Archive for Travels

Our 2016 Travel Planning


Yes it is March, actually the middle of March, and I am finally getting around to sharing our travel/vacation excitement.   For the first time since Travel Man and I got married we have actually made our 2016 travel plans along with reservations for the entire year! Yay!  Our longest trip will be our travel to Arizona, which we are actually in the middle of right now.  We’re taking in a full week of baseball’s Spring Training games.   We are so excited for this trip.  It’s going to be fun taking in all of the sights and sounds of baseball. 

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Last month we took a trip to one of the regional parks close to home and really enjoyed our weekend.   The campground we stayed at was quite peaceful and the birds  chattered away in the trees the entire weekend.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.  The weather was spectacular.  Sunny, temps in the low 70’s, and a bit of a breeze.  Perfect weather for a bowl of chili for lunch.  Yes we did that.  We haven’t been on a weekend jaunt since the end of November last year.    The holidays have come and gone, the New Year’s resolutions are lingering around, and we’re ready to settle into a travel rhythm for the year.

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Our short trip last month did remind us of a few things that are needed to have an enjoyable weekend jaunt.   It  is important for us to go through our Master Camping Checklist to be sure we don’t forget anything.  Like charcoal for the grill, or Travel Man’s favorite camping chair that he likes to sit on outside.  Even though we don’t always have to venture far from home to have a weekend away, we still need to take the time for our list.  Funny thing about that is I love lists.  But when we were packing up for this particular adventure, I got a little lolly-gaggy, and didn’t go through a final check of “The List”.

As I sit here writing today I’m reminded of just how blessed and lucky I am.  Lucky to have a husband who will do whatever it takes to have a relaxing weekend.  Lucky to be able to take time out for ourselves when we get a chance.  Lucky to have so many amazing places to travel to within just a few hours of our house.

We’re looking forward to our trips out on the open road this year, and as the year progresses I plan to share our travel tales with all of you.  Happy Trails everyone!

Cavorting in Colorado

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A glimpse of the Rocky Mountains.

A few days ago I shared my Road Warrior story about our trip to Denver.  It was a quick trip there and back, and then a day and a half later my Travel Man took off to Spain for a week. Yes this is how our crazy life works.  Travel here-travel there and planning ahead pretty much is non-existent.  I have come to terms with that part of our lives, and I just make sure our time together is quality time.  No fussing, nagging or whining allowed!

Now, while Travel Man was doing his work thing I kept the rental car and went exploring in Thornton, Colorado.  This was truly a first time experience for me.  I normally just stay at the hotel and take walks to go shopping or to eat, or many times I go for a swim at the hotel pool. But this day was different, I had some wheels and I wanted to make the most of them!  Also, I did have the trusty Travel Man GPS to guide me on my way.

In our normal travel tradition (for us this is “normal”, you may think we are just weird) I located the nearest Super Wal-Mart and got some snacks and bottled water for our hotel stay.  Next I wanted to get some cash so I used the GPS and found an ATM nearby.  After that stop I decided to bop over to Barnes and Noble for some “browsing” time.  (This was going to turn into a shopping afternoon after all.) While at Barnes and Noble I happened on a display of adult coloring books.  These books are the latest “stress-relieving” rage.  Have you picked one up and perused it yet?  I could not resist not getting one, so I picked out one that had designs that appealed to me.  I did browse around the store a little after that, and tried to locate some colored pencils, but there were no bargains to be found.  So, it was off to the Office Max next door for some colored pencils.  The pencils were successfully located, and there was a Cost Plus next to the Office Max.  Of course I had to go in and browse the Cost Plus.  Such interesting furniture and fabrics there.  A fun place for browsing to your heart’s content.

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Coloring for me…

My last stop of the afternoon was the hotel.  I wanted to get us all checked in before I had to pick up Travel Man from work.  Now remember this is not my normal operating mode. Usually I am the travelling bystander and Travel Man is taking care of these details. Not on this day though, it was my job to get it done!  After we were successfully checked in it was time to go and get the Travel Man from work.  We had a nice anniversary dinner together, and then got ready to head for home the next day.

Our dinnertime fajita platter-yum!

Our dinnertime fajita platter-yum!

This was a definitely a different kind of day for me.  It was nice to change-up the travel routine and do a few out of the ordinary things on my own.  What’s the last travel adventure you took by yourself?  I’d love to hear about where you’ve been.

Connecting on the WiFi from 30,000 feet

Event-WiFi-My-Meeting-ProfessionalMy Travel Man has a crazy work schedule. He’s home, he’s gone, and then he’s home again.  Sometimes his trips turn around so fast it makes your head spin, and that’s no joke, for him and for me.  In the last few weeks I have realized that his travel communication has taken a new turn.   Whenever my Travel Guy is gone for a few days we always make sure we get in some video chatting time.   This is really important for him and for me too, to have the personal connection time.  Normally we chat on either Facetime or Google Hangouts.  Google Hangouts usually has a fairly decent connection either domestically or internationally.  We have used it in both instances, and had fairly good video success.  Just a little long distance relationship advice.

Now back to my original story – the airlines (in our family meaning Southwest Airlines) have recently updated their WiFi service and it is now available on most flights across the country.  What this means for my Road Warrior of a husband is that he can stay connected to home and chat with me while he is 30,000 feet above wherever he is flying to or from.  It’s a great techie tool for him to stay a little more connected with me at home, and keep up on all of the latest news with the kids and grand-kids.  For instance, we have recently had a rash of a certain cat in the house (who shall remain nameless) bringing in his latest catch for me to see. So I’m able to chat with my hubby and let him know we have yet another mouse or lizard in the house.  I’m sure on the other end he has a little chuckle as he knows how much I hate to have anything crawling around on the floor that does not belong there.

And you know it’s more than just a little mind-boggling to realize that we can chat with each other the whole time he is in the air.  I’m still completely amazed by this fact. You realize my mind-boggling won’t even register with our grand-kids.  They will be growing up thinking this is “par for the course”.  Nothing out of the ordinary for them.

Also there have been occasions recently where I will have the grand-kids here with me and I allow Evan to type a few chat messages to his Papa.  He always takes a “Selfie” to send along too with a sweet loving message.

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So here is the way my Travel Guy’s flights go these days with his new-found WiFi connection while he is in a big metal tube in the air.  He has a nice tablet computer that goes along with him wherever he goes.  He is normally able to watch a movie, or a TV show via the airline connection, chat with his wife, and check his email messages.  That’s a ton of multi-tasking while on a travel assignment.   I suppose it could be a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because we are able to stay more connected than before, and a curse because he doesn’t really get any time off from his work e-mail.  A fine line and a tightrope that a lot of people walk these days I’m sure. 

My Travel Man really likes to geek out since he’s on the road so much, and I’m truly glad he’s got all the techie do-dads he needs to make his travels just a little bit easier. The added bonus of the WiFi in so many places makes our connection with one another all the more convenient, and we definitely like it that way.  Being able to stay connected like we do is what makes the distance between us just a teenie bit more tolerable.  

Flying Solo

photo (2)Yesterday  was a fun day. Travel Man arranged for me to  fly up to meet him in Oakland, California so we can spend some much needed time together this week. He’s a great guy.
You see normally when we are traveling together we’re most often taking a mini-vacation (I define this as 4 days or less).  When we do travel together I really don’t think about much except packing my clothes and following him to the airport.  Yesterday was a bit  different though.

For this trip I will be with Travel Man for a few days while he is working in Northern California.  So here’s how my morning went to get the travel day started.  I drove myself to the airport, parked in long term parking, checked my bag curbside (always better to check a bag than carry on!), got through security fairly quickly without using the preferred frequent flyer lane (because I’m not with Travel Man), and got my iced tea and a magazine. Phew!! I know I can do this on my own, it’s just a good reminder for me when I do.  We  most often fly on Southwest Airlines for the great reward perks.  If you are at all familiar with Southwest’s seating you know that there is no assigned seating, just assigned boarding designations.  So, my Travel Man was not with me to get on the plane ahead of me and save us our seats together.  I would be picking my own seat.  This part of my trip is a new experience for me.  I got a window seat of course as it’s always my favorite thing to look out the window when travelling.  I was the kid on family vacations that never slept in the car.  Always watching out the window and taking in the sights, and I’m still that way.

Travel Man was flying into Oakland from Buffalo, NY via Chicago.  My  flight was a short “up/down” (defined by me as less than two hours of fly time), Ontario to Oakland.  I am pleased to report that there were no glitches in the travel matrix yesterday, and our meeting in Oakland was pulled off successfully.  We were able to take the short drive to San Francisco and see both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge.  It was a bit of a stressful drive through the city, but a beautiful day for taking in the sights.

I’m a lucky, lucky girl that I am able to travel to where my husband will be working for the week.  His schedule’s a little crazy right now and any extra time we can glean together is a blessing.  I keep reminding myself that it’s definitely a bit of a different lifestyle.  My Travel Mans’ mode of commuting from city to city is an airplane (or as we jokingly say a “flying tube”).  It’s a different kind of life, but it’s our life.  It’s important for us to make the best of it, and our precious time together.  That’s my life lesson for the day.

Remembering the Wintry Ways

photoA few weeks ago I had a chance to tag along with Travel Man to the icy cold weather in Indiana, while he was on assignment.  I grew up in northern Illinois and moved to California when I was 16.  Travel Man is a Southern California native, but has travelled all over the world.  Needless to say I had forgotten how much work it can be to live, and go and do and be in the harsh, cold winter weather.  It made me realize how lucky I am to be living in the Southwest.  And it also reminded me of a few things that I don’t have to worry about living in a warmer climate.  So, here’s my list of the top ten things that I recognize are so different for me not living in the winter sphere.

1) I must wear socks. Your feet can get blooming cold here in the snow and land of winter.  This is not a daily event for me at home in So Cal.  I love to go barefoot.

2) The cars are so salty and dirty from the snow.  It’s so strange to see all of the layers of dirt and salt on the cars.  Why get your car washed when you’ll just be left with icicles hanging off of the bumpers!!

3) And then there’s the hugeness of the icicles themselves.  They’re hanging off of the eaves on the houses everywhere.  And then we saw so many long, huge icicles on the sides of the buildings.  Aren’t those a safety hazard.  They look like huge daggers!

4) Finessing the scarf, hat and gloves.  Every time you go out in this subzero cold it’s hat gloves, scarf, hat,  gloves,  scarf.  I forgot how much static can build up in your hair from the hats constantly going on and off of your head!! Coats on, coats off; hats on, hats off; gloves on, gloves off; boots on, boots off.

5) The sound of the snow crunching under your shoes when your walking to and from the car or store.  Oh and watch out for patches of ice and black ice that is barely visible.

6) The enormous pothole population. Wow!  We were on Cicero Street near Midway Airport and the potholes looked like freckles on the roadway.  Quite a bumpy ride.  The potholes were not to be avoided.  This is not a sight we see in springtime here in California.

7) When you’re in the cold and snowy weather it’s a soulful comfort to wrap your chilly hands around a warm cup of coffee or tea.   And of course drinking it warms you right down to your toes.

8)  Isn’t is a wonder how much of a comfort soup can be in the cold weather?  Don’t get me wrong I love to make a good pot of homemade broccoli cheddar soup .  But nothing’s quite as satisfying as a warm bowl of soup on a cold winters night!

9) How do you see around the piles and piles of snow? Don’t you feel like a mouse in a maze?  The closest we come to this feeling in California might be looking for a parking spot at your favorite beach along the coast.

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10)  You forget how the snow is not always pristine and pretty and just white and sparkling.  Especially when explaining the sight of a new fallen snow to your California kids who have not experienced a Midwestern winter.  After the snow has been plowed and all of the cars have been driving by the snow gets a little gray and down right slushy and ugly.  This is the contrast that you forget about:

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Most of all after spending just a week in the throes of the cold and snow I am endlessly amazed at the hardiness of the Midwestners’ spirit.   Everyone we talked to while travelling said they are ready for winter to be over with.   In my opinion if you can make it through a tough cold, snowy winter and coming out smiling at the beginning of March you can live anywhere.  Hat’s off to all of you  surviving the long, harsh winter.  Sending you all some sunshine and warmth from Southern California.

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