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Who Knew?

I really want you to get to know me, Debbie.

So what you need to know first and foremost is that I love to travel.
Growing up we never took a family vacation. We never went anywhere actually. I grew up in Los Angeles California and a “vacation” for us was to load up the station wagon and make the drive down to Salton Sea to visit my grandparents little getaway they had down there for the weekend. And this wasn’t very often. I remember how excited I would be knowing we were going “somewhere”! I was thrilled to stay in my grandparents great little 1950’s silver camp trailer and help my grandmother sell hot dogs and snow cones from her little portable food stand while my grandfather fished all day for corvina from the pier. I can remember at night sitting outside and looking up at the stars and pointing out the Milky Way and both “Dipper’s”.


When we had the opportunity to move to Nevada in the early 1970’s, I had my mother packed and renting a U-Haul “To go where no Smith had gone before”. Out of the State of California! Now this was only to the neighboring State of Nevada in a little town called, Tonopah, but at the age of 14, I thought, what a great adventure!

Tonopah, Nevada


When I was raising my family I made sure we took family vacations nearly every summer. I would get ideas of places to visit from magazines, television or even just talking with co-workers and friends. But most importantly from my children. One year my daughter had learned in school that there was a place where she could stand in one spot and be in four States at the same time. So I planned a whole vacation around her curiosity. I would always figure out how to see and do as much as possible in a two week period.

During those 23 years we were able to explore so many beautiful places. Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and even back to California. And then finally…..the airplane ride! My first airplane ride at the age of 37 to Nashville Tennessee to see Christmas in the Park at Gaylord. I remember getting there, parking the car, and as I walked towards the entrance I just started to cry. I was so overwhelmed with the thought that I was actually experiencing such a beautiful place. I get that way. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to fight the tears when I get somewhere.

And now here I am, 61 years old and I have had the opportunity to visit just about every State and about 27 countries.

Who knew?

Why Travel Internationally?

“There is plenty to see in North America.”

Unknown

Countless are the times that we have heard these quotes and while we don’t disagree that there is near unparalleled natural beauty in North America it is the culture that offers the seasoning for the meal that is travel. The cultural diversity in other parts of the world is what really makes it worthwhile for us.

Culture can show up in various ways, either through local customs, food, music and language. Here are some examples that I am intimately familiar with having grown up in Belgium:

Sinterklaas

This Santa lookalike is based on the figure of Saint-Nicolas. Depending on the region this figure lived in either Spain or Turkey. He is celebrated each December 6th for which he happens to be the patron saint. Main differences are that he rides a horse and visits the Netherlands and northern Belgium on a boat rather than being led by reindeer.

This is the kids’ most important date as it’s the day when Sinterklaas decides to give presents to the kids that were good and punishes the kids that were bad by whipping them with the ‘roe’ and sometimes even putting them in a burlap bag.

Indoor track cycling

All over Western Europe we have annual winter meets where both road and track cyclists compete in various events. The track in Gent, Belgium is world famous as it is the shortest distance track on the circuit which means steep turns and a spectacular event with fans (the venue holds barely 6000 people) right on top of the athletes.

Racers compete for 6 straight evenings, my personal favorite event is the so called ‘ploegkoers’ or ‘team race’ if you were to translate it literally (official English term is Madison). During this hour long race teams of two try to score points either through sprints or by lapping the opponents.

Just imagine riding a bike at 40mph for an hour straight, single speed, no brakes in a relay with a team mate you have to ‘launch’ every lap or two.

Picture courtesy of wielerflits.nl

As we develop our website further, you can expect many more of these cultural highlights both from our past and future travels. Let us take you on a journey across the world from the comforts of your home!