Archive for the ‘travel’ Tag

Visit 100 Islands. This is Important!!!   Leave a comment

Check out this article!  Wow!  cool!  Did you know that you should visit one hundred islands before you die?

It’s a super bucket list idea that we can all afford!

Come on everyone; join the race to run toward the prize of seeing your life as less than enough.

Posted September 4, 2018 by swanatbagend in reality

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Telescoping   Leave a comment

Have you ever returned to a place you lived in the past and felt as if you just walked back in with no elapsed time passed?

I came of age in Oklahoma and after many years’ absence, I traveled to Kansas and Oklahoma a week ago.  I spent time both in Tulsa, where I went to college, and in Oklahoma City, where my mother grew up and where I spent time as an adolescent.  I went back to my grandparents’ house and the friend who drove me there took pictures of me there, standing on the edge of the yard in front of my memories.

I came every summer to spend a few days or a week with my grandparents.  We’d go to the library, the farmer’s market, go for walks.  Those times were valued by me, even then, when as a child, I really didn’t know to value the times.  I can still hear the sound of the upstairs house fan running and the sound of the traffic clicking and thumping over the road joints on Northwest 19th street, as I fell asleep in the hot humidity to the song of the cicadas.  I have memories of that house and my time there dating back to the 70’s.

As I traveled around Oklahoma City and then went on to Tulsa, after 27 years of being away, I found that I did still know my way around town.  I was able to drive myself to the first house my husband and I bought, even though I hadn’t seen it for 27 years and we only lived there nine months before we had to move.  It really had not changed that much.  Nor had my ability to navigate in my past.

Of course, the years had changed me quite a bit.  There’s a long road between being twenty-three and being fifty.

After I was back home, eating breakfast one morning, I felt as if the past were catching up with me.

Going back to a place you knew and loved starting forty years earlier has this effect.  You realize that it has been long–and yet not long.

I saw myself as a child in the arms of my mother and father.

I saw myself as an old woman hoping for a visit from my children because they have just told me I cannot safely drive to visit them.

I saw myself as I am now.   Do you remember the Star Trek Next Generation episode about the Mannheim effect?  Data deals with the effects of temporal distortions due to Mannheim’s experiments with time.  As he experiences himself in the future and the past, he must determine which Data is the present one.  In the same way, I could raise my hand and say, it’s me, but the past me and the future me are also me.

All those “me’s” started telescoping down into the one moment.

They are much closer together than I had thought.


Posted April 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in identity

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Once in a Lifetime   Leave a comment

People use this phrase to explain how peak an experience is.  You’ve most likely heard it in association with some sort of dream vacation.  I know I did.  When my husband of five years used it of our trip to Alaska, a place, let’s confess, I hoped to return to at least a couple more times, I was a bit displeased.

On the other hand, he probably meant it was a fantastic trip, filled with memorable sights, beautiful scenery, and far from home.  That for sure was true.

What I hoped wasn’t was the literal meaning–that it would not ever happen again.

So far, it hasn’t for a lot of reasons that would be understandable to most adults: children, work, money, you know how it goes.  You can’t take a trip like that every other year; it’s just not practical.

But here’s the thing.

When you get together with friends, you enjoy it; it makes a nice break in the usual routine.  You laugh, have fun, eat something, drink something, talk.  When you leave, you say, “We’ll do this again,” or in some cases where it’s the final dinner before a friend moves out of state, you say, “Take care of yourself.  I’ll miss you.  Let me know when you’re back in town.”

You are working on the assumption that–all things being equal–you will see those people again, enjoy a beer again, laugh and carry on again.

But you won’t have that particular gathering again.  No matter how many times you see the same group of friends or family, it won’t be the same gathering.  It’s unique and discrete by virtue of time and loss.

It’s once in a lifetime.


Posted July 13, 2016 by swanatbagend in friendship

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Kentucky Doesn’t Have Much to Do with Ohio   2 comments

Have you ever noticed that once you cross the bridges in Cincinnati and hit the north side, there are very few Kentucky license plates to be seen?

I’ve often noticed that folks from some states just don’t travel as far afield as others.  When we go west on camping trips, we always study license plates, and also on our way to Florida.  On those trips we see Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, all the time.  Ohio sometimes.  Eastern states such as New York, New Jersey, North or South Carolina, sometimes.  Even Canadian plates aren’t all that rare as you drive around the Midwest.

But what we almost never see then are plates from the south.

And, in our area what I’ve noticed is that we (speaking for Kentuckians as a group) don’t travel far either.  In Tennessee there aren’t many Kentucky plates.  In Missouri, there aren’t many.  And in Ohio, the closest of all to our area, there are very few.

Kentucky just doesn’t seem to have much to do with Ohio.

Before I moved here I wouldn’t have believed it, but there really does seem to be a dividing line in some ways that says that Kentucky is still part of the south, and not part of the Midwest.  It’s an interesting blend of both, I think, but as far as travel habits, and institutions and cultural patterns that people identify with–I think Kentuckians for the most part would definitely see the Ohio River as one river that is too wide to cross.

My son attends college in Ohio, and while I met two other Kentucky parents there at orientation, I didn’t have the sense to exchange contact information with them so we could carpool together later.  I’ve never found them again, and, further, while my son has many classmates from Pennsylvania–including his roommate, some from varied countries, and even some from little ol’ New jersey, he has met nobody else from Kentucky.

At all.

It’s interesting.

Posted March 29, 2016 by swanatbagend in citizenship

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I think I’m having some kind of withdrawal   Leave a comment

So every year for the past four years, our family has packed up our gear, hooked up the pop-up trailer, and gone on a camping trip.

We really traveled.  We went to the Southwest, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, back to the southwest to see more of Arches and Capitol Reef and to meet Canyonlands for the first time.  Then last year, we went to South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Bighorn Canyon, the Helena area, Hebgen Lake, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

So, yes, we have done a lot of camping and traveling.  It was a good bit of work, but hey…it was fun!

My parents took us camping starting when I was about 9 and my brother was 2, and we moved around a lot because Dad had itchy feet.  So maybe I get this tendency from him.  I also got used to living west of the Mississippi where the air isn’t quite so thick and where you can see for miles.

I’m glad I got to go camping all those times.  I know many people who haven’t had those opportunities.

I have found a down side to it though.

When you’re used to going every year, staying home seems a bit tame.

I had thought maybe we would camp this fall, but after 2013’s epic list of trips (see previous posts), my man declined to take us all out in the pop up again.

However, it was only after he told me about a dream he had that I truly understood how different our responses to these incredible trips had been.

“I had this dream,” he told me.

“In it, the van was attached to the pop-up.  There was also a hitch on the front of the van.”

“Attached to the front of the van was a bicycle…and guess who was riding it?”

“Who?” I asked.

“Me,” he replied.  “I was pulling the entire rig myself using the bicycle, with all of you in the van yelling suggestions out the windows.”

I am pretty sure that, among other things, this might mean we are not going camping this year.


Well, he is correct that we will save time, money, wear on the van, and a whole lot of effort.  I have actually gotten quite a few projects done this year that have been on my list for probably months, if not a couple of years.  And we have gotten to enjoy a normal summer — we’ve been blessed to participate in three graduations, one wedding, one Fourth of July with two different sets of friends, berry picking with friends and family and each other, and a host of other summer delights.

And it’s weird that I want to keep going on these excursions, since I’m not exactly a high-powered high energy person.  I’m nothing like the Testosterone Trio, 3 guys we camped next to at Zion, who were loading up to go rock climbing starting before daylight.  It’s not like I’m getting up at 5 a.m. to go hike 10 miles each day while we’re out.  I’m neither a morning person nor a night owl.  So…..why do I want to go?

I just love being on the move and being in wide open incredible spaces.

I’m glad we took so many pictures of Grand Teton and Yellowstone and Utah.  No description can do these places justice, so I’m not going to try in this post.  I can look at them and remind myself that I was really there.  And blessed to be there.

But when I see the pictures part of me just wants to go back.

Can we leave tomorrow?


Posted August 5, 2014 by swanatbagend in reflections

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Missing?   2 comments

It’s Saturday and for the first time since August 24th, I did not talk to Zach today, and I won’t be talking to him today.  We planned to talk every Saturday and we have kept that commitment with the exception of one time it worked better to talk Sunday.

But this Saturday my oldest is incognito as far as communication is concerned.  I can’t reach him by phone, email, fax, text, message, US postal mail. Nor can I talk face to face, for the first time that I can think of.

He’s in another country on a study abroad trip, seeing new sights, having new adventures, and as Dave Barry would say, “learning new words for ‘blood transfusion'” and I’m sure he is enjoying every minute of it.

It’s just one more step down the path of the new era for me.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for him, and I am thankful that he has it, and yet it’s odd that I won’t hear anything from him nor will I be able to reach him for another week or so.

When your children are small, their times away from you are short and prescribed.  You know precisely what they are doing and when they are going to be back.

The notable exception to that would be the time you misplace your child.

Zach took a walk by himself when he was two years old.  I had been outside with him but gone back in to finish dinner, thinking it would only take me a few minutes. When I came back out fifteen minutes later he was nowhere in sight.  It was a December evening and darkness was already starting to come down.  When Greg got home from work a few minutes later, and our neighbor JB heard our situation, the two of them took off down the road two different ways, and I started up the hill, calling for Zach, and berating myself for ever letting him out of my sight.

At the top of the hill, I saw a little red-coated figure bobbing along, accompanied by JB’s dogs.  That was the most relief I think I have ever felt in my life after the longest fifteen minutes of my life.  All at once, everything that had seemed, and for all I knew, been horribly wrong, was made right again.  I knew at that moment, that my child was not a project or activity I kept busy with, but a person who was priceless and could never be replaced, and I knew then just how much his little self meant to me.

I picked him up and hurried back down the hill to let the men know he was all right, telling him I didn’t know where he was and I was so glad he was all right.  I got him back inside, sat him down on the couch, told him please to not go off again by himself like that, and he said, “I sorry. I stay.”

Well, this time I do know generally where he is, but no specifics.  That has to be enough and it is.

He is no longer a small, sweet boy who likes to be outside, looking at bugs, but a large sweet man who likes to be outside looking at bugs.

He has grown up, seems like when I wasn’t looking.  I must have been inside, just for a minute, making dinner…..

Posted December 15, 2013 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Our Trip to Yellowstone   1 comment

We just went to Utah last September and we went to Florida in April, but we wanted to cram in one more big camping trip before Zach leaves for college and his schedule becomes out of our hands.  I’m so glad we were able to go.  Couldn’t do it without Greg leading set up and sharing his precious vacation days with his family in this way!

We left June 22nd and spent the night at an RV park near St. Joseph MO.  It was a windy hot but we managed thanks to showers and a fan for the kids.

Night two we made it to the Badlands.  Last time I drove through South Dakota was in ’99 and Zach pointed out there was a drought that year, so this year, South Dakota looked positively verdant to me.  Green waves of grass going on and on.  We even saw the Wessington Hills of to our north as we went west on the interstate, that Laura Ingalls mentions in her books.

The Badlands campground was almost full but we did get a spot.  The kids of course wanted to go off exploring into the hills immediately.  We did do some of that but not too far as it was dusk and this seemed like a bad idea to me.  Coming back to our campsite we got a view of the full moon rising over the Badlands.  Pretty nice.

Next day we did some more hiking and exploring, with Zach descending into a crack in the earth, and Helena following.  That day was one of the longest, in a good way, that I have ever experienced.  I think being in that time zone and that far north and being on vacation had this effect that it seemed as if “the morning lasted all day.”  It was wild.  We had time to go to the Visitor Center, gift shop, and the lodge gift shop, and we still had time to relax.  There were some lovely wildflowers in the camping area, which I didn’t remember seeing when I’d last been in that area.  I did enjoy hearing the Western meadowlarks singing away; they were all over the place.

That evening we took a scenic drive, which took us through some wind and rain as a storm moved through the area very slowly and majestically.  We had seen coming back at the ranch, and closed up the camper, but I don’t think it ever actually rained there.  You can see such distances you can watch the whole thing traveling for miles.  The drive was lovely.  We enjoyed seeing a whole flock of Bighorn sheep mamas with their babies, babies who wanted to nurse right in the middle of the road!

Leaving there on the 25th of June, we took in Mount Rushmore in about 45 minutes.  OK, three of us had been there before, so maybe that’s why it didn’t take all that long.

Then it was onward through Wyoming (where my cell phone decided my phone messages were password protected, for the first time in seven years, for no reason I could discern) and heading north and west to Lodge Grass to take the back roads to Fort Smith Montana where I had lived in 5th and 6th grade.  It’s a long drive, there’s a lot of beautiful ground to cover.   I didn’t remember seeing the northern end of the Bighorn mountains with snow still on it….but maybe at Fort Smith, since you’re so tucked up under the foothills, you don’t see the mountains.

We were greeted on our arrival by the box elder bugs in the hundreds, crawling all over the admission kiosk for Bighorn Canyon NRA.  Zach was delighted to see them, and it was fun for me as well because I used to have such fun “bugging” those bugs when they were thriving on the south wall of our house all summer.

We camped that night in the Afterbay campground and I took Greg and Helena and Beren for a scenic tour of the playground and my old street.  The street and my house looked a bit smaller than I remembered, but the hill behind the house, not.  That really was a big hill and it was exciting and fun to climb when we used to go to the top for something fun to do.  The playground equipment was almost all the same and Beren enjoyed an actual merry-go-round.  It was fun playing on the playground I enjoyed as a 10-year-old.  Visitor Center at Yellowtail Dam had not changed an iota since 1979, that I could tell.  It was like time traveling.

Next day we went through Hardin, me thinking of old friends, some already dead and gone, while Beren was trying to interest me in a game of charades. That’s an interesting gig to try to pull off; relate fully to your child when you are about 35 years in the past…  We met my friend Rosanne in Billings and had lunch with her and her charming daughter.  What a treat.  She claims I haven’t changed since 1979, and she really hadn’t either, what are the odds of that?  She actually remembered what we did at my 12th birthday party better than I did!  It was a sleepover and we told creepy stories!  OK.  Good memory.

We then got to spend a long weekend with Greg’s brother and his wife. They showed us a really good time. We got to pan for Montana sapphires, the kids and Greg went fishing in a beautiful valley, we took a tour of Helena on the trolley, enjoyed ice cream, a carousel and Monsters University.  We of course had to take a picture of Helena with a sign that featured her name.

Leaving Monday, July 1st, we drove south along the Madison river into the Yellowstone area.  Went to the Hebgen lake quake and slide area, but unfortunately the VC was closed for renovations.  I was deeply impressed as a kid by that area and the lake that was created by the slide.  Then we headed on through West Yellowstone into the park as Greg wanted to be sure to get a good campsite.  However, they assign sites, and thankfully it was a nice campsite surrounded by trees.  That night after setting up we went to the Mammoth Hot Springs area and saw those with the sun setting, also quite a few elk and buffalo.  One buffalo was resting placidly by a bubbling water pool just right at the edge of the road.

The next day we went all around.  We hiked to Lower and Upper Yellowstone Falls.  Worth the climb back up, definitely.  Unbelievably beautiful with all that cold, green water shooting over the edge like living marble.  The foam rebounds about a third of the way up on the Lower Falls, and that would be 100 feet or so.  There was even a big blob of snow/ice stuck to the south side of the canyon below the top of the falls.  While Zach and Greg did Uncle Tom’s trail to the bottom of the lower falls, Beren, Helena and I walked out to Artist’s point, the place from which Moran painted his iconic image.  That too was worth the trip.

In the afternoon and evening we saw more sights probably setting a record for the most places seen by our family on vacation in 24 hours.  We went to the Norris Geyser Basin and saw various springs and fumaroles, and fortuitously were just walking toward Constant Geyser when it went off!  Very fun.  Then it was on to Old Faithful and we were not disappointed. This was the highlight of the trip for Beren, and we all enjoyed getting baptised by that most reliable geyser.  On the way back we stopped at the Artist’s Paint Pots and were not disappointed with that hike — there were several lovely thick blorping mud pots at the top of the trail and many other lovely bubbling pits elsewhere.  The Canyon area VC was outstanding I might add, a great 3D model of the area which explains the supervolcano and caldera. Too bad Yellowtail Dam VC can’t get some of the Yellowstone funds diverted for an update…

That night we had the honor and privilege of having some dear friends from home whose visit overlapped ours drive around and around the Canyon campground looking for us, because we had planned to meet, but my messages, all THREE of them, that had our campsite number, went astray!  What are the odds? Anyway, their devotion earned us a very pleasant late evening visit with them complete with refreshments that were their dinner.

Next morning we headed out to Grand Teton NP which I am told I’ve visited before, but not in living memory…which I have very little of anyway!  I loved it here.  Beren says if you’re looking for scenery definitely Grand Teton is the best, although personally Yellowstone was his favorite.  And I have to agree with him, what we saw just got even more gorgeous every place we went.  You’ve seen those photos of pink, giant mountains with fields of wildflowers in the foreground?  Yes, that is a real place, and you can drive to it.  They are block fault mountains which means they have no foothills, which is why they are so impressive.  I could stay a few years in Jackson Hole and not be sorry, I think.

And one fun highlight was the neighbor’s duck waddling down to introduce herself.  We had noticed they were camping with a duck and imagine my delight when the duck got bored when only the dad was in the campsite, and waddled briskly over, quacking quietly all the while, to settle herself in the pine litter between my chair and Beren’s.  We loved her!  Her name was Dusty and her embarrassed “father” came to get her and took her back when she began nibbling the tags on the camp chairs.

We took a drive up Wilson Moose Road the first night looking for moose; saw none but two lovely beavers who were beaving, and tons of wildflowers, roses, roaring streams, and it smelled like Alaska.  Next day it was the ferry across Jenny Lake and a hike to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point, and into Cascade Canyon. Beren and I turned back before the rest did, but he and I hiked at least two miles.  It was great.  Very tired that night, had a lovely shower and then strolled by the lake and took more pictures.  Tried to get photos of pink mountains in the a.m. but no luck clouds in the east blocked the sunrise.  Don’t regret getting up at 545 though.  It’s easy to do when I’m in the mountains, on vacation, further north where there is more light….There are waterfalls tumbling down every valley as you see across the lake and it just goes up and up something like what Aslan’s county is.

Feel so blessed that we were able to go out there.  Drove back through Wyoming’s incredible variable scenery and spent the night along the Front Range with Greg’s cousin and his family. What a treat.  We got a wonderful mix of family and friends and scenery the whole trip.  We hauled Mom and Dad’s canoe home from Denver although the wind in Kansas tried to get us to leave it there.  A flat tire near Evansville Indiana was our only mishap.

I haven’t even looked through all our pictures since Greg uploaded them, haven’t had time due to taking Zach to college orientation.  But I will and savor them until I can get back to Wyoming….

Posted July 20, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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