COMING HOME: A SNARKY TRAVELOGUE

In summary, traveling to Arizona on JetBlue was like travelling first class, almost. Coming home via American Airlines was like being luggage. But less comfortable.

72-JetBlue-Logan-01042016_11

It was a very long ride home, though shorter than flying westward. Eastbound, we had a tail wind that got us to Logan an hour early.

It seemed much longer. Not only were we starved — which I expected and for which I was prepared having brought a variety of semi-nutritious snack food (do salted peanuts and Fig Newtons count as nutritious?) and a large bottle of water. Bought at the airport because food for which you pay ten times the normal price is safe, while food bought in a grocery at normal prices will explode on impact.

I think we could have been dead in our seats on our return flight on American and only other passengers would notice. The flight attendants were in the back of the plane, playing cards. Having, as far as I can tell, a fine old time.

72-Logan-01042016-newer_09

There was no entertainment. No television. The WiFi was not free. They wanted $12 (each) for 60 minutes (each) — and the Patriots-Kansas City game was on. Which was more than an hour. They had whacked us with a $25/per bag luggage fee … and wanted another $12 from each of us to use their WiFi? For an hour? It wasn’t even unlimited WiFi. You had to watch one of their programs. Mean-spirited bastards run that airline.

As I told the attendant, “Your airline sucks.” She agreed. They probably treat her like luggage too. Don’t fly American Airlines.

We managed to get the score in real time on our smart phone. It somehow connected to the WiFi despite the firewall American Airlines erected. Let’s hear it for Google. When the game ended, Garry and I had books on our Kindles, so we survived without WiFi …and those salted peanuts helped too.

When we got home, it was obvious no one had cleaned since we left. Talk about filthy. Wow. Two weeks of dog hair, sand, and odeur de canine. The Christmas tree is still up (“Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it and I’ll put the wrapping paper away, I promise”). Right. Sure. Uh huh.

I swept three times before unpacking anything and washed the floors twice this morning, but it’s going to take a lot more scrubbing before the place is habitable. I’m not a clean or neat freak, but I draw the line at genuine filth.

BW-MAR-Phoenix-Mountains-Afternoon-01062015_044

The kid’s going to be 47 in May. You’d think he’d have a grip on “clean,” wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong.

We are home. No fresh food because we used it all before leaving. Today I threw away about five pounds of leftovers that had become lethal-looking science experiments during our absence. Garry made a very short trip to the grocery store. We needed half-and-half. That’s not groceries. That’s survival.

Tomorrow we’ll deal with The Rest of the Story. Today, it’s football and not being in transit. Sorry I missed your blogs today and yesterday. I’m surprised I’m awake and almost coherent.

72-BW-Signs-Main-St-Uxbridge--120315_020

While we were away, someone won the $1.5 billion PowerBall. Even after taxes and fees, it’s still more money than I can imagine having. More money than Garry and I earned in our entire lives. Combined. Before taxes. More money than us and all our friends had or ever hope to have.

Someone won it. On a $1 lottery pick. Go figure.

NOTE: We have concluded that there is a secret interaction between hair gel and PowerZero so dangerous and explosive, it is banned from the air! That’s the only sense I can make of it. Who knows what hidden dangers lie in your luggage?

ME – FROM THE BLOOMING DESERT

72-Mountain-MAR-Phoenix-011216_003

You know you are on vacation when you think of something you want to post, but when you get to the computer, you can’t remember what it was and that doesn’t really bother you. Much.

72-Sheraton-GAR-Sunday-011016_1002

I hear it’s snowing back home. That bothers me, a little. Because I don’t want to be greeted at the airport by snow. Or ice. Or cold. Or any form of New England winter.

72-Vintage-Vista-MAR-Sunday-011016_049

There are flowers blooming here. Flowers, blooming in January! It’s warm enough for shirtsleeves, at least in the middle of the day. It cools down a bit as evening approaches.

72-BW-Desert-GAR-Sunday-011016_880

They call this winter? Nah. This ain’t no winter, uh-uh. This is nice, balmy spring weather.

72-Garry-Photog-MAR-Phoenix-011216_011

We went out today and took a few pictures. Ate some Thai food. Bought more toothpaste. Garry thought I’d brought extra. I thought he had a spare, but as it turned out … well, for everything else, there’s Walgreen’s.

72-Dog-Face-GAR-Sunday-011016_928

I miss my dogs.

72-Valley-Vista-MAR-Phoenix-011216_027

I want to be transported home in my sleep and wake up in my bed, warm, snug, and well-rested.

72-Mountainside-MAR-Phoenix-011216_009

THE ANXIOUS TRAVELER

My husband and I take a lot of short trips on our boat throughout the summer. I love the trips, but I’m not a “good” traveler. Despite having traveled a lot in my life, going away for two nights still requires two suitcases and days of planning and organizing.

I envy spontaneous people who can decide on a whim to go away to some exotic place. Throw a few things into a suitcase and take off.

72-On-Deck-marilyn-marina_060

Maybe they don’t have dogs, kids, or plants. Maybe they don’t have as many cosmetics, skin care products, hair equipment, vitamins, and medications, as I do. (Plus the bite plate that I regularly forget).

Maybe they their summer beach clothes are readily accessible in the dead of winter. Maybe they have husbands who can pack for themselves without leaving half their essentials behind.

Whatever the reasons, I am not that person.

72-garry-Marina_084

When I travel, my lists have lists. Footnotes, too. I feel like I’m planning the invasion of a small country. “You – feed the dogs and don’t forget their medicines”; “You – water the plants and collect the mail”; “You – handle the UPS delivery on Friday”. The list of all emergency contacts is on the refrigerator, highlighted in three colors!

Packing is a trauma. I try to take the smallest amount of clothes and jewelry, but that just adds to the stress. I always end up packing a large amount anyway. I do loads of laundry to make sure that everything I could possibly want to take is clean. Then I try to find the minimum number of tops that go with the minimum number of pants and skirts.

marina june 2014

I suck at math so this becomes a very stressful exercise as well. Jewelry selection is another major operation. I try to limit my color palette so I can also limit the amount of jewelry and accessories I take, but then I have to make sure that they will be able to mix and match with all the clothes. I also have to make sure that my wardrobe covers everything from poolside casual to dressy evening as well as unseasonal weather, which has caught me off guard many times. You can see that the complexity can be overwhelming.

72-garry-Marina_079

Coming home is also stressful. There’s always a lot of laundry in addition to unpacking and catching up on phone calls and errands. If I haven’t been away for at least a week, it feels like deja vu. Wasn’t I just packing all this shit? I usually manage to relax and have a good time when I’m away, especially when I’m on our boat. Only someone with serious issues would have trouble relaxing there. But when the next trip comes up, my first reaction is still, “Oh no! Not again”.

Then I take a deep breath and start making lists.

HERE AND NOW. AND THEN.

Here and now. And then. I’m pooped. Garry and I were just talking about how WBZ didn’t cover the First Night New Year’s stuff in Boston this year, but Boston didn’t do as much for First Night as it has in the past.

72-Tree-Christmas-Eve--122415_02

I said that New Year’s is dropping out of the top five of Big Holidays. Why? I think it’s simply too much. Halloween has gotten bigger and Thanksgiving has always been huge. Then, up roars Christmas and by the time everyone is done with the last of the pies and leftovers, oh my god it’s New Year’s.

72-kk-christmas-day-2015_15

Holiday exhaustion has overwhelmed the population. We’ve been partying, shopping, cooking, entertaining, wrapping, decorating and overeating since October and no has the energy or money for one more big bang holiday. Thus we all more or less sleep through New Years.

christmas red door wreath

And so, here I am. Still in my flannel granny gown and robe with no intention of getting any more dressed than this. Oh, I’ll get to the shower eventually. Probably.

It was a long, busy year and the last two months have been monumentally overloaded in every way. Now, we are about to pack up and go on holiday for real and all I can think about it how much i want to just sleep for a month.

Superstition Mtns Arizona

We are up, up, and away the day after tomorrow for two weeks. I’ve prepared posts for at least the first week and I’m hoping that photography and holiday updates will take care of the rest, but if I seem to disappear, you can assume any of the following:

  1. We went to the Grand Canyon and I fell in, camera and all.
  2. We went hiking and I was eaten by something huge and furry and hungry, thus completing the circle of life.
  3. I discovered the joy of not blogging for a whole week or two!

Take you pick of any or all of the above. I will be back, hopefully energized and with stories to tell.

DESTINATIONS?

What are my top five dream destinations? You mean … like … where do I want to travel? Farther than Uxbridge? Beyond Boston? Me?

75-BW-CityNight_079

There was a time when traveling was fun. With all the lost luggage, canceled connecting flights, long delays at airports due to engine problems, missing 747s, passengers who fell into comas (really) while sitting on the tarmac for three hours, day-long delays due to weather. Yet, it was fun.

pixies-playingDespite everything, people were in a good mood. They were off on holiday or other trips. No one was clenched in terror of what some moron in security was going to do to us or our belongings. Remember when the worst thing you thought might happen at an airport was for them to lose your luggage? Those were the good old days.

Flying bird sunrise

We’re flying to Phoenix early in January. We need wheelchairs and other assistance. No one at Expedia could confirm if this request will be met … or if someone will decide to charge us some ridiculous fee for help I believe is required under law. What do airlines know about law?

Superstition Mtns Arizona

As I write this, I’m on hold.

“No more than 19 minutes … ” said the recorded voice at JetBlue. No more than 19 minutes to confirm they are going to provide the service they promised when I booked the flight. And I have to do this again, with American Airlines for the trip home. That can wait.

Oh, and I have to call TSA to find out what I need to do to avoid metal detectors (which use magnets) because I have a pacemaker. Call me paranoid, but I would prefer my pacemaker keep pacing … and keep reminding my heart to beat.

Are we having fun yet?

telephone hold

Where did I want to go before I stopped wanting to travel anywhere? India, Japan, China, Kenya, Greece, Italy, Paris. And maybe Hawaii or Tahiti. Aside from not having the price of all that airfare, the idea of that much traveling is daunting to say the least. Too much for me.

In the meantime, I would like to survive Phoenix.

JERUSALEM OF GOLD AND THE BIG APPLE

TWO CITIES, TWO WORLDS

Once again, WordPress is offering to rehome us to not one, but the two cities of our choice. This is easy for me. I’ll take Jerusalem, golden Jerusalem of my heart … and my home town, New York, New York (it IS a wonderful town).

Where I used to live.

Where I used to live.

I assume you’ll be offering a package which includes  attractive housing options as well as first-class plane fare on demand. I expect appropriate home furnishings and a fashionable, yet comfortable wardrobe along with a generous stipend.

Jerusalem_old_city_panorama_5

That would work for me and my husband. You are paying his way too, correct? All my good friends and close family are coming too. Not leaving them behind a second time. Once was more than enough to last this entire lifetime.

Naturally, suitable transportation will be provided at each location. You know … cars, taxis, limos as needed? And support personnel? Cleaning staff, cooks, personal assistants? Dog walkers?

 (AP Photo/Preston Stroup)

(AP Photo/Preston Stroup)

This is going to be our reward for a long life of hard work and challenges no one should have to face, so I’m expecting great things.

new-york-city-housing

Thanks for your kind offer. I’m won’t bother to pack my bags. Your people will be in touch with my people. They can make all the necessary arrangements. Have a good day and thank you again.

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

72-Bird-on-the-breeze-Ogunquit

As a passing thought, would you consider a third option? Perhaps a charming Caribbean Island state? St. Martin? Aruba? One of the Virgin Islands? Plus an occasional jaunt to Europe. I’m not greedy, but if you’re paying …