Author Archives: Tricia Goyer

About Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is a USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books who's traveled the world and interviewed everyone from crusty old cowboys to World War II veterans to discover the true stories behind her historical novels. She co-wrote her newest book, Lead Your Family Like Jesus, with NY Times Best-selling author Ken Blanchard. Tricia's a mom of six, avid blogger, and mentor to teenage mothers. You can find out more about Tricia at or listen to her radio podcast at:

4 Ways Loving Your Spouse Benefits Your Kids

4 Ways Loving Your Spouse Benefits Your Kids

If you’ve been visiting Happy Wives Club for some time, you probably already know Keith and I do not have children.  And you also know, that’s certainly not due to a lack of trying.

Parenthood simply hasn’t joined us on our journey of life but we still hold out hope.

I mention this because the times I’ve published contributor posts about parenthood, I’ve immediately received notes from happy wives who were not mothers and felt left out.  

If that is you, feel free to click the link above for a post I wrote on this recently.  You can also read one of my favorites on this site for encouragement in this area, Happy With My Family of Two.

And if you are one of the many included in this community with children, this post is especially for you.

Until tomorrow…make it a great day! 

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My sweet six-year-old daughter, Bella, approached with a folded color sheet in her hand and a twinkle in her eye. “I made something for you and Daddy!”

I opened it and found a picture of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Bella giggled. “You and Daddy kiss like that!” Joy beamed from her face.

I’ve been married for almost twenty-four years, and I do my best to love my husband for our sake . . . but I’m just starting to understand how loving my spouse—in front of my kids—benefits my kids too!

4 Ways Loving Your Spouse Benefits Your Kids

Displayed love gives our children stability. Our three young kids love to see John and me kiss, and it makes sense. We are their world. The stability of their home, their future, and their peace depends on their dad and me. John and I love each other. We display that in many wonderful ways when our kids aren’t around . . . but our kids need to see our hugs and kisses too. They find stability from that. They find peace from that.

Displayed love gives our children a pattern to follow. Kids live what they see. They will approach relationships the way they see us approaching them. What does a healthy relationship look like? They will understand this by seeing it in us. Love—they will discover by watching—is more than just hugs and kisses, but also kind words, helpful gestures, and tender care in other numerous ways.

Displayed love will help your children understand gender differences. Men and women are different and unique. John and I display our love in front of our kids in different ways. John often grabs me up in the kitchen and gives me a big smooch. I show my love by words of respect, cooking a nice meal, or offering to run an errand for him.

When our kids see love displayed differently by their mom and their dad, they start to understand how genders complement each other. This doesn’t mean I never grab John up for a kiss, or John never cooks a meal for me (they both happen), but generally we show love in different ways.

Displayed love will help your children see the value of marriage. In a world that says marriage is an out-of-date concept and living together is now the norm, love displayed between parents is real-life evidence to the contrary. Children grow to see marriage as something to plan for and desire.

Having a positive attitude toward marriage will change a million little decisions along the way as they grow. It’ll impact who they date, how they date, and what they look for in the people they date. It will impact how they live out their marriage (even that oft times tough first year). Our children will set a higher standard because they’ve seen what to aspire to in your marriage.

YOUR TURN: What about you? What additional ways do you think loving your spouse benefits your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Best Places to Spread Out a Spring or Summer Picnic

I don’t know about you, but about this time of year, I am ready for summer.

Although I live in Little Rock, Arkansas (where the winter weather is usually mild), we’ve had our share of winter weather (ice, rain—even a little snow!).

I’m ready for flowers to bloom, leaves on the trees, stepping outside and feeling the warm sun on my skin, wearing shorts and sundresses.

Do you feel the same way?

What’s my other favorite part of summer?  Spending time outside, whether it’s a family vacation, a barbecue with my kids and neighbors in our cul-de-sac, or a date with my husband.

There is nothing more romantic than a summer picnic with the man I love. Maybe you feel the same?

One way to get past the winter blahs is to start planning for a summer picnic . . . today!

Even though the cold wind still blows outside, you can start planning the perfect summer getaway. Spend time with your spouse considering the perfect spot to get away.

Do you like the ocean or the mountains? Would you rather stretch out a blanket on a mountain meadow or on the sand?

Do you want to be in a locale where there’s lots of restaurants and shops to explore, or do you want to be in a small quaint town?

Dreaming about where you’d like to go is something you can do together. Dreaming is almost as fun as going—especially when you do it together. Take a little time this week to dream about where you’d like to go, then compare lists!

Consider these four locations as a starting point for finding your perfect picnic place!


Halstatt, Austria I traveled to Halstatt with my husband, John, in 2002. It’s a picturesque village of less than 1,000 people in Austria. Halstatt is known for its salt mines, dating back to prehistoric times. John and I stayed in an old hotel overlooking the town square, and during our first moments we were able to watch a local celebration. The town square is a beautiful place to have your picnic, or there are numerous other places overlooking the lake. And after the picnic is done? Here are our top three things to do there:

  1. Visit the salt caves. A wonderful gondola took us to the top of the mountain where we toured the caves. The tour was fantastic.
  2. Visit the Beinhaus (bone house). Visiting a bone house might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but John and I love exploring local culture. There are more than 1,200 skulls in the bone house, 600+ which have been painted with designs. Since the cemetery is so small, without the possibility of expansion, and since cremations used to be forbidden, 10-15 years after a person’s death the skull and larger bones were removed to make room for the next occupants.
  3. Museum Hallstatt. There are rooms filled with exhibits and information files in many languages, including English. The archeological displays were fascinating!


Crescent City, California Growing up, one of our favorite things to do was “go to the coast.” Crescent City was about four hours away from our northern Californian home. There are wonderful beaches in Crescent City, and it’s not as crowded as many other places. Spread out your blanket to watch local surfers—and the seals that try to outdo them. Things you don’t want to miss:

  1. The Redwoods. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State park is just one of the local places you can view these amazing redwood trees. There are wonderful hiking trails, and walking among the giants you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into another world.
  2. Battery Point Lighthouse. To reach this lighthouse you have to go at low tide. The lighthouse itself is small and homey—it looks like something from a movie. This lighthouse is staffed by volunteers who stay in the lighthouse a month at a time. They keep the place tidy and conduct tours with the help of docents.
  3. Beachfront Park. I have photos of myself playing here as a child. You can go from running in the grass to running on the beach in only a few steps. It’s a great place to collect sea shells!

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Lake Siskiyou, California Lake Siskiyou is located in Mount Shasta, California, and I grew up just ten miles away. The best time to visit is for the 4th of July celebrate and parade in the town of Mt. Shasta. After the parade, go to the lake early to make sure you have a spot, because the beach gets crowded. The water from the lake is crystal clear, and the view of Mt. Shasta can’t be beat! Other local places to visit:

  1. Castle Crags State Park. The jagged peaks indeed look like a castle. There are 28 miles of hiking trails in a still wilderness area, not far from Lake Siskiyou.
  2. Mt. Shasta City Park. Visit the city park and there you’ll find the headwaters to the Sacramento river. Mountain snow gushes from the ground and drops off small ledges. The park is a great place to run around and play like a kid.
  3. McCloud Falls. The nearby town of McCloud hosts the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls of the McCloud River. The road takes you to the Lower Falls and there you can climb up to the Middle and Upper Falls where you’ll also see a lovely view of Mount Shasta.


Glacier Park, Montana I lived near Glacier Park for fifteen years, and even though I’ve traveled the world there was nothing more amazing that visiting this national park. Top three places you won’t want to miss:

  1. Going-to-the-Sun-Road. I’ve driven this road dozens and dozens of times, and each time I’m awed by the beauty. It opens around June 21 . . . because it takes so long to clear the snow off these high mountain peaks! The road travels into the high mountains and has expansive vistas that will take your breath away. At the top is a visitor center where it’s common to be greeted by rams and mountain goats!
  2. Lake McDonald Lodge. This beautiful mountain lodge is one of the finest Swiss Chalet hotels in the United States. The front of the hotel actually faces the lake because steamboats used to bring tourists over the water before the roads were built. Inside the lodge, balconies face toward the three-story lobby. If you know how to play, a piano in the lobby is open to talented guests.
  3. Avalanche Lake Trail. This two-mile hike takes you to one of the most beautiful mountain lakes you’ve ever seen. If hiking isn’t your thing, stay on the cedar walking path below, which will take you to Avalanche Gorge. This walking path is perfect for children and is wheelchair accessible.

So how about it? Which location would interest you (and your man) most? Where is your favorite place to spread out a blanket with the man you love?

Glacier National Park

5 Must-See Places in {or Near} Glacier National Park

Where is your favorite place to visit? Some people love big cities. Others long for the ocean. As for me and my husband of twenty-three years, we love the mountains. We love fresh, crisp air and the scent of pines. There is nothing better than strolling up a gently sloped path to the cadence of a bird’s song. Ahh . . .

One of my favorite places to visit is Glacier National Park in the corner of Northwest Montana.

I lived just thirty minutes away from Glacier National Park for fifteen years, and the sharp mountain peaks, the sight of mountain goats and rams, and the roar of glacial waterfalls is something to behold!

In fact, when I had to travel to the Austria Alps I looked around (spinning like Maria in The Sound of Music), and I told my husband, “This looks almost exactly like home!”

We’d traveled half-way around the world to gaze upon high mountain peaks that looked amazingly familiar to the ones back home.

If you are starting to consider where you want to spend your summer vacation, consider Glacier National Park. It’ll save you the plane fare to Austria! And if you go … here are five must-see stops!

Five must-see stops!

1. Lake McDonald


Lake McDonald is a beautiful lake just inside the park. Follow signs to the “village” area, and you’ll find a place to park, quaint shops, and a view that will amaze you. The lake is ten miles long and 500 feet deep. If you visit early in the year, you can even make reservations to camp in the park. Of course if you do make sure you heed the warnings about bears. They are often seen by visitors at the park!

2. Avalanche Gorge


While you’re driving along Lake McDonald be sure to stop at the Avalanche Lake trail. It’s a flat, wooden walkway about a mile long, perfect for kids and elderly people. If you’re more adventurous, hike up to Avalanche Lake. It’s a low-to-moderate incline with a fantastic view. But whether you stick to the wooden walkway or hike to the lake, make sure you stop by avalanche gorge. The green, glacial water pouring through the narrow gorge is breathtaking.

3. Going to the Sun Road.


Going to the Sun Road is an engineering masterpiece that travels more than fifty miles through Glacier National Park and over the continental divide. If you’d rather look at the massive peaks and deep valleys, you can ride a “Jammer” bus and get a tour guide to point out all the sights. Of course don’t plan your vacation too early. Snow accumulates high in these mountains, and it isn’t plowed until mid-June. It closes by mid-September. It takes approximately two hours to drive the road, but plan for longer because you’ll want to stop and take a lot of photos!


4. Lake McDonald Lodge


On your way out of Glacier National Park be sure to stop by Lake McDonald Lodge. It’s an older, beautiful lodge with on-site dining and a gift shop. Make sure you walk around the lodge to the lakeside. This is the side of the lodge that faces the lake, and it’s actually the front of the lodge. Before the roads were built visitors used to come to the lodge by steamboat. Even today you can take a steamboat ride on the lake.

5. Whitefish Lake


Whitefish Lake isn’t in Glacier National Park, but it’s closer to the town of Whitefish. It’s a wonderful place to hang out as a couple or with your kids. You can swim, rent a paddle boat, or jet ski. Whitefish Lake is popular with the locals, so you’ll get a taste of the real Montana!

As you can see, beauty awaits you in Montana. Your camera will get a workout, but don’t forget to just put away the electronics for a while and breath in the fresh, pine air.

Berlin, Ohio

A Visitor’s Guide to Berlin, Ohio

I’ve been married to John for twenty-four years. Some women show their men they love them by providing a back rub or going on a hike. I display my love by bringing home cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Thankfully, I found the perfect place to stock up when I visited one of my favorite places, Berlin, Ohio.

Heini’s Cheese Chalet is evidence of what can happen when a hardworking couple dreams together, and works together to see that dream fulfilled. Here is the story behind Heini’s:

“Our grandfather, John (Hans) Dauwalder, trained as a master cheesemaker in Switzerland and came to the United States in the 1920s to display his artisan talents in a growing cheese market. After several successful years at the Bunker Hill Cheese Co-op, John decided to return to his hometown in Switzerland to further his romance with Lili Mueller. The two fell in love and were married in 1933.

In 1948, John and Lili, together with their two children, Peter, our father, and Marguerite, our aunt, sold the family farm in Switzerland to join John’s Brother Crist in the United States. Crist had purchased Bunker Hill Cheese in 1935 and asked John to join him in building the family cheese business.

In 1962, our parents, Peter and Nancy, who were married in 1955, acquired Bunker Hill Cheese. The name was changed to Heini’s Cheese Chalet after our heritage.”


Heini’s cheese is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. My favorite was the Salzburg cheese, which reminded me of the cheese I found in Europe. At the cheese factory, large windows allow visitors to watch the cheese being made by master cheese makers. The cheese is made from milk that is hand-milked and delivered to the factory in traditional milk cans. Their success is the evidence of the power of relationships—between husbands and wives who dare to have a dream and between cheese makers and Amish farmers in a rural community.

If you find yourself in Berlin, stop by Heini’s, watch the cheese-making process, and taste the cheese. The samples are abundant and tasty. You can even have a free tour by an eighty-four-year-old Amish man named Atlee! And visit the coffeeshop and bookshop and pick up a CD or book from Lisa Troyer. Lisa’s a Christian author and singer whose parents own Heini’s. You’re in for a treat!

If you’re staying the night, I highly recommend Berlin Inn and Suites, from the friendly front desk, the warm fresh-baked cookie upon checking in, and the immaculate room. I wished I could stay a week, not just a weekend. I stayed in a suite and enjoyed the whirlpool tub. The fresh-smelling sheets were a welcome treat, and I honestly had one of the best nights sleep I’d had in a while.


Also, if you are looking for a great lunch, check out the local hangout spot, Boyd and Wurthmann. Their sign proclaims “Home Style Cooking,” and that’s exactly what you get. Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant still serves a 75¢ cup of coffee and is one of the oldest established businesses in Berlin, Ohio, it opened in the 1930s. I had a wonderful bacon cheeseburger with an in-house special “yellow mayonnaise”—made from mayo, mustard, and a bit of sugar, I was told. It was delicious, as was the homemade coconut cream pie!

While you’re in Berlin, make sure you visit The Gospel Bookshop, situated in the Amish mall. The bookshop is just one of the numerous business. In the same building is a grocery store, a bank, a pharmacy, a fabric store, and more . . . and it’s where the Amish shop. I sat for more than an hour just watching the Amish families. Visiting here truly gives you a glimpse into their everyday lives.

Berlin, Ohio, is one of my favorite places to visit, and you can guess why.

Oh, yes, and I did bring my husband home cheese . . . lots of cheese. He was thrilled. We’re still enjoying it, and we’re already planning a visit to Heini’s sometime next year! I encourage you to visit too!

Welcome to Shipshewana Indiana

Shipshewana, Indiana | A trip into Amish Country

I’d written about Shipshewana, Indiana in a few of my novels, so arriving in the small community felt like visiting a familiar neighborhood, rather than embarking on a new place. My husband and I journeyed there to visit friends who were formerly Amish, and glimpsing into the quiet community was a rare treat.

When visiting Shipshewana:

Hotel: We stayed at the Amish Country Inn. The accommodations were three-star. The place wasn’t fancy, but it was clean and the staff was helpful. I’d stay there again.

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We reserved the hotel on Cheaptickets and found a lower price than booking from the hotel directly. TIP: When booking on Cheaptickets I always search for Discount Codes. I found one for hotel stays and saved 30%. In the end our room was only $79/night (plus tax), and this included breakfast. The breakfast was a nice buffet with waffles, eggs, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and numerous other menu items.

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Restaurants: We ate out at two places: The Blue Gate Restaurant and The Essenhaus in Middlebury. The Blue Gate is one of the most popular spots in Shipshewana. It offers both family-style and menu dining. During the evening, on the Memorial Day weekend, there was an hour wait, but there was hardly a wait in the morning. We enjoyed the chicken, potatoes, green beans, and apple sauce, but our favorite menu items were the pies. I enjoyed the rhubarb cream (which is seasonal), and my husband (who is not a pie eater) enjoyed the raspberry cream so much that he had three pieces during our stay!

We also enjoyed Essenhaus. We ate buffet-style there and found a nice salad buffet and a dinner buffet with turkey, roast beef, fried chicken, and side dishes such as mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, green beans corn, and stuffing. Their pie was equally as good!

Entertainment: My favorite part of Shipshewana was visiting an Amish family. We spent time on their farm, got a buggy ride, pet their pony, and got to pet a baby fawn. (They have a deer farm.) Because we were friends of the family, we were welcomed with open arms. I also found that most of the Amish people around Shipshewana were friendly and smiled and waved. They didn’t seem to mind when I took photos of their buggies or horses either. What a delightful community!

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Community: Second to visiting with our Amish friends, our favorite thing was touring the countryside. TIP: If you go approximately one mile east of Shipshewana you can turn down any road and find Amish homes. These homes were beautiful and well tended to. The gardens were immaculate, and we saw numerous Amish children doing chores around their own—little girls mowing the lawn and little boys tending the fields. We also saw both men and boys plowing their fields. One Amish man was using a team of eight horses to plow his field. He expertly stood on the seat of his antique plow as he directed the large horses.

The play: While in town we also attended a play at the Blue Gate theater. Playing during our visit was Half-Stitched, the Musical. It’s based on the book by Wanda Brunstetter. I’ve met Wanda before, and she’s a delight! Both my husband and I greatly enjoyed it. We were impressed by the talent of the actors in the play. I found myself laughing and crying as I watched.

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The shopping: I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore the shopping in the area. There is great shopping stip behind The Blue Gate restaurant. Small shops were filled with antiques, boutique clothing, quilts, and other Amish-made items. I picked up a few things (a quilted laptop cover, for instance), but I could have spent a whole day shopping! TIP: In each store there were Clearance items. Look for those first!

The local life: One night we were invited to go to the pony races in Nappanee with Amish friends. I pictured kids on carts but instead found jockeys riding carts behind extremely fast horses. The races were fun to watch, but I mostly liked seeing the Amish in their natural element—sitting with friends and family. I smiled as I watched Amish children sitting on the laps of grandmothers, and I loved hearing them talk to each other in Pennsylvania Dutch!

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The pie: Between the Blue Gate and the Essenhaus I sampled thirteen kinds of pie! (No, I did not eat 13 pieces, but I sampled friends’ pies.) Here is my list from my favorite to least favorite, although all of them were GREAT! (*Pies I ate the whole piece.)

Rhubarb cream*
Strawberry rhubarb*
Raspberry cream
Pecan cream
Peanut butter
Peanut butter chocolate
Lemon meringue
Raisin cream
Custard pie*
Cherry crumb
Raspberry turnover

There are other things I want to see next time, such as Menno-Hof, which gives the cultural history of the Amish people. I’d also like to attend an Amish auction. Also, our Amish friends invited us to stay next time . . . so that will be on the agenda for certain. I’m looking forward to visiting Shipshewana again!

Believing in Your Husband's Dreams

Marriage Mondays: 3 Easy Steps to Achieving Your Dreams {& His}

Believing in Your Husband's Dreams

Mega bestselling author and HWC contributor, Tricia Goyer, is our guest writer for today’s Marriage Mondays.  Enjoy! 

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I knew John was “the one” during our first date when he briefly glanced over from the steering wheel and asked one simple question, “So tell me about your dreams; what do you want to do with your life?”

The truth was, no man had ever asked me that before and I could tell it really mattered to this guy.

I told him how I wanted to finish college and become a school teacher.  My path in life took me in a different direction but because of John continuing to ask this question, and his unwavering belief in me…my life has always been an extraordinary adventure.  He helped me achieve dreams much greater than the ones I initially envisioned for myself.  

I’ve done more in our twenty-three years of marriage than I ever thought possible.

And the same is true for him.  I’m John’s biggest cheerleader and closest confidant. I can tell when he’s really thinking about something and weighing it out.  And I’m there to help because I know my words have power.

When John first voices an idea, I know any negativity on my part will fill him with worries and doubts.  But when I tell him I want to know more, and I urge him to figure out how we can make his dreams possible, it’s like adding fuel to his engine.  Dreaming with him is the spark that then sets everything ablaze.

Where has dreaming gotten us?

I’ve written 35 books (quick plug: my newest one is on sale this week for $1.99 only on Amazon **wink**), and he’s found the job of his dreams where he can use his technical skills to help marriages and families around the world.

We’ve led teams of volunteers to Europe for outreach trips—not once but three times.

We’ve made cross country moves twice, and we’ve vacationed from Alaska to Florida and from Maine to Los Angeles.

We’ve adopted three little children around the same time our older ones were leaving the nest.

I’ve helped in in his kids’ outreach, and he’s supported me as I’ve mentored teenage mothers.

It’s safe to say that together we’ve touched numerous lives, and through that we’ve grown and changed … together.

Dreaming with your spouse isn’t hard. In fact, it just takes three things:

  1. Lend a listening ear. Be open to your spouse, talking about new ideas.
  2. Have an accepting heart. Don’t immediately jump to all the problems with your spouses’ idea, consider the possibilities first.
  3. Step outside of your comfort zone. I’m willing to sacrifice my needs, give up my time, and sometimes even act like a fool with a silly hat and a puppet on my hand to support John’s dreams. But you know what? I discover more about myself in the process. I also benefit from living with a man who feels fulfilled and excited about life—which is pure joy!

Building a successful life together takes not only dreaming but supporting one another to make it happen.  Two working together can achieve more, climb higher, advance farther and in half the time.  Want to reach your dreams?  Support your husband’s.  And guess what, he will trip over himself to do the same for you.

So what about you? Does your spouse have a dream you’ve been discouraging? Next time, shut up, listen up, open up, and step out. Your man can do amazing things with you by his side!  And he’s not the only one benefiting from him achieving his dreams.  Guaranteed!


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Happy Wives Club

The Way to Hug a Redwood

The Write Way to Travel | Three Top Locations To Hug a Tree!

1. Hug a redwood in the California Redwoods

One of my earliest childhood memories was going to the California Redwoods with my parents and grandparents. Walking through the trees I felt as if I’d been shrunk down like Alice in Wonderland.

Make sure you visit: Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California. Giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox guard the entrance. (Maybe that’s why I love their tall tale!) 

Bonus: the coastal highway getting there is beautiful!


2. Hug a papaya tree in Jamaica


A few years ago a group of writers and I decided we’d have our private writer’s conference on a cruise ship, instead of a stuffy, old hotel. The bonus was my whole family was able to go and enjoy the ship. In addition to my husband, me, and two teens, we also had our toddler and 83-year-old grandma with us. When we were looking at an on-shore excursion we found one that would work with the whole family. 

Make sure you visit: the Martha’s Best Papaya Plantation. We had a tour of the whole plantation on a Jeep/bus and a tasty jerk chicken lunch. Our whole family enjoyed it. 

Bonus: the ride to the plantation on the tourist bus allowed us to see the “real Jamaica” beyond the touristy docks.

3. Hug an Alaskan tree—just make sure there isn’t a bear cub in it!


Just a few months before the cruise, I traveled to Alaska with my husband, toddler daughter, and co-author to research for our book Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Make sure you visit: Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. The glacier was beautiful, but even more exciting were the bears! There was a large bear trying to catch salmon in the creek and a small bear up in a tree. We learned from the park ranger that that’s where the little ones go to eat their stolen salmon. Otherwise the big bears steal it back. 

Bonus (or not): Alaska is stinkier in person than the photos suggest. The rotting salmon the bears leave behind can be overwhelming!

Salami With Ham and Eggs

The Write Way to Travel Pt 3

Here are a few dos and don’ts before your big trip!

Do try a few Czech words with servers:

Hello = Ahoj (pronouced like a sailor’s ahoy!)

Good = Dobře

Thank you = Děkuji

Don’t expect Czech desserts to be overly sweet. They use far less sugar than American recipes. (Yes, that means you can have two pieces of cake.)

Do try eating the Czech way with your fork in your left hand and knife in your right hand.

Don’t turn up your nose at anything you’re offered at a Czech home, but only take what you can eat.

Do expect your bread to be freshly baked that morning.

Don’t expect refills on your drinks.

Do ask for vegetarian options if you’re in a tourist area.

Don’t expect a lot of vegetables with your meals. Most items on a Czech menu are heavy on meat and starch.

Do pick up some reading material about Prague, to read while you sit an espresso at a sidewalk cafe. I recommend my novel Night Song, set there during World War II.

Don’t get offended if you’re asked to share a table with people you don’t know. It’s not uncommon.

Do expect lunch meats, salami, cheese, rolls, plain yoghurt, boiled eggs and cucumbers for breakfast. No pancakes and waffles there.

Don’t let your 2-year-old eat the gold filigree in the cathedral, even if it looks like pizza.

Don’t let the name Smazeny syr stop you from eating it. Fried cheese with tarter sauce is a treat—a family favorite and a perfectly acceptable dinner, too!

Do try Czech spa wafers and Czech gingerbread—both are popular in their country and delicious!

Do let me know what you love eating in The Czech Republic!

Traditional Czech Meal

The Write Way to Travel Pt 2

Travel tips for eating in Prague, The Czech Republic

My first meal in the Czech Republic was in 2000. I was there with two author friends Anne de Graaf and Cindy Martinusen Coloma. We were researching for novels. (Wait, let me take that back.) They were researching for novels. I was along for the ride. Little did I know as I ate Czech goulash that the next day God would drop the idea for my first novel From Dust and Ashes into my lap.

We sat outside, just a spoon’s throw from the Prague astronomical clock and I couldn’t believe I was there, enjoying this view with two friends. The night was quiet and the food was amazing. We probably picked one of the most expensive places to eat, but it was worth the memory! (Besides in 2000 the exchange rate was great!)

I’ve picked up a few pointers about eating in Prague since then. I thought I’d share them with you:

  1. If you can help it, don’t eat near the major tourist attractions. A bottled soda near St. Vitus Cathedral cost us $6.00. A nice dinner in Old Town Square will be four times as much as a meal just a few blocks away.
  2. Dumplings are one of the mainstay of Czech cuisine. You will find them on every menu. They are either wheat or potato based. A traditional Czech meal consists of dumplings, meat (pork or beef), and cabbage.
  3. For dessert also try sweet, fruit dumplings or apple strudel
  4. Try the ice cream! Zmrzlina is delicious. It’s Italian style and comes in a variety of flavors. The scoops are small, so try a few. As with the meals, the farther you go from the tourist attractions, the cheaper your zmrzlina is.
  5. Unlike American restaurants you do have to pay for extras like bread at your table or ketchup at McDonalds. If you don’t want the bread send it away before the basket is set down and they won’t charge you.
  6. Most restaurants do not serve tap water. Bottled water comes with gas (mineral) or no gas. Usually soda is cheaper. Beer is the cheapest. (Of course, I’m not a beer drinker.)
  7. America sodas may be on the menu, but they come in small bottles and they taste slightly different. You cannot take the bottles for a souvenir!
  8. Restaurants do not serve drinks with ice. The only place you’ll find ice is at American fast-food places like McDonalds or KFC. (Which are both popular there.)
  9. Also unlike in America, servers do not depend on tips for their income. In tourist areas servers might hope for an “American” tip, but for the Czechs common tipping includes rounding up the amount to the nearest 5 or 10 crowns. Over tipping is considered prideful or showy.
  10. In restaurants near tourist destinations most waitstaff speak English or there are photographs of the food. Also most places have English menus although the grammar might be interesting. (Pointing at the menu works, too.)
  11. Czech waitstaff may seem dour, but Czechs overall don’t smile as much as Americans—don’t be offended.
  12. Credit cards are accepted in restaurants near top tourist destinations, but if you’re beyond that expect to use cash.
  13. Czechs are reserved in restaurants. It is easy to spot Americans … they’re the loud ones in the establishment! Try to be quiet.
  14. Expect a meal to take time. Americans are used to getting in and getting out, but in Europe the fellowship with the others at the table is as important as the food. Don’t be in a rush.

Have you eaten in the Czech Republic? What have you learned?


The Write Way to Travel Part 1

One of my favorite places in the world is Prague, Czech Republic. I’ve visited five times—the first time, in October 2000, I was there with two friends as we research for the books we were writing. The last time I was there was August 2012. (And I’m already scheming of when I can go back!)

Last summer, in Prague, I figured out that the only thing that makes me happier than embarking on a new place with a fold-up map and guidebook is revisiting places off-the-beaten path that have special memories for me. A have a few places in Prague that feel like they’re “mine” even though they’re a gazillion miles away. Even though they’re only “mine” once or twice every few years.

We discovered At the Red Peacock during a mission trip in 2009. We were traveling around with a dozen teenagers, and at every restaurant we stopped to consider someone was displeased with the menu. (They post their menus in the windows for you to check it out.) As we continued on through the cobblestone streets, our hunger grew. Finally, my husband finally declared, “We’re going to eat a the next restaurant we see!”

Now, let me set up the situation: We were walking along side roads/allies a few blocks from Old Town Square. We were heading away from the crowds … and all the decent looking restaurants. I was getting more worried by the minute that we were heading into the wrong part of town.

Then, as we stood at a crossroads of two alleys, an oriental lady beckoned to us, calling from the entrance to an even smaller alley. “Come, come. Good authentic, Czech food. Low, low prices!” she declared in a thick accent. And my husband approached her!

With a set of his jaw, he looked at the menu and then directed everyone to join him down the alley! I thought he was joking, but no.

I was prepared to be jumped, but instead the woman led us to a small restaurant. No more than a window and a door that could be seen from the street. Inside, one couple sat in a front area, but the rest of the place was empty. An older waiter stood at the bar and eyed us. The place looked like a front for the Czech mafia or something—right out of the movies.

With not as much as a smile, the waiter led us loud Americans to a side room where we filled two tables. Amazingly, the prices were less than half the price as those in Old Town Square—just a few blocks away. The portions were large and yummy. Needless to say, this is our dining destination any time we’re near Old Time Square. (And we’ve been known to eat there two nights in a row.)

In addition to the great food, there was also a fascinating history behind the Red Peacock. It turns out that it used to be a famous brothel in Prague. The story on the front of the menu states that famous men were seen going “upstairs” numerous times a night. I tried not to think of that while I was eating my pork and dumplings! I’ve also eaten the Svíčková na smetaně, marinated sirloin served with dumplings and cream. And the schnitzel is wonderful … and huge! (I’m getting hungry as I write this.)

The restaurant looks like what you’d except with heavy wood furniture and a “medieval pub” theme without even trying for it. Another thing to note, in the Czech Republic, they do not have the same public access concerns as we do. There is no handicap access to most places. In the Red Peacock, the stairway to the bathrooms was as steep and narrow as any I’ve walked down. They’d be outlawed in the states.

But if you’re looking for great food, at a good price just a few block from Old Town Square I highly recommend it. And if you want to take me along to be your tour guide, I won’t turn it down! (I hope you don’t mind my hubby and kids trailing along. They happen to love Prague as much as I do.)