Returning once again to searches that bring readers to this blog, I’ve noticed that many people are looking for information about California (Route 1) and Italy (mountains, ancient Rome).  Since I grew up in one place and lived twice in the other, it’s only natural that they both occupy special places in my heart.  I got to thinking about their similarities, and here are some of my ideas.

California Italy
Mediterranean climate Mediterranean climate
Wine culture (brought from Spain) Wine culture (exported throughout Europe)
Famous highways (Route 1) Famous highways (Via Appia and other Roman roads)
Long history (when you consider the age of the USA) – native culture and Spanish exploration are only the beginning Amazingly long history, well worth reading about.  Documented by Caesar and his colleagues as well as contemporary historians
Volcanoes (fortunately inactive) Volcanoes (active…)
Famous for its automotive culture (traffic, driving habits) Famous for its automotive culture (Ferrari, driving habits)
Friendly people Friendly people
Food from everywhere Distinguished local cuisine
People from everywhere People who can trace ancestry back 2000 years
Huge variety of scenery, from natural wonders to mountains to beaches – try Yosemite, Big Sur, Death Valley Huge variety of scenery, from natural wonders to mountains to beaches – check out the Dolomites, Golfo di Gaeta and the unspoiled hills of Le Marche
Why not visit some day?  There’s more to California than Hollywood and the Golden Gate Bridge. Why not visit some day?  Rome, Venice and Florence are only the beginning.

The two places are more alike than you’d think, and vastly different as well.  It’s a matter of looking into things a bit more carefully, rather than just doing the guidebook glance-over.

Some day in the future I’ll compare Italy and West Virginia.  They, too, are more alike than you’d think.

So, how often do you wake up and tell yourself, “I just have to be in (insert location)!”?  After I returned home from my exchange semester in Ireland, back in high school, I just ached to be back in the green hills outside of Dublin.  That longing doesn’t  go away.  You shove it down, stuff a bunch of daily responsibilities on top of it, and get on with things.

Our next outing will probably be to the Maryland Renaissance Festival…an outing we’ve loved for nearly 15 years.  (Time to dust off the garb…)  After that, we’ll see.

Last year at this time, we were planning a trip to Germany.  Although things were kind of tentative (we flew space-available with Air Mobility Command), we had a plan and we were, in fact, able to fulfill nearly all of it.  I love visiting Europe because I can literally feel the stress fall off my shoulders and slide to…wherever.  I can stand tall, take my best shot at the local language and poke around museums, castles and cathedrals to my heart’s content.

We’ve had record-breaking heat here Between the Beltways lately.  October and “92 degrees” just don’t belong in the same sentence.  I really feel for our local farmers, who are suffering through this drought and wondering how long it will last.  Please spare a prayer or positive thought for our drought-stricken farmers across the continent…it’s going to be a hard year for many people.

I’m staying home this weekend (unusual for me) to work on writing projects.  I’m hoping things will calm down a bit in a few days.  Meanwhile, here’s a travel Hub on West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad, another on the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis, and a third about my favorite Indianapolis restaurant, The Rathskeller, for your reading pleasure.

We just returned from a trip to the Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover, Delaware.  While the drive was fairly long (almost two hours), the museum was interesting.  They have several airplanes inside a 1944 hangar, and they have static display aircraft outside.  I counted at least five volunteers inside the museum.  They were very helpful and friendly.  The kids tried out the museum’s flight simulator and did pretty well – no one crashed and burned, whew!

After my son took several dozen photos, we did some shopping on base and tried to figure out where things were in relation to the front gate and flight line.  I worried a bit about traffic on our homeward journey, but things went well.  It’s nice to see that fall’s finally arriving; leaves are beginning to turn and farmers on the Eastern Shore have set up pumpkin stands.  Bread-baking season isn’t too far away.

It’s almost time for fall foliage in Monterey, Va.

A Different Kind of Road

My son is preparing for a big Scouting endeavor.  He’s joining his troop’s Philmont crew.  The Scouts who trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico prepare for a very long time; it’s a physically and mentally challenging effort.  The Scouts go up into the high country, carrying everything they’ll need for a week of adventure.  Many Scouts never make it to Philmont; far more troops ask to go each year than the ranch can accommodate.  We have lots of training walks and hikes to think about during the next several months.  It’s going to be a challenge, but I know he’s up to it.

Find out about the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum here.

Long ago, in southern Italy, my husband and I occasionally found ourselves with nothing to do on a Sunday.  It sounds silly, but we usually took the foot-ferry into Brindisi, walked up the (closed) main drag, and hung out at the stazione looking for lost tourists to assist.  We seldom had to wait long.  There they’d be, hesitantly glancing at the train schedules, trying to figure out how to read them.  We’d walk up and say, “Do you need some help?” and the inevitable response was, “Oh, thank goodness!” or something to that effect, in English.  We’d teach the travelers to use the schedules and then leave.

Almost two decades later, we were living in Italy again.  One of the first things I was asked to do was help an American priest get to his lodgings so he could say Mass at our little Navy base.  He missed his train from Rome.  Having been in country less than a week, he had no idea how to read the train schedule.  He telephoned, I talked him through it, then reviewed the lesson when I picked him up in Formia.  He became a family friend, which was wonderful, and he never missed a train again – at least when he visited us.

Today I was at the airport and ran into a church friend.  I had the opportunity to help her with her bags and with the self check-in process.  She was grateful, and so was I.  Once again, I felt as though I’d really helped a fellow traveler.

Life’s short.  Pay those favors forward.

 Heading to Indianapolis?  White River State Park is a great downtown destination.  Besides, a cute kitty lives in the Visitor Center.

This weekend’s road trip got me thinking about how fortunate I am to travel as much as I have.  Many people save for years to get to just one of the amazing destinations I’ve visited.  There’s nothing like that “wow” feeling you get when you see, say, the Grand Canyon for the first time.

There’s a tradeoff, of course.  I have to move every two years or so, whether I want to or not, because of the demands of my husband’s job.  This brings us to new places, and I truly enjoy exploring them, but it also means I sometimes forget which kitchen I’m standing in.  I’ve moved 10 times in 22 years.

Fortunately, I like new places and make a big effort to get out and experience the best of any place I live.  At our very first duty station, in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy, I met people who literally never left the base.  Ugh.  That’s so not me, but you’ve probably figured that out by now.

Here’s some info on two small but significant science museums I’ve visited, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the College Park Aviation Museum.