— Jenny Neill


I was recently invited to write a short post for tourists about where to buy Pacific Northwest wines when visiting Seattle. Read it out over at Jennifer Blair’s Find Your Joy blog.

Seattle skyline at sunset

Photo courtesy of Mike Russell, all rights reserved.

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I put this blog on the back burner for a bit. Some travel and a whole lot of wine distracted me. But I’m back now and getting the New Year rolling with a travel blogging meme.

Kat, of Travel with Kat, tagged me for my “A-to-Z of travel” on December 30. This seemed like a fun way to start 2012 so, I’m playing along. However, I’m not giving you all my “letters” at once. Instead, I’ll reveal my answers in four installments.

Without further ado, I give you my A-to-H of travel.

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view of vineyards from trail between Vernazza and Corniglia in 2003

Vineyards viewed from trail between Vernazza and Corniglia in 2003.

I didn’t plan on writing about travel this week. I was going to tell you I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this month. (Hey, looks like I just did!) Thing is, I kept coming across the subject of Cinque Terre and photos of the damage done to it by torrential rains while doing novel-related research. So like any distractable and procrastinating writer, I went looking for more news, more photos, more information.

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what is left of Nothing, Arizona

On a whim, I decided to go looking for ghost towns on a recent visit to Arizona. That road trip led me to Nothing.

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Part One

I was a writer of a different sort 10 years ago. I wrote business analysis and functional specifications as a fulltime employee at an “enterprise portal solution” company. Working with our team’s engineers, I recorded technical designs and customized documentation for end users.

By August of 2001, though it hadn’t been announced to us or the public yet, I had deduced my employer was about to be acquired. I jumped at the chance to go when my dad suggested I join him and my stepmother for their trip to Italy to visit my sister, Missy. I knew that in a matter of weeks what little vacation time I had could be meaningless.

I carried a hardbound journal with me the whole trip with the goal of writing every day. I wanted to be able to share my experiences with my husband, Mike, who could not come with me. He had just started a new job.

I confess I’ve struggled to write this post. A lot. The trip most definitely changed me. I’ve decided to let the writer I was then tell the story. What follows are excerpts from that journal.

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The boat gives off a low putt-putter and hum. My fingers clutch the metal railing while my eyes scan the Strait of Juan de Fuca, near Victoria, BC. A few feet below the surface something enormous, like an oil slick made solid, slides by.

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I waved one of those flags you see splashed across the top of my site at the First Annual Harvest Festival in Prescott, Arizona. Organized by the Culture Collective, this event happened late November of 2010. Giant folk creatures, clowns, and musical instruments from the Living Folklore Puppets handed them out to festival-goers as encouragement to parade with the children just before dusk.

Credit goes to Erik Fadiman for the design of my logo and banner image and for customizing the -BLOGUM WordPress theme from WPSHOWER. Photo credit goes to Mike Russell.

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I arrived in Vancouver, BC midday after taking the early morning train up from Seattle. The wireless service onboard was very consistent for me. Having such easy access to online communications on that particular train trip had pros and cons. I used Twitter, Facebook, and email far more than I’d intended.

A big pro was finally getting to meet one of the writers from an online class I took earlier this year in person. DMing on Twitter helped us to find each other on the train.

The cons? The main one was I frittered away time tapping on my iPhone touchscreen instead of looking out the window. Or taking that nap I meant to. Or crafting other material for this blog.

This blog will have more than excuses about why I haven’t posted something more interesting. Promise! Aside from the fact that I’m still putting the finishing touches on it, I’m blaming Amtrak. If only their WiFi hadn’t worked so well!

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