Friday, November 6, 2020

Going and Gone: Secret Subject Swap


Secret Subject Swap, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

Welcome a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.


My subject is: What was your best/worst vacation? Tell us about both.
It was submitted by: Rena of Wandering Web Designer.

I know many people who could answer that question in a hot minute. For me, that would be really hard. I've traveled quite a bit and each time there was something spectacular about the destination. Even when the trips were for business, there was always time to explore, mingle with the locals and have fun. 

As far as a worst vacation goes, I can't say that I've ever really had a full bad vacation experience. There certainly have been some difficulties, mostly with travel. My top three:

Taking off in a very small plane with my sister for the jump over to St. Croix. Just as the wheels lift off my sister laughs and points out the window "ha, ha, look, there's your luggage on the tarmac." I pointed and answered "ha, ha, that's yours next to mine."

A real travel nightmare was when we were flying home from Marco Island, just me and the boys, who were little. Flights were delayed and canceled, I can't remember why. I stood in line for over an hour, staring the whole time at the boys sitting in airport seats to be sure they didn't wander off (thank goodness for hand held games). When it was my turn, they put me on an alternate flight through Dallas/Ft. Worth. I begged them, "please, if there is any chance I'll get stuck overnight with two very little boys, tell me now, I'll go back to my mom's tonight and try again tomorrow." They assured me I would make it home tonight.

You know what happened, right? 2:00 am I'm stuck in a hotel line with not only cranky boys but a whole lot of cranky adults (me included). They would not give us our luggage so no clothes, contact lens cases or fluid, nothing. We slept in our clothes, got up before the butt-crack of dawn and made it home looking (and feeling) like zombies. The boys were angels, btw.
There was also a time when our vacation plans changed dramatically. The boys and I were again flying out to Marco Island to spend some time with my mom. The boys were about 6 and 7 years old. It was February, freezing cold in the Midwest and we were looking forward to the warm weather and the beach. The night before we were to leave, my grandfather died. Mom was flying home to Boston from Marco. I unpacked all of our summer clothes, repacked with winter clothes and we flew out to Boston instead.

But the good experiences far outweigh the bad, and that's the reason why I can't really pick a favorite. I can pick out some highlights, though, from some of my travels. First in the US:

California: doing a tour of wine country and finding new favorites.
Maine: the fresh lobstah, of course.
Vermont: learning to ski with my family.
Massachusetts: I thought, when I went to Nantucket Island, that I was going to spend a long weekend in a quaint New England bed and breakfast, didn't know I was going to end up engaged.
Nevada: Las Vegas always has something fun in store, but the Billy Joel, Elton John concert was the highlight of the trip.
Indiana: having PurDude show me around his school just a few months into his first semester.
Colorado: Breckenridge was my first time skiing on powder. Wow, what a difference from New England skiing.
Hawaii: the diverse scenery.
St. Croix (USVI): the beautiful Caribbean beaches.
Louisiana: the French Quarter at night, (though not as much fun as it could have been since I was pregnant and couldn't drink). And the beignets, even better than donuts (shhh, don't tell).

Baked Caramel Apple Donuts, bursting with apple, caramel and cinnamon Mix, bake, cool, and glaze, it’s that easy. | Recipe developed by | #bake #donuts

Baked Caramel Apple Donuts
Baked Caramel Apple Donuts, bursting with apple, caramel and cinnamon Mix, bake, cool, and glaze, it’s that easy. | Recipe developed by | #bake #donuts

And in some of the other countries I've been to: 

Mexico (Cozumel): snorkeling in the beautiful clear water. Fish every color of the rainbow. 
Israel: the history (certainly not the food), and the unique experience of floating in the dead sea.
Taiwan: dancing the night away with the locals in Taipei.
England: so much to see and do, but the highlight was seeing my brother graduate from Cambridge.
Venezuela: just getting away for a peaceful beach vacation with my mom and my sister.
Hong Kong: the shopping, the shopping and the shopping. I even worked with a tailor and designed some of my own clothes.
Montreal: the cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes of Old Montreal.
St. Lucia: The rain forest. And having a private pool outside the bedroom slider of our honeymoon suite.
Mexico (Cancun): parasailing for the first (OK, and so far only) time.

Parasailing in Cancun | Pictures property of
I know in the future I'll be able to answer at least what the best vacation was. It's the one I'm looking forward to now. One day, when it's safe, I will fly to Colorado with Hubs and College Boy. We'll finally get to see the condo PurDude has been living in for over a year. He'll show us around his new home town, parks, hiking trails, and Pearl Street with it's shopping and restaurants. He'll take us to Louisville so we can see where he works. We'll ski together for the first time since he learned to ski in Breckenridge all those years ago. And it will be the best, the absolute best, vacation ever.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Baked Caramel Apple Donuts

Printable Recipe

2 1/4 cups flour 
3/4 cup brown sugar 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp apple pie spice
4 TBSP canola oil
1 1/4 cups milk 
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 apple, cored, peeled and chopped 
1/2 cup caramel baking bits
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 TBSP apple juice
*Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 15 donut pan wells.
*Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp apple pie spice. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, vanilla and eggs.
*Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Add the apples and caramel baking bits and mix in briefly.
*Spoon into the prepared donut pans. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the center springs back to the touch.
*Run a knife gently around the sides of the donuts, then cool in the pans for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.
Whisk together the powdered sugar, remaining apple pie spice remaining cinnamon, and apple juice. Drizzle evenly over the cooled donuts.


  1. Ugh. Lost luggage. That's the worst. Although you make it funny!
    What glorious memories! I'm so glad Canada got a mention!
    Your future best vacation made me tear up. So many things on hold. So much to look forward to!

    1. Yes, that's how I'm looking at it, something to look forward to.

  2. Wow, very opposing experiences. I can relate to the flight disasters, and I'm happy for all of your wonderful destinations and foods (what, you didn't like the falafel?)

    Holding my fingers crossed that your Colorado trip is happening real soon :-) In the meantime, enjoy them donuts.

    1. Yes, I LOVED Falafel, but that was pretty much it in Israel, and it turns out you can't eat Falafel twice a day every day for a month. Well, at least I can't.

  3. You've certainly made some great memories! (And I agree with you about beignets versus donuts, especially the ones from Cafe du Monde).

  4. I am fascinated with your past! I had no idea that you had traveled that much. There is so many on your list that I one day want to visit, but anything by air I'm willing to give up! Not a fan of being stuck in a metal coffin for the time it would take to go to London and Ireland which is where I really want to go! I just pray I make it to Alaska one day.

  5. You have packed a lot of living into your trips. Been many more places than I have been. But what a lost luggage story you got out of your travels. I do hope to be able to visit some of these places I think the best vacation of all will be the one we take when COVID is over (or at least subdued). I should spend this winter compiling a list. Alana

    1. Yes, plenty of time now to get ready for when it's safe to travel again.

  6. Such a great post I am glad I dropped by

  7. Like you, i cannot say i've had a vacation that was a complete bust, they were all much more good than bad.

    If you ever get down to Lousiana again, let me know, i'll treat you to a meal at Drago's.

  8. I could eat a dozen. Like, right now.
    Carol Cassara

  9. Sorry to here about your bad vacation back in the day. Here’s hoping you have a lot of good ones ahead

  10. vacations...oh I remember vacations...feels like 40 years ago now we were allowed to do vacations. honestly after this year, i will never again take being able to leave my house for granted even if i just drive 2 hours away for the day.

    1. I hear you, so many things I took for granted. Never again.


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