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The Married Couple Takes a Photo

Dave – Dave - Dave
do you have the camera out

take the -  no, no over there - 
no - to the left

Jim, try to get Albania
In the background

get that branch in the foreground 

John what are you taking a picture of?
over here – look at that temple

Peter, don’t allow strangers in the photo

Are you focused?
Sometimes you forget to focus

Albania, this was my first trip on a tour populated with local friends.  My mother, husband, son and I were days away from an OAT trip to China, when my mother’s dear friend dropped off an OAT catalog with the Dalmatian Coast circled and a sharpie scrawled note – we need two more people to join the tour.  Mom said yes – especially since I would share a room with her – my mother, not the friend.

I was completely unfamiliar with the Dalmatian Coast, thinking of the dog breed, but agreed to travel with my mother and these people I did not know.   

It worked out beautifully. Aside from spectacular scenery and friendly locals, it was endlessly entertaining to observe the dynamics of the group.  These were a collection of friends from college who went on to careers in education.  These were cousins and spouses of cousins.  

Based on years of group experience, there were two rules:  be on time and you can comment, but not complain.

Good rules, for more than just a tour.

Do I like tours?  They have their place.  In the case of traveling with my mother, a tour simplifies the process, takes care of the hotels and the transportation and in doing so, short circuits many possible cantankerous conversations (comments) about getting from point A to B.  

A tour helps me since I need to manage my mother and her luggage as well as my own.   We stayed in much nicer hotels than we could afford on our own.

The downside?  You are with other people. The down, downside?  I’m traveling with a parent 25 years older and 100 years slower than me.

Again the upside? Those other people talked with, helped with, and entertained my mother for up to hours at a time.

Giving me a break.

So I could observe and write.

About them.


Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach and author. She has published over 300 newspaper and magazine articles in publications like Modern Maturity (AARP), SF Chronicle and Santa Rosa Magazine. She was a contributor to two Chicken Soup Books and has published anthologies of her work, non-fiction works and novels. Her work has also appeared in a number of poetry and fiction anthologies. She has experimented with the self-publishing world since 2001. She has published and self-published seven books through companies like Author House, author assist companies like 3L Publishing and through traditional publishers like Write Life. Her poetry collection, Ammonia Sunrise, will be released in August 2011 by Finishing Line Press and her mystery novel, In Good Faith will be released by Write Life in 2011. Catharine holds a BA in English from UCSB and a MA in English from Sonoma State University. She is a 25 year member of California Writer’s Club. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Phoenix. She works with authors of both fiction and non-fiction to make their dream of producing a book come true. For more information on that, visit her at Catharine has lived in Sonoma County for 25 years and considers wine a food group. She is married to an adorable and very patient man who complains he’s never featured in any of her books. Her grown children who are featured in a few of her books have fled the county.

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