Picnicking {Spin Cycle}

Our family loves a good picnic; or as Fancy Nancy would put it, we dine al fresco! Every once in while, I’ll call Ed and tell him to meet us at the roller slide park after work. I make pizza pasta salad* and buy Cheetos, and the girls and I arrive early so that they can play on the playground before Ed gets there.

Most of the time, our picnicking happens during a road trip. I pack sandwiches, fruit and veggies so that we can stop at a picnic area to eat lunch instead of eating fast food.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate and it’s a bit cooler than we expect. We just bundle up and eat outside anyway.

roadside picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table. So we pull over in a turnaround on the side of the highway to Fairbanks, Alaska, and eat in the back of our rental van.

picnic in a van

alaska picnic

Sometimes, we can’t find a picnic table, so we use a rock instead.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Hiking in the Rocky Mountains, CO
Lunch at the Grand Canyon
Lunch at the Grand Canyon

And sometimes, there’s nothing like a hot dog in your own backyard!

hot dog

*I don’t have a recipe; I just make some rotini noodles, throw in some pepperoni, grape tomatoes, mozzarella cheese chunks, onions, green peppers and black olives, and toss it all with a vinaigrette. Voila, pizza pasta salad!

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A Writers’ Retreat

Alaskan lake

Today’s Spin Cycle is all about a dream vacation. In a way, I’ve already been on my dream vacation. See that picture up there? The beautiful mountain lake? This was the view from our patio door for two nights in a row. I took that picture when we were on vacation in Alaska last summer.

Some day, I would love to have a writer’s retreat somewhere in a place as beautiful as Alaska. I would spend a week in a small cabin, sitting by the window, typing furiously, without any interruptions from my children or my husband–or the internet. My online access would definitely need to be limited.

I would venture out every morning to have breakfast at the cafe down the road. Maybe I would be able to wear my rain boots and walk, but I would have to be wary of moose. The owners of the cafe would know me by name, and they would have a steaming hot cup of caffe mocha ready for me, with a swirl on top.

hot chocolate swirl

After breakfast, I would head back to the cabin to write. And write and write and write. And nap. There must be napping. Then I would take a long stroll after my nap. For dinner, I would head over to the local pub and join my writer’s group. There would be a grizzly old-timer who would amaze us with his delicate poetry. Maybe a young widow working on her memoirs. A famous but reclusive novelist writing the next New York Times bestseller would join us, and another blogger, who would be writing a humorous book.

Since the Alaskan sun doesn’t set until well after 11:00 during June, I would stay up very late and become a night owl. I would read, read, and read, since a good writer always reads good books.

Alaska cabin window
Our cabin in Talkeetna, AK

My writer’s retreat wouldn’t have to be in Alaska. I would actually be afraid to take long strolls in Alaska because of the bears. And remember that beautiful mountain lake I took a photo of? I ran down the path at 10:00 at night to take that picture, making as much noise as I could to scare any bears that might be lurking in the arctic willows. It was easy to be noisy because I was also swatting giant mosquitoes for the whole 5 minutes I was outside.

I could be anywhere, really. I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy or Greece. Or Spain. Spain would be lovely. Some place where I could take long strolls along the beach to get my creative juices flowing would be wonderful.

After about a week of solitude (except for my writer group dinners), my family would join me. Then we would sight-see. Ed loves to see everything when we travel, so there’s not much lying around or napping when he’s in charge. On second thought, the writing retreat would need to be the second week of my vacation so that I will be able to rest up from the first part! I’ll finish my book, it will get published and be a big success, and I’ll travel around the country for book signings.

Everyone will ask me when my second book is coming out–and so I’ll have to go on a writer’s retreat again. This time, I’ll travel to a secluded island in the Caribbean. I’m sure Johnny Depp will have a room just for me.


Second Blooming

If you need a vacation, click the button above to see Gretchen’s vacation spots. They are lovely!

If you were going on a dream vacation, where would you go?