Hello PortoVino Community! We’re thrilled to connect with you here and to share some of our life lessons and adventures we’ve experienced as full-time travelers on our Love Your Parks Tour. We’re a mother-daughter team, Nancy J. Reid (Mom) and Lisa D. Smith (Daughter), who in 2012 decided to give away practically everything we owned to go on a non-stop road trip to document our parks and public lands, and share their community stories in our digital Parks & Travel Magazine and Big Blend Radio & TV Magazine, on Big Blend Radio podcasts and videos, and interactive story maps on LoveYourParksTour.com.
The tour initially started as a quest to promote conservation to all parks managed by the National Park Service. What we soon discovered was that all parks matter. From community and neighborhood pocket parks to state parks and wildlife refuges, national forests and national parks, each piece of land plays a role in the living natural environment, the physical and emotional health of us humans, while also protecting and interpreting the history of the land and the people who settled in the region. It’s been an amazing journey of over 150 parks and communities visited so far.
Mount Rainier National Park
While it’s a complete joy traveling and exploring different destinations, there’s also the challenge of doing it while operating a deadline-driven publishing business, an industry that seems to always be changing and reinventing itself. The common questions and comments we get are, “How awesome! I’ve always wanted to just pack it in and travel the country, but how do y’all do it? Are you in an RV?”
The answer is, No. We travel light, in a Toyota RAV 4, which means one suitcase and carry bag each, our computers and camera gear, some picnic and light cooking/car camping stuff, and of course, our PortoVinos! They’re super functional to keep water and wine chilled and on the ready. Lisa uses her backpack as a wine/camera bag, Nancy carries the picnic stuff in her backpack, and we have a tote bag to carry Priscilla, our pink sock monkey travel mascot. She’s quite a Diva!
Priscilla The Big Blend Radio & TV Sock Monkey
Traveling light means you have no room for anything that does not add to the experience. It means less lifting into hotel rooms, reduces safety concerns, and it’s better on the car and its fuel intake. To us, it’s a life lesson of balance and simplicity. To fulfill our goals, we must make room for them.
Our business requires good internet so we typically stay in hotels, vacation rentals, and sometimes we house sit for friends. However, not all of these places have great internet. The tour has taught us to “seize the day” and not procrastinate. When you have good internet you better use it and get those uploads done. The same thing goes for laundry, getting a peaceful night’s sleep, and being able to make a “homecooked” meal!
From crazy weather to road closures and lodging mix-ups, things do go wrong on the road. Instead of having an instant freak-out of a reaction, we’re learning to assess the situation, look at the current positives of what we can do versus not do, and change course as needed. Hence the importance of the “seize the day” lesson that keeps our toolbox strong and ready for any action we may need to take.
Although we are always traveling, we still keep routine in place. Our way of travel is far simpler for us now than when we lived at home when we would scurry around to get things squared away and ready for a big trip. Traveling light means everything has its place in the suitcase, in the car, and even the hotel room. And trust us, that wine better always be in its PortoVino place!
Mother-Daughter team, Nancy J. Reid (Mom) and Lisa D. Smith (Daughter) & Priscilla, the Sock Monkey
A big part of our routine is our frequent meetings with Mother Nature. When possible, we like to start the day with a one-hour sunrise walk. It’s our quiet thinking time, a way to explore new environs, and it’s before the day goes into crazy ‘go here, go there” and “make that appointment and deadline happen” mode. And, whether it’s on a hike, morning walk, a road stop or a picnic in a park, we seek balance by soaking up that special view. Breathing deep, taking in the scene with some quiet moments of reflection or meditation.
We call it Mother Nature’s Prescription. Studies have shown that just an hour surrounded by nature (or even viewing scenes of nature) can reduce anger, depression, and stress, which in turn boosts the immune system, reduces heart rate and muscle tension, and lowers blood pressure. Researchers have found that even having a plant in a room can help reduce stress and anxiety. Nature also helps to soothe emotional and physical pain, restore focus and increase attention span.
Of course, if you have a good friend or family member with you, along with some bubbly or favorite wine to sip on, taking in that special view has the added joy of conversation, laughter, and memorable shared experience. For us, being park nomads, we look at each special view as our new living room for the day. We’ve found that the longer we sit, sip, and soak up the view, the more birds and wildlife appear. Once they know you’re relaxed, they relax and continue with their regular activities.
It seems that in today’s busy and technically driven society we have lost some of that special connection with nature. That connection is crucial to our health as well as the planet’s, and you’ll find that many communities are working hard to create more urban green spaces, and enhance parks with more trails, picnic areas, and resting benches. The movement is on to have happier and healthier communities through parks, and it all starts with that stroll and a good soak in a beautiful view.
Curecanti National Recreation Area
We want to thank Marisa and Gunnar for assigning us to our Love Your Parks Tour “PortoVino with a View” map story project. There’s nothing like sipping your favorite beverage in a stunning natural environment. Since the summer of 2019, we’ve PortoVinoed with a View from Southern California and Arizona, to New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas! We each carry the backpack on our park adventures. You can follow our PortoVino with a View adventures and map story project here: https://nationalparktraveling.com/listing/portovino-with-a-view-across-america/
We invite you to not only follow our new PortoVino with a View map story as we travel the country but to seek and share your view experiences too. Come join our Big Blend Community to be part of our brand new Find Your Nature Connection View Challenge. Starting now, over the next 20 months (Feb. 5, 2020 - Oct. 5, 2021), together let's find and share photos of 2020 views that connect us with Nature. Just post in our community group where you experienced the view within the timeframe, and if possible, a photo or link to the place. Of course, cheerleaders are welcome! Together, let’s see if together we can have 2020 View Experiences in 20 months! Join the “challenge” here: https://big-blend-magazines.mn.co/groups/1638040
We’re excited to have Marisa back on Big Blend Radio to chat about the new Find Your Nature Connection View Challenge that was inspired by our PortoVino with a View map story project assignment, and to find out what’s new in PortoVinoLand. The podcast streams online for Wine Wednesday at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET on Feb. 12. You can listen as it airs or anytime later on-demand here: https://www.blogtalkradio.com/big-blend-radio/2020/02/13/big-blend-radio-marisa-hammerbeck--portovino-and-wine-with-a-view
Lisa D Smith
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