Friday, July 13, 2012

How I spent my summer vacation (brought back to life)


I traveled when I was younger, but for the past 15 years or so, the only vacation trips I made were driving (or occasionally taking the train) to Colorado to visit Mom. Since I haven’t that annual trip on my calendar anymore, I decided to save my money so that I could visit my nearest and dearest all around the country. 

My friend, Connie, asked, “Rose, is this going to be your farewell tour?” And, yes, I guess so…sort of like Cher’s; I hope I can keep doing it for the next 10 or 15 years!

The first trip was this summer. My niece, April Rose, is my only blood relative who has stayed in touch with me over the years. I hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving, 1994. Last month I flew to Florida for a brief visit, but I was apprehensive. When we were last together, she was a young woman and I was a middle-aged one. Now, she would be middle-aged and I an old lady.

Me and April
It didn’t matter. She is funnier now, or maybe just more wry; gorgeous as always; smart, smart, smart and totally unique. Me? Older, smaller, pretty much a hick these days. But we were still aunt and niece: family -- I felt a deep sense of connection that both surprised and touched me deeply....

Coming from Arizona, now in year 14 or 15 of a 20-year (possibly, never-ending) drought, Florida was lush and green to me, but it, too, was in the midst of a drought. But from the night of my arrival on, it rained every day I was there. I loved it. I soaked it up like a dried sponge. And we played anyway: beach, bookstores, bird watching, a visit to the fish market. We laughed and talked and ate. We saw Marigold Hotel. I stayed in a charmingly quaint hotel in downtown St. Petersburg (April’s jewel box of a house much too small to accommodate more than her and Charlotte, a feline companion) and spent early mornings walking and exploring that elegantly fading city. I had a grand time. 

Iconic pic of St. Pete from the pier


On my flight back to Arizona my seat mate was a seasoned traveler, a woman who said she and her husband logged 3 or 4 international trips a year and almost weekly domestic flights for their business interests. I asked her what piece of advice she would give someone like me about traveling—the best way to get to know places. She thought about it a while and then said, “Get lost…” (She wasn’t telling me to go away; this was her advice.) “When you have to find your way back, you meet people and see things you wouldn’t otherwise have done. You get a real glimpse of places that way.” 

I dunno.Having someone who knows and loves a place and shares that special knowledge with you is a delight. Then again, I can still remember an incident in rural Yugoslavia 50 years ago when my friend Jamie and I got lost in the dark on some earthquake-ravaged back roads. We finally stopped in what we thought might be a sheltered place and I threw my sleeping bag on the ground next to the Volkswagen and conked out. Early the next morning I was wakened by the snuffling and grunting of gigantic hogs rooting around my head. After much screeching and cries of help, a bemused old farmer scattered the pigs, picked us a hat full of figs, pointed us in the right direction and, beaming, (probably silently laughing his head off) sent us on our way.


"Adventure is just bad planning."     -- Roald Amundsen, explorer (1872-1928)

Health update: The results of my first official mammogram since my diagnosis in the fall of 2010: I am cancer free. I am taking no medications, I do not have to endure another blood draw for 9 months, nor undergo another mammogram for two years. Life is good.

Thanks, Sherry, for saving my blog by sending me the original post from your email! Saved me lots of tears and time.

Rose

P.S. For more pix of my trip, see my previous post (older post link below)

 





1 comment:

  1. Glad you revived this one. It is one of your better blogs. I enjoyed reading it for the second time.

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