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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Oh, hello

I realized this evening that I’ve been rather remiss talking about my birthday trip, my trip to Michigan, either of my 2 trips to Chicago or even the “drive by” trip to Columbia.  I’m not going to try to cover that much ground all at once.  The trip to D.C. was fantastic.  The primary point of the trip was to see one of my oldest and best friends and his family, which I got to do.  I also got to spend time with friends of their’s, who at this point is almost tradition I see at this point.  (Apparently, I only need to do something 3 times in a row over a course of 5 years to make it a tradition.  Now if I could get my meditation practice to stick like that.)

One evening we went to Artomatic, which is a free art festival that’s held in things like empty office buildings, laundry mat2012_0521DC-BdayTrip0081s, etc.  This one had 10 floors of exhibits.  I think we saw something on 3 of the floors.  One of the best parts, was the all-women percussion band that opened the art show.  The art itself was a mix of good and not so good, paintings and interactive art.  Afterwards, we went to a gay bar for karaoke and I have to admit it was kind of disappointing.  Everyone was singing things like “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables and were taking themselves far too seriously.

Shuttle Pic

While I swore I wasn’t going to go to the Air & Space Museum again, I knew that was a bit of a lie even when I posted it.  Although, we did go to the Udvar-Hazy Center, which has a large collection of planes, memorabilia and oh, the shuttle, Discovery. However, the main attraction for me was the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor.  The Wall of Honor honors anyone with a passion for flight.  So many years ago, when the wall was brand new, I had my dad’s name engraved on it.  Neither he nor I had seen it so I wanted to make the trip to go and check the spelling.  😉

While I was there I also got the grand idea of going back to school.  That is a tale for another post.

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Is this the South?!

In July, I went to Delaware with some friends.  Alas, there are no pictures from the trip.  Well, there are a few pictures taken out the window at 70 mph on my cell phone.  We’re just going to pretend they don’t exist.

Delaware is a state I know little about.  I never lived there or in an adjoining state.  What I know of Delaware is that it was one of the original colonies, it’s on the East Cost and one of those small, little states that are a pain to label on the map.  I didn’t think much about the fact that Delaware was on the coast and thus had a lot of fresh seafood.   As one of my traveling companions was on a quest to eat crab cakes as often as possible, I must have missed the memo.  I was glad that I had developed a taste for seafood over the years or it would have been a lot of hamburgers that weekend.

What really surprised me was encountering the Southern accent.  A female server even asked “what would yous like to drink?”  Delaware was north of Virginia, which from my time in Alabama clearly meant that they were Northerners.  Yankees.  I was hearing “y’all” and being offered grits. My mental map was being redrawn.  I mentioned this my traveling companions and one of them-a librarian-told me that Delaware was south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Clearly, they were Southern.  Just as a point of clarity, I looked.  Delaware is not below the Mason-Dixon Line.  They were even on the side of the Union during The War Between States.  They are Yankees.

No, I really don’t think of the Civil War that way.  I just was so surprised by hearing a Southern accent in a place where I expected them to sound more like Bostonians or New Yorkers.  In a lot of ways, Delaware reminded me of Missouri.  Hot. Humid. Heat-index.  Next time, I think I’ll pass.

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These sage words of advice were given to me by a dear friend on my trip to New Orleans in 2008.  I went to New Orleans to visit my friend, Autumn, but to also attend the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest.  Jazz Fest is the 2nd largest event in New Orleans, Mardi Gras being the first.  Jazz Fest is held over two weekends in late April and early May.  There is a 4-day “weekend” and a 3-day “weekend.”  I went for the 4-day event.

Street Performer near Jackson Square

New Orleans, LA (c) 2008

I arrived in New Orleans on the Wednesday before the party was to start.  Autumn is a wonderful hostess.  She had gathered together all the essentials for someone new to New Orleans.  I had a map of the French Quarter, which was clearly marked with the areas that a 20-something female could wander safely by herself, articles and information on Jazz Fest, a pocket guide to New Orleans and the complete Jazz Fest attendance kit.  For those of you who don’t know, Jazz Fest is held at a horse track.  Flat, no shade and few bathrooms.  So included in the kit was: toilet paper, seat covers and hand sanitizer.  Port-a-Potties far outnumbered the flushing bathrooms. Since I had my own pepper spray and whistle, she didn’t have to add that.

Autumn had to work for most of my visit so she tried to arm me well.  The last bit of advice she gave me went like this: Never date a guitar player, especially the ones you’ll meet here.  They aren’t interested in a relationship or any good at it.  Go ahead and have fun with them.  Sleep with them if you want.  Use protection and don’t bring them home. I thought this was sound, and humorous, advice.  It stuck with me long past that weekend.

If you’re curious, singers are just as bad because many of them are guitar players.  I recall that drummers and bass players were okay.

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In the land of ice & Converse

I made my first venture out of the country last week. I boarded a plane and 17 hours, 3 plane changes and one misplaced suitcase later, I arrived in Göteborg, Sweden.  Thankfully, my suitcase was only delayed in Helsinki, Finland and not in the Bahamas.  My connecting flight from JFK to Helsinki spent an extra 50 minutes on the tarmac.  Of course, my flight from Helsinki to Göteborg only had a 40 minute layover.  I’m thankful that I wasn’t stuck waiting for the next flight like my suitcase was.

Everyone asks me, why Sweden?  A friend of mine from college is from the area and it seemed as good a time as any to make the venture. A place I’ve never been and a free place to crash.  I was in.

It is true that most Swedes do speak English, I was still surprised by how overwhelmed I felt in the first couple of days.  Everything was a half-step off from what I was used to at home. My host was trying to be helpful when pointing out the differences between our cultures but in a way that was even more overwhelming.  The feeling of almost but not quite was more disorientating than I expected it to be. Even before I got off the plane I felt a little too loud, a little too bright.  A little too American.

The natives tend towards neutral colors.  Lots of white, some variation of beige and black.  And white high-top Converse.   My bright purple and pink were definitely out of sync. As a rule, white is a color I refuse to wear.  I tend to spill something on it, like an entire bottle of Coke.

After the first couple of days things eased out.  A random stranger at the “beach” started up a conversation.  The Amnesty International boys whose faces lit up to talk to a native English speaker.  The girl at the Lush store who taught me to say “my name is Alyson.”  (Jag heter Alyson. In case you’re curious.) I found it easiest to start conversation with a very clear “hello,” there is no mistaking that.  If someone spoke to me I smiled and said “I’m sorry, I don’t understand Swedish.”  Except for the older woman in the yarn store, they were all able to switch to English.

As for being too American, that feeling faded.  My friend shook his head in amusement every time he saw me chatting with some random stranger.  While I am an American, I’ve always been a little loud and a little bright.  I rather like that about myself.

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Prompt from the #Trust30 initiative.

If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?”

The Surgeon's Photograph c. 1934

The one place I have always wanted to visit was Scotland.  My father’s family immigrated from Scotland, at some point.  The specifics have been lost in the years since.  That is part of the reason I would like to visit there.  The main reason has to do with Scotland’s most famous inhabitant, Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster!  I have been fascinated by Nessie since I was 8 years old.  I wrote several school papers over the years.  Other kids were trying to get their request in to do unicorns and dragons, I wanted Nessie.  I was surprised that no one else had the interest in the Loch Ness Monster that I did.  Nessie might actually exist, while dragons certainly didn’t.  (For most of my childhood, the jury was still out on unicorns.  Pegasus was a myth but I wasn’t sure about unicorns.)

While it pains me to say that Nessie is likely a hoax, I still want to see Loch Ness.  From the pictures I’ve seen of the area it appears to be beautiful, if cold.  Then there is also Edinburgh and Inverness.  I’m sure I could find a place to listen to traditional Scottish music and a nice meal.  Yes, I enjoy bagpipes.  Authentic haggis would be experienced once.  No, really, I don’t want to know what’s in it.

Who knows, perhaps after a visit to a distillery, I may see Nessie myself?

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Intro posts are the Universe’s way of asking, “are you sure you want to do this?”  If you can get through the first post the rest, well it might not be cake, but the ice has been broken and we can finally get underway.  At least this is how I feel about writing the first of anything: first paragraph of a paper, bio for a new group, the first post of a blog.

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling in my life.  Until I was 15 my dad was an officer in the US Navy.  Like most military brats, I moved when my dad’s tour of duty was over. On average, we moved every 2 years.  Some places we lived longer than other.  The shortest time living somewhere was 10 months in Alabama and the longest being nearly 5 years in Hawai’i.  When my dad retired my family moved back to St. Louis, which is where my folks are originally from.  After graduating from college, I stayed in St. Louis as well.  At least that’s where my mailing address is.

This is going to be a place to put my accounts of either living or visiting a place.  Some details have been lost to the passage of time and some places will be from the perspective of a child.  Not everything will be looking so far in the past.  I have several trips planned for this summer, including my first trip out of the country.  I also do a bit of traveling of traveling for my job.

So what does the picture have to do with anything?  That is the squadron patch for the “Screaming Eagles,” which was my dad’s last flight squadron .  There are many other patches that were on my dad’s flight jacket over the years but this is the one I remember the most clearly.  My father often wears a medallion that was based off of that patch.

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