At home with the kids or grandkids?
If we can’t travel to a favorite hotel, resort, restaurant or ranch, we can always pretend.
Here are five ways to create a virtual vacation in your own home.
Whether you set up a tent in the backyard or the bedroom, with a little imagination you can enjoy all the fun of a real camping trip without spending travel time! Create a campfire using flashlights under a towel or thin blanket. Listen to the sounds of your own backyard or create an alternate sound track featuring birds, waterfalls, streams or trees rustling via a music or meditation app. Tell stories around your campfire, sample s’mores, sing songs and plan for your next adventure.
Pro Tip: REI offers advice for introducing kids to the outdoors through camping in your own yard and beyond.
Enjoy a Spa Day. (Or Week)
Channel the services of a famous resort spa and pamper yourselves at home. Give family members the chance to reserve a manicure, masque, foot or head massage, a salt or sugar scrub, a relaxing soak or whichever services your creative minds concoct. Craft a soothing play list via your favorite music app, gather candles and supplies from your own beauty stash, your kitchen and you’re good to go!
The Arawak Spa, at Belmond Cap Juluca on the Caribbean island of Anguilla recommends a detoxifying soak to ease the tension of these stressful times.
Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. If possible, crush or grind the tea leaves to open up natural oils in the plant and allow it to mix well with the salts. Once combined, run a hot bath and add 3 tablespoons of the mixture to the water. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes.
The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe suggests this post-winter scrub which makes use of pine needles reported to be both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.
Take turns playing Executive Chef and encourage every member of the family to play a role. Plan for various theme nights that might include an island luau, a ranch cook-out, mountain meadow picnic fare, a safari sundowner or a Mexican fiesta. Encourage the kids to make their own menus, placemats and other décor. Choose music to suit the “destination”.
Pro Tip: &BEYOND’s Wildchild Hub offers recipes, reading and activities to bring Africa home to your children.
4. Host a Happy Hour.
Don’t let social distancing requirements keep you from staying in touch (virtually) with family and friends. Plan a “happy hour” video call and encourage the group to join you in a toast to future family travels.
Pro tip: Serve a kid-friendly mocktail like the one offered by restaurant ZuZu in Scottsdale, AZ’s Hotel Valley Ho.
4 oz. blood orange juice
6 fresh raspberries
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 oz. LaCroix grapefruit sparkling water
Combine the blood orange juice (regular orange juice also works well with this recipe if blood oranges are not available), simple syrup, and raspberries in a shaker, then muddle. Strain and pour into a glass; top with LaCroix and garnish with an orange slice and a raspberry.
The Morning Dew Mocktail
Fill rocks glass with ice and stir. Add cranberry juice and mint and basil simple syrup into a cocktail mixer. Shake and strain into the rocks glass. Top with soda water, and add mint leaf and cranberries to garnish.
5. Your Fitness Center
Take turns leading a yoga or Pilates class. Choose from a wide variety of exercise classes available online. Venture out for a fitness walk.
Consider taking the kids on a “bear hunt”, by walking through your neighborhood in search of teddy bears placed in the windows of neighboring homes. The idea of creating window-based scenes using teddy bears and rainbows, is spreading around the world. If it hasn’t reached your area, perhaps you and your family can help expand the trend. #BearHunt.
Pro Tip: Tara Cruz, Senior Spa Director at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown recommends starting each day with simple stretches, breathing exercises and positive thoughts to stay healthy during challenging times.
For now, we can be armchair travelers.
We can dream, imagine and plan. Here are five places where beautiful scenery, wide open spaces and compelling adventures await.
One of the least populated countries in the world, Namibia begs to be explored. From the capital city of Windhoek to the stark Skeleton Coast, you’ll find a timeless landscape where desert-adapted wildlife – elephants, lions and the rare, black rhino – share the vast landscape with birds, antelopes, cape foxes and brown hyenas. Drive through barren moonscapes and search for small herds of Hartmann’s zebras or find pink flamingos and other migratory birds in a coastal wetland. Hike up Namibia’s highest ochre-colored sand dune and watch the sunset before slip-sliding down. Few people and sparse development translate into a magnificent display of stars. Don’t forget to look up.
Discover the Wonders of Palau
This Pacific archipelago, made up of 500 islands is one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, and home to more than 1,300 species of fish and 700 species of coral. During your visit to this aquatic wonderland you can paddle and snorkel amid the multi-colored brain coral of the Rock Islands, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Hike to waterfalls, dive amid sharks, giant manta rays, turtles and bright blue starfish, and kayak in caves, through mangroves and to hidden lagoons. History lovers will find the WWII heritage compelling.
Adventure in Alaska.
Our sparsely populated and endlessly captivating 49th state lures those who yearn for epic scenery, spouting whales and glaciers the size of small countries. Experience family travel in rugged Alaska by road and rail, via boutique yachts and expedition ships that set sail for adventure beginning each Spring.
Aboard smaller vessels you’ll have meaningful cultural experiences, find your way to natural nooks and crannies, opt for hiking and kayaking and discover rarely visited wilderness areas, increasing the chance for up-close wildlife viewing. Those who venture to America’s last frontier will be rewarded with Mother Nature in all her glory. In the short term, visit the state’s inspirational website to order your free travel planning guide.
Saddle up at the Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Mont.
Just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park’s northwest border, in the shadow of Lone Peak, you’ll find a cluster of hand-built cabins. Authentic and luxurious, the historic accommodations, tucked creekside, in the pine trees or in meadows, help visitors conjure the days when the property was a working cattle ranch, operating in untamed country. Then, like now, the region is home to stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, bison and wolves. In the company of guides or on your own, adventurers have the chance to fish Blue Ribbon trout streams and explore the last best place via horseback, Nordic and downhill skis, snowshoes and on the many hiking trails in the area.
Explore the North Shore from Grand Marais, Minn.
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this friendly, harborside village blends an artistic, creative vibe with an adventurous spirit. Home to nationally renowned artist schools and galleries, Grand Marais also serves as the gateway to the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hike Pincushion Mountain, set sail on Superior or bike along the shoreline. Plan a side trip down the 57-mile, historic Gunflint Trail, from which you’ll have the option to paddle across glacier-carved lakes, hike through ancient forests, fish for Walleye and sample Northwoods hospitality.
Consumer advocate, author and journalist Chris Elliott has found an effective strategy for securing refunds when your travels take a wrong turn.
Among the techniques he's developed through years of experience is called the three “P’s.” According to Elliott, it works great on refunds, including airline refunds.
For starters, advises Elliott, use credit cards to pay whenever possible, keep a paper trail if you submit a request for a refund and be ready to appeal your case if necessary.
Further, he recommends keeping these three things in mind.
Give the company at least a week to respond to your refund request, says Elliott, and two credit card billing cycles to pay you.
Don’t let months pass by without letting the company know that your money is still missing, he advises. If necessary, set a calendar reminder so that you don’t forget.
Angry demands for a refund and threats to take a company to court almost always backfire, suggests Elliott. The company may refer your case to its legal department, where it could linger for weeks or months.
Final advice: "Be nice!"
For more about this topic and how Christopher Elliott works to help travelers, visit his site here.
Subdue the stresses of a modern world by including spa and wellness options in your family vacation planning. Here are five ideas to consider.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Bali
For the most peaceful snooze of your life, opt for the Sacred Nap, offered in an open-air setting within this jungle resort’s Sacred River Spa. Designed by on-site Wellness Mentor Ibu Fera, the experience was inspired by rocking her own baby to sleep. Simulating the batik sling used by Balinese mothers, guests relax into aerial silk hammocks, most commonly used for antigravity yoga. Fera visits each participant, gently nudging the hammocks into a rocking motion, before quietly telling the life story of Buddha, chanting mantras and adding the soothing sound of the singing bowl for more sacred energy. Most, fall asleep within their cozy cocoon before her story ends. Fera also works with guests to create individual wellness programs, sharing techniques for living mindfully and with a loving heart, some of which she learned during seven years as a Buddhist nun.
Pronghorn Resort, Bend, Ore.
Set amid ancient juniper groves in Central Oregon’s high desert, this resort, near Bend, a mecca for outdoor lovers, offers multiple ways to pursue your wellness goals. Spend a day at the full-service spa, sampling restorative services. Take a meditative approach to a round of golf on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course, or ponder the meaning of darkness during a tour of the on-property cave. Visit the wellness Teepee for yoga classes, music-enhanced, guided meditations, crystal guidance workshops and herbal tastings. Stay in vacation rentals or the newly opened 104-room Huntington Lodge where panoramic views of the Cascade mountains will take your breath away.
The Lodge at Vail, Vail, Colo.
For a unique, whole body experience climb into the Dream Pod Float Tank at the Rock Resort spa tucked within this slopeside hideaway. Designed as an alternative or compliment to a massage, you’ll step into the womb-like environment where the water is heated to skin temperature. Thanks to a hefty amount of Epsom salt, you’ll easily float and quickly relax, without the usual sound, light and other distractions that keep us focused outwardly. Floaters report a deep sense of relaxation after the zen-like treatment. Committed to an eco-conscious approach, the spa also offers indigenous massages and wraps, facials, and other treatments using organic ingredients.
Acqualina Resort, Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.
A one of kind wellness experience, the Acqualina Spa by ESPA’s Sound Care Ritual treatment, blends the therapeutic powers of music and massage. The relaxing journey begins with a foot massage during which guests review music choices via an IPad and custom, sound-blocking headphones. Options include original music compositions from classical and new age to Latin and reggae as well as the natural sounds of the ocean or rainforests. The French-based music application is reported to provide natural calm and aid with sleep disorders, stress and anxiety. Later, build sand castles on the beach or relax aside one of three oceanfront swimming pools.
Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale, Ariz
Choose from the Jet Set Crowd menu to sample treatments that will transcend your location and provide an international flavor to the spa experience. Envelop yourself in the Helsinki Nature treatment during which guests benefit from a mist of cloud milk, white peat exfoliant and a wild-harvested Arctic berry wrap reported to replenish the skin. Try out a Turkish Hammam experience sure to cleanse, exfoliate, mist and massage or go for a soothing Hawaiin style Lomi Lomi massage. Make time to visit the hotel’s hip OH pool, surrounded by colorful chaise lounges. Consider an on-site walking tour to learn about the hotel's Hollywood history and its iconic mid-century modern design.
Embark on a journey of discovery and understanding when you and your family visit these destinations and landmarks that play a part in the American civil rights story.
Here are six to consider:
National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Ala.
Open since April, 2018, the six-acre memorial was conceived with the hope of creating a meaningful site where people could gather, learn and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality. Using sculpture, art and design to contextualize racial terror, the outdoor memorial, as well as the nearby Legacy Museum, were the inspiration of Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Both are designed to provide comprehensive content about the legacy of slavery through contemporary issues including the mass incarceration of African-American men and the current proliferation of mass shootings. .
Located .07 miles apart, a shuttle service runs between the museum and the memorial.
Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, Alabama.
"In 1955, when I was arrested... I had no way of knowing what the future held,” observed the woman who would become known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement when this museum was named in her honor. Set in front of the bus stop where the historic moment took place, the Rosa Parks Museum features a video reenactment of her refusal to give up her seat to a white man and other interactive presentations. A children’s wing provides age appropriate history lessons for youngsters.
Rising on the banks of the historic Potomac River, Alexandria, founded in 1746, is steeped in African-American history. Visit the city to seek an understanding of civil rights from colonial times to the Civil War, illuminated by a compelling collection of sites. Originally the segregated library for Alexandria's African American residents, the Black History museum documents the local and national African American experience through exhibits, speakers and interactive programs. Visit the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center to learn about those enslaved at nearby Mount Vernon. This exhibit explores the household furnishings, art works, archaeological discoveries, documents, and demonstrates how closely intertwined the lives of the Washington family members were with those they enslaved. Walking tours of Old Town Alexandria, offered by Manumission Tour Company, provide additional insight by sharing little-known stories from the era of slave trade.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington DC.
Families can seek ongoing inspiration from the words and work of clergyman and civil rights leader, Dr. King, through a visit to this monument in West Potomac Park. The memorial, located adjacent to the National Mall near the FDR Memorial and framing views of the Tidal Basin, features quotes extracted from his eloquent speeches emphasizing four of King’s primary messages: justice, democracy, hope and love. Site tours and Junior Ranger badge activities are available and can help extend the experience for children.
The story of slavery and African-American culture in Natchez is one of the most complex threads of the city’s multi-faceted history. Visitors can delve into the past at the Museum of African American History & Culture on Main St. Consider a double-decker bus tour (hop on and hop off at various locations) that launches at the Natchez Visitors Center and rolls through the Southern town, passing by many of the most significant landmarks. Narration is provided from the point of view of two slaves who lived during the difficult era when slave trading at local slave markets was a part of daily life.
The National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN.
The museum complex includes the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as well as the building where James Earl Ray fired the shot. The museum seeks to open a dialogue about a history that spans the dark era of slavery through the modern Civil Rights Movement. A family guide is offered to assist adults in discussing the sensitive topics and events that are addressed within the museum.
Get in on the not-so-spooky fun for families with Great Wolf Lodge's annual Howl-O-Ween celebration.
Guests are encouraged to don costumes and join in daily activities, from monster bash dance parties and fall-fun crafting projects, to a trick-or-treat trail filled with interactive games and adventures that snakes throughout the resort. A fall tradition, families are sure to enjoy the spooky spirit at Great Wolf Lodge.
Howl, hop and hustle around Great Wolf Lodge as the Grand Lobby transforms into a spooktacular extravaganza complete with pumpkins and festive decorations. During Howl-O-Ween, guests can partake in complimentary programs including Twisted & Tangled, where children follow the spinner and try to stay on their feet to get a treat and be declared the winner. Guests can also enjoy Boo Bingo where five in a row gets them a bingo and yelling “boo” is the winning lingo.
Howl-O-Ween favorites include the Costume Parade, where children showcase their favorite costumes during an event in the Grand Lobby, and then attend a Monster Bash Dance Party.
On the Trick-Or-Treat Trail kids can play interactive games and collect candy at stops located throughout the Lodge. The trail features a Teal Pumpkin stop, offering a Great Wolf Lodge non-food treat for guests with food allergies, or parents looking to avoid too many sweets. There are also Howl-O-Ween overlays to the children’s activities throughout the season, including Spooktacular Story Time, Critter Cartoons, and Paws On Projects feature arts and crafts with a silly, not-so scary twist.
Other highlights of Howl-O-Ween include:
In addition to two days of play in the water park for each night stayed at Great Wolf Lodge, all the Howl-O-Ween activities are included for no extra charge. Activities vary daily and by location. A complete listing of daily activities and times can be found in the Lodge Life event schedule provided to guests upon check-in, verified in advance at GreatWolf.com or by calling the location directly.
Discover a new waterfront where your family can enjoy fresh air, tasty food and each other’s good company. Here are seven places to consider:
Head to the end of Long Island, just beyond the famed Hamptons, for a relaxed experience in a beachy enclave where fishermen, surfers, urban hipsters and families easily mix in the salty air. Stroll along the docks to witness (and later sample) the arrival of the day's fresh catch, as tony yachts and the occasional sightseeing boat, spouting the area's seafaring history, inch into the harbor. Stay at the historic Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina, where all things nautical will serve as your holiday backdrop. A children's playground, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and fishing expeditions provide plenty of opportunity for family fun. Head to the wide stretch of Atlantic Ocean beach a few miles away where you can watch surfers take on the world-famous wave action. Stop in to the Sloppy Tuna’s roof top deck, just steps from the sand, for a beverage, a lobster roll and one of the best views around.
Contact: www.discoverlongisland.com; www.GurneysResorts.com
Grand Marais, Minn.
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this friendly, harborside village blends an artistic, creative vibe with an adventurous spirit. Home to nationally renowned artist schools and galleries, Grand Marais also serves as the gateway to the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hike Pincushion Mountain, set sail on Superior or bike along the shoreline. Plan a side trip down the historic Gunflint Trail where you’ll have the option to paddle across glacier-carved lakes, hike through ancient forests, fish for Walleye and sample Northwoods hospitality.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Ind.
Geocaching is a favorite activity of families who choose to explore this 15,000-acre Midwestern lakeshore. Be on the lookout for the rare Karner blue butterfly. Climb over dunes, along rivers and through wetlands as you choose from 50 miles of meandering trails where 1,100 native plants flourish. Take the Succession trail to the top of a dune for a view of the Chicago skyline. Kayak via the Lake Michigan Water Trail or claim your spot along the 15-mile stretch of sandy beach.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Decades ago, this spirited Maryland city bolstered a movement to transform industrial waterfronts into tourist meccas where restaurants, shops and appealing attractions would soon energize the local economy. Today, visitors flock to the Inner Harbor, which serves the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., bordered by the Susquehanna River on the north and the Atlantic Ocean on the south. Family travel plans often include a visit to the National Aquarium, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and feasting on the region's famous blue crabs, oysters and clams.
Contact: www.visitmaryland.org; www.baltimore.org; www.aqua.org
Half Moon Bay, Calif.
This small enclave is an ideal spot for a relaxing coastal getaway. Sample Dungeness crab and other seafood offered by local fishermen. Visit the historic main street for shopping, galleries and restaurants where nearby farms showcase their fresh offerings. The state's magnificent redwood forest is a short drive away. There, you and your family can hike and picnic under the canopy of awe-inspiring trees. Stay in small seaside inns or more luxurious cliffside digs.
Facing the Inside Passage on the state's southeastern coast, this rugged frontier town welcomes visitors from cruise ships as well as other adventurers, eager to hear tales of the gold rush and to observe local wildlife. Visit the Tongass Historical Museum, the Totem Heritage Center and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center to learn about the area's earliest residents -- the native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, many of which are scattered throughout town.
Founded in 1670, this Southern city and its scenic harbor provide an appealing blend of old and new. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and stories of Civil War-era prominence, beckon history lovers. Meanwhile, a burgeoning food scene, stunning beaches, nearby plantations, a top-notch aquarium and hip hotels nudge families to experience both. The Waterfront Park offers an ideal place to relax after an active day. As colorful sailboats and ocean-worthy ships slip in and out of the harbor, take note of nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out across the water.
Here are destinations to consider:
Westgate River Ranch, River Ranch, Fla.
You'll be just an hour from Orlando but feel a world away when you arrive at the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. Situated on 1,700 acres of wilderness in Florida's cattle country, the ranch offers a menu of lodging options that include glamping-style tents, lodge rooms and two-bedroom cabins. Opt for horse and pony rides, airboat excursions, miniature golf, nature hikes and zip lining. You'll want to take in the Saturday night rodeo, campfires, cookouts, hayrides and a weekly street party.
Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colo.
Choose your season and relish the peace and tranquility you'll find at this historic ranch. With never-ending views along the Continental Divide, choose from snowshoeing, tubing, cross-country skiing and fat biking in pristine winter conditions. The summer months offer top-notch horseback riding on over 200 miles of trail, cattle drives, hiking and mountain biking for the active members of your family. For those eager to relax, settle in on the porch for a card game, in a meadow or near a crackling fire with a book or puzzle at the ready.
Lone Mountain Ranch, Big Sky, Mont.
Just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone National Park’s northwest border, in the shadow of Lone Peak, you’ll find a cluster of hand-built cabins. Authentic and luxurious, the historic accommodations, tucked creekside, in the pine trees or in meadows, help visitors conjure the days when the property was a working cattle ranch, operating in untamed country.
Then, like now, the region is home to stunning vistas, and abundant wildlife including grizzlies, black bears, bison and wolves. In the company of guides or on your own, adventurers have the chance to fish Blue Ribbon trout streams and explore the last best place via horseback, Nordic and downhill skis, snowshoes and on the many hiking trails in the area.
White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Ariz.
Family-owned and -operated, this working cattle ranch is known for award-winning service, exceptional riding opportunities and a family-friendly atmosphere. Ride amid towering saguaros and enjoy moonlit bonfires, hay rides, fat tire biking, cowboy entertainment, astronomy shows, Western dance lessons and a weekly rodeo where family members can admire the roping, barrel racing and steer wrestling skills of local wranglers.
Whether you’re a devoted cyclist or a leisure rider, a wonderful way to experience a new destination is by bicycle. Cycling is more popular than ever, and the trend of exploring far-off destinations by bike is on the rise. An array of companies across the globe offer guided cycling tours of varying lengths, locations, price points, and surfaces. Here are six exceptional experiences hosted by top-notch operators, ranging from epic road rides across Europe to leisurely tours in Cajun Country and from gravel grinders in Tuscany to high-altitude mountain bike excursions in New Zealand.
This new cycling tour from Grasshopper Adventures is the essential discovery trip of Thailand, Cambodia and the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. It includes a wide variety of dynamic riding, ranging from single-lane bike trails to remote backroads through the countryside. The itinerary includes must-sees, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Archaeological Park, the Silk Islands and Cai Rang Floating Market.
Cycle of Life Adventures’ New Orleans Big Easy Bike Tour includes riding the routes of the Mardi Gras Parade, exploring historic neighborhoods with lavish 300-year-old mansions, overnighting in plantation houses draped by live oaks, biking the levees on the Mississippi River Trail and pedaling along Lake Pontchartrain.
Get off the beaten track and into New Zealand’s wild, dramatic landscapes on a mountain bike tour of the South Island with H+I Adventures. This trip takes riders from coastal cliffs near Christchurch to the flowing singletrack of Craigieburn, the rainforest and ridgelines of the Old Ghost Road, the technical trails of Alexandra and, finally, the descents around Queenstown.
Ride & Seek, an adventure cycling company offering itineraries that follow in the footsteps of historical figures, is thrilled to announce The Marco Polo Expedition. This epic cycling tour leads riders 1,900 km from Venice to Athens, Greece. Guests will cycle down the coast from Italy through Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece.
Ride to waterfalls, lakes and Inca ruins during the day, and stay in classic haciendas each night on a tour of the foothills around Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park with Adventure Life. At the end of the trip, take on the thrilling descent of Cotopaxi Volcano itself into the valley below.
Cycle Tuscany’s historic gravel roads on a new eight-day cycling trip that crisscrosses Italy’s famous Chianti region. The trip, offered by Tourissimo and Ride & Seek, passes through medieval hilltop towns and by abbeys, wineries and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Be ready for steep climbs and winding descents when you join this trip.
NPR celebrates the power of poetry and place with this beautiful crowdsourced poem.
Where I'm From: AMorning Edition Crowdsourced Poem of Remembering
I am from travelers and adventure
from "Be seen, not heard!"
from ritual and plainsong
from England and exile
from mint sauce and lamb.
I am from casseroles and canned tuna
Kennedys and Saturday morning cartoons
I am from Tang in a Daffy Duck glass
from wall phones with mangled cords stretched during private calls in a room too far
I come from popcorn ceilings
dining rooms of glossy mahogany
I am from bed sheets
Draped over our dining room chairs.
from the trees Littering the backyard
The sweet taste of mulberries Staining my fingers red
I'm from big hats under rainbow umbrellas
Buckets of wet sand and unstable castles
I'm from orange and vanilla custard
with a pizza slice the size of your chest
From hot July days and cool summer nights
I am from Sunday night pizza and Monday Night Football
I am from marbles
From empanadas cooking in the street
I am from orchids and mango trees
I am from la torta tres leches and ruana
I am from happy and serious
From hard work and sweat
I'm from grit, respect, and discipline.
from big family reunions and endless laughs.
I am from houses never locked
from the projects in Brooklyn
and dominoes in the park
I am from salsa and the car horns blaring
I am from diners and malls and accents that put an "aw" in coffee.
from silky lingerie and sweat socks, bruised knuckles and scars I gave myself
from longing to be someone, somewhere else.
I am from a mother who was still a girl;
whose beauty kept her shy
I am from dirt and fences
from strength and toughness
I am from ashes flicked into the tray
the despair of divorce
bonds gone unappreciated
eviction and being thrown away
running and begging to stay
I am from a little girl who just needed a break
I am from a time when my mother went to the hospital and never came back;
when my toys were in a box by the curb as we drove away.
I am from singing in the darkness of night
Putting myself to sleep with the sound of my own voice.
I am from playing backyard baseball with tennis balls, Wiffle balls, even roundish gourds.
from weekend sleep-overs
from orange push-ups
from fallen leaves kicked up in swirls on walks to school,
from early morning radio announcements of a snow day — no school!
I am from the South and the North.
from immigrant grandparents and Civil War soldiers.
I am from the red dirt clay of Virginia
From the sounds of the fiddle to the beauty of a choir
From the jig and the reel
to the cloggers and the dancers.
From collard greens and fat back,
chitterlings and white bread
I'm from hymns learned on Sundays,
hypocrisy displayed on Mondays.
I am from Tom Petty
and baby oil in the hot sun
rye bread and salami.
I am from black cows,
tacos, bicycles, and
The gentle lure of crickets.
I am from James Brown and Santana.
from Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon
and Crystal Blue Persuasion.
I am from endless steps,
from California and Texas, and Durango, Colorado.
From unknown ancestors of the ancient Southwest,
cliff-dwellers and puebloans.
I am from the earth --
from from cityscapes and sleepy suburbs
from cicada clicks and firefly sparks
from the call of books and breathing through struggles.
I am from you
and you are from me
We are love
We are home
We are from this day forward.