Road tripping with my mom

I can’t say I remember any trips with my mom, except the one epic road trip to Texas. I still smirk when I think about it. Back then, the movie Thelma and Louise was popular and road trips were the “in thing.” Girl trips and open roads were glamorous and frankly, you were making a bold statement on female independence by doing it. So, why wouldn’t we? A couple of bold, independent single girls like us, should definitely have adventure.

My mom’s friend Karen had moved to Texas and they’d often chat long distance on the telephone. Sometimes they’d rack up a bill, chatting half the evening. (Remember, long distance calls were a luxury and at 38 cents a minute, things added up pretty quick back then.) I would tell her that she could drive there for about the same amount of cash. Finally, one night, my mom figured my idea had merit.

I was about 18 at the time.  Mom, was more than twice my age, but if she were alive today, she’d tell you that back then “we definitely looked like sisters.”

She had a brand new car, so we were absolutely equipped for this, anytime. (She always had a brand new car, my grandparents owned a General Motors dealership.) I convinced her to take a couple days off and make it a 5-day weekend. We’d drive all night and get to Texas in 24 hours. As our plan developed, I really thought I had her convinced. She seemed enthusiastic in our chats, but at the last minute, she chickened out. She came home from work, was tired and decided all she wanted to do was to rest and do things around the house for her days off.

I’d seen this “cold feet” act of hers before. So while she was distracted, I packed the car anyways. If I remember correctly it was about 11pm when I convinced her to “just go for a drive and get some coffee” with me.  One loop through the neighbourhood and I headed for I-75. I told her we could stop for coffee in Grand Forks, North Dakota  which was about 3 hours away.

In hind sight, she could have probably made a case for kidnapping. Except, who would believe her? After all, SHE was the one to pick up maps from CAA earlier in the week! Ha ha!

I don’t remember everything about the trip, but I do have strong memories of the highlights. She would tell you about waking up to see me speeding on an Interstate highway and watching a State Trooper pull over 4 cars at once, but not us. She would also tell you to avoid Oklahoma City at rush hour when you really don’t know where you’re going. And I bet she would say that 5 days definitely wasn’t long enough. I tend to agree.

My favourite part of the adventure was seeing her hug Karen when we arrived (Those two were thrilled to be reunited for an in-person visit!) and seeing the Kansas City Royals play baseball.

The baseball game was a completely spontaneous decision. We were relaxed and driving home when she tuned in a local radio station. They were broadcasting a pre-game show of the Kansas City Royals baseball team. She commented that she’d “always wanted to go to a MLB game.”

I said, “let’s do it! Let’s go, right now.” And we did.

She found the stadium on a map. I got us there. At the parking gate I asked the attendant where to get tickets. He said “but the game’s sold out! Don’t you know, the famous chicken’s here?!!”

I didn’t really know what he meant, but opted to pay for parking and take my chances at the box office anyway. My mom wanted to turn back. I pushed forward again, and before we even cleared the parking lot, we were approached by a scalper. I swapped him $20 for upper deck tickets and we were in! She always thought that was “pretty balsy” and that I was a heck of a street-smart gal. Very Thelma-ish.

I remember how absolutely satisfied she was sitting in the cheap seats, sipping a lemonade and snacking on a hot dog and a bag of peanuts. That was a good day. The Royals have (or had) a beautiful stadium with a waterfall in the outfield. They also had fireworks out there post game. It was a really nice evening. We picked a motel by the edge of town for the night and finished the trip in the morning. I know in her later years she would still tell the story of the scalper, and the funny San Diego Chicken at the baseball game.

What that trip taught me was, that you can ALWAYS get tickets to a big game. You don’t have to have a big plan, or a big budget to travel and have a great time. And, I  also believe that I would absolutely take a road trip with my teens if I was invited. After all, it could very well be, a once-in-a lifetime invitation.


PS: The photo is NOT from this trip. But it’s simply a photo of my spunky young mom, back in the day. We did NOT take a gas guzzling Impala on this trip. It was infact a SkyHawk.

Instantly disappointed in paradise

Hard to believe I’m even writing about this, but it’s true. The tourist beaches of Hawaii were littered with disappointed people, looking sullen and staring into their phones.

It was UNBELIEVABLE the number of people that we had to walk around, dodge, or avoid on Waikiki Beach, because they were solely engaged with their phones. These tourists were taking selfies and trying to CRAFT happy vacation photos but letting their phones get in the way of actually enjoying themselves. And they themselves were oblivious to the other tourists trying to walk around or actually enjoy the beach.

Sunset was the worst time of the day. 

These people couldn’t even be bothered to look up between taking and viewing their own snaps. This wasn’t exclusively on the beach either, it was a hazard on the street and even hiking paths too.

There were girlfriends barking at their boyfriends. “Do it again.” “Take another.” “That’s awful! Delete it.”

And girls scowling at people for walking through “their shot” on a crowded public beach or on the narrow hiking path. I saw their non-stop scowling between forced selfie smiles….I’m sure that has to be exhausting.

I saw bathing suits chosen for photos, not for swimming. Hair done for Instagram, not for a day in the water. Makeup done for a party, not a mountaintop. Posing everywhere. What I didn’t see was participation.

I’m writing this because it bothered me to see hoards of people, instantly disappointed in their photos, and thus their own vacations, when they could be having the time of their lives.

They were standing like pylons in the road, glaring into & tapping at their phones, everywhere, in paradise! They had looks of sadness, disappointment, anger and frustration on their faces. While they stood there, toes in the sand, in paradise they had….. in that very moment ….. EVERY opportunity to turn things around and be happy but instead they choose to delete & try to rewrite a perfect lie with another photo. Over and over and over.

I feel bad for them. What are they disappointed in? How they look? (That in itself is tragic) The lousy time they are having? (They have the power to change that.) Disappointing likes per minute? Are they just photo blind to the real world? Why not be happy with yourself and do things that are fulfilling! Run into the ocean. Build a sandcastle. Get your hands wet, and sandy. Splash your friend. Chase your kids. Go surfing. Enjoy Hawaii!

I’m assuming they worked hard (and paid) for their vacation. I wish they understood the value of ‘vacation’ to their mental health. Now, and into the future, memories can really keep you going when you hit the (genuinely) bad days. It’s not what someone said in the moment, right? It’s how it made you FEEL. We’re human. Feelings matter. You should really enjoy vacationing. It feels good! Photos are only good to capture that FEELING and hold on to it. Spontaneous photos that don’t stop the action, but just capture a genuine moment in time, those are great photos.

So, frankly, I think they should be disappointed not in their crafted photos but in the (lack of) participation in their own lives. There. I said it. That’s my point. I think you suck at participating in real life when you stand like a pylon in the middle of the beach making and deleting fake smiles and yelling at your loved ones for not taking good enough photos. Are you making genuine vacation memories or merely crafting photos? Do you understand the difference?

Do you know who’s NOT disappointed in paradise? Little children and old folks. The little kids are screaming, splashing, swimming, running, and giggling with not a care in the world! And seniors… whether they were walking hand in hand with a spouse, or sitting and chatting it up with friends. They are smiling, talking, looking around and taking it all in. They looked like they were genuinely enjoying their holidays.

Think I’m exaggerating? No, I’m not. Next time you are at a concert or fireworks event, look around to see who is enjoying the music or wide-eyed by the colours exploding in the sky. And then look who’s just holding up their phone, posturing for the best angle.

Little kids and old folks. Seems to me, they’re the ones winning at life right now. Why? Because they are participating in it.

5 Ways to enjoy your holiday more

We all seek value from our vacations. Holiday time is, of course, very precious. Here are a few tips to help you relax and enjoy the moments.

1. Take fewer photos.  Don’t waste hours or minutes working on the perfect Instagram photo.

2.  You don’t have to see or do everything in the tourist guide. Seek out what interests you, NOT what others say you “must see.”

3.  Reflect at the end of each day.  Savour a glass of wine or a cup of tea, discuss the day’s highlights with your family, or record it in a journal.

4. Have a nap. Recharge mid day. Don’t exhaust yourself by running from sun up to sun down.

5. Linger just a little longer over your meals. Why not enjoy an appetizer or maybe dessert? Put your phone down and genuinely focus on the food and your dinner companions.

How to look like an idiot in airport security

“Ma’am, is this your bag? We need to take a look inside.”

I reply… “yes, of course. No problem.  Can I help at all?” (I am a polite Canadian 24/7.)

This is when the airport security officer  said, “well it looks like you’ve got a bottle of ‘spices’ concealed in a metal container.”

“Oh!! I know what that is!  It’s my Starbucks thermos.  I packed my candy cane shaker in it to save space.”

“Candy cane shaker?” She asked  as she easily located my Starbucks thermos in my carry-on bag.

Me: “oh that’s my thermos I bought it at the original Starbucks in Seattle!”  (I seemed very 40-year-old soccer mom and overjoyed when I said that… So that was embarrassing.)

The security officer twisted off the lid and sure enough, there is my little glass jar of candy cane sprinkles that I bought at a bakeshop. “Cute” she said, but not in a way that it sounded like she really meant it. More like a ‘cute’ as a sarcastic ‘aren’t you a dimwit traveller kind of way’.

I repacked my treasures and was free to go. Lesson learned.

Same day I had to go through security again at another airport, to connect to my international flight.  I thought I would be all smart and leave my candy cane sprinkles out in the bin for all to see.  It was next to my liquids bag.

The security officer looks in the bin and says to me “what’s this?” and I say “oh it’s my candy sprinkles. It looked suspicious in the last scanner so I thought I would just leave it out.”

I got the look and the sarcastic “uh huh” in reply.

But again my bag got pulled aside and they needed to open it up. Great, I thought, what now?

I once again offered to assist. The male officer said to me “no, no, I need to check this myself.”

“Absolutely” I reply. “Can I ask what you’re looking for?”

And so he looks up and he says to me “well Miss, it appears that you have a very large, full, pill dispenser in your bag.”

Oh hell, I thought. Yep!  That’s exactly what it WOULD look like.

“It’s a tray of candies,” I say. “For decorating cookies. I’ve never seen anything like it in Canada. I thought my friend’s kids would love it.”

By this time he had it in his hand and was examining it. Lucky for me it was in its original packaging and sealed and labelled and exactly what I said it was. Weird little coloured santas, snowman, and snowflake candies. However at that moment I did feel like an idiot and some sort of candy-dealer.  But I was also curious why the first scanner completely overlooked that. It DID look like a lot of pills, neatly packaged.

So learn from my mistake.  File this under ‘dumb things you shouldn’t buy as souvenirs’ unless you WANT to look like a drug dealer  and spend a little extra time with security.

It also reminded me of the time I had a baseball (caught at a MLB game) in a bag that they had to inspect it to make sure it wasn’t an orange being smuggled into Canada. LOL

Ah, sweet memories.

 

Coast Starlight Train: Part 1

Ok, I’m giddy. No sense hiding it. I haven’t been this excited about travel in a few years

I’m on the Amtrak Coast Starlight train from Seattle to Santa Barbara. It’s November the 7th and I might be lucky enough to see 3 seasons in one day. Snow has fallen here on the Washington coast. I expect I’ll see the fall leaves and colours in just a few hours down the track. Then, it will be sunny and still above 20C in California. That’s spring-like to this Canadian.

Why the Coast Starlight trip? I’ve seen it on-line, read about it and believe it to be legendary. So I want to see it for myself. I get to see the Pacific Coast without having to drive it! I can be a rested passenger and just take in the view. OMG.

Why now? Why NOT now. Do things when the opportunity comes up. Opportunity may not knock twice. So I often ask myself…. “If not NOW, then WHEN?” The companion question to that of course, “If not ME, then WHO?” That second piece is the inner voice that encourages me to step up, speak up and act when I think something is possible.

That, in a nutshell is how I ended up on the Coast Starlight train today. And boy am I ever excited.