Travel by book

Santorini, Greece

Not ready to go to Myanmar for two years?  Not enough money to make that dream trip to Europe or SE Asia?

Thankfully there are books to fill the wanderlusting soul within you.  Travel books are a hobby (addiction) for me – books in general are one of the great joys (addictions) of my life. I am beginning to realize I won’t live long enough to read all the books I have in my bookshelves, on the floor, under the bed, in the basement, and the ones still in boxes from when I moved 13 years ago.  WTF??

But traveling by book is one way I fill my wanderlust.  And apparently others do the same.

There are online bookclubs (Around the world in 80 books on Goodreads) – people blog about it – – I am not alone.

The point is, reading is a powerful way to travel and learn and has inspired me in a thousand ways.  After reading Lawrence Durrell’s “Reflections of a Marine Venus” I put Rhodes on my bucket list/list of 100.  I had no idea what the Camino was until I read Jack Hitt’s book.  And I have read many more books about the Camino – because if you can’t go – read!

My favorite travel books combine history, art, culture and atmosphere – when you read these books you want to sit with a sheepherder in Greece on a mountain and drink ouzo.  Or you want to smell the foods and hear the sounds of a street market in say… Myanmar.

If you want recommendations I am happy to help – if you have suggestions I would love to hear about them.  My particular niche is Greece – if you are going or want to travel by book – ping me and I can give you some great suggestions.  But I would love to hear yours… (FB that means you!)


Photographing Big Trees

This video and National Geographic story came out a few years ago – but I was reminded recently of the absolute grandeur of the redwoods and nature in general.  And this short video demonstrates that sometimes it takes a whole year to adequately capture what nature does every day.  People can sometimes disappoint – but nature never disappoints.

I think the man in the hat did something wrong…


If you can name the movie where that line was uttered – you win a really cool snarky mug.  I love snarky.

So if you do know what movie that line came from – you will know it is one of the best movies ever made.  In the 80’s.  With an ensemble cast.

Ok enough clues.  You have to figure out the rest.

If you know the movie – cultural bonus points for you – but if you know the artist and painting – that means you are a culturally literate person or possibly an art history major – OR you have been to Amsterdam and been to the Rijksmuseum and know that this painting is one of the most viewed paintings in western Europe.

Which got me to wondering – what are the most viewed paintings in the world – Mona Lisa most certainly tops the list… but after that – do you know?  Who keeps track of this type of important info?  There is always an answer on the internet – but before we go there… “Studio audience was asked what are the top 10 paintings viewed in the world…survey says…”

Here are my guesses (I took Sistine Chapel out of this list because it is officially a fresco – but my guess is it would be #2 after Mona Lisa):

Mona Lisa – Da Vinci

Starry Night – Van Gogh

Lilies – Monet

girl with the pearl earring – Vermeer

Nightwatch – Rembrandt

Picnic painting at the Chicago Art Museum (can’t recall artist at this moment)

Self-portrait – Van Gogh

American Gothic (Grant Wood I think)

Guernica – Picasso

Birth of Venus – Botticelli

What paintings did I miss?

West with the Night

Birthday Girls

Last night – we said a sad but so-happy-for-you goodbye to our friends Steve and Stacie as they headed west into the night from Portland to Yangon, Myanmar.

Staring down at our feet without words…(oh look PDX carpet!) – knowing that for this one sad moment, there will be many stories and adventures that make the teary moments worth enduring.  And we count the days until we are sharing a beer and laughing over stories and memories.  Our very own Ithaka…

“Hope the voyage is a long one.

May there be many a summer morning when,

with what pleasure, what joy,

you come into harbors seen for the first time;

may you stop at Phoenician trading stations

to buy fine things,

mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,

sensual perfume of every kind—

as many sensual perfumes as you can;

and may you visit many Egyptian cities

to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.

Arriving there is what you are destined for.

But do not hurry the journey at all.

Better if it lasts for years,

so you are old by the time you reach the island,

wealthy with all you have gained on the way,

not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.”

(excerpt from Ithaka  by C.P. Cavafy)

“Love the Journey” my friend Kathy tells me – and I shall.

Steve and Stac – please love your journey.  Our hugs and tears a launching point to adventure…

Deep Thoughts on the side of the highway

Roadside Theology

I was sitting by the highway yesterday thinking about this…

On July 22nd – my dear life friends Steve and Stacie will get on a flight to Burma, not looking back and starting their adventure of living and teaching overseas.  TWO YEARS!  A year ago I couldn’t imagine any of my friends doing it but when I did – I kind of figured (and hoped) it would be me.  Damn they beat me to it.  Along with that – two acquaintances are walking the Camino de Santiago this year.  A dream I have had for about 15 years.

Flashback to being a Powell’s employee and being able to “borrow” any book on their shelves as long as it was returned in the condition it was when I took it off the shelf – significantly augmenting the paltry hourly wage made there.  But has been one of the best jobs I have ever had – I basically bought books for people – while running all over the three story store.  I lost weight even though the new and now wildly popular Pearl Bakery had just opened a block away.  I could eat all the croissants I wanted and still lose weight!

Flashback II – the book was “Off the Road”  by Jack Hitt – go “borrow” it – it will get you pumped to walk somewhere for three or four months. Or pine about it for years and never go.

Simultaneous to this, after much reading and contemplation of my current state and under the influence of many espresso’s and a few IPA’s – I have decided to embark on my own state-side adventure, since I clearly have been too lame to actually quit my job and embark on my own adventure. I keep watching others do it.  Lame.

Walk with me won’t you as I attempt to un-lame my life.  One day at a time.

Welcome to Thistle Nation


Welcome to the state-side site to – Thistle elder Stacie Volz and her husband Stevie are traveling to Burma aka Myanmar for two years to teach!  20 years ago Stevie and I used what was then a newfound technology – emails – to stay in touch while I spent 8 months in Washington D.C. working at National Geographic.  We wrote each other almost every day, and on some days two or three times.  It helped me survive being 3,000 miles from my friends and family.  And bonus Stevie turned out to be a hilarious writer.  So welcome to his state-side site… and head over to his site to armchair travel with Stac and Stevie as they have the adventure of their lives.