Wow! number 10 already! And mind you, already two weeks ago I started to approach some fellow male travel blogger friends with my 10 questions and dared them to be the first male subject – to no avail. Which shows me that female writers are at least more punctual and / or more willing to share something of them self 🙂
Happy to introduce another traveling mama:
Shannon Hurst Lane
1) Who are you?
Sometimes I wonder the same thing and must admit that who I am seems to change with each decade. I’m a mother, a wife, a writer, and a Communications Officer for a nearby fire department. My name is Shannon Hurst Lane and I’m a Traveling Mama. I’m also and expert on my state of Louisiana and my portfolio and clips can found at Shannon Lane.
2) What do you like about what you do?
I really enjoy the excitement and anticipation of every journey I take. I love the planning. I love the adventure of getting to my destination. I cherish each personality I encounter and absorb all the experiences that occur while on a trip. And upon my return, I love to tell stories of the events that happened during my research travel. I like to inspire people who don’t travel to leave their comfort zones and see the world.
3) What don’t you like about what you do?
The pay for travel writing is feast or famine, and as one with family responsibilities, a steady income is imperative for survival. I really miss my children when, and sometimes my husband J, but we all need a short break from each other every once in a while. My Cajun great-grandmother used to call this a “good miss” meaning that while we missed each other, we had a greater appreciation for the other person upon the return. Lastly, people think being a travel writer is days upon end of laying in the sun near the beach with umbrella drink in hand. If only that were true!
The 4 Traveling Mamas
4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
I’m one of four mamas at Traveling Mamas and our initial purpose in starting the blog was for purely entertainment purposes and a personal outlet to place stories from our print assignments. We share our experiences in hopes of assisting travelers make the most out of their travels. It is miserable to plan a holiday for an entire year, save up for said holiday, only to be surprised at how awful a hotel is. Truly we are saving marriages, relationships, and helping parents have an easier time to bond with their offspring.
5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
Ocho Rios, Jamaica –
This was the first place I traveled to outside of the USA and it was my honeymoon. My husband and I made friends with a local taxi driver=2 0who showed us around the island and introduced us to the “real” Jamaica. I witnessed my first cricket match, which was a competition between resort teams, drank lots of Red Strip beer, and picked up a wooden fertility goddess by accident. When I realized what I was holding, I dropped it like a hot potato, however it was too late for me. I ended up making a baby in Jamaica, but I’m sure there was more to i t than just holding a wooden icon.
Wellingborough Station, Northamps, UK
I extended a research trip to London so that I could see the town where my grandmother grew up. I ended up staying with cousins in Irthlingborough, meeting an aunt that I didn’t know was still living, and learning so much more about my grandmother than I ever knew. I remember sitting at the station waiting for my train to Salisbury looking at the scroll work It was an overwhelming moment, thinking that my grandmother sat at this same train station almost 60 years before and left her country to live a new life.
Years ago I was to meet up with a press group in Miami. My flight into that airport was late, so I missed the one flight for the day. I was upset, angry, and frustrated at the situation. I must also admit that I was a bit nervous. I ended up entering a foreign country, totally alone and couldn’t speak the language. I talk a lot, so I befriended three men who were sitting in front of me and looked definitely American. They thought I was some poor student traveling by backpack (judging by my looks and not asking me what my purpose was), so they offered to get me through customs and then gave me money to eat with. At first I wouldn’t accept the money, but then when they told me they worked for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, I felt entitled to take it due to the fact that my dad is a smoker!
6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
El Monte Sagrado Resort and Spa in Taos, NM
This resort is set around a sacred area to the Taos natives. It has been blessed by every religion in the world and is a luxurious place to run away to for a few days. The quiet setting with the view of Taos Mountain really helped me find an inner peace.
The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London, UK
This hotel was my first introduction to London. I felt like I was royalty returning home from a long trip and my every need was anticipated. I had a two bed two bath flat with a private entrance and truly began to think I was a rock star. Plus, I was just steps to Harrod’s and the Tube.
WaterColor Inn, Northwest Coast of Florida
This small hotel is set directly on the beach in a planned community. I think the Northwest Coast of Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The white sand is so fine it makes a barking noise when you walk (it squeaks). This place can b e explained in two words – relaxed elegance.
7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
Banana Nut Cake from Museum of Appalachia in Tennessee
There is a small cafe inside the museum grounds that serves authentic southern dishes. I tasted the Banana Nut Cake and could taste the history and hardship of the Appalachian people in each bite. I could also taste love and heartache, which sounds like something unbelievable. I wanted to weep because this dessert was so good.
Seafood box lunch leftovers in the Outer Banks of North Carolina
Late one night after a research day of learning how to hang glide at Kitty Hawk (site of Wright Bros. first flight), a few of us took our leftover lunches of crab spread, crusty bread, seafood pasta, and a bucket of beer down to the beach. We were staying at The Sanderling Hotel in Duck, NC. We climbed over the dunes with food and beach chairs in hand, searching for a place to just chill after such a long day. The light pollution was non-existent at this place on the beach and the stars were bright and glorious. We munched on our edible goodies, grabbed a local beer out of the galvanized bucket full of ice, inhaled the scent of the ocean on the air and felt the breeze blow by our necks. It was a glorious night of appreciating being on Earth. Definitely memorable.
Sunday Jazz Brunch at Arnaud’s in The French Quarter, New Orleans
In Louisiana we live by the mantra Don’t eat to live, live to eat and no place celebrates this more than New Orleans. My favorite restaurant is Brennan’s, where the three course prix fixe breakfast isn’t just a meal, its an event. However, I was treated to a Sunday Jazz Brunch at Arnaud’s Restaurant during Mardi Gras season. The meal began with a Mimosa and Creole Cream Cheese Evangeline (a=2 0fruit dish). The entre was Eggs Sardou, which is a poached egg served over artichoke bottoms and creamed spinach topped with a Hollandaise sauce. The meal was topped off with Crepe Suzettes and memories of the Jazz band leading diners around the tables, elderly ladies dancing waving their dinner napkins in hand, and the entire restaurant singing a Mardi Gras tune. Now thatâ€™s a way to celebrate a Sunday.
8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation/food experiences to date and why?
They were so bad that I’ve blocked them from my memory 😛
9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
I actually live in the small city of Zachary, LA
which is just north of Baton Rouge. My favorite place to recommend to someone for lodging is The Shade Tree in nearby St. Francisville, LA. This historical town shows its English roots in the architecture, the people, and the gardens. There are a large number of plantations to visit, even one of the most Haunted Houses in America, The Myrtles Plantation. The Shade Tree is a collection of three cottages overlooking a bluff in a private and shady setting. It is by far the most romantic place to stay in this area.
The food here rivals many restaurants in New Orleans. Mike Andersonâ€™s Seafood Restaurant near LSU in Baton Rouge is a popular place to bring out of town guests and to celebrate special occasions. If you are searching for sushi, Tsunami is the local place to go. It is set on the roof of the LSU Arts Museum in Downtown Baton Rouge and offers a spectacular view of the Mississippi River while you dine. Here in Zachary, my family and I enjoy eating out at Sammyâ€™s Grill, which serves various seafood dishes and steaks. The food is always good, as is the company, and the price is just right for any pocketbook.
Finally, to get a good introduction to the culture of Louisiana, just visit the LSU campus on game day (American Football). The entire campus is filled with tailgaters, cooking, eating, drinking, and enjoying camaraderie of friends. The dishes include jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and sometimes even grilled alligator. Tailgaters usually adopt out of town visitors and introduce them to what southern hospitality really is.
10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
What is one place I would return to if I could? Waimea Valley Park on the north shore of Hawaii. I swam in the falls a few years ago and it was a magical experience that I would love to visit again.
Thank you Beth. Your mouth watering description of the Louisiana food made me make a mental note to put that experience on my wish list!.