Big News! First Publication and a Move!

At last! I am pleased to share the first publication from On Your Radar Media Company, “A Cycling Adventure: Otago Central Rail Trail.” It is available as a downloadable PDF by clicking on the image below. It is also on Adventures of American Julie (http://americanjulie.com).

The Otago Central Rail Trail is a terrific, accessible adventure on the South Island of New Zealand. You can bike or walk, and this guide gives you all the information you need to plan your own adventure.

It will hopefully be the first of many On Your Radar Media Company cycling and other travel publications. Let me know what you think of the format and if you have any questions I did not answer.

I am also moving to midtown Sacramento in the beginning of March. I am very excited about my new space in a newish apartment complex. I still have 2 bedrooms so there is a guest room. I am two floors above The Rind wine bar and on the same block as Buckhorn Grill. I will share more once I made the move. It is a new chapter in my redesign.

Feeling Good

Sometimes you just have to stand still for a minute and give thanks to God for all the great blessings in your life. I am standing in that place right now.  My redesign is almost complete. I am in such an amazing place.

I spent the weekend in New York City visiting my beloved friend Ray. We’ve known each other for 5 years now–since CTI leadership. We connected at the first retreat and we make the effort to stay connected. Being in Ray’s orb is like getting a huge dose of energy and love.  And it helped me articulate that it is all good.

With my Ray of Light in Chelsea, NYC

With my Ray of Light in Chelsea, NYC

First of all, my family is healthy and happy.  Most importantly, Sarah, Marcos and Tevis are thriving.  I love my work and I am well compensated. I have a home I like (although it is not St Heliers). My dog Radar is getting older and I get to enjoy his last days. I have creative outlets including travel and blogs, and travel blogs.  Most of all I know that whatever curves are ahead in life, I have friends and a God whose shoulders are so big that it will all be good.

One evening in NYC, I went to dinner with Ray and his friends. It was like having dinner at the United Nations. I was the only American: Ray is from Haiti, his friend Daniel and cousin Lisa are from Melbourne, Australia, Yanni is from Greece, Ricardo is from Brazil and Mateo and Sonja are from Germany.  I had a great time talking to Lisa and Daniel especially as they have invested a lot of time in various kinds of leadership programs and are very self-aware for their young age. Lisa said something that I did not completely agree with, (something like) “The great thing about investing in leadership development is that it gives you more control over your life.” She feels she is more often in choice and living more intentionally.

I understand what she is saying, and what I love about being almost 51 is that I can live with the paradox (and love the paradox) of living intentionally and knowing that I have no control.  Control is an illusion. We can develop all sorts of behaviors to give us a sense of control, but it is faux control.

I am so at peace with the no control thing. I finally feel like I am beginning to get the hang of what the author of Hebrews meant (Hebrews 11:1):  I am sure of what I hope for and I have faith in what I cannot see. God is in control.

I am the woman who travels with her bicycle!

I am the woman who travels with her bicycle!

I also recognize that a lot of my hard work and investment from living intentionally is paying off.  I am the woman who travels with her foldable bike and has awesome adventures. At the end of the month I get to visit friends in New Zealand and see penguins and attend the amazing World of Wearable Art show.  The work I do (labor of love) to stay connected is paying dividends too.  My friend Mara drove all the way out to the Denver airport in a wicked thundershower to have dinner with me. And those of you who know that the Denver airport is almost in Nebraska can appreciate the effort involved.  I don’t know what else life holds, I just want to give thanks in advance! (I believe it is going to be AWESOME!)

With marvelous Mara at Denver Airport

With marvelous Mara at Denver Airport

 

 

Oh the Places We Will Go

The sing-song refrain from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh the places we will go,” kept playing in my head as we walked through the Amsterdam airport. So many different languages overheard, so many different nationalities represented, and so many different destinations announced over the loudspeaker: it is stimulating. The airplane coffee was really bad so I also found some stimulation at the Starbucks. Can you tell how happy it made me?

We flew direct from SFO on KLM and had a couple of hours to get through security and catch our connection to Oslo. The Dutch security was more restrictive than Homeland Security in some ways–like the overly familiar pat down. Once through we enjoyed the Dutch-i-ness of the place with the celebration of tourists and Rembrandt. It reminded me that on my top 10 places I will go someday is Amsterdam of the flower show and mart.

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Then on to Oslo and the complete lack of security; no one even checked our passports at the airport. The super sleek express train carried us from the airport to the central rail station a few blocks from our hotel. It is great to travel with Tevis because of his natural sense of direction. We are staying at one of the Thon hotels (Norwegian chain pronounced “tone”). Our hotel is promoting a children’s program and the young woman at the front desk in the parrot costume proved to be most helpful with her suggestions and directions.

I went across the street to the mall to find a toothbrush. I found one of the knitting shops on my list and was quite impressed. I also met a couple from Tasmania who were stuggling with the ATM machine. We figured it out and had a lovely chat. (Tevis rolled his eyes when I got back and told him I met some people from Australia–only took me 30 minutes on my own to bond with total strangers!) The grocery store was fascinating. Where else can you find such a wide selection of ground nut butters (Nutella!) And tinned fish on one aisle? 

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It is taking a while to shift into vacation mode. I have been doing some follow up work emails and winding down. Got to get my head out of work and into Norway.  Watching Tour de France on television in Norwegian actually helped!

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Travel is magical anywhere.

I know I am tired when I tear up watching my old videos of going to Carl’s Jr in Glen Innes and the New Zealand National Anthem in St. Heliers.  People are dumbfounded when I say I am homesick for a place I lived in for just over 5 months. And some family and friends do not want to hear it because they like me living in Davis, not Auckland. Today I am just plain homesick for the land of the long white cloud.

One cause is my recent lovely, lovely 4 day adventure in Los Angeles with UK Sarah.  She was flying from London to Auckland and broke her journey in L.A.  I flew down to meet her.  It was magical.  Just as I imagined we talked non-stop for all our waking hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed being a tourist with Sarah. Her wonder at the Hollywood sign and the Pasadena City Hall and Olvera Street helped me to see them all again with new appreciation.  We did so many things and yet we did not overdo.  There was an ease to our agenda.

Nonetheless, we did tick a lot of boxes:  Pasadena, All Saints Church, Huntington Library and Garden, Union Station, Chinatown, Disney Music Hall, USC campus, the Coliseum, the hood, the Grove and Farmers Market, breakfast in Santa Monica, fab knitting store (Compatto’s), the Getty Center, the Beverly Center, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Walk of Fame, a red carpet event where we saw Billy Crystal get out of his limo and wave.

Here's to 2 Pretty Women.

Here’s to 2 Pretty Women.

One of my favorite stops was at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.  I did not know this is where Pretty Woman was filmed until Sarah shared it with me.  She was tickled pink to snap pictures of the lobby, the front of the hotel, of me drinking champagne in the middle of the afternoon.  We stepped out the front door of the hotel and saw this amazing car with all kinds of people tripping over each other to take a picture. So I asked “what kind of car is it?” and no one knew.  I did my best imitation of Julia Roberts’ laugh and emailed a picture to Tevis and Marcos. My new son-in-law emailed back: Pagani Huayra. An Italian sports car company. I only know this through Top Gear haha. Anybody have upwards of $1.3 million to spare?!

Batman's mobile?

On our last day we drove to Pacific Coast Highway and started at the Topanga Canyon Beach and then worked our way down the coast line stopping at the Santa Monica pier and in Venice for lunch.  Sarah’s guidebook suggested avoiding Los Angeles this time of year because of June Gloom (see photo backdrop). The sun was hiding, yet it was not cold, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Sarah at Santa Monica Pier

The big surprise for me was Venice. I have never spent much time in Venice, California.  Sarah and I agreed that we did not want to see Muscle Beach. She had read about the Venice Canals and we decided to find them instead.  Along the way we thought about lunch and I suggested Mexican food because it was her last day and we had yet to eat any (like going to Italy and not having spaghetti).  We plugged in “Mexican food” and “current location” to Yelp and an unassuming place very close by on Rose Street with 4.5 stars popped up.  La Fiesta Brava was authentic and delicious.  We pushed tables together to accomodate a local, Donna, who arrived stressed out from work and left refreshed from our shared conversation. Plus she treated us all to a beer.

We did eventually find the Canals–they are so very cool.  Restored in the mid-90s, they offer a unique lifestyle.  We could imagine ourselves enjoying a glass of Sav on the deck, sharing a cheese platter with our neighbors.  Another life perhaps. Or on another visit.

Venice Canals

It was with a heavy heart that I said farewell to UK Sarah at LAX.  I will see her at the end of September when I next visit New Zealand.

I also struggled with balancing my work life with vacation.  I had to take a few phone calls while in Los Angeles and part of me was thinking, “Oh no, backsliding on my redesign.” Part of the pressure was self-induced because of a meeting that went poorly just before I hopped on the plane to Los Angeles.  I could not shake off the bad vibe. After I got back I got some great coaching from my friend Connie who helped me gain perspective. Next time, when something like this happens, I am going to call her and ask for help ASAP.

I did have some down time this weekend to reflect on my creative life and what I want to do with my love of writing and passion for travel. I have some ideas and I will share them when they are more developed. In the meantime, I know that I love New Zealand so much because when I travel I open myself up to serendipity, to the magic of meeting new people and experiencing things from another perspective. It inspires me and leaves me wanting more. I experienced it again in Los Angeles of all places. A place that I lived while at University, and somewhere I have done the “up and back” on Southwest Airlines so many times for work that I did not believe it could surprise me.

Next up: Norway and France with Tevis in July.