Tag Archives: road trip

Home from the UK

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There really ought to be safeguards in place when logging in to write my blog, for example, how long have you been awake?  Because I have been awake for (counts on fingers) 24 hours, with a one-hour nap on the plane home.  I woke up at 6am London time (the sun was so bright in our hotel room) and was so squished in the middle seat on the plane, it was uncomfortable to nap.  I’m trying to get back on Tempe time; my goal is to stay awake until 11.

My advice to you is this:  VISIT WALES!!!  There are miles and miles of verdant countryside, and from the coast road, the sea views were breathtaking.  The people were so friendly and polite and all seem gifted at the exchange of light banter, happy to ask where we were from and what we’d seen.  We saw ten castles, each different and exciting in its own way.  My favorites were the hill-top ruins with nobody around except for us, where I could close my eyes and imagine myself there 1000 years ago when the castle was inhabited . . . and I’d listen into the wind for the whispers of ghosts.

We began our trip in London, staying at my all-time favorite hotel, CitizenM Tower of London.  It’s always a thrill to be in vibrant London, my favorite big city.  We spent three days exploring the city and revisiting favorite museums, on foot and by Tube.  We are lucky enough to have visited the National Gallery the past four summers . . . and it never gets old.  I always get goosebumps seeing Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and they had a special exhibit of 75 Monets!  He’s always been my favorite, and we spent hours looking at pieces we’d never seen before. THRILLING.  The British museum was full of school children and large, rude Japanese tour groups, but we were able to push through them and say hi to the mummies, the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures and of course, the Rosetta Stone.  We did NOT yell, “Godzilla” to distract the Japanese tourists as suggested by a friend (haha) so as to get closer to the exhibits, but seriously, the groups we came upon were impolite and did not share space well.

It was so great to get home and give BIG HUGS to our son William and his girlfriend Katherine.  Ruby the Wonder Spaniel and the cats (Cosmo, Tilly, Olive, and Maisy) were very happy to see us as well.  Shortly after we arrived home, the kids left for the movies and Hubby checked stuff on his computer in the office, so ever since I’ve been singing loudly which is something I couldn’t do for two weeks  living in hotel rooms.  We were road tripping through Wales, but any time I tried to play music, we would quickly become lost. The navigation was very demanding and I had to stay sharp:  “In .5 miles take the second exit from the roundabout to B4047.”  Seriously, any time I daydreamed and we missed a cue from bossy British navigation lady, we ended up on one-lane roads with huge-ass tractors coming at us at 40 mph.  (What you do in that situation is run your car into the hedges and exchange happy waves with the other driver.)  If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Oh shit,” our bar bill would have been covered in full!

I’m finally feeling sleepy.  Jet lag sucks, but it’s a small price to pay for my two weeks of adventures in the beautiful UK.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

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Weekend in Flagstaff

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Hubby and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary last week up in the lovely pines of Flagstaff, Arizona. Just three hours from our home in Tempe, it was an easy, relaxing way to spend a long weekend. We stayed three nights, which gave us ample time to hike and try out the local brew pubs. Every afternoon a thunderstorm rolled in, which took us awhile to catch onto. Eager to hike up to “Fat Man’s Pass” the first afternoon, I was stricken to see the sky turning ominous whilst we were standing on top of a mountain. “Well, it’s a glamorous way to die,” I rationalized to Hubby. “We’ve had a good life. Heck, we’ve had a great day! A fun road trip through the mountains and a tuna sandwich from Subway for lunch. This is a fine day to die.” I gave him a passionate kiss and told him I loved him. Then lightening cracked nearby, and we practically ran the two miles back to the car (and we were not killed by lightening).

According to http://www.legendsofamerica.com, “Flagstaff, Arizona is often called the “The City of Seven Wonders” because it sits in the midst of the Coconino National Forest and is surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater National Monument, and the San Francisco Peaks.” It’s a charming, historic city with fantastic people watching.

Both of our older children attended Northern Arizona University, for one year each. The summer weather is amazing but the winters are long and harsh. My desert-raised kids thought it was fun to live through a snowy winter—once. Our youngest says he wants to try it, too, which makes me happy because it will give us more reasons to visit this charming town.

Let me tell you about our hikes! I loved all of the hikes but for different reasons. Fat Man’s pass was the most challenging. We had to be careful to not twist an ankle as we climbed over small boulders and followed the steep trail. My avoidance of the gym in recent months was evident when I had to stop frequently to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow to a normal pace. But the sight of fat lizards scampering over the rocks and numerous butterflies made it worthwhile.

The next afternoon we hiked out to Sandy’s Canyon to Fisher Point. A beautiful meadow hike, this was not steep at all, but just long. We hiked six miles, which is longer than we ever do. It felt good to stretch our legs through huge expanses of meadow with all different colors of wildflowers, and lots of butterflies.

Our last hike started halfway up the mountain where the Snow Bowl Ski Resort operates during the winter months. This hike to Veit Springs was not very strenuous and was my favorite of the three hikes. This hike is in a nature preserve, with old-growth Aspen and huge boulders in a dense forest. Our trail book told us where to find Ludwig Veit’s cabin, built back in 1892. We also saw his cold storage building which is still standing. So quiet except for the sound of the wind through the Aspen leaves, it truly felt magical. We went off the path and climbed over boulders, hoping to find the elusive petroglyphs mentioned in the hiking guide (we never found them). I wondered who Ludwig Veit was. Did he raise a family here in this wild part of America, so far from town? Was he a trapper, or perhaps looking for gold? What I do know for sure is he settled in an idyllic wood.

In the evenings, we sipped beers and played gin rummy at all the major breweries in town, but quickly discovered three pints of microbrew will fill you up so much that you feel like you ate Thanksgiving dinner! I loved small Mother Road Brewery with all the dogs and happy families on the patio. Lumberyard had great people watching and the best IPA. Beaver Creek and Historic were fun as well, and next time, we will stay within walking distance of downtown so we can stay longer and not have to drive.

It was all very relaxing, however, I a not very good at relaxing. I was happy as a clam to get back home, start the laundry, sort through the mail, and make a grocery list. Even though I love to travel, I am a homebody at heart. I kissed all the pets. I watered my plants. I scooped the cat boxes. Standing in line at Fry’s behind Grumpy Lady with Eyelash Dandruff Who Has the Boy with the Huge Head (I can never remember her real name, but sometimes we are at the same neighborhood parties), I laughed at myself, so happy to be back into my rut, and happy to be back home.

Cheers,
Mary