"" Writer's Wanderings: August 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Greater Love. . .

While researching for the historical novel I'm writing, I ran across a story of four army chaplains whose lives exemplified their faith. The four, John Washington, a Catholic priest, Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed pastor, Alexander Goode, a rabbi, and George Fox, a Methodist minister, were being transported along with troops of men on board a cruise ship, the Dorchester, that had been converted to a troop transport. The ship was several days into its Atlantic crossing when it was torpedoed and went down. Survivors reported that the four chaplains had spent the last moments of their lives calming the men as they helped them into lifeboats and even giving some their own life jackets. With no way to save themselves in the end, the four joined arms and went down with the ship.

One of the relatives of the four researched the story to be sure it was true. Survivors he found all corroborated the story and added that the four men had a genuine love for each other even though their faiths were different. Catholic, Jew, Dutch Reformed, Methodist. It didn't matter.They exhibited the kind of love that Jesus truly wanted for all of God's children.

You can read more about the story of the Dorchester and these men of faith at American WWII.com. I found it amazing and reaffirming.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friendsJohn 15:13

Friday, August 29, 2014

How To Spend Lots Of Money On Cruise Extras

Extras on a cruise ship fall into several categories as I see it: shopping, excursions, accommodations and dining. I really need to add the spa to that but it's not a place where you will find me. If you love the spa and all it has to offer, there are lots of ways to spend money there from hair styling and makeup to exotic massages and thermal suites.

Start with accommodations. If you really want to spend some bucks don't just upgrade to a balcony. Go for a full blown suite with a butler. The big ones come with private hot tubs on the balcony and even grand pianos! Invite all your new cruising friends in for a party and let the butler make all the arrangements. Be ready to leave a nice tip though.

The on board boutiques (every ship has several) also know as the retail therapy area offer lots of ways to spend money. From the my-grandparents-took-a-cruise-and-brought-me-this shirts to jewelry worth thousand of dollars. Prices are high in most cases but you can run into sales from time to time when a ship is leaving one area of the world for another. It's like the seasonal changes in the stores back home. Most of the time however the prices are out of my comfort zone. I once saw a pretty clutch purse in the window of a ship shop and stopped to admire it. In one of my husband's generous moments, he took me in and asked the price. We should have known better. If there's no price tag, it's more than we want to spend. The answer to his question was $4,000. We quietly left without a purchase. No one has explained to me why I would need a $4,000 purse.

Excursions are another area where lots of money can be spent. Sure there are plenty of bus tours and lots of reasonable panoramic tours that give you a taste of the port. But if you really want to spend the kids' inheritance try taking a tour with a private car and driver. Or several of those helicopter tours. The overnight excursions are a must for those who love to splurge. Some of them go for several nights and are pretty pricey. You get off in one port and go overland to join up with the ship again in another port. Bob always asks those on that kind of tour who's eating your meals on board ship?

Only one tray of many.
And now we come to dining. The specialty restaurants are calling. More and more restaurants are showing up on ships nowadays. If you really want to go overboard (well, not literally) try some of the extra special ones. Champagne breakfast for two in the room or a romantic catered dinner on your balcony. Princess offers a special chef's dinner where the chef comes out and cooks something at your table. It is usually for a group of people and you also get to tour the kitchen and receive a cookbook. There was enough food at that meal to feed ten times the number of people at the table. We walked away uncomfortably stuffed. Truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

So bottom line: Plan ahead! You can research much of what your ship and your itinerary has to offer and make those choices that you feel will enhance your cruise experience. Provide enough in your budget for a few nice souvenirs or spa visits and if you must have a $4,000 clutch purse--well, be sure your credit card isn't maxed out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Books For The Road - Until Proven Guilty by J A Jance

J A Jance is a new author for me. I'm running out of Harry Bosch books to read and I think I reached the end of Jack Reacher. So when a member of our book club mentioned a couple of series he has gotten into, my ears perked up and I wrote down the author's name. Jance had two series which involve murder and mystery and a detective and a sheriff.

Until Proven Guilty is the first in the Beaumont series which features J. P. Beaumont, detective on the Seattle police force. I'm glad this was the first for my reading. I loved imagining the streets of Seattle as she took her characters through them and then out to Snoqualmie. where I've been several times with our son and his family. Jance lives in Seattle and Arizona with her husband.

At first I wasn't sure I liked the voice of her writing. It seemed a bit short and choppy but once I got into the story and characters it all fell into place for me. Here's the teaser:

The little girl was a treasure who should have been cherished, not murdered. She was only five-too young to die-and Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont of the Seattle Police Department isn′t going to rest until her killer pays dearly. But Beaumont′s own obsessions and demons could prove dangerous companions in a murky world of blind faith and religious fanaticism. And he is about to find out that he himself is the target of a twisted passion . . . and a love that can kill.

Next up is the first in her series of mysteries that take place in Arizona with a female sheriff, Joanna Brady, just as soon as whoever has the loan from the library finishes with it. I'm looking forward to exploring these two series. They are proving to be good books for the road.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Through My Lens - Zoo Fun

As zoo members (visitors, not caged residents) we often spend a couple of morning hours walking through the zoo and then having lunch. It's a good walk. Our zoo is challenging with hills and lots of walking paths. This time through I grabbed my camera just in case we saw something unusual. I promised myself that the next time I photographed these kind of animals it wouldn't be through cage bars. Our safari will be coming up next year!

There's gotta be a salmon in here somewhere.

What!? Nobody smokes a camel anymore.

A kid's eye-view of an elephant's eye.

There's always gotta be one who's different.

Honey, is dinner ready yet?

Maybe Santa won't see me here. Enough with the sled already!

You hop for the visitors. No, you hop! No, you hop! No. . .

Oh dear, I think my deodorant failed me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lost In Translation--Made Up For In Smiles

One of my favorite signs in English I've seen as we travel is one that was actually truth-in-advertising. In Turkey just outside of Ephesus where local merchants were displaying their wares there was a large sign hung over a display of watches. It read, "Genuine Fake Watches." Here are some signs seen by others that locals translated into English for the tourists.

  • Information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner in Japan: COOLES AND HEATES: IF YOU WANT CONDITION OF WARM AIR IN YOUR ROOM, PLEASE CONTROL YOURSELF.
  • On the grounds of a Nairobi private school: NO TRESPASSING WITHOUT PERMISSION.
  • In a Mumbai restaurant: OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, AND WEEKENDS TOO.
  • Advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: TEETH EXTRACTED BY THE LATEST METHODISTS.
  • Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand: WOULD YOU LIKE TO RIDE ON YOUR OWN ASS?
  • The box of a clockwork toy made in Hong Kong: GUARANTEED TO WORK THROUGHOUT ITS USEFUL LIFE.
Travel is never boring. I can only imagine the chuckles we English-speaking tourists bring to others when we try to speak in their language.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Flying Nearer My God To Thee

 The plane levels out, gives that little surge that makes your tummy flutter, and a few minutes later, the pilot announces “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude and I am turning off the fasten seatbelt sign.” Instantly the hymn, “Nearer My God To Thee,” begins to play in my head. David said in the psalms, “But as for me, it is good to be near God…” (Psalms 73:28). Am I really nearer to God up here?
I look out the window and see the fields and ribbons of highways below. The busyness of life flows like ants on a hill as we pass over people who are out and about their daily lives. God is not any nearer up here than He is down there, I think. Not as long as I trust in Him.
I smile. Trust. Why is that so hard to do with God sometimes? Here I am flying through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, suspended 30,000 feet above the earth, trusting in the pilot of the plane to get us to our destination and land safely on the ground again.
David also said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Psalms 20:7) Often I trust people, complete strangers, with my safety. The pilot. The taxi driver. The bus driver. I put myself in their care with hardly a thought to what I’ve done. Why not put myself in God’s hands as easily? I know how much he cares for me. Much more than any stranger would.
The plane starts to descend. I put up the tray table and bring my seat back to its original upright position. I begin my usual prayer, “God give us a safe landing. Be in the cockpit and guide our pilot.”
It is then I realize my trust isn’t in the pilot. I’ve trusted God all along. I’ve been in his hands—held 30,000 feet in the air. I’ve gained new insight. Whether soaring through the clouds in a jet or planting my feet firmly on the ground, I need to trust God. Trust Him for all my “safe landings” in life. Trust Him for guiding me safely to all my destinations. Trust in him for the hope of my salvation.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Friday, August 22, 2014

My, How Flying Has Changed

As I continue to weed through old files on my computer and reorganize them I'm finding things I started and never finished. Some are vignettes of trips long ago. Here is one I started about a trip to Disney back in 1983 or 1984. Air travel is certainly different today. Do you see the significant change?

            The plane bumped as it taxied to the runway. Don’s head was glued to the window. From behind I could see the deep dimple in the side of his cheek. The pilot’
s announcement that we were ready for take off sent the stewardesses scurrying to their seats.
            Andy kept readjusting Don’s head so he could see out the window. As we started down the runway, Andy held his watch up to check the time, I supposed—no it was to time the take off. I smiled.
            “Look, Don, we’re in the air.”
            “Yeah,” Don nodded. “That side too!”
            Scientifically, Andy noted that we were now flying between two cloud layers. If his older brother, Rob, were sitting here, he would be naming the types of clouds and spouting the average temperature outside and probably calculating the humidity at this altitude. I glanced down the aisle. Rob was buried in a book. His twin, Ron, however, hormones surging was zeroing in on available girls in the right age range.
            I knew I had made the right seat choice as I noticed Cheryl leaning across the aisle, asking questions of her dad. He would probably be asleep soon and wouldn’t even hear her anymore. Her constant line of questions would have driven me crazy.
            My ears popped again. The roar of the jets changed as we reached cruising altitude and leveled off. The no-smoking sign went off.
            Frantically, the smokers around me began to light up. I took one quick breath of fresh air before the cloud of smoke settled in.

            We played musical chairs as the family vied for the one window seat we had gained. Rob took his turn as we neared Orlando. His running commentary on geography and topography kept Andy entertained until landing. 

So does anyone miss the cigarette smoke? Not me!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Do You Hug A Six Foot Teenager?

The date on this essay is 1986. The son I wrote about is now 40+ and is facing the beginning of the teenage years with his son. I smiled when I found this as I was cleaning out old files. My grandson is eyeball to eyeball with his mom and won't be long before dad probably finds himself there as well.


When did it happen? My nineteen-inch baby suddenly grew to seventy-two inches. Sixteen years doesn’t seem like such a long time now. I wonder. Will it take me another sixteen to get used to this new size?

I smile as I remember my 5’3” mother coping with a 6’1” teenager—my brother. We had three steps up to the kitchen from the side door entryway. When she needed to emphasize her authority as the parent, she would catch him before he got up the stairs, blocking his path in the narrow door until he understood the message.
I have no steps so I need to find other creative ways of dealing with our new size difference. I’m a little taller than my mother but I still get a crick in my neck standing next to my son while talking to him.
In his book, “How to Love Your Teen,” (Campbell?) emphasizes the importance of eye contact with your children. Establishing eye contact is probably the most important way of seeing the love. It shows in another’s eyes. I want to be sure he sees that love in mine so I try to find ways of being “eyeball to eyeball” whenever I can.
Touching is another important part of parenting. A loving touch expresses warmth and concern that words could never reveal. Head patting does tend to go out of style as they begin to stretch skyward, but a hand placed fondly on the arm adds the emphasis of concern and love and brings even greater attention to what you are saying.
Touching a teen can bring an unexpected response in a parent also. In a moment of pride for an idea my son expresses, I reached up to cup his face in my hands and tell him how wonderful I thought his idea was. As my hands touched his face, my words were lost in confusion. My hands were touching the face of an adult male with a “three o’clock” shadow not the baby soft skin I remembered.
A bumper sticker proclaiming “Give hugs, not drugs” made me realize that the taller my son was getting, the less I was hugging. But, then, how do you hug a six-foot teenager?
I started a hugging campaign. “Ron, I love you,” I said when he came home from school that afternoon reaching out to stop him for a hug. Awkwardly, he bent over to hug me and I felt myself going on tiptoes to reach his neck.
Next I tried the old “sit next to him on the couch” approach to sneak a hug. That seemed to work a little better. He didn’t have to bend over so far.
I found a one-arm technique around his middle worked pretty well. But, somehow, it didn’t seem to convey the kind of affection we once expressed when he was able to climb up on my lap, wrap his arms around my neck and put his head on my shoulder as I embraced him in a full bear hug.
The little boy is still there inside the body of the man he is becoming. I hope a part of him will always remain. I hope the man will never outgrow the need for hugs. I know his parents won’t.

How do you hug a six-foot teenager? I’m not sure. I just know you do.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Traveling Back In Time - WWII Nylon Stockings

I grew up wearing nylons. They were never silk stockings. By the time I was old enough for them, silk stockings were definitely a thing of the past and nylon stockings ruled. According to an article at American WWII.com, rayon was used as a substitute for a time but they didn't fit well and tended to sag and "form knees of their own."

A team of researchers at DuPont worked for a decade to find a suitable solution. One day Julian Hill pulled a rod out of a mixture of coal tar, water, and alcohol to find a filament stretched between the rod and the solution. Voila! Nylon!

The first nylon stockings hit the shelves in New York City in May, 1940. Of course once the war began, nylon went into use mostly for parachutes, ropes, and tires for the military.

The nylon stockings of the 40s and 50s had a seam running up the back of them that was always a challenge to keep straight. I remember in the early days of my teens, some girls just used an eyebrow pencil on the back of their legs to make it appear that they had stockings on. The "seams" stayed a lot straighter if you had a steady hand.

It wasn't long before garter belts (except for the fancy Victoria Secret type) were a thing of the past and, with the discovery of lycra, pantyhose became the popular norm.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Traveling Back In Time - WWII Margarine

Research for the historical novel, Ruby, I'm writing has been fun although it does slow me down. The little details are fascinating. I owe this discovery to a lady at our church who is just a few years older than I and remembered having to take what she called lard and mix it with a little yellow capsule of dye to make it look like butter.

Margarine actually got its start in France in the late 1860s in response to a challenge posed by Napoleon for a cheaper spread than butter that could be used in the military. Hippolyte Mege-Mouries responded with a combination of animal fats and a few other things. He named it margarine.

Later it was found that vegetable oils were even cheaper and hydrogenation made them into a solid. The new margarine was introduced into the United States in the 1870s. When the new margarine became an even less expensive alternative to butter, the dairy association protested and brought laws into effect that prohibited the use of yellow dye in its production to distinguish it even more from the butter product. The work-around was to package a capsule or wafer of yellow dye with the margarine and let the consumer add it to the margarine. Of course the job usually fell to the children of the home which is why my friend remembered it so well.

When butter was rationed during WWII, margarine became the alternative and was popularized even more in 1941 by the National Nutrition Council who declared it to be healthier. Lots of people objected to the flavor of the margarine however and I'm sure my dad had to be one of them. When the flavor was improved he still objected to not having "real butter" in the house. My mother insisted that she only used it for cooking when he found it in the refrigerator and then quickly unwrapped the stick and put it on a butter dish so he wouldn't know he was using the margarine. I'm not sure if he gave in or truly didn't know. I'm thinking he gave in. Dad grew up on a farm and while not in Wisconsin (who didn't lift the ban on yellow coloring until 1967), he still would have know the difference, I'm sure.

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Venetian Island Wasn't On Our Tour

We've only been to Venice once and fell in love with its charm. We visited the islands of Murano and Burano to see the glassblowing and the lace making but no one told us about another island only a ten minute water taxi ride from St. Mark's Square. It's called Poveglia and has been labeled the most haunted place in the world. It recently went up for sale but I didn't hear if there were any takers.

Poveglia was home to a mental hospital for many years said to have housed a doctor who did weird experiments. Across the island from the hospital is what is called the plague pit. It is where they brought those who fell victim to the Bubonic plague.

Legends and tales abound about the island and of course the usual ghost sightings reported by the locals. One intrepid traveler, Robin Saikai, ventured onto the island with a photographer to do a story about it. She reports it here at her blog and includes a video taken from a boat as she traversed the island on the channel that cuts it in two.

Striding Peter, an amputee ghost, Laughing Man, and Staring Anna are a few of the ghosts mentioned in Saikai's report. It sounds like a real life haunted house that isn't just for Halloween. So who'll offer the first bid? Going, going. . . .

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Airlines. What's Your Favorite?

How do you choose a favorite airline? We flew Continental for quite a few years mainly because Cleveland was a hub and it was convenient. Once in a while we deviated to US Airways (now American Air) to fly to Grand Cayman because the flights were convenient and cheaper. Southwest was an adventure a time or two but mostly we stuck with Continental which became United--and left Cleveland behind, no longer a hub.

We found ourselves floundering a bit but enter Frontier Airlines to the rescue. Our most recent trip to Florida was by Frontier not only because we wanted to try them out but also because they offered a non-stop at a great price even though we had to pay for all the extras: luggage, food and drinks. Bob bought the classic ticket which got us a great seat in the exit row with lots of leg room and the extra cost included a checked bag.

Check-in was done by computer at home and boarding passes printed out. When we arrived at the airport, all we needed to do was show our passes and our baggage tags were handed to us by an attendant who had them all printed out before hand. Slick! We were checked in and baggage checked in less than five minutes.

What impressed me most both going and coming was the friendliness of all those connected with Frontier. We were served up smiles, polite conversation, and lots of humor (especially from a Denver native hostessing our flight home). Soft drinks were $1.99 each but refills of coffee and tea were free. Other than that they had the usual fare for snacks that other lines do. Our classic ticket however included our drinks and as always when we need to eat in flight, we brought food on board.

Our return trip was delayed two hours due to mechanical problems but lo and behold, a few days after our return, Bob got an email and a $30 voucher for a future flight with the airlines apology. Frontier will definitely be a number one consideration in the future.

Oh, and luggage arrived with us as well. Always a plus!

Recently there was a newsletter from Smart Travel.com that talked about several other new airlines starting up. Frontier wasn't one. I guess Frontier is considered old already. I wonder, would you consider a brand new airline to travel with? How would you choose? Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Florida In The Summertime - Only For The Intrepid Traveler

Were it not for a brand new grandbaby our trip to Florida this past week would not have happened. Florida in the summertime is just way too hot, too humid and too mosquito-filled for me. There's not a whole lot to do for young children indoors in the area south of Miami where our grands are so we tried doing things early in the day and spending the afternoons in the hotel pool and watching movies in the room or playing video games for awhile. I can see why my daughter-in-law makes summertime the home school time.

One morning our son suggested we take a look at Biscayne National Park. There's a boardwalk there and a nature center. It's on the water so we thought that at least it might be cooler and certainly have less mosquitoes than the Everglades would. (Been to the Everglades. Fought the mosquitoes. Don't know that Deet is even strong enough.) We arrived at the park and began to explore. It seemed okay. I should have known when there wasn't a breeze coming off the ocean that we were in trouble. About ten minutes into our walk we were suddenly swatting and turning around to head for refuge in the nature center. The ranger put on a movie for us about the park and then talked with the kids about all the skulls on the counter from various animals of the area. So, it was worth the trip but I'd love to return when it's cooler and mosquitoless.

Another morning we took off and spent a couple hours at the Miami Zoo. We rented a cycle-buggy and pedaled our way around the zoo. By the time our two hour rental was up, we were more than happy to give it back and head for the car and the A/C. We love the zoo but on cooler days. There are lots of places to walk through a "cool" mist and several places for kids to cool off with water activities but once the sun gets higher in the sky and the humidity builds up, even that is little help. The zoo ticket allows you to return within five days for an extra $5 so if you do buy a ticket and wimp out before you've seen it all, you can always come back for another morning visit.

The Flagship theater in Homestead has a wonderful program that features free kid's movies in the mornings. Lots of the area summer camps go there for a cool activity indoors. One theater housed the summer camp kids and another filled with area people with their kids. Popcorn was at a great price and we enjoyed Smurfs 2. No humidity. No heat. No mosquitoes. Ahhhh.

Some of our afternoons were cut short in the pool as Florida's regularly scheduled thunderstorms rolled through. I don't think there was an afternoon we didn't have one.

Driving back to our hotel at sunset was relaxing and beautiful. No matter what time of year, Florida does have some spectacular sunsets. One evening we were treated to backlit thunder clouds and lightening that streaked across a dark orange sky with a hole in the clouds where the yellow and pinks of the sunset shone through. Unfortunately my camera was home in Cleveland but I can still see it if I close my eyes. Of course closing my eyes after a week in the heat with three young grands leads to falling asleep. . . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

City Tours With A Twist

There is a tour in Cleveland I keep promising myself we are going to do someday. It's an Eliot Ness tour showing the highlights of the city in relation to one of America's great crime fighters who carried a badge instead of wearing a cape. Of course we are home to Superman too. When we travel around the world and stop in a city, we usually take a hop-on hop-off bus if it's available but in some cities there are city tours that introduce you to colorful aspects of the city you may not discover on your own.

While we thought about doing a tour of the Paris sewers, we somehow didn't manage that when we were there. We did however do the Red Light District in Amsterdam (some of it with my eyes covered). Most of the city tours you do on excursions from a cruise ship give the highlights and some historical sights but Smarter Travel.com has come up with a list of 10 Truly Unique City Tours.

The first one that strikes my fancy is the 1960s Summer of Love Tour. It's a trip down memory lane in San Francisco pointing out the important memorable spots for the hippie movement in that city. You ride in a psychedelic bus but it's "joint-free."

London, England has an unusual tour. It's led by someone who actually lives or has lived on the streets. This tour company takes homeless or past homeless folks and trains them as guides. You get the colorful stories of life on the streets and see all the historical points of interest in a whole new light.

The last tour that really piqued my interest is in Toronto, Canada with a professional photographer who not only shows you the sights but helps you set up the pictures and even takes some for you. The tour is a bit prices but comes with 50 professional digital shots for you shortly afterward. It would be nice to take a tour and have someone else snap the pictures for a change.

That's what caught my attention. Check out the article and see what tickles your travel bug.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Books For The Road - Undetected by Dee Henderson

It's bee a while since I read a Dee Henderson book. The O'Malley series by her is one of my favorites. Undetected turned out to be intriguing to me. It's basically a romance but not the usual formula. Here's the back cover blurb:

When asked what he does for a living . . .

Commander Mark Bishop is deliberately low-key: "I'm in the Navy." But commanding the ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada, keeping her crew trained and alert during ninety-day submerged patrols, and being prepared to launch weapons on valid presidential orders, carries a burden of command like few other jobs in the military. Mark Bishop is a man who accepts that responsibility, and handles it well. And at a time when tensions are escalating around the Pacific Rim, the Navy is glad to have him.

Mark wants someone to come home to after sea patrols. The woman he has in mind is young, with a lovely smile, and very smart. She's a civilian, yet she understands the U.S. Navy culture. And he has a strong sense that life with her would never be boring. But she may be too deep in her work to see the potential in a relationship with him.

Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn't see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best--ocean science research. She's on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop's perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she's figured out is only the beginning. If she's right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.

For someone who likes detail, this is a great read. Where and how Henderson got all her facts on sonar and subs is beyond me. There was no acknowledgement in the edition I read. She certainly did her homework though. The romance is more analytical than emotional and makes for a distinctly different approach to boy meets girl, etc.

Could make for a good book for the road for you.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

By-Gone Travel Days

Once in a while it's fun to reminisce about our travel days with kids. There was the trip to Niagara Falls where we ended up sleeping in the station wagon the first night, Disney Worlds with the three boys where we tried to explain to the booking agent as we planned ahead that we would have two more kids the next time, and the memorable vacations spent in North Carolina, the Smokey Mountains, and sailing the Great Lakes (well, some of them) with five kids.

They must have been memorable for at least one of our boys because his wife says she gets tired of hearing that "my mom and dad took me there." They have since made their own memories with their two kids--mostly in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

We did Disney several times until the oldest boys were really a bit too old to enjoy the experience. We've returned on our own once and a couple of times with all the kids and grands. It's changed since the early days. One of our friends described it as "stroller hell." Still we may venture back, off-season of course, and try it out just the two of us again and reminisce.

Our North Carolina trip near Nags Head was fun. We introduced the kids to fresh shrimp prepared on the grill. The boys loved pulling the heads off. We were near a National Park or thought we would be but found that the section nearest us was closed so any scheduled activities we wanted to do meant driving a half hour in either direction to the nearest ranger station. The kids did learn to snorkel there. And of course we thoroughly enjoyed the beach.

In the Smokey Mountains, our mountain retreat came with a hot tub that was a real hit with the kids as well as mom and dad after we put the kids to bed. We spent several quiet evenings there with a view of the sparkling stars in the sky. Our favorite memory is taking the kids fishing in a stocked trout pond. You no sooner put the hook in the water and you would pull out a fish. Now there were five of them fishing and it was near impossible to watch what they were all doing at the same time.

Finally the man in charge came over and said, "Ma'am, do you know that we charge by the pound? How many fish do you want to take home?"

We stopped--immediately. It was well worth the cost though as we had a great trout dinner that night and no one complained that we were eating fish.

I love to watch my kids take their kids traveling. What a joy to know that the fun of discovery of new places is not lost to the next generation of world travelers.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

My Problem With Time Travel

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've been working on a historical novel that takes place during the Great Depression and the start of World War II. The setting for the most part is Cleveland but with a trip to San Diego. It has been quite a challenge to travel back in time to do the research especially since I don't have a time machine. But along the way I've found some really interesting things.

Cleveland's Terminal Tower is still a landmark of the city and has the RTA rapid station that services east and west ends of the area located in its lower level. At one time, it was a passenger train station as well but did it exist in 1932 and 1942 when my character, Ruby, needed a train ride? A little traveling over the internet and I had my answer. Yes. Excavation was begun in 1924, steel construction in 1926 and the Terminal Tower opened in 1929. Of course back then it was all known as the Cleveland Union Terminal.

Okay, now I know she can catch a train from there but will she have enough money to get her to San Diego in 1942? As I traveled again through time on the internet, I struggled to find a list of fares for that time period. Lots of schedules--no fares. Then I came across a group of entertainers, all women if I remember correctly, who traveled cross country for less than $100 on a train. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark the reference (and can't remember the search words) but it was enough information to know that with a little fictional seeding, my heroine could make it to San Diego from Cleveland.

History was not my most favorite subject when I was in school and I can safely say there was only one small section of one college history class I found interesting. Some of the facts from the past I've waded through for the novel have been fun and interesting but I find myself slogging through WWII history now to connect my characters with some of the battles and put two of them in the same place at the same time. This part is not fun and reminds me of why I didn't like studying history to begin with. This may be my only historical novel.

Monday, August 04, 2014

More Senior Travel Tips-For You Young Un's Too

I've been reading up on some senior travel tips but it seems to me that anyone of any age should heed some of them as well. For example, leave the extra bling at home. Wearing a lot of sparkly jewelry rather it's real or not may be an invitation for someone to meet you around the corner and "request" you hand it over. Same goes for flashing a wad of cash. No!

Wearing appropriate shoes for walking, climbing, beach combing, etc. Save the sexy, well-heeled, or strappy little shoes for a place where you're sitting more than walking. And yes, I've seen the most outrageous shoes on people about to take a hike through a park on dirt and stone paths and stilettos on some who found themselves navigating cobblestones.

Here's one I hadn't though of. Leaving that "Please Clean My Room" sign on your hotel door is an open invitation to anyone who can jimmy a lock quickly. It says the room is empty until the cleaning staff gets to it. Better to leave that message at the desk if necessary on your way out. And by the way, all your electronics, extra cash and other valuables should be in the room safe or in the safe the hotel offers at the desk. And be sure to lock the room safe. Don't ask.

We seniors seem to accumulate medications. I think it's a plan to keep pharmacies in business (just kidding). But people of all ages often have medications albeit maybe a smaller list depending upon their age. Remember to pack enough meds for a couple of extra days. You never know when your flight home might be delayed. Also keep a list of your meds and dosage on your smartphone or tucked in your suitcase should you need to have more for some reason while you're on the road. And never pack them in your checked luggage. Carry them on the plane with you.

"Snow on the roof" doesn't mean we've lost the gray matter beneath it. Travel smart!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Why It Might Be Important To Read The Bible On A Cruise

While still catching up on some of the travel newsletters I've saved to read later, I came across one from the Cruise Critic that has listed some of the secrets to cruising. They're a compilation of some of the remarks and comments on their forum from CC members.

For instance, you can order as many appetizers or desserts as you want at dinner and if you can't choose between two entrees ask for an appetizer size of one. I've mentioned before that you really get a nicer, quieter lunch on the day of embarkation if you go to the grill or one of the smaller venues that are open on ship rather than the huge buffet. And while we don't use it often, room service is free except for late at night--tips are suggested however.

The list goes on with things like preferred bedding, bringing an extra docking station or power strip for your electronic (if allowed), and free seasickness meds from the medical center or main desk although crew members agree that green apples and crackers works best.

The one I found most interesting and will look into from now on however is what people do with those drink cards they purchase and don't finish using. Most ships will offer soda cards, coffee cards, etc., for purchase and often they are more than you can consume in the allotted cruise days. People are leaving the unused cards in the Bible in the stateroom. Who knew? Guess I'll turn off my electronic Bible next time and page through the book the old fashioned way. Who knows what I might find?
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