Yesterday morning, I passed by the kitchen counter thinking, “I need a fortune today.”  We keep a bowl of fortune cookies there, because you never know when you’re going to need one.  I opened my cookie and read, “Your hard work is about to pay off.  Congratulations!”.  A true fortune indeed.

I went into work to find an email from my brother – the Travella Guides website is…..UP!

So, if you’ve been following my blogs, you learned that I accidentally deleted the first week of posts.  I apologize to you loyal readers who’ve heard all this before, but I’d like to tell the story of how Travella Guides was created again (with some added insight). 

The picture on this blog was taken at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.  We decided to go on a family vacation last Thanksgiving and make the most of it by visiting several national parks along the way.  Several days of several hours in the car – it was Ella’s first road trip. 

We were going to be driving through beautiful country…Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, and I didn’t want Ella to be mesmerized by her portable dvd player and video games! So, I created a binder full of state-by-state activities.  She followed our route on maps, learned about each state’s history and came up with funny fill-in-the-blank stories that made learning fun. She was completely engaged in the trip, and those long hours in the car turned into fun, discussion-filled adventures.

I was strongly encouraged by Greg and a few key friends to market the idea, and I started on this journey.  Ella and I visited our local library at least once a week - our arms filled with kids’ books on each state. I asked Ella to point out the things she thought was “cool” about each state and we designed the pages with that in mind.  We tackled the states alphabetically and it took over seven months to complete all the research and design the pages (over 1,000 pages of information!).  We also created general travel games and answer keys, as well as keepsake pages. 

What an adventure!! I am so grateful to my brother, Jeremy Porter, for designing and creating the website and for Ray Batts and Mark Roth, whose creative input and constant enthusiasm helped keep my head up. I also appreciated the help of the Short family – their son Joseph gave Travella Guides a test drive on a family vacation this summer.  Of course, I couldn’t have done it with out Greg and Ella.  This is a team sport – no doubt about it!

So, here it is….it’s out there. What a great adventure, filled with great vistas, wrong turns, unexpected treasures and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.  Now, I am focused on the families out there and their road trips…I hope Travella Guides will help bring back the American road trip where kids are engaged and inquisitive and families make the most of every minute together.

Happy Trails!


Dear Hammock,

You look lovely and peaceful slightly rocking in the breeze.  Nearly everyday I see you from my living room window, snugly attached to two large trees in my backyard. You look so inviting and so lonely. I’m sorry.

Yes, I know. It’s been awhile. You came to me with Greg – over 18 years ago.  When you hung in our Minneapolis city yard, you were used almost daily in the Summer.  You supported me for hours when our little Ella was in my belly; rocking back and forth in the shade on those hot Minneapolis days.

Now, you sit empty.  Abandoned.  When I look at you, I know I should take a break from these busy times.  I know I should take a good book with me and get lost with you.  But there is just so much to do!

So, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for the lack of use and I’m also sorry for leaving you out the past few winters. Lake-effect snow is not good for hammocks, I know.

Wait! – you have been used lately! Ella and her neighborhood friends swing you violently with one girl at a time in your netting…so close to flipping. My heart nearly stops as I spy from the living room.  I close my eyes as Ella is swung so high she’s almost facing the ground…Wait…do I hear crying?  All must be ok -only laughing and screams of enjoyment. I can open my eyes.

So, is this better than nothing? I wonder. You seem like such a peaceful fellow, floating there. Is this attention better than none at all? For now, I’ll assume it is until I hear otherwise. 

And I promise to bring you in this Winter.

Happy Fall Breezes,

Your friend

Lake Macatawa
Ok, so maybe this isn’t the view from my front porch or my bedroom window…let me explain.

Have you ever gone on vacation somewhere beautiful and think, “I wonder what it would be like to live here”?  I do it all the time.  In fact, I wonder that just about every place I go.  I had one of those moments this weekend, but I wasn’t on vacation.

We had a nice, relaxing Saturday. The weather was grey and cold in the morning, so we skipped most of our plans and hung around the house.  Greg smoked a pork shoulder on the grill and I made bread.  We watched college football and Ella played with the neighborhood kids.  Right before dinner, the sun made its first appearance of the day.  It turned into a beautiful autumn evening, and we decided to take a walk.

But, where to go? I didn’t feel like walking down the cul-de-sacs of our neighborhood. I had heard of a new trail near the State Park in our town, so we decided to try it. The sign said, “Mt. Pisgah,” and we started climbing…and climbing…and climbing.  Wow.  Situated between Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa, this trail ascended through the trees and we were treated to pure beauty.

I looked at Greg and said, “This is where we live.”  I had that feeling like I was on vacation – only I really do get to live here. This trail is maybe ten miles from my actual house. That moment, I made a vow that I would appreciate where I am and see things with new eyes.  It’s like being on vacation everyday. What can you see with new eyes?

www.travellaguides.com (coming VERY soon!)

Hello! I just wanted to say thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the new format. Please leave comments!!  Also, due to my fingers working faster than my brain this morning, I've actually deleted all my previous posts (only 7 days of them).  So, while I sort-of want to cry about it, I also realize they are gone and there's nothing I can do about it.  Thanks for being on this journey with me. I appreciate it more than you know!

When Ella and I were up visiting my dad in late August, he took us on an Earthwalk.  We didn't really know what it was, but since then, I've heard other names for it; namely an awareness walk. 

I'm no expert on it, but the idea is to take a walk in a natural area and really listen to the sounds and feel the spirit of the Earth.  You can ask a specific question or just wait to hear a message.  It's basically walking meditation, because you are in the 'here and now' every second.

So, Ella and I decided to go on an Earthwalk.  We chose a system of trails near our house and set out to be at peace with nature. 

Now, the first walk (at my dad's) was pretty hard for Ella. She did great, but for that 7 year old to stop talking (you must be silent for the entire time) was quite a challenge (and for those of you who know me, it was no 'walk in the park' either).  But, it was worth it. There was a great feeling afterwards, and we wanted to recapture that during our second try.

We drove to the trail system and parked the car.  We set out into the woods and counted to three. 1....2....3...silence.

"Mom, isn't this pretty?"
"Mom, do you think maybe we could go on a bike ride later?"
"Mom, do you think there are fish in that lake?

This wasn't working....yet, it was. We decided that it wouldn't be an Earthwalk, just a mom-daughter walk. And, I'm so glad we did.  We had a great time and talked about so many things. We talked about our concerns and things that had happened to us recently. We were both completely in the moment.

It was just meditation of a different kind.

Have a great day everyone!!


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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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