Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Trip

You would think that there would be an easy part, a stressful part and an easy, even fun part.  But no!  So far this thing has been nothing but the stressful part.  My daughter is graduating from college in two weeks.  Stressful.  Indeed.  But that is not what I’m talking about here.

Three years ago she told us she wanted to go to England for her graduation present.  Wow!  I got a hand carved ballpoint pen for my college graduation.  Inflation I guess.  Why England?  I don’t know.  But that’s what she wants.  So, for the last three years we’ve been trying to save up enough money for this trip, and the vacation time needed to do it.  This isn’t a weekend affair.  Not even if the Concorde were still flying.  Well, maybe, but beside the point.  To do this right we need a week.

You are probably wondering what we are going to do for a week.  Of course, there are so many things to see and do in London alone.  But I haven’t gotten that far yet.  I know, three years.  What have I been doing?  Nothing.

That’s not quite true.  In the past two weeks I’ve had a daily panic attack trying to figure out the most basic parts of this thing.  When, exactly should we go and once we get there where the heck should we stay?  Hey, it’s tough making so many decisions.  OK, two decisions.  But a lot of options!

Based on everyone’s schedules, we narrowed it down to the end of May and the beginning of June.  Good start.  But should we leave on Monday?  Maybe Tuesday.  Sunday?  Seven options in each week!  It costs a little more to fly on the weekend so now we’re down to five options.  Don’t forget, if you leave on a Monday evening here, you arrive Tuesday morning in London.  Ready for a full day.

Monday night it is.  A decision made.  Now, do I reserve a hotel or air flight first?  Do the room is my logic.  You can get a flight any time or day, but hotels have to have room for you when you want to be there.  Amazing.  There are over a thousand hotels in London and so many seem to already be booked up for next month.  How far in advance do people plan?  Wait.  My sister plans her trips five years in advance!

London is a little larger than my hometown, so location matters.  I want to be near the action.  The tourist action that is.  So, where do we go for that?  Looking on tripadvisor I can begin my search by choosing a neighborhood to look in.  There are how many choices???  Seems like fifty or more.  And I don’t know where any of them are.

This looks good.  Oh wait.  It says thirty eight thousand dollars for a week.  What!  I was thinking a little less.  Here.  Right price.  Nice location.  Booked solid.  No elevator.  No breakfast.  Not enough beds.  Too far away.  You name it, we found a flaw.  My wife can be picky.  We are generally not allowed to let our feet touch the floor in a hotel.  Germs you know.

Finally.  Location.  Price.  Breakfast.  Beds.  Price.  Not perfect.  No.  But it’s gonna be great.  Book it Danno!  Now for the flight!  Easier by a long sight.  Fewer airports to choose from.  Fewer airlines.  Fewer times of day to fly.  Done!

Now for the hard part!  What are we gonna do when we get there!  My other daughter will graduate in three years.  I don’t know where she’ll want to go but maybe I should start planning now.  Nah!

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?


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The Last Hurrah

Punxatawney Phil is playing with us.  You know, the groundhog.  The weather prognosticator.  He pops his head out of his hole in the depths of Winter every year and tells us if Spring is near or Winter will hang on for another six weeks.  That’s the legend anyway.  I don’t know what his track record is but people keep asking him every year on February 2 so it must be OK.

Funny  thing about that.  Groundhog Day, the day he makes this prediction, is pretty much exactly six weeks before the celestial based onset of Spring.  So whatever he guesses is bound to be not too far off.  Just sayin’.

This year’s ruling was… I don’t remember.  But here in the first week of March it’s chilly, raining and just plain dreary.  No birds singing.  No sun shining.  No green grass.  Still Winter.  Maybe the forecast is more accurate in Pennsylvania where Phil lives.

The local wisdom, here in the South, is that you shouldn’t plant your garden until after Easter.  After the last chance of frost has passed.  Easter was last week but it’s only 40 degrees out there.  Not frosty, but still kinda cool.  Does that have anything to do with wearing white shoes?

Like every year, we’ve been teased by several nice days.  Warm and sunny.  And I’ll bet a lot of folks got their gardens started a little early.  I hope tomato plants are pretty tough.

Just goes to show you.  Phil just predicts the weather, he doesn’t control it.  Winter is here for one last hurrah.  And we’ll appreciate the eventual arrival, the real arrival, of Spring even more.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?

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Outta The Way!

Look out!  Coming through.  Just get outta the way!  These people move too fast and I am gonna get killed.  As someone who has been described as moving about as fast as a turtle in molasses, adjusting to the big city is a little difficult.  That’s why I don’t live here.  Even in my prime as a dedicated runner my pace was less than awesome.  One foot in front of the other.  Slow and steady doesn’t win the race, but still gets me from point A to point B.  And often allows me to enjoy the journey more than the hares of the world.

I was taking a trip to another state and the easiest and most sensible way to travel was by air.  My little town had an airport, but you can hardly get anywhere from there so I had to go to the big city.  And the big airport.

Must be getting close I thought when the traffic on the road started whizzing by me at supersonic speeds.  Concrete barriers at the median display skid marks from the tires of those vehicles launching themselves into space.  Fast and furious.  Bumper to bumper.

Arriving at the parking area I thought I was safe.  A quick shuttle ride to the terminal and I was home free.  Quick was an understatement.  They don’t put seatbelts in those shuttle buses and as I watched the bodies and bags flying around inside of the one I was riding I thought, ”What is the rush?”  I guess for the driver the rush was feeling like an Indy car driver.  For me, there was no rush.  Another shuttle would be along in several minutes.

Inside the terminal I got a break until I headed for the security screen.  There was a long line and it looked like it might be slow.  Everyone was emptying pockets and stripping down waiting for their turn.  I think some people must really enjoy this procedure as they were pushing and shoving to get closer to the front of the line.  Score!  I jumped ten places in line! 

A couple pounds of titanium inhabit my spine these days so I was a little nervous about setting off the alarm.  Sure enough, when I went through something happened and they pulled me aside.  Let me pat down your knee the TSA guy says.  My knee?  What was that about?  Through security I was headed to the proper terminal.  I was thinking of riding the train.

Too damn crowded.  All these people pushing their way down the escalator toward the train.  People packed in there like sardines.  And this was the first stop so it was just going to get more crowded.  I’ll take the people mover.  I’ll just stay to the right, in the slow lane.

What a fortuitous decision!  Along the way, I wasn’t just walking through a dark tunnel.  Or even through just a lighted tunnel.  It was a museum gallery!  Along one stretch there were a series of large sculptures from Africa.  Another section had pictures and displays of the history of Georgia.  Fascinating stuff and I would have spent several hours down there but I hadn’t allowed that much time for myself.

The gate was already crowded when I got there.  People hurriedly waiting for their plane.  Even the dude wearing the Hell’s Angels colors was in a rush as he was flying back to Arizona rather than riding!  Me, I strolled up to the waiting area and took a seat.  Now I could people watch.  And wonder who they all were and where they were going in such a hurry.  Sure, I was travelling for pleasure and many of them were on the move for business.  I get that.  But more importantly, I knew that I would get to my destination at the same speed as all of my fellow passengers having enjoyed the sights considerably more.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.cpom

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