French Sabbatical

My family's year in France…

Day 307 (3 May 2011) – In Which We Trade Melinda For Rick Steves

I’m excited to report that today we traded Melinda for Rick Steves. Melinda gets to do something she’s always wanted to do, which is to live the life of Rick Steves, complete with all the world travel, while Rick is joining Chloe, Ella and me as the girls’ new mom. He commented that the whole travel and guidebook writing thing had finally gotten tiring. Melinda mentioned something similar about my sense of humor. So this morning at the Vernazza train station, the exchange was made. The Rick Steves team insisted on a first round draft pick and future considerations. I got us train tickets to Florence, from where I am writing right now, and 4 cups of gelato (I admit, only single scoop…).

Rick’s first act as parent was to get a complete stranger to take our picture together. He seems really at home in train stations and has no trouble talking to people about things like travel and transportation. He saw Chloe lugging around a heavy bag and made some suggestions that not only miraculously made her bag lighter, but created space for all the new clothes she wants to buy in Italy. I can’t wait to get him back home to Seattle where he can organize the closets.

As Melinda skipped off we heard her say something about a new concept to the Rick Steves travel books, something about adding a microchip that automatically provides updates on things like ticket price changes and train schedules. She’s so 21st century.

To Dwight & Michele back in Seattle, Rick says he’s okay with changing his birthday to May 13.

May 3, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. Melinda!!
    Wait for me!!! I’m coming with you!!!!!

    Comment by Mary Jo Smallman | May 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. I just saw your comment on Rick’s blog. Your family sabbatical sounds amazing!! I am very jealous. And very looking forward to reading through your entries. Your daughters are lucky to have you for parents.

    And PSCS sounds awesome as well. A friend of mine just moved to Seattle so I’m hoping to visit her (with a side trip to Edmonds to see Rick’s Travel Center of course!)

    Comment by Lyra | May 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. So what is the trick? Photo shopped Steve in the picture? I hope you don’t regret this – I doubt he will make a very good Mom for the girls! Linda from Ohio

    Comment by linda taylor | May 4, 2011 | Reply

    • That REALLY is Rick Steves!! It was wild. We were standing on the platform at the train station in Vernazza and I heard his all-too familiar voice. Then I saw him and blurted out, “That’s Rick Steves!” He was chatting with a traveling companion, apparently reviewing one of his books for accuracy. I built up the courage to risk disturbing him, hoping to get a picture of him with the girls (Melinda voted to leave him alone but I couldn’t help myself). He was VERY gracious and nice, and his companion offered to snap the picture. Crazy!

      Comment by Andy Smallman | May 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. So your opening line was “Well, if it isn’t my neighbor from Seattle Rick Steve’s!”


    p.s. BTW, Good “product placement” of PSCS on the Rick Steve’s website. I hope you did something kind for him too.

    Comment by P.Hill | May 10, 2011 | Reply

  5. […] the blog or the readers) to vote on YOUR favorite from these four: Day 12, Day 121, Day 192, Day 307 (click on the “day” to see each candidate, but vote on one […]

    Pingback by Vote for Your Favorite (Day 365 + 28) « We're Still in France! | July 28, 2011 | Reply

  6. […] what was really funny happened the next day on May 3, 2011. That’s when we traded Melinda for Rick Steves. Really. Published: May 2, 2012 Filed Under: […]

    Pingback by A Year Ago Today « Chat With Andy | May 2, 2012 | Reply

  7. […] fact, it reminds me of the time we traded Melinda for Rick Steves… Ah, those were the days, back during the sabbatical when life was […]

    Pingback by Everything’s Okay « Chat With Andy | October 9, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply to P.Hill Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s