With this week’s episode of A Mick A Mook and A Mic featuring the travel adventures of Billy and Frank (Mick and Mook), I thought I’d share some of my travel escapades, most of which were business-related. However, there were also many personal trips that I will always cherish.
Over the years, I have traveled to 47 states, Puerto Rico, and 6 countries. The only states I have not experienced are Alaska, Montana and South Dakota. My travels beyond America include: Canada, Mexico, The Bahamas, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
And while I certainly have my favorite destinations, the one important thing I learned in my early days of traveling was to NOT compare locations during a trip. I learned to enjoy each city, state and country for what it was, as each had its own ‘personality’. Too many people waste time comparing and it distracts from their actual experience. Do your comparing when you return home.
Again, most of my travels were business-related, so the destinations weren’t all by choice. Thinking back to those days, there were certainly a few locations that stood out, and I would often return.
Regarding places which I chose to re-visit depended on the length of time I had to spend there. There were locations for long-term stays, and then there were spots only good for short-term visits.
For example, New York City is a must visit, but after a few days, I’m ready to get out. Between the hustle-and-bustle of the city and the constant tipping, it gets old fast, especially if you’ve been there numerous times and have seen most of the landmarks.
Anther in-and-out location is Los Angles. While there are some lovely spots along the Pacific, my overall LA experience is…“get me the hell out of here!” The traffic and abundance of phony people are too much. And to think that I actually lived there for a while, too! Yikes!
Other fun cities for a few days are: Boston, Chicago and New Orleans. However, when you go to New Orleans, be sure to have a couple of days to recover when you get home. It’s definitely a party town!
My favorite fun ‘city’ for a long-term visit (one to two weeks) is San Diego. It’s clean, beautiful and has an array of things to do and see, which will keep you busy and entertained. It’s my overall favorite destination in the US, to which I’ll refer again later in the blog.
My favorite ‘non-ocean’ location in the US is an easy choice…Colorado. From Denver to Vail, Snowmass Village and Aspen, to Colorado Springs and Durango, the beauty of the Rockies is second to none. Driving through Colorado is a must. And if you do ever get to the Durango area, be sure to visit the Four Corners – where you can actually be in four different states at once (using both feet and hands)! The states you can be in at the same time are Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Look it up.
Before I discuss my favorite vacation spots and living locations, let me tell you about some of my trips abroad.
First and foremost, while visiting other countries and experiencing their culture is a great experience, landing back in America was the best part of each trip. Every American should experience other countries before speaking negatively about the US. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my experiences in foreign lands – and some were absolutely amazing, but when you land back in the USA, there’s a feeling of relief to be home. We’re very fortunate to live in the greatest country ever.
One enjoyable visual abroad was the architecture in Germany. Spending nearly a week at a Sporting Goods Industry Convention in Munich was quite an experience. Walking downtown amidst the old, historic, beautiful buildings was a long-lasting memory. However, the moment in Germany that I’ll remember best was being in the world famous (or infamous) Hofbrauhaus – one of the world’s most famous taverns. It’s promoted as…the cradle of Bavarian tavern culture.
However, while interesting to have visited the tavern, I cannot tell you that it was a positive experience. And please believe me, the following is not hyperbole.
I arrived at the Hofbrauhaus alone and was quickly surprised as to how large it was, along with the amazing party atmosphere. When I finally found the people I was to meet, they were sitting in the back of the tavern in the last row of tables. Two were American business friends and one was a local German, who served as a guide.
After a few minutes sitting at the table with my back to a small stage at the end of the very large room, I began to feel weird. Gradually, I actually started getting chills and feeling as if the hair on the back of my neck was standing. However, I said nothing. Shortly, thereafter, the German guide began giving us a little history of the Hofbrauhaus, as we sipped on some delicious German draft beer. To my amazement, he told us to take a look at the small stage behind us, which was only a few feet from my seat. What he was about to tell us made it quite clear as to why I was feeling so uneasy.
In February 1920, Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party held their very first meeting at the tavern. And on that stage, only a few feet from me, stood Hitler. That stage was where he gave his infamous “Why We Are Antisemites” speech! As a matter of fact, the Hofbrauhaus would go on to celebrate that night with an annual celebration of that speech and the founding of the Nazi Party.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t even finish my beer. I immediately left the tavern with a sick feeling. You see, my father suffered far too much pain from injuries sustained in WWII fighting the Nazis. Hence, I could not stay in that place one minute longer. It was easily the most eerie feeling of my life.
On a much brighter note regarding traveling outside the US, visiting Canada is always a treat. The buildings in Montreal were equally as beautiful as those in Germany, although the people could be a little rude at times. Toronto was always a more enjoyable visit, while Vancouver and Victoria, the Capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island, are beautiful and, by far, my favorite spots in Canada…or anywhere, for that matter, outside of the States.
Getting back to my US travels, my two favorite places to visit for multiple ‘fun nights’ were Chicago and New Orleans. However, for one night, there was nothing like Gilley’s – a honky-tonk Bar in Texas. Named after co-owner and country music singer, Mickey Gilley, the huge night spot (about 70,000 square feet), was non-stop entertainment – and where I got to see Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson perform up-close. It was also the location for the movie Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta and Debra Winger.
However, undoubtedly, my two favorite ‘relaxation’ destinations were (and still are), Captiva Island in Florida and the island of Maui in Hawaii.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Maui a few times and love the beaches and terrain. Between the sunsets, mountains, and the ‘Road to Hanna’, it definitely belongs on everyone’s bucket list. But what made Maui so special for me were its people. I especially love the warmth and friendliness of the Samoans. They make your visit there special.
Closer to home, the alluring Captiva Island is my all-time favorite vacation spot to relax, enjoy a quiet beach, and to have some fun, too. The much smaller sister island to the more famous Sanibel Island (just off Fort Myers, FL), you must travel through Sanibel (end to end) and cross a small bridge to arrive in Captiva, a 5-mile beach with a couple of great hotels and a little village with excellent, beachy restaurants. (If you like Key Lime Pie, this is your place!)
There are two main hotels on Captiva, the South Seas Plantation and my favorite, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa – a beautiful spot located just steps from the Gulf of Mexico on one side, and a great, little Marina on the other side. I could tell you numerous fun times I had at their Oasis Pool Bar – or their bar in the famous Old Captiva House Restaurant. However, Captiva is kinda like Vegas, “What goes on in Captiva, stays in Captiva!”
And for those of you who have been to Florida and find it flat and boring…you’ve obviously never been to the islands of Sanibel-Captiva. Do yourself a favor and put it on your bucket list. You’ll be sorry you didn’t find it earlier in life. You wouldn’t even know you’re in Florida, as it’s very tropical.
Regarding places to live, I love my little beach house in Fairhaven, MA on Buzzard’s Bay. It’s a small waterfront community, which also has a few historic, English-style buildings. Then there’s where I lived in the 1980s…the beautiful village of Del Mar, CA, just north of San Diego on the Pacific Ocean. I lived only steps to the beach, great restaurants and bars, and less than a mile from the Del Mar Race Track (horses). It was a place and time in my life that I’ll never forget. I’ve been up and down the California coast and Del Mar is, by far, my favorite spot.
Another livable spot is by another quiet little bay, Birch Bay, where my ‘X’ currently lives. It’s in Blaine, WA, the first town in the US just south of Vancouver, British Columbia…you remember, my favorite spot outside of the US. The Pacific Northwest is really a beautiful region, and Birch Bay is a great spot, especially for those my age who have lived a full life and is looking for peace and quiet by the water.
There are so many other places I’ve been fortunate to visit, but far too many to list in one blog. However, on my bucket list remain the three states I’ve yet to visit, especially South Dakota, as I’d love to see Mount Rushmore. Hopefully, I’ll get there soon.
So remember, America the Beautiful is far more than a song. It’s a must see…”From Sea to Shining Sea!”
By Gil Vieira | March 1, 2022