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My travel bucket list: Everyone else is doing it so why can’t I?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

It’s not news to anyone that I like to travel, that I plan trips months in advance.  It’s what keeps me going; I can’t help it.  Some folks think I have traveled extensively – and I have.  I’m not ungrateful for the trips I have taken; however, there is still so much of this world that I want to see!  When I think about certain trips or destinations, my thoughts are always followed up with, “Yeah, I’ll get there someday….”  But what if I don’t?  What if I run out of time?  What if life really gets in the way?  I was thinking about that the other day and it really depressed me.  It’s not the fact that I haven’t been to some places already, but that I may not get to experience them at all.  On a related note, I have been seeing a lot written lately about “bucket lists” as they pertain to travel – places that people must see before they die (or “kick the bucket”).  It got me to thinking about my own bucket list.  Do I dare compile such a list, put it in writing?  I’m afraid it’s going to be really long!  And what if I don’t make it to all these places?!  Nevertheless, here it goes:

1 – Spend at least one month in Calabria and at least one month in the area around Napoli to explore and learn about my family’s roots.

2 – Go to Bhutan.

3 – Go fly-fishing in Mongolia.

4 – Go to Argentina and visit vineyards, drink lots of malbec, listen to tango music, and just take it all in.  (Side note:  Argentina is my current travel obsession.)

5 – Return to Africa.  At the top of my list to visit in Africa are Mozambique, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

6 – See Dry Tortugas National Park

7 – Travel around Scandinavia.  I’ve been obsessed with the region, specifically Norway, since I was a young girl.

8 – Visit Isle Royale National Park.

9 – Go to Alaska, and not via cruise ship if I can help it.

10 – Western Canada, namely Banff and Vancouver.


12 – Finally make it to Glacier National Park

I think that about covers it.  Of course, all of the above will be in addition to returning to Yellowstone with my daughter and then taking her to Disney World… Oh dear, I see another list in the making.

What’s on your bucket list?

Posted by Francesca

Wild animal encounter (and why I am terrified of alligators)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Every Thursday, I try to participate in Travelers’ Night In (TNI) on Twitter.  It’s in the middle of my workday so sometimes it’s difficult.  TNI basically is a global discussion about, well, travel (read more about it here), with different topics each week.  This week’s topic is “animal encounters” and that got me thinking…..

I’ve had a few animal encounters in my life, most of them occurring in or around Yellowstone.  But my most infamous animal encounter story goes a little something like this:  I was 10 and with my family on our annual Florida vacation.  The five of us were bike riding on then-undeveloped Sanibel Island.  We were biking for hours on narrow trails that bisected swamps and cut through heavily wooded areas.  Dad led the pack, followed by Mom, then me and Felicia, and Frankie was taking up the rear.  When it was time to start heading back to the bike rental place, we left the scary trails in the woods and rode out onto a residential street.  We were happily biking along, admiring the big, new houses on that particular street, when all five of us came to a screeching halt.  I swear, it was like something out of a cartoon.  A whole line of Folinazzos on bikes braking and skidding because of the massive, greenish/blackish reptilian figure that appeared a little ways down the road.  My breath was lost somewhere between my diaphragm and my mouth; all I could muster was a breathless, “Is that….. an alligator?!”  By golly, it sure was an alligator.  At the time, in my 10-year-old mind, that enormous alligator turned its head, looked at my family, and said to itself, “Oooh, lunch.”  At the same time, a disturbing thought penetrated my paralyzing fear:  a few days prior, in a one-day-when-you’re-on-Jeopardy!-moment, my father informed us that alligators are capable of running up to thirty-five miles per hour.  All I could think of was my then-four-year-old brother at the back of the line being unable to pedal his little legs fast enough to outride that alligator.  I was snapped to by my father’s voice instructing all of us to slowly and calmly turn our bikes around and begin pedaling in the opposite direction.  I thought I was going to pass out.  That alligator almost ate my whole family!

True story.  Well, almost.  The reality is that the alligator was crossing the street about thirty yards down.  Now, in my thirty-six-year-old mind, I’m pretty sure it didn’t even turn its head and see us.  But that doesn’t make for a very fun story now, does it?

Posted by Francesca

Mimi & The Blue Angels

Saturday, August 14th, 2010
This weekend is Chicago’s 52nd Annual Air & Water Show.  I look forward to this event every year, but not because I want to head down to the lakefront to jostle for position and sweat with thousands of suburbanites ... [Continue reading this entry]

Thoughts on the Blackhawks Convention

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
I knew this year’s Blackhawks Convention would be insanely crowded since they’re total studs now for winning the Stanley Cup.  I also knew that I probably shouldn’t even think about going because those insane crowds would just annoy me and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Highlight of the Blackhawks Convention

Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Cherish forever, originally uploaded by Francesca.... The 3rd Annual Blackhawks Convention just wrapped up. I attended for the second, and probably my last, time – but more on that later. The ... [Continue reading this entry]