Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Guest: Samantha Hunter

Please welcome Samantha Hunter to the convertible today!  Indulge in her summer travels and comment to win a copy of her latest release!

What Are You Doing on Your Summer Vacation?

Here we are in the dog days of summer, and folks are recovering from a week in San Francisco or planning August trips. I didn’t go to RWA. This year, with the economy as it is, gas prices, and a possible job change on the horizon for dh, we are enjoying summer on the home front. I admit that is not ideal for me. I love just taking a weekend and driving to Boston or NYC, but even that can add up between dog sitters, gas, hotel, etc. So we’ve resisted the urge. Not always easy.

Originally this year we’d planned for a week in Cape Cod (our favorite vacation destination, and the setting of my story in my Blaze anthology, What I Did on My Summer Vacation), but ultimately stuck to our financial guns and stayed home. Still, considering the title of my book I thought I’d share some vacation pictures from past trips – the view from Boston’s Bunker Hill Monument (for which we climbed 294 very narrow steps) and a view from the Empire State Building (see far left; which has an elevator, of course). There’s the view from our beachside room on St. Petersburg Beach, in Florida (the bar was about twenty feet away), a view of the famous reflective sculpture in downtown Chicago, and a the view standing

in a desert canyon in southern California. Then, there is our most frequent destination, our back yard, or a sliver of it, anyway. ☺

Staying home hasn’t been bad. I’ve gotten a lot of writing done, and the weather really has been perfect here in Syracuse. We’ve had some rainy days, but largely it’s been very close to the summers of my youth. Hot during the days, thunderstorms in the afternoons and evening. It’s been humid in stretches, but most days I can sit and write with the windows open, look at my birdfeeders, and it’s been very relaxing. Often, vacations are not relaxing. They can be fun, exciting, but often we need time when we get home to recover from a vacation.

Some of my favorite vacations in the past have been to the Grand Cayman, San Diego, Key West, and the lower end of the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore. Places I hope to go in the future are Japan, Bermuda, Texas, Seattle/Vancouver, and I’d like to see more of California and the west.

Still, being home has had its advantages. I feel relaxed, the house is clean, the yard is groomed, and we bought a little firepit and have been having a lot of fun just having campfires and making s’mores in the back yard. We have a beautiful yard, and sitting outside with ribs on the grill and a fire, it’s a lot of fun.

We also have beautiful wood touring kayaks that we didn’t take out at all last year because we were remodeling, and so we’ve gone out weekly this year. I forgot how nice it is to paddle around local lakes and rivers, to get out in the sun and amid nature. We’ve had time and energy to see friends, ride bikes, take walks, host some cookouts and read. It’s been nice.

So what are you doing for your summer vacation? Do you like to travel or stay home? Share and I’ll choose two winners from the comments to get a signed copy of our anthology about the adventures of three heroines on very different summer vacations!



Playground Monitor said...

My summer vacation was a few extra days in San Francisco after the conference ended. And what a fun time we had. There was shopping in Chinatown, the night tour of Alcatraz, a trip to Muir woods, wine tasting and olive oil tasting in the Sonoma Valley and eating, eating and more eating in various parts of the city. Boudin has the most scrumptious sourdough French toast as well as tomato bisque in a sourdough bread bowl.

I can't stop singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" because I did. I love that town and want to go back with the DH to see all the things we didn't have time for.

I believe I met all the Riders except Susan. And what excitement to see Helen win the Rita!

I'm off to bed. I just got back home a few hours ago and my body and brain are beginning to shut down from exhaustion (not to mention going from 55 degrees to 95 degrees in the course of the four-hour flight).


Dina said...

Hi Samantha & welcome.

This year, I didn't travel, I am just enjoying the weekends with my grandkids. We've gone to the park and payed in the back yard. This weekend we are planning to attend out State Fair.

D Twomey said...

Most of our traveling revolves around family functions... anniversaries, birthdays, etc. We don't really do a lot of traveling otherwise. Some, but not a lot. There's always hope though, right?

Samantha Hunter said...

Morning folks!

San Francisco sounds amazing -- I have to admit, had I gone, I probably would have been AWOL and doing the tourist thing. I'll go to DC nationals because I've already been down there a few times, and have been to most of the big tourist attractions, so I can attend the conference, but I am not quite in that place in my mind where I could spend all that money to go to SF and then WORK. LOL

There is always hope! I never traveled until about 10 years ago, when we took our first big trip. Since then I'll find any chance I can, but this summer has been a good lesson that being home can be okay, too -- though I won't say I'm not itchy. I've already been planning something to get away for the fall, at Christmas, and next summer... Travel planning is almost as good as traveling, LOL. I guess it's just because I've grown up in this area, Syracuse, that for me, it's pretty boring. Being somewhere else always seems more fun. :) I would love to live closer to a large city, there's just so much more to do...


Samantha Hunter said...

Dina, btw, do you mean the Great New York State Fair??? One of my favorite things to do in summer, I will admit. :)


amy*skf said...

Hi Samantha, this year, like Marylin I went to SF, I did not stay longer or arrive early and saw none of the highlights of the city. Dumb.

But in the past we would pack up the car and the youngest and drive to Bemidji where we would meet about half a dozen other families at a resort and just hang. Absolutely loved it.

My husband wants to go to Disney World and I say, "Can't we just go to Bemidji?"

Amy S. said...

I've spent most of my vacation catching up on my reading and relaxing by the pool.

CrystalGB said...

This year, we are doing home improvement projects instead of traveling.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hi, Samantha! Your pix are great. And thanks for joining the Riders today.

My summer vacation is really my husband and Son 2's summer vacation. While I was in San Francisco for the conference, they were in (are still there) Belize and Guatemala. I'm not really sad, though, because they were going on an adventure vacation which meant they're only packing was a small daypack. I'm going to enjoy hearing their stories and hope that my husband brings home some great presents for me (he says Guatemala has some beautiful embroidered itemes).

Samantha Hunter said...

Disney World has been one of those places I have never been compelled to visit. I suppose if you have little kids it's good, but I don't know that I'll ever go there.

I like zoos, and San Diego's Wild Animal Park is wonderful.

Ah, the great home improvement vacation. ;) That was our year last year, too, with a major kitchen remodel and several other projects that had to be done.

You know...that means I've been at home for two summers. YUCK. LOL We did the short trip to Boston in Spring, and then Chicago for our anniversary, but still... no wonder I'm antsy. I do have a new kitchen out of the whole thing, but still... I'm supposed to be contacting some tree services today about taking down several bad trees. Can't help but think now maybe that money should go to a trip instead -- except if the one big tree falls on our house, we're soup. But hey, it's been there for fifty years, so should I gamble? LOL

Sitting by a pool and reading would be nice... if I had a pool. :)

Christine, that sounds wonderful... Belize... mmmmm. I don't know, I'd be really jealous, LOL. But you sound content, and that's what matters -- I love getting goodies from vacations. DH and I always buy a refrigerator magnet and a Christmas Tree ornament whereever we go -- we started doing that when we didn't have much money (not that we have a ton now) but those were small items we could bring back from a trip. But it turned into habit, and now our fridge and Christmas trees are all loaded with trip memories, which is neat. we get them from different experiences, too -- so, in Chicago, we got two magnets, a city magnet, and a White Sox magnet, since we went to a game.

What kinds of things do you all find yourself bringing home?


Michele Hauf said...

Bemidji! Yay, Amy! I haven't seen Paul and Babe in years. I'm originally from Thief River Falls, and Bemidji was a favorite summertime escape when we were kids.

What did I do this summer? Write three books! I haven't seen sunlight yet. I was just looking out the window today, wondering when I'd go out for some Vitamin D. I should try to enjoy the weather while it's here, for about another week, before Fall arrives.

Glad to have you here with us today, Samantha! Love your vacation pics!

Karen Foley said...

Hi Sam! Your yard is gorgeous! I'm going to have to make a road trip out there one day soon and maybe we can share a drink as we admire your beautiful flower beds.

My absolute favorite vacation spot is Bar Harbor, ME. Friends of ours have a log cabin that sits on a knoll overlooking Frenchman's Bay and, in the distance, Arcadia National Park. My absolute favorite thing to do is get up early, wrap myself in a quilt and sit on the porch with a steaming mug of coffee. I love watching the lobstermen head out for the day, and sometimes I'd be lucky enough to see a hummingbird hovering nearby, or even an osprey in the trees overhead. I'm not much for running around doing touristy things; I'd much rather R&R.

And I read the anthology and you captured the essence of Cape Code perfectly!! It was such a good story!

lois greiman said...

Samantha, thanks for joining us. I think gas prices, etc. have kept a lot of people home.

As for me, I'm afraid I decided to waste as much gas as possible since I spent two weeks driving around in a VAN, mountain climbing, sight seeing, and hiking. But my kids asked me to go, and they're so old now, I figured it might be my last chance. It just seemed dumb to say no. I'm not positive I made the right decision, but the memories of singing Rocky Mountain High with my daughter as we trekked up Mount Elbert, was something I'll remember for a long time. And seeing the world from 14,000 feet with my son was pretty spectacular too.

Sometimes it's so hard figuring out when it's worth spending the money.

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, Sam!

I'm sticking to my financial guns too! I had the SF trip to make and even though that was business, it still eats up cold hard cash. (Mostly because I'm eating up nice hot entrees.)

I'm very lucky that I love my house and have enough things I'd like to have time to do that I could stay home for several years and not feel like I hadn't gotten a vacation.

Oh, the luxury of time! Now that's a vacation. At least for the moment.

Betina Krahn said...

Sam, it's great to have you here! Again!

I haven't had a vacation, but I have had my kids visiting and that's almost as good. Lots of sun and beach and pool time. I was hoping to do some fun things in San Fran, but I found myself too exhausted to muster enthusiasm for Alcatraz or Nob Hill. I wish I could have done the "wine train" through Sonoma County. I just learned about that halfway through the conference. That's another trip, I guess.

This fall I'm heading north and hope to see the color change. . . I'm really missing autumn leaves here in Fla. Maybe that will be my "summer vacation."

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Sam! Great to have you here today!

I, too, spent a little extra time in SF with my dh and son, so that was our vacation. Unless you count the 5 brutal days up in the BWCA getting eaten by mosquitoes and standing in pretty much non-stop rain. Okay, let's not. LOL

Some day, I'd like to actually do an at-home vaca where I do nothing but fun stuff. Unfortunately, I always end up working on something or another and don't relax enough.

Marilyn, it was nice meeting you too in SF and several of our other readers! Very cool!

Debra Dixon said...


Yes! It was great meeting you.

I walked in to SF and ::poof:: there was Marilyn just like she had nothing else to do but welcome me to the hotel. It was great.

(She looked great. I looked like I'd been on a plane/airport/shuttle for 13 hours.)

Virginia Lady said...

I'm heading out for vacation to Orlando at the end of the week. It's a special one since my oldest will be a senior in high school this year, so it'll probably be the last full-family vacation. A week in Florida, touring beaches, Kennedy, car museums, and visiting relatives along the way. Should be fun.

Virginia said...

I am not much on traveling. This year we will not go anywhere,because of the gas prices being so high. We just can't afford to take a vacation. Along with the gas prices everything else has gone up too.

Sean and Anna said...

This summer was one giant adventure from the minute my 2 kids got out of school. My son had a week of british soccer day camp and my DH decided that it would be fun to host a coach. We had a really cool week with a coach from Scotland- lots of really neat conversation and we took him sightseeing here in Tucson. He had never seen anything like it! The whole week was awesome.

The day the coach left we hopped into the car and drove from AZ to North Carolina to visit grandparents. It was our first road trip as a family and the kids and I had never seen anything more east than New Mexico. We spent 2 days in Memphis on the way there- great river city and great burgers. I had a notebook that listed all the food I wanted to try from each state:) Tennessee is beautiful and so is Georgia and NC. It was a trip of firsts all around- lightning bugs, oak trees, swimming in lakes and rivers etc etc. The cool part- my in laws paid for the gas!! We definitely can't afford to travel much so that was nice.
The summer is almost over and have survived cross country driving, 2 soccer camps, 2 kids and the AZ heat. It was a great time.

Cheri2628 said...

We love to travel! Last summer we went on 2 cruises. One was from New York up through New England and Canada, and the other was an Alaskan cruise. This summer we are land-based! We have already gone to Las Vegas/Hoover Dam/Grand Canyon, and next we are headed for the Smoky Mtns.

Debra Dixon said...

Oh, I love cruises. I've only been on one, but I can tell you categorically, that I love them. :)

Samantha Hunter said...

Hey Michele and crew -- I meant to say thanks for having me here -- I guess my manners went on vacation. ;) You wrote three books this summer? I wrote. . .one, with several long proposals...well, two if you consider the short erotica I did for Spice Brief, but THREE whole books? YIkes.

Karen! I hear Bar Harbor is amazing... my sister lives in Maine, but the southern part! And yes, you should come and we can sit out and make s'mores in the fire pit. The State Fair is almost here, and let me tell you, no offense, but it kicks the ass of the New England Expo, LOL.

Lois, that sounds amazing!!! Though I am afraid of heights! You know the gas doesn't bother me too much, but the dog kenneling for 2 dogs kills me, and last time we had one dog come home sick from the kennel, dehydrated. I'm very wary now.

Hey Deb, good to see you -- I know, you have done a lot of work on your place. I love our house, too, but you know, I think I spent so much time in this particular area, that I really enjoy getting away from it -- making up for lost years, I guess. :)

Betina, that sounds very nice -- we have some lake beaches here, but even the Ontario ones aren't as nice as ocean beaches. There is one we might go to this weekend, you have to kayak down through marshes to a boat-only accessible beach, and that's a lot nicer than the public ones, but all in all, I miss the coast a lot... we're ocean bugs.

HELEN! Congrats again you wild woman! You went on vacation and came home with a Rita! ;)

Mosquitoes are evil and have no purpose but to torture us, but Deep Woods Off really works. ;)

Valady -- sounds wonderful, I love FL!

Virginia, it is hard -- everything is high now. Gas isn't the thing that hold me back entirely, but it doesn't help -- it's all the other stuff, the dogs, the hotels, the food that really adds up.

Sean and Anna -- that's a fantastic trip... lots of memories there. I really want to get back out west...
You should blog/publish your food notes somewhere -- actually, I think there is a website of some sort that tracks that kind of thing. I am big into trying local foods where we go...which is why I almost always gain a few pounds on vacation. Except when we are doing hiking/biking/water vacations...

Cheri, I've never been on a cruise, and while I like boats and I'm not afraid of the water, I am claustrophobic, and the idea of being on a boat and not being able to get off eeks me out...

Sorry I was gone for a few hours, and had to catch up -- hope I didn't miss anyone! Thanks for coming by. :)


Ruby (Mouth) said...

We went to Colorado and went up Pike's Peak. It was a blast. We also went through the Oklahoma pan handle, seeing the Gloss Mts, Black Mesa, and Alabaster caverns. It was awesome.

Ellen said...

Loved "What I Did on My Summer Vacation..." Everyone should read it.
As to what I did on MY summer vacation, I haven't had one yet.I prefer to go when the crowds are not so bad. Anyway I want to head to the Great Smokey Mountains and on up to Pennsylvania and maybe New York. In past years I've visited Yellowstone NP, Grand Tetons NP, Glacier NP, and I've been to Colorado, South Dakota, Maine and a whole lot of other places, including DC several times as a sponsor for high school kids.

Sean and Anna said...

Trying local food is part of the fun when you vacation. We try to avoid chain restaurants but the East has different places than out West. The kids just had to try Crystal burgers- not bad and easy to eat in the car. My in laws live in a little town in NC called Murphy and we ate at a lot of local places- Brother's was the best. My favorite was when we stopped in Hatch, NM and I bought bought green chiles from the local farmers. I also liked trying the various types of BBQ. I didn't realize that it varies by region- we tried it in OK, TN, NC and GA. The big difference is that here in AZ (and most of the West) the BBQ is spicy hot and in the South it is more sweet.
Next I want to visit New Orleans and I would love to see New York. Alaska would also be fantastic.


tetewa said...

I'm spending my summer vacation redecorating my apartment. While it has been alot of work it's all worth it in the long run! Although I enjoy traveling this will be worth it come this winter when I'm sitting at home while reading and watching movies!

Samantha Hunter said...

Ruby, alabaster cabins? That sounds intriguing!

Hi Ellen! Thanks so much for the kind words on the book. :) I don't blame you going off-season. We went to the Cape in October once, and it was great -- we got a room at an inn we could have never afforded otherwise. :)

Anyone coming up to NY, drop me a note. :) If you're in the area, I can offer some tips or maybe we can meet for coffee. :) And if you mean NYC, that's the best -- love the city, though it's a vacationland for me. If I were to choose a city to live in, at least from what I know now, it would be Boston.


Samantha Hunter said...

tetewa, yes -- that's how I felt about our kitchen. It took the best half of last year, but I've enjoyed it every moment since!


flchen1 said...

Hi, Sam!! You're very busy blogging this week! :) We've been hanging out at home mostly this summer, and in a couple weeks, we're heading to the happiest place on earth before the kids start school again. Yep, Disneyland, here we come ;) I'd prefer something a little less crowded with more reading time, but maybe that'll come later when the kids are a little older :)

Maureen said...

This year we stayed close to home but I'm hoping to be able to go away next year. I don't mind going to local attractions because it is just some time off from work that I need.

Samantha Hunter said...

LOL Fedora -- how old are your kids again? I think there is a lot at Disney for adults, too, from what I hear, I bet the kids are excited though. Have you ever read Carl Haissen (Hope I spelled his name right, I never do...) but he writes these crazy environmental mysteries in FL and one was set in a "theme park" very much like Disney -- it was great -- I enjoy his books, though I've only read a few. Reading is a very important part of a vacation, too. :)

Maureen, I think sometimes when we're close to home we're also able to discover things we haven't noticed before -- I like our zoo here in Syr, and haven't seen the Penguins there yet. There are some other nice attractions, and the waterways are great. Oh, and have I mentioned the Fair? LOL


Karen Foley said...

Sam, I actually think you would love Disney; it really isn't just a kid-thing! My dh dislikes amusement parks, but he loved Animal Kingdom and the Epcot Center. LOVED IT. Couldn't wait to go back. I have adult friends who are fanatical about going to Disney, sometimes two or three times a year (without kids!). I'm not into that, but have to say that Animal Kingdom and Sea World are two places I could visit over and over again. The Disney resort hotels have a (okay, cliche) magical feel to them, and everything is so clean and everyone is so happy and helpful. You should put it in your bucket list as something to do.

flchen1 said...

Karen, I think we have to make a trip out to DisneyWorld some time--I haven't been there yet, and I'm really curious to visit Epcot and the other parts (not just Disneyland and CA Adventure ;)) And Sam, parts of the Disney experience are really fun, but I can't say that I'm enjoying riding Pirates of the Caribbean for the 20th time... ;) If only I didn't get carsick, I could read in the car! Alas! I'll have to check out Carl Hiassen's book!

cas2ajs said...

Spending the summer at home. But Lake Erie's only about a 1/2 mile from my house so the kids and I head down to the park for an occasional picnic by the water. There's also a nice zoo and a small family-friendly amusement park/picnic grounds about 30 minutes away that we try to get to at least once over the summer.

Cheryl S.

Sean and Anna said...

Speaking of trips- my hubby decided we need one last trip before summer ends. So we decided to take a short local trip up to Mt. Lemmon. It should be nice because it's only 30 minutes up the mountain and since the desert has had a good monsoon the scenery is pretty and green. We'll go up and visit Summerhaven- yummy fresh baked cookies and brick oven pizza. It's a neat little art community too! If anyone ever visits Tucson- its a cool place to go.

Samantha Hunter said...

Sean and Anna, you are travelers after my own heart with all the mention of goodies! Pizza. Mmmm.

Maybe someday will try Disney, though I'd probably have to drug dh to get him there, LOL. Unless there are kids involved...

Cheryl, another Great Laker, I see. Ontario has some beautiful spots, but the state parks are so regulated, and things like our dogs can't go in the water b/c they have to be on a leash all the time, and then we know some wild beaches, one that is unmonitored, and we go there once in a while, but it's a rocky beach, like many GL beaches, and very spidery -- lots of spiders darting around the rocks, which is not my favorite thing, but at least we can bring the dogs. Then there are the boat-access only, and those are nice, but we have to drive, then paddle...

I'm so vetchy tonight! LOL Long day... but thank you all for making it more fun, and chatting with me. :)

I wish you all many wonderful moment this summer, and in summers to come -- I think Michele will pick our winners and let us know tomorrow? For tonight, I think I'm signing off, but thanks again so much,


Dina said...

Sorry Samantha, it's the Wisconsin State Fair, didn't know about the NY one, I've nver been to NY.

robynl said...

staying around home b/c dh is working for a farmer during harvest. We have been to a city 2 1/2 hr. drive from our place and we shopped, ate out, went to their beautiful park downtown and walked around looking at the b eautiful flowers, ducks swimming and waterfalls. Loved it.

Caffey said...

Hi Samantha!!
This summer we didn't get to do much with my hubby changing jobs in the middle of the summer and losing his vacation so most we had were during the day ones! I really miss going to the NY State fair! I lived maybe a couple miles from it growing up and used to get a pass to go each day and would walk there! Or even watch the fireworks from our porch! We still planning to hopefully drive up for it this year, depends on when my son is due back for the school year in college in Rochester NY, so we hopefully have a trip planned for a weekend to go through those two area this coming labor day week! I just love the food there! Visiting the different buildings. I haven't gone in a few years so we so hoping it happens this year! Too I love the feel of the concerts with them often having those too from the 70's there. I can't hear the music but love the feel of it!

deb smith said...

Hubbie and I do short trips and one of our faves is Asheville, NC, a few hours' drive from us. People often describe Asheville as "Little San Francisco" because it has the feel of a funky California arts colony. It's a mecca for New Age gurus; Asheville is perched high in the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains and people ascribe all sorts of vibes, energies, etc. to the area. But it's also an amazing mix of wealth and bohemia. It's the kind of city with a fabulous little restaurant on every corner and where a pink-haired mime in a saloon-girl dress can walk down the street without drawing any curious glances. There's a Friday evening drum circle in a downtown park and street musicians everywhere during the warm weather season. I love Asheville so much I'm setting two different series there: one romantic women's fiction trilogy and one demon-chasing urban fantasy trilogy. In Asheville, both angles make perfect sense.

Samantha Hunter said...

Congrats to the winners! Thanks everyone, for coming by -- Michele has sent me the addy's and I'll have your books out soon. :)