Exciting travel news!

I have exciting travel news to share with you all!  Yesterday evening, I stumbled across Rick Steves’ blog post on Facebook about travel conventions that he speaks at.  It passed without much thought.  Obviously, as with any industry, there will be conventions and trade shows.  However, it wasn’t until I had a lull in my morning that I took a deeper look at what exactly a travel show might be about, and who might be speaking.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I clicked on the link for Washington, D.C. (one of only two places Rick Steves will be speaking at, because, honestly, who the f* wants to go to smoggy L.A.???!) and saw this banner along the top:

Washington DC Travel & Adventure Show ScreenshotOMG, Rick Steves and Samantha Brown??!  Holy cow – they’re like my ideal travel- and lunch-mates!  I have read, watched and listened to Rick Steves for a few years now and just came across Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe show within the last couple of months.  I bounced some ideas off my friend/coworker and decided, what the hell.  I emailed my aunt (my aunt and uncle live in a suburb of D.C. and I visit them every so often), got an OK, got approval from my boss to take the time off, and booked my plane ticket!

Thinking about it later today, this is the fastest I have ever booked and planned a trip.  Usually, I agonize for days and weeks about what to do, where to go, when to go (OMG, winter travel – that’s always fun!), how much I want to spend, etc., but this trip was a total impulse!  I realized tonight that I probably wouldn’t have booked my tickets if I had thought about it for a long time, as I’d find many excuses to not do something new or even remotely out of my comfort zones (conventions can be so, you know, blah), so I’m glad I had an overeager clicker today to make it happen!

I’ll be leaving in just under three weeks and will only be there for the weekend, but I’m so excited!  I will get to meet, get my picture taken with and get my books signed from two of my favorite travel icons!  How awesome is that??!  Andrew McCarthy, Todd Carmichael, Don Wildman and Pauline Frommer will also be speaking and presenting.  As if all of that wasn’t enough, I might even be able to (read: WILL) sneak in a performance at Woolly Mammoth and dine at some old favorites and discover some new eating places – how fun!

I am committing, right now, to blogging throughout this trip – everyone, hold me to it!  I can’t wait to browse the hundreds of tour operator, tourism board and goody booths and catch some of the other cultural and foodie demonstrations!  I also need to finish one of the books by Rick (I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with him) that I am in the middle of and watch some of their TV shows  so I can be all read up and ready to be inspired in D.C.!

Eek!  Fanboy post did and done!!  😉

31-Day Blog Challenge: Where I’ve Traveled

Day 29/31

Have bags, will travel.

Have bags, will travel.  I sometimes think I’m more excited about the idea of travel and foreign locales than I am with the actual act.  The anticipation is a joy in and of itself.

Before I get started – Happy Birthday, Kansas!

OK, now that that is out of the way…

I am fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have, and hope I can continue to do so going forward.  I owe this in part to parents who placed high value on travel, as well as my own desire to see the world.  I’m lucky because I’ve had opportunities to travel with groups from my community that others may not have, as well as the resources to travel – thanks to my job and (can I really apply this label to myself??) frugality.

As I move out (hopefully, later this year) and life gets in the way, I know that traveling will become more difficult and more sacrifices will be required to, in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work.”  Everyone says, “Travel while you’re young!” and that’s true.  At this stage of our lives (I’m 21), we should be doing all of “those things” that we want to do and desire to do.  People are shocked that I want to do a trip abroad at least every other year, but what they don’t understand is that is why I have a job.  I really don’t see the point of a life that isn’t filled with travel, seeing and doing new things – this is different for each person, but that’s how I see my life.  That’s why I work!  Yes, I could have a fancy house and a fancy car (and, as you know, I would like both), but those are just so insignificant when compared to the joy of travel that I experience each time I get in the car or hop on a plane.

  • United States (traveling from left to right!)
    • Utah – My parents and I have been to Utah a couple of times while visiting friends we know who live in western Colorado.  We didn’t travel extensively, visiting mostly just Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.  I was shocked that you can’t get that postcard-picture-perfect view of Delicate Arch without doing a bit of a hike; as it was hot out and we didn’t have water or the other necessary supplies/apparel for a hike, we just saw it from a distance.  I was disappointed, but that’s just another reason to go back!  It’s a great place to visit.  I absolutely loved Canyonlands (even better than the Grand Canyon, dare I say) – it was such an amazing, incredible place that had a lot of variety and wonderful lookout points.  We were there when there was a storm brewing in the distance, so we saw a thunderstorm with lightning above part of the canyon – awesome!
    • Arizona – I flew down to Arizona for a long weekend in December a couple years ago while my brother was on a business trip for a training.  While there, we did a little nighttime driving around Phoenix, as well as drove through Sedona on the way to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.  We got into town just early enough to see the Canyon before the sun set for the day, which sounded like a great idea.  Mind you, it was freezing cold with winds coming up from the canyon after the recent snow.  I was so cold and bundled up that I just couldn’t appreciate it.  We went back the next morning after a delicious breakfast at The Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, and although it was more enjoyable, I think the Grand Canyon is just a bit overrated; if not overrated, then at the very least, overhyped.  Is it pretty and amazing?  Yes, but I preferred the variety of Canyonlands, and seeing it first probably didn’t help matters.  Oh, and my brother going on and on about I had to see it and setting the bar very high.  🙂
    • Colorado – With my family, I’ve traveled extensively in Colorado – the destination of many family vacations throughout the years.  In particular, we love Leadville, Salida, Ridgway and Montrose.  Our friends live near Grand Junction in Fruita, and that is a beautiful place, surrounded by the Book Cliffs, fruit vineyards and Colorado National Monument.  I’ve also been to Aspen, Vail, Glenwood Springs, Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, Cañon City, Pueblo, Denver, Creede, and many other, smaller towns on the way to these places.  Colorado is such a gorgeous state, and it is always a joy to visit and explore the state – there’s so much to see and do, mostly dealing with nature – and it’s a relaxing retreat.  We’re lucky to be so close!
    • New Mexico – When we were younger, we used to visit friends in Santa Fe fairly often, usually by car but a couple of times by train (always fun!).  We also visited Taos and other places I can’t remember very well as it’s been a number of years since we’ve been.
    • Nebraska – My mom’s best friend from college’s family used to live in Callaway, so we used to go up for the Kite Flight.  I don’t recall very much from these visits.
    • Kansas – I do live here, you know!  I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout the state, but mostly South Central and Western Kansas.  I’ve actually been to Paris the same number of times as I’ve been to Kansas City, so that tells you how often I get out to that side.
    • Oklahoma – My mom’s hometown is Okeene, so we’d visit my grandparents there and occasionally (unfortunately) for funerals and other events.  One of my mom’s brothers and her sister live in or near Tulsa, and I always enjoy those visits.  My dad’s brother’s family lives near Bartlesville in a little town called Nowata – we always enjoy visiting them, and the pace is a lot slower in small-town America!  I’ve never been to Oklahoma City, but that’s on the list for this year!
    • Texas – One of my uncles used to live in San Antonio, but it’s been too long ago to remember much.  However, in full memory, I recently traveled to Austin for a training at Apple’s offices there – it’s a great city!  I’ve been to the airport in Dallas more times than I can count, although I’ve never stepped foot in the city otherwise.
    • Minnesota, Tennessee, Georgia – Do airports count????
    • Missouri – I’ve mostly just passed through Missouri on the way to Indiana, for example, but about a year ago, my team and I went to the National Quiz Bowl Competition in St. Louis.  STL’s downtown is one of the most boring, ever.  There is literally nothing to do after dark, and really even before.  I’m sure the rest of the city is more vibrant with the colleges, but I wasn’t super-impressed with St. Louis.
    • Arkansas – We have friends and family in Arkansas, so we have visited the area in and around Walmartville (Bentonville), as well as the Heber Springs area.  It’s a gorgeous state with lots of lakes and wooded forests.
    • Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky – We passed through southern Illinois and made a dip into Kentucky while visiting my uncle for his graduation from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana.  What a gorgeous and amazing, peaceful place!
    • Pennsylvania – On one of our trips to the D.C. Area, we visited Gettsyburg.  One thing I vividly (weirdly??) remember is eating at the Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg – what a dive, and the bathrooms were disgusting.  I want to visit the battlegrounds again as an adult so I can appreciate the site more, as well as visit Philadelphia.
    • Maryland – Baltimore and Annapolis.  Baltimore is great because of the harbor, and Annapolis is a beautiful, historic town that was great to visit for part of a day.  It is a wonderfully walkable city.
    • Delaware – I visited Delaware with my uncle on one of my trips to D.C. and we visited Smyrna and Dover, where we visited the state capitol building.  Earlier in the day, we came across a field of snow geese – my uncle honked his horn and I got some greatly-composed shots, but alas, they were taken with a crappy camera.
    • District of Columbia – I’ve visited D.C. I think six times over the years – two times with the whole family, once for a leadership conference in junior high, once for a journalism conference in high school, once by myself for Christmas Break, and then again with my parents for my birthday last year.  I always enjoy visiting the area as it is the seat of politics and history in our country, the museums, theaters and restaurants are great, and it’s a very nice place to visit.  My aunt, uncle and cousins live in a suburb in NoVa, so it’s great to visit them and be able to see these places as well.
    • Virginia & West Virginia – Since my aunt and uncle live in Virginia, I’ve visited it fairly frequently and have been fortunate to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, as well as many battlegrounds and other historic spots (Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown come to mind), as well as Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Occoquan (where I had my first wine tasting and bought my first bottle of wine!) and Shenandoah National Park.  I heart Virginia.  I visited Harpers Ferry in West Virginia as part of the leadership conference in junior high.
    • Florida – I’ve visited Florida twice now to visit my friends, Laura and Charlie, who live in the Fort Lauderdale area.  I’ve been to Kissimmee/Lake Buena Vista to visit Disney World, as well as several beaches and the Coral Springs/Boca Raton area.  I’ve already written recent posts on these, so I won’t go into too much detail here!
  • Europe
    • United Kingdom – I visited London in 2011.  It was the first place I visited in Europe, and of course, the first after a long international flight.  I was just a bit crabby, and look forward to giving it a better chance in the future.
    • France – Paris. Paris!!  Awwww, Paris…  As Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.”  Paris is where I fell in love with Europe, and, really, with travel.  There is so much to eat and do, it is gorgeous and stinky, and I love it.
    • Spain Barcelona.  Barcelona isn’t the first place I think of when daydreaming about exotic lands, but it is a fairly relaxed and cosmopolitan city – great to finish a trip with!
    • Germany – Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, Dachau, Füssen, Munich.  I am part German, so it’s natural that I would love that country.  Berlin is a place still trying to find its identity, and the afternoon Third Reich Walking Tour we took made the city meaningful and helped bridge a lot of connections in my mind.  In Dresden, a teacher friend and I met up for lunch with a foreign exchange student I’d had some classes with at the high school in Kansas and who lived a few hours away.  Nuremberg – the history and the flowers and the pretzels…pretty amazing.  Füssen – this is where we made the wet, long trek up the hill to Neuschwanstein Castle – amazing inside but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see the traditional view of it and it was covered in scaffolding.  Munich – super clean and the food/beer scene is unbeatable – wonderful place to visit and I definitely want to go back.
    • Czech Republic – Prague.  Oh em gee.  The rooftops, the spires, the history, the architecture, the FOOD – we were fortunate to have been shown the city from a Southwest Kansas native.  Prague is one of my favorite cities and I have a number of great memories from there, all as vivid as if they’d happened yesterday.  One standout – eating dinner at a great restaurant in the Old Town Square while the Fan Park for the World Cup was a festive meeting of people and music just steps away.
    • Lichtenstein – Vaduz.  I almost wouldn’t count it, but we did stop for a bathroom break and hot chocolate (it was misty, cold and foggy as hell!), so count it I will.  Particularly since I likely won’t be back.  🙂
    • Austria – Innsbruck.  We made a quick visit to the Swarovski store in Innsbruck and saw remnants of the Winter Olympics on our way in and out of the city.  Unfortunately, the Golden Roof was covered and we couldn’t see it, but that’s travel for you!
    • Switzerland – Lucerne.  This region is the most naturally beautiful place I have ever visited – the greens, the blues, the forests, the lakes, the mountains…  The city of Lucerne is so incredibly clean and the trip up and down Mt. Pilatus and across Lake Lucerne are standout memories and made for stunning photo ops.

I sort of rushed towards the end and have a sinking feeling I used a lot of words repetitively and lost the great opportunity to post travel pics, but it is what I’ve made it…  Where have you traveled?  Share below!

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Arbeit Macht Frei:  "Work Makes (You) Free"

Arbeit Macht Frei: “Work Makes (You) Free”

Arbeit Macht Frei…  “Work Makes (You) Free”

Visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp a year and a half ago in June 2012 was a humbling and, I’ll admit, slightly anger-inducing visit.  The deception that occurred during the Holocaust (clear in the phrase in the entrance gate, as shown above) was rampant, and it was harrowing to be in a place where senseless violence occurred – a sacred ground and the ultimate resting place of many.  Thousands of innocent people died there.  You talk about “seeing history” when you travel, but when you connect to it, that’s something altogether different.

It’s difficult to imagine that something like this could happen today, but if you think about it, it is happening, in places like Darfur, Syria and Somalia.  And, to think that it was only about 70-75 years ago that the Holocaust happened is just disturbing.  That is not a long time ago, and we have a duty to do what we can to stop this from happening again.  We say Never Forget, and we have to remember that.

A little over a year ago, I posted (again briefly) about my experience at Dachau, proving that life does indeed find ways to flourish in a place of tragedy.  I wanted to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day by sharing this photo.

31-Day Blog Challenge: 10 Favorite Foods

Day 21/31

Awwwww, foooooooood!  As excited as I’ve been for another post about food, I find myself at a loss to pick just ten favorite foods.  Seriously, that’s like making a parent pick their favorite child!!  Doable, but not altogether easy…

OMG, the creamy, the cheesy...  America's favorite comfort food gets the coveted #1 spot on my "Favorite Foods" list.

OMG, the creamy, the cheesy… America’s favorite comfort food gets the coveted #1 spot on my “Favorite Foods” list.

Macaroni & Cheese…  But, mostly, the “adult” variation with quality cheeses, CREAM, bacon, CREAM and truffle oil.  But, really, pasta of any variety will do just fine.

Coming in at the top three, this steak from Oliva Verde in Prague was so beautiful I just had to take a photo of it.

Coming in at the top three, this steak from Oliva Verde in Prague was so beautiful I just had to take a photo of it.

Steak…  There’s something about a filet or ribeye that’s just, well, right.  Having been born and raised in “The Cowboy Capital of the World,” where beef is big industry and a part of everyday life, I suppose it makes sense.  The two best steaks I have ever had were at Ruth’s Chris at the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis and, #1, at ALC Steaks in Austin.  Beef:  it’s what’s for dinner.

potato soup

Is wine a food? Let’s go ahead and slip it in, right here…

Potatoes…  Again, pretty much any form is fine, but potato soup and loaded baked potatoes really take the cake, or rather, “the potato,” here.  I’m part Irish and German, so every time I eat potatoes, I am coming home.

Crêpes...  I pretty much refuse to eat them anywhere but Paris.  I guess you could say I was spoiled at first taste.

Crêpes… I pretty much refuse to eat them anywhere but Paris. I guess you could say I was spoiled “at first taste.”

Crêpes…  Pancakes, Nutella, strawberries/bananas/whatever…  How on earth could you go wrong?  They’re great everywhere in Paris, but my favorite is at Le Tire Bouchon in Montmartre – thanks to Chris Morrison for bringing us to this awesome piano bar!


Chocolate. Need I say more?? (Fassbender & Rausch in Berlin – YUM; Godiva is my fave chain/brand)

Chocolate…  If you need an explanation for this, we can’t be friends.

Chipotle Burrito Bowls (with Guac, naturally).

Chipotle Burrito Bowls (with Guac, naturally).

Chipotle Burrito Bowls…  Just look at that picture.  Isn’t it beautiful?  My brother introduced me to the shrine-to-all-that-is-holy-that-is-Chipotle in December 2010.  I remember this introduction vividly…

Pretty much any Mexican food...  That being said, gringas have a special place in my heart.

Pretty much any Mexican food… That being said, gringas have a special place in my heart.

Mexican Food…  In particular, tacos, burritos, gringas, refried beans, posole…  Well, anyway.  Mexican food is my go-to comfort food.

This Frozen Jitter from The Good Egg in Wichita, Kansas...  It puts me in that Happy Place.

This Frozen Jitter from The Good Egg in Wichita, Kansas… It puts me in that Happy Place.

Frozen Coffee Drinks…  Frappuccinos, ice-creamy-coffee drinks.  There’s so much to love here that I can’t start to get into it for fear that I won’t be able to stop.  There’s probably a post on BuzzFeed about it, anyway.

Enstrom's Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Enstrom’s Milk Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Enstrom’s Toffee.  Our good friends out in Colorado send us a tin of this toffee for Christmas every year, and it always fills us with joy (and, in the pursuit of honesty, calories).  The crunch, the richness, the flaky almond dust…  It all just works.  OH SO WELL.

Without further ado...

Without further ado…

The best thing I have ever eaten, ever…  I really don’t know how to describe this dish…  There were fried potatoes, there was a smattering of ham, a spattering of cheese, a dose of salad…  Whatever it was, it made La Marmite in Paris the location of, to this date and of my best recollection, the best dish I have ever eaten.  I have eaten a lot (look at pictures of me for proof), but I can still taste this dish.  It was sooooo good.  My friends and I still talk about it.

What are your favorite foods?  Please share in the comments below – I love hearing people talk about food!!!

Day 16/31

"People always ask me why I spend so many of my resources on travel, of all things.  To me, experiencing the world, its people, its beauty, it's magnificence... is worth everything" -Luke A. Bunker

“People always ask me why I spend so many of my resources on travel, of all things. To me, experiencing the world, its people, its beauty, it’s magnificence… is worth everything” -yours truly, Luke A. Bunker

For someone who wants to do so much and travel to so many places, you think this prompt would be a breeze.  BUT, that is not the case as I, oddly, haven’t prioritized these things!  (I can see hours of Pinterest in my future…  It’s a tough task, but someone’s gotta do it…)

Travel-wise, the top of my bucket list at the moment is a grand trip to Italy – Florence, Rome, Milan, Venice, Assisi, all of the gorgeous hilltowns, the Cinque Terre…  I would also love to do a Greek Island cruise in conjunction with this trip.  In my opinion (fellow readers, fill me in!), it would be fun to drive Italy, but I think that would stress me out too much, so I’d have to get around another way.  I’ve actually never been to Italy (going for the first time in July), but I have daydreamed about it for so long that it seems like a no-brainer to put at the top of my bucket list!  I literally feel like I’ve been there, thanks to literature, film, and especially my friend Laura’s photos from her travels there!  Oh, and the food…  Oh-em-jay.

Domestically, I have always wanted to do a “big drive,” whether it be Route 66 (ok, especially Route 66), a cross-country drive, Big Sur, the Appalachian Trail, etc….  I’ve even thought a weekend trip to Amarillo would be fun!  (Do I need a life??)  I think it would be fun to do it with a good friend, but it might even be interesting to do it by myself, but I think that would get fairly exhausting and boring.  Traveling with friends is just so much more fun!

I, of course, want to do the EuroChocolate Festival in Italy and Carnivale in Rome and Venice, see an Olympic Games, visit New Zealand, do an African safari, visit the Holy Land, see Cuba before it is totally modernized with Hiltons and McDonalds and new cars, and do so many other things.  With so much travel to do, non-travel-related bucket list items barely even come to mind, although I’d love to learn new languages to make that pursuit just a bit easier!

What’s at the top of your bucket list?  If I get my act together, I’ll refine, prioritize and share more of my Bucket List at a later date!!

31-Day Blog Challenge: If I Won the Lottery…

Day 14/31

When I think of Heaven, I think of Switzerland.  If I won the lottery, I would travel even more than I do now - it is food for the soul that you can't even order up in an Italian trattoria (OMG, it is possible, LOL).

When I think of Heaven, I think of Switzerland. If I won the lottery, I would travel even more than I do now – it is food for the soul that you can’t even order up in an Italian trattoria (OMG, it is possible, LOL).

Wow – what a loaded question!  What would I do if I won the lottery?  I would wager to say that most of us have daydreamed and imagined more than was healthy about what we would do if we came into a windfall of money, such as winning the lottery.  I so fall into this group – embrace it, folks.  It’s amazing to think how such a huge chunk of money (and, conversely, even a little!) could dramatically change a person’s life.  My thoughts on the subject are fairly extravagant, but that’s me…  It’s one of those situations where you don’t know what you’d do until you were in those shoes, but it’s important to plan and be prepared for when that day surely comes.  🙂

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people who came into that kind of money and wish they never did…  Interesting, considering how many of us pine after it.  As it is said in 1 Timothy 6:10 (holy moly, Luke is quoting scripture!!  I hope I used the right format…), “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  However, as I often say, there’s only one way to find out – let’s hope I get the opportunity to some day!  LOL

  • Buy a luxury private jet (a Gulfstream V, perhaps?) – because, honestly, flying coach is so overrated, and if you could afford the plane, first-class would seem so incredibly pointless.  (At this point, it’s up to you to determine whether or not I’m being sarcastic throughout this post or being serious – have fun!)
  • Use that private jet to penthouse-shop along Avenue des Champs-Élysées  in Paris.  Second, third, fourth and fifth homes, soon to follow!  I’d set up shop in places where I could relax and enjoy life.  This would include busy cities, remote hideaways, mountain-view escapes…  (Cue:  “Is this the real life?  Is this just fantasy?”)
  • I always used to think that I wouldn’t quit my current job if I won the lottery, but after this week, I am really reconsidering that…  LOL, but not really.  However, I would still absolutely want to work because shopping for days and just being extravagant in general would probably get old fairly quickly.  (Would it, though??)  I would probably want to get into the hospitality industry through being a hotelier or restaurateur – I know it can’t be easy or fun all the time, but I am fascinated by the business side of that world.
  • Put the money in a non-volatile account to make my money work for me – but not too hard to where it’s confused and doesn’t know what to do!
  • Take my family on a wonderful trip to Europe or somewhere else exotic.  Nothing binds a family together like than taking a good vacation (unless, you know, you already hate your family… sorry, at that point, you’re SOL and no amount of money will help you), and it is one of my dreams to take in particular my parents to Europe because it’s something they would likely never do for themselves, and they so deserve it.
  • Establish a charity to promote literacy for children.  The charity would ensure that children of every age have access to quality literature and storytime, regardless of socioeconomic status or location.  Reading is so important, and I firmly believe that if more people read, we’d have less wars.  Also, society would be less stupid.  Just sayin’!
  • I would hardcore advocate for travel (and would travel ALL.  THE.  TIME.) and would chase my dream of being a travel photographer and writer for a top magazine, maybe one I would create and cultivate.  As an opinion on foreign policy, I think that if people travel to the places they are planning to bomb, they  might just not do it.  Perspective can be huge, and it’s only a hop, jump, skip and a passport stamp away.  I thank Rick Steves’ Travel As A Political Act for strengthening this philosophy.
  • Sorry to my mid-nineties Chevy – you’ve gotten me from Point A to Point B for several years now, but I would have to upgrade my car.  For a list about what to do with lottery money, this seems like a “duh.”  I’m thinking a Range Rover would be appropriate for my home in Aspen, an Aston-Martin for my place in the Hamptons, etc…  No, I have not given this any thought whatsoever.
  • I would ensure that my family and friends and their financial worries were taken care of.  This would include paying off houses, sending them on trips, and just helping them remove finances as a strain on their relationships and families.
  • I would love to show my niece the world of travel – in style!  I would also help pay for her education, traditional or otherwise.

What would you do if you won the lottery?  Be lofty or humble – or a bit of both, and share in the comments section below!

31-Day Blog Challenge: My Earliest Memory

Day 13/31

So, asking me to remember my earliest memory is like asking a giraffe to- See, I already forgot where I was going with that.  Oh, my…

Now that we’ve established my bad memory, there is an early memory I remember (wow, this is turning out to be a drab post – I’m not really into it, but per the challenge, I will suck it up and write, I guess, maybe).  I’m not sure it qualifies as my first recollection, but it seems about right…

To set up this story, know that I never went to preschool or daycare as my mother was a stay-at-home mom.  I had friends over, but the extent of my social life as a young child was storytime at the local public library (S/O to reading!).  So, you can imagine that I was a bit anxious before entering kindergarten (I attended Sacred Heart, a parochial school, for nine years.  Let that soak in.)  I distinctly remember repeatedly throwing up and crying before going to school (maybe this was first grade – whatevs)…  This crippling anxiety problem with starting school has followed me every year.  Fun!!

Thank goodness this post is coming to a close (if you made it this far, go buy yourself something fancy – you deserve it)!  I am super-excited to share my outlandish dreams in tomorrow’s post – I imagine what I would do if I won the lottery a LOT.

Good night!


31-Day Blog Challenge: Best Physical Feature

Day 10/31

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower back in 2012 - I look so happy because I was!  Photo by Alexandria Mueller or Jay Woofter.

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (Paris) back in 2012 – I look so happy because I  most absolutely was! Photo by Alexandria Mueller or Jay Woofter.

I am not particularly vain when it comes to my looks because, quite frankly, there ain’t a whole lot to be vain about there!  However, the whole point of this challenge is to answer the prompts.  Accordingly, if I were to pick my *favorite* physical features, I would have to pick my smile or my eyes.  Both express my feelings and emotions.  My favorite photos show me with a genuine smile and where you can see life, vibrance, happiness and energy in my eyes.  Consequently, this most often happens on those perfect days (perfect doesn’t mean things go right but that it’s an experience!) while traveling, such as in the above photo.  Being surrounded by good friends, beautiful sights, historic places and amazing food does wonders to a person’s soul.

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

Day 6/31

Today’s prompt was supposed to be “My five senses right now,” but I really didn’t care for that as I’m only sitting here at my dining room table, having just finished a Harry & David Royal Riviera Pear, listening to Rascal Flatts & the GoT Soundtrack (weird combo, I know – see previous post), smelling nothing and writing at my laptop off my iPhone’s portable hotspot because the Internet is down (= grumpy, GRUMPY Luke) and, as such, my normal writing space is not usable right now.  Whew!  So, anyway…  I didn’t care for the prompt (which I guess I sort of just answered), so I decided to reshare a poem I wrote in a creative writing class at college, inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem, “Salut au Monde!” and answer one of the following prompts – “What do you hear?” or “What do you see?”

Sacre Coeur Bell Tower

Sacre Coeur Bell Tower

“What do you see, Luke Bunker?”

What do you see, Luke Bunker?
I see the proud displays of chocolate-makers throughout the city.
I smell the dank and dirt of a place where being clean seems to be an afterthought.
I feel the intensity of sun rays beating on my weary body.
I hear the chatter of men and women going on about their daily lives.
I taste the world’s worst and most expensive coffee in a place where it feels just right.
I am alive in this moment.

Reflecting in an Unknown Place

It is always an interesting experience seeing something up close that you have driven by dozens of times but never really saw.  An ideal example for this is the pond in Fort Dodge, Kansas, near the Kansas Soldiers’ Home.  While on our Backroads Photo Adventure Day, Laura directed me to this pond (which is surprisingly only about 5 miles from my house), and I immediately fell in love.  I literally had no idea of its existence, even though I drive on that highway every time I go to Wichita.

After our rather exhausting day, it was nice to put our feet up, relax, look through photos from the day and just talk.  The colors, as you can tell, were gorgeous – the blues of the pond nicely reflected the oranges from the outcrops of benches and the greens from the surrounding foliage.

I can see this being a place I frequent when the weather turns warmer (it’s supposed to get down to 10 degrees for a low later this week!), armed with my Moleskine and Pitt Pens and ready to create.  I love discovering (or, in this case, being shown) new places, especially ones right in my backyard!


Put Your Feet Up


Sit A Moment & Catch Your Breath • “Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath.” – Lewis Thomas


The Pond at Fort Dodge


Pondside Grasses


Ripples & Reflections


Ripples & Reflections II


Bokeh Blur


A Story of Three Leaves in Disguise