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Time to Travel

Exactly 10 years ago, I published the first post of this blog. I wrote it on an airplane on my way to India, my second-ever international trip, and my first since becoming a widow.


Traveling to India was a leap I was taking into a new life. I'd gone through the milestones of the first year after Michael's death in shock, sadness and a bit of madness. Trauma and grief was nothing compared to determining a new role for myself in a world that was smaller and yet simultaneously more expansive.

Flight map to India
Next stop, Delhi

I had to -- got to -- hack a path to a different future, and all I knew is that whatever I did would need to involve travel -- something I loved but my husband had not. Since I'd spent most of my professional career as a writer, I thought travel writing would be a great way for me to do two things that I love at the same time. I took the classes, I went to the workshops, I learned photography. But most of all, I traveled.

Two women on the back of a camel
By camel....

Woman on the back of an elephant

Girl and man in the back of a rickshaw
...and bicycle rickshaw.


As a beginning journalist, I was encouraged to write a blog. A travel blog would both help me hone my writing discipline and serve as a showcase until I could develop a portfolio of clips. I learned the tech, built the blueprint, and swallowed hard at the idea of sharing my own voice (something that so completely terrified me that I considered writing my blog in the third person).

Image of a gasping man
Terror-fied in Bali


That changed on that plane flight to India, as I was flying into the sun rising in another hemisphere --another world -- but one that I was still part of. India's long threads to the past, the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty, the richness of an ancient religion, the wildlife and wild lives of another land, all changed the way I viewed our planet. The macro scale of India's mass of humanity and the microcosm of each simple life within it reshaped my perspective on everything.

Ancient structure in a modern city park
Bada Gumbad in Lodi Gardens, Delhi

Crowd of Indian Nationals at a train stop
Train stop somewhere between Delhi and Ranthambore

Colorfully-attired Indian women laughing in a countryside setting
Villagers near Samode


In India I felt huge and German and awkward, and embarrassingly fortunate. I knew then that I wanted to go everywhere, and I wanted to write about it.

Taj Mahal glowing in the sunrise.
More beautiful than any photograph can capture.

The Blue Mosque of Istanbul against a blue sky.
Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, Istanbul

Ancient, pillared pantheon of Rome with crowds of people
Just a 2,000 year-old building in the middle of the city (the Pantheon in Rome)

Ancient Greek building with female statuary pillars
The Erechtheion at the Acropolis, Athens


Since India, I've done a few other trips that some consider weird ("Why are you going to Romania?"), and some that are pretty standard on the scale of today's breed of adventurous travel bloggers (although Paris is really never standard).

Country field with haystacks and a village below
Because it's pretty (Breb, in Maramures Romania).

Cloudy view of Paris and Eiffel tower from an ornate bridge
Pont Alexandre III


I journeyed to the mountains of Ecuador, where I had a ritual treatment by a female shaman that left me in tears (and not just because she slapped me with wet branches while I was naked). I foraged for mushrooms in the wild heights of Washington, fished for salmon on the Columbia River, released lanterns in a mass ascension in Thailand, and had the skin scrubbed off of me in a Turkish Hammam.

Serene Ecuadorian woman in traditional shamanic dress
My mother and healer, Cotacachi, Ecuador

Night sky filled with flaming yellow lanterns
Releasing lanterns -- and prayers -- Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ornate marble archway entrance to Turkish baths
One of the last-built Ottoman-era baths in Istanbul

Tree-covered mountains with storm clouds
Beauty in my own back yard -- Goose Prairie Wilderness, WA


I also wrote about how my life became happier with a new love, which also gave me a new role as a partner in work and in play. Though my now-husband worked full time, with his own business and shellfish farm, we still managed to find time to travel.


Much has changed in these past ten years. My husband sold his business, so we have more time to travel, but somehow, I have less time to write. And as my life has changed, so have my writing objectives. This blog was never designed to make money or geared toward SEO. It was meant to share my words and pictures, kind of like your neighbor's vacation slideshow that you're obligated to sit through, except shorter and hopefully funnier.

Old cars and old buildings, Havana, Cuba
And to remember some places I may never return -- Havana, 2015

I still have stories to tell, but they'll be told in a different way. I'm cooking a memoir (travel-related, of course), and if I ever want to finish it, something's got to give (and it's not going to be Pickleball). So while I'll keep this scrappy and rarely-updated blog online for the time being, this will be my last post on this platform.

Calm water with reflected clouds
Home isn't so bad either (Oysterville, WA)


I've been so privileged to be able to share these experiences with my readers, who have all of you been my reason for sitting down at the blank screen and plinking out three to five thousand words an episode. But I don't know how I can possibly go everywhere and still write about it -- so I've decided to go everywhere and just tell y'all about it on social media.

Bas-relief column panel
Old-time social media -- a portion of a cast of Trajan's column, National Museum of Romanian History


My goal with this blog has always been to make the exotic everyday, and the everyday exotic. I hope I've been able to inspire others to take a leap into the unknown, to see new faces, try a new food (or more likely, drink) and get a glimpse of how other lives are lived.


I'll be keeping up the Without an Umbrella Facebook page with regular posts and pics of trips past and future. I hope you'll follow me -- but now, it's time to travel.

The Moor's clock tower, Piazza San Marco, Venice

Arrivedierci, au revoir, adios, aloha, la revedere, gule gule and, of course, Namaste.


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