Posted in Lessons Learned, My Travelogue

The Best Vacation!

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It was a wonderfully packed schedule of this vacation. Usually, I like a little more down time for resting, reading and just being lazy. But. These past five days have been amazing.

Day Two:
I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed my friends in Wisconsin. On Friday evening all 10 of us met for dinner. Of course Friday in Wisconsin is Fish Fry night. So of course I had a lovely Grilled Chicken with Broccoli and Penne dish that could have served at least four people.

After my favorite Peppermint Ice Cream (dessert comes with dinner), we ventured to Comedy Club at The Armory in Janesville, WI. It’s a good thing that LaVone made reservations for us. The place was packed. We got seated and ordered a bucket of beer. (It sounds worse than it is.. it was really four beers in a silver bucket filled with ice. And since we’re such a rowdy bunch, four of us each had one.) The comedians were hysterical, which is after all, the point of the evening. I laughed until my sides hurt. Unfortunately, I can’t remember a single joke that they told. The headliner Comedian even gave us one that we could tell our friends.. but .. nope, it didn’t stick. Apparently my brain cells get quite slippery after I laugh that much.

Day Three:
I woke up at 9:00AM. That seems as if it would mean I slept in a little bit. Since I’ve been on the night shift, my sleep cycle is more of a whirlwind situation than any kind of predictable cycle. I figure any sleep at all is nothing short of a miracle.

I met LaVone at the coffee pot. And our first “Golden Girls’ conversation began. It ended nearly three hours later, still in our bathrobes. Yup.. it was noon. I hurried to make myself presentable and picked up Betty Jo for a bit of shopping. My granddaughter has a birthday this week, and there is a particular doll that she’s wanting. My daughter sent me a text me with the details. Betty Jo and I tried, (we really did!) but apparently every other ten-year old girl in the area likes the same doll. I dropped Betty Jo back at home and made it back to LaVone’s in time to go to church with her. She has always attended a Saturday evening service and this was my chance to attend with her. I’m so glad I did. I was raised in the denomination she attends. It was nice to ‘remember when’ and to meet so many of her friends there. Afterward we planned to get some dinner. The place we decided on, Bazinga’s was hosting a private party, which we learned from the sign posted on the door when we arrived.
We reverted to Plan B, which we hadn’t thought of as yet. Then it hit me like a hail stone.. El Jardin! Love that place! And it’s just down the street.

We lost tack of time over the tostadas and salsa. Of course we were involved in deep conversation and laughter. But for some reason at just that moment, I checked my cell phone and noticed we’d better RUN if we are going to the 7:00 movie across town.

Well, if you knew Lavone, Betty Jo and I, you’d know there wouldn’t be much running, especially after eating dinner at El Jardin. So I drove… and they both navigated. After all of that we did manage to find seats at 6:59 pm. Whew!
We saw the movie, Black or White with Kevin Costner. We all recommend that you see it.

Day Four:
Woke up again about 9:00AM. I see a pattern here.. yes! We again did the coffee thing, and the bathrobes til noon thing. Then we decided that since we were going to a play at 2:00, we should make some attempt at getting ready. In no time at all, we flew into the parking lot, scurried across the ice-spattered pavement (without falling I might add) and in the front doors with five minutes to spare. That was just enough time to buy tickets, get a cookie, a bottle of water and a program.
The auditorium was packed. LaVone ran into a frien, and as she chatted, I walked through the aisles looking for two good seats. I found a couple in the fifth row, center. LaVone caught up to me and the ladies by the aisle all stepped out to let us pass. One very optimistic lady commented when she saw my bottle of water… “You’ve both been to the ladies room right? So that we don’t have to get up during the play?”
Being the ever-sarcastic stranger, I responded with, “Yes, we’ve been to the rest room, but with this fresh bottle of water, I’ll probably have to go three more times before the intermission.” With that, I smiled ever so sweetly.
Then I spotted a bunch of open seats on the aisle. I thanked these kind ladies and we ran across the auditorium to our ‘perfect’ seats. (We never had to use the bathroom at all. Not even at intermission.)

The play, Ghost, the Musical… was absolutely stunning. The cast was so talented and the vocals amazing. There were several well-choreographed dance numbers as well. Little did I know until intermission, but LaVone had never seen the movie Ghost. But she assured me that she’d be renting it soon.
Play complete. A short drive home to regroup before the next event. I chose to used this coveted re-group moment to do a load of laundry and pack for my trip home later this evening.

With the last of my things now packed snuggly in to my salt covered car, that I now refer to as “The Salt Mobile” (It was snowy on the trip to Wisconsin and the plows were out spraying my car specifically, with salt so as to prevent me from having a single chip of paint left on the car by the time I reached Wisconsin.)
LaVone and I headed to Culver’s to meet several of our friends for dinner and ice cream. Or Frozen Yogurt as the case may be. (For those of you interested, the flavor of the day was Carmel Turtle and really very yummy.) On Sunday evenings Culver’s has a chicken dinner special, which this time I did participate in.

It was after much food and conversation and of course many hugs, that I said my good-byes to this special group of friends.

You may have noticed that the days One and Five itineraries are not listed. Well, I spent some time on those travel days with my special someone. Yes… Eat, Pray, Love Guy. We are moving forward with some level of intention. And a million smiles. During our time, it was he and I. We sat together on the loveseat by the fireplace and talked and talked for literally hours. There seems to be so much to say and listen to and learn about one another. He shared some of his poetry with me and I shared a blog or two with him. We talked about our writing processes and gave each other so many ideas going forward. (Of course the hand holding and snuggling were pretty nice too.)

All in all it was a wonderful vacation. I wouldn’t have spent a moment of it in any other way.

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Posted in Lessons Learned, My Travelogue

277 Miles

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Yup.. that’s right.  I’ve been very. very good lately.  Actually, I’ve earned some vacation time and I’m in great need of a “friend fix”. So it’s off for a few days in Wisconsin.

My old room-mate LaVone has re-invited me to stay.  We both need a few Golden Girls moments eating ice cream in our bath robes at midnight.  While we were room mates, that seemed to be the best time for her and I to chat over thee happenings of the day.

Of course I’ll have to stop in at the YWCA and pay a visit to all of my former coworkers.  They are an amazing group of people with insights and vision that make the world better place every single day.  And I just plain miss them.

LaVone has scheduled a few events for all of the members of the YANA Group.  YANA stands for ‘You Are Not Alone’.  It’s a singles group that I found when I first moved to Wisconsin.  I didn’t know anyone and desperately needed a social circle and new friends.  YANA provided that and so much more.  The members there became my new family.  And each week at our meetings we would play games that helped us get to know each other better.  We even had a “Getting Naked” dating class.  (Get your minds out of the gutter!)  “Getting Naked is the title of a book we used to learn more about ourselves as single, date-able people. (I have to admit that the ‘deer in the headlights’ looks I got that first time I said we were getting naked, was sooo hysterical!)  Of course we had such witty members that Pauline’s comment was, “I’m not getting naked, I forgot to iron my skin today.”

So on this visit the group will be meeting for dinner and then Comedy Club at The Armory, LaVone is hosting a Potluck Game Night at her home on Saturday and on Sunday evening the ever popular ice cream social at Culver’s.  I will have to eat at least one breakfast at The Citrus Cafe because I just love the ambiance and the food isn’t anything to sneeze at either.

Later this week, I’ll pack my suitcase, get in my car and head east for 277 miles.  That’s where my friends are. I can hardly wait!

Posted in Lessons Learned, My Travelogue

I’m in Brazil!

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Ahhhhh! Can you believe it!? It’s gorgeous!

Well, I’m in Brazil, sort of. Not in person so much. But my blog is. Remember I told you that I get an ongoing update of my blog site statistics? I can check it anytime and see just where my blog is being read, and which of my posts are being looked at. And lately, I’ve been hot in Brazil.

So welcome to you all in Brazil! I only wish I were there with you. Experiencing Brazil as only you can do in person.

I love to travel and with the right travel companion, I would absolutely love to visit. I’ll add it to my bucket list.

But for now, I’d like to say thank you to the folks in Brazil who are taking a moment from their busy lives to read my blog posts. Feel free to click on the ‘like’ button or to add comments. They are always welcome.

Posted in Lessons Learned, My Travelogue

“Lucy, You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do”

Just like Lucy, I got some splainin’ to do too.  I got pretty side tracked with my big changes.  During the first three weeks of my trip, I was focused.  Enjoying every aspect of traveling.  I loved seeing the new landscape as it appeared moment by moment ahead of me through my windshield.  I loved the people I met.  I looked forward each day to the unknown adventures ahead of me.

I was a sponge at the writer’s conference.  I learned so much that my brain ached.  It was a good ache though.  It lit a fire under my enthusiasm for writing.  And I’ve been writing.  Just not here.

After the conference, I continued with the second half of my trip.  I met Nancy Kalish, Ph.D in Sacramento.  She is a Psychologist, Professor emeritus from the University of California at Sacramento,  and author of Lost and Found Lovers.  She writes for Psychology Today magazine, was the head psychologist for Reunion.com.  She has been on numerous talk shows, news broadcasts and radio programs all over the world.  But to me, she’s Nancy.  I moderate her website.  She’s taught me so many things about balancing life, work, and outside interests.  We shared a lovely afternoon over lunch and even split a wonderful dessert.

But things began to turn a little bit as I continued my trip.  My next stop was in Portland, Oregon where I met a colleague and friend, Adam.  I first met Adam when he came to the agency I was working for as an intern.  He was there for two years… leaving the busy hub of Portland to come rural to Algona Iowa.  I’m sure it was a shock for him.  Little did I know that spending time with Adam in Portland would change me.  But it did.

We brunched at Zelda’s, walked along the river and across bridges in downtown Portland, he took me to Powell’s Bookstore (I could have spent a week in there!), and finally we had drinks and dinner high above the city.   I had the most amazing time!  We talked, laughed, talked, shopped (and found a lovely hat for Jane), ate and walked, and laughed some more.

The next morning as I woke in my hotel room.. I felt anxious and unsettled.  I couldn’t put my finger on it at first.  I went about my usual morning traveling routine, making coffee, packing the car, having breakfast.  But still, I was all wound up inside.

I drove to the nearest gas station to fill up for the day’s traveling.  But I did something odd.  I left town without making a hotel reservation for the day’s end.  I didn’t have a destination in mind.  No stopping place.  I just got in my car and drove.  And drove.  And drove.

The scenery was some of the most beautiful I’d seen.  Oregon is stunning.  I kept a lookout for bears along the rivers and deer crossing the highways.  Didn’t see either.  I didn’t stop for lunch.  I grabbed an apple at a gas station and kept driving.  As the day turned toward evening, my legs were restless from sitting for so many hours.  Even my gel seat cushion was tired.  I pulled into a rest stop along the highway and called directory assistance for the nearest Days Inn.

The next day was the same.  Driving as if my very life depended on it.  Again beautiful scenery of the ‘Big Sky Country’ in the state of Montana.  But other than the highway in front of me, I hardly noticed anything.  It was when I stopped overnight in Miles City Montana that it hit me.  I needed to go home.  I had been driving like a mad woman to get home.

The first three weeks of the trip I didn’t see one single person I knew.  Not one.  I wasn’t isolated or lonely at all because I met so many new people every day.  But when I reached Sacramento and met Dr. Kalish, it began to change.  She and I had never met in person before, but we’ve had a relationship for five years.  The kicker though was seeing Adam in Portland.  I know Adam.  He’s from my life.  A familiar face.  We have history.

I realized I missed my people.  I felt an urgency to go back to them.  And I did.  The first half of my trip had taken three weeks.  The trip home took five days.

Once I returned, my new life began.  A new town, new place to love, moving, adjusting.  Over the past two months things have been checked off the ‘to do  list.’  I’m feeling more settled.  My family and friends are within reach.  And new friends are being made.   A new chapter of my life here is taking shape.  It suits me.

But there are sacrifices.  Every new change has them.  One of those sacrifices has been this blog.  I haven’t given it the attention it needs to thrive.  And unfortunately with the changes I’ve made, I still won’t be able to blog daily as I once did.  The up-side of that is that I’m working diligently on my book.  It’s taking shape nicely and I’m receiving good feedback and critiquing from my writer’s group.

Like Lucy, I have adventures and schemes that always work out in the end.  I just wish I could manage it in 30 minutes like she did.

My focus will be on my book for the coming months.  I’ll blog here every now and again to keep you all posted on my progress.

Til next time.. Hugs to you all!

Posted in My Travelogue

Arrived and Exhausted

Just an update to let you all know that I have returned to the midwest.  Very tired and road weary, but safe and sound.  During the last few days I began to feel home calling me.  I’ve taken a few days to rest.  But I’ll get my blogs back in line very soon.

 

Posted in My Travelogue

Mountains and Forests and Bears – Oh My!

Bright and early this morning I headed north on Interstate 5.  For once, a nice straight highway… for 584 miles.  Well, it looked like a straight highway on the map anyway.  Actually, it was a very curvy highway that took me winding my way up mountains and unwinding my way back down on the other side.

I rounded one said curve near Yreka in the northern-most part of California, and I was gifted with this view regal of Mount Shasta standing proudly in the distance.

As I stood taking this picture it was 90 degrees and yet there is snow capping this mountain in June.  Mount Shasta stands at an elevation of  14,179 feet (or for my foreign friends 4, 322 meters) and receives an average of 104 inches of snow each winter.

Passing into Oregon, the landscape rapidly changed.  I  traveled through the thickest green pine tree forests I’ve ever seen.  I grew up visiting the rustic areas of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I thought I knew forests.   Today,  Oregon proudly introduced me to forests.  Very impressive.  The pine green landscape stretched as far as my middle-aged eyesight could see, rolling on and on hill over hill.

Where you have forests, you’ll also have wild life.  I was entertained by this sign, but only because I didn’t see one.  However,  I did think of the cattle grazing in the flatlands areas, wondering just how many bears venture into their pastures.

Fortunately as the 584 miles came to an end, so did the curves in the highway.  I have arrived safely in Portland Oregon.  Tomorrow my former co-worker and current tour guide, Adam will meet me for brunch and be my personal driver for the day.

Posted in My Travelogue

Sacramento California!

Sacramento California Skyline

Okay I have to say it… Sacramento is hot.  112 degrees to be exact.  It’s a different kind of hot than I’ve experience in Iowa.   In Iowa it’s usually very humid when temperatures reach three digits.  This was the first time I’ve experienced 112 degrees.  I’m not real anxious to do it again anytime soon.   Not that I was really ‘in’ the heat for long.  From my air conditioned car to an air conditioned store at the Pavillions mall.  Coldwater Creek got my attention simply for the name of the store.  It seemed as if it would be extra cool inside.  It was extra cool, a 40% sale was in progress and I found a lovely summer top.

The highlight of my Sacramento experience took place at Piatti’s.  A lovely Italian restaurant located in the Pavillions Center.  There I met a dear friend, Nancy.  We have been corresponding for over four years and finally had the opportunity to spend an afternoon together.  Nancy was there when I arrived, sitting in a booth she chose so that she could see me as I entered.  After smiles and hugs, we ordered beverages and lots of conversation ensued.  I’m certain that 45 minutes passed before we chose our lunch from the menu.  I eagerly, and without disappointment I might add, took Nancy’s menu suggestions.  Spinach-Ricotta Ravoli in a delicate Lemon Cream sauce.  Our meal was served with Sourdough bread and Italian olive-oil dipping sauce. For a new-extended friendship, there was a bunch of girl talk.  That’s what makes a ‘Girl’s Lunch Out’ something special.  The dessert didn’t hurt either.  We shared a White Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding with Whipped Cream.  Our afternoon ended with Nancy signing a copy of her book for me, and me giving her the booklet from the writer’s conference.  Maybe next June we’ll go together for six days of lunches, dinners, chats by the pool and walks along the beach as we discuss the workshops we’ve attended.    I’m already looking forward to next June!