Tag Archives: travel

I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

Traveling During COVID-19

I didn’t realize this was going to be so hard.  We have been planning to come to Missouri for a while.  We wondered how we were going to accomplish this task in the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic.  Restaurants are closed down, and we just didn’t feel comfortable getting food from places that were unfamiliar.  A couple months ago Dennis had a brilliant idea to purchase a travel trailer.  We could go from our home in Arizona to our home in Missouri without stopping anywhere other than to gas up the car.  It was a beautiful plan, and we accomplished the task with so much ease.IMG_0585

IMG_2872It is amazing how the terrain changed so quickly in Arizona.  We went from desert oasis of Saguaro cactus to climbing elevations and seeing fir trees instead.  The looks of the mountain from a desert mountain to a snow capped mountain was quite a change in only a few hours.

As we traveled east, we headed on I-40 toward New Mexico.  We were not too far into the state, and we stopped for gas.  I immediately noticed everyone, and I mean everyone, was coming in and out of the IMG_2886service station with face masks on.  They even had them on as they were pumping gas.  In the Phoenix area, it is about 50/50 of people wearing masks.  Most folks as they are outside, do not wear one.  That was not the case at this location.  I commented to Dennis that EVERYONE had on their masks.  He looked at me, and commented, “We are in Navajo Nation.”  Why of course.  Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the Corona Virus.  I have been following on Facebook and the news of their IMG_2900plight.  My heart breaks for these indigenous people.  Many don’t even have running water.  How can you continually wash your hands if you don’t have running water?  It was a good reminder for me that although I feel safe, not everyone is, and I at some time, might not be either.

Our travel trailer is small.  It is just the right size for two of us.  The small sofa folded down into a very comfortable queen size bed.  It has a small kitchen that consisted of a deep sink, 2 burner gas cooktop, microwave/convection oven, and a 6 cu. ft. refrigerator/freezer. We had a full bathroom with separate shower, and plenty of cabinets for storing food and clothes.

We stayed at three different RV parks on our way home—Albuquerque, New Mexico, Yukon, Oklahoma, and Springfield, Missouri.  When we arrived at our home in Missouri, it took three hours to unload and find a place for everything.  I took a shower and put in a couple loads of laundry before stopping for the day.

On our trips I take a lot of photos while traveling.  My photos are taken out of the car window, and I am always amazed with the photos my iPhone takes.  In Arizona, I was intrigued by the change in terrain from desert to mountains with fir trees, back to desert.  New Mexico is just plain fascinating.  The rock formations are amazing.  The windmill farms in New Mexico and Oklahoma dot the landscape, and the wind that was blowing very briskly had all these windmills doing their work.  Coming out of Oklahoma into Missouri, I was intrigued by the cloud formations—the fact that there were large white billowy clouds, and as we moved into Missouri these clouds were darkening into rain clouds.

Now we are at our home in Missouri.  I am hoping that the sale of this house will be soon.  We have a contingent contract.  Our buyer needs to sell her house first.  We are hoping this will happen quickly.  We want to be permanently settled in Arizona this winter.  I really feel at home there.  It has been tough being sheltered-in-place, not seeing friends and cousins, but our hiking trails and the mountains kept us busy—until we started hitting 100+ degree weather.IMG_3068

When we arrived at our Missouri home yesterday, I posted on Facebook that we had arrived with a photo of our home with the travel trailer in front.  My neighbors welcomed me back, and some relatives welcomed me back.  I was super excited.  I am down the road from our children . . . and, then I got the reminder . . . everyone is IMG_1985sheltered in place.  Coming back to Missouri did not change anything.  I was really sad last night.  In Arizona we are far away from our children, but now we are near and yet so far away. 

This is really hard.  I didn’t realize that I would feel that divide like I did last night.  I was really good in Arizona because no one was close by.  But, we are close by, and not able to see and hug your loved ones is difficult.  Last night, Dennis reminded me that we can do things around the yard—get flowers planted, get the pool area cleaned up and all the furniture distributed on the pool deck.  The pool company is scheduled to open our pool in four days.  It might be a little too cool to swim—Missouri still has cool evenings, and the water cools off quickly at night.  But we can sit out on the screened in porch, eat meals out there, swim in the pool, and do all the same things we did in Arizona.  I will pretend my kids and grandkids are not just down the road.

Many folks are starting to get together.  I have a daughter-in-law who has immune issues.  I will not jeopardize her safety.  I have people telling me I am drinking the Koolaid, but I would rather be safe than take my chances on whether there is a real threat or not.  My stepson works in a hospital laboratory, so he is not one to be around either at this time.  My 18 year old grandson just sent me a text that he would be willing to come visit.  I know he has quarantined for weeks, so I would love to have him come visit.  We will work on future plans.

I will get through this just like I did in Arizona.  When we first started to shelter-in there, I was blue.  I couldn’t believe that there was this virus out there that was highly contagious, and so many people would get sick.  It made me exceedingly sad.  As time moved on, I got used to being in our home without friends.  I will take a deep breath, I will enjoy this home while we still own it.  I will pray that the house has a closing date sooner than later.  I will see my children and grandchildren again.  My concern is the 2nd round of the virus that will hit when people start assembling again.  It happened with the Spanish Flu, and it will happen with this one.  Although more people die of the flu, this virus is more highly contagious, and there is yet a vaccine for it.  Most people will survive this virus, but I am not going to be responsible to knowingly spread this virus.  I don’t know who would not survive this.  It could be me.  Or it could be you.

So, I will spend my time here in this house getting the yard ready for summer.  I will pray our buyer gets her house sold quickly.  We have a plan for a quick move out if closing happened sooner than later.  I will see my children and grandchildren soon. The time will be right when it happens. Prayer

The Unfriendly Skies

It all started out as a simple flight from St. Louis to San Francisco for my son’s wedding.  Several months ago the wedding date was set for June 1.  My oldest grandson was graduating from high school on May 30, so that gave us one day to travel for the wedding.

I was very excited about this trip because it would be the first time in almost six years

boys

My husband and I with all our sons!

that all my children would be together along with my husband’s son.  We were going to be together to celebrate my oldest son’s wedding.  I wanted to get to our destination with as much time as possible to relax ahead of time, iron our wrinkled clothes that were stuffed in our luggage, and be on top of my game starting with the 5:00 pm rehearsal dinner.

I did a lot of flying when I was employed, but I did my casual flying on Southwest Airlines.  They always did a great job of being on time, never lost my luggage, and the employees have been the best.  Since we now have a home in Missouri and Arizona, I was looking forward to beginning to pile up the points for flights.  On the other hand, Dennis is a road trip person.  He loves traveling by car to see what he says we miss between destinations.  This trip could have been one of those fun road trips had we not had a graduation that I would not miss for my life.  I had Dennis even apply for a Rapid Rewards number so he could also be saving points for future flights.

My family asked why we were taking such an early flight on the 31st.  Our itinerary was to fly out of St. Louis at 6:50 am, change planes in Phoenix, and arrive in San Francisco at 11:15 am.  We had a rental car scheduled to drive to the wedding destination, which was a 90+ minute drive from the airport.  I was willing to do the early flight and changing planes, in order to have this early arrival.

So much for well made plans . . . .

I should have known at 6:00 am at the St. Louis airport that things were not going to happen as planned.  We are TSA pre-check, so we got through the security line in no time flat, and made our way to the proper concourse.  I love that the airport has rocking chairs around the gate.  It was a lovely way to relax as we are waiting for our plane.  All of a sudden there is beeping over the loudspeaker and we are told to evacuate the concourse.  Really?  What’s going on?  Hundreds of folks came out of the woodwork making their way out of the concourse.  As we waited around about 20 minutes, we were informed by security that we could return.  Everything from that point on to boarding the plane was smooth as could be.

We were having a great flight out.  It has been a long, long time since I have flown (being married to the king of all road trips), and I was glad to see I no longer have to pay to have a wifi connection.  I was well entertained above 10,000’.  Now it was time to put our seats back in position, close our tray tables, and prepare for arriving in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.

textAs we are getting ready to approach Phoenix, I received a text message on my phone, saying that our flight from Phoenix to San Francisco was not delayed, but cancelled.  Cancelled?  Why on earth would they cancel a flight?  There was no weather issues.  Were we the only one who made a reservation on this flight, so they couldn’t afford to send an empty plane?  I think not.  In fact, another couple across the aisle from us was also transferring to that flight.  All I knew is that when the doors to the plane opened, I needed to be right up front to hustle to the Southwest agent to find out how we was going to get to San Francisco.  

Do you remember the old Hertz Rent-A-Car commercial where O.J. Simpson is running through the airport, leaping over barricades?  Well, that was going to be me.  I was going to leap over seats to get off the plane as quickly as possible to find a flight to get us to San Francisco quickly.

As soon as the plane stopped at the gate, I bounded from my seat as folks were slowly unbuckling their seat belts.  I quickly made my way up to the front until I got to about row 10 where a fairly large lady in the aisle seat remained seated with her bag and her leg in the aisle to block any further movement.  There were gaps before her, but she was not budging, nor would she look at me.  I even kind of leaned against her leg thinking that would be uncomfortable, and she would move it and I could get another 5’ forward.  I cannot believe I did that, but she didn’t budge.  She didn’t look at me.  She just kept me blocked.  My good manners kicked in and I moved back from her space a few inches and waited.  As soon as I got off the plane, I bolted toward a Southwest agent.

I told her my dilemma, and she said she would get us booked on the next available plane.  Okay, now we are ticking.  Then she looked at me and smiled and said, “We can get you to San Francisco on a flight that arrives at 8:00 pm.”  Really?  8:00 pm?  It will still be two hours before we could get to the venue once we get our luggage, pick up our car rental, and find our way to Stinson Beach, California.

By this time, my husband has joined me along with the other couple we met on the plane crywho had the same destination.  She said that was all she could do.  That was all she could do?  I told her very clearly that I was the mother of the groom, rehearsal dinner was at 5:00 pm, and that I did not cancel the flight, her company did.  I need them to fix this ASAP.  I also suggested that I could “ugly cry” right there in the terminal.  You know, the loud crying with snot running out one’s nose, and makeup streaming down the face.  Truth be told, I can’t cry much less ugly cry, because I have dry eyes.  The only thing that happens when I have to cry is my nose runs slightly.  But, on the other hand, this airline agent doesn’t know that.  My husband looked at me as if to stop my crying! Be assured, I didn’t scream at her, just stated that it could possibly happen.

So, Miss Southwest Agent, who didn’t seem concerned at all about the situation, said that she could get us to the Oakland airport for 1:45 pm.  That will work!  I won’t have a lot of time to get ready, but I won’t miss this occasion that I have so much been looking forward to.  Sure, rebook us to Oakland.

Then she said, “You are voluntarily separating from your luggage.”  What?  Are you kidding?  The plane just landed.  There is NO other plane going to San Francisco for hours.  What do you mean that I am “voluntarily separating from my luggage?”  She said she cannot guarantee my luggage will get to Oakland because it is scheduled for San Francisco.  Wow!  Really.  I get it if I decided I wanted to change my schedule, but Southwest Airlines, you were the ones who cancelled, not delayed, my flight to San Francisco.  When I told her that was unacceptable, she made a phone call and then said she thought she could get our luggage on the plane to Oakland.  We were thrilled and thanked her for her help, and proceeded to our new gate for our new destination.

Now as we approach our gate, Dennis needs to call the rental car company and tell them we are now re-routed to Oakland, and will be picking up our car there, but because this is part of the original ticketing, we will be delivering the car back to San Francisco rather than Oakland, and all of a sudden our car rental price more than doubled.  We had no choice.  At least we got a rental.  Then he had to call his son who was flying on Delta to San Francisco.  They were arriving within 15 minutes of our original arrival, and we were going to be riding in the rental car together.  Sorry, son, you need to find your own way.  Actually, that was no problem, as Dennis’s son is a responsible adult who had no problem finding his own transportation.

Now we are happily on a flight to Oakland, and I can sit back and relax.  I am so proud of my bounding through airplane skills, and negotiating a new ticket.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, our Oakland flight had a change of planes in Las Vegas.  So, we leave the plane, and I check with the agent in the airport the status of our Oakland flight to be sure nothing terrible has happened.  Everything seems to be okay, our agent assured us as we told him the story of our flight.  I then looked around the airport at all the slot machines.  I looked at the agent, and said to him, “With all that has happened today, do you think I should try my luck at the slots?”  He laughed and said that was not a good idea, of which I had already known!

lostOur plane departed for Oakland, and I am a happy camper—that is, until we arrived at the baggage carousel, and there were no bags for us.  Dennis immediately went into Southwest Airlines Baggage office at the airport to report our missing bags.  The lady asks for our baggage tickets, which I hand over to her, but apparently those numbers are meaningless because they are attached to a flight that got cancelled.  She asks if they gave me new tickets, of which I replied they did not.  She proceed to say that if they changed the flight, new baggage tickets would have been issued.  Now she wants a description of the bags—that’s easy.  Then she asks me to name three items in each bag.  Shoot.  I packed Dennis’ clothes in with my clothes plus clothes to go on to Arizona from San Francisco, but what bags they are in is a mystery.  I do remember a couple items, not sure in which bag but they are on top.

Our baggage agent tells us that she cannot locate our bags at all, so she doesn’t know where they might be, but as soon as she locates them, she will call us, and arrange to deliver them to us regardless of which airport they arrive.  I am not happy, but it’s the

Car rental

The line of folks getting their rental cars!

best we can do for at the moment.  I am hoping to hear from her in the next couple hours.  

Our rental car was the best thing that happened that day.  We took the bus to the car rental center, and, of course, the rental company we were working with had about 30 people ahead of us.  Their computers had gone down, so I was told.  A lady in front of us pointed out that her husband was in a different line applying for a Fast Break card, and he might get a car faster.  I remembered that when I was working and traveling a lot, I had a Fast Break card, so I got in line and asked, and he asked for my ID and ID for Dennis.  He proceeded to give us our rental as we bypassed the long line.  I’m still not sure we are actually in the Fast Break program, but I am not questioning something good happening.

We proceed to our destination.  I was exhausted, and felt so yucky.  I had been in the same clothes for more than 12 hours, and I have no clothes to change, no toothpaste or brush, no deodorant.  Because we left in the early hours of the day, I had no makeup on, and my hair was not done.  I was going to have time when we got the wedding venue.  Needless to say, the first thing Dennis did was find a local store to purchase toothpaste, toothbrushes, a hair brush, and deodorant.  I took a shower and put back on the clothes I have worn for hours—it was that or I was going to become the “Emperor with No Clothes” which I didn’t think was a good idea.

We had a wonderful time.  The dinner was a casual get together with friends and family.  Of course, with all this running late stuff, most of the food was gone when we arrived, so once again, no real food was eaten that day.  The party helped me forget, for a short

our cabin

Our cabin surrounded by beautiful gardens

period of time, about the fact I had no luggage and the wedding was just hours away.

At 6:30 Saturday morning, we woke up, and proceeded to go to the living room of the cabin/house where we were staying, because the internet connection was strong there, and my cell phone signal was practically nonexistent.  I called Southwest Airlines, and said that no one had called us about our luggage, and I am now in a panic because my son’s wedding is quickly approaching.  The customer service lady said that she sees that the luggage is in the San Francisco location.  I was amazed 2lostthat no one had called me—my phone number is even on the luggage tags.  This agent tried to call baggage claims twice and got no answer, so she gave me their direct line and told me to keep calling until they picked up.  Now my work is ahead of me.  Eventually, I am on the phone with baggage claims and told her that we were going to drive down to get our bags because we needed them immediately.  She assured me NOT to do that.  They use Uber and Lyft to deliver the bags, and those drivers are really good, and she will get the bags to us no later than 9:30 am, so I go back to sleep for a short time more, and Dennis goes to the main house where the address matches what we gave baggage claim.  At 9:30 am, there is no sign of our luggage.  I called back to San Francisco baggage claim.  Now I am getting frantic.  We are out in a resort area, no stores, no way to rebuy clothing for a wedding.  The agent put me on hold and comes back to announce that our bags are still at the airport, that the Uber or Lyft driver came and then declined the delivery.

Okay, I hope it is alright if I lose it by this point, because I did.  I was so angry.  I asked why they didn’t call me when the driver refused the call (or did they really call for a delivery).  I said that we were going to come down there to get our bags.  Now the lady is telling me to wait, and put me on hold again.  She comes back and says they found a new delivery option but the driver cannot pick up our luggage until 11:00 am.  I am so angry.  I asked her what guarantee that was when early in the morning the lady guaranteed me that I would have my luggage by 9:30 am, and she knew it was a 90 to 120 minute drive depending on the traffic.  They didn’t bother to call the first time—why could I believe them this time?  Then I got emphatic and told them to hold the luggage there and we were personally coming to retrieve it.

We drove down to San Francisco on a busy Saturday and got to the airport, where our luggage was delivered to the trunk of our rental car.  We proceeded to find a place to get breakfast since we hadn’t really had a meal in 24 hours.  Then we took the beautiful windy California Highway 1 up the coast to the location of the wedding.  

Now we have clothes that are extremely wrinkled.  I was wearing clothes that have been on my body for well over 24 hours.  It is time for us to both shower and get dressed.  Of course, I also had hair and makeup to do.  We kind of delayed the photo session, but I couldn’t go any faster than I had.  

It wasn’t until the reception started that I was able to let it all go and have a great time.  I did have a great time, and the people were so much fun.

I am not sure I can ever get my husband back on a Southwest Airlines flight.  He was appalled at how much they didn’t care that our luggage was lost.  We also asked why our flight was cancelled and they said that Air Traffic Control cancelled our flight.  Are there any airline workers reading this?  I am having a hard time believing that Air Traffic Control cancelled a flight.  Every other flight got to San Francisco on time that day, except for ours.  What’s with that?  My favorite airline has let me down big time.  From now on, Wedding partyI will take direct flights, so I never have to go through four airports in one day, pay more than double for my rental car, and go without clothes for hours on end.

There are things I need to say about my weekend.  I loved seeing all my children together.  I couldn’t be more proud of them.  The wedding was a spectacular event, and the wedding party couldn’t have been more gorgeous — of course, it was made up of the groom’s brothers (my sons) and the brides sisters.  The people were friendly—this was no wedding where you sit on one side and people you don’t sit on treesanother.  Apparently, I adopted 3 adult children that day (Ha!).  I have no idea what kind of stories my son told about me that three people asked me to adopt them. It was rather comical.  I saw one of my sons on the dance floor who I have never see dance before, and he was having a great time!  I always love when people come up to me and tell me what a great person my son is, and how much their friendship trees2means.  Maybe that happens at weddings of older people, because in the last 18 months, two of my sons got married, and that was the response I received from their friends.  I must say it feels pretty good.  The venue, Willow Camp Estate in Stinson Beach, CA, was between the Pacific Ocean and Muir Woods, which is the start of big crazy trees like in the Redwood Forest.  Everyone was welcoming of everyone.  I wore my new wedding clothes and then a few hours later, I got comfortable in my favorite jeans and sweater, and nobody cared!

We are back at our home in Arizona now.  I am a bit under the weather today—I think it was the stress of my Southwest Airlines mess and a lack of a good of a good night’s sleep, which probably was due to the first reason.  

I hope when you take the friendly skies, you will have a better experience than we had.  I hope your airlines and your airline agents will care and not give false sympathy.  I hate the “I know how upset you must be.”  Really?  First of all, is it required to be upset, because she said you “must” be.  If you work in customer service, please don’t use that line.  A better response is, “I am really sorry this happened.  Let me do everything I can to rectify it.  Is there anything we can do to help you want to fly with us again?”  This flight was way more money than I wanted to spend for the kind of aggravation I received.  Cheap flights like on Allegiant Airlines can be aggravating, but they are cheap, and you get what you pay for.  Someone from Southwest Airlines should have followed up with a phone call to find out how things went.  No phone call, no contact.  It makes me think they really don’t care that I fly their airline over another.  I might fly them again, but flying between St. Louis and Phoenix gives me a lot of options, and I may have to look into those.  

Here are a few photos of the beauty of the wedding venue.

cabin in woodsIMG_1728IMG_1725pond cabinIMG_1704IMG_1729

Adventures of Winter Traveling

Once again, we are on the road.  Traveling with the King of All Road Trips are always an adventure.  We had a wonderful Christmas day with our family in St. Louis.  Since we are going to Arizona for our 5 month stay, we went into St. Louis on Christmas Eve because 0 lobbywe had the water turned off and winterized all our systems.  We stayed at a really nice hotel that has great rates on weekends and non-work days.  It is located in the center of a business district and also just blocks away from the courthouse, so during a business week, this place is booming.  

Christmas morning we had a lovely breakfast and then wondered what to do  before our 2:00 pm family get-together.  It was time to take a walk so housekeeping could clean our room before they wanted to go home to IMG_9311celebrate Christmas.  The roads were empty. We walked a couple blocks toward city hall and the local county jail.  There were two fire engines parked with their lights flashing, and firefighters in their turnout gear walking out of the building and getting back into their trucks.  As they started their engines, I waved and told them, “Merry Christmas, and thank you for your service especially working on Christmas.”  They both rang their bells in response.  As we walked up the road, two police cars were pulled up to each other as the patrol officers were chatting.  I decided to cross the street to thank them for their service and to wish them a Merry Christmas.  Dennis grabbed me by the arm and stopped my assent across the street.  He pointed out I would be jaywalking right in front of them!  So, I walked to the intersection, crossed and walked between them to thank them.  They saw what I was doing and assured me they would not have arrested me had I jaywalked over to them!

We continued our walk, and came back to see a family from Boston swimming in the outdoor pool at our hotel.  It was only in the high 40’s, but they said the pool was heated, and very comfortable.  We wished them a Merry Christmas and went back to our room to take a nap and go see our family.  What a lovely, easy, laid back day we had.  We ate, shared gifts, played games with the teenagers (no little kids at this party), and ate some more.  We went back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep to be road ready the next morning for our trip to Arizona.

Of course, best plans never work in our case.  I had a fitful sleep that night as well as Dennis, so we got up about 4:00 am, got cleaned up and dressed, and was out the door at 4:45 am for Arizona.  I started the driving because I am familiar with St. Louis roads and the best way to get to the interstate from where we were staying.  About 2 hours later, I was way too sleep deprived to drive, so we traded driving.  About 2 hours later, Dennis was also feeling the lack of sleep, so we pulled over in Joplin, Missouri, and took an hour’s nap in the car, enough to energize us both, and off we were again.

As we passed Tulsa, Oklahoma, going towards Oklahoma City, it started raining, and then raining, and then really raining.  For some reason, we both noticed that the airbag light on the dashboard for the passenger airbag was glowing, “Airbag Off.”  Airbag off?  Really? This car has front and side airbags to protect me, and it says that none of them are on.  I googled and didn’t find an answer or solution to the problem.  It is pouring outside, visibility is not good, and I have no protection if we had an accident.  I suggested we pull over, turn off the engine, and see if restarting the car might reactivate the airbag—much like rebooting your computer.  No luck there either.  Next I called my dealership in St. Louis and spoke with the service department.  She put me on hold and came back to say I needed to find the nearest Lexus dealership, and have them check it out because with that light on, I had no airbag protection.

0 carI have paid and wondered why I pay to be able to connect with Lexus for driving directions, etc.,  but yesterday I was grateful that I have done so.  I called into my “Destination Assist” from my car, and told them not only did I need them to download the directions to the closest Lexus dealership, I needed the dealership’s phone number to call them.  Within seconds I had peace of mind that the dealership knew we were on our way, although we were still a 40  minute drive to Oklahoma City.  The rain continued in torrents.  The dealership was right off the highway and so easy to find, especially since we were receiving turn by turn instructions.  The service writer labeled our ticket as “traveling through” so the mechanic would take us immediately so we could get on the road again.  Within 10 minutes, they adjusted a sensor underneath the passenger seat, and we were on our way, with no charge!  As we pulled out of the dealership, the rain was coming down so hard IMG_9319that the sides of the roads were flooded to the bottom of the car.  Fortunately, there was a hotel one block away, and we decided to just shorten our day, and stay in Oklahoma City.

We waited in our room, which was most comfortable, for about an hour to see if the rain let up.  It did a little bit, and we decided to go to an early dinner.  As I was driving back to the hotel, we were passed by fire trucks, and then noticed they pulled into our hotel.  I pulled into a different entrance and parked.  Was IMG_9320our hotel on fire?  There were two fire trucks again with their flashing lights and firefighters in their turnout gear walking around.  One told us it was safe to go inside, that someone had pulled the fire alarm, apparently as a prank.  As we were walking to the stairway because the elevator was still on lock down by the fire department, two police officers walked past us, knocked on a door and asked to enter this room.  I think they found the person who had pulled the alarm—we were told that there is a security camera that is focused on their alarm boxes (good move).  This morning one of the other hotel guests told us she arrived later in the evening and was told the elevator was not currently working, but that the person who pulled the alarm was no longer at the hotel.  So either they were arrested this person or the hotel kicked the offender out, or both.

We were so tired last night that we actually hit the sack at 8:00 pm, and slept until almost 7:00 am.  We are rested, and we are now driving through Texas.  There is evidence along the route of the huge rain storm from yesterday that hit Texas and Oklahoma.  The sun is shining, it is in the low 40’s, but the wind is blowing at 27 mph, which makes it really chilly, and hard to open the car door when we stopped.

With all this crazy weather, I checked my Arizona newspaper app, and they are saying that a cold front is coming through that will bring freezing temperatures though the weekend.  They said how to cover plants, and what to do and not do.  I got kind of 0 yardpanicked.  We have our whole back yard in San Tan Valley, AZ, landscaped, and we will see it in person for the first time some time tomorrow, and now it is going to freeze?  I called our landscape design guy.  I asked if I should hire someone to cover everything.  Well, long story short—no one is available, and when you cover in Arizona, you have to uncover first thing in the morning, because it warms a lot in the day, and you don’t want to cook the flowers.  He thinks we shouldn’t lose anything significant, if we lose at all.  I hope he is correct.  I would like to see my flowers before frost hits them.  He doesn’t know if the the mountain will protect us from the cold, or if it will bring a draft of frigid air.  I really hope we have some flowers and a citrus tree smiling at us when we arrive.

Road trips are always an adventure for us.  This one has definitely proved to be no different.  I wish you could see this car.  It is packed and I mean packed with only room for Dennis and I to sit in the front seats.  The trunk is filled with boxes of dishes, all the photos and artwork from our other home for this home, and I don’t even remember what’s in the back seat, but there is one tiny hole to see out of the rearview mirror.  

I have a wonderful neighbor across the street from our new house who has kept an eye on our home while we were in Missouri.  He parks his work car in our driveway while we are away—did I mention that he is one of the local sheriffs in town?  I have twelve (12) first cousins in the Phoenix area.  I have never moved anywhere where I have instant friends.  I am planning a big party in a few weeks and plan to invite all my friends and family who live in the area.  In three weeks my step son is coming to visit—our first of many visitors I plan to see come to our home.  Can you tell I am really excited on this road trip to get to our destination?

Dennis just bought me a 120W inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and now I can plug in my laptop to charge while driving down the road.  Unfortunately, I will have to wait a bit to post this blog because neither Dennis nor I have service on our phones, so I cannot hook up to his hotspot (on his phone for all of you who have you minds elsewhere), and load this blog onto the internet.  So it will be there for your reading whenever we can connect!

I started this post a few days ago as we were traveling, but due to lack of phone service and extreme weather, I chose to complete this blog once we rolled into our destination.  The adventure continued until we reached our Arizona home yesterday.  As we arrived in Albuquerque Thursday late afternoon, we stopped for a quick dinner because we wanted to drive all the way to Gallup, New Mexico before we stopped for the night.  Our 0 snowgoal was to sleep in Gallup, and then the next morning take I-40 west into Flagstaff, Arizona, and then drop south on I-17 into Phoenix and then on to our home.

Our plans are our plans, and not apparently anyone else’s.  We had a nice quick dinner, got into our car and drove out of Albuquerque (who decided how to spell that town anyway?) and we stopped for gas.  We pulled up in front of a car that was facing ours.  We noticed the owner was pounding off a thick coating of ice that was across the front of his car.  Dennis asked him where he had come from to have all that ice on his car.  He replied he just drove in from Flagstaff and the roads are snow and ice covered.  At that same moment, a friend of mine texted me and said that there was a blizzard warning out for New Mexico along I-40 into Albuquerque.  We were heading right into the blizzard.  As we drove west from the service station, snow began falling—sideways at us.  Visibility was getting tough and we realized we needed to find sleeping accommodations as soon as possible, and not try to get to Gallup.

IMG_9340We found a hotel at one of the many casinos along the interstate.  Our room was very reasonably priced, and the bed was terrible.  I think they don’t want you in bed sleeping—they want you in the casino losing your money!  When we awoke in the morning, there was about 9” of snow outside.  (We had checked the weather before leaving Missouri and along to way, and none of this severe weather was forecasted).  We were studying all alternatives for traveling.  Should we drop down to I-10 and come in from the south?  We could do that if we drove back to Albuquerque, but we were already a 90 mile drive out, and we discovered that the blizzard hit that town hard and they closed I-40 in town.  Also the highway we would need to take to get to I-10 was hit by the blizzard.  

We decided to get in the car and head our original direction and see if we could get 0 clear roadanywhere.  We were on a snow packed road and barely anyone was out yet.  We drove quite a distance, when all of a sudden, the road was clear.  We still had to be careful because it was bitterly cold, and the black ice was a possibility.  We would travel slower and just work our way in.

We arrived in Flagstaff early afternoon, stopped for lunch and then headed south on I-17.  At one point on this highway, the snow was coming down, the road was snow packed, there were many cars and trucks out, and we are going downhill, descending from our high elevation, down to the valley were Phoenix is.  We questioned our route, 0 AZ snowbut we were in the final stretch, and then once again, all of a sudden, the road was clear.  As we drove lowering our elevation, we noticed the temperature rising from the 26 degrees in Flagstaff to mid 50’s as we entered the Phoenix area.  The drive was breathtaking and we were glad we took the routes we had taken.  We arrived at our home in San Tan Valley about 5:30 pm.  It is colder here than usual—there is a 0 cloudscold front that hit all of Arizona, but it is sunny and beautiful.  

I am 70 years old, and I still love new adventures and meeting new people.  I love connecting people who may have things in common with other of my friends and family.  My hip is pretty much in complete working order.  Hiking and walking are on the agenda for a few months.  The weight I gained not being mobile this past year should start falling off as I become more physically active.

I am grateful for a wonderful husband who loves new adventures as much as I do.  I am grateful that he loves meeting all my friends and family.  I am grateful that he is willing to share our home with our friends and family.  He is the best traveling companion and for that I am grateful.

I hope you all had a great Christmas.  As we move toward the new year, let us contemplate on the wonderful blessing we have in our lives.  I know we hit rough spots, but in the end, a grateful heart will make all those seem small compared to all our blessings.

Next week, I’ll be blogging from San Tan Valley, Arizona!  Until then, have a great new year . . . .0 quote

Overwhelmed, But Blessed!

00 busyDo you ever have times when everything going on around you is just overwhelming? So much to do, and so little time to do it?

I started out my year of 2018 feeling that way. My husband and I go to Florida the third week in January every single year. He has a timeshare in Panama City Beach, and that is his week. It is about 20 degrees warmer in Panama City Beach than Missouri, so sometimes it can be pretty chilly there. To make his wife happy (that’s me), he plans a second week farther south in Florida so we can enjoy truly warm weather during this cold winter month. This year he added two weeks to our Panama City Beach vacation. I am looking forward to the warmth.

In December we took a trek California to see my son and his family and to celebrate an early Christmas. On our way back we stopped in Phoenix, Arizona, to see if we could find a property to purchase so we could become snowbirds in the winter. We originally thought to do this in Florida, but on thinking what was most practical, Arizona jumped into our heads. Living in Phoenix was an old dream of mine. When I was a young, single mother, I dreamt about living there, and not fighting with the weather in cold Missouri. When Dennis mentioned the possibility of Arizona, I realized this was the correct place. I have a 2 year old grandson in the Los Angeles area. If I winter in Florida, he will never get to know me, and I will never get to know him. Phoenix is about a five-hour drive to Los Angeles.

We contacted a relative who is a real estate agent, and asked him to show us homes while we were in Phoenix. The first day was so frustrating. We had seen the real estate list, photos and all, but seeing a place in person is a real eye-opener. I had a major headache by the end of that day, and I don’t get headaches! I put myself to bed at 7:30 pm. I am not sure if the frustration made me that tired, or what. The next day, we were ready with a new list of homes to view. The second day was a better day. However, my husband is a civil engineer by education, and he is looking for the most energy efficient home we can find. Unfortunately, most of the places we looked were older and were not that energy efficient. We looked at homes in communities for people over 55. My reluctance to that is if or when we want to sell our property, it limits who we can sell to—I don’t like to be limited. Finally, on the third day, my husband told the realtor to find us new homes. We were trying to be practical, moderate priced, and something we could live with. We found a neighborhood at the foot of a mountain—a mountain that is owned by Maricopa County, and they have seven hiking trails for all levels of hikers on this mountain. The lot we got should have been a premium lot, but they had two buyers for that lot, and both sales fell through. Now, they are building homes all around this lot. If you are familiar with homes in Arizona, everyone has a tall privacy wall built around their lots. Construction will be more difficult once all the houses around are built and the privacy walls up—they need to sell this piece of property before the houses around it are completed. Therefore, they offered this lot at NO premium. We did not have to pay a dime extra to get a mountain view from our yard!

00 my mountain

The view of the mountain from the back yard.

We came home feeling really good about our decision to have this home built. We can have it just the way we want it, the location is perfect, and if we ever sell, we can sell to anyone. We got a call in late December telling us we need to meet at the design center in Scottsdale to select our interior finishes and we need to do this early January. We found some really cheap flights to a regional airport in Mesa, flew down and stayed a few days at a cousin’s home who lives near our future home.

We are home now and getting ready to go on probably our last Florida winter vacation. We will be gone three weeks. While we were in Arizona, we were told that there is a walk-through once the framing is completed on the house. That could be late February or early March. I am starting to feel overwhelmed. We will be home a short time, and then we have to leave for Arizona for the walk-through. Granted we could have our agent do this, but this is our home, and we want to make sure it is what we need. This is our job, not his. So, I have these trips, one week in Arizona, three weeks in Florida, and another few days back in Arizona.

Now to complicate matters and make things even busier. I have won an “Honorable Mention” in a contest. They have asked me to fly to California for two days for a photo shoot. I will get my hair done, makeup, and a new wardrobe I can keep for this photo shoot, along with a gift card for my trouble! They pay for the flight, hotel, and my meals. The only problem is, they wanted me to come during the time I was in Florida. I told them if I came, they would have to fly me from Panama City Beach, but my return flight would have to be to Fort Lauderdale because that is where we were going to that weekend. They said, “No problem.” I will write a new blog in the future, how and why I won this honor, but that is not what this blog is about today.

We will have been home exactly seven days and then leave for Florida. I need to pack for three weeks, for different weather conditions. On top of that, I need to take an extra bag that I will use when I fly across country for my photo shoot. I am very excited, but feeling a little overwhelmed by it.

00 Germany

Seligenstadt, Germany

We travel, but we do reasonable travel, but somehow this year, that has gone out the window. Last September one of my sons got married to a lovely young woman from Seligenstadt, Germany. Because of her immigration status, she cannot leave the U.S. for a while until all the paperwork and proper documentation is gathered, so they planned a wedding reception in Germany for mid-May. Dennis thought it was only right that we attend this reception. I have never used my passport, and when we got married, Dennis promised me that sometime he would take me to London (the one place I wished to see). So as not to disappoint, he made us reservations to fly to London and spend a week there before moving on to Germany. We will fly into Frankfort and stay at an Airbnb in Seligenstadt for 10 days. Sometime during those 10 days, we will take a train to Paris for two days. Talk about a dream vacation. I am super excited. I cannot wait to see these beautiful places, and meet the family and friends of my daughter-in-law.

00 framingBack to our home in Arizona—the builder told us this week that the house may be done early May. We will have to go out a week ahead of closing for the final walk-through. We are good with that, but if for some reason that gets delayed, we told the builder we couldn’t come out for the walk-through and closing until June after we come home from Europe. I need to take a few deep breaths—that’s a lot of traveling in a short period of time.

00 books

Approximately 1/3 of our books!

We plan to continue living in Missouri for a while. We have realized though, that we have to prepare our home in Missouri for the possibility of selling. This home is 4,500 square feet (our new home is a reasonable 1,600 square feet). There are two huge libraries of books not counting the many, many closets of stuff that need to be sorted through, some thrown away, some donated, some to sell, and some to keep. We have house plants that will need to find good homes if we are going to live between two homes. All of this is work and time consuming.

If you are reading this blog, I assume you have read some of my past blogs, and know the hardships I had endured in my past. I would have never in a million years thought my life would ever turn out like this, and I am forever grateful to God and all his blessings he has given me. I have had times where I paid the electric bill one month, and the gas bill the other. I have had times where my mom delivered groceries to me so my children could eat, and she clothed my children also. I do not take all this travel, buying a 2nd home, or anything I have for granted. I am overwhelmed by how much my life has changed. I am grateful that God has given to me a man who loves me for who I am, and doesn’t require me to change myself for him to love me everyday!

00 colanderI have to take a deep breath as I plan this year. In between all the traveling, I need to clean out closets, drawers, and bookshelves. I need to decide what stays in Missouri and what goes to Arizona. I need to decide what memories of material things I can let go. (I will always keep my mother’s Tupperware colander, not only because it is the best colander I have ever had, but every time I use it, I think of her). Those are the kind of decisions I will have to make this year. If I think about it all, I get very overwhelmed. As I learned in my 12-step group for codependency, I need to take each day one at a time. Do what I can do today. I will be setting up a calendar of tasks to be done so that each day I see only what that day will bring, and not the overwhelming amount of everything.

I will also not forget that through all this, I need to keep my focus on God, and my family and friends. They are more important than all these things, and all the things I need to do.

I will breathe — I will breathe — I will breathe. It will all work out. I will have time to do what really needs to be done. I will lean into God to hold me up. A year from now I will write from a warm sunny backyard looking at a mountain instead of ice and snow. I am blessed, and I will breathe . . . .00 bible verse