Tagged with " travels without miranda series"
Dec 6, 2009 -

Travels Without Miranda, #8: Tybee Island, Georgia

I finally made it to Savannah in the spring of 2008, six months before I left Ottawa with Miranda. This harried road trip featuring bad motels and restaurant food convinced me that there had to be a better way to travel.

After spending a sticky day exploring Savannah’s historic district, I decided that the next day should be spent visiting the environs, my expedition culminating at Tybee Island, Savannah’s ocean playground.

It was the first week of April and still bitter cold back home, but on Tybee the sun was shining and it was hot. The Atlantic ocean beckoned me and I heeded its call, wading in carefully, then plunging in head first when I discovered, to my delight, that the water was warm!

Swimming opened up my appetite and I went off in search of lunch, finding it at a shack-type restaurant right on the beach called the North Beach Grill. I decided to take a chance on it since it was packed. It was a fantastic experience; a cruddy little restaurant open to sea breezes, salt shakers rusty from the sea air, rum flowing liberally, and Caribbean-style music booming from speakers. I ordered ‘grilled shrimp’ which was nothing like what I expected. I got whole shrimp, still in the shell with the legs on ’em, swimming in a cajunny-style sauce with a helping of freshly cut fries. It was one of the most undignified, delicious, and fun meals of my life. It took forever to peel those suckers using my fingers! It was there that I realised that coastal Georgia is a world unto itself where sweet tea runs freely, huge mountains of sweet shrimp big as a thumb cost less than a burger, and the people know how to take the time to breathe and enjoy a moment. It’s not paradise, but came pretty close to that for a sun and warmth-starved gal who had just fled winter!

That day in the water reminded me that when I am drained, water can renew me. I remembered this my first day in Edmonton.

(As a side note, that night I received an email that changed my life forever. But that’s another story, part of which you read whenever you visit this blog.)

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Alberta, Canada, Georgia, Travel, USA    2 Comments
Dec 4, 2009 -

Travels Without Miranda, #6: Watching a Light Show in Manitoba

I can thank hurricane Katrina for my road trip around the Great Lakes in 2005. I had scheduled a tour of the southern US, including Savannah, Pensacola, and New Orleans, but two days before I was slated to depart, Katrina swept in and my plans for my first vacation in four years went down the toilet. Needless to say, I didn’t take it personally, but I could have acted like a petulant child and cancelled my vacation.

Instead, I took the few days I had to come up with another interesting road trip idea and off I went on a fantastic adventure that might not have been the one I’d planned and looked forward to, but which was special in its own way. I even managed to see in Minneapolis one thing that I had looked forward to seeing while I toured the south, the Mississippi River.

My tour around the Great Lakes was to be broken up with a several day stay in Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba. It was a city I had always wanted to visit, so ending up there instead of New Orleans wasn’t a huge disappointment even if some people proclaimed Winnipeg to be plan Q. I guess that I have a soft spot for the places that get a bum rap. 🙂

To stretch my budget, I decided to camp at Bird’s Hill provincial park, just north of the city and within easy commuting distance. When I arrived there, I had had quite a full day, waking up in Melrose, Minnesota, speeding through my first glimpse of the prairies in North Dakota, and then crossing over into Manitoba for the first time, bringing me further west in Canada than I had ever been.

sunrise at Birds Hill Provincial Park (photo by the government of Manitoba)

sunrise at Birds Hill Provincial Park (photo by the government of Manitoba)

My trip was winding down and even if I hadn’t seen anything as spectacular as Savannah’s historic district or New Orlean’s French Quarter, I was racking up a lot of memories and I was satisfied even if I hadn’t seen anything that particularly stuck out in my mind.

After dinner that night, I went for a walk on the prairie to wind down a bit and watch the sunset, then went to bed. I couldn’t sleep, so after some tossing and turning I got up and went back to the walking trail to watch the stars. Those plans changed when I found that the sky was alive with dancing green lights. It was the aurora borealis, the northern lights! I had never seen it before and it was even more beautiful than I would ever have imagined. Acid green swirled against ebony, shimmering and popping, and I could swear I heard all that energy crackling. The prairie sky is open and endless, so the dance seemed to stretch on forever, as far as I could see.

stock photo of the northern lights that quite accurate represents what I saw that night

stock photo of the northern lights that quite accurately represents what I saw that night

Had I gone south that fall, I would have missed this spectacular natural phenomenon. I believe that things happen, and plans change, for a reason. I’m not afraid of taking the unbeaten path or doing something that at first glance seems illogical. Sometimes being flexible in your travel plans pays off in big ways. This is what was going through my mind last summer when I decided on a whim to push on to Dawson City instead of settling in Whitehorse.

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Canada, Manitoba, Travel, USA, Yukon    No Comments
Dec 3, 2009 -

Travels Without Miranda, #5: Antiquing in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a state that gets a bum rap. It is a verdant land of rolling hills and dairy farms. Granted, I detoured around Milwaukee, so I didn’t see the urban Wisconsin, but what I did visit was idyllic.

I was on a road trip circling the Great Lakes and I was a woman on a mission. The previous day I had driven from Toronto to Lake Bluff, Illinois, a distance of more than a 1,000km. I’m not sure exactly why I was in such a rush, but there was no way to stop me. This was my first vacation in years and I was going to see it ALL!


Coming into Wisconsin, I decided that I didn’t want to go through Milwaukee, so I looked for a way around the city and instead decided to get off I-94 for a spell and take a secondary road that would lead me back to I-94 at Madison in a diagonal fashion.

Suddenly, I had no choice but to slow down since the scenic route meant going through towns and going through towns meant slower speed limits and, gasp, stop signs. I passed an antique shop at one point and wished that I could stop. Two blocks away from it, I had a revelation, I could stop if I wanted to! I was on vacation, for pete’s sake and I didn’t have to be in such a rush!

I ended up doing only a couple hundred kilometres that day as I lost myself in the antique shops of southern Wisconsin, scooping up blue willow dishes and brass candleholders. I don’t have any pictures of the two antique malls I stopped at, among smaller shops, but they are Freddy Bears Antique Mall and Heavenly Heaven Antique Mall (located in a restored church) in Waterford. Plan on spending several hours at each!

When I was done, I found the beautiful Devil’s Lake Campground and set my tent up for the night, guaranteeing a leisurely departure the next day. I remember going for a swim in the shallow lake that was still warm that late in September and whooping with joy at rediscovering life in the slow lane.

Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

Devil's Lake, Wisconsin

It was in Wisconsin that I learned that I want to travel at a slow pace and that it’s when I think that I’m in the biggest hurry that I should slow down and enjoy the moment because there might not be another opportunity to do so. I must have had this lesson in mind during my Chasm respite before one of the worst days of my life.

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British Columbia, Canada, Travel, USA, Wisconsin    No Comments