Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Viking Sea Disembarcation

Somehow, we go to bed around 8:30 pm and actually sleep. At 0215 we get our wake-up call as requested, and, as ordered, a beautiful breakfast shows up with a cheerful room service waiter, and we have coffee, tea and croissants as we hurriedly dress. We are to be in the terminal by 0300.

We are there by 0245, us and just about everyone else in our timing – Viking seems to attract those sorts, people who show up where they are supposed to be at the time they are supposed to be there. We are astonished to learn that there was a group ahead of us, they are just finishing up, and yes, there are a few pieces of luggage not claimed, so I guess not quite everyone made it on time.

We identified our luggage, which had been picked up outside our rooms the night before, watched as it was loaded into our assigned bus, and drove for about an hour to the airport. At the airport, there were baggage carts waiting, and we were able to check in very quickly for our flight. We are amazed and delighted; Viking truly has this down to a science. That’s not easy with 900 people disembarking on the same day. Kudos to Viking, even the smallest details are thought through.

As we signed in to the lounge, I said “Kalimeri,” which means Good morning, and the lady said to me “You’re Greek!” and I said no, I am not, but I got that a lot in Greece, I must have a Greek look to me. In truth, there is no Southern Mediterranean blood in me; mostly Scandinavian, French and Irish, or so Ancestry.com tells me.

We depart as the sun rises:

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Everything is smooth until we get to Paris. We have to get to 2E, hall M. We know this drill; it’s the same as last year. “Oh no problem,” the “helper” tells us and hands us this paper with a map and directions:

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You know what? I’m a map reader. I am really good at it. I navigate. We look closely; this map is useless. We start looking for signs and asking as we go, and we go quickly until we find the inner circle of hell, which is the passport line. We have priority passes, so we head to the priority line, but there isn’t even a line, and the real priority line is only for French citizens.

There is one huge shoving, desperate mass of people, all nationalities (except French) and then we find a secondary priority line, and every wheelchair goes to the front, and desperate passengers afraid they are missing their flight go ahead, and those who think they have the right push through, pushing their way in front of others. We are feeling desperate, too, our flight is in a very short time, but we don’t think the scramble to get in front of others is worth the price you pay in karma points.

I will tell you honestly, I have seen similar lines. Laborers in Kuwait lined up to get processed for residence visas. Refugees, desperate to escape violence and poverty, and afraid the gates will close before they get through. It is truly humbling to be a part of this line. Bread lines in which food is running out.

There is no one keeping order. The line inches slowly forward. It is like the end of times, everyone looking after his or her own needs regardless of others. There is little kindness to be seen in this line.

This is shameful. It’s not like this is unexpected. CDG needs to man their passport stations with enough personnel to allow these lines to flow quickly. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a bureaucracy which takes pride in their work.

This is not new; the planes wait, they take off a little later. We make our flight. As much as we love flying Air France, this experience is enough to make us re-think traveling through Paris.

Atlanta is straightforward. Our luggage, by the grace of God, is with us. We fly into Pensacola, and our son is there to meet us and take us home. All is well that ends well.

November 18, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, France, Interconnected, Paris, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, sunrise series, Survival, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Morning, Corfu!

November, and we are having spectacular weather. Another fabulous sunrise 🙂

 

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November 3, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, sunrise series, Travel | 4 Comments

Good Morning, Croatia!

I miss the old days when I posted a daily picture of the sunrise over the Arabian Gulf in Kuwait. I miss watching the sun rise! This morning was a pleasure; sun rising as we head into Zadar.

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October 30, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Quality of Life Issues, sunrise series, Travel | | 2 Comments

Kailua Sunrise

I used to have a spectacular view of the sun rising over the Arabian Gulf every morning. It made getting up worth while, just to see that view, different every day.

My friend has the same experience in Kailua; the joy of the glorious sunrise, different every day, and every day glorious.

 

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March 16, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, sunrise series | , | 2 Comments

Sights in Yosemite: Life is Sweet

God is good. I had always wanted to go to Yosemite, and to stay at the Ahwahnee. It was a dream come true, but there can be a fly in the ointment – everything can go well, but if you have rain, or fog, or heavy clouds, the views don’t present themselves. Going in early Spring is a risk – maybe the waterfalls won’t be flowing yet, maybe it will be snowing and the roads difficult or impassable.

We were so blessed. We were blessed with deep blue skies and glowing sunshine, warm and light, but not hot. We were blessed to have some places all to ourselves, as it is not yet high season, and some great early morning moments. We were blessed that the streams and waterfalls were flowing heavily, and we were blessed to have the time to appreciate them. We are so thankful to have this opportunity in our lives to do the things we’ve always wanted to do – and we are thankful for all the things we have already been able to do. Life is sweet.

Note: Some of the national parks, like Yosemite and Yellowstone, have relatively steep entry fees. If you reach the grand age of 62, you are eligible for a life time senior pass to all national parks for the bargain price of $10. That ten dollars covers your car and all occupants. It is such a deal that AdventureMan and I each have one, so we don’t need to worry about passing it back and forth, we each keep one in our own car.

Coming from the south, we saw a car park on both sides of the road and hundreds of people taking photos, so we stopped. This is Tunnel View, meaning just after – or before – you’ve gone through the tunnel. It is an awesome way to enter the park, and a great place for selfies.

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Bridal Veil, which in mid-morning, has mists of gushing water surrounding it, like clouds of tulle in a bridal veil

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At Bridal Veil Falls, there were also some very tame, very unafraid deer

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Day breaking in Yosemite. We wanted to be out early, before the crowds arrived, and to catch the early morning light

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Yosemite Falls

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Rock surrounding road at the Merced entrance where we went to buy gas

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Yosemite bridge – there were all kinds of campers here, cooking up breakfast, brushing teeth, etc. There were restrooms nearby and running water and picnic tables – what more can a camper want?

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Early in the morning, you meet kindred souls. A very kind photographer told us that if we hiked to the middle of a nearby meadow, we would have spectacular unblocked shots of Yosemite Falls. He was right.

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Another unafraid animal, this time a coyote, waiting to cross the road

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April 26, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Environment, Exercise, ExPat Life, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, sunrise series, Travel | | Leave a comment

Sedona, the Beautiful

We are up before sunrise (having our bodies still on Central Time has its advantages) and head for Red Rock Upper Drive, where we wait for the first rays of the sun in utter privacy, except for a family of hikers, with their hiking sticks, who shout ‘good morning!’ as they hike past our viewpoint and head on up the hill.

And here it is! Our first Sedona sunrise! (We didn’t get up for any of the others, LOL)

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The early light hits the red stone opposite:

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And every morning, there were balloons over Sedona while it was still cool in the mornings.

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It is still chilly in the early morning, but Spring has begun. By noon, it will be in the 70’s (F).

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This was one of my favorite formations, in Boynton Canyon, near the hiking trails. It reminds me of Petra, and our camel treks into the lands of Lawrence of Arabia.

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Lots of hiking trails here:

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This totally cracked us up. We know primitive roads. We went over a road in Tunisia that Montgomery used when he flanked Rommel’s forces. THAT was primitive. I was outside the car, guiding AdventureMan over ruts as deep as our Volkswagon Bus. These roads are not paved, but they are passable. Primitive is in the eye of the beholder.

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This is the only purple cactus I ever saw. Clearly it is related to the prickly pear, if it is not a prickly pear. I wonder if it is like hydrangeas; that you can change the color of the prickly pear by adding iron or something else to the soil? This was at an entrance to a new housing development that is just beginning; the houses will have pretty spectacular views.

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Sedona is beautiful. Everywhere you look, there is something beautiful to see. Of all the beautiful places, Crystal Creek park was my favorite. It had all the elements – red rock formations, a rippling creek, and a hungry heron. It also reaches a powerful vortex, at the base of Cathedral Rock, and we hiked the trail, took photos, enjoyed a lot of positive energy, but I don’t think we were sensitive to the vortex.

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Red Rock State Park is another of those wonderful parks created and maintained with public funding, and manned by happy volunteers. We met several here, this wonderful guide, who gave us a first rate explanation of all the geological formations, and volunteers who ran the gift shop and museum/gallery.

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Sedona has stolen our hearts 🙂

April 22, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Cultural, Environment, Jordan, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Spiritual, sunrise series, Travel, Weather, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chilly Pensacola Sunrise

Today is the annual homeless services day, and homeless count day when hundreds of Pensacolians leave their beds at o-dark-thirty to serve our brothers and sisters who don’t have beds to sleep in, don’t have a roof over their head, don’t always have something to eat.

The homeless love Pensacola because it in so temperate, but even the temperate climate of Pensacola can be occasionally brutal, as it is right now. The Waterfront Mission has said it will take in anyone who comes, to shelter them from the harsh mid-freezing temperatures.

It’s not like Pensacola loves the homeless. The city has passed ordinances preventing them from begging, and from soliciting at the traffic stops. On the other hand, it’s not like they are going away, so charitable organizations in Pensacola do their best to care for the homeless population, providing cold weather shelter, meals, toiletries, places to collect mail and to bathe. There is a free health clinic. There is occasional dental screening. There are veteran services, who try to house and take care of our walking wounded. There is even a service for the pets of the homeless, in case of hurricane or similar emergency.These things make me very proud of Pensacola.

This morning dawned very cold:

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AdventureMan crawled out of bed into the cold and chill, donned several layers of clothing and headed out to help with the count, and with serving around 500 people a hot meal. He does it because he loves doing it and I smile thinking how “The Lord loves a cheerful giver.”

January 23, 2014 Posted by | Charity, Civility, Community, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Pensacola, Social Issues, sunrise series, Weather | , | 2 Comments

Family Culture Early Rising

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There are some great things about being with family. You know how things are done. You know what people mean when they say things. You exchange ‘looks.’

When I am with my family, there are some funny things that make me feel at home. Both my sisters have smashing views, one looking southeast at Lake Washington and Mt. Rainier and the other at Puget Sound and the Olympics. Growing up on the side of a mountain with a view of water, game and mountains, it just feels ‘right.’ Not a lot of mountains in Florida to build a house on the side of. Or to view . . . sigh.

Staying at my sister’s house, I was the last one up. My body time was two hours earlier then all of theirs, but I was the last one up. They are early-to-rise people. I totally love it – for so many years, I’ve been an early riser living in countries where the day starts around noon and runs well past midnight . . . especially during Ramadan. In Kuwait, I took photos of the sunrises for this blog; my friends told me it was the only sunrise they ever saw, LOL.

Being around other early risers – aw, what a joy. As I left the house for the airport, Little Diamond was already up eating breakfast and I was able to hug her one last time before departing.

The photo above is the view of the I-90 bridge crossing Lake Washington in a cool, breezy pre-dawn.

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Seattle, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | 2 Comments

Flying out of Pensacola: Moonset and Sunrise

Flying out of Pensacola I saw something I have never seen before. On one side of the plane, the moon is setting, it is gorgeous. On the other side of the plane, the sun is rising, it is glorious. I have never seen both at the same time before:

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December 3, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, sunrise series, Technical Issue, Travel | 2 Comments

A Swallowtail is Born

“Come down! Come down!” AdventureMan is calling me from the garden, and I can tell it is something special.

“Look! He just came out of the chrysalis! He’s still wet!”

It is a beautiful new swallowtail butterfly. When the eggs are laid – it takes a mere second, a mere brush-by as the tiny egg is placed on the fennel – they are a mere 1/32 of an inch, you can barely see them with your bare eyes.

It is 78° in the cool of the morning, the best part of the day. The sun is coming up, and a new swallowtail is drying off, preparing to fly away to a new life.

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Circle of Life and Death, Gardens, Living Conditions, sunrise series | Leave a comment