The Travel Quilt

A newsletter about travel experiences by Pamela MacDonald

Edition 1, 15 May 2010

Every place I visit leaves an undeniable change……. in ME.  “We never touch others so lightly as to not leave a trace.” 

I forget where I learned these tidbits about travel — but I have taken notes and now offer them to you.  I am sharing a collective wisdom … words shared by other ‘world travelers’. I carry a note book in my purse and record the collection of words.   

“This moment, this place, this scent, this view, and I am forever changed. As the moments slip by, my person is renewed and recreated with the experiences and sensations from this and every place.”  “Travel writing …. my new frontier. My journey in life. Never the destination, always a learning experience.” 

I am a sum of my parts and your influence. How we interact, the interplay …. the ‘quilt’ we weave together.

 This is my Travel Quilt. This is my quilted travel journal. The textured fabric and strong seams all matter. The finished product is only the depiction of how the roads intersected. A summary. A snapshot of a moment in time.

 Come join me in my journey.

 Share your words of wisdom learned along the way ………… let us create this quilt together.


In no particular order or significance, let the language of travel shift your perspective.

 ”Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends. It is played over and over in the mind. Stories can be accessed and experiences re-lived.”

“As a first time traveler, the biggest issue you will encounter is your own state of mind.” Pre departure preparation and post vacation slump. Keep busy and keep planning the next one. Let no moss grow on the moments between travel memories and travel planning. The anticipation of travel is sweet indeed and deepens the experience.

 ”Whatever your experience, be a first time traveler at heart.”  See the world with new eyes and breathe in deeply the new scents of places and times.

 One of the greatest pleasures of any trip is talking to people. Trips can be made by the people you encounter.

 Be as mindful as you can.  Meditate.  Be in the moment as many moments as possible.

 Don’t plan too much, prepare to be flexible. Be open to that which you had not anticipated. Delight in the details of the unexpected.  Be patient, polite and persistent.

 Enjoy and appreciate. Keep a gratitude travel journal. Review the highlights. Daily reflection will reinforce the memories.

 If you are anything like me, you have a destination in mind. You woke up once to the idea of that special place. The smells, the sounds, the sights, the satisfaction of knowing there is a special place that you will rejoice in the travel to. A destination where, when you hear the name of this sacred place, your heart quickens, your mind goes to the awakened senses and you realize a longing in your soul. A place, like Paris, or the Great Barrier Reef, or Moscow, Venice, Rome, the beaches of Kauai, Glacier Bay or Denali National Park in Alaska or Long Beach California.

 When you read a book or see a show you recognize this place as a part of your self and the longing awakens once again. You notice and make a mental list of “to do” activities that are “must do’s” in this location. The list includes, the best place to taste crème brulee, the best ice cream shop, chocolaterie, country and western or jazz / blues lounge, where to snorkel to encounter the widest variety of colorful tropical fish, what is the food unique to this location, what wine pairings can you expect, is there a Starbucks? Is there a quilt shop nearby so you can pick up some fabric with depictions of this fabulous place and its history? What are the local museums or historic landmarks that simply must be seen and form part of the scrapbook memories? Are you seeking adventure, art, romance, history through architecture, spiritual retreat, enlightenment, education or sheer delight and relaxation? If only for an unforgettable moment, what place, sound, scent, sight are you wanting to be close to? We all want to tell tales of time spent in a most fascinating place. 

We sometimes get lost in lists of items to take, packing anxiety, making reservations, choosing shore excursions, comparing prices and quality, investigating travel protection, security procedures and payment policies (when is the non refundable period?).

Take a breath, take another one …..

There is nothing to fear … jump in with all your senses and “don’t miss the boat”.  Cruising and travel, experience and write about your adventures.  Your life will be changed and your experiences captured and memories stirred by the reading of the journey in the future.

I welcome your thoughts, your story and the quilt we weave together as we share.




8-9 May 2010

What a stroke of brilliance …….. the ONE DAY cruise!

I have a good friend who knew this even before I did. Last year she booked a one day cruise from Vancouver to Seattle with a girl friend … the shopped all day in Seattle and then took the AMTRAK train back to Vancouver.

This year, the dates came out, she sent me a note and I started thinking about the benefits of going on a one day cruise.

Not a huge time commitment. Do it on a weekend. No time off work. Not very expensive. Feels like a real treat. Get a way from it all. Get to see Seattle (Pike St Market, take in a Starbucks coffee, see the flowers). Treat myself to a Mothers Day event. Go with friends. Return to Victoria on the Victoria Clipper on Sunday. It is all possible.

So I spoke to my partner, who, by the way, seldom gets to go on my work related cruises and gets left behind when I travel with my mom and friends ……. and he was so happy to be invited to go with me that he jumped at the idea of a weekend cruise. We spoke to another couple, really good friends of ours who also live in Victoria. They also jumped on the idea. We did a little research and I booked the cruise, we paid and also booked the Clipper return to Victoria.

John, our friend, knew the city bus routes and checked out the schedules. We left in the morning and walked to the city bus stop and took an express bus out to Schwartz Bay ferry terminal. We arrived in Tswassen about 100 minutes later, and back on a Bee line city bus headed for Bridgeport station.

It was early still and sunny and gorgeous in Vancouver. The bus trip was uneventful except for the creeping excitement of getting on a cruise ship. There is just something about that anticipation. We all had our lightly packed shoulder back packs with toothbrushes and overnight items (I brought 4 scarves to wear and to offer a change of look to my limited wardrobe). I don’t think I have ever packed so lightly in all my life, and certainly not for a cruise!! Donned in cruise-wear, I was pretty happy to be looking and feeling special.

From the sky train station to Waterfront downtown Vancouver is mostly underground so we did not get the lovely tour of the big city … however, it is a most efficient and fast way to travel in the city, and especially on a Saturday when the cost is ½ what it would have been on a weekday. All was just going our way. Bit of a line up as three cruise ships were to be loaded up from Vancouver pier. We were in a long snake like line up for quite a while. People budging in line to get their faster (??) is just a bit annoying …….. but we ended up about 10 couples back from Christa and John and kept seeing them on the corners as we snaked around. It was fun though, people watching at its finest, for sure.

What kind of people cruise? People going to Alaska, people who are just going (like us) for a get a way, people with children, older people who have cruised many many many times before. People who dress up, people who did not. People in hats, some with hair pieces and some with no hair at all. It was fun for me to check them out as we rounded corners and could over hear snippets of conversations. It is all so intriguing really and funny, sometimes. We got through the gates, the paths, the line ups and the staff guiding us along. We got our pictures taken and our new key card and off to the ship.

We got our picture taken, the 4 of us and a few of just the women. Later we were to discover that these pictures were very good …. but as with a lot of things on a one day cruise …. you either get it now, or let it go. We let the moment pass.

On to the ship, off to our staterooms to get rid of our bags. And meet for our first cruise meal. Due to the line ups we missed the lunch in the dining room. Ah well, the Lido is always good for great food and lots of it. We ate our fill and checked out the ship. Walking, sitting, checking out the city sky line on this warm May day. It feels so special to be aboard and waiting to go out to sea.

It was exciting and relaxing, and fulfilling. All that you want from a vacation, and it was an ordinary weekend with extraordinary itinerary. I am thrilled even in the re-telling of it.

We laid out on the wooden deck chairs. How luxurious. Steve got a glass of champagne for me and we set sail for Seattle. We went back to the staterooms and I threw on a different scarf, brushed my hair and away we adventured for meal number two …… the feeding frenzy had begun.

Our stateroom was lovely, our friends had a balcony and we were upgraded to a full window floor to ceiling but a tender life boat was in our view. Beautiful never the less, ice in the bucket and spacious floor plan.

We had a lovely dinner with another couple, the 6 of us at a window. One of the things I have learned from any time dining on a cruise ship, is to always ask for a window table. It is a good idea if the cruise is longer than one day <smile> to reserve the table you want for dinner, first thing in the morning while you think of it …….. so when it is time to eat, your spot is ready.

Lovely meal, plenty of dessert and off to the show. Glitz and glamor. Stage and Screen was the singing and dancing theme for the show. It was high energy and the costumes were beautiful. After that we walked through the art gallery and “shopped” for things that were pleasing. We found the shops and wandered through them as well, looking for tidbits and ideas, enjoying the shiny stuff. Steve and I went dancing in about 3 lounges and enjoyed the music and the dancing that we have been away from for a while. It was a romantic and beautiful evening. We went up on the top deck and enjoyed the scenery … Is that Victoria we see off in the distance, in the dark?? Can it be Beacon Hill park, the lighthouse, Dallas Drive??? Time for a tea, and a little of the late night buffet.

Back to the stateroom for a wee nap. Plans to meet our friends by 7 am for breakfast in the dining room and off to a day in Seattle. The sun shone brightly and warmly all day. What a treat. Seattle at its very best ….. Mothers Day Sunday, sunshine, Pike St Market, the ocean, the sea wall, the shops, the people, the colors of the flowers, the fish throwing, the crowds …… the quilt store. The unique gifts, postcards and pictures, paintings and drawings by local artists. Seattle is lovely. Starbucks on every corner. The guys headed off to the Space Needle and some museums to fill their day.

We met up again, made our way to the Clipper pier, had a bite to eat in a fish shop along the waterfront. Sat outside in the warm sun and enjoyed the sensations that come when a restful sit follows a busy walk. On the Clipper (a catamaran that holds a few hundred people) and a few hours later, home to our lovely Victoria.

Exhausted and satisfied as if a big meal — a turkey dinner feast — the weekend adventure at sea.