Tag Archives: travel

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy


When I was a kid, I had a hard time understanding why I got to have summers off from school but my dad had to keep on going to work every day. I couldn’t get it in my head that grown-ups didn’t get the summer off. It didn’t seem fair.

To this day, it upsets me that I can’t have the whole summer off. There’s so much I want to do! It doesn’t help that I work for a German company, and our German counterparts take off entire months at a time. I don’t know how much vacation time they actually get, but it seems to be way more generous than our US system. Unfair. Maybe I should move to Germany.

Anyway, that’s not what I came here to write about! I wanted to bang out a quick update, as I am soon to be off for one of my two weeks of vacation this summer. We are going to be camping in Maine and I intend to fully unplug. I’m bringing primitive writing tools – pens and paper – in the hopes that I will be inspired to write something deep and inspiring. Or perhaps churn out some interesting zentangle-inspired art. I haven’t drawn a thing in months!

Last weekend we celebrated the 4th of July at my youngest brother’s home in the Boston area. The weather was unbelievably perfect. We spent most of the time lounging by the pool, and of course eating tons of food. On Monday, we got to check out the school where my brother works (he had the right idea being a teacher – he gets summers off!). Then we went up to Newburyport, which was a cute little town on the coast. It was only a two-day visit, but it was like a mini-vacation for us.

Dave and I in Newburyport, MA
Enjoying a jaunt around Newburyport.

Speaking of vacations, Dave and I are finally going to go on a big trip together! We’ve started planning a trip to Costa Rica. We’re reading guidebooks and maps and we’ve been scouring the internet. We don’t have a date set yet, but Dave wants to go before the end of the year. I realize that’s like 5 months away, but the way things go at my job, you just have to blink and the time goes by like nothing.

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The trip will be worth it if we see a baby sloth doing pull-ups.

In other news, my minimalism journey kind of hit a wall in the last few months, because I’ve been spending less time inside the house. The piles of crap in the back room are still there. I did take one evening to go through more of my clothes and get rid of some of the things I never wear. I even attempted to fold my shirts in the Konmari way.

Konmari shirt drawer
Folding the shirts this way is supposed to let you see them all in one glance, so you can easily find what you need. It beats my former technique of shoving them in and struggling to shut the drawer.

The Konmari method comes from this book called The life-changing magic of tidying up. You’ve probably heard of it, because everyone makes fun of it. It’s the one where you’re supposed to hold each one of your possessions and ask yourself if it brings you joy. I didn’t even finish reading the book, but since I had already been going through my stuff and clearing things out, I went ahead with the clothes. My parameters were pretty simple: do I actually like this shirt and actively wear it? Then I kept it. If not, out it went.

Morningtime flower
In other news, my garden is looking fabulous these days.

In conclusion, I am very much enjoying the summer so far and I hope you are too. I’m especially looking forward to being unplugged next week, and returning with renewed energy to work on this blog!

Thank you for reading this far. 🙂

 

 

 

New York, New York – Hornblower Cruise


Our final major tourist activity for the trip was to take the Hornblower Sightseeing Cruise  around lower Manhattan. We took the Big Bus to Pier 15, but when we arrived, the line for the boat was crazy long.

Luckily we had spotted a restaurant – Industry Kitchen – on our way in, so we decided to get lunch there and wait for the 1:30 cruise.  Dave got a Caesar salad and I got a pizza. Dave doesn’t usually like pizza, but he tried some of mine and ended up eating half of it! Which was fine, since it was way too big for me to eat all by myself anyway. The restaurant was nice, and because it was so sunny, they had all the doors open, so even though we were sitting inside, it still felt very light and airy.

OH- and how could I forget this? They had a unisex bathroom. It was the first time I’ve actually witnessed one with my own eyes and bladder. It was three or four stalls, with solid walls in between and full-length doors. The sink area was shared. I really wanted to take pictures and mention the experience on Facebook but I restrained myself.

When we finished lunch we got in line for the boat. One thing I’ve noticed they do at a lot of these places is ask you to pose for a picture before you go into the attraction. When you come out, they’ve printed out your picture and want to sell it to you for $35. I noticed the guy behind us was alone (he was a photographer) and he declined to have his picture taken. I guess I should remember that next time, as we aren’t going to buy photos.

I mean, why buy photos when we can take our own?

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It’s us or the skyline… we nearly succeeded at fitting both in this frame. I’ll spare you the other selfies we took.

When we first got on the boat, I was annoyed because there was very limited seating and it was only around the windows. People had already claimed their spots and were viciously defending their territory. I had really looked forward to sitting down, as my feet were sore from walking so much and not wearing proper shoes. (What, they were cute boots!)

We  didn’t want to go up to the deck because we were afraid it would be really cold. We’d been freezing standing in line. I even had my mittens on! But after a while of jostling around in the boat, watching 90% of the occupants focusing more on their phones or their snacks than the actual view, we decided to get up to the deck and just deal with the cold.

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The view was much better outside!

It turned out to be windy but not as chilly as I’d feared. We got a good look at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as we chugged by.

Then the boat turned back around and we headed back to land.

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There’s Manhattan!
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Closer….
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Closer…

 

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Dang, we could have taken a helicopter tour.
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Ferries are born here.
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The Brooklyn Bridge

The ferry ride, or whatever it was we were on, was about an hour long, although I think that included boarding and de-boarding (?) time because it went quickly.

We hopped back on the bus and back to Times Square. After a quick visit to Starbucks, we got on the bus again to do the uptown loop. This went around Central Park, along the upper West Side, to Grant’s Tomb, Harlem and Spanish Harlem and then back along the park, along what was once known as Millionaire’s Row – where the Astors and Vanderbilts had their mansions during the gilded age. Along the route we saw the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (where James Gandolfini’s funeral was), The Dakota – the apartment where John and Yoko lived, John was shot and where Yoko still lives, and lots of other buildings where some famous person lived or still lives. Our tour guide kept joking about how much it cost to live along the park, but it was kinda bringing me down. Like, “Enjoy looking, but you will never be able to afford this life.”

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Grant’s Tomb through the bus window.

We did enjoy the uptown bus loop. We sat on the top of the bus but it had a little shelter thing over the front, and heaters by our feet, so we kept warm enough. The people in the back, who were out in the breeze were freezing. They kept trying to get up and come to the front and the guide kept yelling at them to sit down because there were no seats open.

We got off the bus at the south end of Central Park since it was closer to our hotel than going back to Times Square. I have a soft spot for Central Park, as it’s the most well known works of the father of landscape architecture; Frederick Law Olmsted. Oh, and Calvert Vaux, but FLO is my homeboy. Ugh, why am I not doing landscape architecture?

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Looking in to Central Park from W 59th St

Next time we go back to NYC, the plan is to do museums and Central Park. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it!

 

New York, New York – 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center Plaza


On Saturday morning, we made the trek down to the World Trade Center Memorial Plaza in lower Manhattan.  Please have a look at the slideshow. My thoughts on the visit are below.

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Going into this, I expected it to be an emotional experience. What else could it be? This was the site of the most horrific event I have witnessed in my lifetime, and the beginning of a decade-plus of war, violence and ever-growing cultural tension.

A little personal history – I actually visited the Twin Towers in March of 2001, with my good friend Jonathan. The towers were massive concrete-faced structures. Humongous and imposing. We took the elevator up to the observation deck and looked out over the world. It was nighttime and the city was all lit up. The view went on for miles in every direction. At the time I took my role as a Vermont chickie very seriously so I was unimpressed with the urban jungle and sprawl. But deep down I had to admit it was cool. Of course the memories of that visit were since tinged with gloom and sadness. Just months later I would see smoke rising up from the stark empty space where the towers had been as I traveled from New Jersey to Connecticut just days after 9/11.

Walking towards the site on this bright Saturday, my mind is on the memories of people running desperately down streets billowing with smoke and ash and papers – so many papers. As we approach, we see the gleaming glass structure of One World Trade Center piercing the blue sky.

Rounding a corner just before entering the plaza, we’re accosted by a guy selling glossy photo books commemorating that day. He eagerly flips through the pages, pointing out full-color scenes of the towers churning out thick black clouds of smoke. “Do you know how many buildings fell after 9/11?” he asks us. “I don’t know,” I admit feebly, “Five?” I’m caught off guard by this interaction, and just want to get past him already. “Seven,” he says, pointing to another page with a graphic showing which buildings were damaged and which fell. “In the museum they charge you $20 for this book, but I only ask $10.”

He also tried to sell us another book with even more photos. Dude. I have seen enough photos of that day. The images are permanently seared into my mind. I do not want to see photos.

Finally, we break free of him and make our way into the plaza. The first thing we notice on the way in is a wing-like white structure soaring over us. I later learn this is the new transportation station – called the Oculus.

We then come upon the first pool – the north pool. I try to envision how huge those towers were, and somehow it seems incongruent with these gaping holes in the ground. It’s like my brain can’t process that these footprints could have held those massive buildings.

At this point I’m doing ok with the emotions. It’s like they haven’t caught up to me yet. We look at the names engraved along the edge of the fountains. I later read that the names were grouped by people who were associated in some way. In some cases it was the flight they were on, or a group of co-workers. You can read more about that here.

As we made our way around the north pool we notice the inscription: Rahma Salie and her unborn child. Wow. I later learned that there were 10 more inscriptions like this one. After we left, I looked up Rahma Salie, since it was her name we happened upon. She and her husband were traveling together on Flight 11. They were Muslim. They were on their way to a wedding in California on September 11.  She was 7 months pregnant with their first child.

Now we turn away from the pool and look up at the tower. One World Trade Center. The Freedom Tower (apparently they don’t call it that anymore though). It is tall and sleek. In the gleaming sunlight, the glass reflects all kinds of colors.

When we turn back to the plaza we see the Survivor Tree. As we get closer we can see that people have put mementos on the tree. There’s a tour group standing in front of it while a tour guide with an abrasive voice describes her 9/11 experience.

Walking towards the south pool, I notice there are Easter bunnies and flowers stuck into two of the names. Something about this sight knocks loose the last of my emotional wall, and the tears start pouring from my eyes. The reality of all the names is overwhelming. And remembering all the people who are still alive and aching today for the loss of their family members, friends, co-workers….

We step away from the pool and walk under the trees. Dave and I sit and watch people while I cry for a bit. The tour group is still mesmerized by the Survivor Tree. Clusters of teenage girls huddle together, underdressed in summery clothes. The majority of the occupants of the plaza at this time are tourists. Many of them seem too cheerful and light and I want to scream at them to stop smiling and sober up. But I don’t. I realize you can’t expect people to be acting like they’re at a funeral when they visit a memorial. You can’t force people to be sad.

Once I’ve pulled myself together again, we walk around the other side of the south pool. I want to take a picture of the pool with the tower behind it, but as I approach, a young couple jumps in front of me. They look at the pool for approximately two seconds, and then the guy goes back to looking at his phone. I expect them to move along, so I wait patiently. The girl then begins primping herself in preparation for a selfie. Seriously. My eyes were rolling so hard I’m lucky they didn’t roll right out. Finally, satisfied with her photo shoot, she moves on.

As that’s going on, the couple on the other side of us gives each other a sheepish grin before quickly turning around and tossing coins over their shoulders into the fountain. What the hell? I’ve got nothing against coin-tossing in other fountains, but this is like throwing coins into a grave. I don’t know what possesses people sometimes.

Finally everyone with offensive behavior clears out from my shot and I’m able to get the picture of the pool and tower behind. It’s an odd mix of macabre and shiny new hopefulness. A least I think so.

We leave the plaza now and on the way out we notice the FDNY house that is RIGHT THERE. Like literally in ground zero. These guys were on the scene first because the scene was happening right around them. See their website.

All in all, we probably spent an hour walking around the plaza. There is a 9/11 museum on the site (it’s the short, mirrored building in some of the north pool pictures in the slide show). We did not go into the museum. I don’t know if I’d ever be ready to go in.

One World Trade Center also has an Observatory. It probably would have been a great day to go up there, actually, as it was clear and sunny. But I really just wanted to see the plaza, and that was enough.

So that was that.

Our next stop was the Hornblower Harbor Cruise…. stay tuned.

New York, New York – Big Bus Night Tour


After our visit to the Intrepid, we debated whether to have dinner first or to go ahead and take the Big Bus tour. We wanted it to be dark so we could enjoy the lights of the city, and it was still a bit early.

We walked toward the bus pickup area, which was right outside the M&M’s store in Times Square. We figured we would just grab dinner on the way and catch a later bus. When we got to the store and saw how long the line was, we decided to just get in line. It was a good thing we did, as it got really long, really fast.

The Big Bus is one of several companies that operates open-topped double decker busses that haul tourists around the city, while a tour guide shares details about various historic landmarks or notable events. During the day, you can hop on and off the bus at certain locations, but in the evening it’s a two-hour loop that starts and ends in Times Square.

We were excited to get good seats! And also to be sitting down.

I put the rest of the pics into a gallery, which hopefully makes viewing easier. Also, I didn’t remember all the names of the buildings, so if I wrongly identified something and you notice, please let me know and I’ll fix it. Also-also, pardon the blurriness and general lack of artistic quality to many of these. It was dark and we were in a moving bus, so it was not that easy to get decent pics. 🙂

Next up – the 9/11 Memorial

New York, New York – The Intrepid 


Dave and I had Friday off, so we decided to make good use of the extra day and take a trip into the city. It’s only two hours away from us by train. It’s kind of silly that we don’t go more often. We’re going to make an attempt to visit regularly from now on.

We did a lot of things while we were there, and took a ton of pictures, so I’m going to break up the posts by location.  Our first stop was the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum.

But first, we found a little Brazillian restaurant called Rice and Beans, which was where we had lunch.

Dave loves rice and beans!

 

Then it was on to the Intrepid, which is an aircraft carrier that fought in WWII, the Cold War and Vietnam.

My dad said it looks like Dave is pulling the Intrepid in this picture. 

 


A lego model of the Intrepid

 

I’m gonna assume this warning is now irrelevant.

We also went in the USS Growler, which is a 50’s-era cruise missile submarine.

 

Leave it to me to smash my kneecap while attempting to climb through this doorway.

 

I call dibs on the top bunk. I would hyperventilate to death on the bottom.

 

What happens if I press this button?

 

Ok, I don’t want the top on this set of beds. Or any of them, really.

 

No lie, there were more beds next to this.

 

 

Anyone for a game of checkers to avoid contemplating death in this sardine can 2,000 leagues under the sea?

The Intrepid also has a Space component, but we were too cheap to pay for that part. Although now that I look at the website, I see that it looks pretty cool. Maybe next time.

NEXT UP- we go on a night time bus tour of the Big Apple!

Good Day, Sunshine!


 

A flower stand in Amsterdam
It’s been a little longer than usual since I last wrote. My whirlwind trip to Germany was just that – a spin through the Rhineland. Despite the lack of time, the trip was really enjoyable. I was impressed by the variety of food options. 

Before I went, everyone was telling me I wouldn’t find any vegetarian options. According to my wise advisors, everyone over there just feasts on pork all the time and they would laugh in my face if I asked for something without meat in it. Knowing the people who told me this (meat lovers themselves), I took the information with a grain of salt. Or a dash of salt, really. 

Of course there were vegetarian options. I had curry, pasta, plenty of salads and vegetables,  amazingly delicious breads and more. Come to think of it, I can’t recall being hungry at all except for the one morning I slept too late to get breakfast. 

I also got a kick out of the landscape there. It looked very British to me, except for the incomprehensible German signs. I really had no idea how illiterate I was in German until I got there. Or how fluent in Spanish I am in comparison. 
A lot of the apartments I saw had potted plants on their decks, and the people I spoke to told me about their gardens and horses and making bread from scratch. It was almost like I was back in Vermont. Except with everyone speaking with German accents. 

My only complaint, really, was that the bottled water was all sparkling mineral water. You could get flat or still water if you asked, but even that was mineral water and tasted like… minerals. It tasted like alka seltzer.  It usually came in pretty glass bottles though.  

Mineralwasser

Well, I had written more here but for some reason when I pushed “publish” it disappeared. So this is it for now. I have to get to work! I’ll try not to be so long before writing again. 

Hello from the Other Side (of the Atlantic)


Goodness me, it has been quite some time since I last wrote. I was busy gearing up for my first overseas trip to Amsterdam and Germany.

Hello from Amsterdam!

But first, a story. When I was in fifth grade, I went on my first overnight school trip. We went to a place called PEEC in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. I forget how long we were there for, but it was at least a couple of nights.

I have always been a homebody. Even when I would sleep over at my friend’s house next door, I would look out the window at my house and feel homesick. If I hadn’t been so afraid of the dark I would have made the trek across our yards so I could be in my own home with mommy and daddy and sleeping right down the hall.

So naturally I was really nervous to go to PEEC. I had a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach and I wanted to cry and tell my mom I was sick and I should stay home instead. There’s a possibility that I actually DID do that, but clearly she did not fall for it.

My friend Jessica’s mom came and picked me up on the big day. She drove us to our school, where there were two big charter busses waiting. Jessica was excited. I was wondering if I could hightail it across the soccer field and make it to the cover of the woods before anyone noticed. How long would it take me to get home if I walked the whole way?

We put our stuff into the luggage compartment of the bus. As we did so, I realized that I’d forgotten my pillow. That was the final straw. I burst into tears. I was not going to survive this trip without my pillow! There wasn’t time for us to go back to the house and get it. What would I do?

Jessica talked me down from the hysteria. She pointed out that she would not enjoy the trip if I didn’t come. She told me I was one of her best friends and that she needed me to be there with her. She also pointed out that I could use my stuffed Shamu as a pillow. (Yes, I had remembered to grab an enormous stuffed killer whale before I left the house, but not my pillow.) She promised we would have fun.

And she was right. Once the bus pulled away from the school and the waving parents beside their minivans disappeared over the horizon, I began to feel better. I ended up having a blast and whenever I think back to those days I recall the PEEC trip so fondly. It was the highlight of fifth grade.

Why am I sharing this, you ask? Well, all these years later I still struggle with that same feeling of dread when approaching a trip. Even if it’s a trip I actually want to take.

I am still a homebody. I could easily stay at home for an entire week and not feel restless whatsoever. I love being home. Sometimes, I need to stop at the store on the way home from work to pick something up, but mid-drive I will decide that I’d rather just go home.

Of course I do enjoy traveling. I want to see different parts of the world and experience different cultures. It all sounds interesting and fun until it comes time to pack the suitcase and begin the journey.

One of the other things that stresses me out about traveling is making sure I have all my accoutrements, as I like to call them. Pretty much the most important items on my list are: eye drops, eye lube for bedtime, eye scrub, toothbrush and floss, mouthwash and lotion. If I ever forgot any of those, I would break down. And no Shamu pillow would help.

Last week I was feeling a bit irritated about EEC and how it means I have to carry a bunch of extra crap (see above list), and if I don’t, my eyes will flare up and make me look horrible. I was also fretting about how my eyes would hold up during the flight. It is an overnight flight, but the night is shortened by the fact that Amsterdam is 6 hours ahead of us, so by the time you get there it is early morning.

Fortunately, with some forethought and planning I was able to manage. I brought my eye lube with me on the plane, and when I was ready to attempt to sleep, I went to the bathroom and put the lube in my eyes. When I got back to my seat I put on the eye mask that Dave got for me. It’s a really nice one. It has a layer of foam in it so it’s really soft, and then there are indents where your eyeballs go, so the mask is not pressing on your eyelids. It’s so comfy.

I put the mask on and attempted to sleep. I didn’t get much sleep for various  reasons, but my eyes were still loving the rest. It felt like my eyeballs were sleeping without me.

When we were about to land, I put some eye drops in and wiped away the extra lube with a tissue. My eyes were still more tired than they would have been on a full nights sleep, but they felt better than they would have if I had not used the lube and the mask. Of course I was also putting eye drops in like nobody’s business all day. But it really helped keep my eyes going.

Anyway- so I was in Amsterdam yesterday and then we took the train down to Dusseldorf, which is where I am now. I wanted to write about all my observations of Amsterdam and Germany so far, but now I am tired. I should get to sleep soon because our meetings start tomorrow.

I’ll try to write again soon and talk about the actual trip, not how I kept my eyes moist the whole time.

auf Wiedersehen!

How We Do Black Friday


I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, those of you in the U.S. Ours went well, even though I joked the other day about being stressed out about the prep work. Cooking is really not my favorite activity. I like eating, but planning a menu, obtaining all the proper ingredients and assembling them into tasty dishes is a bit of a challenge for me.

That being said, I did put together a delightful pumpkin pie with a walnut oat crust, and my vegan creamed corn was a hit (they ate it all up!). My biscuits turned out flat and I made way too much broccoli casserole, but both tasted fine, as did my roast veggie mix. I had to recruit my brother Nick to take care of the apple pie because I ran out of time. My brother Kris brought mashed potatoes, vegan gravy, a very yummy seitan dish, cranberry sauce, and creamed onions. Nick made a sweet potato casserole with walnuts on top that was very good, and he made a delicious red lentil soup too. Our friend Grey brought green bean casserole. Dad (or possibly Nick) cooked turkey, stuffing and gravy at Dad’s house and brought that over to my house. So everything was vegan except for those last three items, obviously.

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The gang about to dig in! 

After we were overly full, we took a break and played a game called Quelf, which was pretty funny. Dad and Grey had to slow dance with each other. John had to lay his head on the table until someone touched him (which none of us did for ages because we didn’t know that touching him would do anything!), I had to crawl under the table for an entire turn. It was pretty funny.

Once we’d played two rounds of the game, we were ready for some pie. Both the apple and the pumpkin turned out yummy. It wasn’t long after that that we all headed to our respective beds and fell into deep slumbers.

This morning we met up at Giuffrida Park in Meriden for a hike. I lived in Meriden 10 years ago (excuse me while I wrap my head around that… wow!). When I lived there I would go over and climb Chauncy Peak like it was no big deal. It’s probably what kept me in shape. Today I thought my legs were going to give out.

The view from the top. Pardon my awkward panorama skills which gave Nick a Frankenstein head.

Once we’d caught our breath, we decided it would be a good time to pose for a family photo. Bruce did not understand and was not interested in sitting still, which resulted in some hilarious shots.

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It was a gorgeous day for a hike. It was really windy at the top, but the sun was so warm that most of us ended up in short sleeves for the duration of the hike. It had to be close to 60 degrees.

Bruce was so hot he had to bathe in a muddy puddle.
Looking West toward the Hanging Hills

During the hike, John mentioned something about geocaching. Of course I had heard of it before but I never really looked into doing it. He has an app on his phone that tells you where caches are hidden, and there were a bunch in the park. Most were off the beaten path but we found an easy one on our way out. It had been put there in 2008, so it was a bit weathered. It was just a little plastic box with various little papers in it. Nothing too exciting, but I’d still be willing to try to find more.

When we finished the hike, it was time for leftovers! Back to the house we went, where we feasted once again. Then everyone packed up and went their separate ways. It’s always sad to say goodbye to my brothers, but at least I know we will be together again in less than a month for Christmas!

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving! 


Hello! Thanksgiving is two days away and Dave and I are hosting this year. Tomorrow is going to consist of me freaking out, panicking and most likely crying at some point as I prepare the house and the food. But I’m looking forward to it! Looking forward to Thursday, that is. It is my favorite holiday because it’s all about family and food. I hope that those of you reading this who celebrate Thanksgiving have a wonderful day with family and friends. 

So last time I wrote, I was in Austin. I had been looking forward to meeting Sonja the next day, after the meeting was over and before my flight home. However, she came down with a bad cold and wasn’t able to come out. So that was too bad. I ended up just hanging out at the resort with my work people and then catching a ride to the airport with a few of them.

My flights home were pretty uneventful. I had some deep thoughts as I sat there in the dark listening to Brené Brown. I’m thinking I need to find a therapist again because I really need someone to talk to about things. I need help. We all do.   

I had a window seat for once!
 

On my second flight home, the plane was super weird. I was in row 20, which was only about halfway through the plane. There was actually a bathroom across the aisle from me. I guess I’ve never been on that model of plane before because I’d never seen such a thing. I will be making a note to my travel agent to never book me in the potty row again, because ew. Luckily no one made any stinkies, but it was still gross to be in such close proximity to a toilet. It was especially annoying when people would walk out and the little folding door would stick open. It was so close to me that I could just reach across the aisle and shut it. Which I did, with gusto. 

I got home very late. It was raining really hard so that added to the delays. I was surprised to find Dave waiting up for me. But it was a nice surprise. 

Over the weekend my dad and I drove down to PA to attend a life celebration for my cousin’s wife Jane. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we made good time. I learned a lot about Jane. She was a massage therapist and a lot of her clients came to her celebration of life and shared stories of how she went above and beyond her role as a massage therapist and genuinely cared for her clients. I wish I had known her better in life.  

Driving over the Susquehanna. When I was little, I thought that was such a pretty name and I intended to name my first daughter Susquehanna…
 

Well that is it for now. I wanted to post today since I expect I will be running around like a maniac tomorrow and will be hanging out with the fam on Thursday and Friday. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Austin Trip, Day 3 / Gonzales Day Trip


I must confess, Texas is growing on me. Being from the north,  I have just sort of vaguely perceived Texas as that stereotypical gun-totin’, bible-thumpin’, George Bush-lovin’ redneck-filled, secession-desiring wild land. Maybe it is, but it’s still got a lot of wide open space and that’s alright by me. (Just kidding- I know a lot of people who live in Texas and none of them fit the above description. At least not completely.)

It’s not even my first time in Texas. But it’s hard to get a taste of the place when you spend most of the time in the hotel. Today we ventured out to Gonzales. Along the way I saw the following, in order of quantity of what was seen:

1. Open space. Land with nothin’ on it but a few cows or horses.  

 
2. Oil derricks. Not everywhere, but the places that had them had a lot in seemingly close proximity. And they decorated them.

The cow perpetually jumps over the moon as oil is pulled from the earth’s crust.
 
3. Speaking of decorating, Texans seem to enjoy decorating everything. 

This was in Luling, where they grow watermelons and have an annual “Watermelon Thump”
 
I also saw a lot of live oak trees and prickly pear cactuses but since our bus was going so fast it was hard to get a decent pic. So just pretend there’s a photo here. 

Later in the day, after I was back at the hotel, I decided to check out the nature walk that was supposedly behind the hotel. I figured it was going to be a paved walkway with some plantings here and there around it. But no, it was legit nature. 

 
Not that I’m complaining. I’m down with legit nature. I should have given myself more time to explore it. I only had about a half hour so it ended up being a bit rushed.

I crossed this and survived.
There was a cool waterfall and water hole. It would be a nice swimming hole on a hot day.
There were wildflowers on the path.

Looking back at the resort
As I mentioned, I didn’t really give myself much time. I needed to get back in time for dinner, so I didn’t do the whole nature trail. 

When I got back to the building, of course I couldn’t get back in the door I came out. So I ended up walking all the way around the building to go back through the front door. Just another day in the life!

Now it is time to hit the hay. I have been sleeping so well here! Tomorrow is a half a day of meetings and then I get to spend the afternoon with Sonja, a friend I have known for ages through the Internet but have never actually met in person! I am sure we will have a good time and it will make for an interesting blog post tomorrow night!

Speaking of tomorrow night- I will be flying back to the great white north. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is a week away. I’ve got to get it together!!

Oh, I almost forgot. Air plants grow in the wild here! 

The top one is at Barton Creek and the bottom one was on a live oak in Gonzales.