September 28, 2015

Next Year's Travel: What's On The Horizon?

Most of the travel plans Betty and I had for this year ended up being abandoned. With a move to our new home, a decision to cancel a summer-long RV trip, and the need to stay close to home for awhile after my heart problems, several anticipated getaways never happened. 

We did manage to fly to Portland for a week to see friends, but that was short circuited  with a hospital stay. Our just completed time with family at Disneyland and California Adventure was memorable and special. And, we will take the RV up to the White Mountains later this week for a four day stay in the cool pines by a pretty lake. But, overall, this was a year we spent pretty close to home.

Betty and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary in June, so we would like to make 2016 very special. After the year that is quickly coming to a close, we are ready for some serious self-pampering.

Right after the first of the year we are off to join Mike and Tamara Reddy for a week at the Palm Springs Film Festival. This past January was our first visit to the annual gathering of thousands of film fans, along with the famous and nearly famous folks who appear in those movies. With well over 1,000 movies to choose from, the toughest part is deciding which ones to see. During the eight days we will be in town we will see six films, enjoy excellent meals together, do some hiking and shopping, and enjoy each others' company. 

In early June we will fly to Seattle and board a cruise ship for a week enjoying the inner passage of Alaska. This trip has been on our must-do list for several years; 2016 is when we finally make it reality. How can you not enjoy something that involves too much food, being pampered by a crew of hundreds, and visiting places with names like Skagway and Ketchikan? 

After returning to Seattle we may take a boat back to Victoria for a day. The cruise ship stops there for only a few hours, not long enough to explore Butchart Gardens and the thoroughly British feel of the small downtown near the dock. We were last there twenty years ago and still have vivid memories of the area.

In early November we are discussing a trip that would be truly special: Hawaii and then two weeks in New Zealand. For the first time, I would be turning over all planning and transportation to a tour company. Typically, I plan a trip, book all the hotels, arrange for the airplane flights and rental car, and then plow through an intense itinerary that leaves me frazzled and unable to see much since I must focus on driving.

In all honesty I must say that the idea of being on a structured tour with someone telling us where and when to be someplace is a little scary. The lack of control and the need to be with a group of people for two weeks will be different. I will have to practice my patience and people skills, and give up my need to manage everything.

Hobbit House
On the plus side, I will have the opportunity to actually see the countryside, learn about the history and importance of places we visit, and not worry about driving on the left side of the road! We would spend time on both islands, enjoying the stunning countryside and sights. One required stop is Hobbiton, where parts of the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. 

The flight to Auckland is 14 hours from L.A. That is more time stuck in a tight airplane seat than I am willing to endure. So, we would fly from Phoenix to Honolulu and spent 3 nights enjoying one of our favorite places on earth. That leaves "only" a nine hour flight to New Zealand-much more doable. On the way back we would stop off in Hawaii for two nights to help with jet lag and another too-long time in a metal tube before continuing home. 

The cost of that trip is giving us pause. To spend so much on just a vacation strikes us as questionable. But, it is a major milestone in our marriage. Stay tuned for a final decision.

A few long weekend trips in the RV to Flagstaff and Arizona Wine Country should help us make up for a disappointing travel year in 2015.

Quite literally, 2016 should be a truly Satisfying Journey with experiences and memories to last the rest of our lives.

Now, if we can just stay healthy.......

September 24, 2015

A Magic Time At The Magic Kingdom

Disneyland 60th Anniversary

Is it possible to have a bad time at Disneyland? Maybe, but you won't hear that from me. Betty and I are just back from our second trip to "The Happiest Place on Earth" in the past 10 months. With the grand kids, two daughters, son-in-law, and both of Keith's parents we formed quite a troop - 10 fun-seekers.

Armed with three day park hopper passes we managed to thoroughly cover both Disneyland and California Adventure. A mix of hot and sunny weather with some drenching downpours left us alternately steamy and soaked. We loved every minute of it. I kept a close eye on my heart rate and had no problems, thank goodness.

There is something very special about experiencing the parks through the eyes of youngsters. As an adult I would not normally decide that a 60 minute wait for a 60 second ride makes much sense. But, when a grandchild has a firm grip on your hand and makes it clear he (or she) wants to ride with you time isn't really an issue.

The drive to and from L.A. reminds me how thankful I am to not experience that type of freeway traffic very often. But, being less than seven hours away does make the trip an easy one and an important part of my satisfying journey.

Betty snapped thousands of photos to add our stock of memories. Enjoy some of her pictures taken during Disney's 60th anniversary celebration and our time together.

California Adventure

Reaching for Grandad's hand - priceless

What is the wait time on the next ride?

Disneyland character

Always look for the orange cap if we ever get separated!

Loving my ice cream

Me, too

Anyone have a wipe?

The girls and their beloved aunt

Rain doesn't slow us down

Is Betty tall enough for this ride?

Mary and Tom (Keith's parents)
Our daughters

And, the satisfying journey through retirement continues.

September 14, 2015

Even To A Reader This May Be Too Many Books!

bookshelfMaybe it was because I had extra time after my heart problem. Maybe I was getting tired of the super heat of an Arizona summer. Or, maybe I just like books and like to have lots of choices.

For whatever reason, last week I found myself with more stacks of things I wanted to read than normal. Add to that at least three books on my library hold list that would be available soon and I was in reading heaven....or in need of a break!

Let's see, what was in stacks in the living room, family room, kitchen, office, and by the bed?

Two of the titles make perfect sense:Prevent a Second Heart Attack and Outliving Heart Disease. I am looking for an explanation of what got me where I am today and how to prevent another ambulance ride when my heart rebels.

Close by were Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Quick and Easy Cookbook from the American Heart Association, and The Complete Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. Oh, and The South Beach Diet to help me lose some weight quickly. The days of potato chips, burgers, lots of bread, and processed cold cuts were over. What were safe choices from now on?

In my office were two books waiting for me to read and review on the blog: Live Well With Chronic Pain and Windows 10 for Seniors for Dummies. The first is one that Betty is reading to give me her reactions. As someone who has lived with pain for the last 30 years, her take on that book would be important. I had just converted from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I figured the Dummies book would point me toward features I hadn't discovered yet and might helps others in the transition.

In a real shift of topics, by my chair in the living room was a copy of Philip Yancey's Prayer and an English translation of Lao Tzu's Te Tao Ching. I have read the Yancey book before but didn't really enjoy it. Now felt like the right time to give it a second chance. The Te Tao Ching was one I stumbled across while in Portland. I found many of the author's thoughts to be remarkably in sync with my Christian beliefs, others both confusing and enlightening. I do like to learn about subjects that are new to me; the Te fit perfectly.

For pure escapism, Kathy Reichs' Bare Bones was a nice change of pace. The lead character is Temperance Brennan. If you watch the TV series, Bones, that name should sound familiar. She is the forensic anthropologist that the series is built around. I enjoy the show so I decided to give the book a chance. Summer fluff that feels good after all the "heart" books! 

And, finally, a book that seems so appropriate: Browsing, a Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books. As its name implies this is a series of essays, by a book fanatic, on the thrills of reading and collecting books. Each essay contains at least a half dozen suggestions. I knew I was in trouble when I had added four authors to my must-read list and I was only halfway through the first chapter.

A Satisfying Journey moves forward, one printed word at a time.