This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
You are currently browsing all posts tagged with vacation

A Solo Traveler

  • May 13, 2017 11:57 pm

sunset-Hawaii

As I get older, I am very aware of how time is limited and the fact that tomorrow—or even five minutes from now—isn’t guaranteed. This realization led me to do something I never thought I’d do—travel outside of familiar places alone. Sure, I fly back and forth to Buffalo and Oregon to visit family and friends by myself all the time. I take pride in my ability to not only plan those trips, but to complete them by myself. But the trip I was contemplating was more complicated.

I wanted to travel to Hawai’i and see Maui again. The only other time I’d been to Maui, I was on a cruise and I got the usual highlights tours of the island. This time, I had a list of things I wanted to do, some for the first time, and others were repeats of things I had enjoyed before.

After working out the logistics of the trip (with a few false starts), I asked various friends and my daughter if they would accompany me on this “Bucket List” trip. I was a little amazed when no one was able and /or interested in going! Their reasons varied from “I’m not interested,” to “I have to work.”

Finally, after thinking about my options, it was obvious that there was only one choice—go by myself. For months, I waffled about whether or not I wanted to travel alone to Hawai’i—which is 2500 miles away from the nearest land mass and where I knew absolutely no one—or if I should just postpone the whole trip until someone could join me.

Finally, I decided to go—and take a chance on staying healthy, finding my way around, and being safe. One of my major concerns was being lonely. The thought of eating all of my meals without a companion was depressing. And to whom would I point out a particularly stunning or exciting sight?

I did my homework, as the saying goes, and prepared for the trip by carefully researching the hotel I chose and booking tours to accomplish my goals.

The trip was fabulous! I found out that going alone isn’t a bad option as long as you are somewhat resilient and make sound plans. Eating dinner at busy restaurants alleviated my loneliness. I enjoyed the people watching and felt like I was part of a community, albeit a temporary one.  Booking group tours meant that I had companions to share my experiences with and diminished any risks involved. Because I am naturally out-going and friendly, I found it easy to strike up a conversation with my tour companions. The down hours I spent with my trusty Tablet, playing games, posting pictures on Face Book, and reading. I also “checked in” every day with some close friends and family via text and phone calls.

There were benefits I didn’t expect. Driving myself to my hotel on a stunningly scenic road on Maui made me feel empowered. After all, this wasn’t a familiar route in my hometown, nor was I being chauffeured by my daughter.  I found my way (thanks to Google) and didn’t make a bunch of wrong turns. (I’m not too adept at using navigation systems.)

Making my way around a strange town and seeing what I came to see was liberating. I didn’t have to accommodate anyone but myself. I chose what I wanted to do—and did it on my own schedule.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. I would hesitate if I went to a non-English speaking country of course, because that would present different kinds of challenges. But somehow, the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted was life-affirming for me.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

 

Hawai’i

  • May 9, 2015 12:53 am
Kathy Joyce Glascott

I finally got to Hawai’i. Three tries, three cancellations, and finally—I made it! Hawai’i was all I hoped and dreamed it would be. The weather was nearly perfect:  warm and sunny with a lovely breeze that kept the bugs and humidity away—and wrecked havoc on my hair. The beaches were stunning with crashing waves and…

My Love Affair

  • September 20, 2014 3:29 pm

 

I have had a love affair with the beach since –well, my earliest memory.

The sound of the surf as it rolls onto the shore is a comfort to me. The sand between my toes and the fresh, salt air are sensory delights.

To me, the beach is an ever-changing scene: boats drift or seem to fly by, with sails that can invoke the colors of the rainbow or resemble white sheets  drying in the breeze. Some bob out far enough that I wonder what they are doing—fishing, or are they out for a cool day on the water? The cruise ships appear to be stationary out in the deep sea, especially at night when their festive lights outline them.

Seashells are the souvenirs of a beach visit. I enjoy walking along the shoreline, stooped over, hunting for a uniquely colored shell or one that is a different shape. I take a few each time, so that I can remember that day at the beach.

When I was a kid, my family went for picnics to a favorite place called Miller’s Beach several times a week. My Dad would arrive home from a steaming hot day at the steel plant. Mom would literally wrap the dinner she had on the stove up in a blanket and we would head off to the freshening breezes of Lake Erie.

We could hardly wait to run to the sand and surf as soon as we arrived. Dinner outdoors was delicious—no matter what was served.

I especially loved to watch the sun go down over Lake Erie—sometimes the sunsets were the proverbial blaze of color. Other times, the sky would turn the color of liquid silver and the water would reflect that back, the orange setting sun a burst of light that made it all even more magical.

I still long for the beach…and feel that same child-like delight at my first glimpse of the ocean.

 

 

Lan Su Chinese Garden

  • June 4, 2014 5:11 am

In the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon is the Lan Su Chinese Garden which is built on the site of a former parking lot.  It’s modeled after gardens found in Portland’s sister city of Suzhou, China. The name Lan Su means Garden of Awakening Orchids.

Tea House

Tea House

The gardens are enclosed by buildings that were typical of a wealthy person’s home and feature rooms including a study and meditation room. The gardens are filled with lovely flowers, a bridge and beautifully serene walkways.

The walkways are interesting because they are fashioned from a variety of stones arranged in patterns that massage your feet as you walk. At the end of our tour of the Gardens, my feet didn’t hurt at all—which surprised me. I think the massage built into the walkway worked!

The walkway

The walkway

One of the highlights of our visit was having tea in the Tea House in the Gardens. The menu has several pages of teas, and it is served in unique pots. The food was delicious—and the tea was even better. The teas have a distinct aroma and flavor. Tasting these teas is much like tasting wine.

Garden window

Garden window

The windows in the Gardens are unique. They are called Lan Su Yuan Leak windows and are designed to reflect either a geometric pattern or an element from nature.

Visiting the Garden transports you to a different place and time. You feel immersed in Chinese culture and marvel at how nature and a man-made structure harmonize like a beautiful melody.





Portland, Oregon

  • May 27, 2014 7:06 am

 

 

I visited my daughter a few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon where she lives.

Portland is a city I thought I knew something about. A few years ago, I did a PowerPoint presentation for the Travel Club in my community called “Gem cities –Places you Want to Visit, but Don’t Know It” .  Portland was one of those gem cities—as was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York.

I knew that Portland was a city of parks and that people who like to enjoy the outdoors are attracted to it. It also claimed to have a great public transportation system. And it was the epicenter of the microbrewery movement.  Food trucks were supposed to be a big thing in Portland, too. And of course, it rains a lot there.

So, did my research into Portland and the real place mesh?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that there were a few surprises. For instance, some of the neighborhoods looked like a Northern rust-belt city to me.

The food trucks are parked wherever there is a space for them—sometimes in what appear to be abandoned lots. Dozens of food trucks can be clustered together rather like a food-truck trailer park.  (We never ate at any food trucks, however.)

The downtown is beautiful with many interesting buildings and green spaces and upscale retailers like Nieman Marcus.

The one thing that struck me was how young the population appeared to be. I live in Florida, which skews older. Portland is the opposite—whenever I saw someone about my age, I actually got excited. “Look there’s an older person,” I’d exclaim, as if I was a zoo looking at an exotic animal. Okay—maybe not that dramatic, but it was a comfort to see a 50 or 60 something.

The parks were as abundant as I expected—and hiking and biking are the things to do. Most of the clientele in the hotel I stayed at were younger people who were pursuing these activities. I saw lots of waterproof jackets, backpacks and other evidence of an outdoorsy lifestyle.

Some of the parks are accessible only to hikers—and the fabled public transportation system can be ridden to these destinations. The street cars and buses run frequently and seem to be well used. Brenda and I rode the street car to some downtown destinations—and my fare was dubbed HC for “honored citizen” fare. I guess that’s a lot better than old fogey!

And yes, it does rain—when I was there is was mostly a drizzly kind of rain which necessitated a rain jacket. Even though there was rain every day, the sun peeked out frequently, making for a rainy/sunny mix which was pleasant.

Needless to say, my visit to Portland was great—partly because of spending time with Brenda and her significant other, but also because of the experiences I had while I was there. My next few blog posts will highlight a few special places in Portland.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ideal Place

  • March 24, 2014 6:01 am

 

My ideal place is without strife and discord. A place where everyone gets along. And everyone loves me and understands me and I never make a mistake and I’m never venal or angry or tired or sick. And I’m beautiful and all the people around me are beautiful and kind and caring and …well kind of bland now that I think about it. Because while we’re all being so damned nice, we’re also being very plastic.

Okay, my ideal place is –wait, wait, I know! It’s the beach.

Oh, I forgot. The beach is sometimes way too hot—and I can’t sit in the sun, so I have to carry enough stuff to put a pack animal to shame. And then I have to sit in the shade. And I have to slather on the sunscreen. And God forbid, if I fall asleep and get a third degree burn because I’m really fair skinned (the Irish heritage, you know.)

And then of course, there are the days when the beach is windy or cold…It can be less than ideal.

Ideal place…ideal place. I know—you think I’m going to conclude that there is no ideal place.

That’s the easy way out, because there must be an ideal place. A Shangri-La where the water is clear and turquoise without hidden pollutants and the sand is like talcum powder with a sprinkling of the most translucent, fragile sea shells—none of which are sharp enough to cut the sole of your foot so you bleed all over your new towel and then your husband yells about how much money you spent on them. (Oops! Sorry!) And the jelly fish live somewhere else and there are no sharks and there are no scary surfer dudes or weird looking guys wearing two –sizes-too -small Speedos with those incredibly hairy backs they all seem to have.

No, really there is an ideal place. Wasn’t that a song from West Side Story? No?

Oh yeah, it was called “There’s a Place for Us”—didn’t that song just make you cry when Tony and Maria sang it to each other?

What? You want me to focus? H-m-m…Could I ask why? Just do it? Isn’t that some kind of a slogan? Yeah, yeah, I know– the topic.

What’s that? Mountains. You’re right, they are awe inspiring. Except when I can’t breathe because you know, of course, that I have asthma and when I drove through the Rocky Mountains with my daughter I was in danger of developing…never mind.

Then there’s Disney World, you know, the happiest place on earth? I enjoy it—especially the part where a hamburger and coke and park admission cost enough to send your first born to college.

How about a cruise ship? That’s ideal in a way, a microcosm of the macrocosm where people who are diverse (and total strangers) dress up and sit together at dinner and carry on civilized conversations.

Except for the time the three other people at the table were good friends who talked only to each other in voices that were just above a whisper. And I don’t know if it meant anything, but every time I smiled that one woman just looked at me and said something to her friend behind her hand. And then they both would snicker or just, you know, smile one of those snotty- middle –school- girl smiles.

And did I mention that the seas were rough and my husband got sick, so we were confined to the 125 square foot cabin with guards posted outside for 4 out of the 5 days? And being in that room with someone who was in the bathroom all the time …oh, sorry. Too much information. Got it.

I will not admit there is no ideal place! I will not, I will not! I will not!

(Whatever makes you think I’m throwing a temper tantrum? I was just stomping my foot to wake it up—it seems to have gone numb.)

My ideal place?

Okay, seriously now,I have it!

I just realized that, for me, my ideal place would be to live in one of my novels.

I am like a god when I write a novel. I decide who gets in, what they look like, how they act, if and when they fall in love…if they live or die.

So, see here’s my plan. I write a novel with me in it.  I am married to the most handsome man who is a tireless lover and looks like a young Robert Redford and we live by the beach (the one without all the sharks and sharp sea shells) in a house that overlooks the ocean with a full staff of servants and I am famous and glamorous and (did I say) ridiculously beautiful (think Angeline Jolie without all those bothersome kids). And we just have one wonderful adventure after another. And then they invent a pill that allows you to live to be 100 but look 30 and whenever any other woman even looks at David (my husband) her eyes fall out and I get to decide if she lives or dies or she suddenly becomes as ugly as a troll…

And that’s my ideal place.

Look, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, But don’t call or stop by, okay?  And cancel the lunch date next week.

I have a novel to write.

 

 

 

Cruising

  • September 22, 2011 5:21 am

 

I love cruising. To me, it is the only true vacation—a real get-away, a chance to be separated from all the things that disturb the calm of daily life: phones, emails, text messages, doctor’s appointments, and the demands others make.

I love the rhythm of the ocean, the feel of the waves and swales as the ship glides across the ocean. The scent of salt air, the various moods of the sea calms me and helps me to find inner peace. When I am on the ocean, I feel like that is where I was always meant to be.

The ocean supports an abundance of life and it feels alive to me. I love the way the waves move around the ship, with different levels of energy: sometimes rough and full of vigor and at other times almost placid.

I know that when most people think about cruising they think about non-stop buffets and an overly indulgent life. Certainly, those elements are there. Food is readily available, and often is quite good (especially the baked goods!) and yes, the crew does try very hard to pamper guests. It would be quite easy to fall into a very hedonistic lifestyle on a ship.

But there is so much more—lectures, classes, entertainment and interesting ports of call. On the last cruise we took, I was able to attend several computer workshops and I came home with new knowledge.

Dinner on a cruise ship often is an opportunity to meet interesting people or an opportunity to renew an old friendship—including the one you have with your spouse.

And the entertainment on modern cruise ships is quite exciting—with everything from production shows with highly talented singers and dancers to magicians and comedians. What I especially love about cruise ships is the chance to see entertainers who may not make it to the “big time,” but are extraordinarily talented. I also love to sit in the piano bar and enjoy the music, something I am comfortable doing alone (but would never do by myself otherwise).

To me, cruising is as close as I will get to heaven on this earth.

Buffalo

  • May 12, 2011 4:20 am

      Buffalo, my home town. Name by the French trappers, according to legend, after the river that flows through it. The City of No Illusions, Queen City of the Great Lakes, famous for snow storms, chicken wings and the Buffalo Bills—a team that went to the Super Bowl four times and lost every time.

The place where I was born, attended grade school, learned about the world, came of age and earned two college degrees. The place where I made my first communion and was confirmed. The place where I fell in love, married and raised a child. The place I spent my happiest days and some of my saddest days. It is where my parents lived and are buried, and where three of my seven siblings live now.

It is also a city of uncommon beauty—wide boulevards lined with mature trees that are crimson and gold in fall, elegant public buildings—some designed by the most famous of American architects. Situated on Lake Erie—one of a chain of inland seas—cooled by breezes from Canada, it is circled by a necklace of Olmstead parks—green oases for the working class. Populated by the children of immigrants who came here to find the Promised Land and by the descendants of slaves who found refuge at the last stop on the Underground Railway.

I ran away from its harsh winters twelve years ago looking for endless summer. I found that summer here in Florida.

And now I wonder if I am called back to that place I never stopped loving.

I see a city rich with opportunity, full of the promise of intellectual and spiritual growth. A city where I can attend theatre, concerts, and visit art galleries easily. ( There is a saying in Buffalo that everything in the city is twenty minutes away…and it’s true.)

I can sit in bistros and watch the bustle of the world go by—and eat wonderful food and not have to mortgage the house to do so. I can drive through neighborhoods and admire Arts and Crafts style homes next to Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

I can be soothed by the rhythm of waves rolling into the marina, sit on a sandy beach or drive to the undulating hills south of the city.

And I can be among those I share a history with—who have know me for the six decades of my life—who love me for who I was and am now. People whose memories I share, who loved the same people I loved. I can be among the next generation in our family, and revel in their beauty, intelligence and goodness. I can see our family’s heritage and the future in their eager faces.

Buffalo is aptly named. Buffalo is an earthy name—unpretentious, it isn’t a beautiful sounding word, rather one that jars a little. The same way we are jarred by the real thing—by reality. It is a genuine place filled with people who feel authentic.

My visit home was the first in two years. I became ill last year, and spent almost ten months recovering from surgery, unable to make plans to travel. Then an invitation came to help celebrate an uncle’s ninetieth birthday—an opportunity to gather with our families and be reconnected again. I eagerly jumped at this chance—and put together a trip in a few days.  And the moment I arrived in this city—my city—I felt the joy of arriving home, like returning to  the warmth of a mother’s embrace.

Buffalo—my birthplace. I hear your siren call.

My Ideal Place

  • May 6, 2011 3:37 pm

My ideal place is without strife and discord. A place where everyone gets along. And everyone loves me and understands me and I never make a mistake and I’m never venal or angry or tired or sick. And I’m beautiful and all the people around me are beautiful and kind and caring—and …well kind of bland now that I think about it. Because while we’re all being so damned nice, we’re also being very plastic.

Okay, my ideal place is –wait, wait, I know! It’s the beach.

Oh, yeah. I forgot. The beach is sometimes way too hot—and I can’t sit in the sun, so I have to carry enough stuff to put a pack animal to shame. And then I have to sit in the shade. And I have to slather on the sunscreen. And God forbid, if I fall asleep and get a third degree burn because I’m really fair skinned (the Irish heritage, you know.)

And then of course, there are the days when the beach is windy or cold…It can be less than ideal.

Ideal place…ideal place…I know—you think I’m going to conclude that there is no ideal place.

That’s the easy way out, because there must be an ideal place. A Shangri-La where the water is clear and turquoise without hidden pollutants and the sand is like talcum powder with a sprinkling of the most translucent, fragile sea shells—none of which are sharp enough to cut the sole of your foot so you bleed all over your new towel and then your husband yells about how much money you spent on them. (Oops! Sorry!) And the jelly fish live somewhere else and there are no sharks and there are no scary surfer dudes or weird looking guys wearing two–sizes-too -small Speedos with those incredibly hairy backs they all seem to have…

No, really there is an ideal place. Wasn’t that a song from West Side Story? No? What’s that? Oh yeah, it was called “There’s a Place for Us”—didn’t that song just make you cry when Tony and Maria sang it to each other?

What? You want me to focus? H-m-m…Could I ask why? Just do it? Isn’t that some kind of a slogan? Yeah, yeah, I know– the topic.

What’s that? Mountains. You’re right, they are awe inspiring. Except when I can’t breathe because you know, of course, that I have asthma and when I drove through the Rocky Mountains with my daughter I was in danger of developing…never mind.

Then there’s Disney World, you know, the happiest place on earth? I enjoy it—especially the part where a hamburger and coke and park admission cost enough to send your first born to college.

How about a cruise ship? That’s ideal in a way, a microcosm of the macrocosm where people who are diverse (and total strangers) dress up and sit together at dinner and carry on civilized conversations. Except for the time the three other people at the table were good friends who talked only to each other in voices that were just above a whisper. And I don’t know if it meant anything, but every time I smiled that one woman just looked at me and said something to her friend behind her hand. And then they both would snicker or just, you know, smile one of those snotty- middle-school-girl smiles. Yeah—just like that—why, you know how to do that, too! 

And did I mention that the seas were rough and my husband got sick, so we were confined to the 125 square foot cabin with guards posted outside for 4 out of the 5 days? And being in that room with someone who was in the bathroom all the time …oh, sorry. Too much information. Got it.

So enough already. I will not admit there is no ideal place! I will not, I will not! I will not!

No, whatever makes you think I’m throwing a temper tantrum? I was just stomping my foot to wake it up—it seems to have gone numb.

What? My ideal place?

Okay, seriously now. I have it!

I think for me, my ideal place would be to live in one of my novels (really!).

I just realized it! I am like a god when I write a novel. I decide who gets in, what they look like, how they act, if and when they fall in love…if they live or die.

So, see here’s my plan. I write a novel with me in it.  I am married to the most handsome man who is a tireless lover and looks like a young Robert Redford and we live by the beach (the one without all the sharks and sharp sea shells) in a house that overlooks the ocean with a full staff of servants and I am famous and glamorous and (did I say) ridiculously beautiful (think Angeline Jolie without all those bothersome kids). And we just have one wonderful adventure after another. And then they invent a pill that allows you to live to be 100 but look 30 and whenever any other woman even looks at David (my husband) her eyes fall out and I get to decide if she lives or dies or she suddenly becomes as ugly as a troll…

And that’s my ideal place.

Look, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, But don’t call or stop by, okay?  And cancel the lunch date next week.

I have a novel to write.