They call me a Jet-Setter…

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The grass is always greener on the other side… Or so it may seem.

I travel A LOT. While most of the time it’s my choice, and lately it’s been more for pleasure than work, and it seems glamorous… It’s still exhausting. This post is coming to you from high over the skies on a flight from Phoenix to Kansas City. And this was a work trip, my last work trip. No, not last for now, my contact is up and it’s the last with this job anyway.

I appreciate the fun comments and people following my adventures because I make the most out of it all, work or not – I’m going to squeeze it out and maximize the time. I have been home about 10 days total since the end of October. I am tired.

  • October. Tampa to see family, friends, and my new hubby enjoyed some golf (more on that new development later).
  • November. We eloped on the beach in Key West and took about a week to adventure in the Keys and in Miami.
  • Then we came home for 1.5 days and headed off to Texas for Thanksgiving.
  • Then we came home and another 1.5 days later I left for El Paso to finish out my contract and say a proper goodbye to the Wild West.

Again, not a  complaint, but I am ready to crash and live in my house, with my husband, and our pets for the foreseeable future… Until the Chritmas travels begin. Super excited to unpack my toiletries, wash my clothes and camp out in sweats for a few days. I do have a on easy trip next week,but hey – a gal has to keep her A-List on Southwest. I’ve tasted the sweet life and can’t go back. One flight and $55 was all that stood between me and my status for 2018:)

Now, let’s back up a tick. I LOVE to travel and experience new cities and see what makes them unique. I want to eat their food, see their sites, and meet their people. This particular trip has been to shut down my project and walk away with a good relationship, dignity, and respect for the people I have serve on the past five years. I will always have love for UTEP, and for those I have worked with, but El Paso will always have a special place in my heart. So much of my life changed there – I met lifelong friends, earned a master’s degree, grew as a leader in my career, and while it would have been revealed to  me until many years after I moved out of the region, I met my future husband there. (Again, totally another story).

Over the past five years I have worked for UTEP, but in my unique role I worked in five states and traveled a lot. So a few years into my job I moved back to Florida to be closer to family. I traveled at a minimum of once a month, but visited as many of m sites as I cold during that time. And, after six months of long-distance dating my (now) husband, I moved to Kansas to be with him as I had this flexible job that didn’t need me in one particular physical location.

So that all brings me to today. Heading home after my last work trip – my contract ends in a few days and it’s time for the curtain call on our work over the past five years. It’s the nature of grant work, and I knew this would happen someday. no while I knew it would happen, and I knew I wanted to go out on a high note, I’m a sensitive soul and have never been good at drawing a line between work and personal life. I’m passionate about this project and never felt the need to get it out of my head. Anyway, I can’t help but be a little crestfallen – it’s the end of an era.

So on this last trip, my last travels to my beloved Wild West, I tried to take it all in. I hit some of my favorite restaurants.

Exercised at some of my favorite spots . And hugged a lot of really wonderful people that I know I’ll see again.

I am tired. I am thankful. And I am full of love for those I have been so fortunate to call co-workers and friends. Goodbye for now. Adios, El Paso.

A POX on our House

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We’ve got the affliction and there’s a pox on our house. Is this witchery? A spell of bad luck, or our number for ridiculousness was up? Probably the latter.

 

After 5 days in Elverson, PA on the hilliest golf course I’ve been to (yet), and 33 miles on the fit bit, we left the course and headed to the medical tent. We got a “get out of dodge” note from the ER doc on duty, but still had no idea what beheld our futures.

 

After nights of fever, sweats, chills, and back, we thought we were in the clear. Within 24-hours home, the pox bespeckled our extremities. We, two grown-ass adults, have Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease common in children, rare in people over 10 years of age. Seriously?!

We look somewhat monstrous. How did this happen? Was it the swimming pool filled with children that probably lacked enough chlorine? Maybe it was all the hand-shaking with our new golf friends at the US Mid-Amateur Golf Tournament. The airplane and its many travelers? Who knows, but I wish this on no one, least of all children who apparently get this 10X worse. (BTW, this is how I know I’ve truly made it to grown-up status. I recognize we probably have it light compared to the lil’ ‘uns. And I feel for them and their care-takers.)

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At first we found this somewhat amusing, and we’re glad that if one of us had to experience this hideousness, the other is right alongside. Because I might have thought it wasn’t as terrible as it is if I wasn’t going through it at the same time. Today was the worst, I woke up sobbing and in pain and 70% of my body is covered in blisters. I’ll spare you a more graphic description.

So not only are we pock-marked blistered-nightmares, we’re contagious and have been quarantined until every last blister has healed. So another week of fun.

 

 

So no travel, no unnecessary shopping… which is really fine because walking with 1000 tiny blisters on the soles of your feet is pretty horrific on its own.

Needless to say my workouts and yoga retreat are on pause for now. #SadFace.

 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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Well, I hope “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” at least this week. Bradley, my Main Squeeze, is playing in his first of two national mid-amateur golf tournaments, and Yours Truly is going to caddy. Don’t worry, we’ve got our dynamic down after a few tournaments this past summer.

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As I type, we’re on a plane to Philadelphia with the final destination of Stonewall Links in Elverson, PA for the US Golf Association Mid-Amateur Tournament. We’re going to do our best to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the accomplishment of qualifying. I hope to see some family while we’re in the northeast, but I understand everyone’s busy schedules (and that while caddying, I can’t be socialJ Which is a challenge for me!).

We are going to treat this experience as a once-in-a-lifetime event, but I have a feeling he’ll continue to do great things in this sport. Qualifying is a feat in itself, so in my heart he’s already done some pretty incredible things – we’ll see how the week plays out. No pressure, of course.

We’ve rented a fun place just outside of Reading (pronounced Red-ing for all of us non-Northerners) thanks to AirBNB and look forward to enjoying what the area has to offer. While I hope we have time to explore The City of Brotherly Love, that means we’re no longer competing… so in this case, we hope we’re not playing tourist too much. But we’ll have a blast either way. img_2680

Three Cheers for Bradley!!! Hip, hip HOORAY! Play Well!

P.S. if ya’ feel like throwing out some happy thoughts, set your intentions, send good juju, or intersessions to Saint Sebastian, we  whole-heartedly thank you!

Day 6 – Relaxing Yoga, and Travel Plans

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So much for my enthusiastic goal of blogging each day, even if it was a few words. Life gets in the way, but at least not of my workout goals.

Yesterday, Day 5, was the biggest challenge because I hit the gym for a crazy 30-minute weight/cardio session with my trainer, Stefan. THEN it was time for my evening yoga. I needed it, but I was DONE at the end of the day.

Today, I come to you with slightly sore hammies and glutes, which is a wonderful thing. I’m one of those sick people that loves sore muscles after a good workout. I love knowing I pushed my body and did just a little more that day. Now, since I have quite a bit of muscle, it’s hard for me to get sore and reach that feeling, but I know with a little more moxie I can do it. Hopefully someday these muscles are going to pop through, or eliminate my fluff entirely, but the day shall come.

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I made it to laying on the mat… now to press Play…

Today’s yoga practice says:

“Faith takes you on a relaxing yoga experience to help you unwind from your week of work. Be sure to treat your body to this delicious experience.” It’s also aptly entitled “Relax” – yes, please!

Now that it’s over, I feel good. I do feel relaxed, but also less tired and certainly less agitated. Now, I am heading into a few weeks of back-to-back travel for vacation and then work, so we shall see how the yoga schedule will fare, but I do plan to stick with it, and it might even help to keep me sane.

Tomorrow we head off to Stonewall Links in Elverson, PA for the US Mid-Amateur as my man has qualified for his first national competition. I’d like to say a small portion of his success is having me by his side as his main squeeze, and his well-meaning but golf-novice caddy!

The adventures continue!

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Ya, ya. I am happy I did it. DUNZO!

Buzzing about Europe… V2

Grand Place Brussels
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On Day 3 of the journey we got on a bus and departed London for Dover, in the south east of England, to Calais, France. On the ferry we treated ourselves to an upscale meal – mine consisted of cheese, meat, and more cheese. I tried the Welsh Rarebit and the Baked Camembert.

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After a 2 hours ferry across the English Channel, I collected my second passport stamp of the journey while giving my best “bonjour” to the Customs Agent. He then asked if I spoke French (clearly he was being kind as my American accent is hard to mask through my extremely infantile French). I replied, stupidly, “Je suis Anna” (I am Anna) and then I quit – but gave him my big, toothy smile and he seemed as amused as a French Customs Agent could be.

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Back on the bus, and we got a full introduction from our tour guide, Adam from Holland (yes, that’s how we’ll refer to him). He’s a young guy who’s entire job is taking tour groups around Europe – pretty sweet gig, if I do say so myself. He also introduced Pascal, our very talented driver who took our massive tour bus through the twists, turns, and tiny roads of Europe, sometimes in reverse. I’ll note that Adam took some days to warm up to us Americans, but our habits of smiling and making eye contact certainly throw some people off.

On the bus we met the other passengers. We all came from different parts of the world, but most everyone had one person in their party who spoke English. Really makes me feel dumb – I need to get on Spanish, if it’s the last thing I do… One of my favorite new friends is a college-aged gal from Mexico who was studying abroad in Florence and jumped on the tour. If you know anything about Mexican culture, you’ll know that they have very long names, she creatively made her name an acronym – so now you’ll hear about Malisa. Malisa quickly became my buddy and we bonded over being short enough to share the same umbrella. She has an excellent sense of adventure and became my exploring partner when we’d tuckered our small group out. We also met Harriet, who was Malisa’s random roomie for the trip. Harriet was a 60s-ish model-esque fashionista from Chicago – she is truly a fabulous woman.

That night the bus took us to Brussels, right into the heart of the old city after a driving orientation. We had one hour outside of the tour to eat, see what we wanted to see, and explore. Of course I had sites picked out.

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  • Grand Place
  • Manneken Pis – the peeing boy of Brussels. You just have to. (And don’t say “that’s it?” so irritating…)
  • Eat waffles, chocolate, and drink beer… all accomplished!

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Regrets for Brussels:

  • Not enough time to discover such a beautiful city
  • I did not see one monument, even a tchotchke commemorating my beloved Little Belgian, Hercule Poirot

    Hercule Poirot, the Little Belgian

Ladies European Adventure: V1 – London

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Almost two months later, I am ready to re-cap my latest European Adventure. Let’s start at the very beginning

This was a 11 day, 7 country adventure through Europe with Cosmos Tours. Cosmos arranged everything for us from the flights, to all transfers, hotels, transportation, and optional excursions – including all breakfasts, and some dinners. I highly recommend the company, but maybe a less ambitious pace!

Saturday, March 21 6 a.m. – Arrival in London

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We arrived very early at the hotel and not all rooms were ready. So we dropped our bags and hit the road. Personally, I love traveling by rail – rarely a delay, no traffic, and I can get to and from on foot – To The TUBE!

Thankfully, we ordered our London Pass before leaving and chose the option with transportation. The pass entitled us to skip lines at many sites, included admission fees to these sites, and the optional Oyster Travelcard got us on and off the Tube all over London. Busses and river cruises were also included.

I’ve left my references and travel things in this just for fun – page numbers refer to the page in the London Pass booklet. Onto the adventure:

TUBE: Hammersmith Station (District Line – green ) to High Street Kensington

  • tour Kensington Palace (via London Pass, skip the line, page 55)

On our walk from Kensington Palace through Hyde Park we saw actor Hugh Grant as we walked towards the Notting Hill Gate – how apropos!!

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Get back to TUBE High Street Kensington (Green/District) to Westminster OR Walk through Hyde Park and Marble Arch to Buckingham.

Refer to page 26

Afternoon Tea, yes, please! We traveled back in time to the 1800’s to Mr. Fogg’s of Mayfair. Mr. Phineas J. Fogg opened his parlor for select patrons in his speak-easy tea house, reminiscent of what I’d expect a mercury-induced hallucination would be like in MadHatter style. Tipsy Tea was a Saturday option. I chose the champagne tea, and my guest chose gin. It was really a champagne cocktail in a lovely teapot served with finger sandwiches and sweets – the perfect way to end the first day in London.

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This was close to 36 hours of trans-Atlantic travel and site seeing in one of the most vibrant cities in the UK – we saw much but might have gone to bed shortly after the sun set for the night.

Sunday, March 22 – London Day 2.

TUBE: Hammersmith Station (green District line) to Westminster Station, walk to the Westminster Pier

Walk across the Westminster Bridge – page 30

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City Cruises (good for 24 hours from when we pick up the Red Rover ticket that has on/off privileges) Page 110 Sounded great – but the tide was too low to travel from the dock we were at. We could have switched piers, but the other 200+ passengers beat us to it and we didn’t want to wait longer in line. We never made it to the cruise.

Depart from Westminster Pier, get off at Tower Pier:

  • Tower of London (skip ticket office & line – page 63)
  • Tower Bridge Exhibition (open 9:30am-5:00pm)IMG_5768IMG_5754

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We did a lovely day of wandering around the city including a lunch of traditional Fish N Chips with a side of peas.

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Trafalgar Square even had a bagpiper blowing his lungs out to ACDC!

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Did a walkedIMG_5779_2-by on:

  • London’s Eye (45 minute 1x revolution; not included in the Pass)
  • Globe Theater Tour (via London Pass)

Afternoon Tea at The Rose Lounge was every bit the proper tea experience we expected. The Lounge bills it as informal, but it was very formal for us American travelers. Thank God they started with a glass of Champagne! They even had a gluten-free option for sensitive tummy’s like mine. (I could have suffered through the lovely regular version, but my 40+ travel mates we were meeting the next morning wouldn’t have liked me very much).

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My regrets for London:

  • We did not make it to a show at one of the famed Theatres of London.
  • Despite our repeated efforts, we missed out on the River Thames (“teh-ms”) cruise. Had I not stopped for the loo….
  • No time for visiting outside the city to sites such as Kew Gardens, Windsor Castle, The Churchill War Rooms, or the Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour (all found on the London Pass)

Around 2000, I traveled England for 2 weeks with my beloved Grandparents. We had an apartment in Knightsbridge and really had a chance to absorb British culture, This 2-day trip was very nice, action packed, but it only whet my appetite to return.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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An innocent nicety gone wrong. Two young gals, maybe high school aged, were traveling together today and seemed a little unsure of the airport, flights, etc. I happened to be sitting near them while we were waiting for our flight from St. Louis to Newark. I don’t make the flight patterns, don’t ask me why Missouri was the stop from Tampa to New Jersey.   Anywho. The very polite young chick-a-dees asked me to watch their belongings as they used the restrooms. I agreed, which I know isn’t kosher with the TSA rules, but they were harmless and had to go. Anyway, the girls were gone for 5-10 minutes, no big deal, and people were very nice when I explained that two kids were sitting in those seats (denoted by their belongings) as other people came to claim the chairs.

Along comes an evil, rhinoceros of a woman (ya, generally not down for picking on strangers publicly, privately maybe, publicly no, but this bia deserves it). I nicely let her know that, again, two kids were sitting there. The woman starts moving their belongings and rudely exclaims “Oh ya, I see kids sitting here,” as she’s rifling near the backpacks, charging phones, and purses. I’m a nice gal, the girls must have sensed I cared not to burgle them as they should not have left that stuff sitting out. As the man next to the kids’ stuff shoots me a concerned look, I tried again to say the children (yep, used that word to hopefully discourage her bullying) would be right back … cutting me off with her man-hand with badly done acrylic nails she points at me and barks (yes, in this story rhinos bark…and did I mention we’re heading to Newark??) “you need to shut your mouth.” Guess if I had lunch stuck in my adult braces maybe I’d have my undies in a twist too… Mama said alligators are ornery because…

Umm OK. I’ll just turn around in my seat. Feeling slapped, offended, and wondering what had provoked this madwoman, I thought to myself “This is not worth it, Anna, no need for more of a scene.” Other passengers also seemed confused, but clearly no one was coming to my rescue. I kept an eye on the girls’ belongings, which the woman was now hovering over like a vulture and loudly muttering to herself.

When the girls got back the woman continued to glare at the three of us, clearly thinking we were a band of mischievous youths. I whispered to the girl nearest me, in a very quiet voice, what had occurred and to check her belongings to make sure everything was accounted for. Then, in the weirdest middle-school way, the middle-aged woman loudly, and aggressively mock whispered at us, making those in earshot very uncomfortable. Then she starts to bully the girls about maturity… Umm, ya.

In an attempt to provide clarification for the very confused girls, and for my very uncomfortable fellow passengers, I firmly said in a projected voice to the girls “I understand you’re young and traveling alone. If you need any help, or need me to get assistance, just say the word.”

And then I silently prayed for that to be the end of the childishness, and that if anyone were to be ejected from the flight, let there be witness to speak up about this scene.

So as I write this, feeling witchy eyes boring holes through my ponytail from the seats behind me(too short for her to glare at the back of my head) 30K feet in the air. I hope there is nothing to update later. Fo’ realz? I was just trying to help…