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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I know I haven’t been posting regularly… I think I have a pretty good excuse. A few weeks ago, my husband came home from work on Friday night and told me that he was going to Prague the following Friday for some meetings. Prague! This same trip almost happened 6 months ago, but never solidified. This time, his airline ticket was already purchased.

Looking toward "New Town" from Charles Bridge

Looking toward “New Town” from Charles Bridge

I have about a 48 hour conversation/battle in my head about the trip. Should I go? Is it even a good idea if I go? I mean, I still can’t walk very far or very fast. By Monday morning, I was searching for airfare and had booked my ticket.

"Old Town" Square

“Old Town” Square

We were only there 5 full days and saw as much as we could. I managed to come down with a terrible cold half-way through the trip, so half of it is sort of a blur. But it was worth it.  Everywhere you look you see something old and beautiful. 015Have you been to the Prague?

Sincerely, Emily

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Revisiting F

This last week I was up in Wisconsin visiting my brother and his family. My travel timing was perfect and I met the first storm and deep-freeze temps of the season as it arrived in the area. 063I have not lived in snow for 16 years and when I watched the rain come down and the temperature drop as I waited for my mom’s plane to arrive I considered making a big sign for the back window of our rental car. Something like, “BACK OFF! I’m from Texas, and I haven’t driven in snow for 16 years!” Hoping that would explain my super slow (but safe) driving! ha

The driving really went well. The roads were slick, but I took things slow, and cautious. In fact one night when my mom, niece and I were coming back from a holiday party up at the cabin I had fun with some fishtailing on the side roads. We were all laughing pretty hard, especially after a nice fishtail where I overshot the driveway and bounced up and over the curb. The three of us couldn’t get into the house and to the bathrooms fast enough we were laughing so hard that there was a threat or two of wetting our pants. I know we will all remember that one.

062I do not miss the maintenance of winter and I do not miss that bone chilling freezing cold feeling when the temp is sitting at 0F before you even factor in the windchill (-27F.) But I am very happy; to have decorated a 14′ tree full of 5 generations worth of family ornaments, had wonderful friends over for lunch, had the opportunity to go to a few holiday parties and see many friends, have dinner with more family members up near the cabin and more!

I didn’t really have to spend any time outside. Watching the snow come down and leave a beautiful white blanket over everything was beautiful and normally I would have rushed out to shovel off the driveway and sidewalks (because it would have been fun to do – a novelty of sorts and that snow was really light and fluffy), but I knew I would get two shovels-worth done and I knew the novelty would wear off in 2 seconds when I was out of breath and huffing and puffing… so I “let” my brother do it. When I saw him get the blower out to do the driveway one day I realized that I could have done that (probably!)044

So revisiting F was kind of fun… freezing temps, family, friends, and falling snow.

Sincerely, Emily

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Shanksville

What strikes one first about the site of the crash of Flight 93 is how impossibly remote it is. A reasonable drive from Pittsburgh, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., set among forested hills full of resorts and towns, the plane came down in the open fields of a former surface mine, safely removed from habitation.

Unless, as has been speculated, they were shot down where they would do the least damage, the hand of the god is the only explanation. The minute luck that planted them here, where only those on the plane could be hurt, is almost impossible to grasp.

Unlike Gettysburg, where centuries of rain and sun, where replanting and plowing and growing have put the ghosts to rest, they still drift on the breeze in Shanksville.

I was there on a rainy weekday- perhaps 10 people were there. Prayer felt difficult, but I recited a psalm, and the kaddish, and yes, a Muslim prayer as well, inscribed on a scrap phonetically. I placed a pebble on the end of the monument (wondering why there were no pebbles there but mine), to mourn the suffering of the world that was highlighted by this terrible act, and to honor the terrible bravery of the passengers and crew who died.

DSCN0509

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I visited Gettysburg last week; something I’ve always wanted to do. The battlefields are somber but oddly unhaunted. The cemetery, on the other hand is the most haunted place I’ve ever been. The Civil War graves are arranged in concentric rings in the the center of smaller graveyards from subsequent wars upon wars upon wars. You can practically see the Union and Confederate soldiers facing them and screaming in despair, that their sacrifice did not end it.

***

The dead in soft sweeps
Name upon name in the green
thousands and thousands

The named dead

All the unknown dead
Are waiting in the green grass
for God to name them

Illinois' unknown

Unknown, unknowing
the nameless lost ones lie in rings.
Who will mourn them now?

The unknown dead

Stone One forty three
Does your name still matter now?
The goddess knows youThe unknown dead-143

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A few days ago, we focused our Sunday Photos on travel and getting away.

Elder in bloom

Elder in bloom

Recently we went to Erie, PA for a family reunion. The lush green was almost too much for the eyes after being used to seeing crispy brown and dry in our area. 067 The trip to Pennsylvania was very hard for me because it took a lot of my energy and the humidity drained the rest. I have had quite a large set back in my recovery. I am back to walking super slow and have a hard time breathing. I have once again stopped walking and talking at the same time and I have cancelled all of my physical therapy appointments for now. That trip did not re-charge me, it just seemed to drain my reserve. Our dockAnother trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin was a wonderful treat. Cooler and so much easier to breathe. I wasn’t able to do the things that I would normally do there (help my parents in the yard and gardens), and that was hard, but it was a nice break to get out of the heat. Over the past few months I have jokingly told my husband that I was looking for rental property in Northern Alaska because it would be a lot cooler there and a lot easier to me to get around and heal. Being up here in Minnesota and Wisconsin proved my point, I felt a lot better in the cooler temperatures….. I might have to go back and stay until it cools down in South Texas (I can dream.)

On the other end, there is always a price to pay when you are away. I came back to several plants that didn’t get watered well enough and are too dry and crispy to revive. I also know It will take quite a while to get re-adjusted back to the heat. Was the trip to MN & WI worth it? Yes!

I know at some point we would like to get more land and a few animals. I also know that taking a trip when you have those responsibilities is much harder. Right now, it is semi-manageable. It just takes planning to make sure someone will water and someone will take care of the cats.

Do you have to do a lot of planning so things are taken care of when you leave town?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Day Tripper

Sunday driver, yeah.

I work freelance. No sick days. No vacations. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so vacations of the take-the-family-to-Disneyland, rent-a-beach-house type just don’t happen.  The last time we took an actual trip was in 2007, when we went to see my daughter in California when she was on tour with Disney On Ice.

So I’m the master of the day trip. (I refuse to call it a staycation, a dreadful neologism that just makes my teeth hurt.)

Daytripping can happen a mile from your house, or across the state; the key is there and back in 24 hours. It might include a stay at a hotel, or it might just be “Tourist Day” downtown, where you ride the double decker bus, go to the top of the Sears Tower, have lunch at the tourist trap and buy a fake Chicago street sign for a souvenir.

Or it might be a concert in Woodstock Illinois, where they filmed Groundhog Day, about an hour out of town. Or lunch with a friend who has managed to actually retire.

I like to take “mental health days” since “weekend” is also an elusive concept when you’re self employed. You work when there’s work, not because the calendar confers some magical income-freedom on Saturday and Sunday. So you head to the museum, or the prairie bike trail, or the nature preserve.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, you can even walk to the beach.

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It is nice to get away and be able to get a break from daily life every now and then. Whether it is a day trip or a full-on vacation, it helps refresh and re-energize yourself.

***

I (Sincerely, Emily) used to travel a lot and I loved it. Now, I love to stay home. That doesn’t mean I don’t travel, I just love to be home and doing things around here. 146It has been a tough year and up until recently I haven’t been able to travel. A few weeks ago we went to a family Reunion near Erie, PA.It was more than I should have done, but it was a lot of fun.

***

Have you been able to get away and re-energize?

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In October I went up to Minnesota and Wisconsin to visit my mom and family. The plan was to help my parents put their gardens to bed for the winter, but instead I managed to overdo it before I even left home, rendering my back useless to the garden work plan.

Emily (the young monkey!) – Hollywood, FL

My mom and I always seem to have enough to do whether it is at their home in Minnesota or over at the lake in Wisconsin. I was able to help do a few garden projects and we did manage to transplant a few rhubarb plants over at the cabin. I had a chance to spent a fun night with my second cousin and I also spent some time with my brother and my two nieces. Go Go Go. Never a moment of rest! But that is why I go; to help out and have some fun along the way (if time permits.)

My brother at the lake

Over the past 7 years, my mom and I have been going through boxes and shelves, sorting and deciding what to do with all the “stuff.” Every time we came up any sort of photo or slide, we labelled the box and put it with the rest of the photos on one shelf. We knew that would be a big project, but wanted to stay focused on other “things” first.

Because I was unable to do much of anything, we spent time going through photos and slides. The first box I grabbed was a lot of fun. It was a mix of many years and full of photos I haven’t looked at in a long long time. As I went through the box I took some quick photos of a few to put them on the computer. It has been so much fun to email them to my brother or friends that are in those photos. We are all getting some good mileage out of them.

My Gramps had a Trading Post and gas station in Wisconsin. It was fun to come across some photos from that time. He also sold alumicraft boats and motors, LP gas, concrete statues and birdbaths. I can still remember the bog cow trough filled with water where he would set up the boat motors so he could run them, work on them and also show customers. He also traded a lot when people wanted a bit of gas for their car. His trading post of packed full of treasures. He hung a lot of them from the ceiling because the floors and every nook and cranny already had something in it. The front window was filled with fishing lures – again hung. I vividly remember a ventriloquist doll that hung from the ceiling.

Out front, sitting between the gas pumps was a totem pole. When we sold the station and house we took the totem pole down and moved it to our cabin where it still stands. My mom and I restored it twice since then and it is time to work on it again… next summer.

Mom and I had a chance to set up the old slide viewing rack and go through several boxes of slides. What fun that was. Sailing slides, travel, lake slides, slides from when my brother and I were babies and growing up. Slides of trips my grandparents took to Cuba and Puerto Rico and Mexico too. Lots and lots of slides. I brought many of them back to Texas with me in hopes of getting them converted to a digital image on a little converter that I have. It just takes time, but I hope to work on them little by little so we can all enjoy them for years to come.

Do you look through old photos every now and then?

Sincerely, Emily

P.S. As we gear up for the holiday season, the contributors at NDIN are hosting a series of giveaways. Be sure to check out Miranda’s post yesterday to see what she is offering and be sure read all the posts over the next few weeks to see what else we have in store for our faithful readers.

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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Landscape

Some things in life are guaranteed: the sun will rise in the east, corn will grow in Illinois, and there will be construction on I57 at Kankakee.

From the wide sky over Lake Michigan, waves rolling into the shore; the sight is worth the sand blowing tiny stings into my bare skin as I cross the beach. The aftermath of storm has left a rare rip tide. I ride it out of town.

I miss the prairie.

Another wide sky, with nothing to block it except the occasional wind farm coming over the horizon. Unlike the lake’s wide sky, this one fills the pirouette– no wall of highrises behind me. An inch of landscape and a mile high sky, all the way around.

As I roll down the highway in the early bright morning, my eyes and my heart are full with my love for this landscape.

In keeping with the  farmland solitude, the college town that is my destination is in that deep breath before the storm: the waiting period between summer and fall, before the cityites and suburbanites descend with their noisy, store-bought culture, forcing the eye back to ground level.

You can keep your mountains, and rolling blue hills, the picturesque, the monumental, and the grand. This land speaks to me,  fills my soul and completes the circuits in my brain in a way that I can’t describe. Why do I forget this in the city, where I pretend to be like city folk, louche and sophisticated. Is anyone fooled?

I dream of returning to a place with a horizon, with the endless prairie sky, uninterrupted- no mountain, no valley, scaled by the gods.

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I know that our REAL Local series has come to an end, but I still wanted to share a few more things that I found while traveling in England.

We bought a book at one of the castles we stopped and I loved the bag it was packaged it – love the words. I have no idea if it was made locally, or even made in England, it was just nice to see the words on the bag. They weren’t an after thought, the words were the bag.

I found some cookies that hit the spot one day…. and had to pack some to eat on the plane, right?! They only fit the “L” in S.O.L.E.(Sustainable, Organic, Local,  Ethical), but they are made in England.

Ginger Nuts cookies – England

I knew I must bring home some tea. While I know the tea was not grown in England, I tried to buy from a company with good ethics (and a pretty box too!) After reading about them on their website, I think I made a good choice.

I was really amazed when I was looking at some the packages in the little markets I went into. I was mainly looking to buy a few food items to snack on along the way and a few things to bring home with us. Many things in the cookie and cracker sections (or at least most of the ones I looked at) were made in England. Many others said made in the U.K. also. Now, I know the “U.K.” covers are larger area, my point it that it wasn’t imported from some other far, far away place.  That was refreshing to see.

I also am in the habit of picking up tea towels with I travel. They are a great souvenir, easy to pack and useable. This one (and a few others were made in England!) Yippee!

REAL Local – Made in England!

One more item that I purchased to bring home as a souvenir of our trip. We went into an antique shop in Chipping Campden and just wandered around. I would have loved to have loaded a suitcase with all sorts of wonderful finds and I did warn my husband that if I found a wonderful old candelabra that it was coming home with us some way, some how. Instead I picked out a simple (and inexpensive) silver-plated serving spoon.

I completely forgot to as the women what she knew about the pattern. I am under no false illusion that it is valuable or rare; it was the right price and it packs easily. It has a bunch of markings on the back, symbols really, no words. One day I will find out more about it. Until then, I will just use it and enjoy it and remember our trip.

Sincerely, Emily

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