Category Archive: Personal

It’s a Whole New World

Welcome – I’m glad you’re here! Last week I celebrated my 12-year anniversary of blogging. Today, I’m excited to roll out the new look here on Traveling with MJ. It’s been a long time since I’ve changed the theme and narrowed in on the focus of the site, and it was long past due. Here are some of the changes, new features you’ll find here, along with some tips to help navigate the site: I deleted close to 1,200 old posts that date back to 2006. It was tough letting go of those old archives, but the reality was that they weren’t serving anyone. My writing style and focus have evolved over the years and many of those posts don’t represent my focus any longer; they don’t represent my best work and don’t serve you – so they’re gone. Some […]

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It’s My Blog Anniversary!

On March 17, 2006, I wrote my first blog post ever on my travel blog then named Flyaway Cafe. You can read that first post here. And for those who don’t know my “why story” you can find that here. I knew nothing about blogging or the technology involved. Social media was practically non-existent – the first tweet was sent four days later and Facebook wouldn’t be available to everyone for another six months. Those colleagues who I started blogging with back then were looking for a way to turn a love of their subject matter into a paying gig, and it wasn’t always clear that it could be done. I look back on those wild west days of blogging and often shake my head and the things we did. Travel blogging has changed a lot. I’ve learned enough about […]

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Join the Travel Reading List Challenge

Today I’m excited to announce the first of a couple of new projects that I’m launching for 2018 – the travel reading list. I’ve always been an avid reader, going back to childhood days where I’d read under the covers at night. My love for reading was fostered by my grandparents, who took me to our local public library when I was barely able to walk, and parents, who bought me books and encouraged my patronage of the library. When I was older and started traveling, I used to pack around two or three books at a time. I’d never want to finish one and not have another one to start. You can imagine how it must have been traveling for three weeks in Europe – I lugged around way too many books, leaving them behind as I finished, and […]

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2017: A Year of Travel in Review

While 2016 was a big year for international travel, 2017 represented a year spent enjoying destinations and activities closer to home. Part of the was because my role as an ambassador for Universal Orlando Resorts gave me lots of opportunities to enjoy the theme parks and resorts in Orlando, and partially in preparation for Tony’s retirement and joining me in blogging and business activities. Another theme this past year has been reorganization. From developing new projects (a new restaurant review site called The Yums that publicly launched in April) to working through a new site design (look for that to launch shortly after the first of the year), to creating some new internal systems to creating some new features that will debut in January 2018, it’s been a good time to take stock of where I am and where I […]

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Plan Your Fall Reading

I’ve been working on my 2017 Holiday Gift Guide (it’ll be out right before Thanksgiving to allow you to maximize all the sales), and since a is always top of my list (I have the , but there are numerous versions available) it seemed like a good time to share some of my reading recommendations. Here are some recommendations for your fall reading – perfect for that time spent on flights or lounging on the beach – using the 2017 Pop Sugar Ultimate Reading Challenge as a guide. Territory Author:  Emma Bull Synopsis:  Wyatt Earp. Doc Holliday. Ike Clanton. You think you know the story. You don’t. Tombstone, Arizona in 1881 is the site of one of the richest mineral strikes in American history, where veins of silver run like ley lines under the earth, a network of power that belongs to anyone […]

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Sixty Two

Sixty-two. A cardinal number (60 plus 2) and a composite number with divisors of 2 and 31, The sum of the number of faces, edges, and vertices of an icosahedron or dodecahedron. The atomic number of Samarium, a lanthanide. The code for international direct dial calls to Indonesia. The number of home runs it took to break Roger Maris’ long standing record. And, today, sixty-two is the age that I now call my own. It was just a couple of years ago that I struggled with turning 60, recognizing that while I’m active and vitally interested in the world around me, that I’m on the downhill side of life. Nonetheless, I’m enjoying – mightily so – this sixth decade of life. It’s my plan to pack every moment of living into my remaining years, and there will be many of […]

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A Complicated Update of My World Map

On my most recent trip to China, I also visited Macao and Hong Kong. Politically, both of these destinations are in China – a fact that I was reminded of numerous times in the phrase “one country, multiple systems.” However, when going to Macau from mainland China, you need to exit one “country” and enter “another.” And, when going from Macau to Hong Kong, the same exit/entry process applies, as does going from Hong Kong back to mainland China. Let’s further complicate it with the fact that U.S. passport holders need a visa for mainland China (now valid for 10 years), while we don’t for Macau or Hong Kong (subject to length of stay, but not an issue for most casual travelers). It’s a political distinction, I get it, but the reality is that transiting between mainland China, Macau, and […]

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15 Things I’m Thankful For this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving was originally a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the preceding year and of the harvest. It is a secular celebration, although it has roots in religious and cultural traditions, and is associated with the gathering of family and friends to feast from the bountiful harvest. I will be feasting with family and friends today and food and drink will be plentiful. In the midst of this all, I wanted to give thanks for my blessings of this year. Here are 25 things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving 2016. Family and friends, including the four-footed ones. These are people who make my world a better place every single day. I love you all. Better vision. A year ago I had cataract surgery to correct my failing […]

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Wine Tasting with MJ

You know how I love my wine! That’s part of the reason I came up with my quest to visit all the wineries in Washington State – over 900 of them! You can find more about that quest on my new wine website, Seattle Bits & Bites, where I’ll be writing about my quest and visiting wineries. But there will be more – the site is about all things related to wine tourism, and will include winery information and visits, news, food, restaurants, festivals and events, tasting rooms, attractions and more. It’s all the things that go right along with wine to make life enjoyable. I’ll share bits of information about where to get the great bites around the state, whether that’s a formal winemaker dinner, a burger and shake at a roadside drive in, or the latest restaurant to […]

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Universal Orlando Resort: I’m So Excited

I am an unapologetic Universal fan, whether it’s Universal Orlando Resorts in Florida (I went there last year for Halloween Horror Nights), or Universal Studios Hollywood (I went there on a getaway last month with a family teenager). So you can imagine my enthusiasm when Universal Orlando Resorts asked me to join their Blog Squad, a year long ambassador program to discover and write about the theme parks (and a water park opening early next year), special events, world-class hotels and entertainment venues, shopping, food, and more. (You can read the announcement here.) This opportunity to discover more about Universal Orlando starts tomorrow! I’m excited to spend five days on site in the company of other bloggers, photographers, and videographers, many of whom I’ve not yet met. My stories of discovery and fun will come weeks and months down the road, […]

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