by Ember Hood
Danny was born and raised in Ashland, Oregon, where he met and married his high school sweetheart, Mara. While Mara had traveled extensively with her family as a kid, Danny’s first experience with international travel was a journey through Ireland, Wales and England when he was nineteen.
Danny and Mara started in Shannon, Ireland and spent a couple of weeks making their way to the eastern coast of Ireland, where they took a boat to Wales and immediately became incredibly sick. “That’s when I fell in love with rugby,” Danny told me, because they were bedridden, and the only channel in their hotel room was a sports network showing reruns of Welsh rugby matches.
Once they recovered, it was down to South Hampton and Buckinghamshire in Southern England, where they stayed with family friends. The father in that family was a nearly retired police officer, and he took Danny and Mara down to the police station. “It was three floors,” Danny explained. “First floor: processing. Second floor: offices. Third floor: pub.” And in the pub they were plied with pints of good beer and enjoyed a live band from Northern Ireland, which Danny found oddly encouraging in an English pub, especially during those times.
A few years later, Danny and Mara took another trip to Europe, this time planning to slowly go through France and Spain. They enjoyed some time in Paris before making their way up through Normandy, then down through the Loire Valley and to the southern coast. They were almost to Spain, when their friends suggested a last-minute trip to Amsterdam. And because a trip to Amsterdam is not to be missed, they made it work. “I instantly felt at home there,” Danny said. Though he admits that they got very easily lost in the city, too. They spent a few days exploring Amsterdam and especially enjoyed the Van Gogh museum, which offers a well-thought-out tour through Van Gogh’s life and artistic process.
They did eventually make it to Barcelona, where they got to witness the frenzy of Spanish football fans, as Spain won a big game in the World Cup Semi-Finals. “You could see every light on in the high rise buildings,” Danny explained, “and every TV on. And then when the game ended, they flooded the streets. We barely made it across the street.”
Now parents, Danny and Mara are plotting their daughter Lillian’s first international trip. While Lil dreams of wandering the streets of Paris, her parents think Norway will be her first passport stamp, where she can meet generations of family, including a host of Scandinavian cousins to play with.