Today's thoughts

Category: TRAVEL (Page 2 of 40)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Points Well Taken #2218

The luggage situation was complicated with the overnight stay in Seattle between Alaska Airlines  flights. I ended up short-checking my bag rather than have it sent ahead to our morning flight. All of my toiletries and running gear will be needed, while my wife packed a carry-on. Unfortunately, she had some expensive Angel body cream in the bag, so she ended up going back through security to short-check it, as well. Our first minor hassle of the trip.

While we’re traveling, we’re at least avoiding all the paving in our neighborhood. Our cars are safely in the garage and won’t be subject to tracking tar all over the driveway. Tally is at Schnauzerville with her dog family, avoiding any disturbance from the paving and dump trucks. We are all fortunate to be away during the disruption. We evacuated well during the hurricane and now missing out on this other mess.

The rest of my wife’s family will join us once we get settled in Lihue. We have a 3-bedroom, ocean-view condo so all six of us will have plenty of paradise privacy. My son dropped us off at the airport where we learned that there will be no internet on the flight. I probably won’t find out the I.U. vs. North Carolina score until after we land. I was looking forward to maybe watching the game on the long, 6-plus-hour flight. Instead, I’ll be stuck reading and napping while fussing about the outcome. It’s a second minor hassle!

My wife and I both got aisle seats with no one in either middle spot. Plenty of space, although I’m missing the First-Class luxury on our last long flights. She wisely stopped for bagel sandwiches after dealing with the re-check hassles of her luggage. They are all securely on-board thanks to our tracking device reports. We’ll now have to pick-up two bags at the Sea-Tac Airport before we head to the Aloft Hotel, our first time to stay at this Marriott property. More points well taken!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Off We Go, Again #2217

I doubt that there will be time for a post tomorrow with the overnight in Seattle and early morning flight to Kauai. I’ll also have to cut back to the minimum on my run. I almost reached my monthly goal of 90 miles at 86.7, an improvement over the past few months with all the travel and GPS restrictions. It’s more in line with where I was this past summer with much cooler conditions. I will miss the annual Tomahawk 5k at the Braves Spring Training facility but will have a beautiful golf course route on the island. 

I was counting on free shipping of wine to our resort destination, but Alaska Airlines only does this from their West Coast airport locations, not from Florida. We’ve also apparently lost our MVP status that allowed for extra luggage. I was spoiled with the hub located in Portland, but now have to choose other options at our nearby airports. With the Alaska merger with American Airlines, we’ll have to start rebuilding frequent flyer points. As a result, we’re in need of a Costco for wine and other essentials once we arrive. 

Our Marriott Vacation Club resort is very near the Lihue Airport, so we’ll pick up a rental car for the days when we’re traveling to the other side of the island. Otherwise, we’re pretty isolated from restaurants and hot spots. We’ll make use of our kitchen facilities on several nights or walk the mile to the other Marriott property that has more amenities. We brought some games and I’ll try to keep up with all the sports during the early hours of the day. The USA has just advanced in the World Cup, various conference football championships will be decided, the College Cup soccer features Indiana, both men’s and women’s college basketball is also looking favorable for the Hoosier teams, and the NFL is in the last month of the season. I have a lot to keep up on, while Off We Go, Again!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Blur #2216

I was looking ahead to our travel schedules over the next year, thinking that I really just want to stay home. I’m not looking forward to the flight tomorrow that takes us to Seattle for a quick overnight and then on to Kauai. I’ll be exhausted when I get there, dreading a similar flight home. My wife, however, will be thrilled visiting with her two daughters on this trip that has been delayed multiple times. I also started looking into flights to Vegas, back to Indianapolis and Portland for weddings, our Egyptian River Cruise, and a long drive to Maine. I’m worn out just thinking about it. Travel does not seem to hold the same appeal that it did during the working days, when a break was always welcome. Now, it seems like we overdo it. 

We also have several guests lined up for visits to the house. A daughter here in January, multiple friends coming in February, and others yet to commit. We also have obligations to get together with my sister and hometown friends that will arrive in Florida after the first of the year. I’m then meeting a group of former work constituents for golf in early February, a game that I hate. It makes my head spin to think about all these get-togethers, but I always enjoy seeing old friends.

Today is my last day of withdrawal for awhile, as I do laundry, watch TV, and pack for Kauai. My wife has a number of errands to run. I wish I had her energy. My son will pick us up tomorrow afternoon and drive us to the airport. Then, the next few weeks will be nothing but a blur.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Normalcy #2215

After the Alaska/Hawaii adventure, we’ve finally gotten back into the retirement routine, just in time to leave again. We had dinner guests last night and afterwards watched another episode of Yellowstone. I was monitoring the I.U. soccer revenge match against Marshall, the team that stole their NCAA Championship away last year. We already have achieved eight titles, but that is never enough, as the Hoosiers once again make it into the Elite Eight. They play UNC Greensboro this Saturday for a Final Four bid. It almost makes up for a miserable performance in the Old Oaken Bucket game, another loss to Purdue. The Boilers were fueled by a potential trip to the BIG Championship game in Indianapolis, as the Western Division winner, a first for the program. Their accomplishment here was partially attributed to the schedulers that left both Ohio State and Michigan off their list of opponents this year. 

Purdue had a huge weekend of success on the basketball court as well, crowned as the PK Tourney Champions out in Portland. Decisive victories over Gonzaga and Duke moved them to #5 in the polls, overshadowing a Hoosier move into the Top 10, a lofty position they haven’t held in years. It also means that the Boilers are now the BIG favorites for conference dominance. I.U. was the preseason choice, so both schools are getting plenty of attention in the press. The Hoosiers face struggling North Carolina two days from now after the Tarheels dropped dramatically from #1 to #19 with back-to-back losses. I.U. was hoping to take down another top-rated team in Bloomington, but instead they are now the betting favorite. 

With the recent Purdue success, I’m reminded of the Joe Berry Carroll teams under George King that went to the finals of the 1979 NIT and 1980 Final Four. The big guy this year is Zach Edey at a towering 7’4.” He was named the MVP at the PK Tourney and will be a force in the BIG 10. It’s great that both P.U. and I.U. are good this year and there will be no conflict until they meet head-to-head where I always pull for the Hoosiers, my alma mater. 

There was no time to write this morning after my 5k run due to a stops at Home Depot, Wawa, and the chiropractor. We were then able to officially make it “Matinee Monday” with the movie, The Fabelman’s. Our other typical weekly kickoff tradition, “Meatless Monday” was met with a ham salad sandwich violation since we had so much left over from Thanksgiving. We will not honor either of these routines over the next few weeks in Hawaii. It will also be difficult to keep up with writing this daily blog and getting in my daily run, with all the time changes, island family activities, and overnight stopovers in Seattle. By the time we get back to Florida, we’ll once again be fighting jet lag and the challenge of getting back to what we see as retirement “normalcy.” 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Staycation #2209

I was feeling excessive stiffness and soreness on this morning’s run despite my visit to the chiropractor earlier this week. This challenge never gets easier, particularly after 5,078 consecutive days and a recent 71st birthday. I did get out the morning of Hurricane Nicole for a rainy mile or so, but fortunately we were in Alaska when damaging Ian arrived. There are no excuses, including recent eye lid surgery, in order to keep “The Streak” alive. I’m still somewhere in the low 200s on the USRSA active list, far behind those that continue their incredible routines after more than fifty-years. 

We did see the movie, The Menu, on Monday and picked up our Honey Baked Ham for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal. We’re now expecting seven, including my son’s estranged wife and their three kids. The grandkids were also treated to pizza last night. I was glad to hear that my son got some initial compensation for his Ian damage from his employer and insurance company. It will help him fix some roof damage that we were able to fortunately avoid. Additional checks should be forthcoming, along with an appeal decision from FEMA. I’m sure the whole family was also disappointed when I announced that our trip to Spring Training in Phoenix has been cancelled. They were hoping to visit the Grand Canyon and Albuquerque on the drive there. 

I’ll, of course, try to make it up to them, as we decided to meet our Arizona friends in Las Vegas instead. Originally, I had secured a three-bedroom condo in Phoenix for a week, preceded by a side trip to Mexico, and followed by some time at their home in Marana. All of those plans were derailed, so we settled for three-days together in Vegas. I reserved a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at the Marriott Vacation Club, a property that we toured on our last visit a few years ago. Sorry, kids, but you got left out this time. 

My son likes to take his kids to a Cubs game in a new stadium every year. Last year, it was PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where we joined them all. Spring Training in Arizona was his goal this year, but it seemed silly to go cross-country for the Arizona Cactus League when the Florida Grapefruit version is just a mile away in our neighborhood. It’s just that the Cubs don’t play here, but they’re expected to have another disappointing season with a bunch of players we’re not familiar with any more. No more Haywood, Schwarber, Rizzo, Bryant, Contreras, or Baez, who have all been traded. This on top of the fact that my son’s marriage is unofficially over, the kids are split between two homes depending on the week, his home needs repair, and he really can’t afford to take a vacation. His stubborn self would claim that he needs a break from all this chaos but I think his money is better spent elsewhere and the kids need to be in school. Their lives are disrupted enough, just like the Cubs! Staycation!

Retirement is not without Hassles: Countdown to Kauai #2206

Only 12 days until we land in Kauai, our next retirement adventure. It hardly seems possible that the holidays are upon us with the new year just ahead. We will get there first to set up the menu, while the other two couples arrive two days later with our rental car. It will be a fun family week of drinking, eating, sunning, playing games, hiking, running, and swimming, including lunch on an ocean  catamaran. We also hope to go to Michelle & Todd Rundgren’s island restaurant, Tiki Aniki. It will be a ten-day holiday family celebration, followed by a few extra days with just the two of us. Two nights at the  Seattle Airport Aloft will also help break-up the long flights to and from Fort Myers, Florida. 

This will be my 10th visit to Hawaii, beginning with a 25th wedding anniversary trip in 1998 with my ex-wife. I.U., where both of us attended, was the runner-up to Syracuse in the Maui Invitational. It was the first time that we met Coach Bob Knight. Five years later, I was in Honolulu with a new wife, our first of nine times together. One was for the 2008 Maui Classic with a group of Indiana friends where we shared a Thanksgiving dinner. It was the start of a miserable basketball season for the Hoosiers. Four of my travels to Hawaii were to accompany my wife for the Auto Dealers Association annual meetings. She may have gone once by herself. 

Outside of Honolulu and The Big Island our lodging was primarily at Marriott Vacation Clubs, frequently in Wailea. For fun, we tried various “Rock Star” restaurants like Gannon’s and Fleetwood’s. We’ll soon add Todd Rundgren’s place to this distinguished list of musicians. Other restaurants favorites include Longhi’s, Hali’imaile General Store, Mama’s Fish House, Monkeypod, and Lahaina Grill. It will be a whole new experience on the island of Kauai, since we were only there for one day on our recent cruise. We’ll also take turns preparing meals in the condo because there are few restaurants in our secluded area 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Captured in Paradise #2203

I secured my final reservation for the trip to Kauai this morning, after earning enough  Marriott Reward Points to cover the cost. This will be my first stay in an Aloft property located near the Seattle airport, where we make an overnight stay on our way to and from the island. It helps break up the long flight from Ft. Myers, although substantially out of the way. Getting to Hawaii was easy on the West Coast, but here in Florida much more of a challenge. We typically either fly through L.A. or Seattle to get there.

It was supposed to be my first time on the island of Kauai, but with the itinerary change on the recent Alaska cruise we ended up there for a day. We were able to check out the Marriott Vacation Club site where we’ll be staying with my wife’s two daughters and their spouses. There should be plenty of room with three bedrooms and three baths. The “kids” will be much more active and adventurous than me, but we did schedule a joint catamaran tour for all of us. It’s a very remote location, so we also needed a rental car, but the airport is nearby. My wife and I are there for two full weeks, but the girls are staying ten days. Each of us will plan a group dinner in the condo, and we’ll go out to eat on a couple of occasions. 

Kauai is known for its natural beauty, as we discovered on our boat excursion on the Kalapaki and Hule’ia Rivers during our whirlwind stay there a month ago. Many movies were filmed there, as documented in a article by Margy Parker:

“It all started in 1933, with the filming of White Heat, directed by Hollywood’s influential female director, Lois Weber. Originally titled Cane Fire, the feminist Weber worked with a diverse cast to show the angst of mixed ethnic love relationships. White Heat was released in June 1934. From there, Kauai has served over the decades as a movie location for more than sixty feature-length films shot by a host of national and international film-makers.”

Sixteen years after the release of White Heat, Olympic swimmer, Esther Williams came to Kauai to film Pagan Love Song (1950). Rita Hayworth showed up in 1954 to star in Miss Sadie Thompson. Tony Curtis followed two years later to star in Beach Head. The international hit, South Pacific, was filmed entirely on Kauai’s north shore in 1958, starring Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi. Jack Lemon and Ricky Nelson hung out on Kauai in 1960 to star in The Wackiest Ship in the Army.

The 1960 film first connecting Elvis Presley with Hawaii, Blue Hawaii, also made Kauai’s former Coco Palms Hotel famous. Presley starred in three movies filmed in Hawaii. Following Presley to Kauai in 1963 were Hollywood’s macho men, John Wayne and Charlton Heston. They starred in Donovan’s Reef and Diamond Head.”

“Frank Sinatra starred in None but the Brave, filmed on Kauai in 1965. Julie Andrews was seen on both Oahu and Kauai during the filming of James Michener’s Hawaii in 1966. Charlton Heston returned to Kauai in 1970 to star in The Hawaiians. Four years later James Garner showed up for Castaway Cowboy, the first of Disney’s five movies featuring Kauai.”

“The second production of King Kong was shot on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast in 1976 with Jessica Lange and Jeff Bridges. Two years later, George C. Scott showed up on Kauai for the film, Islands in the Stream.”

“Disney came back to Kauai in 1979 to film Last Flight of Noah’s Ark with Elliot Gould. Steven Spielberg chose Kauai as a location to film parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 starring Harrison Ford. Kathleen Turner and William Hurt turned Kauai “steamy” during that same year for the filming of Body Heat.”

“In 1987, Danny DeVito brought comedy noir to Kauai with the film Throw Mama from the Train. Nicolas Cage was spotted around Kauai’s east and north shores in 1991 during the filming of Honeymoon in Vegas. Steven Spielberg returned to Kauai in 1992 to shoot Jurassic Park starring Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. Its sequel, The Lost World, was shot on Kauai four years later. Castle Rock Pictures brought Bruce Willis to Kauai to film North in 1993, directed by Rob Reiner.”

“The filming of Outbreak followed in 1994 starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman. Disney showed up on Kauai three times over the next five years to film George of the Jungle (1996), Dinosaurs (1997), and Lilo and Stitch (2001).”

“In 1997, Harrison Ford came back to Kauai bringing his co-star, Anne Heche for the filming of Six Days Seven Nights. Four years later Kevin Costner was seen on Kauai locations to star in the movie, Dragonfly.”

“Kauai was featured as a film location for two action movies released in 2006 and 2007. The first, Tears of the Sun, starred Bruce Willis. The second, Tropic Thunder, included the masculine trio, Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr.”

“From 2008 through mid-2010, four more movies were filmed on Kauai; The Descendants, staring George Clooney, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. These three will be released in 2011. The fourth, Soul Surfer, with Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt is the story of Kauai’s, Bethany Hamilton, made famous by her comeback from a shark attack. This movie was released in 2009.”

“Undoubtedly, more movies, TV series and commercials will be filmed on Kauai in the years to come taking advantage of its extraordinary scenery, rural charm, and outstanding climate.”

Although this article was at least ten years old, we’ll be making our own memorable film in a few weeks and sharing some more movies captured in Paradise. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: No Place Like Home #2192

I got up this morning from my own bed and ran a full 5k, lumbering along like Frankenstein. The stitches come out on Tuesday, but the bruising is frightening. Oddly, there is very little pain but still some vision blurring and sensitivity to light. I continue to wear the Cheap Sunglasses to protect my eyes and hide the swelling. My wife is expecting her company today and will pick them up at the Sarasota airport. I’ll meet her other friend here at the house where we’ll all have dinner before I vacate the premises. While I’m at my son’s house for the next few days, it will give them time for bonding, shopping, drinking, swimming, and dining out. In other words, I’ve been booted!

Life also got a little less complicated after a call  from my Portland friend this morning. We had tentative plans to get together with him and his fiancée in Mexico this March. It was an opportunity for my wife to meet his new wife to be before their wedding next July. However, it was getting complicated trying to coordinate with my son in Phoenix, Spring Training, our friends in Tucson, and ultimately get to Mexico. They have decided to consolidate their living arrangements with her moving to Portland to be with him. This is great news for them, and will give us a chance to get together somewhere on the West Coast, rather than deal with the hassles of Mexico. After all, in these Covid times, I’ve already recently  had trouble with Canadian border officials. 

With me off the hook for a car rental in Kauai and taking a simpler path to Phoenix, I can feel the relief of being my own travel agent. We also got all our excursions arranged and paid for our river cruise to Egypt in May. I’m still a bit travel weary after the Alaska cruise, so I’m in no hurry to hit the road again. For now, even though I’ve been kicked out for a few days, there’s no place like home. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Cruisin’ & Boozin’ #2176

The much anticipated poem to summarize our recent lengthy excursion to Alaska and Hawaii:

Cruisin’ & Boozin’

First Class to Portland,
Are we set to sail the seas?
Already second thoughts,
Do we really want to freeze?

Time with Family,
Falco and Ham.
Lunch with buddies,
Suitcases to cram.

Nike campus tour,
Former haunts to rove.
Mitch has in-law-itis,
Megan with no stove.

Vancouver Sheraton,
For a pre-cruise rest.
But Wanted in Canada,
For evading a Covid test.

First stop for Totem poles,
Mendenhall Glacial ice.
Berg bits float by,
Scenery meant to entice.

Outdoor kitchen taking shape,
But mighty Ian on the way.
Helpful neighbors chipping in,
While out cruisin’ Glacier Bay.

Suddenly no power,
As hurricane winds blow.
But we’re got full stomachs,
At another onboard Show.

Taking in Munch Moments,
Seeing a Brown Bear live.
Sea Lions and otters,
As flooding rains arrive.

More Manfredi’s pasta,
Or a Chef’s Table treat.
When we get home,
There’s nothing to eat.

We still have a pool cage,
As we tour Valdez.
Another glass of wine?
Just find Tally please!

Cooking classes,
Champs at Bridge..
But spoiling food,
In our bad fridge.

Alaska is so beautiful,
From our comfy deck.
But our resort community.
Is an awful wreck.

Russian churches,
Grey Whale bones.
Mountain views,
No web or phones.

Puffins and eagles,
So much beauty to see.
Even some blue skies.
Where’s your ID?

The whales are jumping,
The ship badly rocking.
Hold on tight,
Seven days without docking.

Once we left Alaska,
The wildlife took passes.
The only Big Fish spied,
Were thru 3-D glasses.

Fake ABBA and Beatles,
Films on the BIG screen.
Surrounded by water,
Nothing green.

Land ahoy,
Kauai catamaran.
Surfing Dog,
Still fading tan.

Vacation Club scout,
Movie scenes.
Frig out at home,
Shorts not jeans.

Fleetwood memories.
Tender to Oahu,
Calm seas, Palm trees.

Last Stop,
Aloha Clock.
Red Eye home,
Jet Lag Shock.

But with our credits,
We Booked another.
Using Father Viking,
And Marriott Mother.

Copyright 2022

Retirement is not without Hassles: Heroes #2173

We’re safely back home and watching live sports once again, although I’m not happy with what I’m seeing. I.U. football blew their opportunity for a win, Alabama was upset, and the Braves have been eliminated from the playoffs, while the Bad News Bears have the day off after losing by inches on Thursday night. I was much better off without TV. 

My internal time clock is still on Hawaiian time and my legs have yet to adjust to solid ground. I did get a full 3.1 mile run in this morning, the first of that distance in 27-days without the balance challenges of an on-board treadmill or unsteady ship’s deck. It’s been tough to get back into the routine after just three nights back. Memories of Alaska and Hawaii have been replaced with damage concerns for our home and neighborhood. 

We’re hearing some of the horror stories about Hurricane Ian and seeing the damage that surrounds us. Neighbors had to literally nail their front doors shut with the massive winds that tore apart pool cages, damaged siding, and stripped trees. I just had an inspector check our roof and attic and got a report of minimal damage. We were lucky, as I look across the street at a pile of twisted metal to be discarded. Broken roof tiles, strips of sheet metal, rubbage, and tree limbs are scattered everywhere, not to mention the uprooted palms that line our streets. Lanai screens at both our neighbor’s homes are ripped and left  flapping in the breeze. How we escaped damage I’ll never know, but there will certainly be an HOA assessment charged to every resident, so financial loss is inevitable. 

On top of fees for the inspector, gift cards for neighbors who helped ready our home while we were absent, food loss, service costs to repair an inoperative refrigerator, pool chemicals, and landscaping replacements, we’ll all be paying for this storm damage for some time to come. I’m just glad we weren’t around to experience the terror that many endured with window and door damages, leaks, flooding streets, and no power. The only turbulence we felt was the bobbing and weaving of the ship as we tried to fill our plates. There’s a definite sense of guilt in missing this neighborhood bonding experience that will be talked about for years. We have our share of heroes to thank in minimizing our losses while we were thousands of miles away. 

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