When PayPal offered Passion Passport the opportunity to #MeetHalfway this holiday season, we decided we would love to create a reunion between two Passport Express passengers: Kelly Burgess and Katie Ann Denis. Katie and Kelly were assigned to be roommates on the train, and quickly formed a lasting bond. Kelly lives in Boston, while Katie is in Los Angeles. A work project brought Katie to Portland, Maine this fall, and they decided they’d meet halfway between Portland and Boston, in Kittery, Maine. There was baking, mulled cider, lighthouses and, of course, an impromptu Christmas dance party. Kelly is the most passionate person we know when it comes to Christmas (she even has a Christmas tumblr) – and got to introduce Katie to all of the Northeast’s holiday traditions. Passion Passport caught up with these two creative ladies after their trip.


What was it like to see each other again for the holidays?

Katie: It was amazing! After we said goodbye in San Francisco, I really didn’t know when I would get to see Kelly again. I’d never even been to Boston, where she’s from, and while I knew that I wanted to plan a trip to head east and see her, visualizing a time line for a vacation all the way across the country wasn’t easy to do. When I booked a job in Portland, Maine, we discovered we would be just a few hours apart….and voila! Driving south from Portland to Kittery was so fun, knowing that at the same time Kelly was driving north.


Kelly: I loved being able to hang out with Katie again!  When we left the train, I wasn’t sure when I would be able to see her again and was pretty bummed about it. L.A. is a long way from Boston and prior to the Passport Express, I had never even been to California. I drove up from Boston, excited to be able to show Katie Christmas in New England.



How did you spend the weekend?

Katie: I had never been north of New York, so all of New England was new territory for me. I absolutely loooooove experiencing places for the first time. Our itinerary was pretty open, so we met at a cute restaurant in Kittery and began making our plans for the next few days, and then we headed out to our Airbnb. I think my mouth was open in awe for that entire drive! The Maine coast is just absolutely beautiful…I kept telling Kelly that everywhere you look looks just like a postcard. The cottage we rented was so cute, it was just odd having all of that space to ourselves! We’d grown so accustomed to living in tight quarters on the train, we laughed the first night that it’s weird going to bed in separate bedrooms.

Kelly: Over the course of three days we got and decorated a Christmas tree (which was then donated to a local shelter after we were done in the house), had an amazing breakfast at the Maine Diner in Wells, did some shopping in downtown Portsmouth, had a wonderful late dinner at Moxy in Portsmouth, visited a lighthouse, saw the sunset on a beach, baked and decorated cookies, shared a pizza and mozzarella sticks, mulled cider, and pretty much listened to Christmas music non-stop. I really liked the Airbnb that we stayed at and would definitely go back. It was pretty secluded but was in walking distance to the beach but also had a lot of trees around. It was definitely an excellent place to get away from it all for a few days.



Were there any particular highlights?

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Katie: The highlight was going to the Christmas tree farm! I live in L.A., and grew up in Florida, so cutting down Christmas trees just isn’t really something we have the chance to do. It was magical! That night we danced around to a Christmas playlist Kelly made, and decorated the heck out of that tree. It was fun learning about Kelly’s traditions, and sharing some of mine with her.

Kelly: I think the highlight for me was just getting to see how excited Katie was by New England and getting to experience the area from the eyes of someone who had never been here before. I’ve lived in New England for the majority of my life, so I tried to adjust my perspective to see New England from the eyes of someone who has never been here before. I forget how much history is here and how beautiful everything is. I’ve even come to take for granted some of my holiday experiences and traditions. Going to a tree farm and cutting down our own Christmas tree is something that I’ve done every year, and so we went. Smiling widely, Katie frolicked through the rows of trees and told me she had never been to a real tree farm before. Having Katie here, watching her wonder and delight in where I’m from, and getting to share some of my holiday experiences with her has renewed my appreciation for where I’ve lived for so much of my life.


Katie: I loved absolutely everything we did, but I think my favorite moments were spent at the cottage…the setting was so serene, I loved waking up and drinking coffee with such an incredible view, walking down to the water for sunset, and baking cookies and stuffing our faces with pizza. I would definitely go back!


Do you know when you’ll get to see each other again?

Katie: I don’t! I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend those few days with Kelly, it was such an unexpected but special trip for me. I only got to spend one day in Boston, and while Kelly did an AMAZING job of giving me a tour of her city (we walked nearly eight miles that day!), there is so much more to see!

Kelly: I don’t know when we’ll get to see each other again – hopefully soon! I wish that we lived closer together and got to spend more time together, but I enjoy knowing that I have someone to see in L.A. I hope that some day soon she can show me around where she lives, too.

Passion Passport’s community includes explorers, creators and storytellers from around the globe. Their travel experiences have challenged them, shaped their perspective of the world and given them a better sense of who they are. Both online and off, Passion Passport offers the opportunity to connect with one another, to share those pivotal moments, and to travel with purpose.
  • Phil

    I love this and them so very much! This is awesome, girls!!!