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#73086 - 05/04/05 08:44 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Eagle Heart Offline

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
Hi Lori,
Thank you for your interest in my stay at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery. My first visit was in 1981 for a 2-week spiritual retreat with two other women from my prayer group in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

While at the monastery, we learned about the monastery's School for Charismatic Spiritual Direction. After much prayer and discernment back home with my prayer group, I decided to go back (alone) the following June (1982) for the 4-week school. It was an amazing, profound, indescribably wonderful experience. There were about 40 of us, from all over the US, a few from Canada, and two priests from Africa. It was such an profound experience (you can go to for some idea of what it entailed).

The school included an additional 2-week follow-up retreat in 1983. Between the original school and the follow-up, I had a massive breakdown, which became the turning point in my life (and eventually provided the backdrop for my own book). Although I did recover and become fully active in life and community shortly after the breakdown, 20 years later I'm still processing some facets of that breakdown. One has to wonder if there was any connection to the profound nature of that 4-week week retreat. It may have been too much, or it may have been what was necessary to uncover the extensive damage that had been lying dormant since early childhood...I still don't know...but it's moot anyway, isn't it?

20 years later I still can't fully answer your question about what I gained from that time's still ongoing. The one sure gain was that I met a woman there from Nevada who continues to be one of my very dearest friends in the world.

#73087 - 05/04/05 10:57 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
Thank you for sharing that, Eagle Heart. What a profound experience the 4-week session must have been. Perhaps it was, indeed a God-sent catharsis to help you coax out things that needed to be aired. One wonders if you hadn't had the intense Pecos experience how, when or whether those things would have been given voice.

I visited the monastery website. The focused simplicity of the program struck me, as did the stark, powerful simplicity of the desert landscape it takes place in. Seems a fitting venue.

And you were blessed with a friend for life. That's a true gift.

#73088 - 05/05/05 02:01 AM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Erica Miner Offline

Registered: 12/09/04
Posts: 140
Loc: Southern CA
Hi Lori,

Heartfelt congrats on making the 'A List' of Featured Authors! I absolutely identify with your subject, having written about travel - with and without kids - in my novel, Travels With My Lovers.

Most of TWML was about Europe and the Caribbean, but I have taken my daughter to Greece and Turkey as well. That will have to wait for the sequels, however!

Have an absolute blast on the site. Your detailed replies are inspiring and wonderful to read.

All my best,

#73089 - 05/05/05 06:04 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
"As hot as a Florentine cobblestone in July!..." From a review of Erica's book. Check out her website! The book looks like a wonderful read.

Thanks for the welcome, Erica. It's fun to be here. And congratulations on your own writing success. I cruised your website with interest. I love checking out other writers' sites and seeing the wonderful, creative things they've accomplished. The writing life is such an interesting mix of ups and downs, highs and lows, feast and famine, flood and drought, kudos and rejection, and I think that's one of the reasons I love it so much. I'm a marathoner, and I liken being a writer to being a distance runner. Keeping focused, honing your skills, being persistent, dealing with setbacks, training yourself to go a little farther, a little longer, building up your endurance over time -- and then, every once in a while, running a glorious race that fills you with an unspeakably beautiful blend of exhaustion and euphoria. I guess vagabonding is like that, too. Tucked between the highs of travel are the challenges, the hurdles, the days that just don't go as planned.

Hmmm...the more I go on here, the more I see that all of these things -- writing, running, traveling -- are metaphors for life.

For the folks out there who've expressed interest in picking up a copy of "Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America," I've been meaning to mention that since early January I've been donating about half of my book proceeds to tsunami relief. I've decided to continue doing so through the end of May, through the end of this forum. At this point, I'm sending all donations to UNICEF, as other organizations have indicated they have sufficient funds to cover efforts for the next few years.

If you order the book from an online bookseller like or Amazon ( ), I'll donate $1 per copy. If you order from the publisher ( ) or from me (signed copy info at ), I'm donating $2 per copy, as I earn slightly more on these copies.

And now a question: What summer travel plans, if any, do you all have? (We know Louisa and her clan are heading to Disney in a few weeks. Have a great time, Louisa. Have you ever checked out the airboat rides that they offer on some of the lakes in Kissimmee? We took one and it was great, wild fun. The kids got to sit up high in the seat next to the driver and steer the thing for a little while!)

Any other trips in the planning stages?

#73090 - 05/05/05 06:46 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
I just discovered a post from a new member, Explorer. She posted a question about traveling safely. She posted her question as a new topic, but I think she may have meant to post it in this thread. Because it's such a good question, I'm going to try and cut and past it and then answer it here, in this thread. From Explorer:

Hi Lori,
I enjoyed reading your book and must say I felt a little envious of your ability to travel alone or just with your kids (even though they sound quite mature) -- in other words, without another adult who can help you make decisions, stay safe, whatever. Any big tips you can share to help some of the rest of us get over our apprehension and have the courage to travel alone or without another adult? Thanks!

Explorer, this is a great question, which really has two levels: One -- how to start traveling without a spouse or other adult and then, two -- once you're out there, what can you do to stay safe?

On the first question, my biggest tip is to start small. Travel alone to someplace close to home. You can start with "trips" as small as dining out by yourself or going to a movie or to a museum alone. Get the hang of getting out there doing things by yourself by doing things in your own backyard. These small "trips" have a built-in psychological safety net, so you can get used to being on your own without much risk. As you get comfortable, go a little farther. Perhaps a day trip up the coast to some beaches or to an interesting town with good shopping. Then, when you discover that you handled the day trip just fine, expand to an overnight or to a weekend. Before you know it, you'll be ready to go anywhere on your own, because you've done it. Another suggestion for getting started is to go on a tour. Sign up as a single. You're traveling alone, but you have the "safety net" of having others around you during the trip. You can interact with them as much or as little as you wish. But the act of signing up and showing up at the airport by yourself is an accomplishment that proves you're able to get out there, even if there's no handy spouse or friend or significant other available or interested in traveling with you. (Or maybe there is, but you simply want to travel solo. I find solo travel extremely relaxing and fulfilling. )

And, some quick safety tips. This post is getting a bit long, so I'll throw out one or two biggies and then return to this topic in future posts. The biggest key is to do whatever you can to reduce your vulnerability.

1. Blend in. Leave the bling and the heels and the big-time decolletage at home. When you're alone, while it's always flattering to attract attention, you risk attracting it from unsavory sorts. Reduce the risk by acting and dressing low-key.

2. I'm not a party person or a nightlife-lover, so this next piece of advice fits in well with my travel style: get out and explore a place and do all the things you want to do before dark. Unless I'm with a friend, my husband, or other adults, I'm always in my hotel room or campsite or whatever when the sun goes down (unless, of course, there's some special event that's an enriching part of the trip). Two examples from our American road trip: We spent several days in New Orleans, where we fell in love with the French Quarter. We visited often, but we left the late night scene to the revelers and got our fill during morning, afternoon and early evening hours. The same in Memphis. We took in the Beale Street scene, listening to blues and eating po'boys in the cafes and cruising the avenue, but we retreated to our hotel pool at 7 pm, when the seriously armed and muscled cops started turning out in groups of three to patrol the "block party" that was sure to erupt after dark. I absorbed the Quarter, and I absorbed the essence of Beal Street, but I did it before the sun went down, in safety.

3. Biggie number three: Trust your intuition. I can't stress this enough. I've learned over 25 years of traveling, probably 75% of which has been either alone or with one or both of my kids, to listen without question to that little voice inside your head. I believe God gave us intuition as a built-in safety device. It's our gut reaction to something, and when that voice speaks, I listen. Without hesitation. I know that voice has kept me out of trouble. And I also know that there have been times when I "debated" with that voice, ignored it, justified some other course of action -- and ran into problems. So now, I simply do what it says, and I do it right away.

More later on traveling alone and staying safe (which translates into traveling more and having fun!)

(and Explore, just hit "Add Reply" if you'd like to chat in this thread. "New Topic" will send you out of this thread, and I may not be able to find you... [Smile] I'm a "forum newbie" myself, and am also just learning the ropes...

#73091 - 05/05/05 08:08 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
smilinize Offline

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 3512
Loc: outer space
I am interested in Explorer's question, but while you're waiting for her reply, I'll ask a couple of questions.
My husband and I are planning a driving trip to D.C. with our 8 yr. old grandson, Alex, this summer. We have a self contained travel van so we will take that. It's pretty much ad lib, but we thought it would be fun to stay at a RV camp along the way then in a hotel in any large cities.
I've camped all over the country when I was younger, but I'm a little freaked about sleeping in the RV with Alex. Is it safe? Do you think those RV camping places are safe? Should we take a gun? Is that legal?
We will be traveling from Branson, MO to D.C. on the way east and some route through Memphis and onto I-40 to visit family on the way back. (And I absolutely have to go back to Graceland). [Smile] I would like Alex to see the Ozarks and maybe the Appalachians.
We need any ideas you might have for off the beaten path routes and stuff to see along the way. We will need lots of time in D.C. because there is so much there for our grandson, but because he has traveled only by plane before, we want him to see some of the countryside.
If we survive we're thinking about taking all the grandkids west next summer. On the maiden voyage, we definitely don't want to be outnumbered. [Smile]

[ May 05, 2005, 01:11 PM: Message edited by: smilinize ]

#73092 - 05/06/05 12:36 AM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
Hi smilinize,

I'm just back from taking my mom out to lunch for "early Mother's Day" and have to head back out in a few minutes for a round of kid pickups and dropoffs. I have quite a few suggestions for you, but I want to get all the names and routes and details right, so I need a little time to go back through my journals, etc. and do some digging. I'll be back at you shortly with some suggestions.

But, I can answer part of your question quickly: Yes, the RV campgrounds are safe. And, they can be wonderful social places, too -- communities in themselves. While on our trans-America trip, we fell in love with KOAs. Sometimes we pitched our tent and sometimes we rented these cool little "Kamping Kabins." You'll have your own "roof," so won't need to look into those, but other folks might want to consider checking them out on a future trip. Adam and Dana came to love these little cabins, where we had our own front porch and yard and water pump and electricity. They run about $50 a nite and can sleep four.

Anyway, we liked KOAs very much because they almost always had a pool, and they were very family-friendly and full of kids. Adam and Dana could always find other kids to pal around with --and that was a learning experience for them, because they met kids from all over the country. The KOAs tend to have activities. Some had sunset barbecues or singalongs or game rooms with pool tables and video machines -- sometimes they showed a movie...things like that. And they have stores that are stocked with grocieries and essentials. We never met a KOA we didn't like. Find them online and check out their locations to see if they match your route. Each KOA is independently owned, often by a family. Nice, hard-working folks. Other excellent sources for campground and RV-site info are Woodall's ( and the Good Sam Club. Woodall's also has a printed campground directory. It's the grandaddy and bible of the campground set.

I don't think you'll need a gun. Maybe get some pepper spray, though, not a bad idea for anyone going on a road trip. (I wouldn't try to take it on a plane!!). I took pepper spray on our trip. I had it close at hand in the van, and I brought it into our tent or cabin or motel room at night and kept it near me, along with my cellphone. I got a non-gun firearms permit from my local police department and kept that permit with me in the van.

I'm not certain about the legality of crossing state lines with pepper spray -- even my local police couldn't tell me whether my permit would be reciprocal in other states. They kind of said, only without saying it, of course, "just do it -- better to have it and pay the piper if you run afoul of a law than not to have it if you need it." I do know that in some states, like NH, you do not need a permit to carry pepper spray. Maybe one of the forum members might know something about this... But, I figured, the worst that could happen would be a handslap or a fine if I ever had to use the spray. It's not a gun, so the repercussions would be small in comparison, and would certainly outweigh feeling somewhat protected by having it or having actually protected myself and my kids by using it. (Boy, that sentence was a bad mouthful, but never mind...)Anyway, consider the spray. I'd be very nervous about having a gun in an RV with a child aboard -- close quarters, etc.

More later with suggestions on routes/things to see. I'm excited for you! Sounds like a wonderful trip. I hope you DO survive the Alex-only trip so that we can all be treated to next year's stories about you and the entire grandchild brood! [Smile]

#73093 - 05/06/05 06:24 PM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Dotsie Offline

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 23647
Loc: Maryland
Lori, I thoroughly enjoyed the bits and pieces you shared about your children. Have they corresponded with any of the people they met on the trip?

The internet makes it so easy for kids to stay in touch with people they meet at camps, resorts, etc.

#73094 - 05/07/05 07:22 AM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
Yes, Dotise, they have kept in touch with some of the kids they met. Dana has a pen pal in California, a fellow horse lover. Interestingly, these two girls actually write letters to one another on real paper and send them in the mail. That doesn't happen much anymore! (I think it's because they like to put horse stickers all over the envelopes.)

Both Adam and Dana have huge instant message Buddy Lists and keep in regular -- often daily -- touch with kids they've met in their travels. The Web is such a fabulous way for them to keep these relationships going. I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point in the future, they end up visiting some of these friends they made in their younger travel days.

I'm particularly delighted about one of the households they keep in regular touch with through their instant messaging. My high school pal, Rhonda, one of my dearest friends in the world, moved to Nashville about a dozen years ago. Her husband, Charlie, is an auto worker, and they moved south to follow work when GM shut its plants near Boston and opened the big Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Rhonda has two beautiful kids, Erin and Paul, who are a little younger than Adam and Dana, and on our "Ribbons" journey, we stayed with them for a few days. Rhonda and I have known each other since we were 14, when I was in love with her cousin Rick. After he broke my heart, we remained friends. Rhonda was the only person I’d made plans to visit on our American journey.

She and I sat watching our four children, marveling at how blessed we were to have them and hoping they'd come to know and like each other, continuing the chain of friendship we'd begun some 30 years earlier. Well, the kids hit it off, and they "IM" each other on a regular basis. They'd been at it for months before I even realized they were keeping in touch. Rhonda and I think that is just the coolest thing in the world. Even if she and I don't connect as often as we should, we know our kids are keeping our families connected.

Let me take you to Rhonda's house in this quick excerpt from "Ribbons":

Our kids played together in the cul-de-sac, while Rhonda, Charlie and I drank beers on the front porch. Charlie’s a traveler. Real travelers know geography, even of places they haven’t been to yet. I described our route, and Charlie sat back and smiled, visualizing the Stonehenge of old Cadillacs sticking up in Amarillo, the jagged reaches of the Sawtooth, the forested shores of Lake Huron. This is a guy who, years ago, got in a car with a few buddies and drove from Boston to Yellowknife, just to see what a place called Yellowknife looked like. They spent a few hours there and drove home. I understood completely.

Rhonda’s house had been a psychological safety net. It was a familiar destination. A place where we’d been expected. Somewhere with people who cared about us. A chance to stretch out and hang around a house with a yard and lots of rooms and a washing machine and a kitchen with food. A visit with friends. A point from which I could turn around and go home if something wasn’t right about this trip and still feel the venture had been worthwhile.

We left Rhonda’s driveway and left the safety net behind. We were on our own, for the next 10,000 miles. We drove into America, and it embraced us.

Smilinize, I'll be back with some Missouri to D.C. suggestions for you shortly!

#73095 - 05/07/05 12:04 AM Re: Lori Hein, Ribbons of Highway: A Mother-Child Journey Across America
Lori Hein Offline

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 125
Loc: Boston
Here are some suggestions for smilinize's upcoming RV-with-grandson adventure. Missouri to Washington, D.C. and back.

Smilinize, I plotted this going through Memphis on the way east, so you may want to just flip it around because I think you want to go through Memphis on your way home. It was just easier for me to do it this way because it's the way I traveled these routes. I traveled the Memphis, West Virginia and Kentucky chunks of this on the "Ribbons" journey, and those are well-treated in the book. I've traveled the other pieces in various smaller journeys over the years.

I have some recommendations of things to do in D.C., but I'll put those in a separate post so this doesn't get overly long.

From Branson, MO, Route 65 to Harrison, Arkansas is a Rand McNally "Scenic Route." At Harrison, tiny Route 7 is a scenic route that takes you all the way through two large chunks of the Ozark National Forest and delivers you to Hot Springs, an Ozark resort town with springs, high mountain vistas and lots of activities to keep your grandson busy. (I remember Hot Springs as the place I was thrown from a horse. I was on a trail ride, and something bit my horse's butt. He threw me, I hit my head on a rock and had a cut so large that the rental condo complex where we were staying barred me from the pool for the rest of my vacation.)

From Hot Springs (again, you may want to put this post in a "mirror" and reverse it...), you can swing up I-30 to take in Little Rock (which I have not visited), then I-40 to Memphis. It sounds like you know Memphis, having family in the area, but for folks who don't, things to do besides making the pilgrimage to Graceland include spending time on Mud Island, smack on the Mississippi in downtown Memphis near the Pyramid. You access it via an enclosed, suspended pedestrian bridge. There are shops and cafes, and, in the middle of the main walkway, there's a long, large scale model of the entire Mississippi River system that you can "travel" along. Great fun, especially for kids. Also, there's Beale Street (see earlier post about safety), cruises on the Mississippi Queen, the Lorraine Motel (National Civil Rights Museum) where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and the Peabody Hotel, where daily at 5 pm, the pampered Peabody Ducks emerge from the lobby fountain where they loll all day and travel a red carpet to the elevator that whisks them to their hotel penthouse.

From Memphis (or to Memphis...), you could take the small Route 64 toward Chattanooga. Near Waynesboro, Route 64 crosses a piece of the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs all the way to Mississippi. This is a beautiful, old treed road with significant history. It's a Google subject all by itself. An old Indian trail, it was used by bargemen who, after having floated their goods down the Mississippi to market, walked back to their northern homes by following the ancient Trace.

Around Savannah,Tennessee, get off 64 and pick up Route 41. You're now getting into some of the loveliest parts of Tennessee, where the mountains really begin around Sewanee. Chattanooga is nearby. Great mountain vistas from the tops of Signal and Lookout Mountains (hang-glide off Lookout, if you're game).

From Chattanooga, you could head toward Gatlinburg, a winter ski resort. You're in the Great Smoky National Park at this point. Clingman's Dome, 6650 feet, is here, Tennessee's highest point. From here, Route 321 goes through Cherokee National Forest and pieces of the Great Smokies and other parts of the Appalachian range near the TN/NC border and points you, eventually, to Bristol, TN, on the Virginia border.

At this point, the Appalachians spread ahead of you, running in a tilted north-south direction, and you have a lot of options for small, scenic mountain routes. (Note that most of this driving will be at 40 mph or so, so you'll have to judge what to do and what to skip according to how much time you have.) I'd recommend maybe shooting for Front Royal, Virginia, up in the Shenandoah River Valley. You could take I-81 from Bristol to Roanoke and get on the Blue Ridge Parkway from there. The Blue Ridge parallels the Appalachian Trail. From Front Royal, you can take I-66 into Washington.

I'll give you some Washington suggestions separately, but I wanted to mention that once in Washington, you're only a few hours from Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic. From D.C., it's a short hop to Annapolis, which Alex might like to visit, and then you're a bridge away from a whole host of historic Maryland bay towns around Easton and Cambridge. Take a look at this blog story I wrote in December: . It'll give you a flavor of the Lower Eastern Shore and has some links that might give you travel ideas. (Every one of my blog stories, by the way, is chock-full of great links for the traveler, armchair or actual. I want blog readers to be able to travel the world on their computer screens or have enough information to start dreaming about or even planning a trip of their own, so I take great care choosing the links. There are seven months' worth of almost-daily posts about places all over the world on the blog right now, and I add new content all the time: )

Now, how to get back to Missouri? You could head west out of D.C. and pass through Front Royal again and then enter West Virginia (via small mountain roads through the Appalachians) to Elkins, West Virgnia. At Elkins, pick up Route 219, a scenic route that rides you down through Appalachia to Lewisburg, passing through pretty, rural mountain towns like Marlinton and Snowshoe Mountain enroute. The road is high, winding, gorgeous. (Again, you won't be moving very fast, so count on all of this taking some time!)

At Lewisburg, I-64 takes you east to Beckley, passing first near New River Gorge, a phenomenally beautiful area of rushing rivers and forests and mountains and small towns. Lots of whitewater activity here for the adventurous. Then to Beckley, a sprawling small city with a coal-mining past. The Beckley Mine gives tours. You ride in old coal cars deep into the mine, and it's quite an experience. Alex would enjoy it, I'm sure.

Then head for Charleston, West Virginia's pretty, historic captial with an old cobblestoned downtown and stately mansions sitting atop bluffs that tower over the Kanawha River. From Becley to Charleston, you can take the Midland Coal Trail that parallels the beautiful but hard-working Kanawha for the whole distance. You'll see West Virginia mining towns up close, and you'll look down at full coal barges tethered to riverbank docks.

Once in Charleston, I-64 takes you into Kentucky and to Lexington bluegrass country. Well worth a visit. The Bluegrass Driving Tour takes you past the most storied of the horse farms, places like Calumet, built on a baking powder fortune. From Lexington, take the Bluegrass Parkway to Mammoth Cave National Park. Huge, mysterious, beautiful caverns. Alex will enjoy it. And, he might like to see the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, south of Mammoth. From Bowling Green, you can pick up any number of routes back into Missouri.

I hope this gives you some ideas. I'll talk about Washington in a separate post.

Perhaps there are some forum members who can give you suggestions, too. What fun having a trip to plan! [Smile]

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