10-Day Whirlwind Tour

I have been away on vacation with my teen, Ysabela, for 10 days, but it feels like a lot longer!  I’m happy to be home and blogging again.  In this series of blogs, I will go over the trip day by day to share the experiences with you all.  I kept a journal just for that purpose since I had so many people interested in our travels.

July 10, 2016: We were lucky enough to be transported by friends to the airport, so that saved me a lot of parking fees and stress.  We made our flight, but it was a bit sketchy.  Dawn, one of the flight attendants, was there, but she wasn’t a bit helpful.  The plane shook and made odd noises—enough to alarm Bela.  I reassured her, but I was a bit concerned until things evened out.  Since our flight took off late, we barely made the connecting flight in Chicago.  We were the last ones to board.  That part was very stressful, as you can imagine!

After we got settled in on the flight across the pond, Jeffrey Alan made us feel at home.  This plane was so much different from the others we have taken!  First class was WOW!  Bela and I decided that one day, we will travel to Europe in that section!  We kept going to the “regular people” seating.  Each row was divided as such: 3-4-3.  Dinner was a sight!  I chose pasta, Bela wanted chicken, so we were both satisfied.  Each tray had the main course, a small bottle of water, a roll, salad with pomegranate acai vinaigrette dressing on the side, a small wedge of cheese and crackers.  I ate almost everything while I watched Allegiant; Bela tuned in to see a Goose Bumps movie.  We had time on the flight for about three movies if we stayed awake for the entire seven-hour flight.  We definitely felt spoiled.  Supper made us look forward to breakfast!

Flight information showed Chicago to London as 3939 miles which translated into seven hours and 20 minutes.  I enjoyed my headphones and blanket.  Daddy’s Home was my second movie choice.  I did end up sleeping some.

July 11, 2016:  We landed in London around nine in the morning (their time, not ours).  It took forever to get through the passport check.  Once we escaped that, all I wanted was a smoke!  I left Bela with an EF Tour lady while I found a smoking area.  After so many hours without one, I felt a bit dizzy afterward.

The EF Tour lady took Bela to Richard, our babysitter/guide/go-to guy, and he finished collecting the rest of our group.  We dropped off our luggage at the bus while he passed out our Oyster cards.  Oyster cards are used for public transportation.  We saw a lot of the metro today!  We literally walked miles.  One lady had a FitBit and said we had already walked almost three miles, but she didn’t have it on all day.  We definitely got in way more than 10,000 steps.

We saw buskers in Trafalgar Square and hoofed it over to Covent Garden to view some awesome statues.  Our final destination for the day was Premier Inn in the Shoreditch area of town.  More pictures and info to come!

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Onward to D. C.

Somewhere close to lunch on the last teacher workday (LAST TEACHER WORK DAY!!!!), I left to take the dogs to Koko’s Palace, pick up Ysabela and our “personal bags” and head to the airport.  When I refer to “personal bags,” what I really want to say is that we each carried a large tote that held our clothes for the weekend.  My bag even had room for my purse.  That saved me money since there’s a charge for a carry-on or checked bag.  Only a personal bag flies with me free—if it fits under the seat.  We all know clothes can be mushed, and mush we did.  🙂  We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  I was a bit nervous since I had received an email advising me to arrive three hours early for domestic travel due to long security lines.

Bela and I took the red-eye and arrived in Washington, D. C., right before five in the morning.  I will admit to sleeping—and most likely snoring—all the way.  I am not ashamed.  In my defense, I did warn my flight neighbor.  He didn’t have a problem with it.  Bela later informed me that he and I were doing some duet snore harmony.

I had downloaded the Uber app prior to leaving home, so I thought transport would be easily arranged.  HA!  Airport Internet could be a bit better.  After almost half an hour of “loading” on my cell phone, I was done.  My last resort was to call my hostess, Martha.  She was already awake (thankfully) and came to pick us up within the hour.

We were welcomed at the apartment building by Martha’s neighbor, Mr. Ali.  He’s a delightful person who made me a cup of coffee when I was there last year.  Coffee friends are forever friends.  Ysabela and I managed to get settled in enough to take a nap.  Martha set the clock to make sure we’d be ready to get to the venue by the appointed time.

Didn’t I tell you what we were doing there?  Oh, dear!  Sorry about the oversight!  We were there to present student films for the American History Film Project!  I attended last year with one of my students; sadly, none were able to come this year except for my daughter (who also did a film).

This year’s venue was lovely.  The curator at Blenheim was so gracious and generous.  Ysabela and I even got to take a tour of the place before our presentations began!  We were made to feel so welcome that I hated to leave at the end.

It has been so encouraging to see Martha’s dream grow.  There were more films presented (and more states represented) this year than last.  Our in-person audience also doubled!  Local school board members were in attendance, and they took an active part by asking insightful questions after each film.  Ysabela did a fine job, as did the other students.  Several young film makers joined us via Skype to answer questions.  Technology is great!

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For more information (and to see the films) head on over to the Facebook page (link below), give it a “like” and do some browsing!  Please share it with your friends as well.  I’ll blog more about it all in a day or two!  Stay tuned!

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Restlessness

 

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Now that school is almost done for the year, I’m beginning to feel quite restless.  I need to head out of town for a few days and soon!  A change of scenery refreshes me.  Fortunately, Bela and I are heading to DC in a couple of weeks for the film exhibit for the American History Film Project (AHFP).  Bela is a great sidekick—easy to get along with and loves to travel.

I hope Bela takes advantage of the chance to see the war memorials and soak up some history in the short time we will be there.  I look forward to visiting friends I made last year.  Stay tuned—I’ll post all about it when we get home!

 

 

Travel, Anyone?

I don’t mind working to make a living, but I feel a bout of “itchy feet” coming. If I can’t travel every now and again, what’s the point of working so hard? Anyway, I want to see the world. On my list so far: Spain, Ireland, Australia. I will jump at the chance to go to Mexico anytime since there are people I love and miss there. I often joke that I can be packed in 10 minutes, ready to go! I’m only half-joking.

The reality is that I am almost irreplaceable at home. There are pets to feed and water, so I must plan carefully for their care. It’s difficult to trust someone to take care of them like I do. I can send the dogs to daycare. Fortunately, in my town there’s a pet boarding business. I’m so thankful for a place like Koko’s Palace. I know my babies will be cared for and loved. My jobs require coverage as well. Prime travel time for me is summer, but the catch is I work more hours in the summer at my part-time job. The good news is that I can arrange time off when I need it.

Anyone else have a burning desire to see some castles and experience other cultures?

Mother Trucker-Part 2

Nashville was finally showing on the road signs!!!! Wait…that meant Ysabela and I would be on our own. Hmmmm.

Joseph pulled the rig into a truck stop, and we had one last discussion about my directions. (Road warrior Pam was sleeping.) He said he’d call us when he turned off to offload, and I would continue driving. By this time, naturally, I was getting tired and my back was hurting. My neck was tight, and I swear I had a cramp in my palm from gripping the wheel.

I thanked him for all the help he and Pam had given us. I felt a bit sad at being on my own again, but home was a lot closer than before!

Ysabela and I went back to playing Banana! and Punch Bug! to amuse ourselves. (I’m sure I won the banana game.) I started singing with the radio to stay alert. We drove and drove (and drove) until I felt it would be dangerous to keep driving. At Cookeville (TN), I gave in and got us a room. I figured I could breeze on home after I got five or six hours of sleep. After all, I had been driving for a whole 24 hours. Enough already! I had been driving like it was my job! The trip was taking longer than I had anticipated and I was feeling

Part 3 is on the way…..

Mother Trucker-Part 1

Pam!  She's my hero!

Pam! She’s my hero!

Some of you may have noticed silence on my part since late last week. I will explain.

Do you ever get the feeling things happen for a reason? Yeah, me too. This weekend is one perfect example. I thought I had my clock set for 10:15 (p. m.) Friday so we could get ready to leave home by 11. My plan was to drive all night and get us to Virginia by late Saturday night. So much for my plan. The alarm went off at 10 instead, so I got up, showered and we left 15 minutes early. No big deal, right? Wrong. It was part of the master plan.

At the beginning of the trip, I had on my game face and was ready to drive. I felt like

My Uncle Roger has been a trucker for years, so if I need driving directions, he’s my go-to person. He always gets us where we need to be. Earlier in the week he had faxed me directions with approximate distances and other details. I managed to make it to Lincoln before the second step of my plan went awry. Uncle Roger is very precise, but this time, an exit number was off, and I ended up on what I thought was the right road, but I had to make sure. (I can get lost in a paper bag!)

We narrowly missed a collision when a truck passed me on the right side. I was struggling to move into the left lane to pass a tractor trailer. It was just getting dark, and I was taking my time. The driver behind me must have been in a hurry because after nearly hitting us, the truck immediately swerved in front of me to pass the rig. The important part is that we did NOT get hit. When near misses happen, I always wonder if someone was praying for me in that very moment.

After the near miss, the rig and I ended up side by side at a red light. Wanting to reassure myself of my route, I had Ysabela roll her window down and wave to get the driver’s attention so I could ask if we were in the right place. Imagine my surprise when a LADY rolled down the window to give us an answer. AWESOME! She was coincidentally (?) heading the same way we were, and she was kind enough to let us follow her until we hit the next road we needed.

The three of us stopped for a potty break. Pam and I had a chat and exchanged travel info while Ysabela chose a snack. I discovered Pam was driving while her husband, Joseph, was sleeping until it was his turn. She also warned me that she had a mandatory 30-minute rest coming up. I asked if it was OK if we hung out and waited since she was heading to Nashville. The part that worried me most was getting around St. Louis.

By this part of the 21-hour (we thought) journey, Ysabela had entertained me by singing her favorite songs. With headphones in. While I was trying to listen to the radio. And watch road signs. After the entertainment was over, she concentrated on beating me at “Banana!” and “Punch Bug!” She took a few naps in between all the fun. While she slept, I kept count of all the yellow (banana) vehicles I saw as well as the VW bugs. (I jokingly told her I had won the banana game 500 to 25 since she slept for a few hours.)

We drove a couple hundred more miles, found a truck stop and had a great meal. Pam made me laugh a lot! The conversation between Pam and the waitress went something like this:

Waitress: What can I get for you?
Pam: (on a fact-finding mission before making a choice) Do you have pepper Jack cheese?
Waitress: No, sorry.
Pam: Do you have Pico de Gallo?
Waitress: (confused look) No, sorry.
Pam: (sigh) OK, I’ll have……(something I can’t remember)
Waitress: Would you like toast, biscuits or English muffins with that?
Pam: Do you have any scones?
Waitress: (wincing) No.

Joseph woke up to find his lovely wife and two strangers in a booth awaiting sustenance. He seemed like a very even-tempered fellow, and Pam quickly explained why Ysabela and I were tagging along. I commented that I wasn’t spending as much on gas as I had expected, and Joseph reminded me of something I should have remembered—drafting! (Don’t panic—I wasn’t glued to the bumper!) I checked my gauges, and my gas mileage was better than on any other trip I have taken.

By now, we had swapped cell numbers and email addresses. If I got lost, I could call them for help. A few hundred miles later during yet another rest stop, Joseph and Pam offered us an alternative to our original directions that would alleviate some of my stress. I could follow them to Nashville, they would offload and I could catch I-40 over to I-81 and onward.

I am a very suspicious person by nature, but this awesome couple was put in my path for a reason. (If we had left home as scheduled, we never would have met them.) I am SO glad Pam and Joseph were part of my trip.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

The Chicken Chick