In Which I Answer 20 Questions Because It’s Something Fun To Do

I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so why not change it up? After all, variety is the spice of life blogging. Therefore today I’m answering 20 questions I found on View from the Back who got them from The Life And Travels Of Mrs Suvi

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Your most memorable fancy dress costume?

A few years ago I wore a purple cocktail dress with silver sparkly trim to a black-tie business event that was a horrible affair. I was physically and emotionally uncomfortable the whole evening: my dress was tight & my feet hurt while I was standing in a room filled with status-seeking people cursed with negative energy. I vowed to never do anything like it again– and I haven’t.

Which social media platform do you use the most?

WordPress

Favourite season?

• Autumn

If you had to choose the beach or mountains, which would it be?

• I’d choose the beach because I like walking on sand, looking at the waves, searching for shells or driftwood, BUT I choose this with the proviso that I can visit the mountains whenever I want to.

What can you play very well?

• Candy Crush Soda Saga

What kind of cheese do you like?

• All non-stinky kinds

Life goal?

• To put things or ideas or people together. Metaphorically speaking I see puzzle pieces everywhere and want to make the picture whole. Or maybe I see tesserae everywhere and want to make my own mosaic. In either case I put things together.

How many cities have you lived in?

• I’ll answer this by defining cities as metropolitan regions, thus my answer is 8.

What language do you wish you could speak?

• Spanish

What can’t you stand?

• A mocking tone of voice. The idea that education is of no value. Green peppers.

If you have an hour to kill on your hands, what would you do?

• Depending on the situation I’d: go for a walk;  read a book &/or some blogs;  play a game on my phone;  or become a lounge lizard watching the people go by.

Your favorite routine?

• I’d say it’s showing up to my blog at least once a week, usually on Tuesday, and talking with everyone in the comments. Like I’m doing now. *Hi!*

When do you become hyperactive?

• When I’m forced to travel by plane, often leaving the house before the break of day, I become hyperactive with worry about locking the house and all things related to the hassle at the airport. It makes me crazy until I’m sitting at my gate.

Text message or phone call?

• Text message

Your most precious treasure?

• I like things, but as for precious treasure I’m not sure any one thing would rate that designation. I mean, any thing I have can be replaced so how precious is it really?

Your latest foreign language mistake?

• I probably mispronounced some French word. The few I know trip me up when I try to say them.

What’s the best therapy for you?

• A glass of chilled dry white wine sipped while gazing into nature

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?

• I rather liked Piper in Charmed. She could make a great meal, stop time in order to decide what to do next, and vanquish evil when necessary. Plus she married her true love. All-in-all, she’s my kind of badass.

Where would you like to travel?

• Dreaming big here: UK. Ireland. Italy. Hawaii. Australia. NZ. Vietnam. South Africa. Argentina.

Where did you meet your spouse/partner?

• We met in college. In fact, this past Valentine’s Day we received a card from our alma mater telling us that we are among about 2,000 couples who met on campus. Of course the Valentine’s Day card was also a solicitation for monies making the card less lovable, but the factoid was interesting.

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If you decide to do this on your own blog please link back to this post so I can go read what you wrote. Deal?

Notes On Getting My TSA Known Traveler Number + Chitchat About Where I’ve Been

Let’s heAR it for Ms. Bean

This summer, after yabbling about doing this for years, I finally enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program.

The online application was easy.  The total cost was $85.00 for five years.  But it did require an interview with a real person at a TSA-approved IdentoGO office that happened to be nowhere close to where I live.

My interview appointment time, the soonest I could get, was 4 weeks from when I sent in my enrollment– and then it was 10 days after that before I got my official TSA Known Traveler Number [KTN].

For me this was not a fast process

Do I need this TSA PreCheck status?  I dunno.  But after some of my air travel experiences, most notably standing in the Las Vegas TSA line for 1 hour 45 minutes, I’ll do anything that *might* make the process less painful.

[Click HERE to read an article that helped me to better understand the program.]

And on that note, having talked about the practical side of travel, I’ll share the following fun and pretty stuff.

I created these images using the Visited Countries Project on Douwe Osinga’s website. You may already know about this because it’s been around for a long time.

Nonetheless here is where I’ve been
I’ve been to 9 countries which amounts to 4% of the world.

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I’ve been to 34 US states which amounts to 68% of the country.

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I’ve been to 3 Canadian provinces which amounts to 23% of the country.

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QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Are you in the TSA PreCheck program? If so, how has that worked out for you?

Where did you go for your favorite vacation ever? Where did you go for your worst vacation ever?  

Got any travel plans for the rest of this year?

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Where I Was When I Wasn’t Here: San Antonio, TX

TO BEGIN

Colorful bat mosaic on wall at zoo.

“The world is a book. If you do not travel, you read only a page.”

The above quote, that I see every day when I’m at home, is on a framed piece of artwork that I have hanging on a wall in our home office.

I only mention this quote, attributed to St. Augustine, because I believe it to be true, a guiding principle.  Thus I said “hell to the yes” when I had the opportunity to spend a few days in pleasant and pretty San Antonio, TX.

You see, last week Zen-Den was in San Antonio for a conference.  Remembering how much fun we had there years ago, I joined him after the conference was over and we goofed off for a couple of days doing things in America’s 7th largest city that is celebrating its 300th birthday.

[Did not know either of those facts before visiting there. Feel that I’m a better person for having shared them here.]

THINGS WE DID

• The San Antonio River Walk which is a meandering multi-level path around an urban waterway surrounded by restaurants, shops, and hotels.

• The Briscoe Western Art Museum which was beautiful, and wherein I saw Roy Rogers’s saddle, a real Wells Fargo Wagon, and ate a complimentary cupcake.

• The Alamo Quarry Market which is an open-air shopping area filled with stores and restaurants, not necessarily unique to San Antonio but a nice place to wander around in the warm sunshine.

• The San Antonio Zoo which was lovely, with more animals from South America, Australia, and Africa than any other zoo I’ve been to.

• The Alamo City Comic Con which was our first adventure into the happy, trippy subculture that revolves around comic conventions.  Here are my observations: 1) people, often entire families, were costumed like comic book or TV or movie characters [we were not];  2) people were standing in line waiting to pay to have photos taken with and/or objects signed by celebrities [we did not];  & 3) people were buying memorabilia and posters and t-shirts from the displays set up by many vendors [we did not].

IN CONCLUSION

And with that I’ll end this post with a hat tip to St. Augustine and his travel advice, suggesting to you, my gentle readers, that San Antonio, TX, is a fun + friendly place to visit for those of you inclined to want to read more than one page of this book we call the world.

Be The Light: Four Fun Stories About Air Travel

INTRODUCTION

As you probably remember I’ve joined a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of January, I have a story, or four, to share with you, my gentle readers and fellow #WATWB participants.

THE NEWS STORIES  

 A lucky woman gets to fly on a commercial airline flight as the only passenger. If only.

 A piece of luggage that keeps track of you. Cool.

An impatient baby arrives mid-flight attended by not one, but two, doctors. Cuteness.

• A free drink in the main cabin on a shuttle flight makes flying fun again. Huzzah!

MY COMMENTARY

I had no difficulty finding positive news stories about airlines this month. As a traveler who is often disgruntled with the airlines and known to express said disgruntlement to the powers that be, I was surprised.

I don’t tend to think of air travel in a favorable light.

But the above links suggest that maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for an industry that is known more for annoying passengers than pleasing them.

At least that’s the idea I’m going to dwell on here in this particular post.

And on the note, with a hat tip to Schubert Piano Sonata in A major D. 959, I’ll leave you with the theme from Wings, one of my favorite 1990s TV shows.  Sandpiper Air made flying look like so much fun.

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Seeing The Sights, Doing The Things In Georgia And South Carolina

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Statue of cute cherubs playing music, presumably happy, in Middleton Place Plantation garden.

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“There’s no rush.”

I can think of no better words to describe a fun vacation.  Not that we didn’t do anything while in Georgia and South Carolina.  We did lots, but we did it at our own pace, in our own way.

This was unusual for us because our vacations in the last decade or so have revolved around other people or business obligations or complicated air travel.

But this time, my gentle readers, Zen-Den and I were totally on our own to do what we wanted to do.

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We flew into Atlanta, rented a car, then drove to Savannah, GA, where we stayed for a few nights.  Located on the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah is a charming town made famous by the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

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The lovely, inviting beach on Tybee Island.

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As we remembered from being in Savannah years ago, the people who we met were helpful + polite, the nearby beach on Tybee Island was clean + beautiful, and the vibe, everywhere, was mellow.  I loved it all.

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Fancy walkway over a shallow swamp on Hilton Head Island.

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After Savannah, we drove north to Charleston, SC, stopping on Hilton Head Island, SC, for lunch.  Hilton Head has a smooth, upscale, planned feel to it.  Fun to visit, we’ve been there before, but it never calls to me like it does to so many people who live around me here in Ohio, who adore it there in South Carolina.

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Beautifully maintained brick homes in the French Quarter of Charleston.

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In Charleston, SC, we stayed in a hotel in the downtown historic district.  If you like to walk then this is a convenient way to be close to hundreds of restaurants + bars + shops.  My impression of this part of Charleston was that it was almost perfectly Disney-esque, but with panhandlers and uneven walking surfaces.  Looked gorgeous, but watch your step.

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Serene view of wood pilings and the river seen while sitting in Charleston’s Waterfront Park.

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While we were in the Charleston area we went to a fort, a museum, an island, a park.  We ate seafood, drank iced tea, and looked at architecture– everywhere.  The weather was sunny and the people were, as reported, friendly.

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A cute sail boat, seemingly with nowhere to go, floating along the shore of Sullivan Island.

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After Charleston we drove back to Atlanta, GA, for a day.  Because the weather had turned cold and wet, we wanted to be inside so we went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum.  It was fascinating, informative, well-organized, and pleasant to wander through.

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And on that note, we left Atlanta the next day returning home on an easy mid-morning flight that was a little over an hour long.  

A flight on which we both were pre-approved by the TSA, meaning that, for once in my life, there was no fuss + no problems involved with air travel.

Imagine that, if you can.

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An alligator swimming away from me in a pond at Middleton Place Plantation garden, lending credence to the saying: “see you later, alligator.”

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On The Cusp Of The Holidays, I Give You Links I Love

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States.  

Much hustle and bustle. Much family related stress. Much TV watching for the non-shoppers, much discount shopping for the wackos people who like to do that sort of thing.

I thought a few fun links might be appreciated this week while you, my gentle readers, eye-rolled at familial lunacy OR made like a potato on the couch OR foraged in over-heated junked-up stores.

Whatever you decide to do makes no difference to me, but please…

Be safe. Be happy. Be.

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A cheery anthem from an unlikely source that gets us where we’re going.

Details about wishbone karma just in time for Thanksgiving.

An easy way to make people more social. Count me in.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Spend some quality time with old friends.

Feeling anxious? Relax with these neuroscience-approved songs.

Here are the 200 happiest words. Use them often this holiday season.

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Not Everything Lasts Forever: Chatting About Luggage

Zen-Den travels for work, flying all over the place, using luggage that he’s had for over a decade.

Said luggage, an example of which you see in the photo below, is now held together, much to my amazement, with some lovely medium green patterned duct tape that coordinates with the darker green luggage fabric.

I’ll give it to him, the boy has style.  He did this himself.

Lovely, huh?

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I’ve mentioned to him, as has his assistant, that it’s time to get some new luggage, with snazzy little twirly wheels and lots of outside pockets, but he’ll have nothing to do with that crazy idea.

He prefers, instead, to ignore the fact that time has marched on.

I can’t figure if this is an example of him being practical.  Or of him being ornery.  It could be either.

Or both, I suppose.

DSCN7078

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but last week 3,000 bags were stranded in the Phoenix Airport after there was a TSA computer glitch.  [Story here.]

Now as fate would have it Zen-Den was in Phoenix, where the piece of luggage featured in the above photos was going through the system.  But did the TSA and/or United Airlines manage to lose his ratty old bag?

HELL NO!

Zen-Den’s bag made it through the system without a problem.

Which only adds credence to his stubborn belief that there’s nothing wrong with his dilapidated, scuffed-up luggage– that according to him, clearly has good travel karma.

As evidenced by the fact that his bag, when the opportunity presented itself, didn’t get lost in the system.

Dagnabbit.