For the past seven years, we have concluded our Energetic Traveler articles with the phrase, “Travel easy, travel light, travel now.” We also continue to believe that travel is mentally rewarding and, most importantly, fun. That is almost always the case, but, occasionally, we must refer to my father’s favorite two phrases: “Memories don’t always come easily,” and “This is the price we pay for living a privileged life.” With all of those admonitions as prologue, we will describe a recent trip that some of you might enjoy and most others will say, “Glad it’s them, not me!”
We are blessed with many successful grandchildren and a recent week required our participation at multiple events. First, we needed to attend two Duke basketball games in Durham, N.C., and then attend a wedding of our granddaughter in Mendocino, Calif. That simple goal was not so easy to achieve. In the interest of brevity, the following was our schedule.
Sunday: Fly from Chicago to Durham; rent a car; attend a game that night.
Monday: Get up early; fly from Durham to Tampa; rent a car; drive to Longboat Key; stay at our condo.
Thursday: Drive to Tampa; fly back to Durham; rent a car; attend a game at night.
Friday: Get up at 5 a.m. for a flight to Chicago; transfer to a flight to San Francisco. Rent a car and head for
Mendocino in a driving rainstorm. Two hours were spent driving on a pretty good road, then two more hours were spent through a dark, winding forest. We changed quickly for a prenuptial dinner located 30 minutes to the north. We slept quite well that night.
Saturday: Attend granddaughter’s wedding.
Sunday: Up at 5 a. m. again for another four-hour drive back to San Francisco and get on a plane to Chicago to arrive on time for an “away” basketball game on TV.
Now, we must fill in the details that gave rise to some of the admonitions quoted at the beginning.
We need to mention that the site of the wedding was at a highly-rated inn in Mendocino, which was quite charming, although remote, but also was quite vegan. We have had vegan food in the past, and it takes a great chef to make it palatable to “normal” eaters. In this case, its reputation approached that of the nonexistent “emperor’s new clothes,” and the great chef was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, we had only a breakfast and dinner there and escaped with our taste buds intact. (Memories don’t come easily.)
I should also mention that our granddaughter requested that this grandfather perform the marriage ceremony. Utilizing the Internet, the leader of the Universal Life Church personally approved the appointment of the Rev. Stuart Roy Scheyer to perform marriages as an officiant in all counties in California. Preparation of an appropriate ceremony had required another 12 hours. If any of our readers are seeking similar services, this jurisdiction can be extended to other states. We are proud to report that our granddaughter and her new husband paid for the entire ceremony and dinner themselves at a total cost that was less than the price of flowers at other recent marriages we have attended. Bravo!
We had known that this would be a week with slightly more stress and travel than even we would normally have. So, we had reserved upgrades to first class on our flight to Chicago from San Francisco. Upon arriving at the airport, we found a crowd at the gate. It seems that United had substituted a smaller plane and we had been bumped down to two middle seats in the back of the plane for the four-hour flight (“This is the price we pay for living a privileged life”). Now that the travails of our travels are over, our memories include watching three successful basketball games (one on TV), three nice days on Longboat Key, 6,000 frequent-flyer miles, a somewhat depleted bank account and vivid memories of a lovely wedding. Not bad!
You can be an ‘Energetic Traveler’
With the economy slowly recovering, but still slower than in the past, there are some great values available throughout the world, particularly in hotel rates. Even the best restaurants have special-value meals available. Yes, they are copying early-bird dinners and three-course specials that are a mainstay of our Longboat Key culinary culture. Here are some of our best suggestions that we will be considering over the next 12 months.
While in Europe, the Eurostar (or Chunnel) has a bright new station in London and even faster track, which makes the trip to downtown Paris in just more than two hours. A day trip between these two great cities is possible. Note: Try to avoid a connecting flight through Heathrow, which has managed to replace Charles de Gaulle as the worst large airport in the world.
As World’s Fair junkies, we are considering a trip to Shanghai, which is hosting what promises to be a full-fledged World’s Fair for six months starting May 1. “EXPO 2010 Shanghai China” is the official designation and will have more than 200 countries and companies participating. Even without the expo, Shanghai is a marvelous destination that can be combined with Hong Kong or many other Asian cities. Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Our favorite annual excursion continues to be one or more of the European Capitals of Culture, a yearlong extravaganza that truly boggles our easily boggled minds — there are so many fascinating events. This year, the capitals are Istanbul; Pecs, Hungary; and Essen, Germany, including the Ruhr Valley. The site in Hungary looks interesting, but it does not have an airport nearby. You might consider it only if you are already planning a trip to that country. And, of course, our own country is filled with magnificent cities and national parks to excite the mind and eye.
Temporary travel problems fade quickly, and we are left with indelible memories and a wider view of the world. Let us know of your own great travel experiences and we will be pleased to report your suggestions in future articles.
Stuart and Lois Scheyer are in their late 70s and are residents of Longboat Key. They each log more than 100,000 air miles a year. They will be pleased to answer any travel questions and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]. Travel Easy – Travel Light – Travel Now