Posted in family, flying, Life, traveling

No flight plan, Part 1

blogDSCN7913Airline tickets for $39.  That ad attracted my attention for about a nano-second.

I used to love to travel by plane; now I’d rather pull out my own toenails.  In the past, I thought there was no better way to travel than flying.

Jump on an airplane on one coast of the country, be on the other coast in six hours, as opposed to driving for six days? No better way to go, I used to think.  I know because I’ve done both.

Flying used to be enjoyable, an adventure I willingly embarked upon even with three small children in tow.  I loved the sensation of lifting off into the air, peering out jet windows to catch glimpses of wispy, cotton candy clouds floating beside me, observing the patchwork of fields, mountain tops, or rambling threads of rivers and roads beneath us thousands of feet down.  Equally enthralling was catching the breath-taking view of a city all aglow in brilliant lights outlined in the dark of an inky black night sky.  Glorious.

Landing thrilled me even more!  I loved the sensation of gradually making the descent, feeling your ears pop, watching the ground get closer, closer, closer until you felt the bump of the plane’s tires touching down.  Then came the amazing part for me….flying on the ground, traveling at such a high rate of speed you wondered if the plane would ever be able to stop, but finally brakes grabbed hold and the plane came to a halt.  Exhilarating!

For certain, flying used to be fun.  Now I’d rather avoid it at all costs.  Unless there’s a dire emergency, you’d have to pay me to fly.  I’m not afraid of flying; instead I fear and loathe everything prior to and in between the actual flights.

“If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport,” someone named George Winters apparently once said.  Well, Mr. Winters, times have changed.  Now I believe it’s actually easier getting to the airport than it is getting through the airport.

I understand the necessity for security; really in today’s unsafe world, I get that.  But given the choice, after my last flying experience, I’m done with that mode of transportation.

My last venture by airplane occurred before the rash of outrageously crazy TSA screening stories that you watch on internet videos or hear about from a neighbor.  You know, the ones about 3-year-olds getting stripped and frisked and people having to remove prosthetics or endure some humiliating ordeal.

Flying just isn’t in my plans; I don’t care how low air fares drop.  I’ve got my own crazy story which sealed the deal when it comes to my disdain for air travel, and I haven’t flown since then.   A few years ago, I flew south with oldest daughter for a weekend.  Her career necessitated a move there, and we embarked on an apartment finding quest.

Our flight departed late in the day, so we had no time for dinner.  The only sustenance we received on our short flight to our next lay-over was a glass of water.  No individual bottle of water.  The flight attendant rolled down the aisle with a large communal bottle from which she poured water into a plastic cup for those of us thirsty travelers.  No food, of course – not even a tiny little bag of peanuts.

We ran to our next flight at our layover.  Again no time for food; and again, no food on the plane.  Arriving at our destination close to midnight, we were starving when we checked into our downtown hotel, where the only hot meal we could find was a vending machine Hot Pocket warmed up in a microwave.

Our trip on the ground was successful – she found a great apartment, we explored the city a bit, enjoyed our meals and one delight for me was sipping Southern sweet tea.

Because of all the waiting in line necessary for security screening and because we needed to turn in our rental car, we arrived at the airport very early Sunday morning for the airline’s first flight out to our home destination.  That Sunday unfolded as one of the longest days of my life!

And that story will unfold on tomorrow’s blog.   I’m tired just thinking about it on this 12th page of Chapter 4 in my Opportunity book.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in food

A non-foodie raves

pexels-photo-708488.jpegI am not a foodie.  You know how people say they live to eat?  Well, I’m not one of them.

Instead I’m more of a “eat to live” kind of person.  But you certainly wouldn’t know it by looking at me.  I have more than my fair share of pounds packed on this little ol’ body.

Honestly, sometimes I really wonder why I’m so roundly shaped.  I’m really not that into food (okay, I do have an addiction to sugar, but I’ve even curbed that significantly) and as I’ve (ahem, shall we say) aged, my appetite has lessened considerably.

My sisters like to remind me that I am shaped like my paternal grandmother – short and stout.  Three fairly tall grandparents who were not overweight and one shaped like a butterball, and whose genes did I inherit?  Thanks, Grandma!

So I don’t believe that I’m (ahem) overweight because I overeat, since I actually don’t enjoy eating that much.  Food just doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it does for many people.  I could skip meals easily and sometimes I really just don’t feel like eating.

I’m not terribly fond of cooking either, so obviously I didn’t get the cooking/baking gene from my mother, who was amazing in the kitchen.   I’m more of a food assembler than cooking guru, although my family thinks I can present a pretty decent meal.   I don’t watch cooking shows either….can you say B-O-R-I-N-G?

But I can appreciate something tasty when it is placed before me.  And I experienced that pleasure on our trip down South.  You’re probably thinking I’m going to write about a great southern bar-be-que I ate or grits or some such Southern dish – pecan pie perhaps?  Nope.

I’m going to gush about chicken salad.  That’s right…chicken salad.  When we were visiting oldest daughter, hubby and I met her for lunch one day when she had to work.   We convened at a very small but very busy restaurant in the heart of an eclectic little area of town.

This modest nook served THE BEST chicken salad I’ve ever eaten in my life.  The restaurant is obviously well-known for this dish because I believe every person in the joint was eating chicken salad!

All three of us ordered it and we ate every last bite.  A mound of chicken salad was served on a plate with several gourmet style crackers inserted vertically in a fan-like manner.  It was not the slightly drippy, mayonnaise-laden salad that is usually served.  This was heavy on the chicken, with an oh, so delicious, slightly nutty flavor and juicy red grape slices added to it.

And then to complement the salad, an array of fresh fruit surrounded it decorating the plate with a feast for the eyes and taste buds.  There were 21 (I counted!) different kinds of fruit on my plate.  Everything from a slice of apple to a slice of mango to dried figs to pomegranate.

Pear, nectarine, plum, strawberry, kiwi, banana, grapefruit, orange, grapes, raisins to name a few….green fruit, yellow fruit, red fruit, purple fruit….I feel like a Dr. Seuss rhyme.

Truly it was enough to excite even a non-foodie like me.  I seriously want to find this restaurant’s recipe and recreate this dish.  I had a chicken salad sandwich today for lunch back here in a restaurant in my hometown and I’ll tell you, while it was good, it just didn’t compare at all.

Almost made me want to move south just to enjoy the chicken salad I ate there.  Don’t get excited, oldest daughter, I said “almost.”

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in traveling

Snapshots of the South

So a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words.  Although I’m usually full of words to write in my blog, today I don’t have time to spend trying to wrap my mind around my thoughts in a concise, coherent, and meaningful fashion.

So for today, instead of writing a thousand words, I’m posting some pictures I took on our trip down South,  simply giving you a little snapshot of our time well spent.

See if you can figure out where we ventured on our side adventures during our trip.

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©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, family, traveling

Have spouse, will travel

pexels-photo-171053.jpegPicture the car loaded with these items: packed suitcases; snacks and water; books and crossword puzzles;  jackets (just in case); pillows; Mom and Dad…but no kids!

For the first time in over 28 years, my husband and I recently took a brief vacation together sans children.  Okay, I should amend that sentence; we traveled to the deep South to visit one of our grown children, so we weren’t alone for the entire trip.   But for a few days, it was just hubby and me traveling together.

When Mama’s Empty Nest was full, we always journeyed together with our children for vacations.  I can only recall a couple of times when my husband and I went away for a night without the kids.  During most of their growing up years, dear hubby traveled a lot for business.   So I always felt it important that we spend as much time as we could together as a family.  That meant always taking family vacations never taking couple vacations.

Those excursions were often trips back to our home state to visit our extended family where we would throw in some fun side expeditions for the children to enjoy.  Some times vacations were big trips like Disneyland, a week at the beach (both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic), historical places like Williamsburg, VA, or to cities across the country from Seattle to Saint Louis to Philadelphia.  Our kids lay claim to having visited a majority of states in this great country of ours.

So for this trek, it seemed a little odd to travel without our children along –  even though they are grown –  but we enjoyed our time together immensely.  A vacation should really be a time to relax, recharge your weary and waning batteries, and enjoy life away from the hustle and bustle.

Both hubby and I relate to the old saying, “A trip is what you take when you can’t take anymore of what you’ve been taking.”   In other words, we both needed a little rest and respite – he needed rest from the stress of his job, I needed respite away from the same old humdrum order of my life.

Roman philosopher and dramatist Seneca said, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”   That’s what we needed!  A change of place and new vigor!

So we decided to meander our way down south to visit oldest daughter, but take our time on the journey to and fro,  investigate sights that interested us,  or take some scenic routes away from the usual rat-race of interstate highways. And that’s exactly what we did.

I learned a few things on my restful trip with my husband.  First I learned that I love traveling in the fall.  The weather is perfect and the crowds are few.   The days were sunny, bright and warm without being too hot, and the evenings were cool and crisp.  My kind of weather.  We didn’t have to force our way through throngs of people at any of our stops.  Life seemed a little slower and less hectic than summer traveling was for us.

Secondly, I discovered that I don’t have to stick to an agenda.  Our trips in the past were always planned – arriving here and seeing this, this, and that, then traveling there to see this, do this, experience this all in non-stop motion.  For this trip, hubby and I decided to stop wherever we saw a place of interest, taking a few detours here and there because we weren’t in a big hurry to get anywhere.

We still had hotel room reservations for nightly destinations (and thanks to “frequent stayer” left over points from hubby’s traveling days, we had free accommodations at a great hotel), but in between we could meander wherever we wanted.

The third thing I realized was that if I had enough money, I would really relish being retired and doing the same kind of traveling we just experienced.  This trip gave me a little taste of something to look forward to and plan for, since we can’t retire yet.

Another thing I learned is that no matter how far from your abode you wander, you’ll see someone who reminds you of home, whether it is a retired couple from your home state who you exchange pleasantries with at a Chattanooga, TN Civil War battlefield or when you spot your children’s college alma mater license plate on a car in the Space and Rocket Center parking lot in Huntsville, AL.

And finally, I learned something about my relationship with my husband.  Before we left, I was curious about the outcome of our trip.  Would hubby and I get on each other’s nerves, disagree about what to do and see (he loves historical places especially Civil War battlefields, I grow weary of them after awhile), would we have anything to discuss during the long car rides, or would it just be strange and lonely without our kids along?

I’m happy to report that the trip was magnificent.  We actually enjoyed each other’s company and we had fun to boot!  When my husband informed me that he told a co-worker that he looked forward to this vacation, even though it was short, to just spend some time with his wife, I was so appreciative.

Doesn’t that just melt your heart?  It did mine.  After 33 years of marriage, raising three kids, the stresses of job losses and moving several times,  hubby still wants to spend time with me.

Famous American writer and wit Mark Twain said, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

For me, I found out I don’t just love my husband, I like him.  And yes, I even want to travel with him – even if it’s only to a Civil War battlefield!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com