Ann Packer is a travel writer, freelance journalist and author of Crafty Girls' Road Trip, published this month.
How often do you get away?
Not often enough! When our kids were little, we got into the habit of taking long weekends, rather than a fortnight at Christmas. We still do that - it can be as refreshing as a big holiday.
Where was your first trip?
To Sydney as an 18-year-old - with my whole family. We stayed in Kings Cross because the hotels were cheap. What an eye-opener!
Why do you travel - business or pleasure?
One morphs into the other really - as a freelancer, I'm always on the lookout for a travel/house/crafty/arts story even if I'm researching other areas, such as oral history.
What is your favourite destination overseas?
I love the Pacific Northwest - United States and Canada. Portland is my favourite city - the roses and the mountains are a heady combination. The coffee, the food, the trees, the people. Perhaps the Portlandia spoof on TV will burst my bubble?
And here in New Zealand?
I've fallen in love with Central - Otago, that is - on this road trip for my revised Crafty Girls' book. Olivers in Clyde - now a boutique hotel - hosted me and loaned me a bike to scope the town before dinner. Next day I passed beehives in roadside gullies and tracked down some wild thyme honey, which has the most amazing fragrance. A longer holiday is called for.
Best trip ever?
A road trip over a decade ago on Highway One from LA to Edmonton, with my husband, picking up our American-resident sons on the way - reprised in part last August, when we had a week's sailing in the San Juan Islands, off Seattle, to celebrate Matt's 40th.
I had pollution-induced breathing problems in Shenyang, the old capital of Manchuria, north of Beijing, on my only trip to China. My guide thought I was having a heart attack and wanted to admit me to hospital; fortunately the crisis passed.
If you could be anywhere but here, where would that be?
At Nepenthe, on Big Sur, between LA and San Fran. The whole world stops to watch the sunset at this colourful place perched over the edge of the ocean. Textile guru Kaffe Fassett grew up here and his sister and family still run the restaurant. nepenthebigsur.com
What is the wildest sight you've witnessed while travelling?
In Vermont for a quilt festival, staying out in the country, we experienced lightning such as you seldom see here, illuminating range after range of mountains, amplifying the sheer vastness of the country.
The most heartbreaking?
Both personal - I was away from home on two occasions when there was a death in the family.
Who (or what) is your favourite travelling companion?
National Radio if I'm driving, or a good book. And my husband, if he can get away.
Where to next?
Sydney in May to look after Olive, 3, and Jack, 1. I'm hoping we'll all get out on bikes or a bush walk while we're there.
. . . anything you'd like to add?
Believe it or not, I still haven't been to Europe! We missed the classic Kiwi OE when young and haven't managed it yet. But rather than simply sightseeing we'd want to combine such a trip with activity - canal boats or bikes in France would do, for starters!
The Crafty Girls' Road Trip (Random House, $34.99) is in good bookshops now.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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