One of my favorite routines during our year in Italy was packing a bag on Saturday and heading into a new town for the night. Even though we arrived feeling disoriented, after a long walk and a good meal, we would begin to settle in and recognize the patterns. While each place has its own traditions, history and culinary specialties, there were also similarities: there was the central piazza, the cathedral, the landmark fountain, the Renaissance masterpiece and the acclaimed cafe. With guidebooks, a map and notes in hand, we would hit the highlights.
We were missing the accessibility of weekend adventures until it dawned on us that we can travel and explore from our home in Washington. So last week, we bought a local guidebook on Pacific Northwest road trips and ticked off two from the list: Tom headed to Lake Chelan with some friends while Matt, Ray and I drove up to Mt. Rainier for wilderness hikes and sub-alpine scouting. Meticulously following the suggested route of our book, we were often surprised to encounter parallels with a typical trip in central Italy.