Wander With Wonder is possible because of a group of amazing writers who love to travel—Around the World or Across the Street—and share experiences with you, our readers. We are sharing some of those stories with you over the next few weeks. Follow along as our contributors talk about travel, making connections, and the future of travel with our Wander readers.
Join us today as we chat with Elizabeth Rose, our Wander With Wonder Senior Editor. Elizabeth recently relocated back to the Southwest, making her home in Arizona. Even though she enjoyed her years in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest Liz (her Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram handles are all @southwestliz) loves the Arizona desert. Come along and discover why Elizabeth writes and how she discovers wow moments in travel.
Why Travel Writing?
As a child, I read voraciously, and writing naturally followed. Throughout my first career in healthcare, my writing took the form of marketing materials, instruction manuals, and even editing research papers for submission to medical journals. But the fun began when I started writing about the area where I lived and eventually I was offered a full-time position writing about the southwestern United States for a large Internet company.
My travels began in the back seat of my parents Studebaker sedan on Sunday drives from San Francisco where I grew up. We’d go to the wine country, explore the beaches, listen to music outdoors in Stern Grove or watch a polo match in Golden Gate Park. I fell in love with the history and the warm pine forests of the California Gold Country in the Sierra foothills on some of our weekend trips. It all started there, but I continued my love of travel with living and working in Europe and then explored many states on foot with a great walking organization, America’s Walking Club.
As a travel writer, I am often invited to do things the average visitor may not be able to do. I’ve hung out in the kitchen watching famous chefs cook, have toured an organic farm with a scientist, and flown in a hot air balloon at the world-renowned Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
My biggest challenge as a travel writer is to find the time to write all that I’d like to about a destination. When I go on a press trip, I usually write several articles and, if I didn’t value sleep so much, I’d write even more!
What Do You Offer Wander Readers?
I love combining my first-person experiences with facts that people need to know to get to a destination or attraction. I prefer writing for the Internet because I can share my finds quickly and reach out to a large, interested audience.
I have an eye for the unusual whether it be a visit with a Native American artist living on a remote reservation or a treehouse getaway in the Washington forest. I can provide readers with insight into the culture (including art, traditions, and food) of the areas where they will visit and provide them with a more meaningful time there. I’ve traveled and written for years in the American west and have developed an understanding of the history and cultures. I’m not afraid to go off the beaten path to add value to a story whether that be to a remote trading post in New Mexico or tromping through the muddy tulip fields in Oregon.
I’m fascinated with the desert where I live—the sunsets, blooming cacti, dude ranches, and prickly pear margaritas. But give me a chance to write about Mexico or beautiful British Columbia and I’m off exploring.
What is a Favorite Wow Moment?
One of my favorite wow moments was my Christmas visit to a small rural chapel near Santa Fe New Mexico. I was invited by a local parishioner and experienced the cold adobe walls with flickering candlelight during a Christmas Eve service. As a small group, we listened to guitar music and gave our responses in Spanish during the traditional service telling the story of Mary and Jesus looking for shelter. After the service, I was invited to share in a potluck meal at the back of the tiny church before heading outside past the bonfires warming the icy air.
Share a Favorite Food Moment on the Road
My favorite dining experiences came from a recent trip to El Paso, Texas, and the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. If you want really good, fresh, northern-style Mexican food, this is the place to go. Did you know that the border town of Juarez was the birthplace of the burrito and the margarita? And then, there's the worst thing I never ate but was served!
What is Your Best Travel Advice?
Travel with an open mind and an open heart and don’t be afraid to try something unique to the culture of the area whether it be food, a festival, or learning a few words of the local language.
Do You Have a Funny Story to Share?
The most laughs a travel writer could ever have usually happen in a van full of sleep-deprived, excited writers on a press trip. On a rather long trip through the southwest, I had the pleasure of getting to know two young writers from New York, both new to the West. At a historic hotel, reportedly haunted, one of the writers experienced the eyes of a woman in a painting following her in the room. Completely freaked out, she frantically ran to her colleague’s room, banging on the door. She ended up sleeping with her friend but the fun began as the story was told and re-told during the next day's van ride. More details unfolded, and the descriptions became grander and grander. She was a great storyteller and this tidbit, among others, ended up in a well-known New York publication.
Do You Have a Favorite Article You Have Written?
I love writing for Wander because I have the opportunity to take my favorite photographs from a trip and string them together with descriptive and factual text. My favorite articles are those from a destination or trip that moved me emotionally and still has a place in my heart. My trip to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) was such a trip. The area is remote, filled with wildlife, and rich with First Nations culture. And, I caught a huge salmon!
What is Always in Your Carry-on Bag?
My phone, charger, and back-up batteries.
Where Do You Suggest Traveling?
Long trips intrigue me such as doing a loop driving trip through the United States visiting all the major National Parks and, of course, staying in historic National Park lodges. Now that our world has changed and we may need to travel closer to home, I am already starting a list of unusual places for short driving trips including the historic, arts hotel La Posada in Winslow, Arizona where, down the street, you can stand on “the corner” made famous by The Eagles.
Where Do You Hope to Travel Soon?
When it's finally safe to travel again (following the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions), I want to go exploring and writing locally… Sedona, Santa Fe, Arizona State Parks, and ultimately, more Mexico! Many destinations are working hard to make their attractions, hotels, and restaurants safer for those at risk of contracting the Coronavirus. I'll be looking for their lists of safety precautions as I plan my travels.