Thursday, July 16, 2015

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

with Helen DePrima and Lee McKenzie

Inspired by a Nat King Cole classic, Helen and Lee invite you to join them as they reminisce about past vacations and contemplate future ones. And be sure to join in for a chance to win some fun travel-related giveaways!

LEE:
Hi, Helen. Greetings from the other side of the continent! I’m still toiling away here on the west coast, but I know you took an early vacation this year. I hope you can take a few minutes from your busy writing and gardening life to share a story and a photo or two.

HELEN:
Hi, Lee. We usually take our main trip before June so we can be home to put in our garden after the danger of frost is past. In recent years we’ve traveled west of the Mississippi both for love of the West and to research my books set in Colorado. This May we went instead to Michigan. My husband visited Mackinac Island many years ago and has wanted to return ever since. I must say the atmosphere suited me perfectly: other than a few emergency vehicles, nothing but horse-drawn conveyances on the island. No horns or screeching brakes, only the clip-clop of horses’ hooves. I was able to enjoy a treat I haven’t experienced since childhood, driving a carriage.


LEE:
That sounds amazing, Helen. Our last vacation was a cruise to Hawaii—also a relaxing getaway but with every modern convenience imaginable. We sailed from Vancouver and spent the first five days at sea. Plenty of time for reading and writing, interspersed with exercise classes in the ship’s fitness center, cooking demonstrations in the culinary arts center, strolls around the deck and incredible meals in the dining room. We then visited four different islands—Oahu, the Big Island, Maui and Kauai. Each island is unique and we loved them all, but the Big Island and Kauai are our top two.


HELEN:
Our only cruise was on the ferry across the eight mile strait from Mackinaw City, but I did bring home a great souvenir: a perfect shot of the Mackinac Island lighthouse just before sunset. Amazingly, huge ore carriers from Lake Superior cross between the two points of land in the photo.


LEE:
We weren’t sure if we would like cruising until we tried an Alaska cruise several years ago. It’s an easy one to do from the Pacific Northwest, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. And of course the scenery is incredible! Our next vacation won’t be until the fall, and I’m hoping it’ll be something research and/or writing related.


HELEN:
Thomas Wolf said you can’t go home again, but he was wrong. Last summer my husband and I returned to the ranch in northern Colorado where I spent wonderful weeks as a teen. Focus Ranch lies 50 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs, the last 34 miles on dirt roads. Although the faces had changed, the ranch was virtually the same as it had been on my last visit 45 years earlier. No spa options or entertainment, just good beds, good food, and hours on horseback working the 1200 head of heifers on the home ranch and the grazing allotments in the adjacent national forest. Riding the same range again was a decades-old dream come true.


LEE:
The first time I visited Wabasha, Minnesota, I fell in love with the wide Main Street, the solid and staid brick buildings that flank it, the quaint shops and cafes, and the stunning views from the banks of the Mississippi River. And since I love to create fictional towns that are loosely based on real places, I knew right away that Wabasha would be the inspiration for my next three book-series set in the fictional town of Riverton, Wisconsin. Riverton has unique features, too, including Finnegan Farm, home to the three sisters who are the heroines of these books. I hope readers will feel right at home in Riverton as they get to know the Finnegan sisters and family, friends and neighbors.


So what about you, Heartwarming readers? Do you have plans for a summer vacation? Have you already taken one? Do you have one holiday memory that stands out above all others? Helen and Lee would love to hear about it, so please share!

For this month’s giveaway, Helen is offering a travel roll-up jewellery case for tucking your treasures safely in your suitcase, and Lee is providing a Kate Spade Emma notebook to use as a travel log or journal. We'll randomly draw a name from among the commenters and post the winner here on Saturday.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

Until next time,
Helen and Lee

30 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your holiday adventures, ladies. I love the pictures.

    Your post makes me want to plan a trip!!

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    1. You're welcome, Kate! I hope you're having a lovely summer!

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    2. I'm the designated travel planner in our family, sometimes a daunting assignment coordinating train reservations, car rental and events. I'm always a nervous wreck until we get on the road but then it's all worthwhile.

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  2. Loved the pictures! A friend and I are spending a week in Michigan in September doing all the things our husbands would rather avoid--B & Bs, tearooms, beach walking...

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    1. Liz, your vacation sounds perfect. I hope you'll blog about it!

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    2. Sounds like a lovely leisurely trip. Mine would probably be more like Thelma and Louise; my travel companion of choice is more a yee-haw line dancing kind of gal -- fine by me. Either way, girls' night out is a great idea.

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  3. Our honeymoon to Hawaii all those years ago was the most exotic vacation we've ever had. Despite all the warnings that it would be 'touristy,' it was so different from busy L.A. (where we lived at the time) that it was paradise for us. We sailed on every boat going, took every tour, walked every trail, ate EVERYTHING we'd never seen before. For me, it was a wonder to discover they had linguica, a Portuguese sausage I hadn't had since my childhood in Massachusetts. We bought matching outfits, hats we watched being made of palm fronds, and puka (sp?) shell necklaces - big at that time. And it was our honeymoon. Sigh.

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    1. Oh, Muriel. Thank you for sharing these lovely memories of your wonderfully romantic honeymoon. Do you still have the puka shell necklaces?

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    2. Hawaii is definitely on my to-do list. A dear friend spends a month every winter on Maui to escape New Hampshire winters. She considers it heaven on earth.

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  4. Mackinac Island is on my bucket list. One day! Wonderful pictures and stories of your vacations.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed them, Marion!

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    2. By all means visit Mackinac Island but do so before June or after August and not on a weekend. It's a very small island that can get so congested the charm becomes submerged in a flood of bodies. I especially enjoyed the horse-drawn vehicles, everything from heavy freight wagons to elegant small carriages. A drive-yourself buggy is great fun if you have any familiarity with horses.

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    3. Thanks for the advice about when to go but I'll stay away from working with the horses.

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  5. I'm lucky enough to have been to Mackinac Island three times. (I have family in Alpena, MI where we used to go for family reunions when I was a kid). I also adore Hawaii--the Big Island and Kauai are my favorites as well. My most memorable trip was in 2006 when my husband and I took my parents to New Zealand for three weeks. We traveled all over....hiked the most beautiful scenery, visited geothermal hot springs, glow worm caves, watched rugby, went whale watching, ate food I'd never tried before.... Now I want to go back. I love to travel. Thanks, Ladies, for prodding me to do a bit of reminiscing this morning!

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    1. Carol, the Big Island and Kauai are definitely our favorites, and we're looking forward to visiting again. New Zealand sounds wonderful but it's not on my bucket list because I don't like to fly.

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  6. Your trips sound fantastic. I had a wonderful time one year investigating Macinac Island for my book: Hot Chocolate on A Cold Night. And when I first got married we lived in Hawaii. I've been back a few times and it's changed. I love exploring almost anywhere in our wonderful USA. Especially small towns and non-touristy destinations. Love your photos, ladies.

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    1. Sorry that should be: Hot Chocolate on a Cold Day---jeez.

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    2. LOL, Roz. Hot Chocolate on a Cold Night might be a different kind of story! I love the real title, though. And very envious of anyone who's lived in Hawaii. Hawaii Life is one of my favorite HGTV shows right now!

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    3. Roz, I'm with you in exploring the US. Foreign ports-of-call sound enticing, but so much to see closer to home. My husband and I love real road trips which allow us to stop at will and take the Road Less Traveled, like a shortcut across the Navajo Reservation to the Teec Nos Pos Trading Post where I a bought a lovely pawn bracelet.

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  7. Great photos! I feel as though I've just returned from vacation, minus the flight delays. Helen, I had a difficult time moving past your lighthouse photo. I'm obsessed with lighthouses.

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    1. Happy to have you along for the journey, Jill! I love Helen's lighthouse photo, too. Very calendar-worthy!

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    2. Jill, that photo was one of those bonus moments. I looked out the window of our room at the Island House Hotel just as the evening light hit it like a spotlight. And through a window screen!

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    3. It really is an incredible shot, Helen. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  8. Amazing pictures and places. My husband has wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise for years. I have a cozy mystery book (that I haven't read yet) that's set on Mackinac Island.
    We usually don't travel to far off places in Summertime, but I like venturing a little further once the Fall rolls around. Since our Anniversary is in the Fall we will likely try to get away. I have my eye on a place called the Old Edwards Inn in the North Carolina Mountains (Highlands, NC). It's not far away, but it looks relaxing and splendid and I'd love to go there if possible. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures. ( :

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    1. Hi, Laurie! So glad you enjoyed the blog. A late summer cruise to Alaska is really ideal. I think the last cruises of the season are in the very early fall at the end of September. We cruised with Holland America in the first week of September. The ship spent an entire day in Glacier Bay and we were on deck the entire time, watching the glaciers calving beneath a cloudless sky. The power of nature is amazing.

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  9. Laurie, the Smokies are a wonderful destination although the weather can be challenging. We spent last Thanksgiving snowed in atop a 5000 ft. ridge near Maggie Valley. If you want to treat yourself to a very special Smoky Mountain experience, check out The Swag. Wonderful hiking and the views and food are fantastic.

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    1. Yes, the weather can be challenging in the Fall, that's certainly true. Being snowed in for my anniversary with the love of my life isn't too bad a thought though. : ) But seriously, the driving can be a bit much in severe weather.
      I've heard of The Swag. I will take another look at it. I've had my heart set on Old Edwards Inn, but another alternative is certainly possible. Thanks so much for the recommendation!!

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  11. Helen and I both offer our sincere apologies for announcing the winner of our giveaway a week late. For reasons unbeknownst to either of us, our ISPs have put up a roadblock and are refusing to allow us to email one another. Since Helen and I are on opposite sides of the continent, that's really our only option. We've finally had to resort to Facebook. That said, this month's winner is...Jill Weatherholt! Congratulations, Jill! Please contact me and Helen through our websites, give us your mailing address, and your prizes will be in the mail!

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