Myanmar in Pictures

Seth, a friend of mine that I mentioned in a previous post, I’m Afflicted with Wanderlust, who travels all the time and fills me with so much envy; traveled to Myanmar, the former country of Burma, last December. He took some amazing photo’s and had a couple of fundraisers/art shows sharing the beautiful pictures and tales of his travels. He offered one of his friends and me a tour on a recent visit to his office. (he’s a lawyer in his day job, I try not to hold that against him)

Seth proudly showing his photo’s

He also wrote a piece in the Daily Journal of Commerce about his trip where he shared some of the history of the country and a few interesting stories and misadventures. Here is an excerpt about a portion of his trip where he decided to rent a moped to head up to a hot spring outside a city he was visiting;

After a little reflection, I realized that weaving in and out of traffic (semis, buses, other mopeds), armed with a meek little horn and a broken blinker, was proof positive that I don’t value my own life quite enough. When I arrived, thankful to be counted among the living, I planted the kickstand, and that’s when I realized something else, a bit less important than the value of life. I had forgotten a towel.”

And yet he made the best of it when he decided to have a beer instead; a taxi driver found him interesting and wanted to know why he isn’t in the hot springs. Seth tells him that he forgot his towel, and the man hurries off and comes back with a longyi (According to Seth, a traditional cloth wrap worn by everyone other than tourists, replacing pants and similar to a sarong) for him to use to visit the pool.

For some reason this seems to be a typical Seth story, he forgets his towel and a man provides one, he smiles and a lady crosses the street to give him a flower(see below). No wonder he has survived months of travel and had really very little bad things happen to him.

IMG_0277

Flower Woman

The lovely woman in the picture above is the one from his story that offered him a flower.

“I noticed someone dodging traffic, walking towards me, with purpose. The woman stopped and handed me a bright crimson flower with a short stem. I thanked her as best I could. She didn’t speak any English, and Burmese, the mother tongue, was way beyond my pay grade.

The woman cupped one hand and motioned towards her nose. “Smell it,” she implied, without saying anything. So I did. And I’m glad I listened. The smell was incredible: rich and fragrant, anise and clover.

I carried the flower with me that day and the next, all the way to the airport, where I finally left it, wilting on a window ledge.”

Seth is full of stories from his adventure; including trying some weird goopy “peyote” like substance from a stand and enjoying it, eating mostly street cart food and never getting ill, moped rides, crazy train rides and more. You can see more of Seth’s pictures on his website.

IMG_0294

A Few of My Favorite Pictures

 

I now have another location on my bucket list of places to visit. Do you have a favorite place that you think I should see?

 

Disappointment and Fear

IMG_0931

The only thing sustaining me through these last few hellish weeks of work has been the thought of going on our summer road trip. I have been having dreams about sitting on the beach with my toes in the sand watching the sunset with a nice tall G&T in my hand. For me, that is a slice of heaven, but unfortunately there will be no heaven this week.

On Friday, the day before we were supposed to leave for our trip, the day we were supposed to be loading up our car to head out on the open road my husband began spitting up blood. This is how our 10 days stint in the hospital started last December, so we took it pretty seriously. It just so happened that he had an appointment at the anticoagulation clinic scheduled for Friday morning so we decided to take him there first before trying to get any other appointments or hitting the emergency room.  It turned out that his Warfarin was way off, like almost 50% higher than it was supposed to be, and that was likely the cause of the bleeding. So with instructions on how to get his blood levels back to where they are supposed to be we headed home for a day of resting.

On Saturday morning I had high hopes that he would be feeling better and at least well enough to sit in the car while I drove us south.  He said he wanted to go and wished to go and he was feeling better, but that he was too scared to be away. “What if something happens like last time?”  I understood, but was still very, very disappointed.  I went back to bed.

His lungs are not going to get any better and he knows it, but his lungs are not in nearly as bad of shape as some people in my life have been. Still when things like this happen I think he feels like the end is near and that death is knocking on his door and he get sad, depressed and mopey. I then find myself giving him the platitude pep talk; “Do you want to live what’s left of your life sad and depressed? If you do, why keep living?”, “You are so lucky and are in a lot better shape than many men your age and you better start appreciating it, because it’s not going to get any better than it is.“,  “You have to stop wishing you were 25 again because you’re not.”, “Are you going to spend your remaining years sad and unhappy? Cause that’s no way to live!”  He then responds, “I know.” “I’ll get out of my funk”  and then he feels better and get’s out of his funk and we start to enjoy life again.

But I am still in a little funk, just bummed out that our trip didn’t happen and trying to make the best of it. I was thinking about just heading back into work this week and trying to save the vacation for another time, but I need a break from that place even if it is just at home. The weather is supposed to be sunny and hot here all week, so I think to get myself in a better state of mind I am going to try to learn something new and use a day to discover something new about home.

Do you have someone in your life that is dealing with health issues? How do you help them stay positive?

 

 

Road Tripping!

14546360719_c892d62306_z

Some Maps from the Map Box

In anticipation of our impending road-trip I have been pulling up my rough itinerary on google maps, getting out the map box and checking to see if I have the maps I want to take and also plugged a few of the stops I know we want to make into the navigation on my phone.  All of this is getting me so excited to hit the road, wondering about the new things I will get to see and do, salivating about the food I will be eating and makes me thing about wanting to try something new. Paddle boarding I think this time!

I ran across a fun article on one of my favorite blogs, Broadside, written by Caitlin Kelly called;  “Why Maps Beat GPS Every Time”  She talks about her love of maps, one of her favorite trips to Corsica, an island off the southern coast of France, and one of my favorite quotes from the article:

 I love the anticipation of reading a map and wondering how the landscape will resemble it contours.”

I love my maps too, because if there is anything I am, I am a planner. I love to plan trips, moves, purchases, events, parties, how to get something done ~ I love to plan. Sometimes I fear I love the planning part more than the actual event part, but I hope that is only marginally true.  I love my maps for the memories that they bring back to me; they are just as important to me as the pictures I take or the journal entries I make and sometimes trigger memories better than anything else.

But I also love techie stuff too and one of the favorite phone apps I discovered on our last road trip was called Field Trip.  It used your GPS on your phone to tell you about interesting things nearby and lets you customize what types of things it tells you about; like if you are interested in Historic Places and Events or looking for Zagat rated dining you can use a filter it to tell you about those things and not the amusement parks or museums or vis-a-versa if amusement parks and museums are your thing.  Pretty cool.

My husband tends to be the driver and I am the navigator, we have become a pretty good team over the years, finding interesting places on purpose and well, yes, sometimes by accident. My favorite drives have been the ones on both coasts; California along highway 1 and in the Northeast from Boston to Cape Ann with breathtaking sunsets in the west and a beautiful reason to rise early and meet the sun in the east.

Here’s to a week of fun, adventure and beautiful sunsets!

Do you have a favorite road trip that you can do again and again?  or

Do you have a favorite travel tool ~ high-tech or low-tech that you use?


Life is good Auto Accessories

They Make Me Smile

imageThese are my Menehune, they were given to me by my grandmother a dozen or so years ago when she was cleaning out her house during a move or while redecorating, I can’t quite remember. She had had them for as long as I can remember, getting them on a trip to Hawaii sometime in the 60’s. They always sat on a bookshelf in her living room at the “farm” and I was fascinated by them as a child and loved to take them down from the shelf, play with them like dolls and rub their shiny bellies and smile at their big grins.

My grandmother would sometimes tell me funny stories about them or tease me that they were watching me and I better be good. My grandmother always loved clowns too for some reason, I don’t know why, and these reminded me of some of the clowns she had around her home.

My grandmother always told me they were carved out of Lava Rocks and I never questioned that answer. But today I took a closer look and they do have a marking on the side of the little woman “Made in Hawaii with Lava by C0 C0 Joe No. 289” The little man has no markings. I am guessing by the markings on the bottom that maybe it was melted lava rocks poured into molds? I’m not sure, but I found a pair very close to mine on eBay listed for $119.

I went in search of some more information about the little figurines  and found some interesting information about the legend of the Menehune. From the ToHawaii.com travel site it talks about the legend of the Menehune;

“Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favorite foods were bananas and fish.

The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.”

Menehune

Menehune Fish Pond (picture from www.gohawaii.com

“This fishpond is said to have been built in just one night by the menehune, the mythical little people of Kauai. The menehune were master craftsmen who could accomplish amazing deeds in very little time. They used to live in the island’s forests and hid from humans, so during one night they came out and built the fishpond. They did this by lining up from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles (40 km) away, passing stones hand-by-hand.

The fishpond is located next to the Hulei’a Stream. A lava rock wall between the pond and the stream is 900 feet (274 m) long and 5 feet (1.5 m) high, which is amazing considering the fact that archaeologists estimate that the fishpond is around 1,000 years old. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.”

And this is a fun little fact if you believe the legend or even if you don’t:

Even though the Menehune were said to be displaced when the first settlers arrived in Hawaii, some people still believe that the Menehune are roaming the islands, carrying out tricks on people. Indeed, an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as ‘Menehune.‘”

I have my doubts about the legends, but I will always smile and think fondly of my sweet grandmother whenever I look upon my little Menehune.

Do you have any cool travel treasure or fun family heirlooms?

Planning Our Summer Road Trip

IMG_0359 Nothing is better than a summer road trip!

I am starting our plans for our road trip to California, this will be our third annual meandering down the west coast. The anticipation is starting to build and I can hardly wait to get the dogs in the car, load up the iPod with some great tunes, fill the cooler with snacks and drinks and hit the open road.

Our Santa Cruz Beach

View out our window at our little place in the sun.

We have ended up at least in part at little place near the beach in Santa Cruz where the dogs are welcome, the beautiful beach is right outside our door, we have a little kitchen to prepare meals and an awesome burrito place just 3 blocks away.

Our route has changed the last two years, the first trip involved a trip to Arizona to visit my grandfather at his “snow bird” location in Sun City West near Phoenix, a stop in trendy Palm Springs the same weekend as the Coachella music festival (there were some sites and a crazy price for a bare-bones motel in a sold out town – sometimes timing is everything) a stop in Northwest Portland with a visit to my very favorite bakery in the world, the St. Honore’ Boulangerie for a yummy Croque Monsieur and some pastries and bread for the road.

Mo chillin in the window seat!

Mo chillin in the window seat!

Our last trip was more of a direct trip to our spot in Santa Cruz with a short stop in Medford, Oregon. We ran into a couple at one of the rest stops in Oregon, they were driving an older VW Eurovan(so jealous) and traveling with their dog. Our dogs had to smell each other, the way that only dogs do, we smiled and said hello and headed back out on the road. We ran into them again the next time we stopped to let the dogs walk and take a break. We laughed and decided to introduce our selves, they were traveling back to their home in Santa Cruz from visiting relatives that lived less than 20 miles from us. Small world. We visted, shared business cards, let the dogs sniff and play for a few minutes and then headed back to the road.

Meeting people on the road is one of my favorite things about a trip, but I have to admit my husband is much better at that (if that is something that can be rated) than I am. He can strike up a conversation with just about anyone about just about anything. I am a bit more shy and striking up a conversation with a stranger is not an easy thing for me, I guess I feel like I am intruding on their lives or maybe that I just have nothing of note to offer them. But when it does happen, I really do love it.

As I begin poring over maps to plan some possible routes and look for dog friendly hotels along the way; my spirit rises, I feel giddy inside and am back to being a kid in school watching the calendar slowly click by waiting for the day school will be out for the summer.

Do you have any summer travel plans or dog friendly hotels to recommend on the west coast?

Travel Patina

IMG_0177

Opened senses and a shaken balance.

Strange toilets and a tested palate.

A touched soul and a blistered toe.

All whims allowed and a nap condoned.

Lust for the new and the comfort of old.

Twist your tongue and engage your brain.

Let it seep into your pores and in to your DNA.

Get a travelers life and add a little patina.

 

I Am Afflicted With Wanderlust

Venice 1  As my world has begun to shrink, my wanderlust has begun to expand.

I keep reading books and blogs about travel and this desire continues to build up in me like the water behind a damn that is about to break. I was window shopping vacation rentals in Paris yesterday; imagining renting one for about six months and getting to write, walk the streets of Paris, learn some proper French and sit in a cafe and watch the world go by.

A Stephanie Rosenbloom article “Solo in Paris” in the May 2nd New York Times nicely sums up how I would love to spend my time.

“Indeed, the city has a centuries-old tradition of solo exploration, personified by the flâneur, or stroller. Flânerie is, in its purest form, a goal-less pursuit, though for some it evolved into a purposeful art: Walking and observing became a method of understanding a city, an age. Baudelaire described the flâneur as a passionate spectator, one who was fond of “botanizing on the asphalt,” as the essayist Walter Benjamin would later put it. Typically, it was a man. No longer.”

With observation and people watching being favorite pastimes this excerpt from the Ms. Rosenbloom’s article encapsulates the idea perfectly;

“To refuel, I stopped by a favorite among my friends, Le Comptoir du Relais, a cozy maroon bistro where English is hardly spoken. I walked in around 4:30, which meant I had no trouble getting lunch. Tall panes of glass were flung open, letting in the sidewalk, the better for gawking at passers-by, which I did shamelessly while eating salmon with wasabi and turnips. Places like this, where one looks out as others look in, are ideal for solo travelers. I had that exquisite feeling described by Baudelaire in “The Painter of Modern Life,” in which you “see the world,” are “at the center of the world,” and yet “remain hidden from the world.””

I also found this wonderful blog post yesterday on Medium by Keegan Jones, Lessons From A Year of Solo Travel. He has some great observations and interesting tips and information about seeing the world. The first one was that he planned to spent less than $33/ day on accommodations but after a year on the road he spent less;

“Travel can be affordable.
Long term travel is different than a luxury vacation. The point is to see the world, not stay in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, I stayed on a strict budget. The goal was to spend no more than $33 per day on accommodations. After a year, I was able to spend only $26.15 per day by booking through HostelWorld and Airbnb. When I wanted to meet people, I’d stay in a shared room at a hostel. When I wanted to be alone, I’d book a private room with Airbnb.”

He also posted a picture of the limited possessions and clothes that he traveled with over his year of travel. Maybe 30 items.

“I have lived with a few things in a backpack for a year. I have been perfectly content. It’s a fantastic feeling to walk off an airplane with a single carry-on backpack. I didn’t buy a single souvenir because I had no extra space in my backpack. I have become more conscious about things I want versus things that I need. The less you own, the better. Otherwise, your possessions will own you. Living this way is a privilege. It affords the flexibility to easily move, live in less space, worry less, and spend less to buy bigger and better things.”

This was the most appealing part of the story to me, shedding all the possessions that are weighing me down and getting down to the basic necessities of life with maybe a few luxuries in there for fun.

And this quote, from the author Jon Krakauer, that he included also got me thinking.

““Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer”

I have always been the responsible planner that makes sure the trip is planned, the bills are paid, the next job is lined up, the birthday cards are mailed and on and on. I would like to escape the “monotonous security” for a while. I know my opportunity will come, I am working on being ready for it when the time is right!

How about you any secret travel lust?