We survived

(Originally posted on Oct. 17 but somehow lost temporarily.)

The countryside in Wiltshire

We are back safely in London after eight days walking through Wiltshire and North Dorset.

The last hike was the toughest, a little over eight miles mostly through fields and woods. Also, it was the only day we really got lost and had to figure our way to the next pickup spot for our ride back to the inn.

Foot Trails, the company that planned these walks and provided daily trail guides and ordnance maps, has done a great job of taking us through this very  rural area.

We get picked up by taxi and driven to a starting point, and then usually walk back to the pub/inn for the evening.  Or sometimes we walk from the inn to a destination for pickup. The timing has been precise and very friendly. One day, the driver took us on a side trip to a ruined castle that we decided we had to see, even if it wasn’t on the itinerary. Another time, the driver gave us a tour of town so we could pick out a restaurant.

One element that has made this trip enjoyable is that we stayed at the same inn for several nights, so we don’t have to pack and repack daily. Also, the start times have usually been about 9 or 9:30 – very civilized.

Rather than a rural inn, the last day ended in Shaftsbury, a town in North Dorset.  Shaftsbury was one of a few towns established by King Alfred, in the 9thCentury, as a safe spot from which to fight the invading Vikings. There are the ruins of the abbey where Alfred’s daughter was the first abbess. The area is also the background from some of the scenes in Thomas Hardy’s novels.

It was also the home of the Hovis break company, which has a famous commercial available on the internet. Pat was in touch with her roots here, as her mother’s maiden name was Hovis. You can ser treatment on her Instagram account: travels.with.patty.

We are in London for a few days before heading to New York. 


A folly, an ornament in English landscape.

The town hall and 13th Century church tower in Shaftsbury.

Ups and downs in the county of Wiltshire

Patty walks along a path in Wiltshiree

We are on the fourth day of our walking tour in Wiltshire and beginning to pick up on the lingo in our trail guide.

There are paths, tracks and lanes, in ascending order of development. Some paths are more visible than others, and some are just grass where someone appears to have walked somewhat recently. Tracks often are dirt and gravel, and many appear to have been driven over by a tractor. Lanes have pavement, and cars, and then you get to roads.

Note the difference in the photos here.

A track

A path

We have yet to be able to specifically tell the difference between a town and a village. Some of the villages where we have stayed or walked are pretty small. 

Hinden, where we spent the first three nights, had two inns, a shop, a church and the showroom of a furniture maker.

Milton, where we were dropped off for our first walk, had only a phone booth (which still are in use here.)

At Swallowcliff, where we are staying tonight, there is an inn, a church and a town hall. The inn is the Royal Oak, owned by James May, a TV celebrity here, and the business partner of Jeremy Clarkson, of Clarkson’s Farm, a hit in America on PBS.

However, the area is close enough to London for folks from the city to have a weekend getaway. At Milton, the taxi driver told us that Eric Clapton had a place nearby.

We traveled through the village of Tisbury, which has shops, restaurants, a train station and other accommodations, but we were told that it isn’t really big enough to qualify as a town.

But the point of this adventure – after two years locked inside by the virus – was to get out in the countryside, and it is even more rural than I had imagined.

So far, we have been on walks of 5, 5.5, 6.8 and 7.8 miles. Mostly they are on Britain’s public footways – public rights of way between (and sometimes on) the fields. Some routes have included an inn for a lunch stop, but not all of them. We have seen plenty of sheep, however.

We are traveling on routes laid out by Foot Trails, a firm that specializes in customized walks. For each day, we get a narrative guide to the trails and an ordnance map. We are on our own for the walks, not with a group, although we have come across other walkers at the various inns and pubs. The directions are not always clear, but Patty is getting quite good at checking details on the maps.

Familiar readers of this blog will recall that we came to Wiltshire, which is west of London near the city of Salisbury, on the idea that the walking would be fairly flat. That was not quite true. The terrain reminds me of the rolling hills of the Palouse, where I grew up, although there are more woods here, smaller farms, and a lot more sheep.

Other highlights, along the way, have included some amazing old churches, including one dating from the 13th Century. In East Knoyle, we went through the church where Christopher Wren’s father was the vicar. (You English scholars will recall that Wren is perhaps the most famous English architect and responsible for redesigning scores of churches in London after the Great Fire of 1666. Another highlight: the Stourbridge gardens laid out by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, the famous 18th Century English landscape architect.

Walking continues tomorrow. We are still enthusiastic, uninjured (one small blister,) and having great weather. Also check out Patty’s intermittent Instagram posts at travels.with.patty

Some of the local residents

On the road again

Like many of you, the travelswithpatty.com blog has been hiding in the basement for the past couple of years, waiting for the all-clear signal that still hasn’t come.

While there has been some domestic travel, the last time the blog ventured beyond the secure borders of the U.S. was at New Year’s 2020, in Bucerias, Mexico. The last actual blog post was in the summer of 2019.

Stir crazy, we decided we needed to get out for a fall trip this year So we are off for a couple of weeks in the UK – a very safe venture – followed by a few days visiting our son, Charlie, in New York.

The trip to England – whose economy we hope hasn’t completely collapsed by the time we get there – will include a few days in London but is focused on some walks through the countryside in Wessex and North Dorset. Note the maps attached here.

This adventure began when we contacted a tour company about doing some walks in Cornwall, and they discouraged us by noting that it is very hilly. “You’d be happier in Dorset,” they said, and so that’s where we are headed.

The walks are mostly seven miles a day, between inns. We have trained for this by walking around Green Lake, having lunch, then walking around it again. Another time we walked the Burke Gilman between Lake Forest Park and Bothell, with lunch in between at the Kenmore Lanes. I am hoping the upcoming trip is a little more glamorous.

Dorset is mostly known for the fossils found along its beaches, which has given it the name the Jurrassic Coast. It is home to Brideshead Revisited and assorted Thomas Hardy novels. The north part, where we are headed, is known more for its countryside: Inns and pubs rather than fossils and beaches. Watch the blog to find out whether this experiment was a wise one.

In addition, Patty has begun an Instagram account, called travels.with.patty (note the periods).  Follow her there where she will post photos as we go along.

More to come,

Pat and David

A tour of Alabama’s Civil Rights history

In the Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL. Each steel memorial lists names of people who were lynched, organized by state and county.

We were visiting Pat’s brother in Tennessee last week as part of a Habitat for Humanity project and decided to extend our trip to see some of the historic sites of the American Civil Rights movement in neighboring Alabama.

Our guide was a relatively new, interactive website, the Civil Rights Trail. If you go to that site — https://civilrightstrail.com— you can click on individual states and key Civil Rights

cities in the south.  

Because we were visiting in Knoxville, and our time was limited, we selected the closest and most-compelling sites just below the border in Alabama. We spent a day in Birmingham, traveled through Selma to Montgomery, and then spent two days in Montgomery before flying home via Atlanta (which has its own significant history from the Civil Rights period.)

Although Birmingham and Montgomery are about the same size, they are very different cities. Birmingham wasn’t founded until after the Civil War, and it became a powerhouse of railroading, mining and industry. It had a strong African-American middle class, and the downtown area still includes the parts of town where African Americans lived – separate and unequal – before the riots and bombings of the 1960’s.

The First Baptist Church in Montgomery, where Civil Rights Leader Ralph Abernathy was preacher.

Our first stop was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which tells the story of the city and its residents’ long period of dealing with racial segregation. Directly across the street is the 16thStreet Baptist Church, where four little girls were killed in a 1963 bombing.

And just across 16thStreet is Kelly Ingram Park, where Police Commissioner Bull Connor use dogs and firehouses on protesters — and which now contains interpretive sites about the movement. Unfortunately, it was difficult to focus on the history here because of the number of folks who approached us soliciting money for gas, or food, or to help a charity.  We escaped to follow the path of the march from the church to the City Hall where Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the famous letter to the Birmingham jail.

Pat is about to walk across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, beginning spot for the march from Selma to Montgomery.

We drove on to Selma, about two hours away, and Pat walked across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, scene of the 1965 Bloody Sunday riots, where

marchers for voting rights began their four-day trek to the Capitol in Montgomery 50 miles away.  On the route to Montgomery we passed markers indicating the sights where marchers camped.

Montgomery houses the state capitol and an impressive array of government buildings. Much older than Birmingham, Montgomery was a major port during the slave trade, rivaling Charleston, S.C. as an importer of African slaves. The downtown area contains the sites of at least four slave markets from the period.

Montgomery is well-known as the home of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott which led to integration of Montgomery’s transit system. It was also a scene of the 1960’s freedom riders, who were attempting to integrate the interstate bus

The Dexter Street King Memorial Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was pastor from 1954-60.

system. We visited the Dexter Street Baptist Church where Dr. King was pastor from 1954-1960, and a tour of the church includes the office where Dr. King helped plan the bus boycott. The Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s First Baptist Church is a short ride away.

But the amazing addition to Montgomery – at least for Pat and me – was the new Monument for Peace and Justice – the so-called “lynching museum,” a sobering reminder of the terror imposed on black people well into the 20thCentury.

The monument includes what are essentially tombstones – organized by county and state – representing the thousands who were lynched for crimes such as attempting to register to vote. Each county is invited to claim their monument in an attempt to keep the legacy of this terrible time alive

Jars containing earth from the site of lynchings throughout the south

throughout the south. One particularly sobering display includes jars of earth taken from each of lynching sites throughout the south.

The Legacy Museum, associated with the Peace and Justice Memorial, tells much of the history of slavery, of the many Supreme Court decisions that kept it in place, and of the various kinds of suffering imposed in the Jim Crow South. It is a project of the Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Bryan Stevenson, whose book,Just Mercy, tells his own story about becoming a lawyer dedicated to freeing many wrongly imprisoned men and women – still part of the continuing history of unequal treatment and discrimination.

This trip was a powerful sobering experience and a reminder that grave human injustice is a part of our history and continues today.




We found sunshine in Homer….

Ever the optimists with hopes of improved weather we braced ourselves, donned our rain gear and joined the Kenai Fjords boat excursion into the Kenai Fjords National Park. My friend and travel mate, is a collector of National Parks, having visited many of the parks in the lower 48 she was pleased to learn that she could add three more to her list from our Alaskan Adventure.

Aialik Glacier

Besides rain, very large waves and a few green fellow travelers we saw wildlife, sea otters, sea lions, cormorants, bald eagles and even a gray whale.  But the real prize was sailing very close to the face of the Aialik Glacier.  This is one of many glaciers in the park not to mention the many more sprinkled liberally throughout Alaska.  The sheer size and scale of this glacier was amazing but the sound of it calving into the water was even more so.  We could hear the sound a bit before we saw the ice crashes.

The sun does shine in Alaska, just not very often.  As we traveled from Seward to Homer the sun broke through with promise of a couple clear days ahead.

What to do when the sun shines in Alaska?…..have another Alaskan adventure to see what is around the next corner.  It was a sign that said “See Bears Today”.

Bears on the Beach

An hour flight across Cook Inlet on a six seat airplane and a pilot who looked all of 16 had us landing on the beach in Lake Clark NP inhabited mostly by bears.  From the air we saw bears in the water fishing prior to our beach landing. Another sandy take off and landing put us in clear sight of a bear lumbering down the beach toward us….. we waited…..after walking quite close to us, he must have thought better and skirted inland for several yards before joining the beach just beyond us.  We were told that these bears have plenty to eat on the island, are not hunted here and therefore do not feel threatened by humans.  We did take precautions to stay in groups of three or more because a group of three looks bigger than a bear.


In Homer a wonderful sunny warm day trip on the Danny J to Halibut Cove topped off our trip and my birthday.


End-Of-The-Road Adventures

A long day on the road from Denali to Seward yesterday, luckily the rain let up a bit and we were able to enjoy the beautiful Alaskan countryside.  We were treated by a black bear scooting across the street in front of our car. Where is my camera when I need it most?

The Seward hotel has the most interesting lobby where we are greeted by a menagerie of stuffed Alaska animals.  One of my favorites….

Bums Rush

Ten foot waves and the warning of seasickness scared us away from our Kenaii Fiords trip today.  We will try again tomorrow.

Alternatively we explored a bit more of Alaska.

The Sea Life Center of Seward was quite a find and proved to be a respite from the bad weather.  (up close and personal with a local puffin)

Up Close and Personal with a Puffin




Miller Landing is at the end of the road just outside Seward.  This multi-purpose business includes boat launch, fishing excursions, campground, boat repair, kayak rental and restaurant, all with a fish cleaning tables for locals to prepare their catch.  (Kayak rentals at the end-of-the-road)

Kayak rentals at the end-of-the-road.


A hike to Exit Glacier which comes off of the Harding Icefield was the highlight of our day.  As we hiked we noticed sign markers 1817-2010.  These indicated the year and location of the glacier and provided an idea of glacier movement as it has receded over time.


End-of-the-road next stop Harding Icefield

It was a treat to peek around every corner for a closer and better view of the vast blue and white ice.  The sun even tried to come out.



Backcountry Alaska

Georgeanne and I have spent the last two days exploring a very small portion of Alaska backcountry. Wow this state is vast!
We drove from Anchorage to Denali with a stop at Talkeetna, a small Alaska town. Not surprising, it was raining so we explored the town museum and had lunch at West Rib Cafe & Pub. We learned that Talkeetna is the place from which climbers embark who are trying to ascend Denali. They fly from the local grass air strip in town to basecamp in order to get aclaimaited for an average of 21 day trek to the top without oxygen. Not for the faint hearted and more than 40% of the attempts end in failure.

A long day touring Denali park and preserve was informative and delightful. We learned about the history of the six million acre park, the influence of mining and some lore about local pioneers. It was full of surprises the first one being that we didn’t see the tallest mountain in the US. The adventure of visiting Denali park was well worth the trip. On our soggy day tour, we traveled 92 miles to the end-of-the-road on a 12 hour bus excursion.
We traveled on the only road with park access with a local sponsored bus tour not private vehicle (which aren’t allowed past mile 15). Complimentary bus transportation is available from the visitor center. The take away was that this park is vast and remote. Every effort has been made to protect a complete ecosystem.  We saw, bear, caribou, mountain goat and moose. And we leave with a new sense of understanding of what a treasure our national parks are.

Thelma and Louise are on the road again

Wow, this has been a year for travel.  A trip to France, England, Knoxville, Tennessee and Cuba all in one year. David and I are taking the advice of our financial adviser to travel while we are still healthy.   And …as a friend says “tell the kids, the last check is going to bounce”

So having never been to Alaska, I am embarking on an Alaska adventure with my longest and dearest friend Georgeanne Brown.  Georgeanne has been celebrating

Georgeanne in the Grand Canyon

her 80thbirthday for two years and as the January date actually comes closer, we decided that one more road trip was in our future. This is my “on the road” friend who loves to drive and with whom I have taken many trips.  We met in 1978 when we had both moved to the northwest and ended up teaching at the same school in Everett.  Through her divorce, our swinging single years and my having a child at 38 we have been each other’s rock.  Oh the stories I could tell…..

With many road trips in our past we move through the next 10 days with a sense of adventure in our hearts and knowing that the creaky joints and aches and pains of aging will visit us along the way.

We will begin in Anchorage for one night, pick up a rental car and head to Denali for two days. Following that, we have plans to drive down to Seward and the Kenaii peninsula where we will take an excursion into the Kenaii fiords.  We have hopes of getting close to some glaciers, if they haven’t all melted.  Then on to Homer for a couple more days to soak up the local Alaskan culture.  Back to Anchorage for a short tour before heading home.

Georgeanne is a birder so I presume I will be learning the names of certain terns, gulls etc.  We will take our walking sticks for some light hiking.


But most of all we know we will enjoy; nature rain or shine, each other’s company, and the opportunity to be able to take this one more trip.




Taking the family to France: Pat’s top five tips

Collioure and its harbor from the hills above the city.

Pat and I have wanted for quite a while to take our adult kids and granddaughter on a trip somewhere exotic.

For many years, Pat and her brother and sister and our families got together for a week each summer, and our kids – who are more or less only children — have very good memories of being with their cousins. This practice has fallen off a little now that the cousins are all grown and several have families of their own. It is difficult now to find a town with zoning laws liberal enough to accommodate our entire group.

Market day in Collioure: Sunday and Wednesday

And, of course, most people of our generation have memories – good and bad – of road trips with our parents when we were growing up.

So, in this milieu, we had been talking about getting our small family group together. (Two adult children, their partners and our granddaughter) The planning took more than a year.

We started out narrowing the choice of locations. France emerged in part because we wanted a place that was interesting enough that the kids would want to go. It was a draw because Kara’s boyfriend, Georges, is fluent in French, and Charlie likes to practice his.

Another priority was to find a place near the water. Charlie’s girlfriend, Genevieve, is highly motivated by Mediterranean beaches, and Amelia also is a beach fan.

I like places with a little history and culture, and Pat enjoys small towns and local markets.

Our group at dinner

So the product of this search was a house in Collioure, in the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon, just north of the Spanish border and the city of Barcelona.

Collioure is beautiful and meets all the criteria: It is on the beach, has a history that dates to the Greeks, Romans and Visigoths, with an interesting 14thCentury castle, a couple of art galleries, a great farmers’ market, and lots of seafood restaurants. But it is a little out of the way, and the logistics were complicated.

Georges, Kara and Amelia came via Geneva and a few days’ drive while stopping off in the chateau area of France. They are flying out of Barcelona.

Charlie and Genevieve flew non-stop to Barcelona from New York. Easy.

Pat and I were in London for a couple of days to visit family and then flew to Carcassonne, which is about two hours away. (Ryanair is cheap, but we paid a little extra for a ticket that allows you to pick your seat and carry a bag.)

Getting ready for dinner. The view is from our deck.

The result has been a really great week. There were several trips to the beach and local farmer’s markets, significant time by the pool, extra trips to the wine store, a couple of hikes, great group meals. All of this has produced Patty Moriarty’s top five rules for traveling with your family:

1) Consider individual interests and choose a place that has a little something for everyone: beaches, hikes, restaurants, galleries, etc.

2) Together time isn’t always the answer.  Don’t plan to spend every minute together or plan too many activities for the whole group. Encourage the kids to get away by themselves without you — even if they talk about you when you aren’t there.

3) Plan transportation options ahead of time. Is there easy access to nearby shopping and town? If cars are necessary, have enough cars to allow for independent excursions.

Pat, Georges and Kara at the beach.

4) Consider the size of the house and the layout.   People may have a variety of sleep schedules especially if they are jet-lagged.  Enough bedrooms so everyone can be alone if they need to.  Don’t make anyone sleep on the couch in the living room. It is always nice to have a game room or swimming pool.

5) Come together at the end of the day for a group meal.   Make use of culinary talents of the group by sharing the cooking and shopping duties.

I don’t guarantee that following these rules will ensure a successful family trip. Maybe you have family members who are incompatible after a few days. But we offer them in case they can be of help.

For us, there are preliminary discussions of another family trip. And, by coincidence, we are scheduled to share a house together in Tennessee next month to celebrate Pat’s brother’s 70thbirthday. So far, no one has backed out.

Genevieve and Charlie at dinner.

Amelia with the harbor in the background.


Walking the South Downs Way, when we could find it.

Walking near Alfriston in Sussex, Southeast England

There is a great walking tradition in England that dates to the Romantic period but which really got its start when people moved en masse to big, crowded cities like Liverpool and Manchester during the industrial period. In the 20thCentury, before and after World War II, Parliament passed laws protecting public rights of way across private lands to ensure access to the countryside.

This House, on the Main street in Alfriston, dates to the 14th Century.

A few years years ago, Pat went on a series of walks through the English Cotswolds with women from her book group. She has been wanting to do that again, so as part of a more extensive trip this summer, we included a few days in Sussex, in southeast England to walk in the South Downs National Park.

Our home base in Sussex was a beautiful old town, Alfriston, which dates to the 14thCentury. There is an old priory, church and several houses and pubs, all with some part of their buildings that began in the 14thCentury.  Alfriston is a classic English village. It is one-street deep, and there has been a local conflict about whether to allow a stop light in town.   The traffic police are losing the battle, and traffic seems to back up daily at one pinch point where the road is only one-and-a-half cars wide.

Walking through wheat fields to Berwick.

We only had two days for long walks, and the first day took us to the nearby town of Berwick, which has its own 12thCentury church. The Berwick church – St. Michael’s and All Angels — was kind of adopted by the Virginia Woolf-Bloomsbury group, which maintained a home nearby, and the church is richly illustrated inside with post-impressionist-like murals by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, Woolf’s sister.

We walked from Alfriston to Berwick, trying to walk along the South Downs Way, which is marked (occasionally) on 4-by-4 posts with little arrows. The English may be devoted to protecting the public rights of way and all that, but the signage could use some improvement. We were able to find our way to Berwick, along to so-called “Vanguard

Decorations on the walls of the church in Berwick.

Way,” and then ended up bumming a ride part-way home.

On the second day, we walked again along the South Downs Way – when we found it – along the southeast coast, with its massive and abrupt chalk cliffs. (The natives say they are whiter than the white cliffs of Dover.) After a good few hours of walking, from Eastborne, via Beachy Head to Birling Gap, we had been advised to end our walk at the Tiger Inn. Pretty tired by then, we headed up a path in hopes of a refreshing pint, we walked and up, and up and up for at least a

On the South Downs Way near Beachy Head.

mile before finally reaching the Tiger in the little town of East Dean. All told, this was probably only seven miles or so, or 15,000 steps on Pat’s Fitbit, but it certainly was sufficient. This place is hilly.

We go on from here to meet the family in Southern France, in the little town of Collioure, just north of the Spanish border on the Mediterranean.

Whiter than Dover?