I’m disappointed that most people aren’t able or willing to travel now, but I’m very thankful that my wife Linda and I were able to enjoy so many wonderful trips.

We visited all 50 states, including two trips to Hawaii, which is a real paradise. A couple years ago I met with a lady who had just been diagnosed with ALS, and I encouraged her to take her dream trip before she could no longer travel. She spent two wonderful weeks in Hawaii.

Of course, I also fished all over North America, including Alaska, Montana, all over Canada, and even the Florida Keys. I enjoyed three amazing fishing adventures in Alaska, including one with Linda. We stayed at a remote sporting camp, Rainbow River Lodge, which flew us out each day to rivers where we would catch rainbow trout and silver salmon.

On the salmon river, I took a photo of Linda, who had just cast, while 10 yards away a huge bear was staring at her. That river was full of bears, and fortunately, they were very good at catching fish, but it still was a bit troubling to fish with bears all around you.

Linda and I loved our national parks, with our favorites being Glacier National Park in northern Montana and Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. Both include spectacular mountains. We loved the small town of Terlingua, just 10 miles from Big Bend, and rented a house there that had just one room, with everything in it from a kitchen to a bed.

But the owner also had everything you needed outside, including a shower, kitchen and bed. I couldn’t get Linda to sleep outside because there was a critter living under the bed.


We also enjoyed trips to Montreal and Quebec city. But some of our most memorable trips were to Europe and Costa Rica, where friends from Wayne let us stay in a house they built in a very remote village. The house was high on a hill looking out over the ocean, and was surrounded by howler monkeys. To get there, I had to drive through a river because there was no bridge.

The first morning there, we grabbed our binoculars and walked out to see the birds, and right in our driveway were the most exotic birds we’d ever seen. If you are a birder, head to Costa Rica!

We also enjoyed a lot of trips to Europe. After visiting Germany (we loved Munich), Switzerland (awesome mountains; we enjoyed lunch once at a restaurant on top of a mountain), and France (we liked Paris) a couple of times, we fell in love with Italy, settling into “our” apartment in a small family winery in Greve, a town in Tuscany just below Florence.

Our host, Alessandro, was very friendly. Our first day there, he asked where we planned to have dinner, and when we told him, he said, “Oh no. That’s a tourist restaurant.” And forever after, on our many visits, wherever we were in Tuscany, he would tell us about the local restaurants.

I fell in love with wild boar, and ordered it almost every time. Italy is overrun with wild boar, and hunters kill them and sell them to restaurants. One night we heard a ruckus outside our window, and we looked out to see 10 baby boars in our flower garden, with their mother nearby watching them.

Almost every day, we’d pick a remote road nearby and walk it, and we spent a lot of time hanging out at our apartment, including in the pool. Did I tell you Alessandro has a pool?

We wrote a bunch of travel columns about Tuscany, and have sent more than 70 people from Maine to stay with Alessandro, and everyone loved it. Quite a few have now visited there more than once.

I’ve written about great places to visit right here in Maine, and I hope you are able to do that. But someday, visit Italy and stay with Alessandro — you can reach him at [email protected] for a trip you will never forget.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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