One day I want to go through my life and figure out how many miles I have flown altogether. I am guessing it’s a bundle. When I was in university alone, we flew back and forth every year, sometimes twice, from the US to Germany.
With all these flights, I’ve made a few rules for myself.
1. Always carry extra underwear and something to sleep in, and mascara.
One time I was stranded in a strange city, with my very young son, unexpectedly. We were given a voucher for a hotel I didn’t know, and a meal voucher. I didn’t have anything with me – no make up, nothing to sleep in, and I didn’t want to sleep in my clothes, no spare underwear. I felt so vulnerable, so unprepared. Guys won’t understand about the necessity of mascara, but we are naked without it.
2. Pack lightly, except underwear.
In your normal life, don’t you have favorites? Clothes you grab because you feel comfortable in them, and you look good in them? Pack those clothes. If you think you might be going out, pack a pretty scarf. (I learned that from British women, who, even trekking in the bush in Africa, have their beautiful pearl earrings and a nice scarf, and even worn with safari clothes, makes you look good in the evening.) If you hardly ever wear it in your normal life, you probably won’t wear it on this trip. (There are some exceptions to this rule, based on cultural sensitivities.)
3. Keep your laptop, camera and good jewelry with you. Passport, favorite credit card, and driver’s license, ditto. Have at least one good book, and if you do crosswords or Sudoku, have them with you, too, to pass the time when your flight is delayed.
4. Figure out the minimum number of shoes you will need, and pack only clothes that go with those shoes. One pair has to be comfortable hiking shoes, even if they are not beautiful.
5. If you have to pack something valuable, be sure it is deeply buried, and like inside something else.
6. You can buy pretty boxes that keep breakables protected so you don’t have to carry them with you. You can wrap the breakables in your dirty laundry. And you can always use a pretty box to store things in or to give a present in.
7. If you plan to come back with more than you go with, pack a suitcase inside a suitcase. Then you have double the space for your return. You can also pack a cloth carrying bag that carries a LOT and call it your carry-on.
8. Always have at least one 1-quart plastic bag with you, with the new airline regulations. Two or three are better – and always pack any creme or liquid in at least one plastic bag.
9. If it’s going to be cold, have layers, and especially have 1 pair of thick socks that can also be worn if you have to walk a ways to the toilet and/or can be worn to keep your toesies warm when you sleep.
10. When worse comes to worse, you can buy another suitcase at TJ Maxx, or Ross’s Dress for Less, etc. for a very low price. This may work in other countries, too, but I don’t know the sources for a last-minute suitcase in other countries.
What are your rules? Any horrible experience you want to share? What will you not travel without?
In Seattle, rain is common. Just a little rain, like today, is no big deal. In Seattle, we don’t have air full of sand, and then just a little rain, so it’s a whole new ball game.
I didn’t think it would be dangerous out driving today. I had two meetings; I had no idea I would see so many accidents. This one scares me. I hope the people got to the hospital OK.
Please, friends, be careful out there today. Get home safely.
Brrrr. .. .. Weather Underground: Kuwait tells me it’s 54 F / 12 C out this morning, but from my window all I can see is a lot of fog, whitecaps on the waves, and a steady cool breeze blowing. Am in in Kuwait? Or am I back in Seattle? This is a very Seattle kind of day.
A friend and I went to lunch yesterday, sat outside in a beautiful garden area eating mezze and grill . . . the weather was perfect. Warm, sunny, without being hot. It’s such joy to be able to eat outside, in the fresh air. Later in the day, I needed a jacket, and this morning . . . well, maybe the sun will burn some of the fog off and we will have another gorgeous day.
I turned the air conditioning off back in November – I want to see how long we can go before we have to turn it back on again. I want a beautiful LOOOOONNNGGG Spring.
High expected of 68 F / 20 C – yep, that’s spring, sometimes even summer, in Seattle.
Mom called last night – she says Seattle is very very cold this winter, lots of snow, and very very cold. She has gone back to her exercise classes now, to get stronger for some trips she has coming up. She tries to keep busy. She misses my dad.
WASHINGTON, DC—In an effort to display his administration’s willingness to fight on all fronts in the War on Terror, President Bush said at a press conference Monday that American ground forces in Afghanistan will be aided by the immediate deployment of Marine Pfc. Tim Ekenberg of Camp Lejeune, NC.
“I want the American people to know that I have not forgotten that our battle for freedom began in Afghanistan, rooting out the extremists of al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” Bush said. “Today, I am ordering the deployment of the 325th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Private Tim Ekenberg, to the embattled Kandahar region.”
“We will take whatever measures necessary to win,” Bush added. “Isn’t that right, Tim?”
Ekenberg is scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan on Friday. His duties include providing full military support for the still-tenuous democratic government, resolving potential conflicts between rival warlords, gathering intelligence for his superiors, delivering humanitarian relief to millions of Afghan citizens displaced by factional warfare, and maintaining a high level of personal physical fitness.
Ekenberg’s most vital assignment, however, will be to patrol approximately 1,200 square miles of volatile territory on the Afghan–Pakistani border and conduct search-and-destroy missions on the estimated 40,000 caves where U.S. intelligence sources believe Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda operatives could be hiding.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, 2nd Lt. Jon Pinard, said that Ekenberg will be a valuable addition to his existing military assets.
“Our Marines are the best-equipped and best-trained in the world, and I have it on good authority that Tim is an especially well-trained Marine,” Pinard said. “We have requested that he receive full logistical support while deployed in this theater. We’ve been told that his body armor will be arriving within six months of his reporting for duty, budget permitting.”
“We welcome the 325th and have plenty of work for him over here,” he added.
The troop surge also seemed to boost morale among the thousands of servicemen and -women already on the ground in Afghanistan, who said they hoped Ekenberg would relieve some of the psychological pressures of being outnumbered by unknown and unidentifiable combatants in a foreign land far from home.
“I can’t tell you how great it will be to have someone riding with me in the APC,” said Lance Cpl. Amy Patterson, the 117th Light Armored Division, referring to her M113 armored personnel carrier. “We were beginning to think America had forgotten about us. I’m glad to see I was wrong.”
While reception of Bush’s announcement was generally positive, a small number of Republicans accused the president of shifting much-needed funding away from active forces in Iraq, particularly the 11,000-member 212th Army Communications and Dietary Services Brigade, now stationed outside Tikrit.
Some prominent Democrats have expressed cautious support of Ekenberg’s deployment. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) applauded the Bush administration for “at least meeting [our] demands 1/20,000th of the way.”
“This is where we should have been sending troops all along,” Clinton said. “It’s a promising sign that the president is finally willing to unleash on Afghanistan the full force and military might of the United States Marine Corps Private Tim Ekenberg.”
Although the 325th is forbidden from disclosing specific details of the upcoming assignment, his father spoke to reporters from the brigade’s childhood home in North Carolina shortly after Bush’s announcement.
“Even if you disagree with our commander in chief, I ask that your prayers go out to Tim and that we continue to remember the sacrifices that are being made out there,” Dean Ekenberg said. “Please, support our troop.”
Birthdays aren’t my favorite days, and in spite of that, I’ve had some really good ones. The best birthday I can remember, ever, came as a gift of sharing that totally blew me away.
I was living in a small German village. Little by little, I mastered enough German to be able to interact with the villagers, who were very kind to me. They included my husband and I in the village events, including private birthday parties, which in Germany, are a BIG deal.
Birthdays are YOUR day. Every woman in the village brings a cake – or two. Competition to provide the fanciest, most lucious cake is keen. The cakes are not overly sweet, but are incredibly full of fresh cream. And of course, it is rude not to try a little of everyone’s cakes . . . all eyes are all watching.
The two women in the village who took care of me were my landlady and her mother-in-law, who lived in a house just across the courtyard. My landlady sang in the village choir, which performed at a variety of locations throughout the year – festivals, local events, schools – and at 50th birthday parties. The 50th Birthday Party was very special. The whole choir would sing JUST for the birthday girl.
It was a very small village. Everyone knew everyone. Some people didn’t speak because their grandmother didn’t speak to someone else’s grandmother. People carried grudges for a long time. Memories were long, and tongues were longer. My landlady’s protection was very valuable to me, an outsider in the village, who might, from time to time, violate customs without even knowing about it.
My husband and I were leaving Germany, after four years in the village. It was around this time of the year, the cold cold of winter in Germany. One evening my landlady came down and asked us to come to her birthday party the next night – our birthdays are only two days apart, and we had often celebrated together. We were delighted for the invitation, as we knew the choir would be seranading our landlady.
There was a lovely catered sit-down dinner. Everyone was in dress-up clothing, and the wine and beer were flowing. We knew it would be our last dinner in the village, and we felt so honored to be included.
And then the choir arrived. The choir master made a speech to our landlady, congratulating her on her special birthday and giving her a long list of good wishes. And then he turned to us, and said that tonight our landlady was sharing her birthday with me, and they would sing two songs for us on our departure.
This was her special day. Her 50th birthday is the day the whole village would honor her. It only happens once in your lifetime. And she shared it with me.
The choir sang “The Gypsy Wanderers”, and truly, it was appropriate for my husband and I, departing for our next life in Doha. From the first notes, I cried. I’ve never minded my vagabond life, but for that brief moment, I regretted not having the kind of deep roots that kept me anchored in one place. I would never have a village singing for my 50th birthday; I had never earned that honor. And my landlady gave it to me, simply, without fanfare, sharing the honors she had earned day by day, living in the village. She gave it expecting nothing in return for it, sheerly for the joy of sharing.
This is the jacuzzi for wearied women travellers . . .
Bring it ONNNNNN!
This is where you sleep if you have a couple hours to kill:
And this is where you eat – and the food is YUMMY:
You check in seated at a desk, then go through customs to the duty-free and the excalator upstairs. At the top of the stairs you are directed to the left for Business or the Right to the First Class Lounge.
From the moment you walk in, the atmosphere in the First Class Lounge is soothing and spa like. Sheets of cascading water down glass walls, ethereal soft music, and all watery colors. Easy to fall asleep, and it’s OK, because they come and get you, personally, when you need to board for your flight. Amazing. Kinda the ultimate.
Naaahhhh, I don’t travel first class all the time. Had to get someplace, weren’t any other tickets available. Enjoyed it all the way.