Road trip: Old School.

trash bag and maps
I love technology. I marvel at the immense conveniences and benefits of our time. Take Waze, for instance. How amazing is it to enter your destination and not only be given verbal instructions, but to be routed around traffic and warned of stopped cars, police, speed camera and more. Truly unbelievable. And now, Waze talks in terms of time, not distance. So instead of, drive 30 miles and then keep right, it says drive 37 minutes and then, keep right. Now if that isn’t thinking about the way the user thinks, I don’t know what is. Very, very cool.

But you know what? I miss spreading out my maps and plotting my path. I miss seeing what is along the way – or not – and thinking about where I’ll stop and what I’ll do. I miss visualizing my path ahead of time and while I’m on the way to where I’m going. And I miss pulling out the map on the side of the road and figuring out where I am when I get lost. The getting lost part – that was part of the adventure.

I never get lost anymore.

Is that a good thing? I’m not so sure.

My AAA membership expires tomorrow. I’ve been a member for as long as I can remember.

Back in the day, it was hard to find someone to help you if you had car trouble 10 miles outside Duluth and didn’t know anyone west of Ohio. It was impossible to know if stumbling upon Sam at Sharky’s Garage was a stroke of luck or a nightmare waiting to happen. But today? Yelp. Today? Google. Today? Easy.

Sure, it’s an option to self-insure a tow by joining AAA. But the thing is, I’ve been a member for 20+ years at $50-75 per year and have been towed once. Now, the tow was free. But add it up, and not so much free. Yes, they have lots of discounts and offerings but I don’t use them. The AAA hotel discount? I can find that rate a hundred different ways, or frankly just by asking.

So, I’m not renewing my AAA membership. It isn’t a decision I came to lightly. But I’ve been thinking about maps a lot lately and have regretted not having good street maps in the car. Sure, I could go out and buy them but since they’re a part of my membership, I scurried over to pick some up before the end of the month. I got 12 maps.

Assuming I’ve been a member 25 years and the average cost per year was $62.50, that’s $1,562.60. Let’s take out the tow back in 2003 (I’ll call that $150) and the average cost per map I just got is $117.71. Just saying, they weren’t really free. However, as Andrew always says, “Sunk costs are sunk,” and now I have some new maps.

The main reason I’m posting, though, is that awesome trashbag they threw in with the maps. Now, I have a trashbag in my car, already. But this one? This one brings back some great memories. And it made me laugh out loud.

Do you remember these? The bag hangs on the window crank. See that round hole? Now tell me, how would you hang it in your car? There’s no place in mine, for sure. (You might say the lighter/power source, but there’s not enough room UNDER it to let the bag hang. At least not in our cars.)

So, so retro.

Me. In Paris.

I just couldn’t resist this shot at the Paris metro station, Blanche. Do I wish I’d been wearing makeup and looking a little less road-worn? Yup. But I love it anyway.

At the Blanche Metro Station in Paris
At the Blanche Metro Station in Paris

Sunday in Paris

No offense to you curling fans out there, but I find it very amusing to be in a hotel room in Paris watching the sport in German on TV while keeping my sick son company as my husband and other 2 sons venture out to a nice dinner. Aside from snacking on the amazing baguettes we picked up earlier, I plan to order the Japanese dinner from room service. And finish the bottle of wine Andrew & I started late this afternoon after my solo field trip to Marais. What an adventure.

This morning, I hung back with the sick one when the rest of the guys visited Versailles. They loved it. And afterward, I took them to find a pharmacy & to a really nice (and very French/not touristy) lunch.

Now, I’ll look for a pay-per-view movie to watch with the kid – assuming I can bring myself to switch the channel from the curling.

Jumping for joy.

wendyjumping This is me at Blissdom last year. Alli took the pic. And I love it.

In 3 days, I’m jumping on a plane and headed to Dallas. Yes, to Blissdom! I’m having a tough time deciding what I’m most excited about:

  1. Seeing old friends
  2. Making new friends
  3. Teaching/speaking about Using Data for Creative and Impactful Marketing
  4. Hearing Chris Mann sing
  5. Seeing C.C. Chapman speak about Living An Amazing Life
  6. Sleeping in my own room (Sorry, Andrew. But, it’s just 2 nights!)
  7. Offline time with some of my Cabot colleagues

If you see me there, please say hello!

Yah mon.

We’re back from 3 nights in Jamaica.

We planned nothing.

We read 7 books between us.

We ate some of the freshest, most wonderful snapper. Spiciest jerk sausage and shrimp. We had callaloo which is now one of my favorite things.

And somewhere in the middle of a crime novel while watching the sun bounce off the aqua sea, I realized that we are that old married couple that sits in the adirondack chairs with our sun hats on, engrossed in our books with a beer for him and a dark and stormy for me and occasionally glance at each other and smile. When I was 20-something I thought couples like that were sad. That shows how much I knew. It’s a lovely warm peaceful happiness.

Call me nostalgic. I don’t mind.

I don’t know why this makes me sad, but it does. The Forest Diner closed this summer after more than 6 decades. Check out the linked blog post and you’ll see that it was a diner encased in a building. I love that. This diner was hiding for years in side the Forest Diner. When you were inside, you could see the transition. I always thought it was pretty neat.

What’s sad to me is that this landmark is leaving. And a shopping center is taking its place. The old motel behind it has already been taken down leaving only a small part of it as evidence that it was there.

It’s not that I don’t like change. (Well, I don’t actually, but that’s not the point.) It’s that I love old things that last. I love seeing things and going places that have history. I love to imagine what it would have been like back in the day.

Maybe that’s why I like national parks and taking the back road so much. (In that song, my favorite line? Put a little gravel in my travel.)

Looking back at the pix from our last trip, I’m starting to see a pattern.

Call me nostalgic. I don’t mind.


Nothing like college visits to make me stop and think about life.

So it’s fitting that we stopped in Millennium Park in Chicago and took this picture.

Life just isn’t that clear. Not looking back or looking forward.

Fear. Chicago style.

Today, we toured the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

It is so well equipped. Amazing technology. Incredible courses. Remarkable studios.

Honestly, if I was thinking of art school, I’d have been drooling. The student tour guides were informative and personable. And trust me, I asked a lot of questions. They weren’t fazed. We saw the residence halls. I am here to tell you that I know many an adult who doesn’t have this amazing a space.


Everything about the facilities here point to opportunities for real creativity.

So cool.

Except on one part of the tour? The part in the building under a bit of construction? Right, yes. The building where our small tour group entered the stair well to realize that there was no way out. All the exits were locked.


Sweat ensued.

But since it’s 2012, our guides called someone on campus to ‘rescue’ us. Okay fine, just to open the door.

We’re fine.

But I admit, it was a little tense for a few minutes there.

The tour is over. We’re just soaking in Chicago. This is one of my favorite cities. I think I’ll take one more long walk (despite the fact that my feet are feeling the 5 miles we walked this morning) and soak up a little more Chi-town.