This post is in honor of my mom, Mary Lou. One week ago, she passed away peacefully after a 8-month battle with pancreatic cancer. It’s a terrible disease that took her from us way too soon.
She taught me many things — particularly, the joys of travel and how to tell a good story.
I can still remember our family vacations as a kid. In usual form, she’d pour her heart into planning. But as with every family vacation, things didn’t always go, ehh, as expected! But these moments were the ones my mom loved to tell over and over (and with great enthusiasm). Such as the time she tried sneaking me onto Niagara Fall’s Maid of the Mist for free by saying I was under the age of 3. But I blew her cover story by asking, “Can I be 4 again when we get back home?” She was mortified! Or more recently, on her trip to Los Angeles for my wedding, where her dress shed glitter on everything (and every person) that happened to cross her golden, glittery path!
So, without further adieu, below are some travel recommendations in her memory. By no means is this list comprehensive. But these are just a few of the places that will always make me think of my mom. Her love lives forever.
5. New York City
New York City is less than a 3-hour drive from where I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania. We’d often take weekend trips together — eating our way through the bakeries in Chinatown or seeing a Broadway show. She always loved visiting New York, and it reminds me of her especially around the holidays.
I guess it isn’t too shocking that I’d eventually move to New York after graduating from college. While I only lived in New York for a year, she came up to visit often. New York would then be the usual meeting point once I moved to the West Coast and would travel for business. On one particular trip, I remember going with her to Brandy’s Piano Bar in the upper east side and she belted out Tina Turner’s Proud Mary with our waitress. It was her favorite song, and a great one to request at a piano bar!
4. Yellowstone National Park
My mom loved Yellowstone National Park. And she couldn’t believe that Kevin and I didn’t make it one of the first stops once we moved to California. It’s kindof close to LA, but not really! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been going through old emails and texts where she told me about seeing Old Faithful and all the wildlife. She was convinced we’d love it, and even looked up potential flights and picked out a hotel that I should stay at (Old Faithful Inn). I’m sure a blog post will be coming soon!
3. Omni Bedford Springs Resort (Pennsylvania)
For the past 5 years or so, it became an annual tradition for me and Kevin to fly to Washington, DC, to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. But then we’d head north to Pennsylvania (or somewhere else nearby) to have a road trip adventure. Over the years, we met up in Frederick, Va.; Lancaster, Pa., and Philadelphia. One year, my mom was really pushing for Omni Bedford Springs Resort, located in central Pennsylvania. We never ended up making it to Bedford Springs. But she always thought it would be a place we’d enjoy with its many hiking trails, wineries and shopping. Clearly, she knows what I like! One day, I hope I can see it for myself.
2. Nova Scotia
It’s been over a decade since she went to Nova Scotia, but the place certainly stands out as one of her favorites. Back in 2007, she and my dad went there on vacation and stayed at the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, which had a fire this past summer but is back open again. She loved all the history in Nova Scotia, especially seeing Alexander Graham Bell’s summer home and museum. But mostly, it seemed like a place where my mom and dad just enjoyed relaxing by the lake. It’s another spot for the bucket list.
1. La Posada in Winslow, Ariz.
Last year over President’s Day weekend, we took my mom’s advice — not only visiting Winslow but staying overnight at the historic La Posada Hotel. In the 1920s, the Fred Harvey Company decided to build a major hotel in Winslow given its prominence as the headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway. Plus, it was a convenient stop for trains traveling between Los Angeles and Chicago, with the hotel’s doors literally just steps from the tracks.
The hotel entertained a long list of celebrities, presidents and foreign dignitaries. In fact, all of the rooms are labeled after the notable guests such as Albert Einstein, film critic Leonard Maltin (where we stayed), Amelia Earhart, Clark Gable and Gene Autry just to name a few.
If you can’t spend the night, you’ll at least want to grab a meal at The Turquoise Room, which serves regional contemporary Southwestern cuisine. We took the advice of my parents and got a seat by the window, where we could watch the trains pass by. The restaurant has been lauded by Conde Naste and National Geographic as one of the top restaurants in the state. We had a hard time choosing what to order, but their specialty corn and black bean soup is not to be missed!
Fred Harvey, whose company built the hotel, also wanted to provide exceptional dining and service to the railroad passengers. And the story goes that the male waiters couldn’t keep up to Harvey’s high standards. So he began hiring women and soon introduced an all-female wait staff known as the “Harvey Girls.” While the hotel is certainly the big draw to Winslow, you won’t want to miss the infamous corner that inspired the 1972 Eagles hit “Take it Easy.”
The famous (and very hummable song) helped put Winslow back on the tourism map when the park was built in 1999. You won’t have to walk more than 10 steps to hear the famous song blasting from the speakers of a nearby gift shop. The shop owners said that visitors will line up in the warmer months just to get a snap of themselves with the sign.
And there you have it — I miss you mom. But I’ll always remember all our adventures together — especially the ones that went wrong! I still think I’m finding golden glitter around my condo!