Happy New Year from the 2020 Departure Lounge

Happy New Year to all my friends, family, and followers! I send you all the happiest, healthiest best wishes for the coming year, as well as the coming decade! What a fast and furious time to be alive. But the promise of a new decade in the year 2020 feels like a great step toward restoring some balance to our lives. As a Libra who needs everything to balance, I can’t think of a better year to offer the promise of hope than “2020!”

Poor blog is still lagging behind. I had hopes of getting it caught up in real time by the end of year, but due to some recent technical difficulties whereby I couldn’t post any photos, I failed in that attempt. I had one more PT post to make on “Fall Festivities,” including the 20th Annual Film Festival, and the 38th Great PT Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race. I am also eager to share the photos from my “Medicare Milestone” celebration, whereby I treated myself to a train ride across Canada in celebration of my 65th birthday. But alas, those will have to wait for now, as I am about to embark on a more remote adventure.

One sobering aspect of my Portugal trip was the realization that international travel is not as easy for me now at 65 as it was at 48 when I set off to backpack around the globe on the heels of 9/11. I move much slower now, struggle to lift the heavy backpack on my shoulders, and don’t rebound from jet lag as rapidly as I did twenty years ago. Couple that with the fact that I have several friends who received an unfavorable diagnosis this past year, along with AARP and Medicare status which can force one to face their own mortality, and I decided I’d better pull some of the more challenging trips out of the “bucket” sooner than later.

So this post comes to you from the departure lounge in route to Khartoum, Sudan. I will be joining a 30 day overland trek through Sudan and Ethiopia. Since overlanding through Africa and the Middle East in 2002, I have wanted to take another overland journey. And if I am sorting through the bucket for more challenging places on the list, well, I figure it won’t get much more challenging than that. 😉 Best go now, while I can still climb in and out of the truck!

“Why Ethiopia?” some may ask. It dates back to my years living in Atlanta when the Border’s Bookstore was going out of business. All travel guides were 50% off. The only one left on the shelf to a destination not yet visited was Bradt’s Travel Guide to Ethiopia. So I bought it. After reading sections of the book, I found the history, culture, and attractions of the country to be fascinating, and vowed to go there one day.

I will post photos when I can, but internet access will likely be sketchy at best. I am behind in my correspondence from a busy holiday with family, so if I owe you an email, please understand the reason for the delay.  I will aspire to get caught up one day soon…But for now, I will be ringing in the New Year somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, making a toast with whatever libation is on offer to my friends and followers.  Here’s to the promise of a new year, a new decade, and a new chapter. Thanks for coming along for the ride!


PLEASE NOTE:  The comment section of the blog is now malfunctioning.  New day, New Glitch.  If you attempt to comment and get the response “Access Denied,” please do not think I have blocked you!  It is a malfunction of the blog, one that I will not likely be able to fix anytime soon.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

Letters from Georgia

Before I delve in to the New Mexico recap, I just wanted to thank those who commented on my “This Old House” post. I loved reading about your respective memories of that first place we each called “home.” I found the comments not only moving, but also rewarding that writing a post on a personal blog could net me so many wonderful “mini vignettes” in return. Thank you all for the gifts.

Last year when I attended the Santa Fe Opera, the program distributed at the beginning of the performance contained a preview of the upcoming 2019 season. One performance particularly piqued my interest enough to make me want to return for the second year in a row. Renée Fleming, in her Santa Fe Opera debut, would be Continue reading

This Old House

Once back in Texas, my brother Don was up visiting from Mexico. When we are together, as invariably happens with any family, the conversation often reverts to our childhood. And at some time or other, one of us waxes nostalgic to say, “I wish I could see the old house…just one more time.”

As I get older, my desire to visit the old house has only grown stronger. I hadn’t been back there in 40 years. So recently, Don finally decided to put some action behind our Continue reading

Saudade in Salamanca, Spain

sau•da•de (souˈdädə) noun: “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese temperament.”

I first heard of this word “saudade” while watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” episode on Porto, whereby he states it’s “…a kind of melancholy – a yearning to get back to something or someone lost, perhaps to a happier time.”

Many sources say the word saudade is untranslatable. If you don’t speak Portuguese, Continue reading

Visiting the Vineyards of the Douro Valley

There were many times throughout my two months in Portugal that I wished for a car, but none so much as while trying to figure out a way to tour the Douro Valley. Seems there are several ways to reach the area, but no affordable way to visit the many smaller vineyards once you get there. But as with the coastal road, I knew the stress of trying to navigate in a language I couldn’t speak or understand would negate any pleasure I got from being able to go my own way. The winding roads through the mountains and cobblestone alleyways through the villages would have required full focus on the road, with no “rubbernecking” to see the scenery, let alone sampling of the grape! Continue reading

Vinho do Porto in the Making

I’ve always enjoyed a nice glass of port wine, Vinho do Porto, after dinner or by a fire, often accompanied by some really good “stinky” cheese to cut the sweetness. It’s a drink that warms from within. In fact, when I used to do charters with my sailing pals, a bottle of Port would always be on the provisioning list to be enjoyed out on deck while watching the moonlight shimmer across the water. Continue reading

And Finally, Porto!

Throughout my six weeks of travels through Portugal thus far, whenever I would exclaim my love for the country, just about everyone I met would say “But have you been to Porto?” “Just wait until you see Porto!” “You are just gonna loooove Porto!” So understandably, I couldn’t wait to get to Porto! Continue reading

No Camera in Coimbra

I am really losing my patience with this “No Photos!” rule that seems to be growing almost as rapidly as the “No Overnight Parking” signs in Walmart. What is it about advertising a famous landmark, structure, exhibit, and then posting the entrance with “No Photographs Allowed!” What is the reason behind this, do you reckon? ? Continue reading

Surf’s (not!) Up in Nazaré

Nazaré was another Portuguese pronunciation challenge for me. I kept calling it “Na-JAIRE,” when it fact I should have known the accent on the é would indicate something different; three syllables, “NAH-zah-rey.” But the pronunciation was not the only thing that confused me about Nazaré.

Yet another place I knew nothing about and was not on my planned itinerary, Nazaré popped up as a result of a question prompted by my dear long-time friend Brian. I have known Brian for 20 years, and shared more travel conversations with him than any Continue reading