A Golden State of Mind: Chapter 1 – California Dreaming

In just under a week from now, I’ll be leaving California after having lived here for the past 38 years. With this impending move and the ample time that the COVID crisis has provided for self-reflection, I’ve been pondering my long and often complicated relationship with “The Golden State.” I’ve decided to describe how this relationship began long before I ever stepped foot in California, and how it grew and changed over the course of my life. This will be the first in a series of relatively short posts or “chapters” that focus on different periods in my relationship with California. In this first entry I’ll describe how my fascination with California began and set the stage for my eventual move to the Golden State.

The Final (Round-Trip) Road Trip, Winter 2020

For the 10 or 15 years I’ve driven cross country from San Francisco to New England (making many stops along the way) every summer and every Christmas. If you’ve read some of my other road trip blog posts, you already know that these trips are probably some of the happiest times I’ve ever experienced…

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The freedom of the road… chasing the sunset.

Let’s go… one more time!

The Best Laid Plans: Spring of 2020

There is a much over-used expression that states, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.” Well, here I am using it again because it fits like a glove to describe what the last few months have been like for all of us. Back in the halcyon days of December 2019 and January 2020, I had plans. Big plans. Scary, but exciting plans…

Find out what happened to the plans… read on!

I Blame It All On My Mother

I wrote this a few years ago, but thought I would re-post it today for Mother’s Day:

Although I’m not a clinical psychologist and I recognized early in my career that I didn’t have the patience to deal with patients, I’ve been studying psychology for almost 40 years and teaching for over 30. From the original writings of Dr. Freud to the hideous array of pop psychology self-help books that abound in bookstores, a theme emerges all too frequently: whatever the psychological issue you are dealing with, it is probably somehow your mother’s fault. While I personally think mothers have been unfairly targeted in this argument over the root cause of our adult neuroses, I can definitively say that my mother is absolutely the reason for the fact that I am a self-diagnosed Travel Addict today.

Read more:

Living and Traveling During the “Apocalypse” – March, 2020

Here we are at the end of March, and who could have guessed how quickly and dramatically our everyday lives would change even just 3 or 4 weeks ago? As the new year began, I’d made plans to travel to Italy over Spring Break, leaving on March 7 to work with colleagues at Mt. Vesuvius on a new study of volcanic risk perception. However, by early February, I was feeling too stressed by my upcoming retirement and move out of California to even think about going abroad for almost two weeks. In a move that surprised even myself, I reluctantly informed my Italian colleagues that I wouldn’t be able to come over as we’d planned. Never would I have imagined passing up an opportunity to go to Italy, but I really do have an awful lot on my plate.

Continue reading “Living and Traveling During the “Apocalypse” – March, 2020″

Road Trip! A Journey Across the USA

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My first cross country drive was in summer of 1976 at the ripe old age of 18, and since then I’ve actually lost count of how many round trips I’ve made from coast to coast to coast, but I do know that it is over 40. One of those trips actually took me from San Francisco to Texas to Virginia to Massachusetts to Alaska and back down to California… a mere 10,000 miles. Many people can’t understand why any sane person would opt to drive for 6 or 7 days rather than taking a 6 hour plane flight, but these pictures may give you a glimpse of why I crave the open roads. Here’s a compilation of photos I’ve taken along the way over the years. (I first posted this in 2016, but have made significant updates since then.)

Let’s hit the road!

Raven & Lily: Collierville, Tennessee

Just a half hour east of Memphis you’ll find the truly charming town of Collierville, Tennessee. A walk around its picturesque central square, and the myriad little shops and restaurants that surround it, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an innocent 1950s or 1960s sitcom back lot. Visiting earlier this month, with the square decked out in Christmas lights and decorations, I would have sworn I had been transported into a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie!

While visiting town, I met my dear friend, Daniel, for an amazing lunch at a small restaurant facing the square called Raven & Lily. Housed in a lovely brick building, the restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and as soon as I started to peruse the menu, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of items I wanted to try. One appetizer that caught my eye was roasted sweet potatoes with carrots, house bacon, onions & Danish blue cheese. But because this is the south and I love traditional southern dishes, I opted for the fried green tomatoes with a lemon caper remoulade, and a cup of a nicely spicy, hearty corn and shrimp chowder. It was a tough call, though because shrimp and grits and seafood mac ‘n’ cheese also called to me. My friend Daniel ordered an enormous fried chicken sandwich that was impossible to eat without the aid of a knife and fork given its enormous size. He said it was fantastic, as were my dishes.

I made sure to save room for dessert, which was yet another difficult decision. The menu included lemon curd and shortbread with berries, a brioche cinnamon roll with cinnamon ice cream, and a caramel-vanilla bread pudding. Oh the humanity! But I decided on the made-to-order dark chocolate souffle with vanilla anglais. I have had souffles in Paris itself, and this one held up against anything I’ve tasted there. It was a truly deep, dark chocolate, and knowing that Daniel is not really a “dessert person” (I love him despite this character flaw!), I thought it was safe to offer him a taste. His eyes sort of rolled back into his head in a way that made me think he was about to faint. I may make a dessert person out of him yet!

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So, if you find yourself anywhere close to the Metro Memphis area, I’d urge you to make the effort to head out to Collierville for a calm respite from the city and an absolutely gourmet-quality meal at Raven & Lily. I know I will be returning; there are a whole lot of dishes yet to be sampled!

 

The Greek Islands: Naxos, Milos, Rodos and Symi

In prior postings I’ve described my time in Athens and on the Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Now I want to share with you my visits to some of the lesser-known of the Greek Islands, each of which was a unique and wonderful experience in its own way. So settle in for a tale that will take you to four other Greek islands: Naxos, Milos, Rodos and Symi.

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All aboard for Naxos!

Fogarty’s: Where It’s Always Thanksgiving If You Really Want It To Be!

During an overnight stay in Dover, New Hampshire I was looking online for a good place to eat dinner, and my google search led me across the border to the town of South Berwick, Maine where I discovered an unassuming little restaurant called Fogarty’s. Immediately I liked the atmosphere of this casual, cheery place, but the impressive array of homemade desserts and baked goods that greeted me as I entered the restaurant “had me at hello.” Is it wrong to long for dessert when you have yet to eat dinner? Fogarty’s will do that to you.

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One of my favorite meals at any time of the year is a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixin’s: stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, cranberry sauce, gravy. I spied a turkey dinner on the menu and ordered it. Little did I know it would be, to date, the only entrée I have ever ordered at Fogarty’s after at least a half dozen visits! When you find something this good, it’s hard to stray from it. I have eaten a lot of turkey dinners in my time, and I have visited countless restaurants, but never have I encountered a meal that is so beautifully well-prepared, generously portioned, and most importantly, so delicious. First off, the turkey itself is often my least favorite part of a turkey dinner, but not here. The turkey is tender, moist, and so satisfying that I often eat half of it before I even sample the side dishes. The turkey is accompanied by a huge portion of savory stuffing, the mashed potatoes are delicious and the butternut squash is seasoned perfectly… not too sweet, but just sweet enough. Everything tastes completely fresh and homemade. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go… judge for yourself!

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Now keep in mind that Fogarty’s has an enormous and eclectic menu! You can get a Maine lobster roll and fries or other local seafood, like fried clams, scallops or Atlantic salmon. There are pasta dishes, beef, chicken and pork entrees, burgers, sandwiches and someday I sincerely intend to try some of them. I have made a little progress in that direction, recently trying their shrimp and corn chowder, a butternut squash and cranberry bisque, and a clam chowder that could win an award; it was almost the consistency of a stew given the huge amount of finely minced clams that far outnumbered the chopped potatoes it contained. But as far as the entrees are concerned, my heart still belongs to the turkey!

Fogarty’s also has an impressive array of homemade pies, and again, I have become a creature of habit, ordering their chocolate cream pie every time I visit. The chocolate pudding filling seems to be a darker chocolate than is typical, and is not too sweet. It’s sandwiched between an excellent pie crust and real whipped cream. I have also tried the strawberry cream pie in the summer, but while it was different and very good, I am still firmly caught in the gravitational pull of the chocolate cream, though I typically have to take it to go after devouring such a big meal.

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If you are anywhere near Maine or New Hampshire’s popular seacoast areas, take a 15 minute detour north to Berwick and check out Fogarty’s. And if you try anything  other than the turkey dinner, please let me know how it is!