ego it would be Satu Vänskä-Westgarth. Camping on the snow back in Greenland? Yes, she’s done that!  Is it any wonder she’s an award winning blogger? Nope

 

It’s been busy days at the office at @50degreesnorth lately. Greetings from Greenland! #50degreesnorth

A photo posted by Satu Vänskä-Westgarth (@todestinationunknown) on

@whatboundries

What boundaries, indeed. Cheryl and Lisa have brought me face-to-face with lions, taken me to amazing libraries {my favorite places in all the world}, made me drool over amazing food, and best of all brought me back to one of my favorite cities in the world… New Orleans!

 

There’s just something special about #NewOrleans 🎷 A photo posted by What Boundaries (@whatboundaries) on

@acorkforkpassport

If ever an Instagram handle said it all, A Cork, Fork, Passport certainly does. What I love most about Julie’s grams is that they really convey the person behind the account. She jumps into life, tastes it, drinks it in, and explores in a way that is approachable and engaging.  From her photos alone it’s easy to tell that this is a person you’d love to travel with!

 

Come travel with us, get inspired by Instagram and dig deeper into the stories behind the “grams” from writers who are sharing their #IGTravelThursday stories.