Back to Planning

spreadsheet.pngWhen we talked last time, which was some time ago (oops!), about our desire to go to Southeast Asia. Steven and I talked in circles for a month or so because of all the other upheaval in our lives (trying to sell a house, deciding where to move, trying to develop a freelance writing career) but then we decided to plan in earnest and worry about finances, time, physical fitness⁠—you know, the little stuff⁠—later.

Instead of getting into trip details, I’m going to focus on the how we plan. We’ve only just started this time, but here’s our process:

  1. Get bug about a certain far-flung location. This time Vietnam for the caves and Cambodia for the oldest known zero.
  2. Tell ourselves it’s completely unrealistic.
  3. Admit to each other that we’re still thinking about it even though it’s completely unrealistic.
  4. Decide that maybe it’s not completely unrealistic.
  5. Do some Internet/print (what? a book???) research.
  6. Use up many sticky notes listing places within the country/region we want to visit.
  7. Steven makes a spreadsheet. (I know it’s weird, but this gives him joy.){Happiness is a good spreadsheet – and if I am lucky – a bit of a macro too!}
  8. Realize that this trip will take two months {a minimum of 2 months}  and start scaling back.
  9. Make some hard choices {I hate making hard choices!}.
  10. Mourn the places we won’t be able to see and convince ourselves we will go back.
  11. Figure out how much this will all cost by checking into flights and other transportation, hotels, food, attractions {Wow! that much!}.
  12. Start booking! or not, if we magically become grounded in reality.

We are about to hit Stage 10. Notice that we already have our hearts set on this trip, which is now Cambodia and Vietnam if we do the cave tour, and Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos if we don’t. We’re figuring about three weeks plus a few days. That’s a chunk of time not to be working, especially if you’re trying to build a freelance business. On the other hand, we aint getting any younger or richer, so if not now, when?

Graduation Trip #2: The Early Stages

Image result for europe
Yes, we will be going somewhere here 🙂

Yesterday was the first day of my niece’s senior year of high school, so we are definitely overdue for planning her graduation trip. There’s something amazingly special about traveling with my niece and nephew. You may remember my trip to London with my nephew for his graduation. It was fabulous, and not just because the weather was great, but also because I get to see the world through the eyes of smart, young people who are grateful and enjoying every minute.

My niece and nephew are very different. He had a definite plan and settled on London rather quickly. My niece has also narrowed down her hot spots … to Europe. To be fair, I think she is mostly talking about Spain, France, Italy, and maybe Croatia. She mentioned Copenhagen, but then decided that it was very expensive, but she’s open to ideas. There’s always Iceland, everybody’s favorite these days it seems. The only thing she knows for sure is that she doesn’t want to go to Greece, with me. She has a Greek friend and they are planning a trip someday.

We have more than enough time, but still, part of the fun is letting your imagination go wild and entertaining all the options. Here are a few of the items we still need to narrow down:

  • Are we going to one place? Two? A sampler plate?
  • If we decide on the sampler, what type of transportation?
  • How about a cruise? Yes, we both get seasick, but we can get patches. (I don’t believe anyone who says I won’t feel the boat; I get seasick looking at boats. I’m still game, though.) (when she refers to “anyone” that means me…I have never felt the boat when I have been on cruises).
  • How long is the trip? (will they even bother to come home?)
  • City? Country? Beach? Mountains? All of the above?
  • On our own or package tour? 
  • Mediterranean? Scandinavian? East? West?

I could go on, and the truth is that it is entirely up to my niece. There are tons of places I want to go and even if we end up somewhere I have already been, it will be a completely different experience with her. Ultimately, I don’t care. You only get one graduation trip with your niece, so wherever we end up, it’ll be the best.

Summer (Fall) Road Trip 2.0?

Well, the plan is up in the air again. And I don’t mean we are going to fly instead of drive. Although…maybe we are going to fly instead of drive. Our whole idea of using a family wedding as a touchstone to a Canadian/East Coast road trip may be kaflooey. I hate it when reality intervenes in my travel dreams.


I have acquired some freelance work and we have bumped up the schedule for becoming former homeowners, so we’re no longer sure whether we can pull off a few weeks on the road. On the other hand, if we become former homeowners in a timely fashion, we can travel when teachers and students are in class–a real novelty for me. Off-season travel rocks–fewer crowds, lower prices, but it’s been about 18 years since I’ve been able to pull it off.

This is all my long-winded way of says: “I don’t know what the what is going on this summer!” Here are some of our options:

  • Fly to the wedding and take fall road trip
  • Fly to the wedding and go back to work
  • Don’t go to the wedding
  • Fly to Utah to look for temporary abode
  • Drive to Utah to look for temporary abode and do a westward road trip
  • Go nowhere because we are busy packing and moving
  • Go nowhere because we are busy keeping the house in order and the dog out of the way for potential new homeowners
  • Spend another winter crying because we are still in Chicago (yes, Steven, I know) NOOOOOO‼️‼️‼️‼️
  • Stick with the plan as is and figure out the dog situation
  • Throw it all out the window, and plan a completely different trip once we have some idea what our lives will look like in the fall

Phew! So there you have it. No _________ idea. But isn’t that part of the fun?

A whole raft of thoughts

While Sue is heads-down planning her trip to London, I have turned my eye to the whitewater rafting portion of our trip to the Southwest.

Who knew that doing an overnight whitewater rafting trip would require a 13-page preparatory document?  I’ve seen articles in Scientific American less detailed than this.  The only thing that seems to be missing is a schedule:

Wake at 07:30

Brush teeth 07:32 (3 minutes)

Wash face 07:35 (2 minutes – 30 second to dry face)


Anyway, me being me, I read the entire thing. (Steven is very bored at work these days.)  The section on what to bring was fascinating…

Not surprisingly, they recommend a safety strap for your sunglasses, quick drying shirts & pants, sunscreen & a hat (with a string or hat clip).  One thing on the list caught my eye….”Gloves for protection while gripping holds on the boat”…hmm…I hadn’t thought that one through…I guess I will need to hold onto the boat.  Now, they do have a recommended outfitter, so I could get them there…but what fun would that be?   Off to the Googles I go!

7052_2_grandeAfter a bit of poking around, I found that there is an entire class of gloves made for sailing which have padded palms, are quick drying, and come in full-or half-finger.  As you would expect from the interwebs, there isn’t a single source of truth nor agreement on the best gloves. However, I seem to have found the Gill Deckhand gloves on a few lists and so that is what we are going with.  Full-finger gloves (which by the way don’t have a full finger on the index finger so you can play with your cellphone while trundling down the river) because I figure we can always cut them down to half finger if they are too warm, but can’t make the half finger ones longer if they are too cold. (This man is so smart.)  Here is a link to’s review of them.

Into the Amazon basket they go…along with waterproof covers for our cellphones, safety straps for our sunglasses, a small flashlight (I know I have one….but where the hell did I put it???).

One more item caught my eye…”Major credit card and photo ID in case of evacuation”…well that’s a bit worrying isn’t it?

Finally, a few other words of whitewater rafting wisdom:

“Weather is always present on a river trip.”

“A smile is a curve that sets a lot of things straight.”

Should be good fun.

Grandiose Plans

grand-canyon-2299751__340While Sue is getting ready for her trip to London, I will be gearing up for our next journey – a road trip to the Grand Canyon & then whitewater rafting in Utah.  We had scheduled this trip before we won the one to Hawaii; we don’t usually have two trips in consecutive months, just lucky this year. (So very lucky!) Our plan is to put the top down on the convertible and drive from Chicago to Santa Fe (with a stop somewhere around Tulsa), on to the Grand Canyon and then to Moab, Utah.  I have never been to the Southwest or whitewater rafting and I am really excited.  We originally planned to go for two weeks, but as we saw in Hawaii, I always want to extend the trip.  We are currently at 16 days, but I am thinking…maybe just one or two more (perhaps a stop in Denver on the way home?) (Mom mom used to say I had big eyes because I always put too much food on my plate. Steven has big vacation eyes.) …We will see.

All suggestions welcome. We are game for adventures.

I am just forgetful

We leave tomorrow so last weekend we started our packing processes, which like so many things are very different.  Sue seems to just keep it all in her head and then grabs things Screenshot_20180423-093217_Notepadwilly-nilly and chucks them into a suitcase (I can hold a lot more in my brain than some other people) – or that is what it looks like to me.  I, on the other hand, make a list on my phone.  Whenever I think of something, I add it to the list.  It is everything from what I want to bring to what I need to do before we go.  This is a sample of my Hawaii list…No, I don’t bother including clothes…at least my daily clothes…everything else will be on the list.   Some things are really important so I put them on twice (trail mix & snacks for hiking ) Then, I lay things out on the bed, make sure I have everything on the list and once it is all ready, I pack.  I put something in the suitcase, then cross it off the list.  It is a perfect system (is it? is it really?) – except I always seem to forget something minor – like my shoes or a belt.

We have a long set of flights, so we also spent some time downloading books, movies and TV shows on our respective devices.  I have an iPad; Sue has a laptop and a Kindle.  I took a shotgun approach and downloaded about 10 books (mostly true crime and humor) and about 30 hours (30 hours! I guess he’ll be spending a lot of time in the hotel room) of TV/movies (Longmire, Better Call Saul, Jessica Jones, The Kitchen and who remembers what else).  We will see if I like any of them enough to do a marathon.

Our next post will be from Hawaii!!!

The Space Between the Plans

Steven and I are both planners, but in very different ways. My planning: “Hey this looks really cool. Kayak to Gilligan’s Island. Let’s go!” Then I am done. Steven, as you saw, makes spreadsheets. I kind of have a spreadsheet in my head—more of a “these are the things I want to do while I’m there list,” but I also like to remain flexible. Steven is afraid we might have a minute of downtime and then what???. So terrible to have to walk on the beach in the tropical sun or explore some cheap eats for lunch. When I suggested that we might want to have a cocktail at sunset, he said, “I scheduled that in.”

explorerI had to remind him that when his car broke down in Crofton, Neb., (pop. 689) where we had stopped to stay at the allegedly-haunted Argo Hotel (we didn’t see the ghost), we managed to occupy ourselves for an entire day. I think we’ll be fine on Maui. Don’t get me wrong; I’m definitely not one for sitting around, but I like some free, wander time. You never know what you’re going to find if you leave yourself open to last-minute exploration and maybe even a bit of downtime.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be either president or an explorer. I wised up about the first one, but I’m still trying to be the second. What’s over that hill? We won’t know unless we climb it. (OK, or Google it, but that’s no fun.)