About Family Travel Photo
Meet Family Travel Photo
I hope you'll read this page before you go through any other information on Family Travel Photos.com. No, it's not driven by some narcissistic need for attention on my part. The reason you should know a little about us is so you understand where our opinions come from and can calibrate them with your own needs and priorities. For example, if you're a 23 year old marathon runner, your perspective of what constitutes an "exhaustingly long walk" would be different than ours would be. If you listen to Rap Music, you might be disappointed with our referral to a place with "wonderful music in the background" . . . if the music happens to come from a jazz trio or a string quartet.
Before you take our opinions as gospel, you ought to know where our opinions come from. With that in mind, I'm going to list out some things about us that influence our opinions and travel decisions.
A Difficult But Necessary Explanation
Divorce - First, let me address something that might cause confusion as you read through the contents of this site. I began this site in 2009, married, with six children / step-children, grandkids, dogs, cats, a bird . . . a real menagerie. Several trip reports included references to our families and almost all of them included input from my wife.
In early 2012 we split up. I trust you'll understand that I didn't have much interest in maintaining a website named Family Travel Photos when I'd lost virtually all of my family (along with most of my belongings and my home), so the site went without updates for quite some time. Later in 2012 I met a lady named Monique (known throughout this website as "Q"); she and I were married in October 2013. After that I decided to return to this website and give it a new look and scrub as much of the old history content as I could.
The point is, as you read the information on this site you may find references to my wife or teenage boys, or situations where I speak in the singular "I" when it seems clear I'm referring to a plural "we". The process of cleansing the site of painful memories is challenging, and - if I want to retain all the helpful information for your use - sometimes impossible. So, if you notice some noun/verb disagreements or other conflicting comments in the writeups, I trust you'll chalk them up to editing challenges and not problematic grammar.
With that clarification, I'll now move on with introducing Q and me, the people behind Family Travel Photos
So Who Are We?
Age and Family - We are a late-40s to early 50s couple. When we talk about "family travel" we are referring to 1) the two of us traveling alone, 2) the two of us traveling with my brother, who is close to my age. Our three children are in college or past college, and aren't traveling with us.
We Live in North Dallas, Texas - We come from the land of big hair and the four-inch belt buckle, where the winters last about three weeks and the summers, eight months. As I type this, the temperture outside is 103 degrees. When I say it's cold outside in a trip report, that could be anywhere from 55 degrees (Fahrenheit) and below. You northerners will probably scoff at me for that. Just like I laugh at y'all for complaining about hot days in the mid-80s. ;-)
We live in your standard suburban area so our perspective of an urban area will be different than you city dwellers.
People in Texas tend to commute larger distances than those in other parts of the country. It's nothing for us to jump in the car and drive 200 miles in a day; I have family in the Midwest who consider a 15 mile drive to be worthy of an overnight stay.
Mobility - Neither of us have great mobility. On my recent trip to Utah I hiked a couple miles at a time, but didn't attempt many steep trails. I did do one steep hike at Bryce Canyon. At 8,100 ft elevation, loaded down with layers of clothes and camera equipment and in the bitter cold, I didn't go all that far.
All that's to say that physical exertion factors into our opinions and our choices for tourist attractions. If you're younger and/or more physically active, you can take our references to physical exertion with that in mind.
Photography and History - I am an avid photographer, and a tourist attraction's photo policies influence what I think of it. We are both history buffs. This also affects our decisions on the places we visit.
Food and Drink - I am an unabashed carnivore. My wife likes bait (sushi) and veggies and salads; my policy is that if it's green I probably won't eat it unless it's lime jello. We both enjoy drinking wine with our meals although neither of us knows anything about it.
Roughing It - We do not enjoy roughing it. My idea of camping would be staying in a hotel without Internet access. My wife enjoys fishing but hasn't done it in years. I enjoy fish sticks. Many people would love to climb around the Himalayan Mountains. The closest I come to that is owning a Himalayan cat. Suffice it to say, if you're looking for a trip report on a three-week hike on the Appalachian Trail, you probably won't find much here.
Why Did I Create Family Travel Photos.com? I'm an information manager by trade, so I spend my days doing writing, photography, web design and development, search engine optimization (SEO) and desktop publishing. This is more than just work - I really love doing these things. This website is an extension of our vacations and an opportunity for me to do the things I enjoy. It's a lot of fun. Hey, I do website design as an independent contractor for companies all around the United States. If you like this site and want me to do yours, send me a note!
We're Tourists, Damnit! - I get weary of being browbeaten by travelers or TV shows who insist on dragging us away from the tourists to see the "real Venice" or "backdoor Europe" (a reference I'm a bit uncomfortable with, frankly.) There is a reason tourists go to the Coliseum in Rome, the Duomo in Florence, St. Marks Square in Venice, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC . . . they're COOL PLACES. They're called "tourist attractions" because they, um, attract tourists.
I personally am not all that interested in seeing how "real Romans" live, any more than your average Roman would care about how I live. I'm on a vacation, not a sociological survey. If it comes to choosing between touring the Bargello Museum or watching a local make goat cheese at a shop his family owned since 1365, guess which one I'm picking?
I'm obviously having a little fun here. But I do notice the travel shows, and many of the chatters on traveler forms, tend to look down their collective noses at tourist attractions and hunt around for "a look into the lives . . ." more than I would.
Samantha Brown, for example, went to Washington DC for her weekends show and didn't cover one traditional historical site - instead, she scooted us off to Sunday brunch at a transvestite restaurant. Learning more about the Capitol or the Washington Monument would have interested me; being served pancakes by a sassy cross-dresser just doesn't motivate me to visit the Federal City. (I must admit, my then-wife and I discussed taking our 16 year old boys to this place in DC without warning them, just to watch their reaction when the "waitress" came out from the kitchen.)
My wife and I love Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, Rudy Maxa and many of the other travel show series. And we understand that they have to come up with new content for the shows rather than just covering the same places other shows feature.
Rick Steves hits a lot of the tourist sites and Samantha Brown visits some of them, between shopping and trendy bars and restaurants. I just think many of the shows could devote more of their time to the places people actually want to see, rather than focusing so much on local color.
It sounds like I'm picking on Samantha. I really enjoy her shows. I've seen every show she's done on European travel many times and learned quite a bit from her. I get a big kick out of her as well - she's got a terrific personality and she's a great sport. (I still laugh when I think of her running to the restaurant, carrying a big king crab that is completely skeeving her out.) She and I just have different priorities when it comes to restaurants, hotels and what to do on a vacation, that's all. So Samantha, if you're reading this - we love ya, enjoy your show and want you to do more stuff in Europe! I know you're from Dallas - Next time you're in the Metroplex, let's have lunch!
One last point, and then I'll get off the soap box.
I challenge you to find a good travel video of Washington DC, Gettysburg Pennsylvania or any other U.S. destination that emphasizes the actual tourist attractions and was created in the last 30 years. We tried to find travel DVDs for Washington DC and they were really lousy, boring and appear to come from the Eisenhower era. I think there is a real market for good quality, modern travel videos that actually cover tourist attractions in domestic cities.
Hey Travel Channel, are you reading this??? We don't need TV shows that feature Miss Bodacious Boobs flopping herself around the beaches of the world. We don't need former jocks grunting around with macho men in other countries. And we sure as HELL don't need any more shows featuring morons swilling down the most nauseating animal parts they can find.
Show me the places we can travel to and the reasons why people actually travel there. That is what we should expect on the Travel Channel.
Okay, I'm done now.
Please help me get more visitors to Family Travel Photos.com!