• Screenshot 2023 11 07 at 9.34.24 AM
    Something That Could Change Your Life,  Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Proud Moments,  Travels

    A Gratitude Story, 40 Years Long

    Part 1: June-July, 1982 and 1983 Starting in the summer after 8th grade, I was part of a student interchange program from CISV International. (“CISV was founded in the belief that peace is possible through building friendship and mutual understanding, starting with children.”) In 1982, a delegation of about a dozen German kids from the Frankfurt area came to America and stayed for a month in the homes of about a dozen Knoxville-area kids. The following year, we Americans went to stay with our interchange partners in their homes for a month. The idea was that the hosting families would both participate in large group activities as well as take…

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    Travels,  UGH.

    Almost Like Flying to Paris and Back, Just For Dinner.

    Unless you’re new here, you know very well that I’m a traveler. I travel so much that I receive comments on social media along the lines of “Aren’t you ever home??” Road trips are second nature for me, and I love going so far away that a plane is necessary. I traveled to Columbus for work and to Nashville, Tybee Island, and lots of other places for long weekends. Chicago? At least twice a year. New Jersey? Twice a year. When Jim and I used to buy concert tickets, they didn’t even have to be local. P!nk in Charlotte, North Carolina? No problem! The B52s in Atlanta? Yes, please! Foo…

  • Pittsburg Kels and Court
    Amazing People,  Favorite Things,  Pretty Pictures,  Travels

    Courtney and Kelsey Montague: Art and a Sister Act That Lifts You (and Me)

    If you follow me on social media you already know that I am very obsessed with the art of Kelsey Montague. Her #WhatLiftsYou and #WhatUnitesUs murals are all over the world, and before I go pretty much anywhere I check the map on the Kelsey Montague Art website to see if I might be able to take a quick detour to experience a new mural in person. (By the way, Kelsey’s first major fan? Taylor Swift…but more on that in a minute.) Kelsey’s style is very distinctive and bold and not only do her pieces brighten up any wall, anywhere, but they also are bringing tourists like me into small…

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    Pretty Pictures,  Random Thoughts,  Travels

    Crisis Averted.

    Jim and I were on the Emerald Coast of Florida over the weekend. The 24-mile stretch of beach along Highway 30A in the northwestern part of the state is one of the most gorgeous areas I’ve ever seen. The sand is like white sugar and, as you can imagine from the nickname, the water is so many gorgeous shades of green-blue. I took so many pictures at the beach, but that’s what I do. While we usually buy something small for our house when we visit a place for the first time (this time we picked up a handblown glass sand dollar paper weight), my very favorite kind of souvenir…

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    Using the Roadside America App With Intention

    I learned about the Roadside America app from my friend Vikki almost exactly a year ago. I’ve used it sporadically; sometimes I forget that I have it and don’t think to look up roadside attractions near me until it’s too late and I’m already at my destination. Also, I can’t really use it when I’m on a solo road trip because I usually think about it when I’m driving and unable to use my phone like that, rather than when I’m stopped at a gas station. This week, however, I used the app differently. I accompanied Jim on a work trip to Cleveland and not wanting to languish in the…

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    Local Appreciation Society

    “The grass is always greener,” they say. I don’t know who “they” are, but “they” have truly made up dozens of extended quotes that start with that featured statement. Most of us know that the grass isn’t actually greener: it just looks that way depending on our situation and that of the person whose yard we’re coveting. Many of us know that if we took care of and appreciated our own grass, it would be just as green. Actually, that’s where I’ll be heading here. I have a fascination with palm trees. It’s so intense that anytime I’m in an area of the country where they grow, it becomes a…

  • Melisa on chair at Flower Fields 2019

    Meet More People: Travel Alone.

    Last night I returned home from a trip to California. I flew out there with Jim, who was participating in a four-day bike camp. He thought I might want to come along and do my own thing during the day while he was riding 30-50 miles each day around the San Diego area with his group, and naturally I jumped at the chance. Although technically this was not a solo trip for me because we ate dinners together and shared the hotel room, I spent most of each day alone, which is always amazingly fun (no offense to Jim or any of my other occasional travel companions!). I love not…

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    Food,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    How to Remove Coconut Meat Without Losing Your Mind

    One of the highlights of our visit to Maui last November was a tropical plantation tour. We learned about so many of the delicious fruits and flowers grown on the island; seeing pineapples, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and many others in their natural habitat was fascinating and we enjoyed the afternoon tremendously. One mind-blowing moment came when our tour guide pulled the tram over so she could demonstrate how to break down a coconut. By the way, I absolutely love coconut but I do not love all of the steps involved in breaking them down. I can gleefully poke a skewer into the eyes and pour out the water, and vigorously…

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    Best Thing Ever,  Childhood Memories,  Friends,  Music,  Travels

    My Name Is Melisa and I’m a Born Again Fanilow.

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, Barry Manilow was totally my jam. He was the first artist I truly loved; I collected his record albums (real vinyl ones, kids!) and played them so much I’m surprised the needle didn’t wear the grooves down. Is that even possible? Never mind. I was a Child Fanilow. Exhibit A: When I was 7 or 8 I was taking ballet classes every week. One week, my ballet teacher announced that we had an upcoming Parents’ Night and we were each tasked with picking a song–any song of our choosing!–and choreographing a routine for that special evening. I chose Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” and…

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    Tough Questions,  Travels,  UGH.

    The Ugliness of Air Travel, or Travel is Fun!

    As of yesterday, I have had to run through four airports in order to catch a connecting flight, two times barefoot and all four times on the way home. The first time it happened was in London at Heathrow back in 2007. I had been away from my family for more than a week, and my first flight out of Frankfurt left late. I was alone, having left my friend and her family at the hotel because they were going on to Austria without me. I can’t remember how much time I had when my plane arrived at Heathrow, but I do remember how frustrating it was to have to…