A Travellerspoint blog

March 2015

Prepare for Blastoff

George Reporting

snow 33 °F
View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Tomorrow we head off to Iceland which has been
described as an otherworldly planet.

That thought makes this night before "liftoff"
very exciting for both of us but my imagination
seemingly has gone into overdrive.

I prepare for tomorrow's flight as if I'm going
to Mars. I've already experienced what an actual
liftoff from Cape Canaveral feels like and I've
trained my mind and body in the jungles of the
Yucatan. I've visited alien sites in Roswell
and ancient Mayan dwellings in Chichen Itza. I
feel as if blasting off to Mars is actually my
ultimate calling in life.

I was born in a time when the Space Age was in
full bloom and newspapers and the TV were filled
with reports of the latest space adventure by
the bravest of people.

My lovely sister and some friends have been
sending us pics of Iceland and it does look
otherworldly. I've rather enjoyed finding gear
here in Boston to prepare for the cold experience.
Mostly I've really enjoyed imagining what a trip to
another world would be like.
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So tonight I go through a special ritual to help
get my mind and body ready for blastoff.
Although the flight is only 4 hours and Iceland is
about as cold as Boston is right now, I hear David Bowie's
'Space Oddity' and Elton John's 'Rocket Man' playing
bongo earworms in my head. Silently, I pay homage
to the brave Challenger Space shuttle astronauts
as well as to other historic figures who ventured into
the unknown to discover something new and exciting
and perhaps didn't return. I think of our ancient ancestors who left Africa
to venture boldly into new parts of the Earth.
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And now we leave Boston, birthplace
of Leonard Nimoy, our hands frozen in 'Live Long and Prosper' pose.

My skin feels fresh, the air going through my nose is
full and clear. Fear, is a funny, distasteful
memory now akin to the time we got pulled
over by a clown-cop in a speed trap in New Mexico.

The Icelandic world beckons before us like Mars and our
plane tickets look as monumental as Saturn V rockets!

I know this all seems over-dramatic and even
silly to those who have already been there but as I approach
50 years on this planet, opportunities to feel like
a kid again just don't come around that often.

So my friends and family....it is time to take that giant
leap into a new unknown. And with each step we take our thoughts
of you with us. May our eyes be your eyes, our ears your ears as
we take the space walk through the land of fire and ice.
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More importantly, as our compradre Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast.
If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Note: These pics were pulled off the web. We will post our own later but don't be disappointed if ours don't compare to these.

Posted by woa 17:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Snow in Springtime


View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Yesterday we made it Boston, our last stop on the road trip portion for now.

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We experienced the George Washington Bridge with its expensive toll, and lots of traffic.

I am sitting at a small table near a window, in our nice suite here in Winthrop. And look, it's still snowing!
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George here: Yes it is snowing in Boston! lol Well, that doesn't surprise the locals who are very much sick of all the snow. To Andrea and I, it looks quite beautiful but that's because we hadn't seen much of it until now. Today we have to stay inside most of the time because it is cold and snowing. That's find for about a day but I would go nuts if it lasted for months like it has here.

I found a place for us to stay in the Winthop area, named for Governor Winthrop founder of Boston. I learned quite a bit about Gov. Winthrop after finding our Gov. Winthrop Secretary hutch a few years in Oakland. It's funny how things come full circle. I took a 15 minute walk and found a sign pointing to a site that used to be where Winthrop once lived.

It's also been very warm in California so I am told. I think we can now say that we understand the weather extremes of both coasts. Which one to choose? A snowy-forever in Boston or the drought-sunshine of California? Before leaving California, I dreamed of making a film and calling it 'Another Sunny Day'. It would have been a horror film about the future. I would imagine that many people here in Boston would move to California in a heartbeat but then that would just add to the problem of overpopulation there wouldn't it?

Anyway, I don't think I would have survived a winter here in Boston. Call me a "wuss" or whatever but I don't care. I like being outside and so does the wife. Let's just keep that in mind shall we?

Posted by woa 15:22 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Actualización de Imagen

by Andrea


View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

Miami to Ft. Lauderdale to Cocoa Beach to Kennedy Space Center to Jacksonville to Savannah.

In Cocoa Beach, Andrea searched for Major Nelson and I looked for Jeannie, but the closest thing we found was a sign that read "I Dream of Yogurt" oh well.
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The next day we visited the Kennedy Space Center. It's a very educational, interesting, and interactive experience.
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We walked around the amazing Space Shuttle Atlantis, and went in a simulator to experience what it feels like to be astronauts blasting off!

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We saw their IMAX movie and learned about the new Orion shuttle project endeavoring to send people to Mars. Pretty cool. Where do I signup?
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There is a bittersweet memorial honoring the astronauts who died in service.
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Next, we made our way to Jacksonville.
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We wanted to stop here to visit Kori and Jacob, some new friends we recently met in Merida. We went for a late dinner at Kori's "Royal Palm Village Wine and Tapas" restaurant which she expertly runs. This place has it all! An amazing wine selection, craft beers, delicious, fresh food, and an art gallery of local artists works displayed. We highly recommend a stop here if you happen to be in Jacksonville. I recommend ordering delicious wine then walking around checking out the local artwork while waiting for your meal. The roasted veggie platter was knockout good!
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The next day we took a ferry across St. John river then drove to the beach town of Fernandina FL. We were probably the most tanned people there since it appeared most of the other pasty-looking folks had just driven down from NY, Illinois, Conn. etc.
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Then we drove on to Savannah Georgia, but only had time for a short walk around the river front area. Savannah has spectacularly looking character and greenspace. We will need to make a return trip when we have more time for sight-seeing.
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We drove through So. Carolina and spent the night in Fayetteville, NC. It was then on to Richmond, VA.

Posted by woa 06:41 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Half Way Point Between Everywhere and Nowhere

by GandA

rain 75 °F
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Today marks six months since we left Oakland. It's hard for me to believe that much time has already passed, yet at the same time, we have seen and done much.
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Six months ago we couldn't have imagined we'd spend over two months in Yucatan, Mexico, buy a house in Merida, complete with an awesome community of new friends.
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We've been to some great cities, and parks from California to Florida, and have been fortunate to visit friends and family along the way.
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Now we are making our way to Boston. Flying to Iceland, and planning a four-month stay in Europe, while starting renovations on the Merida house which the amazing, and talented Maria Elena will be managing in our absence.
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This is George chiming in: Has it been 6 months already? It will be difficult to sum up the experience but here goes..
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There is incredible beauty on this planet. From the million year old stalagmites and stalactites lying a mile deep in a huge cavern to the towering rock formations in Monument Valley. Beautiful sunsets from the western edges of the Yucatan, Mexico to Savannah, Georgia, to the magnificent sunrises from Arizona to the Caribbean Sea. The feeling of sand beneath your feet as you stroll beside a large body of water to the feeling of silky, cool cenote water wrapping your body. The natural world is full of wonders and beauty that come with no price tag and is readily around us if we just take a moment to stop and look. However, I would now say that the most indelible memories thus far are the feelings associated with re-connecting and connecting with beautiful people. The most luminous visions in my mind now are the ones where I've greeted, hugged and kissed old and new friends throughout these travels. There is something precious about the honest extended hand shake or the warm embrace saying "hello" or "See you later". I more readily smile and try to strike up a conversation with strangers now. And when they don't respond in kind or they frown or are silent I don't get disappointed. I just think they are unhappy at the moment and I just move on to some other positive thought.

I am glad and honored that we have remained healthy and safe throughout this journey and can only thank the unseen powers that look out for us on the roads, in the air and on the water.
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I am grateful that technology is so readily available in my hand that allows me to reserve rooms, airline tickets etc. with a single, immediate touch.
I am gratified to see how my wife blooms from time to time turning from her old way of thinking to becoming a more thoughtful person aware of her surroundings, the changing landscape and the new, unknown possibilities that exist with each new day.

Spring is here and we are soon off to Europe to greet old friends and make new friends. (Normally I would have put the word 'perhaps' between the words 'and' and 'make' in that sentence but I guess I've become more confident in making a truthful statement! lol

Today, like nearly all other days the past 6 months, holds much unknowns. We will see new, different things today. Discover some new historical detail about this place and eat/drink at the 'Who Knows Where' Restaurant/Diner/Cafe.
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But let us take this time now to thank all of you who have helped us get to this point. To our families and friends (new and old) we thank you for guiding us, emboldening us, advising us, recommending to us, opening your homes to us, thinking of us, feeding us, looking out for us, and loving us. Without that, this trip would be not as memorable.

Posted by woa 17:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

True or False?

by GandA


View WOA: GANDA TRAVEL 2014 on woa's travel map.

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"You need to have a return ticket already purchased at the time you are boarding a flight to Mexico, from the U.S." True or False?

As we handed our boarding passes to the agent, he asked, "When is your return flight?" We answered, "We have not booked the return yet. We plan to be in Mexico for about a week as we are buying a property, but do not know exactly what day we will fly back." He pulled us aside and proceeded to explain how in his ten years with the airline, you cannot fly to Mexico without a return flight, the airline can get fined, and he could lose his job. He gave an example of how he was detained going to Australia without an exit ticket. (Really?) So George tells the guy we have done this before, and that that may be his experience involving another country, but not ours when going to Mexico. So, the other Jet Blue agent starts paging for a manager to come talk to us, while everyone else continued boarding.

Finally an authority figure shows up and asks, "Where are they flying?.... Cancun?.... That's fine you don't need a return ticket for Mexico." He apologized and said he'd send an email so the staff would know all this. Great, but we were still pissed about this unnecessary and stressful delay. We did make the flight, but do not plan to use Jet Blue again anytime soon.

This scenario is one of the main things that can make travel difficult. Not all countries treat visitors in the same way. Some are easy-going, others more strict about showing that you are returning or moving on. It takes quite a bit of research to understand how long you can stay somewhere and what are their entry and exit requirements. You would expect the people who work for airlines to know the differences but the truth is that many of them do not....

So a visit to our American consulate might be a good idea. It turns out that the consulate did not have the information we needed, nor do they roll out any red carpet to a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. So we went to the Dept. of Immigration office where we got our answer.

According to a supervisor, the official rule is that American's CAN purchase a one-way ticket into Mexico. You are usually given a 180-day Tourist Visa (important document-keep it safe), and you can schedule your flight out of Mexico during your stay.

Posted by woa 12:12 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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