Category Archives: Travel

Best of Luck, President Obama!

Today is a momentous day for all Americans, and for the world. For the 44th time, after a contemptuous election season, the transfer of power from one administration to the other, occurred without incident. Granted, Cheney went screaming and kicking, and had to be confined to a wheelchair, but he still went. That is what makes this country stand out as a beacon for so many other nations of the world whose elections are not transparent, and whose rightfully elected officials are blocked from assuming their rightful offices. It’s you, Mugabe, I’m talking to! It is a wonderful thing to witness. Even when we don’t agree with the election results, our candidate doesn’t win, we have an expectation, as Americans, that January 21st we will wake up to a peaceful nation with a new leader. Right on! Now to the latest in our odyssey….

We are still in Dallas, TX. It has been so wonderful to see so many dear friends. My roots run deeper here than I realized. Only after having moved away from Big D, and returning for a visit, do I realize how much of me has always been here – even when I am not. Everyone who has met Stewart immediately opened their arms and hearts to him, making him an honorary Texan. He even got himself a pair of boots and a hat. Every night before bed, I have to assure him he can put them back on in the morning. As we say here, “Bless his heart.”

On New Year’s Day, we were fortunate enough to be the guests of the Honorable John Creuzot as he was sworn in to office for his sixth term. In 1992, I was John’s first campaign manager, and can tell you if ever a man deserved to sit on the bench it is him. Congratulations, John. Of course, the fanciest clothes we have with us are dress flip flops, so off to the stores we went. Shopping at Northpark on New Years Eve was just like old times. Just the sizes were different, and my sister, Nancy wasn’t there to help me pick. With the help of my iPhone camera, she was still able to advise me on my ensemble. As I walked back to the car after the event, I used the power of positive thinking to place one foot in front of the other. I made it to the vehicle without having to remove my high-heel shoes. As the feeling returned to my feet, I could not help but feel at one with those who are tortured with a hammer. Now I remember why I don’t wear heels anymore. Stewart and I took turns watching out for passersby as we changed into our Levi’s and flats (of course, for Stewart it was boots) in the back seat of the car for lunch and a movie with Michael Allison and his partner, Andrew. Overall, a great way to start 2009.

The time has gone by far too quickly. We spent time with so many great friends. Bruce Horton (pictured), jewelry maker extraordinaire; Nancy McClellan, chiropractor and acupuncturist; Mark Perez, attorney at law; John Hitt, Professor of Government, Northlake College; just too many to name. Stewart picked up his 20 year chip, and was a relative newcomer in a room full of people who have been sober since we were in our early teens! We had lunch with my former professor and friend, Emile Sahliyeh, Dean of the International Studies department UNT in Denton. We discussed strategies for peace in the Middle East, and texting while driving. Apparently, Emile thinks texting while driving is unsafe. I explained to him that it is only unsafe for men. Women, on the other hand, are expert at multi-tasking.

Beth and Doug Brown invited us to spend a few days with them in Edom, TX. Beth and I met 20 years ago when we started a women’s group in Dallas. At the time, Beth was making leather goods. She has since moved on to become a very talented potter working with her husband to create remarkable pieces for their shop, Pottersbrown. As soon as we have a home that is bigger than 86 square feet, we will become collectors. They operate on the honor system. If you stop by the shop, and no one is there, just take what you like and leave the money on the counter. Squeaky may be there to greet you. Edom is a small town full of artisans and crotchety old men. If you find yourself in East Texas, it is definitely worth stopping.

For those of you who have been in our landlocked home, you have seen our beautiful artwork. The artist who created several of our pieces is Arie Van Selm. Arie is a Dutch painter and sculptor who is in galleries all over the world. I know him as my friend. He and his wife, Yutta, are having us over Wednesday night. Arie paints at his home, so it is always exciting to see what he is working on. I am looking forward to them meeting Stewart. Don’t be surprised if we end up expanding our collection. His Marilyn (smile) series through the 90’s, has been followed by a series entitled Tango-Birds. Very cool.

Ok, now to the highlight of all our blog entries, Jeffrey and Emma. Oh, for the life of Riley. The two hairiest members of our household are having a blast. Between trips to dog parks and runs through parking structures, they are getting the most out of their time in Dallas. We saw Marley & Me last Saturday, and rushed home to play with them. We took them to a neighborhood dog park where Jeffrey proceeded to herd all the dogs into a group in the center. One of the dogs, a black lab, decided that Jeffrey was pretty cute, and wanted to mate. The look on Jeffrey’s face was priceless!

Nancy McClellan’s loyal dog of 18 years, Honey, passed away Sunday morning, so Jeffrey and Emma decided that their reason for being was to shower Nancy (yes, shower with saliva) with love and affection. It is
difficult to stay sad in the company of these two canines. Of course, Nancy gave them doggie ice cream, and many, many treats. They are so easily bought.

We are off to Palm Springs, CA on Thursday for Stewart’s mom, Ginger’s 75th birthday. Nancy has generously offered to keep Jeffrey and Emma for us while we are gone. I can only imagine how spoiled they will be when we get back. I’ll keep you posted.

One More Thing…

We are hearing some really great music and seeing some really fantastic art along the way. Two in particular that we have been meaning to tell you about are NIAYH and Amy Rogers.

On the night Obama gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, we went to Avogadro’s a campus staple in Fort Collins, and watched with a few hundred other people. After the speech, NIAYH (Now Is All You Have), a Portland Oregan band, performed and blew our socks off. They were amazing! We liked them so much, we invited them for dinner that weekend. You have never met a nicer, more talented group of young people. Give them a listen. Let’s hope they make it big.

Next, while we were in UK, we visited with our friends, Stephen and Leigh Rogers. Their daughter, Amy Rogers is an amazing artist. She creates all these wonderful images combining traditional artwork with computer enhanced imaging. I, of course, know nothing of what I am writing about, but her work is definitely worth seeing. Another young person we hope to see in galleries who we can say we knew when… Good luck to them all.

Here are links to our web albums. We will add more as we can. Also, we will add captions over time. Promise. Mara’s pics and Stewart’s pics

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas!

It has been quite a crazy time for us since our last entry. We began our road trip in earnest, leaving Fort Collins behind until we return for our belongings.

Let’s start with Las Vegas, New Mexico. This will be quick, as there isn’t much there. We stayed there because it was the closest KOA to Santa Fe (the one in Santa Fe is closed after October), and looked pretty. I think the owners photographed the campgrounds under the only tree for miles around. It was so late when we arrived, we decided to spend the first night in a cabin. When we woke up, everything was covered in snow, so we stayed in the cabin for four nights. The dogs each had their own bunk, and had a blast. They ran around in the snow trying to bury things – Emma mostly her head. Remember, she’s blond. Jeffrey just rolls his eyes and keeps his distance from his crazy baby sis.

Santa Fe has really grown. Gone are the days of quaint galleries, restaurants and spas along dirt roads. Now, they even have Cold Stone right along side a GAP. It is still worth going for the beautiful jewelry and clothes. Also, the people watching is great. I would definitely recommend a trip there if nothing else for Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Spa & Resort. They pamper you like no where else I’ve ever been.

Our next stop was Carlsbad, New Mexico. This place made Las Vegas look like a forest. There were about 100 campers there, and we were the only ones in a teardrop. Some of those campers are bigger than homes. They have all the comforts of home – satellite dishes, microwaves, double ovens – you name it. I was a bit intimidated with our teardrop (Peregrine) and porto-potty. When the winds hit 85 mph, it was scary. The tent room was fighting becoming airborne, and Peregrine rocked violently. After it was all over, we had three broken poles, and a torn tent. Stewart was able to make new poles that are stronger than the old ones, but we still need to locate a tent maker to sew up the torn bits. We have an entirely new respect for the pioneers who settled the west. And they did it without a heater and refrigerator!

If you are wondering why Carlsbad, I’ll tell you. Carlsbad Caverns is awesome! I have wanted to go there all my life, and it did not disappoint. It takes over an hour to get to the bottom, and it is 56 F degrees all year. It is also pitch black, but there are lights strategically placed so you don’t fall 754 ft and kill yourself. There was hardly anyone there this time of year, so it was doubly magical having the place practically all to ourselves. You have to whisper because voices carry up to half a mile. That was especially difficult for Stewart who doesn’t hear quite as well as he used to. Too many rock concerts. These pictures don’t do the place justice. Go to the National Park Service website or better yet, go to Carlsbad yourself. We recommend Lucy’s Mexicali Restaurant & Entertainment. The green chili queso was delicious.

The next day, our last in New Mexico, we ventured north to Roswell, home of the most thoroughly documented (and covered up) sighting in the United States. The UFO Museum and Research Center is one of the cheesiest places we have ever been. It is worth going just for the laughs. For all intents and purposes, the museum is a bunch of photocopied sheets wrapped in Saran Wrap! There are plastic aliens, and aluminum foil space ships. No kidding! Oh, and the crowning glory is the alien autopsy (see picture). The folks who work there take it really seriously, so if you go, laugh behind your hand. The dogs were allowed in, which was nice, so they added to our enjoyment because they believed everything they saw. In fact, Jeffrey is still sleeping with his pet alien.

We are now in Dallas, TX, my home town. No sooner did we get here than we left for Gordon, TX (no relation) to spend the weekend with my good friend, Steven Herzog and his partner, Shawn. They have a gorgeous 50 acre ranch where you can pet their longhorn cattle. No joke! They are so sweet. Of course, we stayed on the other side of the fence just in case. After introducing us to their neighbors, we were taken on a tour of this 6000 acre heaven. If you are looking for a little bit of heaven right outside the city, this is it. 7R Ranch is beautiful. It felt a bit like it was designed and built by Ralph Lauren. If we were thinking about settling back in Texas, this would be a great place to retire.

Sunday night, back in Big D, we all had dinner with Michael Allison and his partner, Andrew. It was so wonderful being back on my old familiar stomping grounds. We ate at Gloria’s over in Oakcliff, one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Don’t ask me why, but I just love it. Salvarorian food is delicious, plus there are many things that are not red meat for me to eat. Stewart didn’t speak, once again, because he was busy eating! Going by my old house where I grew up on Lavendale was a bit traumatic. In the place of my families beautiful white brick home with the ivy covered columns was this modern monstrosity. Of course, that is par for the course for Dallas. Anything over ten years old gets torn down! The bones of the neighborhood were the same, but everything was different. No more Lester Melnick or Wall’s Delicatessen (my first job). Instead, Borders Books and Music is where the old Safeway used to be, and White House/Black Market used to be a gas station. All in all, it is good to be home. We are going to a movie over at Northpark tonight – an old Christmas day tradition, and tomorrow I am getting my hair cut by Lawrence Bonano, who has cut my hair for over 20 years followed by lunch at Lucky’s with John Hitt, my old college buddy. We’re going to one of the judges whose campaign I ran back in 1992, John Creuzot’s re-swearing in New Year’s Day, and lunch at UNT with my old professor, Dr. Sahliyeh on the 5th…Who said you can’t go home?

We followed the Yellow Brick Road…

...and ended up in St. Louis, Missouri. Wow, what a beautiful place. We went up to the top of the Arch – all 630 ft! Do you know not a single person was killed during the building of the Arch, and there was no OSHA (i.e., no harnesses, no safety features at all)! My sister, Nancy, has lived in St. Louis for almost 17 years, and had never gone up. I guess she was embarrassed to wait at the bottom while we all rode the tram to the top, so she joined us. It was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and it sways 18″. Stewart, of course, kept trying to make it sway more.

For any of you who have not yet been to the “Show Me” state, Ted Drewes is a local tradition. During the summer months, the line wraps around the block with customers clambering for a concrete (custard mixed with yummy ingredients). Tonight, however, it was f-f-f-freezing, and the only ones in line besides us were those there to pick up their Christmas trees. The picture is Stewart with my brother-in-law, Russ.

Our Chrysler 300M is now running smoothly on E85. So far, this is what we can report about the conversion experience: It was a bear to install because of the location under the hood; the car runs like a rocket ship! Acceleration is even more powerful than it was before; finding E85 stations has its own set of challenges; and cold starts (below 18 degrees F) require some patients. It turns out there are certain little tricks that we still need to learn. If you are interested in converting your car or truck, David Virtue is your guy. You can reach him at His website is

We didn’t bring Peregrine (the T@B) to St. Louis since we had to return to Fort Collins. This also gave us the opportunity to clock the mileage difference. There doesn’t really seem to be any. If anything, the car seems to have more zip for less money. Sarah, my niece, went with me to find a station in her neighborhood. I must admit it felt very cool to be doing something that was so very granola-ish.

On the way back through the heartland, we stopped in Topeka, KS, and came across Ted Drewe’s competition. Freddy’s Frozen Custard. Stewart didn’t even speak the entire time he was eating, and said if he could fit his head in the glass, he would to lick it! Try the Signature Turtle. Stewart said it was in the top ten things he had eaten in his life. So much for my cooking! 5 cornstalks.

One of our blog entries would not be complete without an entry on the state of world affairs. Please skip over this if our views make you cringe. Here goes…. Are we loving Obama’s cabinet picks, or what!? Hillary as Secretary of State will allow for intelligent debate at the highest levels, send a message to the world that we are serious about working WITH them toward peace through diplomacy when possible, and force when necessary, and as an added bonus, situate Clinton for a successful run in 2016. Also, the choice of Gen. James L. Jones, coupled with keeping on Robert Gates for another year certainly shows excellent judgement. Hopefully, the confirmation process will be a smooth one. The tragedy in Mumbai reminds us all that life is so fragile, and anything that can be done to bring people together instead of tearing them apart at least gives us a chance to find solutions that suit everyone – not just the few. We are loving Bill Richardson for Commerce Secretary, as well as Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security. Susan Rice is a natural bridge-builder, and Tom Daschle for Health and Human Services may actually get us the coverage for ALL Americans we so dearly need.

Have you noticed Obama already has that haggard Presidential look about him? I have never been able to figure out why “43” looks so tired. He took more vacation time than any Prez in my lifetime. Maybe being the most unpopular President in history takes it out if ya’.

On a lighter note, Jeffrey and Emma are really enjoying themselves. We stayed at the Crown Plaza in Clayton, MO, and the dogs lived the vita loca. Look how Jeffrey has his paw around Emma. Too cute. Everywhere we go, people stop us to ask the questions on everyone’s mind: Can they see? Do they shed? Are they siblings? How hard are they to groom?

On the way to and from St. Louis we stayed at the Americinn in Russell, KS. The people there were so nice, and they loved our dogs! Also, the continental breakfast was huge. So, assuming they would all be great, we booked the Americinn back in Ft. Collins. What a difference. Definitely not consistent across locations. So, 5 cornstalks for Russell, and 2 cornstalks for Ft Collins.

Tomorrow, we leave Colorado for New Mexico. First stop, Santa Fe, followed by Carlsbad. We cannot wait to go to Roswell and see the UFO museum, here we come! Dallas comes next, unless the wind blows us elsewhere. We’ll keep you posted.For now, signing off, Mara and Stewart

Happy Birthday, Prince Charles!

After much rushing around, we finally made it to the UK. Just in time, it seems, for the Queen’s eldest son to celebrate his 60th birthday. There is much speculation here as to whether HRH will step aside for Charles, but I’m afraid our stay here will be long over before that decision is made public.

Our reception here has been wonderful. Everyone seems sincerely relieved that Obama was elected. Many of us forget that the Brits have men and women in harms way in Iraq as well. In fact, two Royal Marines were killed this week. There does seem to be a hopefulness that is spreading around the world – even as the economy appears to be imploding. Of course, for the first time in years, the dollar is up against the pound, so we have a bit more buying power than usual on our trip. In other words, we can afford to buy the occasional round!

We’ll be renting a car next week, and taking a few day trips. Friday, we go to London for the weekend before flying home to … oops! Not sure where home is! Let me rephrase that, we fly back to Denver to pick up Jeffrey and Emma, then head for St. Louis. Sadly, my brother-in-law, Russ’s family suffered a tragedy this week, so celebrating Thanksgiving will be more about being together than about food and football. Life is so unpredictable.

On a lighter note, my favorite judge, John Creuzot, was re-elected to his 5th term in office. Some of you will remember that I ran John’s campaign in 1992. I consider it one of my proudest career highlights. John has done incredible things with his position, and has helped countless individuals with substance abuse problems turn their lives around. His website,, shows video testimonials to his good works. Yay, John!!

Hope all of you are well and safe. We will be back in touch once we are back over the pond. I already miss Ann and Tony, and we having even left. Cheerio and all that stuff!

President Obama!!

Stewart and I came back down to civilization in order to contribute in our own small way to the democratic process. We walked precincts up in Wellington knocking on doors making sure that those who said they’d vote, did. It was so exciting to listen to people, proudly wearing their “I voted” stickers, tell us they had stood in line to vote for Obama. We were so exhausted at the end of the day so we celebrated back at Peregrine [OK, so I am calling T@B that until otherwise instructed]. What a sweet victory.

When we got back to Fort Collins on Tuesday, the weather was mild and the sun was shining. Yesterday, the wind picked up, and this morning I awoke from a dream at sea. Believe me, 40 mile per hour winds in a 1200 lb trailer is REALLY windy. Instead of oatmeal, I wanted Dramamine. Stewart was able to do his magic, and we are no longer rocking with each gust. so now, I am a happy camper!

Our plans may require a quick trip back here after sharing Thanksgiving in Olivette, MO with my sister, Nancy and her family. We will know more about that in the coming days. Alas, I am not disappointed, because the point of this trip is to take things as they come. We’ll keep you posted. Besides, in the meantime, we are off to the UK on Sunday. We will be there for two weeks, so don’t be surprised if our posts have an accent!

We did it!

We did it! With a few hiccups, we still managed to hit the road, and get to Walden before the sunset. It was in question for a bit as our movers flaked. They came for a few hours, spent their time talking to each other between complaints, and checking their phones for texts. As soon as one came in for a Halloween party, they were gone. My beloved rabbi and our friend, Yerachmiel Gorelick, managed to find us one guy to help from 8-midnight. He was a lifesaver. I ended up going to the closing alone while Stewart stayed and slaved away on the final cleaning of the house.

The drive here was gorgeous. We skirted the Poudre River the entire way. First it was on our left, then our right. The snow on the mountain tops juxtaposed against the streaming water was magical. We picked up our fishing licenses, then headed for our site. Just as final darkness descended, we built a fire, made popcorn, and sat down to rest. There is a certain quality to the darkness when the nearest city or town is 90 miles away. It is like nothing a city dweller ever gets to see outside of a planetarium. [Commentary: That is why the new $3mm projector in Chicago is so important] The crackling fire, and the dogs wandering through the brush was the only sound for what seemed like forever. One other soul was here when we arrived. He left today to head home for work tomorrow. Poor guy!