Tourist Tan

Who was walking everywhere, wearing sandals? 😉

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25 Years and Travel

Last December Chris and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It kind of felt like we ought to do something out of the ordinary for the occasion, and we sort of did. We played ping pong, watched a movie and walked our dog on the beach.

Oh wait. We do that all the time.
But this day really was a bit different.

As we walked on the beach we dreamed about what we might want to do as a bigger anniversary celebration. Since we both love to travel, we brainstormed on a fabulous getaway. Dreaming is more than half the fun, I think. But we couldn’t decide where we might want to go. Then Chris came up with a brilliant idea. 25 small trips to celebrate our 25 years. Since he is an artist who can work on the road, and I can work wherever I have Internet, this seemed like a great idea so we started making a dream list.

Then work upped the ante.

Our little trips became no-so-little, and somehow we found ourselves in Italy two weeks ago (sharing WordPress with writers and journalists at the International Journalism Festival).

And now I’m writing this from Lisbon, where we are spending a month. My work team is going to spend a week here shortly, and we came early to enjoy the city together, and to spend some time with my cousin who lives in Europe.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate 🙂

So anyway, it’s been quiet here on my blog because I have been working/traveling/touring/trying to figure out a decent sleep schedule, and I have not been doing much else. But I think things are back on course now, so I can start sharing my thoughts. And some amazing images. I’m completely enamored with the rich history of these European cities.

When we go home next month, we will check in, re-acclimate, then start a road trip across the United States of America to visit friends and family for a month. Here’s where we stand on our list of 25 so far:

1. WCUS – Philadelphia (we officially started our list last December since that was our anniversary month)
2. Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada
3. Connecticut – visiting family and friends
4. Saratoga Springs, New York – company dinner and visit with relatives
5. Utah – visiting our boys and daughter-in-law
6. Greek Peak ski resort in NY – snowboard getaway
7. Toronto, Canada – visiting friends (forgot to take pics)
8. Perugia, Italy – International Journalism Festival for Work
9. Lisbon, Portugal – Team meeting for work and extra time for fun

Projected Trips:

10. Columbus, Ohio – visiting friends
11. Missouri – visiting friends
12. New Mexico – visiting friends
13. Utah – visit CJ and Lauren again
14. Las Vegas (maybe)
15. California (maybe) – visiting friends
16. South Carolina – visiting family
17. North Carolina – visiting family
18. Maryland – visiting family
19. West Virginia – check in on our boys at camp 🙂
20. Connecticut – nephew’s wedding 🙂

As you can see, we are five trips short, but I have a feeling those will fill in nicely as the year journeys on. After all, it _is_ only  April.

 

Sun, Sons and Snowboarding

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After Friday night’s snow who would guess that we would be sipping coffee on the deck Saturday morning? Even better, we were sunbathing by the afternoon. It was over 50 degrees. We slept in, yakked, read, took naps and basically took the day off as a quasi spa day. Pure luxury.

In the evening we headed over to Zeb’s to check out his new home.

Zeb is in a pretty fun living situation now. He’s with CJ’s pre-marriage housemates who also happen to be delightful young men from the area where our boys grew up. Aaron and Thomas and Zeb made some delicious coffee (can you tell we are big on coffee?) and yakked with us until Robert and Anthony came home. Then we chatted a bit more and started playing a game called QuipLash. Anyone with Internet could join our game if they had to code, and the guys decided to call Hudi (back in NY) to join the fun. That made me really happy — knowing my boys wanted to hang out together, even long distance.

After a really enjoyable evening we headed home to get a good night’s sleep. The next day was busy. We went to Lauren and CJ’s church (a church with a view!) then grabbed some pizza and headed off to Solitude for some slope time. It was interesting since we were on borrowed/new-to-us equipment, but we adapted pretty well and had a fantastic time. The road getting there was winding and kinda crazy. There were definitely rocks in the road on the way down that weren’t there on the way up. And it was wild how we had snow, but half an hour away, there wasn’t any.

As the day wound down, we settled in with some nice drinks and tv time.

Monday was our last day there 😦 And we were far from ready to go. But the good news is that we plan to travel back next summer. Sadly, CJ’s car had been backed in to over the weekend so Chris and CJ spent most of Monday finding repair shops to get quotes. Lauren and I worked on websites, read and yakked.

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She made me one final drink (a mint hot chocolate thing this time with white mocha or something. Yum!) then we headed to a burger place they enjoy as we headed back to the airport. Our flight left at 11:59pm, and Chris’ birthday was the next day – beginning one minute into our flight 🙂 The screenshot of the plane is when were were pretty close to flying over their home on our way back to NY.

That trip was fortunately uneventful, and we were home in plenty of time to unpack, plow out the driveway, clean the house and have a birthday celebration thanks to Mom Pollock.

I took the next few days as AFK so we had time to rest up and get our life back in order. And here we are. Back in the flow of our reality, and loving it. With a ton of new fantastic events stashed into our happy memory arsenal for times when we miss our kids and want to look back on times together.

 

Drama With Delta

Delta is my favorite airline to fly. Generally flying with them is seamless and pleasant, in my experience. But recently we had a glitch.

Note: That featured image is from a flight a couple of years ago. This is our weather today:

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Here’s the story:

Today Chris and I are headed out to Utah to see CJ, Lauren and Zeb (and to ski and snowboard, and see some co-workers, and …you get the gist of this.) We are on vacation!!!!!!

The incredible company I work for (Automattic) encourages us to take off when we want, and when I mentioned this trip, is was beautiful to see how team-mates shuffled work-loads around to cover my work while I am gone. In addition to getting to take of time whenever we want, we are very flexible on how we schedule our time on a day-to-day basis. I chose to put in a few longer days over the weekend so I was officially AFK by 1pm yesterday.

You know that incredible feeling of freedom when you close out of work to go on vacation? Even when you love your job? That’s what I was feeling as I joined my husband and dog for a walk at the beach. As we walked, Chris and I talked about how whether or not we should offer to get bumped if the situation arose (we discuss that before every trip). I commented that it would be really good to come up with a plan this time since Delta is recovering from a computer glitch and might still be trying to find places on flights.

Feeling like I should get packing, I cut the timing short.

As soon as we got home I went to check in with the airline and discovered that there were no tickets for Chris!!!!

Back-tracking a bit here. Last April I chose to get bumped from a flight and received a $700 voucher to use on flights within a year. Chris and I had planned to drive out to Utah for this visit, but as winter storms started hitting, I chickened out, and we decided to use the voucher for flights to visit the kids young adults. In early January I discovered that I couldn’t get those tickets online so I called Delta. Informed that only I could use the voucher, we paid for Chris’ ticket separately (BOGO is better than nothing). I checked my email and saw the confirmation came through.

**Note to future self – actually open and read confirmations in the future**

So back to yesterday.

When Chris’s ticket didn’t show up on the page no matter how many times I refreshed, I checked out that confirmation. Sure enough. Only my name was on it. I looked at every credit card statement I had and realized we were never billed for his flight. I looked at our points from credit cards and airlines to see if we paid in travel miles anywhere.

Nada.

My pulse was seriously rising. I think my Apple watch thought I was working out, but it was simply sheer panic.

I work in tech/customer support, and I know what it’s like to be on the other end. Sometimes no matter how much you want to help someone, it just isn’t possible. I was about to call Delta, asking where my husband’s ticket was, with no proof of purchase, no credit, and no recording of the conversation I had when I purchased my ticket. And I was doing this right on the tail of their own computer crash as they were re-appropriating other passengers. Talk about horrible timing.

Before calling, I looked at options and realized we still could get Chris a flight, but it would use up almost all our saved points. Or we could shell out $1,1oo. Definitely not optimal.

Generally when I call Delta, I use their regular customer service #. In the best of times, I get put on hold for a minute then request a call-back, and they contact me 30-90 minutes later. I braced for a longer wait time based on circumstances and tried to do some yoga breathing to calm my racing heart. Then I saw a spot on their website that had a number to call if you had a skymiles # (which I did). I called and got help in less than 30 seconds! I explained the situation, and it was no problem at all. They apologized for any confusion and booked Chris on the same flights as me, and even used the rest of my voucher for it! I’m still a bit blown away by that.

So my panic turned to praise. And the entire ordeal took two hrs. (Over 90 minutes of that was my own panicking and hunting for proof of what had happened.)

Once again I am reminded of why Delta is my favorite airline, and I look forward to getting on my flight today. Especially since I get to see our kiddos on the other end 🙂

Where Have I Been? See if You Can Tell

It’s a game for you to play if you want.

** Edited to add that Hudi is definitely the winner in the family category, and Tina is the non-family winner. Great job! You all guessed a lot of these! Answers are now in the captions. **

“Never apologize for not posting in a while. It just calls attention to it.” That’s advice I often give bloggers. And I believe it, but I also relate to the guilt they feel as they put up a post after a long absence. And confession is always a good thing after an action that instills guilt. I get it.

For me, this time, I felt overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to post about.  So many experiences and life events I wanted to share. I got some out there, but ran out of time for the rest. So I’m going to do it all in one shot now. Get the images up and move on, feeling caught up.

So I’m going to make it a game. 

According to Google, I have been on 43 trips so far this year. See if you can:

  • Tell where I was
  • For bonus points – name the event 🙂
  • And for SUPER bonus points – feel free to add a story or anecdote from the occasion 😀

Please describe which image you are referring to when you post your answers. 

To make things a bit easier, I only did occasions from mid-April through October.

Ready? Steady? GO!!!!

I will post the answers in captions next week — or as the answers are given if I have time.

From 29 to 82

IMG_20160329_06221930129. That’s what the temperature gauge on my car read at 2:30 Tuesday morning as Chris and I began our trek to the Buffalo airport to catch an early morning flight to Fort Lauderdale where our friends would meet us and bring us to their house on Marco Island. It was a nice journey to the city. With our unseasonably warm winter, it was a relief to not have to worry about lake effect snow on the way and we marveled how nice it was to not have to pack coats. That ease-of-travel continued the rest of the day.

We had to scramble to get our backpacks out of the back of the car because the airport shuttle bus saw us and was sitting there waiting for us to load. We breezed through security in spite of the fact that out tickets did NOT have have the TSA-pre-check option printed on them (my second trip in a row where they “randomly” selected for me to not have that option. Arg.) Then we headed to the Delta gate where we discovered they were passing out granola bars and cookies to passengers. In case we didn’t have time to grab breakfast. How sweet is that? And pretty much unheard of in this day and age of airline cutbacks.

The dream trip continued as we sat on the east side of the plane and got to watch the sun rise. Magnificent. Yay, God! You did it again! Thanks for that eye-treat! Being a person who can sleep anywhere, I napped for the rest of that trip, waking up only to have some peanuts and tomato juice and a bit of a yak with the nice man beside me. In Atlanta we only had to transfer one terminal and easily got to our next plane about five minutes before loading. Got another nice nap on that flight, too. Along with another pack of peanuts and some orange juice.

We landed in Fort Lauderdale (where the temp was in the 80s) and decided to go find our friends from Alaska who were landing in the terminal next to ours. Chris and I momentarily forgot that I tend to be directionally impaired on a regular basis, and we let me lead. It was a bit toasty out there, and after a five-minute walk we realized we should have gone right instead of left when we left the terminal. Oops. The good news is that it ended out being somewhat of a sauna experience along with our exercise. Quite the spa.

After a bit of doing, we met up with Jen and Mike then texted MaryBeth and David who were picking us up. As Jen commented, they could find us easily since we all were the once obviously overdressed. I thought I was off with jeans, t-shirt and sweatshirt wrapped around my waist, but Jen had me beat in her turtle neck and wool socks.

Next we went off to lunch. I’ll stop here ‘cuz this is getting a it long.

 

 

From Meeting to Marco – My Writing Group

IMG_20160330_174106181_HDROnce upon a time, about 13 years ago, I was an aspiring children’s book writer. On my journey through the world of writing and publishing, I discovered some of the best friends a person could have. It all began on a forum.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: SCBWI forum to be exact.

In the huge, international world of writers, by some random quirk of fate, six of us found each other, and we’ve been close friends and critique partners ever since. Linda Stanek lives in Ohio, Jen Funk Weber lives in Alaska, Linda Covella (we call her Elsie to differentiate her from the other Linda) lives in California, Dale Ibitz lives in Connecticut, Mary Beth Schewitz jumps between Chicago and Florida, and I jump between northern and western NY.

A group does make one stronger. In writing and real life. This week, I have a really special treat. Three of the six of us were able to wend our ways down to Mary Beth’s house on Marco Island in Florida, along with our spouses. We got here the day before yesterday, and I’m blown away by the beauty of this place. There are times when we are out and about, but we women always feel the call of the keyboard and find ourselves sneaking off for a bit of writing.

I hope you don’t mind humoring me by not getting upset by my impending influx of posts this week 🙂 There are a lot of thoughts I want to get out, and lots of sights I want to share with my loved ones.

This is post is part of my leisurely week of writing while on vacation.