My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 6 – Greenock & Stirling Castle–Unicorns Everywhere!

My musings about our 12-day British Isle cruise is a joyful time. As I look back at the pictures and the journal I kept, I get to relive this wonderful trip all over again. I hope you enjoy this sixth day of our adventure!

On July 26, we slept in a little and had breakfast in Windows, one of the specialty restaurants, and had Salmon Benedict, sitting by the windows enjoying the ocean side view.

The View on Deck 12

After breakfast, we went to Deck 7 and took pictures, then up to Deck 12 and took more pictures—clouds hanging over the hills! The ship moved inward to the dock with land on both sides and a wonderful morning of picture taking. We docked at about noon.

My stomach flared up in before we left and didn’t feel good all day—I just continued!

We were welcomed by a bagpiper and this big Scottish friend. Also we laughed at the welcome sign at the terminal at the door of the terminal—what fun!

Lin Shopping to Add to His Kilt Outfit!

The terminal had great shops and we left the ship early enough to have time to shop before our excursion. Lin added to his kilt outfit: a beautiful black vest, white shirt and long white socks. I joined the shopping spree and bought a beautiful jewelry set made of heatherwood: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Lin ran our purchases back to the ship and we left.

We boarded our bus to drive to Stirling Castle, our excursion for the day. Ian, our guide, shared his Scottish knowledge for one and half hour—lots of information! We drove through Glasgow, a city’s name I knew from an Abba song, “Super Trouper!”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusivecrag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_Castle

The castle was well-worth the wait! We toured several spectacular areas inside the castle with numerous fireplaces & decorative unicorn shields and/or tapestries over the fireplaces.

We craned our necks to see amazing ceilings with wooden carvings.

We went through the Great Kitchens with life-sized figurines working at their tasks, and a beautiful green view of the surrounding area. The cloud-covered day added to the mystique.

We wandered around the walkaway at the top of the castle, seeing the cemetery near by and the grand vista of the area!

Lin and I in Queen Anne’s Garden

My favorite part was Queen Anne’s garden. We wore our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dance Association Festival t-shirts and took pictures in the garden. The array of flowers was beautiful!

We crammed as much as possible into the allotted time at the castle: Chapel Royal, the Great Kitchens and walking around a walkway around the top of the castle.

So when I got to the gift shop, it was closed. I opened the door and begged the clerk to let me in for just a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed, so I ran through the shop and ended up buying a small unicorn—in memory of all the unicorns displayed throughout the castle!

Bridge at Glasgow, Scotland

The ride home through Glasgow was delightful, and I took a great picture crossing a bridge there. When we returned to the terminal, we checked email. Once we boarded the ship, we ate dinner quickly, so we could see the musical production in the Stardust Theater, “Rockin Nights,” a lively tradition to Soul music!

We chalked up another delightful day in Scotland, wandering around a lovely castle, loving the mysterious unicorn interest at Stirling castle and admiring beautiful wooden carved ceilings!

Have you ever had a castle experience? Do you get a sense of history when you step into a castle? Then add unicorns to it! What an experience!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 5 – Kirkwall & Orkney Islands – A Serendipitous Day!

Surprised cute woman
This Serendipitous Day Surprised Me!

A DISTURBING MORNING

Day 5 turned out to be a serendipitous day, but it’s beginning was harsh! Up at 4:45 AM because of our early excursion, I had trouble sleeping. We received a text from AT&T the night before warning us of a device usage on the cruise that had already exceeded $100. The text also had a phone number to call at no charge, so I did in a panic.

I talked to Josh from AT&T, and he tried to sell us a cruise package. He assured us there would be no charge after I explained that it was a mistake. Somehow my husband, Lin’s iPad had Airplane mode turned off. Also, LIn had trouble getting on the network on the cruise ship. Apparently, he thought he was on the cruise ship network, and he was using AT&T’s data. After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure the network tech was the culprit because he took Lin’s iPad away from him and was fiddling with it trying to get it to go online. It was after that the charges started!

We’ve all heard horror stories of travelers who had gigantic phone charges. When we traveled to Ireland and England in 2017, Lin found AT&T’s International Day Pass plan, and we activated it on my phone then. It’s a great plan: $10 for a 24-hour period of unlimited calling and texting. I used it sparingly and it was great—exactly what they said.

So, for this trip, we set it up on my phone again before we left. We hadn’t used it yet on this cruise, so this whole problem with the charges seemed crazy to me. My stomach flared up in the midst of this, but I was able let it go—I didn’t want this to ruin our trip!

We got ready and took our tour stuff to breakfast, planning to leave from there, and was at the Stardust theater at 6:45 AM. The ship docked at 7:00 AM and would be leaving early in the afternoon at 1:00 PM. The Norwegian travel agent entertained us with fun-filled activities while we waited. Our cruise ship was docked away from land, so we caught the first tender available.

SOUTH ISLAND PANORAMIC EXCURSION

Cattle Graze with the Ocean in the Background
Cattle Grazed with the Ocean in the Background

Seated in the back of the bus, we traveled through checker board farm land so rich and green! As I looked at all the green pastures and abundance of water, my ranching background kicked in and I marveled at it. Our southeastern Colorado family ranch has a horrible water shortage right now with all our reservoirs empty!

Churchill Barrier

As our travels continued, we passed over the Churchill Barrier. Our guide told us that the Barrier was built because of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

“Four barriers were built during the Second World War to protect the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow, the home of the Royal Navy during the conflict, from enemy attacks. Construction of the causeways was ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 by a German U-boat.”


https://www.orkney.com/news/churchill-barriers

Water surrounded us as we traveled through this chain of islands—water, water, everywhere! Cattle and sheep fed in green fields.

Catholic Chapel on Lamb Holm Island

Our first stop on our tour was a picturesque Catholic chapel.

“The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction,”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Chapel

As always, we didn’t have enough time to linger, but the inside of this chapel took my breath away. Admiring the ingenuity of these prisoners to use what they had available, they used a Quonset hut for the building, light holders made out of corn beef tins, and the baptismal font created from the inside of a car exhaust.

From there we traveled to St. Margaret’s Hope.

St Margaret’s Hope is a town in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. It is known locally as “The Hope” or “The Hup”. With a population of about 550, it is Orkney’s third largest settlement. . .”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Margaret%27s_Hope

I had a delightful time shopping there at a Craft Workshop, buying a wool/cashmere blend yarn. I love to knit and plan on making something beautiful out of this. Lin found the local ice cream shop.

It was back to Kirkwall on the bus, and the line for the tenders to get back to our cruise ship was long, so I immediately got in line. We were leaving at 1:00 PM, and I didn’t want to be one of the casualties of not managing our time appropriately and getting left behind. Lin always pushes it to the limit, so he shopped and found a beautiful new Scottish beret. Our trip back to the cruise ship on the tender was pleasant and we were back on time!

ONBOARD THE SHIP

We ate a quick lunch and napped the afternoon away, sleeping four hours! Later, we ate dinner up on Deck 12 at Raffles because I needed a small meal–the restaurants served such big meals. Then we gambled in the casino our obligatory $20 limit, but I left the slots with $15! After that, we went to the 9:30 PM Danielle Williams show, a woman singer, and it was great.

What a delightful day we had in a remote area of Scotland where peaceful rural life was the norm. The serendipities of the day surprised me: the chapel so loved by the Italian prisoners of war and a lovely small village so welcoming and warm.

Have you ever had a serendipitous day! on a trip? What was it? I’d love to hear about your experience!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

I HAVE 199 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! Be the 200th to pre-order! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Scotland · Travel

Day 4 – Inverness, Cawdor Castle & Loch Lomond: A Day of Intrigue and Mystery

            Lin and I woke up to rain on July 24, 2019, day four on our British Isle cruise and visit to Scotland. We docked at Invergordon. Lin had created a weather spreadsheet before we left and the prediction for most of our trip was RAIN, so here we were! But after our showers and breakfast, it cleared and proved to be a beautiful, cloudy day.

Farms Along the River Ness

            We caught our tour bus and met our tour guide, John, a very knowledgeable man who shared his wisdom of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. He described Cromarty Firth, the Black Isle, as we traveled through the countryside. The patchwork green fields fascinated me with checker board farm land and beautiful rock houses, rolling hills and green for miles. Sheep grazed in the fields and there was recently mowed hay. I love the green of Scotland. We headed to our first stop, Cawdor Castle.

            Cawdor Castle is unique as a castle in Great Britain because the government doesn’t own it.

“Originally a property of the Calder family, it passed to the Campbells in the 16th century. It remains in Campbell ownership, and is now home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor. “

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawdor_Castle

John, our tour guide, called her “Angelica.” In fact, John and some people on our tour saw her. She funds Cawdor Castle herself and from revenue the castle brings in.

Famous Hawthorn Tree in the castle

            Intrigue and mystery permeated Cawdor castle with its rich story of how it was built:

The legendary tale says that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle about a mile away, decided to build a new, stronger tower. Visited by an oracle in his dream who instructed him to load a chest of gold onto the back of a donkey. The spot where the animal rested would be a safe haven to build a Castle for his family. Finally resting at the foot of a Hawthorn Tree, the Thane built his tower. The tree exists to this day, standing at the heart of Cawdor Castle.


https://www.cawdorcastle.com/welcome-to-cawdor-castle/a-living-home/

            The major claim to fame for Cawdor Castle is the reference in Shakespeare’s play, MacBeth

“The name of Cawdor still connects the castle to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. However, the story portrayed by Shakespeare takes extensive liberties with history. In the play, Shakespeare has three witches foretell that Macbeth, then Thane of Glamis, would become Thane of Cawdor and King thereafter. Duncan almost immediately makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, after which Macbeth and his Lady plot the murder of Duncan in order to fulfil the prophecy. Duncan is killed in his sleep, at Macbeth’s castle in Inverness, an act that leads to Macbeth’s ultimate downfall.
The historical King Macbeth ruled Scotland from 1040 to 1057, after his forces killed King Duncan I in battle near Elgin. Macbeth was never Thane of Cawdor, this being an invention of the 15th-century writer Hector Boece. Moreover, Cawdor Castle did not exist during the lifetimes of Macbeth or Duncan, and it is never explicitly mentioned in the play. The 5th Earl Cawdor is quoted as saying, “I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawdor_Castle#Gardens

Motto over the Entry Way

            Any time I stand outside a castle, I feel overwhelmed with the rock work, size and history of it—Cawdor castle was no exception. The motto, Be Mindful, hung over the entryway to the castle and set the tone for the place.

Living room in the castle

Because this castle is actually a home, the inside felt comfortable and lived in. Bright green and blue Highland Tartan rugs ran throughout it. Huge tapestries hung on all the walls that didn’t have paintings on them.

            Lin and I enjoyed the famous gardens at Cawdor castle but ran out of time, not getting to spend any leisure time there–one of the downfalls of being on a tour.

            In our drive to Loc Lomond, we drove by the battleground of the Battle of Culloden where red and blue flags still wave to identify the two forces that met that day. John gave us a rousing description of this famous battle.

The Battle of Culloden (/kəˈlɒdən/;[3] Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden

            I had been looking forward to seeing Loch Lomond all day–of course to the Loch Ness monster! The weather held out with beautiful sunshine overhead and rain clouds hovering at the far end of the lake. It’s a big lake! Of course, I strained my eyes for any trace of Nessie—I was sure I saw her or at least a part of her!

            Back on the bus, we traveled through the city of Inverness at the end of our tour and went by the Tomnahurich Cemetery. Inverness means “Mouth of the River Ness.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverness

Scottish Highland Bull

As the daughter of a Hereford cattle rancher, all day I had been looking for the shaggy red-haired Scottish Highland cattle in the fields, and as our day neared the end, we saw a bull in a pasture—not up close and personal, but I did get to see one!

From there we returned to Invergordon, and I loved John’s parting words to us, “Hasty back!” Lin and I shopped around town. We found an ice cream shop with free Wifi, so we checked our email and had ice cream. It was fascinating to watch the locals gather in this little shop and listen to them share their news–a true neighborhood gathering spot! We bought souvenirs and returned to the ship.

Bagpipes and Drums Sent Us Off

A bagpipe and drum group sent us off! What a great day we had in Scotland!

When we got onboard, we decided to go directly to the Garden Room for dinner, not thinking about the baseball cap I was wearing. This is one of the nicer complimentary restaurants onboard, so they forced me to remove my hat. It certainly was a bad hair day after wearing a hat all day, but I decided it didn’t matter.  I patted down my hair and was seated. After dinner, we saw the “World Beat” show in the Stardust theater with lots of singing and dancing. It was an exceptional show.

We showered and got to bed early because we had an early departure the next day for our excursion to Kirkwall.

Have you ever visited a castle? Strained to see the Loc Ness monster? Traveled to Scotland? Share your comments with me. I’d love to hear about your trip!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 3 – On Our Own in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle front
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh was our first stop in Scotland! When we were making our excursion plans at home, Lin and I decided to do Edinburgh on our own. We mainly wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. He found some information that said they sold limited amounts of tickets each day, so that was our focus—also the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.[1]

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Mile

When I woke up the third day of our cruise, I was so excited–my first time to Scotland. The ship anchored away from the shore, so, we had to ride a tender to get to Newhaven to catch a bus to Edinburgh. Our tender was scheduled to leave at 11:15 am, but we were lucky and left earlier. On the tender, we enjoyed a friendly exchange with a couple from San Diego who were adventuresome, too and doing the city on their own. We rode bus #15 to go into Edinburgh and had a delightful tour guide, Barbara, but she wasn’t much help until we asked for it. She warned us that we needed to be back to the bus by 6:15 pm because the ship was leaving at 6:30 pm.

We had some concerns because on ship we were told the last tender would leave Newhaven at 6:30 pm. Because of our late departure from Southampton, the first couple day’s itinerary had been adjusted, but apparently our tour guide didn’t get the news. Everyone on the bus seemed worried.

Barbara did hand out maps, so away we walked searching for the Royal Mile and the castle.

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile!

The Royal Mile is quite distinctive with quaint shops selling kilts, tartans and souvenirs. Bagpipers dressed in bright tartans played and entertained us!

I needed a restroom, so we stopped at one place that was like a chamber of commerce. They steered us up to the castle where I found one downstairs in a café. Waiting in line was hot, and I felt faint, so we took a break and had water. Lin had a sweet treat, and I had a banana. That helped.

St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle
St. Margarets Chapel

We toured the castle—a massive structure on the hill with St. Margaret’s Chapel dating back to 1130 being one of the sights we visited. Down in the bowels of the castle, we saw the prison where prisoners slept on hammocks. We went through the Royal Scots Dragoon Museum.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is a regimental museum displaying the collections of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and its predecessor regiments. It is based in the New Barracks (built between 1796 and 1799) at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Scots_Dragoon_Guards_Museum

View of our ship from Edinburgh Castle

There was absolutely too much to see in a day, but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the castle. One attraction I hated missing was the Royal Jewels, but the line was way too long to wait with our limited time.

From there we wandering down the Royal Mile, stopping at several shops to buy souvenirs. I spied a Starbucks, so we took another break and had a Latte and Frappuccino and enjoyed a high-speed Internet connection. I bought one of my favorite souvenirs there—a coffee travel mug with the Edinburgh castle on it.

From there we continued shopping, and I found a store that sold a variety of handbags in a wide range of Scottish tartan colors—reds, blues, and purples! A young Scottish man, Liam, adopted us and told us that the red tartan I like was the Lowland tartan. 

While I bought my bag, Lin took Liam next door to shop for a kilt! Lin liked the navy blue and green tartan which is the Highland tartan, so Lin ended up buying a kilt and sporran.

A sporran which is Gaelic for purse, is a pouch worn with the male traditional Highland dress. The kilt has no pockets and so the sporran was designed for that function.

http://gaukartifact.com/2013/03/19/what-is-a-sporran/

Lin and Liam, our host in Edinburgh!

Lin and I so enjoyed Liam and his hospitality—a true ambassador for Scotland. We exchanged our Facebook information and are now friends. Any time I think of our Edinburgh experience, I think of Liam and his smile!

Lin proudly wore his kilt the rest of the afternoon, enjoying comments made by passersby. We laughed about what Liam and the sales’ clerk told him about what’s traditionally worn under a kilt–NOTHING!

Lin and I walked back to the bus early which my idea. Lin always has to be right down to the wire, but I like to be back early. I was also still wondering if our tour guide had given us the correct time to return. He couldn’t stand being early, so we took off up the hill, enjoying the walk and the scenery. I turned around before Lin did and went back to the bus and visited with Barbara, our tour guide. Lin made it back at 6:10—I was already on the bus and nervous!

When we left the bus and started down the walk towards the tenders, Lin walked in front of me, and one of the workers at gate grabbed me and whispered in my ear, “Tell him to go traditionally when he wears a kilt!” I laughed and shared this bit of advice with Lin.

On our tender ride back to the ship, we saw a seal on a buoy! I so enjoy the ocean and its serendipities! We made it back in time. Exhausted, we ate up on Deck 12 at Raffles, the buffet. We saw the evening entertainment at the Star Dust and headed straight to bed. What a day we had in Edinburgh and Lin had a kilt!

This cruise differed so much from previous ones. Usually we have sea days in-between ports, but on this cruise, we had one sea day, and then it was port-after-port-after-port which for Lin and I was either an excursion or outing each day! Whew!!

Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your experience? Do you own a kilt?

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS END AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Dancing · family · Hospice · Marshall Flippo · Mom · My Thoughts · Ranching · Retirement · Travel

What Does My Retirement Look Like?

Here’s the stereotype of what retirement looks like for many: an aged couple rocking chairs on the porch, relaxed, watching the world go by–no hustle, no bustle! Lots of people are retired and retiring, thanks to the Baby Boomers.

About 61 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in five people in the United States.

https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/who-gets

I’m 65 years old, retired and busier than ever, and I don’t fit that stereotype and many of you don’t either! I retired in 2013, so this is my sixth year of doing exactly what I want to when I want—that’s the luxury of retirement. I’ve always been a busy person and feared that I was a workaholic! I have to be busy. This goes back to my childhood. I started knitting when I was 10 years old and started the habit of knitting and watching TV. To this day, I have a hard time just sitting and watching TV—my hands have to be doing something.

Today my life is full and rich! My husband and my normal weekly dance schedule looks like this:

  • Wednesday – Round Dancing & Plus Dancing
  • Thursday – Advanced Dancing
  • Friday – Mainstream & Plus

Then, we usually attend an out-of-town square and round dance festival once a month that begins Friday night and ends Sunday at noon—lots of dancing! The dancing and friendships across the country feeds my soul!

When I’m home, I do Zumba two mornings a week. I love the movement to high energy Latin music–it feels like dancing to me!

I also am chairperson for two square and round dance festivals in Albuquerque:

  • Duke City Singles & Doubles Spring Fling in May
  • Hot August Nights in August

These festivals keep me busy hiring new callers and cuers for future events and planning the upcoming event. I’m so lucky to work with two great committees that make the work fun and effortless!

I attend Hope in the Desert Episcopal church and recovery meetings regularly when I’m home.

After my Mom died in 2013, my brother and I inherited our family ranch, so I visit our ranch and our small ranching community, Branson, once a month to check on things. I love staying connected to that part of my life and my dear friends there.

For the first couple years of retirement, I was busy as the Executor of Mom’s will, and probate kept me hopping.

In 2013, I volunteered to be treasurer of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles. Now that may not sound like too daunting a task for you, but I’m a “Word Person,” not a “Numbers Person.” I did it because my husband volunteered to be President and I knew his time would be dedicated to the club, so I might as well join him. The first financial statement took me eight hours to resolve, but the last one was about an hour, so I grew as a “Numbers Person.” I did that for four years and helped revived the club and grow it.

Since 2014, I’ve self-published four books and three cookbooks:

  • 2014 – This Tumbleweed Landed
  • 2015 – When Will Papa Get Home?
  • 2016 – Let Me Tell You a Story
  • 2017 – A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir
  • 2014- 2016 – From Grannie’s Kitchen: Volume 1, 2, & 3

I had two really positive experiences with hospice: when my best friend, Kathi Raver died in 2009, and when my Mom died. I knew that I would become a hospice volunteer, but I had to get some time and space from Mom’s death before I could handle it.

Last year, I started volunteering for Presbyterian Hospice, so I see a client once a week and have learned so much about the mission and importance of Hospice. My client is suffering from Alzheimer’s so it’s a roller-coaster ride of mood swings and communication issues, but what an education! My client’s daughter and husband so appreciate my time with her, and I love it. I’ve become part of their family.

I’ve also been a part of the committee that puts on the Branson-Trinchera Reunion every June in Branson. This is a celebration of the small country school I attended.

My husband and I love to travel, and we’ve done several cruises and trips in my retirement. My favorite was to England and Ireland two years ago for three weeks. What an adventure we had! (You can read about it here in my blog!) We have another cruise scheduled for this summer to the British Isle—back to England and Ireland and our first time to Scotland and Wales.

My current writing project has taken over my life! I’m writing the authorized biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo, and I’m stressing out because I want to release it in September. As a self-published author, I’ve set up a timeline of production. Now I have to focus long hours to complete the writing by the end of April, to send it to a professional editor in May, to move the edited copy to a publication software and format it in June and July (our cruise is in July) and to order copies in August ready for distribution in September—WHEW!!!!

Someone said to me a couple weeks ago, “You’re not retired—you have two jobs: your books and your ranch. So, as you can see, I’m busy; I could never spend my days in front of a TV watching mindless TV. I may be retired; I may be 65, but I have energy and enthusiasm for life.

So, you may wonder why I’ve listed all I do in my retirement. I think many people have a skewed view of retirement. Yes, we anticipate the end of the grind—the 40 hours a week demands on our life and now the panacea at the end of the rainbow. I know many do retire and choose a much less active life than I have, but I wanted you to see the possibilities in retirement. You get to choose and the choices are limitless!

Curious about my books? Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount through the end of February – A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

What Happened at Hummingbird Hoedown This Year?

This Year’s Flyer

I created a schedule for my blog posts back in late November for 2019, and this Sunday’s topic is Hummingbird Hoedown, an annual square and round dance festival in Sierra Vista, Arizona with caller, Jerry Story. We weren’t able to attend this year because of my husband, Lin’s hip problem.

For the last couple days, I have vacillated back and forth on whether to write about an event I didn’t attend. I decided I would because I know what happens there–great challenging dancing with a fun-loving committee and dancers. It’s an unusual festival that has gained momentum over the years.

Hummingbird Hoedown is a weekend festival the last weekend in January: a dance Friday night, workshop all day Saturday and a dance Saturday night–sounds like a lot of dancing to the non-dancer but this is the usual format for weekend square and round dance festival.

It began five years ago. Harue and Slappy (Bryan) Swift started it with Jerry Story with a new format in mind: round dance party for one hour before the dance and then only one round during the evening dance, mostly mainstream dancing with a two minutes, two seconds break between tips. That program translated into an aerobic evening of dancing, attracting high energy dancers.

Immediately it was a success and has continued growing with this year’s record number of seventeen squares! Lin and I attended the first three festivals but weren’t able to go last year and sorrowfully this year.

The schedule has morphed over the five years, and this year’s alternated mainstream, plus, mainstream and two rounds during the evening.

Another innovative addition started at Hummingbird Hoedown by Lisa Wahl. During the round dance workshop on Saturday afternoon, Lisa taught a rhythm not a whole dance and was able to teach more moves per rhythm that way. During the evening’s dance, Lisa cued the moves taught instead of a song and many people participated. This has continued throughout the years.

Bob and Lin Van Atta have cued the rounds for the last couple years and make the rounds enjoyable for all!

The Hummingbird Hoedown’s lively committee has fun door prizes and schedules dinner out Saturday night at one of the Mexican restaurants in Sierra Vista, providing time to sit and talk and get acquainted. I love this special time to sit with dancer friends and talk about our lives.

Jerry Story, the featured caller, puts you through the drill the whole weekend. Jerry is the master of making mainstream dancing a challenge. Then during the workshops on Saturday, he teaches the dancers all the key items to dancing that are important to him–his emphasis helps dancers improve their dancing.

The weekend is fun-filled, and the committee welcomes you with open arms. Jerry makes the squares entertaining and challenging. After a tip at this dance, you run to the bathroom or grab a drink– you can’t do both, and you rush back on the floor for another tip full of great choreography and singing. It doesn’t get better than this!

Lin and I WILL be there next year ready to dance the weekend away with good friends, a great caller and lots of dancing!

Want to see what happened at Hummingbird Hoedown this year? Go to the Thunder Mountain Twirlers Facebook page for pictures: 5th Annual Hummingbird Hoedown

Have you ever attended Hummingbird Hoedown? What was your opinion of it? Share it here.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book version–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want: https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Christmas · family · Gratitude · Memoirs · My Thoughts · Travel

A Christmas Memory–Sad & Precious!

My sick brother cut wood to sell!

It was in the late 1960’s. My Mom, Dad, teenage brother and I arrived in Poway, California for a special Christmas celebration. My brother-in-law had recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and the future was bleak. This was only the second time we’d traversed to California for Christmas, and this trip had such a mixture of emotion.

As newlyweds, my sister and her new husband and two stepchildren came to Colorado a couple years before and we had a enjoyable time getting acquainted with my sister’s new family. Being from the city, the children delighted in a trip to our ranch to cut down our Christmas tree, and they enjoyed a truly country Christmas with snow.

My new brother-in-law immediately started picking on me, and we bonded deeply even though he forced me to try cranberries–I had never tried this dish before. With his humor and persistent influence, I grew to love cranberries!

My sister knitted beautiful Christmas presents!

Sunny California appeared gloomy and heavy. The festive atmosphere of Christmas felt tinged with a deep sadness and fear. My sister greeted us warmly, knitting like a crazy woman–she shared with me that all of their gifts this year were knitted.

The man we saw on arrival was a shadow of the man we met a few short years ago. The disease had ravaged his body, and he had lost so much weight, his clothes hung loose and limp on his frame.

But his spirit of love and laughter prevailed. Mom tried her hand at making homemade pie crusts, forgetting the affect of being at sea level on a recipe usually done at 6100 feet above sea level. She clamored about the gooey mess she kept trying to roll out, and my brother-in-law teased unmercifully. As he ducked out of the kitchen with his latest quip, she slung the ball of dough at him, hitting him in the eye–a magnificent bull’s eye. Our laughter filled the kitchen with joy in the ridiculous.

Christmas Eve morning came, and my brother-in-law slipped into our bedroom and whispered his plan for the day to Mom and me, “I’m going to go sell some wood so I can buy my loving wife some Christmas presents. Don’t let her know where I’ve gone. Can you help me wrap the presents when I get home?”

Mom and I both choked back tears, nodding our heads.

The impact of my brother-in-law’s health had destroyed their finances. He hadn’t worked regularly in months; my sister had a good job, but she was so busy and overwhelmed being a caregiver, too. Living in the wooded area of Poway, he did cut wood whenever he could and sell it to make some extra money and to keep active–this was not his nature.

Christmas Eve day went by uneventful except for my sister’s repeated refrain, “Where is my husband? What is he doing?” Her distress weighed on me during the day, but I couldn’t ruin his surprise. She continued to knit on the last project she was trying to finish.

Daylight slowly faded into darkness. Mom and I exchanged worried glances all day–Dad, my sister and brother kept wondering about the where-about’s of my brother-in-law.

Mom and I went to the bedroom to talk about what we should do–it was dark. He had been gone for hours. What if something went wrong? Quietly he opened the door of our bedroom with a couple bags of gifts in hand. He looked exhausted but pleased with himself. 

We wrapped the small collection of gifts–all kitchen utensils for my sister. We placed the gifts under the tree, and my sister was contrite in her reaction to her husband’s day-long absence.

I  knew deep in my heart that this was the most precious exhibition of love and gifting I’d ever seen. His generosity and spirit graced the rest of that holiday.

Forty-some years ago, and it still bring a smile to my heart as I remember his mission of love and the true spirit of Christmas.

Have you had a Christmas like this–sweet and bittersweet at the same time? I’d love to hear your experiences!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ME TO YOU! I have posted something from my 3 books. Download a free Christmas story or poem from my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% off of two new bundles and 20% off of individual books–FREE SHIPPING! 

Blogging · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Travel

Do You Love An Adventure?

adventure asphalt california country
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love any kind of an adventure, but travel adventures and a great road trip are my specialty; however, I was a little apprehensive about this trip because I have some eye problems going on right now, and I worried about it–for weeks. As so often happens, my worries were unwarranted and I had a delightful trip.

My day started with a flight out of the Albuquerque airport at Thursday morning at 6:20 am heading to Walla Walla, Washington. Lin doesn’t like leaving as early as I do. I stepped up to my place in line at the gate just as the Southwest attendant called our group–whew!! My flight west veered off via Denver, Colorado with a short turn-around time. We arrived in Denver early so I arrived at the gate with plenty of time.

Often on flights, I have no conversation with the people near me. On this flight I worked on my Keynote presentation (Apple’s version of PowerPoint), and the woman seated at the window asked if I was a writer–she had read my presentation over my shoulder.

“Yes, I’m doing a presentation at a writer’s conference.”

“My nine year old daughter told me this week she wants to be a writer.”

I encouraged her and told her about some writing apps–a future writer. Those are the kinds of airplane conversation I enjoy.

When I arrived in Seattle, Washington, I had to jockey three bags on the shuttle to get the rental car–one of them transformed into a backpack, so that helped.

Getting the car was the easy part! These new fangled cars stumped me because I regularly drive a 2004 Saturn. To start, I couldn’t get the trunk open to put my suitcases away, but an attendant helped me with a smile. I could start it, but the GPS wouldn’t load because I was in a parking garage. I had to leave the garage and park somewhere to load the maps and away I went.

Now I had a four and one half hour drive to Walla Walla. My goal was to get out of the congestion of Seattle before I stopped. With a dry mouth and my stomach rumbling, I stopped at Snowqualmie resort area for water and a Lunchable. I sat in the parking lot of the gas station and ate, and away I went on I-90 through Snowqualmie pass. I never did figure out how to use the cruise control.

I had no idea I would be driving through the Cascade Range–pine, fir and spruce trees, standing tall and regal along the side of the road. At times, I felt I was driving through a tree tunnel.

Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief and truly enjoyed the drive through the fall colors, but it rained almost the whole way. At times, I had to slow down surrounded by trucks vooming by. I crossed the Yakima River several times and the Snake and Colombia Rivers–water everywhere it seemed to this dry land, desert dweller.

I couldn’t connect with my husband, Lin, because his phone was dead, so I felt I was on my own, but all was right. I wasn’t sure when I needed to arrive at the hotel, and the heavy rain stopped me from taking pictures of the majestic fall colors.

wrecked iphone
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

The conference last three days.

On Sunday morning I arose at 5:30 am because I had that four and one half hour drive back to Seattle and was told by the rental car clerk to arrive at the airport two and a half hours early because of the security lines. I had passed the crowd when I left the terminal for the rental car shuttle and saw the long lines, so I knew what she meant.

As I pulled out of the Marcus Whitman Hotel parking lot, I saw a gas station close, so I grabbed a coffee and another Lunchable, this time for breakfast. The dark morning made it hard to see, and I dealt with fog off and on the whole trip. I experienced a little rain but mostly fog.

I did stop to take the following pictures as I viewed a valley full of fog and a surprising rainbow.

IMG_6261
On my drive, coming down into a valley of fog & a rainblow!

IMG_9005
Valley full of fog!

I loved the fall foliage–an amplified collection of bright orange and yellow!

This leg of the trip, I phoned with Lin–to let him know I was on the road, then he texted me vital information–his football team, the Eagles were playing in London and the game started at 7:30 am, our time, so he was up and about.

The fall colors were the brightest along the river by Cle Elum, a gorgeous city by the Cle Elum river–orange and yellow leafed trees lined the river.

As I neared Seattle, I stressed over the amount of gas in the car. I bought the rental package where they would fill it up when I returned it, so my job was to bring it back as empty as possible. This new car’s gas meter chimed “Low Fuel” when it was on a quarter of a tank and I was 70 miles from Seattle–that was shocking! Then the needle moved slowly. I kept trying to figure out the cruise control and found a button that told me how many miles left to fill up, but I didn’t trust it, so I stopped and added $5 worth of gas and the gas gauge needle didn’t move at all.

black car instrument cluster panel
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

The gas gauge needle moved. I sweated out the last twenty miles to the airport because the needle hovered almost at empty, and wouldn’t you know it–a horrible car accident happened one and a half miles before the Seattle/Tacoma Airport exit. I inched my way by thinking, “I didn’t figure this possibility in. I hope I don’t run out of gas.”

When I pulled into the Dollar rental return space, I breathed finally–my mind had imagined all kinds of horror stories of running out of gas a few miles away.

Before catching the shuttle, I found the bathroom to relieve myself in preparation for the long wait in line. I caught the shuttle back to the airport, checked my bags and printed my boarding pass. I started to get in the long line to go through security and thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I was TSA Pre boarding?”

I looked my ticket over and I was! I backtracked out of the long line and went down to check in at gate 4. One passenger stood ahead of me, and I saw no bins to put my laptop, iPad and my shoes in.

“Where’s the bins?”

The TSA agent smiled and said, “No need. Keep your shoes on and you don’t have to unpack your backpack.”

So what I feared all day–a two and one half hours wait in the line only took five minutes. That freed me to buy a Starbucks, call my husband and relax. I grabbed a quick lunch and had a enjoyable visit with an airport worker from North Africa. I was listening to the Bronco game on my iPad with my AirPods, and he thoroughly enjoyed my enthusiasm.

I slept on the first leg of my return trip home. I sat in the Oakland airport writing the first draft of this blog. When I finished, I had tomato basil soup for dinner and then on to Albuquerque. I read and played games on my iPad on the Albuquerque leg. My husband picked me up at the airport, and the long travel day was done.

I have traveled a lot in my life–I flew all over the USA to meet my ex-husband for dancing. I taught for Lesley College and flew by myself for two years. Lin and I have traveled a lot too. Every trip has its memories. This one makes me chuckle when I think about all the worrying I did. Would I have trouble seeing and driving? Would I get to the Seattle airport early enough?

Once again, I did fine and enjoyed the serendipities of a trip!



Do you like to travel? Have you had an adventure flying? driving? Share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.


The holidays are coming!

Visit my website:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Discounts galore starting now at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft