April in Paris is indeed as charming as the song says. The weather is balmy. Everything is in bloom and the beauty of the city sparkles during the day and twinkles at night. The tourist attractions aren’t as crowded as during the summer and the cafes don’t have a line of people waiting for a table even near places like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Americans have a false belief that the French are snooty but my friend and I didn’t encounter that at all. They were helpful and cheerful but then we always treated them with respect and weren’t demanding. We tried to use as much French as we could muster and they obliged us by using English. As one waiter told us, he needed a smattering of many languages in his job. I think Americans would do well to do the same. Paris is home to many immigrants who have acclimated to their new country and are willing to work long hours in the stands and tourist stalls that dot the city.
We tried to visit the smaller cafes and have the plat du jour. We were happy with the prices and the interesting dishes. I was surprised at one that featured what I thought was a serving of fish with mashed potatoes but when it came ended up being a casserole of fish bits and potatoes. It was tasty but then anything drenched in butter, as is common there, is rarely bad. I was determined to eat as much duck as possible and succeeded in my effort. I wish we had it on the menu in the U.S. more often. I recommend crepes for a quick treat and of course, anything from a bakery is to die for. I don’t know why we can’t get a crispy baguette in the grocery stores the states. We had a bakery by our front gate, a luxury I don’t have at home. I can’t give you any recommendations when it comes to the nightlife. I’m one of the older Baby Boomers but everywhere we went there were clubs I’m sure were hopping all night. We did walk by the Moulin Rouge one evening and the lights themselves were very impressive.
The Metro and buses were easy to use. We used Google Maps to navigate both systems and didn’t have a problem. My friend had already been in the city for a couple of weeks and we’d spent a year using subways in Japan. We had experience but it’s easy once you do it a few times. There are machines to buy tickets and the larger stations have manned booths. You can use these tickets on both the Metro and buses. Buses take longer but they’re a good way to see some of the city for a small price.
I’d been to Paris before but wasn’t able to visit the Louvre so we spent several hours there. I thought it would take the whole day but the main museum is not that big. The top floor with the Mona Lisa and Venus De Milo was hot and crowded but the rest was easy to navigate. I’d have liked to see more of the gardens but it was quite hot so we opted to visit the shops inside. There’s a Metro stop right in the building housing the museum so it’s easy to get there. Don’t miss this when you go to Paris but also take in the many other museums and attractions in the area. We also visited the Rodin Museum. Just the garden alone was worth the price of a ticket.
Even though I’ve been up in the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to visit the area again. At 1,063 feet tall the tower is the tallest structure in Paris. Just being there is the quintessential Paris experience. The wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel. Constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design but is now a global cultural icon of France and the most-visited paid monument in the world.
We took a boat ride down the Seine under all the historic bridges and past Notre-Dame. The next day we visited the famous cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle which was erected in the mid-13th century by King Louis IX. The chapel features some of the period’s stain glass, a total of 15 glass panels and a prominent large window. Notre Dame Cathedral, arguably the most stunning gothic cathedral in the world, was conceived in the 12th century and completed in the 14th. It was the very heartbeat of medieval Paris. After a period of neglect, it recaptured the popular imagination when Victor Hugo immortalized it in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The back portions with the flying buttresses are currently being refurbished but the area was still charming enough to be a backdrop for photo shoots and wedding pictures. We also saw couples being photographed at several Paris tourist attractions. We also did some shopping on the Left Bank near Notre Dame. The flower shops had magnificent blooms that I wanted to bring home but I had to be satisfied with dried lavender which now makes my drawers smell heavenly.
The Arc de Triomphe is another tourist must see as is the neighboring high-end shopping area of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Our Paris Greeter took us on a tour of her home market near the Champs-Elysee We were enthralled by the variety of delectable food available to the Parisians at their small local markets. Click on the Ballade link below to see the places we visited and learn about their history.
I’d love to return some day but life is short and I have so many other places I want to visit. My next cross Atlantic trip will be to Wales, Scotland and maybe back to Port Issac with my kids. Back to writing my book and enjoying the St. Andrew’s Bay views from my window.
I’ve always loved the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I’m an avid fan of the British TV and movie detective genre, in particular, the Morse, Lewis and Endeavor Series which were written by Colin Dexter. I tried to plan my own tour with a tour company for a group but ran into several roadblocks so I planned it with a friend. See my blog https://singleboomerlife.com/2017/06/04/single-baby-boomers-need-a-goal/ for how planning my trip became a positive short-term goal.
After a week in Paris, my friend and I took the Eurostar under the English Channel to London and then a train to Oxford, the fictional home of the equally fictional murder-ridden University city. I wasn’t disappointed. From the moment we got off the train it was like I was in the middle of a mystery. The first part involved finding our Airbnb. Since I have no sense of direction and am a poor listener we headed in the wrong direction. A friendly University student pointed us in the right direction so we rolled our bags down the street, past the Thames to our 2nd-floor room. I was happy I’d opted for a carryon and a backpack but my friend had been in Paris for 3 weeks and had a much larger suitcase. It took both of us to get it up the narrow stairs. We Americans are used to having everything supersized so when we travel to other countries the size of everything is an adjustment for us. However, the smaller food serving portions are a much healthier choice.
After we got settled, we went in search of my first Morse Pub, The Kings Arms. I told the bartender that I had waited years to say, “Please give me a bitter.” He welcomed me to Oxford and handed me my first half pint (I had to pace myself. We were there 3 days and I’m a lightweight.) As I savored my drink and meat pie, I looked at the familiar artifacts from the Morse TV Series and breathed in the rarified air of Oxford University. I felt like I’d died and gone to detective heaven. After dinner, we walked around several of the 38 colleges that compose the University. I was surprised to find out that no matter which college you attended you take the same final exam, are considered a graduate of Oxford University and attended its graduation ceremony. During our visit, we encountered students wearing their robes to exams and graduates of the Masters Program with caps and gowns just after their graduation ceremony.
An undergraduate student at the University of Oxford in subfusc for matriculation.
Academic dress is required for examinations, matriculation, disciplinary hearings, and when visiting university officers. A referendum held amongst the Oxford student body in 2015 showed 76% against making it voluntary in examinations – 8,671 students voted, with the 40.2% turnout the highest ever for a UK student union referendum. (Wikipedia)
I always like to get the lay of the land so the next day we took the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus for a city tour and then got off at Christ Church to see the grounds. We couldn’t go into the church because there was a special event. Little did we know that the members of all three series were inside for a memorial for the author Colin Dexter who passed away the preceding year. When I learned about it the next day from our tour director, I was so disappointed. Some of the participants had seen cast members and I was having a drink in the Morse Bar in The Randolph Hotel that very day. She did share some interesting insights with us from one of the cast and an important member of the creative team. It seems that the actor who played Hathaway in the Lewis series, Laurence Fox, said that a series about his character could be getting off the back burner. It may be filmed after the current series about the young Morse, Endeavor, is over. If you’re a fan you should check out Chris Sullivan’s blog at https://morseandlewisandendeavour.com/. He spoke at the memorial and is a real authority on all of the series. If you visit Oxford, I would also recommend the Inspector Morse and Lewis Walking Tour. You can book through Viator, at other sites and the Visitors Center. You can watch full episodes of Inspector Morse, Lewis, and Endeavor on YouTube. I guarantee you will enjoy them.
Of all the pubs we visited from the three series I thought The Trout Inn was the nicest. Located in Wolvercote, just a short bus ride from Oxford, it was the location of the episode The Wolvercote Tongue. Since it was a cold day, I treated myself to an Irish Coffee and the Sticky Crispy Duck Salad. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. I also stopped in the White Horse and had an interesting chat with the bartender and a regular. We ate dinner at the Eagle and Child. I chose the Beef Bone Marrow Pie since it sounded interesting and I have to say, it was delicious especially when paired with a half pint of bitter. It was a favorite watering hole of C.S. Lewis who held academic positions at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He’s best known for his works of fiction, The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space. He was often joined there by his drinking buddy, J.R.R. Tolkien, an English writer, poet, philologist, university professor, and the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. I’d have loved to have visited all of the pubs but 3 days wasn’t enough. I’d like to return and take a summer class. Several of the colleges offer programs for adults and high school students where you can stay on campus and enjoy the real Oxford experience.
We had our own Afternoon Tea party after visiting Alice’s Shop which features author Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland themed souvenirs. See http://aliceshop.co.uk/about/. The sumptuous tea was more than enough for two.
While my friend went to Evening Song at one of the colleges, I went on Bill Spectre’s Ghost Trails which has a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor and is one of the top 10 ghost tours in the world. I highly recommend it. This was one of his many sleights of hand tricks. He also let us try it on ourselves.
I left Oxford sooner than I wanted and took the train to London where I met a local guide for a personal tour of the Marylebone section of London. The service was free, very enjoyable and informative. My tour guide sent me the summary below. https://londongreeters.org/your-tour
Here are a few notes from the walk around Marylebone. The area expanded along with the other areas of Westminster following the Great Plague and the Fire in 1666. You have a picture of the Sherlock Homes statue by John Doubleday. You have a photograph of Sherlock Holmes but here is another piece of work from the same sculptor.
After getting the tickets to the Museum we went under the Marylebone road via the Wonderpass to 94 Baker Street which was once the home of the Apple Boutique. Here is what it would have looked like.
The next stop was Paddington Street gardens which has a little statue of an Orderly Boy who is forever polishing his shoes. Orderly boys were road Sweepers during the Victorian era. Paddington Street Gardens was a burial ground before it was opened as a public garden by Princess Louise in 1886, and laid out by Fanny Wilkinson the first female professional landscape gardener.
Running alongside the gardens are Ossington buildings and Garbutt place. This, once known as “little hell” is where the social reformer Octavia Hill started her work. Financed by John Ruskin she went on to manage 3,000 families. She is also known as the founder of the National Trust which has been largely responsible for the preservation of green spaces.
My next stop was Harley Street where Florence Nightingale worked as a nurse in a hospital for gentlewomen. It was from here that she left for the Crimea and oversaw the hospitals in Scutari in 1854 when she became known as the Lady with the Lamp.
We then went to Station 39 in Wentworth Mews and had a look at the properties that were once used for stables and would have been the home to staff employed by the hoses they backed on to. Here is the sort of coach they would have housed which would have set you back £60,000 in today’s values. It was from this mews that many women volunteered during the Second World War as ambulance drivers.
I then took you to Portland Place, home of the BBC and RIBA. Both are art deco buildings built using Portland stone. RIBA was built by Grey Wornum, a WWI veteran who lost an eye at the Battle of the Somme. It was inspired by a visit to Stockholm where he visited the Town Hall. Between the two buildings, we stopped to look at the stature of Quintin Hogg, the Philanthropist who donated his life to the building of Ragged Schools.
Next door to the BBC is the only Church built by John Nash who is more famous for the Regency Terraces that surround Regent’s park. It’s a controversial piece of work, because of the mixture of Greek and Gothic styles. Across the road is where Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde met at the Langham Hotel.
We then went onto Cavendish Square via Chandos Street, so named because of Chandos House at the end, one of the few surviving houses built by Robert Adam. It was the home of the Duke of Chandos who lends his name to the Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare which was the portrait that started the collection that now is housed in the National Portrait Gallery. Also in Chandos street is one of the oldest medical societies in the World – The Medical Society.
And I finished off in Cavendish Square and showed you the Jacob Epstein sculpture of the Madonna and Child that sits between the two buildings on the north side of the square that was once a convent.
And that was Marylebone. I hope you found it interesting. There is a rich assortment of architectural styles that start off with the Palladian influences through Georgian and Victorian styles, finishing with the Art Deco buildings on Portland Place.
I worked in as many authors that I could including Conan Doyle obviously, but also JM Barrie, AA Milne, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and George Orwell. There are many others.
After the tour, I visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum with hundreds of tourist from around the world. http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/ After waiting in line for an hour, Mrs. Watson, his landlady, started our tour with a visit to his study and then let us roam the rest of the house where we viewed period pieces and vignettes of some of his most interesting cases. It amazed me that so many people pay to visit the home of a fictional character in a location that isn’t even 221B Baker Street but I patiently waited in line with the other Holmes devotees too and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The following day I was off on a tour to Devonshire, Cornwall, and the Cotswolds. It was a small group, only four women, three of us from the U.S. and one from Australia so we were able to ask a lot of questions. This tour had fewer frills than other more expensive ones I’d been on. It was a variation on a Hop-on-Hop-off tour of the countryside with personalized narration and traveler-guide interaction. I opted for the Bed and Breakfast option and didn’t regret it for a moment. The breakfasts were outstanding, the room more spacious than my previous hotel rooms and the service excellent. The view of the English Channel at the Cornwall B&B was amazing and better than the hotel view the other guest had. We toured in a Mercedes Passenger Coach and traveled the backroads so as to see the sites larger buses couldn’t reach. Two of the travelers arranged with the guide to see places where their ancestors lived. I was excited to walk the moors near the historic Dartmoor Prison where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got his inspiration so Sherlock Holmes could meet up with the Hound of the Baskervilles. I found there were several monster legends in the area such as the Legend of the Hairy Hands in which something seems to take over the vehicle’s steering wheel and drive it off the road and the Beast of Dartmoor. Here’s a possible explanation for the Beast. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/beast-of-bodmin-mystery-solved-as-dartmoor-zoo-released-pumas-in/. Pixies are also said to live in both Devonshire and Cornwall. Pixie (also pixy, pixi, pizkie, piskie and pigsie as it is sometimes known in Cornwall) is a mythical creature of folklore who can be both mischevious and helpful. Pixies are thought to be concentrated in the high moorland areas around Devon and Cornwall, suggesting some Celtic origin for the belief and name. They’re believed to inhabit ancient underground ancestor sites such as stone circles, barrows, dolmens, ringforts or menhirs. The story The 3 Little Pigs was originally written about pixies. Read the report at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixie. It’s a lot of fun. See https://www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/explore-dartmoor/arts-and-literature/folklore for more information. See https://www.go-tours.co.uk/cornwall-and-the-cotswolds-tour/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwu_jYBRD8ARIsAC3EGCKqDBVluadxyjc0_SUrV7mwLqsrFOKqs9KpnzC_ZNoibRuVJG1XbmUaApNpEALw_wcB
We visited many scenic seaside villages in Devonshire and Cornwall including the filming site for Poldark and my bucket list item, Port Isaac aka Port Wenn, the village where Doc Martin is filmed. From the photos, you’ll see that it’s as beautiful as it appears in the show. The residents are very friendly even though their idyllic home is inundated with tourist during filming and from what I could see, year round. Doc Martin, played by Martin Clunes, is much loved all over the world even though he plays a surly doctor who doesn’t suffer fools in a village of eccentrics. Here’s hoping there’s another season. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Martin. While these are not mystery series, they’re brilliant examples of the genius of British drama. In my opinion, these mysteries and dramas are more thought-provoking than those on American TV. If you’re interested you should also watch Midsummer Murders, Foyles War, Prime Suspect, Sherlock, Vera, Father Brown and a host of others on Netflix, Acorn, and Britbox. Some are no longer in productions but both Brits and Americans often lobby for spinoffs and reboots. Many of our most popular programs were created in the UK. Their sense of humor is fantastic.
Take a look at this episode. I didn’t realize this was on YouTube. I’m going to look for more things there rather than paying for streaming services. I can watch it on my TV with Comcast/Xfinity.
Next time I’ll tell you about my adventures in Gay Paree. Until then…
Before I retired I was motivated by different things.
Providing emotional, physical and monetary support for my family.
2. Furthering my education
3. Personal and career development and advancement
4. Community Service
5. Adventure seeking which led to learning to fly, travel and moving from my hometown, state and for a year, my country
6. Meeting new people and making new friends everywhere I lived or visited
7. Saving for retirement
Today I’m still motivated by most of the same things but when I retired I lost interest in some of the things that once energized me. I have a pension and social security so making money isn’t important. I don’t need a large place to live or many possessions. However, I seem to accumulate new things wherever I go even though I’d cleaned out most of them when I moved to Japan and later the beach.
When I retired I said I was never going to get up until I was ready. Now I sometimes stay in bed watching TV or listening to audiotapes until late morning. I try to schedule my appointments in the afternoon, attend meetings later in the day and only make exceptions if absolutely necessary unless I’m traveling, of course. After my last move, I started going to the Senior Center to make friends and learn how to make stained glass ornaments. While I enjoyed it, I didn’t make any lasting friends in my new home until two ladies took pity on me and invited me to join a weight loss organization. There I found support and a circle of friends whom I can call on for entertainment, advice, and help.
A couple of years ago I was disgusted with myself for never finishing the novels I’d started. At the suggestion of another blogger and life coach, I started this blog which I hoped would become a book. While there are many books, articles, and blogs written for Baby Boomers and singles there are not many that address just single Baby Boomers. I thought this would be my niche and it has been until I decided that I wanted to travel more and write a work of fiction. So I traveled and I wrote about my travels but my blog posts got fewer and farther between. The good news is that I’m about a quarter of the way through my book, Sedona Star, but I still feel that I should be doing something for my community.
My friend suggested that I be a Guardian ad Litem. I’d visit children who’d been taking from their parents due to abuse or neglect and report my findings to the court. My family who’d lived through my experiences in my job and personal life thought it was a bad idea, but I persevered until the Parkland School shootings. I’d been threatened with death while working in schools and had other harrowing experiences so I decided they were right. I felt like a quitter but I also knew that as I aged I didn’t have the same physical and emotional strength I had when I was younger.
Still, I felt like I needed to do something other than go out with family and friends, exercise, travel and write my book. I’d like to say I found that something but I’m still searching. I did join the March for our Lives for new gun laws to protect our children and I’m watching the news so I can be better informed before the midterm elections. Somehow it doesn’t seem like enough. I wish I had some answers for others who need motivation. I’ve written about it on my blog but I still struggle with it myself. One blog that may interest you is https://singleboomerlife.com/2016/01/10/single-baby-boomers-have-you-found-your-passion/
My question for myself and you is:
After a life of working toward your goals and achieving most of what you need and want, is it all right to just concentrate on what makes you happy if you’re not hurting anyone else?
So are the experts who tell us that we need to keep working and be involved in the community to stay emotionally and physically healthy right or can we now be what I used to consider selfish?
If you have any thoughts, please share them with my readers and me. As for me, I’m off to Paris, Oxford, and southern England. I may not be making a contribution to society, but it’ll be a learning experience for me and hopefully the people with whom I interact. Also, one more thing will be checked off my Bucket List. Stay tuned.
Victoria isn’t just the capital of British Columbia, Canada. It’s home to some of the most stunning flora and fauna in the world. Also called the “City of Gardens” Victoria is located in northern North America. In spite of its northern location, the residents enjoy a temperate climate with winter temperatures ranging from the average daily high and low temperatures of 8 and 4°C (46.4 and 39.2°F), respectively. The summer months are also relatively mild, with an average high temperature of 20°C (68°F) and low of 11°C (51.8°F). It’s the second sunniest city in British Columbia and drier than most areas in the region due to the rain shadow effect of the nearby Olympic Mountains.
Victoria and the surrounding area are known for its large retiree population. Some 6.4% are over 80 years of age, the highest proportion for any of Canada’s metropolitan areas. The city also boasts the country’s third-highest concentration of people 65 and older (17.8%). Retirees are drawn to Victoria’s mild climate, beautiful scenery, year-round golf season and easy-going pace of life. It’s been said of the city that it’s for “the newly wed and nearly dead” according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria,_British_Columbia.
On the ferry trip to the island, I missed seeing my first whale in the wild while talking to a fellow traveler that I spent time with on my Australia and New Zealand tour. Even though we live on opposite sides of the U.S. we were lucky to reconnect on our travels and talk about traveling together again. Since I didn’t see the whale I booked a whale watching and Butchard Garden tour with The Prince of Whales before my son, daughter-in-law and I took off for a walking tour of the local sites. The majestic British Columbia Parliament Buildings which face the harbor are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. First Nations, British and Asian cultural histories make modern Victoria a vibrant and diverse cosmopolitan city. Museums, heritage and historic buildings, statues and sites showcase the people and art of the past while stores, such as the Hudson’s Bay Company and the shops in the oldest China Town in Canada and second oldest in North America, offer endless shopping opportunities.
When shopping and dining out, the Canadian exchange rate of 80% made all of our purchases even more attractive. I always make sure I have a credit and an ATM card with me that don’t charge a service fee for foreign purchases and exchanges.
Food from all over the world can be found downtown and we happily waited in lines to dine at some superb moderately priced restaurants. Friday is pizza night for my kids so we headed to Pizzeria Prima Strada which served Neapolitan wood-fired pizza on Fort Street (https://pizzeriaprimastrada.com/). I ordered the Four Season which featured tomatoes, homemade sausage, peppers, anchovies, olives, mushrooms, onions, fresh mozzarella and basil fashioned into 4 separate sections for 19 CAD and glass of wine. It was fantastic and I had leftovers for breakfast so I reluctantly skipped the gelato.
The Jam Café on Herald Street offers all day breakfast and lunch. It had many intriguing dishes. I chose The Charlie Bowl – their version of a hash with a crumbled biscuit, hash browns, diced ham, bacon, corn salsa, peas, green onions, cheddar and sausage gravy topped with two sunny side eggs for $14.50 CAD. It was a large serving and there was no way I could finish it even though it was delicious. http://jamcafes.com/victoria/menu/. Saturday night saw us lined up in front of Pagliaccis on Broad Street. (http://www.pagliaccis.ca/). My order, the small portion for of The Sophia ($18 CAD) named for Sophia Loren, had the quote, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” on the menu. It had a sauce of Canadian Dungeness & Rock crab, baby shrimp, pine nuts, white wine cream sauce and smoked salmon on fettuccine. I added a great white wine and a bite of New York Cheese cake. This time I cleaned the plate. We ended our culinary expedition at The Fish Store at Fishman’s Wharf. On a quest for the best salmon, I tried the fry bar deep fried sockeye salmon with twice fried chips and slaw. The 1 piece basket cost $13 CAD. I’d never had salmon, my favorite fish, deep fried. It was tasty, but I prefer my salmon without the breading. I also enjoyed strolling around the wharf and looking at the colorful house boats. See https://floatingfishstore.com/.
It’s not too surprising that in the past people believed in sea monsters. When an enormous whale fin or fluke breaks the water, it’s a sight to behold. When the creature jumps out of the water or breaches, you experience an adrenalin rush. A Humpback Whale gave us our money’s worth on our Prince of Whales Tour by breaching 5 times right in front of our boat. He put on a show while we clicked away with our cameras and smart phones. The show lasted almost an hour before we continued on to Butchard Gardens. On our 3 hour tour, we saw a bald eagle, baby and mother seals, and a variety of sea birds. I was disappointed that I didn’t see an Orca. The crew explained that they see fewer and fewer since they’re trapped for entertainment purposes. The crew was trained mariners and naturalists who provided a running commentary and answered our many questions. I’d recommend this tour to anyone who wants a scenic and breathtaking experience.
When we disembarked at Butchart Gardens we skipped the line thanks to our VIP pass. Over a century ago Jennie Butchart, wife of Portland Cement manufacturer Robert Pim Butchart, began building what’s now one of the world’s premier floral show gardens. In 1977 their great-grandson, Christopher, introduced fireworks shows featuring aerial and French ground displays accompanied by show tunes on Saturday evenings during the summer. There’s a Sunken Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Italian Garden, and Concert Lawn Walk all of which are well kept and change with the seasons. They advertise 5 seasons with Christmas as their 5th with its Twelve Days of Christmas lighted displays.
So any time of the year Victoria will offer you comfortable weather with beautiful scenery, wildlife and activities. You can get there by ferry and bring your car, whale watching tours or the V2V luxury cruise. If you want to fly, you can land at the Victoria International Airport or the Victoria Inner Harbour Airport which is for floatplanes and seaplanes from small airlines with less than 15 passengers and general aviation aircraft. Helijets also fly from the Vancouver waterfront to Victoria’s When you add the sightseeing planes to the landings in the harbor there always seems to be an aircraft landing and taking off on the waterfront. http://blog.hellobc.com/four-ways-to-get-from-vancouver-to-victoria/
This is just a snapshot of all that you can do in Victoria. Needless to say, I would recommend it as a vacation destination or a side trip if you’re in Seattle or Vancouver. Not too surprising, summer is a busy time. If you’re driving from Seattle to the ferry in Port Angeles, WA, a GPS for rerouting and a patient driver are invaluable. Between my son, the navigator, and my daughter-in-law, the driver, we had a pleasurable drive and enjoyed several podcasts.
Another thing I like when I travel with others is when my travel partner doesn’t feel that we have to always do the same things. While I went on the whale and garden tour, they went to the Vegetoria, a festival for healthy eating, and rented bikes to tour Government House and the local area. Just because you’re traveling together doesn’t mean you can’t all see what interests you the most and join up for meals and things you all enjoy.
Next month I’m joining my sister for a trip to Miami and a cruise to Cuba. After I drop her off at the airport, I’ll visit the Florida Keys on my own. I’ll let you know how the rum drinks taste and maybe work on my Spanish in preparation for my trip to Spain. I’m sure it’ll be a fantástica aventuras.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists the synonyms of goal as “aim, ambition, aspiration, bourne (also bourn), design, dream, end, idea, ideal, intent, intention, mark, meaning, object, objective, plan, point, pretension, purpose, target…” Your goal may change during different stages of your life and at times you may have more than one. Your family, environment, job, health and religious beliefs can all influence what you consider your purpose in life. You want to be true to yourself, but life has a way of interfering with your plans. Perhaps you face a health issue and need to rethink your objectives for the future. You can’t continue working or must rely on others for assistance after a life of independence. You need to readjust your goals to fit in with your circumstances and ability to do what you need to do. If you’ve been living life taking care of others, you may now need to focus on yourself.
Your physical, cognitive, and mental health depend on you having something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a world-saving goal, just one that makes you get out of bed every morning and look forward to the day. Some people make some sort of appointment or find an activity to get them out of the house. If you’re still working and hate your job you may need something that gives you a lift each day like a walk at lunch time so you can enjoy the fresh air, relieve your stress and get some exercise.
Your purpose needs to be something that will improve your life in some way. It can still be helping other but you should get something out of it like a sense of pride or well-being. These are intangible rewards and sometimes you need something tangible. I plan trips to help me achieve my goal of visiting all of the places I want to see before travel becomes difficult. It’s not the only goal I have in life, but when I’m feeling down or bored, it brightens my day.
Here’s how even this small goal benefits me.
It keeps my mind active by researching the places I want to visit, airfares, accommodations and things to see and do while I’m there.
I keep engaged with family and friends. Planning a trip to visit them is one way to accomplish this, but I also like to take them with me. Sometimes we stay at my timeshare and other times we take a tour or cruise. When I have a question I can’t find an answer to on my own or want the opinion of someone else, I call someone I know who’s been there or used a service like Uber or Airbnb.
I also make new contacts when I ask for help or information. At the moment I’m planning a tour with a tour planner for a trip to England where some of my favorite mystery writers got their inspiration for such fascinating characters as Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Inspectors Morse and Lewis. You can find out more about it on my Single Boomer Life Facebook Page.
I develop new interests. Every time I start planning a trip I get side tracked while I’m doing research. I try to keep my mind open to ways I can make the trip more interesting and I explore new areas I find on related websites. The plan for the British mystery writers trip was born out of the desire to write a novel of my own, my love of British mystery novels and TV crime shows in addition to my desire to explore London, Oxford, Devon and Cornwall. I was watching a video about Agatha Christie’s home when I found it was near Port Isaac, the setting of my favorite TV show Doc Martin. I couldn’t find any tours that went everywhere I wanted to go and I wasn’t too keen on learning how to drive on the left side of the road, so I decided to plan one myself. This opened up many new avenues to research.
It keeps me positive and looking ahead to a bright future full of adventure.
When the time for the trip arrives I’ll have a sense of accomplishment from seeing my plan come together. I’ll also get to meet new people and explore the places I’ve read about and seen on TV and in movies.
When I finish the trip I’ll have the memories of a new and exciting adventure. I feel experiences are more valuable to me than material goods. They never go out of style or break. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
This is a short term goal, but it’ll keep me entertained and engaged for over a year. In the meantime, I have goals I want to work toward in other areas such as finding my ancestors in Italy, spending more time with my grandchildren and getting healthy and fit. My goals change often, but I make them attainable and if I tire of them or just cannot meet them, I move on. I don’t want to wallow in the fact I didn’t achieve them. I just make new ones. I may come back to the old plans when the time is right, but I leave the door open to new ideas and dreams.
Travel may not be your dream but you can apply this principal to any goal. The point is to find what interests you and set a goal to achieve. Give yourself a timeline and date of completion. It keeps you motivated and accountable.
I’ve seen it from a plane, but nothing compares to seeing the spectacle that is the Grand Canyon up close. It reminds us that nature is a powerful force and one we need to respect and conserve. It seems contradictory that the ravages of wind, water, and fire can create such beauty. We can harness their forces, but never truly control them.
I was going to drive to the Grand Canyon but I was offered a discounted tour at my resort, so I opted for this option. I was able to enjoy a narrated trip with our tour guide, Lynn, and sit back and look at the scenery instead of the traffic. If you’re traveling alone, I’ve found tours allow me to appreciate the view and learn about the history and facts of the area while enjoying the company of others. I was the only single on the tour, but I didn’t feel out of place. I was able to wander off, taking the time to view scenery and shops at my own pace, as long as I returned to the van before it left. Lunch and the entry fee to the park were covered and Lynn was a valuable source of information about the Park, Native Americans, and history of the Canyon.
We started our journey in Flagstaff and motored across the beautiful, but often barren landscape toward some of the most stunning rock formations in the world. Along the way, we passed The Painted Desert National Park, a U.S. desert of badlands in the Four Corners area, located on land owned by the Navajo Nation but part of the National Park System. It’s known for its brilliant and varied colors, including red rock and even shades of lavender. It was named by part of an expedition under Francisco Vázquez de Coronado on his 1540 quest to find the Seven Cities of Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold. After finding the cities weren’t golden, Coronado sent an expedition to find the Colorado River to resupply his men. On their way, they came upon the wonderland of colors. They named the area “El Desierto Pintado”, The Painted Desert. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Desert_(Arizona)
Farther down the road we passed the gas station featured in the movie, “Easy Rider”, and some Spanish Mustangs which are descendants of the horses that came with Coronado’s and other expeditions. We drove by the area near the Little Colorado River Gorge where Nik Wallenda crossed on a tightrope. Our first stop was at the Cameron Trading Post Gift Shop where I viewed Navajo art at their gallery. There is also a motel and food is available. https://www.camerontradingpost.com/shop.html
During the trip, Lynn told us about the Navajo Nation’s traditions and current way of life. It is a matriarchal society where property in inherited by the women with the grandmothers being the most respected members of their families and their own government. If a woman divorces a man, he’s left with nothing and must go to a Relocation Area since he no longer has a home. Since these areas have more up-to-date conveniences, some of the Navajo prefer to live there. That hasn’t always been the case though since both the Hopi and Navajo have been relocated in the past so their land could be used for other purposes by the government and settlers. The Native Americans have always fought for their rights in wars and the courts, but in recent times have found that educating their children in business and other areas has helped them create jobs and make money for their tribes.
These are just some of the bits of knowledge shared by our guide. She also told us that when it comes to the buying of products at the stands that dot the roadside, it’s preferred you don’t try to bargain unless it’s initiated by the owner. Another thing she mentioned was that Navajo children are not always named by their parents at birth since their family needs time to get to know them. They may have several names during their lifetime and if delivered at a hospital a traditional Anglican name may be given by the nurse who helped with the delivery. There was a time when Navajo children were forced to go attend boarding schools and not speak their language so couldn’t use their traditional name. That was another dark time among many others in the Navajo history.
Navajo Art in the Desert View Watchtower
We stopped at several viewing points to see the spectacular panoramic views of the beautiful sequence of rock layers that have been formed over time by the forces of nature. There’s rock that’s over 2 billion years old at the bottom of the canyon. It has been exposed over time by land masses colliding and drifting apart, mountains forming and eroding away, sea levels rising and falling, and the moving water of flash floods running off the surrounding mountains into the Colorado River. Since it’s located in the desert, little vegetation conceals the geology of the area, so the view from the rim shows all of its splendor. If you’re interested in the details of how the Grand Canyon was formed go to http://www.bobspixels.com/kaibab.org/geology/gc_geol.htm .
Our guide told us the typical person who most often falls off the rim or is bitten by snakes is a 25-year-old tattooed drunken man. Dying from heat or dehydration is a more common cause of death in the Canyon but it’s also the site of suicides and plane crashes. See http://www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/falling-to-death-grand-canyon/.
On June 30, 1956, The Grand Canyon was the site of a mid-air collision when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation. All 128 on board both flights perished. According to the book “Blind Trust” by John J. Nance, the two aircraft approached the Grand Canyon at the same altitude and similar airspeeds. The pilots were likely maneuvering around towering cumulus clouds, even though Visual Flying Rules (VFR) required the planes to stay in clear air. As they maneuvered near the canyon, it’s believed the planes passed a cloud on opposite sides leading to the collision. It was thought both pilots may have been trying to give the passengers a better view of the canyon. This tragedy led to sweeping changes in the control of flights in the U.S. The location of the crash has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Many stories have come out of the building of the railroad and the rise of tourism in the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon was the Santa Fe Railroad’s main tourist destination. Fred Harvey’s Harvey Houses were instrumental in bringing ample food portions at reasonable prices in clean, elegant restaurants to the travelers throughout the Southwest. Harvey hired architect and designer, Mary Colter, a lifelong single, to build many of the Canyon’s landmark Harvey Houses. Colter blended Pueblo Revival, Mission Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Rustic architectural styles along with Mexican carved-wood and hand-painted furnishings, and Native American artistic motifs to help create a style widely popular in the Southwest. It influenced a generation of Western U.S. architecture through the National Park Service and Civilian Conservation Corps for many years. She once had builders tear down several stories of the Desert View Watchtower because they didn’t place a rock according to her design. Colter’s buildings on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon included lodges, souvenirs shops, and special lookout points that are on the National Register of Historic Places. See https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/photosmultimedia/mary-colter—indian-watchtower.htm
In 1883, Harvey placed ads in newspapers throughout the East Coast and Midwest for “white, young women, 18-30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent”. The girls were paid $17.50 a month (approximately $450 in 2017 dollars), generous by the standards of the time to start, plus room, board, and gratuity. The women had a strict 10 p.m. curfew, administered by a senior Harvey Girl who assumed the role and responsibilities of house mother. The skirt of their official starched black and white uniform hung no more than eight inches off the floor. The hair was restrained in a net and tied with a regulation white ribbon. Makeup was absolutely prohibited as was chewing gum while on duty. Harvey Girls were required to enter into a one-year employment contract, and forfeited half their base pay should they fail to complete the terms of service. This didn’t stop them from marrying though since there were few women in the Old West so marriage was the most common reason for a girl to terminate her employment. One of the older servers at the restaurant where I ate a Navajo Taco was a former Harvey Girl. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Harvey_Company
A preserved “Harvey Girl” uniform
See my Facebook Page, Single Boomer Life, for more stories about the Grand Canyon. If you delve into the creation and of this natural wonder and the history that surrounds it, you’ll find it’s more than just a giant hole in the ground like so many people think. The Grand Canyon and its lore make it a destination for all Single Baby Boomers.
Even though I live by the water, I find the desert intriguing. The stunning vistas and the history and current lifestyle of the indigenous Native Americas draw me back for inspiration for my writing. The landscape in Northern Arizona is scenic and reminds me of an uncluttered room. The wide open spaces are like the water view I have but dotted with rock mesas and buttes in a variety of colors that were left behind by the glaciers and the elements over the years.
After my trip to Sedona, (see my blog https://singleboomerlife.com/sedona-arizona-something-for-everyone/), I knew I wanted to return to the area to do research for a book, to see more of Flagstaff and check The Grand Canyon off my bucket list. An added bonus was a visit to Phoenix with my son and daughter-in-law for Spring Training and its delectable cuisine. The first installment of this blog focuses on Flagstaff. There is so much history in the city it deserves its own section.
After picking up a rental car in Phoenix, I drove the scenic road to Flagstaff amazed by the towering Saguaro Cactus and the snow-capped mountains. In a day I’d gone from sea level and beach weather to 7000 feet and melting snow. Since I’m a Minnesota native, I knew how to pack and enjoyed the cooler weather after our almost non-existent winter in Florida. Later in my trip, I visited the red rocks of Sedona, new friends I’d met through an ancestry search and Montezuma’s Castle in the Verde Valley, an ancient home of the Southern Sinagua. Montezuma’s Castle National Monument is a five-story, 20-room dwelling that was inhabited between 1200 and 1300 A.D. It was recreated to its former state after years of looting. The exterior and nearby sites, Montezuma’s Well and Tuzigoot, the remnants of another Southern Sinagua village, are open to the public. If you like to gamble, there’s casino and lodging near the freeway exit.
Although Flagstaff doesn’t have the wow factor of the Grand Canyon, it’s got a lot going for it. The fact it still has a stretch of the infamous Route 66 running through it, may bring back some fond memories of road trips as a child. U.S. Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. Established in 1926, it originally ran from Chicago, IL through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, CA, covering a total of 2,448 miles. It was recognized in popular culture during our childhood by both the hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. You can get more information on this and all of the attractions in the area at the Flagstaff Visitor Center in the center of town right on Route 66.
While you’re downtown, stroll around and see the murals depicting the history of the area, sculptures and stop for a beer and local cuisine in one of the microbreweries and eateries frequented by residents and students of Northern Arizona University.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroads were responsible for giving Flagstaff its start when the workers set up a tent village in 1881 during its construction. During that time, shootings and lynching were common occurrences, so business owners kept guns handy to deal with troublemakers.
The Babbitt and Riordan families left their mark during Flagstaff’s early history and still do today. The Babbitt’s made their name in ranching, trading posts, and politics, activities that continue to this day. They also run The Babbitt Brothers Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides opportunities to participate in the health, education, science, arts and historic preservation of the Northern Arizona communities where Babbitt Ranches do business.
The three Riordan brothers came to Flagstaff seeking professional opportunities. They started out in the lumber business in the 1880s providing materials for the building of the railroad. Their civic-minded enterprises helped establish a company hospital that served the lumber mill and the town, brought electricity to Flagstaff, the construction of three Catholic churches, and aided in the establishment of some of the most important scientific and educational institutions in the community, including Northern Arizona University, Lowell Observatory, and Fort Valley Experimental Forest Station. They also developed a community hotel, the Monte Vista, which is still open today and has hosted Hollywood stars and has resident ghosts. See http://www.hotelmontevista.com/site/page/view/famousGuests and http://www.hotelmontevista.com/site/page/view/ghostStories. As fate would have it, the families intermarried and a dynasty was founded.
In the U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 017-01, “The San Francisco Volcanic Field, Arizona,” Susan S. Priest, Wendell A. Duffield, Karen Malis-Clark, James W. Hendley II, and Peter H. Stauffer at https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2001/fs017-01/ offer the following information. “Northern Arizona’s San Francisco Volcanic Field, much of which lies within Coconino and Kaibab National Forests, is an area of young volcanoes along the southern margin of the Colorado Plateau. During its 6-million-year history, this field has produced more than 600 volcanoes. Their activity has created a topographically varied landscape with forests that extend from the Piñon-Juniper up to the Bristlecone Pine life zones. The most prominent landmark is San Francisco Mountain, a stratovolcano that rises to 12,633 feet and serves as a scenic backdrop to the city of Flagstaff.” The area offers diverse recreational opportunities, including camping, hiking, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, and winter sports.
The peaks of San Francisco Mountain, which includes Arizona’s highest point, Humphreys Peak, tower over the ruins of an ancient Native American pueblo in Wupatki National Monument. Its inhabitants must have witnessed the eruption of nearby Sunset Crater, the state’s youngest volcano, in about A.D. 1064 A.D.
Most of the 600+ volcanoes in the San Francisco Volcanic Field are basalt cinder cones. They’re usually less than 1,000 feet tall, formed within months to years and were built when gas-charged frothy blobs of basalt magma erupted as a lava fountain that fell back to the earth as volcanic rock with cavities created by the trapped gas bubbles. The smaller fragments of rock are called cinders and the larger, bombs, which as they accumulate built a cone-shaped hill. The cinders are used in Flagstaff during snow storms to coat the road and prevent accidents until the spring winds blow them back into nature.
Starting in 1963 the rocky landscape and Cinder Lake provided NASA with a stage to prepare for the Apollo Missions. The Astrogeology Research Program transformed the northern Arizona landscape into a re-creation of the Moon by blasting hundreds of different-sized craters in the earth creating an ideal training ground for astronauts. For more information see http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/About/AstroHistory/astronauts.html.
While we’re on the subject of space, Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory, established in 1894, is among the oldest astronomical observatories in the U.S. It was there that the now dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. The Observatory’s original 24-inch Alvan Clark & Sons Telescope is still in use today for public education. Every year Lowell Observatory hosts 85,000 visitors who take guided daytime tours and view the wonders of the night sky through the Clark Telescope and other telescopes.
Arizona Snowbowl is located on the majestic San Francisco Peaks at 9,500 feet above sea level. It’s a year-round destination for skiing in the winter sun or escaping the summer desert heat. The ski area uses reclaimed water for snowmaking. The Navajos, Hopis and the other 11 tribes who see the Peaks as sacred say the water contaminates the entire mountain and devalues their religious practices. They consider it a violation of their religious freedom. They’ve protested and filed a suit in court but have yet to stop the snowmaking. Jones Benally, who’s in his 90s still works as a Navajo healer. He regularly collects medicinal plants from the San Francisco Peaks, just outside Flagstaff. “In creation, it is said the mountains were placed here by the holy people,” Benally said. “I collect medicinal plants and vegetation from the San Francisco Peaks because it’s very powerful.” http://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/2015/03/13/navajo-nation-files-human-rights-protest-snowbowl-snow-making/70214892/