Archives of articles, essays and stories of Geri Dreiling grouped by year:

California family travel

How novel experiences boost well being

Geri Dreiling

I always smile when I look at an old picture of my young children -- clad in shorts and sweatshirts -- standing ankle deep in the Pacific Ocean surf on a hazy day. They are engrossed in a conversation that has long since been forgotten. And though the family trips sometimes blur together in my mind, the clarity of certain moments and specific emotions remain.

When I flip through photo albums, I recall the feeling of happiness and the sense of closeness. I remember the anticipation of a new adventure and delight that comes with encountering new experiences. The anxieties of navigating a new place, setting aside vacation time and sticking to a travel budget have been washed away like a sand castle at high tide. Continue reading...

Chicago Hyatt Elevator_edited

Sightseeing without ever leaving the hotel

By Geri Dreiling

June 2011

“It’s not like the movies,” I warned my Spanish friend once he decided to make his first trip to the United States to visit me in St. Louis.

“This isn’t Baywatch. You won’t see Pamela Anderson look-a-likes running around in bathing suits -- most certainly not in the Midwest,” I emphasized repeatedly.

Of course, I would eventually be wrong. But first, we had to figure out what an international visitor needed to do to enter the U.S. as a tourist. Continue reading...


By Geri Dreiling

It is early morning, the day after the Connecticut school shooting. I haven’t yet gathered the latest news. I dread reading the updates and seeing the photos of the young victims in the happier moments of their tragically short lives, but I know that eventually I will, feeling that I must somehow bear witness to the event rather than turn my back on it.

And my heart will break. Continue reading...


A King’s Ransom

Pedraza castle courtyard_resized

The colorful life of the Pedraza castle

By Geri L. Dreiling

March 2011

After the lamb luncheon at Hosteria de Pedraza and the entertainment provided by amorous storks, I strolled to the opposite end of the village with my travel companions. Eight minutes later, we were standing in front of the castle.

Pedraza’s castle was built in the Middle Ages. It is the site where two French princes were held captive as medieval bail and Basque painter Ignacio Zuloaga found inspiration. Continue reading...


Are We There Yet?

Along the road

4 tips for making family road trips easier

 By Geri Dreiling

If you live in the Midwest, driving is a fact of life. When I was growing up in Kansas, family vacations to California, Florida and Montana all involved road trips. I didn’t fly on an airplane until I was 19.

As an adult, I settled in St. Louis, Missouri. Although my kids have taken many airplane trips during their short lives, they’ve also spent a lot of time as passengers in various four-door sedans. We've taken road trips to visit relatives in far-flung states and driven to Washington D.C., Florida and even the Boundary Waters located on the Minnesota and Canada border.

I have found that there are four things I can do ranging from old-fashioned to high-tech that can improve the family road trip experience. Continue reading...

Plaza Mayor Pedraza

A new twist on dinner and a show

By Geri Dreiling

March 2011

Pedraza is a medieval village bathed in faint pink and earthy tan. Gray stone walls ring the settlement and Spanish tiles that vary in shades of red, orange and brown cap the buildings inside.  Located about an hour’s drive northwest of Madrid, the restored village that dates from the 12th century rises up from a plateau and provides sweeping views of the countryside and the Sierra of Guadarrama. When I visited in March with E and his parents, the peaks of the sierra were capped with snow.

There were two reasons for our visit to Pedraza. One was to see Pedraza’s castle which I will detail in a subsequent post. The second was to experience the food. We didn’t make the trek to enjoy the wildlife – but we did end up being treated to quite a show. Continue reading...


An Ode to the Crowbar

An Ode to the Crowbar image

A do-it-yourself adventure

By Geri Dreiling

"Sledgehammer? Check. Crowbar? Check. It would be either me or the tool shed. Vegas bookies were reportedly taking bets on my demolition project. Odds favored the tool shed."

That was the declaration of war against the tool shed that I posted -- just like any other modern nation launching an attack – on social media. In this instance, I used my personal Facebook page as the platform.  Once former high school classmates, friends, work friends, relatives and the parents of my children’s friend had seen my declaration, I knew I had to see it through. Continue reading...

Roman aqueduct at Segovia

A Roman aqueduct and a cream-colored cathedral

By Geri Dreiling

March 2011

As I sat at an outdoor café table near an imposing first century Roman aqueduct enjoying fat, fleshy Manzanilla olives and a bottle of sparkling water, I blurted out for the umpteenth time: “This is like a movie!” My travel companions and guides – E and his parents – smiled politely, yet again, at what was becoming my rather unimaginative catchphrase for the visit.

We were in Segovia, a city about an hour northeast of Madrid. It was Sunday morning and the last day of my whirlwind tour. We’d set out by car for the city which is also the capital of a province by the same name -- situated in the Castile and León region of Spain. As we made our way to the destination, a stream of questions and comments about everything I saw flowed out of me like a blathering five-year old. Continue reading...


Chainsaw Therapy

Original garden ornamental

Sometimes power tools are a girl’s best friend

By Geri Dreiling

It is said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I beg to differ. In my experience, nothing beats a chainsaw. Fire one up – or in my power-tools-with-training-wheels example – plug it into an outlet and push a button. Then you’ll discover the joy that comes with wielding a tree-chopping, debris-clearing weapon.

My crush on the chainsaw really took off this past summer. Divorcing when your kids are teens triggers an early onset of empty nest syndrome. They spend half of their time with their father. And when they are with me, they’re headed off to the mall, out with friends, to jobs and to sporting activities in their own cars. In other words, they’re moving forward in their lives – as they should. Continue reading...


Arriving in Madrid

Arriving at the Eurostars Madrid Tower Hotel

Stubborn vanity, nagging doubt and a glorious Eurostars Tower

March 2011

By Geri Dreiling

In retrospect, I should have known that my visit to Spain would be an adventure. After all, the journey that led me to the Iberian Peninsula started with an Atlantic Ocean-sized leap of faith.

It was my very first visit to Europe and the first time I met the man who had become a dear friend over the course of a long distance work relationship. I had known E, a Madrid native, for a year and a half. Over the course of those many months, he became a trusted business resource. He sprinkled warm, witty observations in his emails that managed to coax my often tightly pursed lips into the upward curve of a smile. When we Skyped, he offered words of encouragement in work – and in life. Continue reading...