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A Trip To Your Own Backyard

Color me surprised when I came across an acquaintance who had lived in California all their lives and had never been to Disneyland, or a friend who lived in New York and had never looked through the books at Ellis Island. Can you imagine living in Washington D.C. and never visiting the Smithsonian?

Our beautiful globe is spectacular and the home of many passions and dreams. It is understandable to want to explore unknown places, experience adventure in an exotic location, and try new cuisines. The wonderful thing about the town or city in which you hang your hat every night is that it is also a tourist and vacation destination. Let us also not forget that transportation and lodging would be less expensive and there is no change in currency.

Thousands rush to Leavenworth, Washington every year to spend Christmas at the charming Bavarian-styled village, located within the Cascade Mountains. Or perhaps take a visit to Idaho City, Idaho, a historical town founded in 1862 where the original buildings stand including the first Catholic church within Idaho territory, and oldest Idaho cemetery.

With fifty states, districts, and territories within The Americas you will find everything from international cuisine to fun fashion, outdoor adventures to paranormal tours, history and art, amusement parks and music festivals. It is unbelievable how much there is to see and experience in your own backyard. Seek and you shall find!

During the holiday season both my immediate and extended family made a decision to choose a city within the States we’ve never been to spend the holidays. One year it was Cities of Alaska, another was Orlando, Florida, our time in Austin, Texas, and Christmas in Maui.  It is not always possible nor affordable to leave the country for vacation (not to mention work schedules); Southwest Airlines and Amtrak are always wonderful options for trips such as this, and the trips can take place over an extended weekend versus seven to ten days. Instead of gift exchange we purchase tickets to a local show or event that we can all enjoy together. We tour wineries and lavender farms, take a scenic train ride, or partake in a cooking class. It is a tremendously fun and meaningful bonding experience. An endeavor we feel important to invest our money in and document with photos. Of course we all return to our respective homes with souvenirs but rarely is wrapping or shipping included. Before the trip ends we choose the lucky new city for the following year. I have my fingers crossed for New Orleans.

Some great avenues to help with a town search would be your local Chamber of Commerce and State Bureau of Tourism for the town’s calendar of events. It’s also fun to search for art museums, concerts, niche festivals like renaissance or sci-fi, performance art, convention centers for musicals, bookstores for author speaking engagements, comedy clubs, tours, craft and farmers markets, just to name a few.  Find out what the town’s best new or tried-and-true restaurant is and make a reservation there. If both time and money are tight there are several free-of-charge or “donations appreciated” events that go on every month in just about every town.

Leave a comment and let me know what you happen upon. I’m always looking for new and interesting reasons to visit a new town.



The New “American Dream”: My Story.

The moment of certainty:

I had turned 41 and was sitting at my desk at work feeling panicked and desperate. At this point in my life I obtained a strong sense of self with dreams so clear that I could almost touch them, yet I was living the exact opposite of the life I imagined. I followed the rules….go to school, get a job, get married, own a home, invest in your 401k…..this was the American Dream, right? Why am I not happy? Why does this feel more like a prison of societal expectations, and less like a dream? Why is there so much value on stuff rather than experiences and human connection? Questions that haunted me like a Stephen King novel while at work…not a good sign.

Before the Recession I was self-employed working in destination event planning. I traveled, kept up with the setting trends, and filled in as officiant or wedding singer if the emergency called for it. Life was exciting, and with my calling the shots and guiding my own schedule I felt in control. However, that specific time in history also required balance and security that the event industry could not offer (people were still getting married but opting for backyard soirees instead of platinum wedding blowouts). I was okay with this as event planning was not a nine-to-five job and burn-out is possible even with the most exciting careers. I decided to return to higher education and broaden my horizons. Fast forward to a respectable corporate career, finding myself not being okay with someone else calling the shots in my life, working on their schedule, or being told when I could take a break. I was tired of being told my ideas or concerns needed to be kept to myself, and that calling out office injustices within a corporate setting was not being a good “team player”.  I had a voice, a purpose, and a fire that was at risk of being snuffed out. I found myself needing to find a new American Dream, or was this dream not associated to a Country at all….perhaps it was the Melanie Dream I was searching for, as this was no longer the way I chose to utilize the hours of my day. With all of the pertinent items on society’s checklist checked off I was still feeling anxious, dissatisfied, bored, exhausted, and unfulfilled. Was I just ungrateful or had I accomplished what I needed to thus far and in major need of some inspiration? It was time for serious self-reflection, re-evaluation, and perhaps re-invention. It was also time to be my own Boss once again.

Time for Change: 

I took to my journal to begin seriously processing my feelings. I needed to take stock of my life and revisit some long-forgotten passions and goals. What excites me? What inspires me? How do I choose to spend my spare time, and can I make a living from it? The answer ~ travel and education. Whether in a different City, different State, or different Country I am always excited for the opportunity to learn and explore, to try new foods, attend a festival, meet the locals,  hear the stories, legends, and folklore of a historic town, or take a ghost tour. This is where I am most in my element, and upon my return I share with loved ones all I’d learned.

Introducing to you my company, Expedition Confidential. Join in this “secret journey’ with me as we discuss everything about what makes life fulfilling and the pleasures that accompany it.  Whatever I learn I will share with you. This can include topics such as history, art, cuisine, culture, dark tourism, travel etiquette, packing tips, safety tips, expat life, and the art of pleasure.  Celebrate with me on this new adventure. Please leave comments allowing me to get to know you ~ and Stay Tuned! Video content will be uploaded to YouTube, with photos on Instagram,

Let’s Explore, Experience, and Evolve together!