Well, hello there. Contrary to what you may have thought, I’m still here lurking about. So much has happened since we last spoke. I’ve felt a bit like a bride who has neglected to send out her thank-you notes for a year and feels guilty while trying to ignore it, thinking it’s too late and maybe people will have forgotten. They haven’t and they’re talking behind your back. Even if it’s your tenth anniversary, send the damn note.
As for me, I’m not hiding, but I won’t even attempt to catch you up on all that’s happened because, well, that would be boring. Let’s start with now, as there are some exciting things happening which you might actually find interesting.
Current position: sitting in a coffee shop (or is it a café, I really don’t know what the difference is) in Budapest. Yup, back to my favorite city, which you helped me to discover (if you’re new here, read this). I’ve rented the same apartment which I rented for a month last year, only this year I’m staying for two months. I’ve also applied for a one-year Hungarian Resident visa in order to stay and write some more about the country because, quick, name a city in Hungary which isn’t Budapest? Unless you’re Hungarian, I bet you can’t. Why is that? There are wine regions, historical cities, lavender farms, and the picturesque Lake Balaton region. If I snag the visa, you may read about this in some travel magazines or websites.
But here’s the big news (talk about burying the lede) – I’m opening a tour company. Not a million-dollar money-making machine. These tours will be offered for two reasons: my love of sharing travel with people and helping them realize the empowerment in getting out of their comfort zone, and my need to actually make a buck to support myself, as writing, even for other people, pays crap.
So, welcome to Drop Me Anywhere Tours for Women! What? Women? Gentlemen, it’s not that you’re not invited but, well, yeh it is. I love you guys; in fact, I’ve loved more than one of you guys (not at the same time). But solo female travel is growing in popularity each year and, as I’m sort of an expert on this, who better to introduce other women to it? Women have often been held down (literally and figuratively) by men, and even by other women. No more. Also, I‘ve found an abundance of “How to Stay Safe When Traveling Solo” articles targeted at women, often implying that the minute you step out of your neighborhood alone you have a target on your back (or other body part). Why is Budapest more dangerous than my home city of Detroit? Why is Medellin more dangerous than Chicago? They’re not. Finally, any married woman who has traveled solo has been asked, “Your husband allows you to travel without him?” Aw, isn’t that precious.
Still, traveling with others can give one a sense of security, as well as a sense of fraternity, or maybe sorority? Ok, it’s just fun to share some experiences. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to go somewhere but your husband, boyfriend, girlfriends, whoever, either doesn’t want to go, can’t go, or simply has commitment issues. (If it’s your husband you may have a problem there.) Drop Me Anywhere’s motto is, When you want to travel solo, but not alone. And, as I’ve been a tour guide for 20 years and have traveled to 64 countries, maybe you think about coming with me as I’ll be guiding at least the first trips. And you also get to travel with a travel writer.
Speaking of those trips, the first two will be in the US as it’s a market I know well and easier for me as a start-up company. Let me tell you about the Wine Region trip which will include:
- Four nights in Sonoma (hotel TBD)
- Two nights in Calistoga at the incredible Indian Springs Resort (can you say mineral pools and mud baths?).
- In Sonoma, we’ll tour some wineries with one of the first female winemakers in the region. We may even do a bike ride through some of the vineyards (still working on that part).
- We’ll spend a day at nearby Tomales Bay and Point Reyes Station where we’ll learn about different kinds of wheat, processing, and breadmaking from Celine Underwood, the owner Brickmaiden Breads, whose employees are nearly all women.
- Across the street, we’ll participate in a cheesemaking demonstration at Cowgirl Creamery.
- Then, we’ll hop in kayaks for our self-propelled, tour of Tomales Bay guided by Point Reyes Outdoors, owned by Laurie Manarik.
- Perhaps we’ll shuck our own oysters which we’ll pick up from Hog Island Oyster Company for lunch or dinner, accompanied by our yummy bread, cheese, and wine (of course).
- We’ll visit Jack London State Park where we’ll learn about Jack’s bold wife, Charmian, who hated riding girly side-saddle so she cut her skirts down the middle and sewed the pieces together to create legs so she could gallop like the men.
- A highlight of this trip will be an evening with actress and playwright, Terry Baum, who will provide a talk about two ballsy women, Nellie Bly and either Ida B Wells or Lorena Hickok. Terry performs as these characters in order to give the audience a deeper understanding of their personal and professional struggles and triumphs.
- Of course, we’ll have free time in downtown Sonoma and, hopefully, enjoy the Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market with music, dancing, and wine.
- Also, downtown, we’ll have a class at Abbot’s Passage, a small shop owned by winemaker Katie Bundschu, where we’ll learn how to make perfume, living jewelry, or some other creative endeavor.
- On our way to Calistoga, we’ll do some forest bathing (look it up) with a hike in the Redwoods.
The other trip I’ll be offering involves one of my passions; western US National Parks. I’ve led countless tours to this region and am still excited each time I go. While this is at the beginning of the planning stage, my goal is to offer it in October, as I was there last fall and the beauty of the fall colors set against red rocks, majestic mountains, and commanding cliffs was beyond spectacular. We’ll hike (there will be options for all levels), swim, meet cowboys and Native Americans, enjoy a boat on Lake Powell, and maybe horseback ride. Plans are to visit:
- The Grand Canyon National Park (not only a national park but one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World)
- Bryce Canyon National Park (which is not technically a canyon, but I’ll explain that as we enjoy the beautiful hoodoos. I’ll explain those too)
- Zion National Park (oh, my favorite!)
- Arches National Park
- Deadhorse State Park (no better place for a picnic)
- Lake Powell National Recreation Area
- Monument Valley Tribal Park (an unforgettable place which will reach deep into your soul)
If either of these trips sounds interesting, click on the contact page and let me know your thoughts. Perhaps you already have a group of women who would like to go. While I will take no more than 20 people at one time, I aim to go much smaller to start so perhaps your book club, wine group, alumni association, or group of friends or relatives have something in mind. I’d be happy to design and lead the trip for you. Or you could take one of these two and let me know what dates work best for your group so I can design it from there.
The Wine Country trip would be a great bonding experience for mothers and adult daughters. (Trying to keep the little ones out of the wine barrel.) If it’s just you, hell, that’s what I’m all about. Fill out that contact form and let me know what you’re interested in and maybe when. I can’t yet supply pricing as I need to reach out to my suppliers with specific dates, so I’ll get back to you. I’ll try to keep prices as low as possible as I really want these trips to be available to a variety of women of different ages, experience, and means.
Oh, yeh, and as far as the book, Drop Me Anywhere – one woman, two suitcases, and absolutely no plan, goes, I’ve been hunkering down and working on that also. 42,000 words so far. Writing a book is really hard. I may not be moving fast, but I am moving forward.