Famous, Infamous, and Notorious Firsts Revisited by Janine M. Donoho

Self portrait

When this website launched, I introduced myself via firsts, and a giddy lift-off it was. Never fear, the navel gazing implicit in attempts at age 7 to write about planets (of which Pluto no longer qualifies), my angst-riddled teen poetry, and my first produced play at 16? Omitted. In fact, I didn’t want to write about writing at all. Instead, consider this my hand extended to those who relish a shared virtual journey.

Cowgirl

Cowgirl resolve

So, ahoy, fellow voyagers. Let us cast off from the shores of Mundania and make this fun. There will be pictures…beginning with my 1st cowgirl hat.

Springer spaniel Pete & me

Springer spaniel Pete & me

1st best dog buddy: Springer spaniel Pete, who saved my diaper-clad butt by grabbing onto it as I rolled out the car door on a corner in South San Francisco.

1st best girlfriend: Teresa Giles, with whom I fished for catfish and carp, rode horseback through the Ponderosa pine forests and sagebrush steppes of our youth, and survived the first 10 years of schooling in Washoe Valley, Nevada.

Swing in Washoe Valley - Polly Jo, Robbie, moi, Shell, Teresa

Swing in Washoe Valley – Polly Jo, Robbie, moi, Shell, Teresa

1st amazing son: Chad Elliott, young man extraordinaire, who finds his joy with his equally brilliant and beautiful companion Shannon. He spins and mixes incandescent music, then prepares incomparable meals paired with

My oh-so-cool DJ/Chef/Sommelier son

My oh-so-cool DJ, chef, & sommelier son

the perfect wine.

1st best horse buddy: Jumpin’ Jack Flash, who I miss daily; great-hearted beauty of thoroughbred and quarter horse ancestry.

My very own Jumpin' Jack Flash

My very own Jumpin’ Jack Flash

1st whippet: Amanda Pandemonium, a washed-out show dog at birth, who brightened my day with her liquid gaze and joyous attitude even as she proved lethal to rodents.

Patrick & Mandy

Patrick & Mandy

1st rescued greyhound: Patrick, a magnificent companion gone from this world. This greyt continues to romp through my dreams.

1st girlfriend trip through EuropeBackpacks and public transportation saw us through France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. Gnocci, anyone? Here we are at Der Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

Besties in Munchen at Hof Brauhous

Besties in Munchen at Hofbräuhaus

Malaysian gate 17

Land of extravagant gates

1st trip to Malaysia: I emptied my backpack to bring back gorgeous fabrics and other lush trifles.

1st trip to Morocco: Yes, I went to Morocco and all the boys at home got Moroccan soccer jerseys. For me, mint tea began to equate with stunning rugs.

Rugs and mint tea

Rugs and mint tea

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

Intrepid Guy, dad & adventurous soul

1st Class whitewater rafting: We began in Tumwater Canyon on the Wenatchee River—and yes, I went for my first swim. Here’s a river picture with the Captain of my Heart.

1st trip to Greece: History, anyone? Also, dogs & cats galore with all their bits attached—so shocking to Americans, who spay and neuter most domestic critters.

Nafplio - Dog, butcher shop, guy with opposable thumbs--perfect

Nafplio – Dog, butcher shop, guy with opposable thumbs–perfect

Clockwise in the thumbhole to make a wish

Clockwise in the thumb hole to make a wish

1st trip to Turkey: Cities carved from the earth and amazing textiles became my focus along with a millennia of sustainable agriculture. I once considered living there…

1st trip to Spain: Otherwise known as the sangria tour. We wept at the beauty and rhythmic poetry of Andalusian stallions, who danced just for me.

Seville April Fair

Seville April Fair

Hiking along the Portuguese Med

Hiking along the Portuguese Med

1st trip to Portugal: Can tiles be more beautiful? Also, we experienced the best calamari ever eaten.

1st trip to Egypt: Baksheesh demanded and sheesha experienced; Bedouins on the Red Sea. ‘Nough said.

Donkey drover & me

Donkey drover & me

1st pedicure: Yep, and most likely the last. Too much lost life in maintenance, don’t you know?

Now let us raise a glass to all the firsts in life—and perhaps to those finales we’ll have before we’re done. What’s on your list of firsts?

1st Moroccan carpet

1st & perhaps last pedi offset by Moroccan carpet

Open Arrivals by Janine Donoho

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu

Infinite perspectives

Infinite perspectives

Seville April Fair

Seville April Fair

Travel tactics adapt well to life in general and writing, specifically. My favorite journeys coincide with few fixed plans and an open view of what can be experienced in the moment. Yes, I relish travel books that highlight the amazing, and even rank options according to what I hope to explore.

Fishermen of the Algarve in Portugal

Fishermen of the Algarve in Portugal

Dependent on the time available, Plan A receives the most attention, then on to B, C…what I call ‘guerilla tourism.’ That equates with focusing on impactful choices first. This approach leaves ample room for unexpected delights and curiosity-driven jaunts, which often lead to the road less traveled along with amazing connections. It helps if you’re open to making animal sounds when language fails.

There have been places where I considered living for a while—say six months or more. Areas of Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, and Italy still call to me. Wouldn’t it be exciting to absorb language through submersion? My attitude? Not dead yet, so who knows what the future holds.

Hiking along the Atlantic in Portugal

Hiking along the Atlantic in Portugal

Is there a place you’d like to inhabit for a time? What keeps you from doing so?

Peruvian musicians dressed as North American Plains Indians in Lisbon

Peruvian musicians dressed as North American Plains Indians in Lisbon

Winding through old city Lisbon

Winding through old city Lisbon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An experience permeated by the scent & taste of mint tea

Travel as Gateway to New Worlds by Janine Donoho

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. – Hilaire Belloc

Egyptian passageway

Egyptian passageway

Doorways, windows, and gates always feel like a call to adventure. This proves especially true while taking in the view in Peloponnesian Greece while pivoting

Bronze age bath

Bronze age bath

around in Agamemnon’s ruined bath chamber. Experience delicious shivers when you remember that this is the scene of ancient crime. Upon Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan Wars, his wife Clytemnestra killed him to be with her lover Aegisthus. Then Orestes, her and Agamemnon’s son, murdered his mother in revenge before going mad with guilt.

History’s rampant with rape, murder, incest, and treachery—the substance of legend, myth, and story. Discoveries arise when you take a much needed break on

Anatolian burial site

Anatolian burial site

an Anatolian burial platform outside Pemukkale, Turkey. Or as you stand outside one of Malaysia’s ornate gates, where invented stories feed into your creativity about who lives behind them.

In Northern Africa I learned the phrase, “Your mother would be ashamed,” after inescapable brushes with roving gangs of

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

menacing boys. For those interested, it’s سيسبب عملك هذا الخزي لأمك! Sadly the pronunciation has moved beyond recall. My rendition usually garnered laughter while temporarily redirecting hooligans from tormenting innocent animals. Useful, huh?

Travel feeds spirit, imagination, and stretches your world view. You bump up against cultures and languages that expand your horizon exponentially. You gain language skills, especially polite ones, although I confess to a joy in adding foreign invectives to my vocabulary, too.

Portal to ancient Egypt

Portal to ancient Egypt

Welcome to another view of travels with moi. Enjoy and allow me to wish you joy in your journeys, too.

How have language skills expanded your travel? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Beautiful door & man

Beautiful door & man

Doorways

Doorways

Cattail gate

Cattail gate

More beautiful doors - Morocco

More beautiful doors – Morocco

Red gate Kuala Lumpur

Red gate Kuala Lumpur

Egyptian passageways

Egyptian passageways

A Change of State by Janine Donoho

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. – Anais Nin

Intrepid Guy hiking the Amalfi Coast

Intrepid Guy hiking the Amalfi Coast

Biglietto to art museumWhen I finally coaxed Intrepid Guy to take a full month to travel with me, we chose a more ambitious route than my BFF trip. Yes, still backpacks, but Italy, Greece, and Turkey via planes, trains, and automobiles.

Capri

Capri

Consider the taxi in Napoli as our driver popped onto and off of active trolley tracks all the while exclaiming, “Is okay, is okay.” Yes, the Naples National Archaeological Museum was worth it. The same can be said when Greek ferry system imploded during a soccer match.

After that, it took us three attempts to cross from Athens to Samos, then on to Selçuk on the Turkish mainland. Along the way, we experienced the plush travel of Turkish buses, 

Gateway to Ephesus' agora

Gateway to Ephesus’ agora

complete with attendants and hot towels, and the disrepair of their 1960’s trains. Visualize a midnight lurch to the bathroom with gaping holes in the floor.

Between worker strikes for trains leaving Italy, taxis in Athens, and ferries running aground, we developed resilience and our senses of humor. As with most pursuits, at some point you consign yourself to whatever passes for a higher power and go with it. Let the joy begin.

Bus to Cappadocia

Bus to Cappadocia

How have you developed hardiness during your travels? What mishaps turned into singular experiences?

Blue Mosque Dome

Blue Mosque Dome

 

 

Ancient kitchen - Pompeii

Ancient kitchen – Pompeii

Mustafa and I - Pamukkale

Mustafa and I – Pamukkale

Passage to the Perseia fountain in Mycenae

Passage to the Perseia fountain in Mycenae

Happy travelers in Pamukkale

Happy travelers in Pamukkale

Passageways: Breaking through to the other side by Janine Donoho

Snow gateWhile hiking in the snow today, a freestanding gate materialized from the mist. Not intended to protect livestock, this was another silly human attempt to restrict access. It clamored “mine, mine, mine” even as deer, coyote, and bobcat prints infringed on its periphery. My response? Gateways offer a way in—a transition between this side and the other. In other words, a call to adventure.Alhambra

EgyptWritten transitions elicit the same sense of excitement for me. No, I’m not talking about those boring, yet necessary, expressions that unify your opus via “and, whereas, because, yet, immediately…” Yawn. I’m more interested in the movement between one action and the next, which eventually develops as conflict, plot, and story arc. Those, I want to be dynamic, elegant, and somewhat imperceptible.

Now back to corporeal entryways. During international journeys, each culture’s approach to either invitation or deterrent fed my curiosity. Thus I’ve filled albums, both virtual and concrete, with photos of portals between one space and another. What insights I’ve gained animate my writing.Malaysian gate 17

Essaouira, MoroccoSo enjoy this visual of portals. May they rouse your inquisitiveness and make you want to explore what’s on the other side. Our efforts as storytellers aspire to invite readers in, after all, and travels to the other side can enrich that experience.GatesMoroccan doorCasablanca

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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