Sunday, October 14, 2012

Travel reflections mostly in photos

3 September 2012, Washington, DC, USA
Only here could I find a radio station that’s seems solely dedicated to Motown music from “my era” (mid- to late 60s) -- “Oooo Baby Baby,” “Shotgun,” “When a man loves a woman.”  Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, James Brown ... reminded me of a PBS fund raising telecast.  And sure made the driving from Alexandria to Arlington to Bethesda to Union Station in the District easier.  Thankfully it’s a holiday, so the traffic was much less than a work day.

I had a great weekend in Alexandria with Regina and the boys, Liam and Roan.  She has rented her spare rooms since I was here last.  A young Russian couple have Roan’s old room upstairs, and now a woman from Brooklyn who just took a job with the Navy Department and her daughter who is Liam’s age are in the basement space (the size of a small studio apartment).  Two Sudanese women were there for a month.  They were excited to meet someone who had been in South Sudan.  The move out/move in took up much of Saturday.  We went out to lunch, then shopped for food for the Sunday picnic I planned and spent lots of time catching up with each other and getting to know Marilyn, the new tenant.  The boys and her daughter Denisa hit it off immediately.

Of course, it started to rain about an hour before folks were to arrive on Sunday afternoon and kept raining until after most guests left.  But the food was abundant and delicious, and we all had a good time.  Lauri let John handle the grill, and he did a yeoman’s job with brats and burgers and ‘dogs.  Afterwards, Regina, Marilyn, Rosemarie (from Booz) and I sat outside on semi-wet cushions, drank wine, ate desserts and talked until early evening.  

This morning I drove to Arlington to see Aideen and her son Mickey who are also doing well.  Then back to Bethesda for a quick lunch before tackling a trip to Union Station to pick up Inga, Jan and the girls.  Surprisingly, despite a last minute bad turn because I was in the wrong lane, I didn’t get lost trying to fix that error.  And after only a couple of goes around the circular driveway, I found a place to sit and wait the 15 minutes or so until they emerged from the station.  “The boys” -- David, his brother Mike, Mike’s twin sons Brian and Chris, our friends Kim and Tomek are at a Nats-Cubs game.  

David & Inga 

5 September
Today my son would have been 40.  It’s hard to imagine him that old.  He’s frozen in my mind at 26, the age he was when he died.  But I see pieces of him in others -- he had the same warped sense of humor as David, for example -- which is comforting.   Instead of dedicating half the day to quiet contemplation as I often have, I dedicated today to David.  I went with him and Inga to JHU to meet Silvia, the nurse managing the BSI trial.  Forms to be explained, understood and signed.  More blood to be donated for tests.  A brief physical exam by the oncologist, then chemo training by another nurse. Friday David will go through a “dry run” of the radiation treatment to ensure his helmet fits properly and that he knows what to expect.  Tomek will go along so that he learns the way in case he has to take David to JHU without Inga.  The ubiquitous GPS can only take you so far, then you need to find the right building, floor etc.  

Treatment starts on Monday, BSI two days in a row, radiation five days, regular chemo every day (but it’s a pill, not IV), and the scheduling of the three is important.  Inga took copious notes so she can prepare a detailed schedule of what is to be taken at what time, when David can have food and when not. 

8 September, Minneapolis MN
Turtlenecks -- I must have five or six white ones alone, but can I find one to pack for Alaska?  Nooooo.  Can I find one at Marshall’s, Herberger’s, Target.  No, no no.  Finally, in one spot in Macy’s, I found some.  Out of “mock” style, which I prefer, in white but got a regular turtle in white and a mock in black.  I can finish packing.

It’s been one of those days.  I was late for water exercise, nothing new there, and exited to find three messages from Hagens on my phone.  I called Elyse, my sister in law, back.  Our mother-in-law Ella died this morning, quickly and peacefully.  I’m going to miss her.  She was a lovely lady, and we stayed friends despite the divorce -- she always referred to me as her daughter in law and I to her as my mother in law.  Last time I saw her was her 93rd birthday, which I chronicled here.  I’m so glad I was able to attend.  And I’m sorry that I’ll miss her memorial as it will be while I’m in Alaska.

Spent most of the day running errands, then dinner at Rachel’s with my sister Barbara and friend Marilyn, with whom I’ll cruise.  Relaxing way to end the day ... until I got home and found my laptop wouldn’t charge.  Previously I’d been able to jiggle the cord near the small bite that Lily made in the cord and it would work.  But at 7:50 pm tonight that wasn’t working.  Panic.  I’m at Janet and Ed’s (they’re at a dinner of the lake community where their cabin is location), but son Thom heard me screech.  He suggested Apple might still be open ... and they were until 9.  I was there, tested the old cord, bought a new one ($80!!!) and home before 9.  Now I can finally finish packing ...

10 September, Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska
We are definitely on the high seas!  The captain told us via loudspeaker last evening that the going would be a bit rough, and it has been.  But so far the cruise has been wonderful ... I looked at the photos that were taken as Marilyn and I boarded yesterday, and we already look relaxed.  My mug shot is actually kind of nice so I may have to bite the bullet and buy that one.

Yesterday was whirlwind of early rise and off to the airport.  Thanks bunches to my sister for driving me at 7 am.  A long flight to Seattle sandwiched between a very heavy-thighed male wiggler on the aisle and a germophobe at the window.  At least my legs weren’t cramped since I bought economy comfort, but Delta changed aircraft and I wasn’t in the seat I had selected, which was an exit row with no seats in front.

Leaving the port of Seattle.   That tall thing in the left background is the Space Needle.  It's celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.  I remember when it was constructed for a World's Fair in 1962.

The cruise line was extraordinarily well organized from meeting us at baggage claim to getting us on board, all very efficiently.  We easily found our stateroom which has a verandah, and so did the steward who brought our bags later.  We unpacked and could fit our suitcases under the beds.  The biggest slow down was the long line at every station of the lunch buffet in the Lido restaurant.  Mandatory fire drill was slightly nightmarish.  The crew were marvelous but the passengers ... too many in the wrong lifeboat queue and not listening.  Marilyn figured out how we buy wifi which I was able to do, so we can stay connected a less than 75 cents a minute but will still have to be quick when on line.  The connection is about the same speed as I had in South Sudan, that is, way slower than any I’ve had in the US since dial-up days.

Marilyn in our room.  Bigger than I had expected, and the verandah was wonderful -- fresh air whenever I needed it!

Looking down from our verandah -- and that's the lifeboat we were assigned.  Very convenient!

10 September, Tracy Arm, Alaska

 The glacier from our verandah.

The glacier "calved" -- large pieces separated from the main glacier.  This frog was many of the piece we saw.  The blue color was astonishing.  I'd heard that arctic ice is blue but never imagined how vivid it would be.

11 September, Juneau, AL

A whole day in port and it’s pouring rain. Needless to say, I didn't take many pix.

What a surprise to find Boleslawiec for sale in Juneau.  That is a brand of Polish pottery that's VERY popular among my US friends, started with three patterns that won a design award and has expanded to at least a dozen patterns and even more pieces (ear of corn dishes!)

12 September, Sitka AL

About 6 hours in port, overcast and drizzly.  Guess what the main industry is in Sitka?

13 September, Ketchikan AL, Rain Capital of North America.

 Me at the Ketchikan sign
Gorgeous sunny day and we only had four hours.  We were mostly shopped out though we did find excellent deals at a jewelry store and partook.  We rode a free city circulator bus for a short tour of the sights; the driver was an excellent guide.

Liquid Sunshine Gauge next to Tourist Info Center.   Average rainfall per year 12.5 FEET. 

15 September, approaching Victoria, BC, our last stop
At the "prep to disembark" briefing the cruise director said we'd have a hard time adjusting to life on land for a few days.  Sea legs, but also we'd find ourselves standing with our empty plates and 15 minutes later they'd still be empty because no one filled them for us.  And we'd have to start remembering days of the week since we'd have no elevator rugs as a point of reference.  
These were definitely a plus as the week went by.

16 September, Seattle, Washington

A very blonde Marianne and her husband met me at the dock in Seattle.  I almost didn't recognize her.  She had very dark hair the last time I saw her -- in 1990 -- but otherwise was just the same. I stayed there for a couple of night catching up.  Marianne is having her last chemo for color cancer on Tuesday.

We had a delightful time on a Duck Tour of Seattle, followed by a fantastic lunch near Pike Place Market where I did a lot of looking and a little shopping while Marianne bought a special Starbuck's coffee at the original Starbuck's coffee shop.

20 September, Santa Barbara, California

I'm always one who likes to make her airfare work for her.  Hence, the stay in Seattle to re-connect with an old friend ... and a trip to San Francisco to see my friends and family in the Bay Area.  As usual, I stayed with Jean, and we took a short jaunt to another part of the state, this time the Santa Barbara area.  We had lunch yesterday with Jean's elderly Uncle Bob, and today visited my friend Kim from my Booz days and her daughter Katie, almost 2 years old, as well as the city.

30 September 2012 Minneapolis MN USA
Here I am, once again having neglected to write what I composed in my head all month.  Thankfully I remembered to take a few photos -- I’m notorious for taking a camera and forgetting to use it; ditto the camera on the iPhone.  But I took my digital camera on the cruise and thereafter, so you saw the month anyway.

You all know how much I love to travel but even for me, this period has been excessive. But that was my choice.  Being able to make such choices is what retirement, at least for me, is all about.  I can take an overseas assignment that looks interesting and worthwhile, I can make my air travel dollars work by staying away from home longer, I can help friends and enjoy a long weekend “back home” with my siblings.  Some day I won’t be able to do that as easily, and certainly not travel to off-the-beaten-path places.  All that is by way to telling you that October (mostly in DC), November (Michigan, Pittsburgh) and December (Poland and DC) will be equally travel heavy.  So until then, TTFN (a 1960s goodbye short cut -- ta ta for now).

1 comment:

  1. I really love hearing all about your adventures, Suzi! Wow! That's the way to retire and I love how you reconnect with long-time friends wherever you go. You're always welcome here in rural Arizona if you get the inclination. I'm actually going to our 45th reunion in Evanston at the end of this month, mostly to spend time with my dear friend and classmate Tim Schellhardt, but also to see people I haven't encountered since Alison Hall days. When I saw that the Deceased list for our class was far longer than the Attending list for the reunion (and that it included many friends including all my roommates and the first guy I ever dated), I decided not to wait for the 50th.