Category Archives: Travel

Lull in the Action

Sunset at Mountain Lakes

Sunset at Mountain Lakes

The Fourth of July is behind us–still a lot of summer to look forward to, followed by autumn, which many people claim is their favorite season in New England. Hmmm….not certain I fall into that category. Or I haven’t in the past as I know it leads inevitably to winter. But now that we spend our winters in Arizona, maybe I will appreciate the foliage, apple picking, sweaters and fleece, crisp mornings and sunny days.

This week Steve surprised me with a Wednesday night date night: Jersey Boys at the Nugget Theater in Hanover with popcorn for dinner. Loved it! Frankie Valli has had an amazing career–and he’s still going strong at 80! We saw him perform on TV at “The Capitol Fourth” celebration. And what about Clint Eastwood, 84, the director of the “Jersey Boys”? This gives me hope. At almost 60 (in 4 months!!) I would like to think that I have another 20 years to look forward to of writing. (And living…..)

Maybe in those 20 years I’ll actually finish something (other than a blog post). As John pointed out in a recent writing group meeting, maybe it was a good idea that I was writing a short story as I had “issues” with completing my projects.

This year I celebrate my 60th birthday, Joy her 40th, and Jesse her 35th (in February, 2015). Time for a girls only trip. It will be hard to top our trip to Las Vegas when Jennifer turned 35. Wonder where we’ll go.

For some reason as I look at the ages of my children I am surprised that I had three daughters within a period of five and a half years. When I was younger, I always was an overachiever. Right now I’m just taking it easy, enjoying life. Feeling guilty about it……occasionally.

In two weeks we will spend a few days on the Cape with Joy and family and Jesse and family. Steve and I have probably put in as many hours coming up with a motel to stay in as we will spend on the Cape! If we didn’t read the reviews–or look at the room rates–we would have made the reservations in a matter of minutes. We’re going to be close to the Mayflower and Corporation beaches in Dennis and that’s what is important to me. As well as a clean room!!

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Hazy, hot, and humid

On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls

On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls with Joy and kids

(I apologize–my internet was down for five days so this post is late. Thank you, Charter!)

It’s the week of the Fourth of July in New Hampshire. Of course it’s hazy, hot, and humid. With afternoon thunderstorms. But our annual weeklong family reunion rages on, with fishing, canoeing, swimming, kayaking, hanging out at the beach. And lots of eating.

Arthur has developed into a Category 1 hurricane but he won’t bother us. We’ll have our own rainstorm the morning of the Fourth. Not certain how this will affect plans for the eleven a.m. parade, with the kids lining the street ready to fill their plastic grocery bags with candy. Worse case scenario, we throw candy from our upstairs loft….to 14 kids….Now how do we replicate the parade?

Fourth of July at home with mini fireworks

Fourth of July at home with mini fireworks

We won’t have our personal fireworks display this year, a family tradition for many years. After Steve and his brother Mike were almost blown up along with a string of fireworks, we decided that 2013 would be the last year. No one wants to relive the chaos of children being rushed into the house and adults dashing to the igniters, unsure what they would find. Actually, it’s the adults who don’t want to relive that. The kids are disappointed.

My writing has suffered these past few weeks for various reasons, starting with a fantastic trip to Niagara Falls, the New York side, where we stayed at Darien Lake Amusement Park with Joy and family. Niagara Falls was not on my bucket list but I am so glad that we had the opportunity to visit it. And we experienced all of it. My only regret is that I let Steve convince me to throw away the “specially designed” sandals they give you to wear at the Cave of the Winds where we all braved Bridal Veil Falls to experience “tropical storm-like conditions.” Awesome!!

My recent monthly visit to my oncologist was uneventful–except for learning that he is leaving DHMC and I will have a new oncologist, Dr. Sergey Devitskiy. (More) change is good, right?

Everyone leaves this weekend for Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Life should return to normal. Writing, riding the motorcycle, kayaking, painting the kitchen/living room and garage doors, going to the Cape with Joy and Jesse and families, maybe traveling to Acadia National Park–and before we know it, it will be Labor Day.

Almost Home

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

In case you were wondering, we did make it to Virginia the day before Easter. It was a long trip but we enjoyed several of our stops, especially the Petrified Forest in Arizona, Nashville and Asheville. On Judy’s recommendation, we visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. So glad we did–it’s a massive resort with beautiful indoor gardens and waterfalls.

Jesse secured us the family discount at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. A one hundred year old magnificent hotel with manned elevators–two of which are in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for being inside the chimney of the massive fireplaces. And we rode in them!

The absolute highlight of the trip was a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. (Unfortunately, we toured it with what felt like thousands of other people–it was the Friday of Easter weekend.) Downton Abbey in the US for sure. The PBS series helped me relate to what life at the Biltmore would have been like (and vice versa). As we wandered the property, I kept thinking how much I would have enjoyed being a guest there. I hope to get to another estate–Mount Vernon–before we leave Virginia.

I am still recuperating from my long weekend at Malice Domestic in Bethesda. It was great to reconnect with Eleanor, Heidi, and Linda after almost five months away from my writing group. My niece, Casey, and her boyfriend, Andrew, joined us for lunch on Sunday. As they live in DC, I did get some inspiration to resurrect my NaNoWriMo novel, “Alex.” The good news/bad news is that I am now thinking about linking my other two novels, “Anne” and “Claire.” And making “Anne” into a murder mystery. Somehow. That’s what happens when you spend three days with mystery writers, the majority of whom have written series. I’m making notes and attempting to process this concept but will rely on my writing group to help me decide if this is even worth putting any effort into.

Waiting to hear what my last mitotane level was. It’s been over two weeks since I had the labs done. This is what happens when you’re away from your regular doctor and medical facility. Must say the medical part has been what has caused me the most stress this winter.

Steve is anxious to get back to NH. I’m not. He wants to golf more than anything–but he claims he wants to do things like use his pressure washer (that he got for Father’s Day last year!). I am happy to  be responsible for just a wee bit of living space. Right now it’s a bedroom and bathroom. I don’t have to worry that the floors need to be vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied though I do try to do my share of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Babysitting is not a chore! But I am anxious to get back to my NH family (Elise and Sheffield!!) and friends. Maybe buying the fifth-wheel was the thing to do…..

But it’s a dry heat…..

Time to get in the pool!

Time to get in the pool!

In case you haven’t been keeping up with the weather forecast in Arizona (not to rub it in to our friends and family back East), we hit 95 today, the first ninety degree temperatures of 2014. And it will last through Friday. It may even flirt with 100 degrees. But, as they like to say here, it’s a dry heat.

We just happen to be heading north to Las Vegas on Wednesday where it is forecasted to be much cooler–the low nineties. As I recall from my one and only visit to Las Vegas (granted, it was August), that is one hot city. And it just feels more like the desert than Chandler, Arizona does.

We are flying up for the night to see Elton John perform at Caesars Palace. A short one hour five-minute flight. Granted, we’ll miss the Hoover Dam experience by not driving up but the flight is free. (Thanks to my Southwest VISA card!)

I am so excited to show Steve Las Vegas. Not that we are gamblers or drinkers. OK–I could get addicted to the slots but I can depend on Steve to drag me away.

To prepare him for the trip, we watched “Last Vegas” via our Apple TV. Definitely worthy of an Academy award. NOT! But it was entertaining. It probably helps to be our age to appreciate the movie. The other day we actually “argued” about what day of the week it was–forgetting to check either our watches or our iPhones! I imagine our children are wondering if it is time to check out nursing homes but I can assure them it is way too early for that! (They all have guest rooms, don’t they?)

Have to admit we are enjoying retirement. I especially like playing Candy Crush (93 million people a day play it) and Words with Friends and reading as late as I want (Steve doesn’t even complain), which means sleeping as late as I want (again, no complaints), drinking a leisurely cup or two of coffee, going to lunch (Sunday it was San Tan Brewing Company–jalapeno bratwurst hash for brunch–almost as hot as the weather) and then heading out to wherever we want (after brunch it was WestWorld in Scottsdale celebrating Arizona Bike Week). Steve is painting and enjoying the weather.

We leave for Virginia next week, stopping in Albuquerque, Nashville, and Ashville along the way. Looking forward to spending time with Jennifer and family in Williamsburg, meeting up with the ladies from my writing group at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD, and visiting Joy and family in CT. And then HOME (after almost five months away) just in time for my CT scan at DHMC. Eighteen months to the day from my surgery for adrenal cancer. Fingers crossed!

Addicted to….Candy Crush!!

Banzai Pipeline Oahu

Banzai Pipeline Oahu

I’m not certain how much longer I can keep up this blog now that my granddaughter, Haley, has introduced me to CANDY CRUSH! How I have remained in the dark about this game for this long is beyond me. It’s a good time to provide an update on everything I’ve done since my last post as who knows how long it will be before I can tear myself away……

This past Sunday I attended a workshop at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, “Writing About Illness,” presented by Thomas Larson. He’s written The Sanctuary of Illness and The Memoir and Memorist. I went there with no intention of writing a memoir about my adrenal cancer but now I may be inspired to write about my journey. As Eleanor has reminded me, you can always learn something from any writing workshop.

Prior to that we spent ten days on the islands of Maui and Oahu. The vacation of a lifetime….until the next one! Highlights of Maui include a whale watch, the Old Lahaina Luau, Maui Theatre’s Ulalena, Haleakala National Park (volcano), La Perouse Bay (Maui’s last lava flow and wild goats), THE Road to Hana, and a bright blue Ford Mustang convertible! Our splurge was our anniversary dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Paia.

On Oahu, organized tours, taxis, and our feet took us to the Dole Pineapple Plantation (pineapples do not grow on trees!), USS Arizona Memorial/Pearl Harbor, the Banzai Pipeline (the Pacific was wild so no surfing), the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (the Punch Bowl), Duke’s, a hike up Diamond Head (I tried to make it to the top), and the typical tourist attractions (the school President Obama attended, etc.)  We even attempted to search for my childhood home from when I was 2 to 4 years old.

I read James Michener’s Hawaii before, during, and after our trip (it’s a long book!), which helped immensely with understanding the history of the islands, as did our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. We were surprised at the number of Asian tourists in Oahu. (Much of the signage in Waikiki Beach is written in both English and Japanese.) Actually, we were surprised at the swell of tourists in Oahu compared to Maui.

Jen, Jeff, Laurel, and Alex were able to visit us in Arizona to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and our 40th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed dinner at our favorite East Valley restaurant, San Tan Flat, on our actual anniversary. It was crazy busy due to President’s Day holiday but that just gave us more time to drink Margaritas and dance.

Other than that we’ve enjoyed reading the Facebook posts of our friends back in NH and VT complaining about the terrible winter they have been experiencing–as we bask in the sunshine and 70-80 degree temperatures. We’ve read a variety of books–I am juggling four currently. Put jigsaw puzzles together. Walked around the Nature Park. However, one thing I haven’t done much of is write. Too many distractions. And now….Candy Crush!

A brothel in its former life (seen from the bathroom window)

Jerome, AZ

Jerome, AZ

Today I was going to get serious about my book–didn’t I say that yesterday?? What was I thinking? Instead we traveled to Sedona to see Dan, a friend of ours from back in NH who is a snow bird, just like we are now. It’s further up there than we thought–over two hours, and that’s in the HOV lane–and we got a late start (someone had to take a shower and do her hair).

It’s about 15 degrees cooler up there so I was happy I remembered my fleece jacket. We actually ran into some rain on the way up. Rain!

We ventured to Jerome for lunch, with Steve receiving just a warning–no ticket–for speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. Jerome is an old mining and “ghost” town, about the elevation of Mount Washington, that appears to have most of its original buildings still standing, without any renovations, or if there are any, they are done “tastefully.”

Looking out the window of the bathroom at the restaurant where we had lunch I could see what was obviously a brothel in its former life. And hanging on the walls for decorations were vintage corsets and garters and things I couldn’t identify. Dan will be 90 this July–maybe I should have asked him if he knew what they were?? Without doing any research, I can say unequivocally that Jerome must have been a happening place back in the day!!

Kathy, my Pilates instructor in Vermont, is reading a book that takes place in Jerome. I’ll add it to my list of “must reads.” I can always rely on her recommendations.

In our absence (she must have been afraid I would buy another t-shirt), Joy visited Goodwill and brought home two “new” jigsaw puzzles. While she and Steve were busy carting Tyler to football practice and Haley to gymnastics, I was occupied with setting up one of the puzzles. Although we had vowed not to do another puzzle after the last one, Joy, Haley, and I didn’t hesitate to gather around the dining room table for an hour and work on the new one. We refrained from getting out the head lamps this time but we certainly could have used them. I imagine my writing group members will identify this as creative procrastination. I suppose I could have been out shoveling snow as I know some of them were!!

No word from my doctor on the results of the CT scan or the blood work. Tomorrow I will call as they don’t seem to be the ones to initiate the calls. Did I mention how much I miss DHMC?

A day away from our winter home in Arizona

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio! Last stop on our way to our winter home with Joy and family in Arizona. Remember the Alamo….well, I didn’t so I had to read up on it. On our way from New Orleans to San Antonio I entertained Steve with an oral history of the Alamo. He was busy passing tractor trailers while I was busy fighting the Mexicans. Poor Davy Crockett.

And poor Steve. He’s done an awesome job of getting us this far—you can’t really blame him for all the u-turns we’ve had to make in Charleston and Andersonville, Americus, and Plains, GA, and New Orleans. There are a ton of one-way streets in those cities and occasionally it is the navigator’s error, I must admit. Sometimes I have a difficult time gauging how far away 150 or 60 feet are and oops…we’ve missed the turn. At least we no longer have to hear that annoying voice on the GPS announce “recalculating.” Our Maps app on our phones uses the more supportive “rerouting” to let us know when we (I) have screwed up.

This afternoon we’ve managed to visit the Alamo, walk the River Walk, eat yummy steak at Saltgrass Steak House and now we are snuggled in bed resting up for our 15 hour drive to Chandler tomorrow. When I mentioned to Joy that our trip through North Carolina was monotonous, she said “wait until you drive across Texas, you’ll think North Carolina was a carnival!” We will find out tomorrow…..

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