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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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