Archives of articles, essays and stories of Geri Dreiling grouped by month:
December 2012

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...