Evening with friends

I am blessed with good friends that enjoy travel as much as I do.  While we may have different destinations, it is always enjoyable to get together and share our stories.  Last evening I dined with some good friends to catch up on our lives.  The weather was perfect; calm and near 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sunset cast it’s beautiful colors across the lightly clouded sky as we watched from our patio table next to the little lake.  I forget sometimes how wonderful my little corner of the world can be!

One of my friends had just returned from a trip to Puerto Vallarta. She was traveling with a 93 year old woman and two other women in their late 50’s.  She’s in her early 70’s so they made a lively group of senior ladies.  Her stories had me in tears from laughter; it encourages me to know that the desire to travel and experience new things will stay with us throughout our lives.  It’s more important than ever to keep myself healthy to enjoy it!

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My 5 favorite travel necessities

It doesn’t matter if I’m heading for an overnite with my sister or a month-long cruise; there are five things that are always part of my trip.  If you keep these stored in your luggage you will always be ready to go!

  1. Spacebags for clothing. The medium and large sizes are perfect for your garments and fit nicely in a typical 21” carryon bag.   Be sure to get the kind that expel air without a vacuum.  I usually just fill the bag with my clothes and lay on top of it until all the air comes out.  These things allow you to organize your clothing for easy unpacking at your destination because you can use one for pants, one for shirts, one for dresses, etc.  They protect your clothing from moisture, spills and smells.  They are great for separating your dirty clothes from the clean ones when you are packing to go home.
  2. Hanging toiletry bag.  This “go to” bag contains everything I need in small sized containers.  It’s always ready to go with my essentials.  I just add my makeup bag and hairbrush.  When at my destination, it comes out of the suitcase and hangs in the bathroom either on a towel rack or hook.  This clears the small bathroom counter for other things!
  3. TSA approved clear bag for carryon liquids. Invest in a strong clear vinyl bag with zip top and keep your carryon liquids ready to go anytime!  These will be less prone to puncture and leakage and because they are more substantial, I find it easy to pull out and put back during the security process.
  4. Kipling bag. These stylish lightweight bags are made of durable nylon with lots of zippered compartments.  My favorite style is the crossbody flat bag with three zippered full sized compartments and additional layered zippers in rows on the front.  I can put passports in one section; etickets and confirmations in another.  I can keep my currencies separated and allocate a specific pocket for my travel receipts.  There’s still room for a camera and phone and maps!
  5. Packing cube for electronics. Make sure you have all your chargers and cords and universal adapters in one place.

Enjoy your trip knowing you didn’t forget anything because you are so organized!

Where in Winter?

It’s April.  The trees have leafed out, I’m enjoying my first cut roses from the garden and mulching the plants for the dry summer months.  But I’m thinking about where I will spend the winter.

This will be a year of change; retirement and a move from the west coast to the midwest.  Although I spent the first 21 years of my life in the midwest living through hot humid summers and cold brittle winters,  I don’t know if I can re-acclimate to it 40 years later.  So, thinking ahead, where will I spend the winter?

The world is a big place and the opportunities are endless.  My optimum climate is in the 70’s with more sun than rain and minimal bugs.

Any suggestions?

An enjoyable day at the river

The small river town of Guerneville, California sits alongside the Russian River as it winds it’s way to the Pacific Ocean.  Today, the river is calm and low; the current fights to flow against the wind and the ripples on the water catch the sunlight in little twinkles.

Driving along River Road from Santa Rosa, we comment on all the new vineyards being introduced on the old farmlands.  Small plastic tubes support the young vines in symmetrical rows stretched across the sunlit areas of the land.  Redwood Trees are prevalent along the road and the vines are even planted into the small open spaces between the shade of these large trees.

This area is known as the Russian River appellation and produces grapes for some world renowned Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines on the market today.

We aren’t here for wine today; this is just a short excursion to have some swedish pancakes at the Little River Inn, Guerneville.  Arriving at our destination we park on the street in front of the restaurant.  We enter and find a table; the restaurant has two other tables of patrons.  It’s a quiet Monday but it’s also 2pm; the local lunch crowd has come and gone.

After lunching at the Little River Inn we sometimes continue around the corner and down the road to Armstrong Woods for a quiet walk through the  Redwoods.  Not today.  Today we head to the Stumptown Brewery which is located on the river and has a wonderful patio and large grassy area at the river’s edge. Dogs are welcome and can be seen chasing balls out into the river.  There’s a canoe on the sandy beach just across the river which makes me wish we’d planned some extra time for canoeing or kayaking.  We enjoy our drinks on the patio and watch the river run.  It’s a warm sunny day with a gentle breeze and the trees are just beginning to sprout their new leaves.

This is something we don’t do often enough; explore and enjoy those parts of our environment that provide such peace calm to our lives.  As we get in the car to drive home I make a quiet promise to myself to drive out to the coast and watch the whales migrate north this weekend.

They cried in yellow

May 2014: Seoul, South Korea

Pushing through the heavy glass lobby doors into the cool, misty morning the sounds of the city awakening are light on my ears. A few cabs are on the street and the five way intersection at the bottom of the hill is not yet congested with the commuter’s cacophony.
In search of morning coffee and I turn right and follow the path past the temple built behind the hotel. The dirt paths on the temple grounds have been recently raked and await the tread of today’s traveler. I don’t walk through the temple grounds but stay on the path that leads past the temple and through the pines to a stairway leading down. At the bottom of the steps I can hear traffic noise echo through the narrow canyon between the buildings. I follow the sound to the main road.
I am seized with an awareness that this is no ordinary day. The gentle light of this dawn touches the square before me and illuminates the yellow strips of cloth as they wave in the morning breeze. They are tied to the posts of the white tents set up between the building and Seoul Plaza. They are tied to the guide wires staked in the ground, to the trees and to the many poles erected just for the ribbons. Students are painting images of the victims onto a long canvas banner laid across the ground. Bulletin boards have messages and drawings overlapping each other, layering the sorrow of the country with each addition. Tables hold black markers and yellow strips so that visitors can add their own messages to flutter in the sorrowful breeze. Little yellow boats are stuck into the moist dirt.
This is Children’s day and it’s also an official day of mourning for the Seoul ferry disaster that claimed the treasure of this nation; almost 300 children who were raised to be obedient were taken to their death as the ferry sank and the crew left them behind after announcing that they should stay in their cabins to be safe. A large sign hangs on the City Hall building apologizing to the victims.
It’s exceptionally quiet as I walk through the plaza. Soon, people will be lining up to place a white Chrysanthemum on an altar in remembrance of those who died.
I walk through the plaza and absorb the grief; I am in tears as I read the messages and pictures around me. My hunt for coffee is forgotten as I stay a little longer to reflect on the lives lost and the living whose strength are reflected in the respectful messages of mourning.

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Athens art

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Wall.”

After a nice dinner in the Plaka, we walked through narrow Athens streets that wound their way through ancient homes and shops. Fresh flowers fell out of window baskets and scented the night.  We descended several old stone staircases through residential areas on the hill  and at the bottom, we found this open space.  The wall and it’s markings are part of the neighborhood but such a contrast to the area above where we had dined.

There’s more than gold in the Yukon

Traveling up the Yukon trail from Skagway is a journey of unexpected emotion and beauty.

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As the tour bus grinds into lower gear to continue it’s climb, the driver (local to Skagway) points out the narrow cuts along the mountain face that carried men and their animals and cargo to the Klondike.  He tells of the foolish and greedy easterners that tried to carry a household of goods on their cart; only to leave it on the trail as they ascended the slopes.  He tells of the many who died on their journey.  He tells of the native Athabascan and Tlingit peoples that helped with navigation.

As a local, our driver told of the oral stories connected with the Athabascan and Tlingit tribes and how they relate to the  symbols on totems around the area.  The most common symbol, The raven, is a trickster who steals the sun to bring light to the world.

Native Alaskans are either  associated with the Raven or the Eagle/Wolf through their mother’s side; each generation then adds other stories introducing animals such as the owl, frog, beaver, fox, bear, salmon and killer whale.  Each has a meaning related to the lineage of the tribe.  It’s fascinating to know that for over 10,000 years these stories have been passed from generation to generation using animal symbolism to illuminate events in time.

I started my journey to the Yukon to learn more about the Klondike gold rush but I came away with a new desire to learn more about the Alaskan native tribes.

If you want to plan your own Alaska adventure, contact me for more information at psorenson.cruisesinc.com.