Tulip garden in front of Claude Monet's home in France

Meditative Muse: My Tour of Fondation Claude Monet

Pathway of the Monet gardens leading up to the house

On my overnight flight to Paris, I watched Francis Ford Coppola’s cinematic remake of one of my favorite childhood books, The Secret Garden. Reminded of the purity of children’s love as the characters tended to an enchanted garden while healing their own delicate traumas, I lay down on my pile of small pillows as the movie lulled me into a haze of patchy sleep – the kind that leaves you wondering if you’ve slept twenty minutes or three hours.

In the same way that I was transported to a childhood memory of being engrossed in this classic tale, I entered a dreamlike state when I stepped into Monet’s garden – a wondrous world of flowers and trees that welcomed me into its lush embrace. Giant patches of petaled beauties greeted me with a rainbow array that made my soul dance with delight. I breathed in the cool, spring air fresh with the morning’s rain. Aaahh – a dream come true!

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sunset view of the castle and courtyard

Time Travel in France: A Visit to Château de La Roche-Guyon

Leaving the large metropolis of Paris, travelers will notice the historic castles and well-maintained monuments that sprinkle the Vexin countryside. Providing picturesque panoramas that include acres of rutabaga fields, and an occasional church to christen the vast backdrop of former battlegrounds, each village tells a tale of French antiquity. About an hour away from the frenzy of urban life, this region became my home and writing refuge in the midst of a mild winter.

One March morning, I scheduled a visit to the looming landmark that was my neighbor, Château de La Roche-Guyon. I met my tour guide, Martial, at the front gate, which weaves the family crest in wrought iron, leading to a striking courtyard. We stood under a brisk blue sky that was fresh with the frigid air of early spring, breathing in the stark sunshine that teased of warmer weather ahead.

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painting from Gibbes museum showing a scene from a plantation in the American south

South Carolina: Soul of a Nation

large lake with alligators and trees in the middle of the plantation
Alligators swim in the swamplands at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina

Travel is enlightening, it’s eye-opening, and sometimes it’s painful. My first time to the American south was all of these. I had been wanting to visit Charleston, South Carolina after seeing it on countless “best of” lists from my favorite travel publications. When my grandmother suggested going somewhere new for our annual trip, I took the opportunity to finally plan a vacation to this historical American city.Read More »