A to Z: Oh, The Places I’ve Been

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I always seem to miss the official A to Z thingy that goes on in the writing world each year, and I always play catch up and do my own version at some point. Sometimes I spin it up in a month, sometimes a few weeks. This time it might take a while longer, but I’ll get there. I thought I’d base my own version of the challenge on places that I’ve visited that have inspired me in some way and/or made it into one of my books. So, we’re off on a grand adventure beginning at the beginning with…A.

Four places that come to mind right off the bat, and which I could probably write days about, that begin with A include: Arizona, Appalachia, the aquarium, and Astoria, Oregon.

I absolutely love, love, love the aquarium! And I’ve been to more than a few. Some were good, a few were fantastic, and a couple were absolutely appalling. We won’t discuss the appalling because that’s just negative talk and I’ve recently deemed all my spaces negative free zones. Bam! Are you listening universe? Negative. Free. Zones. I digress. Back to the aquariums. North Carolina has multiple aquariums two of which we frequented quite often when we lived down east on the coast: Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Fisher. Both are fantastic and both boast super cool activities for the littles from touching pools to hands on things that teach them how to respect and nurture the beach and ocean environment. I’ve also been to the aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a great facility, but I was surprised it wasn’t larger. However, it was still loads of fun. The best aquarium I’ve ever been to inland is in Springfield, Missouri at the Bass Pro Shops. Fantastic place! Their shark tank is bar none. While MarshFox was stationed abroad during one of the Gulf campaigns for a year, I opted to move home for a few months. When I was missing the ocean dearly, I’d go there and sit in front of the shark tank and soak in some good vibes. Aquariums. Find one. Go there. Enjoy! Oh! You might be wondering how that has anything to do with my writing. You might notice when you read my novels, I usually mention water more than once and most often the water is salty. When I can’t hit the beach for inspiration, a nearby aquarium will do.

“Appalachia is made up of 423 counties across 13 states and spans 206,000 square miles, from southern New York to northern Mississippi. The Region’s 26 million residents live in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and all of West Virginia.”

Per About the Appalachian Region – Appalachian Regional Commission (arc.gov)

I am well versed in Appalachia. We’ve traveled through all but three states which make up the Appalachian chain: Alabama, Mississippi, and New York. And I have every intention of rectifying that situation as they are all on my bucket list. Several places from a few of those states have made it into one or more of my novels. I use Fort Campbell, Kentucky as part of the back drop of Just One Tear. Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point have both made it into my books and a bar and grill in Maryland is mentioned more than once in The Delaneys of Delaware books. Traveling throughout Appalachia has enriched my life in so many ways. It’s introduced me to many subcultures and so much great entertainment, natural beauty, and awesome food. I highly recommend traveling along the trail if you ever get the chance. Do it slowly and with intention. Stop and smell the posies and talk to the locals. You will not regret it.

Astoria, Oregon. In case you weren’t aware, The Goonies was filmed there. I’ve talked about this a few times here so I won’t go into great detail again today, but my first “official” date with MarshFox involved a VHS tape of The Goonies, a Dominoes pizza, and my six-year-old son. If not for MarshFox being such an awesome provider, the chance to pursue my dream of writing and being published most likely would never have become a reality. And it all started with a movie and a pizza. Astoria was Amazing! It was so much fun traveling around town and seeing all the places from the movie. We even got to go up to the Goonies house and the owner came out and took our picture together. Such a great memory.

Last, but not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I’ve been through and stopped to see the sights in Arizona. While the state nor the sights have managed to make their way into a story to date, their day is coming. Arizona is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to go back and take some more notes along the way, and lots and lots more pictures. And eat more tacos.

MarshFox and I love to travel. We had to slow down long enough for him to finish his degree after he retired so he could go to work in the EMS field, then of course the lockdowns kept us close to home for a few months. But, now that we’ve become settled from our most recent move, I feel the travel bug biting again. We’ve been planning some trips and expanding the bucket list. We’ve located a chicken sitter and house sitter, and we couldn’t be more excited to get back out on the road and explore.

What about you? Do you enjoy traveling? Where are some of the places you’ve been that start with A?

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