Teri B.

Teri B.

Things You Should KnowU.S. Travel

SEPTEMBER 2001: A TRIP FOREVER REMEMBERED

Sept 11 photo 2(1)

Washington, D.C., is a city I have had the pleasure of traveling to on innumerable occasions.  It was and to this day is one of my very favorite U.S. cities.  For a long time I thought it would a great place to live, as long as somehow the humidity was eliminated.

As a politically active couple, the hubby and I had a special reason to be in DC in September 2001.  A group of us went to the nation’s capital to meet with elected officials and have some unique access through the diligent work of our organizers.  We had a tour of the Pentagon on September 10th (see photo below) and listened to security advisers give a sobering talk about threats against the U.S.  A highpoint of the trip was to be a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol on the morning of September 11th, at 9am.  Later that day we were scheduled to visit the Supreme Court.

I took the photo below as we approached the Capitol building, Tuesday morning, 9/11/01.

I remember the events as if it were yesterday.  As we were progressing through the security line at the Capitol, people started reporting a plane had crashed into New York’s iconic World Trade Center — supposedly a small aircraft.  Once inside the building, the reports not only increased but became more alarming.  I became obsessed with the actions of Capitol personnel who seemed to be moving at an abnormally accelerated pace.  I remember saying, “Something’s not right.”

Moments later, the personnel literally screamed at us to run for the closest exit.  I never even looked to see where the hubby was; I just made a mad dash outside and immediately saw the smoke coming from the Pentagon.  Then I burst into tears.  Our kids were all the way across the country,  then just 10 and 12 years old.   Our group all gathered together and miraculously our bus and driver got to us through the chaos and took us as far out of DC as possible.  It was 3pm by the time we got access to our hotel and a television.

There was but one goal in mind and that was to get home.  Even if a flight were available, that was the last thing I would do.  We were fortunate to get a rental car and left Thursday morning with another couple for the drive across country.  An agreement was made:  the trip would be non-stop save for food and “pit” stops.

We reached Oklahoma City early Friday morning, September 14.  The day had been declared a National Day Of Prayer and Remembrance.  How fitting to arrive at the Oklahoma City Memorial, where victims of another act of terror are remembered – the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, murdering 168 innocents.   Two photos are below.

It was late Friday night when we knew none of us could drive without some sleep.  We got rooms to recharge and clean up in Kingman, Arizona.  The photo below is with our traveling companions Phil & Michael Anne Kurzner in Barstow.   

We arrived home midday on Saturday.  Neither of us had ever hugged our kids so hard nor been so grateful to see them.

Did the experience change my thinking about travel?  Only to the extent that none of us knows what can happen.  One thing I know for sure — the heroes of Flight 93 that took over the plane and crashed it in Shanksville, PA, averted another tragedy causing even more death.

And then a remarkable connection happened just this week after reading a column in the Wall Street Journal profiling the journey of Deborah Borza.  Deborah’s 20-year-old daughter Deora died on Flight 93.  The column is linked HERE.  I was so moved by the column that I wrote to the author, who immediately responded with her appreciation and that she had forwarded it on to Deborah.  She was hoping that was ok with me (it was more than ok — I wasn’t able to find how to contact Deborah directly).

After Deborah received the forwarded email, she called me and we spoke.  Deborah was an integral part of establishing the Flight 93 Memorial* in Shanksville, PA.  We visited there in 2018.  It is an emotional experience, but one that provides laser focus on what’s truly important in the scheme of things.   We plan to meet in person once Deborah returns to California after all the 9/11 remembrances.

We’ll never know whether the target of Flight 93 was the Capitol Building or the White House.  But 20 years later, I know the passengers’ bravery is something I will never forget.

*My blog from that visit is linked HERE.

Things I Love

A PERSONAL POST

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It is an author’s prerogative for a bit of detour content; right?  While “the hubby” is included in many of my posts as my most-frequent travel companion, I try not to center the message ON him.

Chicago 8.30.21

This is an exception as today we celebrate 35 “trips around the sun” as husband and wife.  Many of you know it was a short courtship — just 19 days from first date to engagement, with the wedding some eight months later.  Many predicted — mostly close relatives — that it wouldn’t last.  After all, how can one know in such a short period of time?

August 31, 1986

It remains the best decision I ever made.  Through the typical challenges — how to raise our two kids to be the thriving, responsible adults they now are; income uncertainty with two self-employed careers; family drama and whatever else caused brief bumps in the road — we have been and will always be each other’s most ardent supporter.

Cleveland 8.27.21

To my unique (in many ways) hubby — I am blessed beyond all thought with this life we have built.  And they said it wouldn’t last …

Bermuda May 2021
Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

ALILA — EVER HEARD OF IT?

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No?  Neither had I until I got wind of a new property recently opened in Encinitas (north San Diego area).  In the course of looking for a fun getaway befitting a special anniversary, I explored Alila Marea Beach Resort.  This is a separate brand under the Hyatt umbrella where one might expect premium pricing from Park Hyatt or even Hyatt Regency.  I definitely was not expecting a room cost approaching $1,000 per night (includes breakfast!) on a AAA rate.  I will continue to look.

When considering where else where else to go, I decided to look into an old favorite from early in our marriage — Ventana in Big Sur.  Turns out that property is also now an Alila, and only the third one in the US.  All of the other locations are scattered around Asia and the Middle East.  Ventana was always a splurge, but nothing like it is now.   At least the rate is basically “all inclusive” — per the website:

Each Ventana booking now features the following inclusive offerings: Dining in-room (all meals), poolside on your dedicated chaise lounge (lunch), or at The Sur House (breakfast and dinner). Convenient, healthy, and inspiring snacks to take on the day’s adventures, along with complimentary keepsake reusable water bottles. The Ventana Big Sur picnic program. Access to indoor and outdoor fitness studios. Volvo chauffeur service within a three-mile radius. The Excursion Outpost, featuring complimentary items for your use on picnics, hikes, and more.

The cost for the above (lowest rate and you best sit down) :: $1,650 per night, plus tax of course.  Onward I go.

Then there is Napa, site of the newest Alila.  Scratch that for the desired timeframe (end of August). But we can go earlier in August with rooms starting at just under $1000.  I’m feeling rich.

Thus I look forward to sharing all the stories and photos of the settled itinerary :: Cleveland (the hubby’s hometown) for baseball plus seeing friends and family; Detroit (baseball only) and some glorious days in Chicago for eating, shopping, exploring and celebrating.  Sounds pretty ideal to me.

International TravelSnippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

passports

If you’re like so many others right about now, you have either booked or plan to book international travel.  BUT, have you checked your passport’s expiration date lately?

I cannot stress enough that you do, because the renewal process “ain’t what it used to be.”  Remember all those passport expeditors (even the USPS) who could easily get it done in a day or two for you?

Chalk up that absent service to another Covid casualty.  I just booked a client on an Alaska cruise that embarks in Seattle.  That means the ship encounters “international waters” en route — thus necessitating a passport.  She hadn’t checked hers recently and it expired in February of this year.  And then the fun began.

Expedited services at best still require 15 business days and some hefty fees.   According to a Wall Street Journal column this week, the State Department indicates the process can take up to 18 weeks for renewals including mailing.   In cases of a life-or-death emergency, there are some “very limited in-person appointments” that require either a death certificate or a letter from a hospital.  No one wants to face that in a time of need.

So, what is the takeaway here?  Like with all else in life, make sure your paperwork and required documents are in order and up to date.  People have waited so long for travel to resume that you don’t want to be denied because of an expired passport.

 

 

International TravelSnippets from the Road

BERMUDA BLISS

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Here’s a key piece of advice:  Factor in downtime for your travel, especially if your itinerary includes going non-stop in order to “see it all.”

One of the things the hubby and I truly appreciate is having a few days to do nothing.  That means no plans, alarms, or advance decisions on how to spend the day. Not only is that a true luxury but something one really needs.  Plus there’s the added bonus of returning home just slightly less tired.  It can be a time to reflect on the trip highpoints/lowpoints.  Since time is obviously so precious, it makes sense to evaluate what works best for you in order to mitigate mistakes or unforced errors.

Bermuda has always been on the to-do list, but it’s minimum two flights from the west coast.  With our post-Africa route through Heathrow, getting to Bermuda was just one more flight.

There are some 70,000 residents collectively in the 150+ islands, but most principally reside on the five largest.  I was surprised at the number of native Bermudians we met with families that had been there for generations.  Most other people — especially those working in hospitality — were an international mix.  Not surprisingly, tourism is the main source of revenue along with insurance and Bermuda onions (not kidding).

Below — the Rosewood Bermuda.

Bermuda is colonial in feel and sometimes in attire where men don pastel Bermuda shorts with loafers and button-down shirts.  Golf is huge; at least eight courses on the main island.  Many hotel guests send their clubs in advance via Ship Sticks.  I used them to send resort clothes ahead as African flights were limited for luggage, but the recommended timeframe to send the bag seemed ridiculously early (shipped from LA on April 16 for our May 4 arrival).

It wasn’t early at all.  The bag in fact made it to the island around April 26 but only delivered to our room on May 5.  With major custom delays (Covid strikes again), copious emails resulted between the shipper, the resort and me.  In the end, in our room there was a sight for sore eyes and a source of clean clothes.

So we took our own advice and did pretty much nothing.

At the main pool
At the beach pool
At the beach
Simple and perfect nightly dessert. Homemade.

The one big adventure consisted of a “car” from Rugged Rentals and driving to the other side of the island.  Seen below is a golf cart disguised as a Hummer with no power steering, brakes or shock absorbers.  Factor in driving on the “wrong” side in Bermuda, and my arms got a workout.

And, as with all good things, this trip came to an end … after 24 days, 3 countries, 15 flights, 6 covid tests and endless memories.  What a blessing to be on these adventures together.

Bye, Bermuda .. Until we meet again.

 

International TravelThings I Love

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DESTINATION

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In just a week’s time, the hubby and I got a true taste of Uganda — from the bustling international Entebbe airport to the Congo border, the vast Queen Elizabeth National Park  and even crossing the Equator.  It is a country with spectacular landscape, welcoming people, adorable children eager to waive hello plus countless species to view.

But, there’s also considerable government control as evidenced by the banning of Facebook.  And, were it not for citizens planting small crops to take to market or consume at home, hunger can be a challenge for much of the population.  With that, we were very happy to do whatever we could to help those dependent upon tourism with their livelihoods.

Wide load — but not the widest by far!

We had two more animal encounters, both unique in their own way  ~~

MOTORBOAT SAFARI

The 40 km Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park flows between Lake George and Lake Edward through the heart of main game viewing area.  The different perspective of water viewing versus the previous land viewing was enjoyed for a relaxing couple of hours.

Above and below:  Many have asked if I ever felt nervous or scared on safari.  The short answer is no.  But, one must be VERY careful around these massive creatures — especially when there is a calf in tow as pictured here.  One could caption this:  “Proceed at your own peril.”  We backed the hell up.

Below is the ingenious work of the black and white Kingfisher birds who dig holes to protect their eggs from any prey.

One of many crocodiles seen in the area.

Co-existing seen everywhere among the species.

WARNING! BABBOONS …

CHIMPANZEE TREK

Unlike the mountain gorilla trek covered in the last post (click HERE), our descent into the Kyambura Gorge was relatively short, significantly less steep, and ultimately very manageable.  While the hubby opted out midway upon arrival at a difficult passage (below), I proceeded with a park ranger and our driver/guide William.   After immediately spotting a group of fast-moving chimps, we went quite a bit further to have an up-close encounter that made the trek and completed our trip sightings.

On the lookout — flat and muddy.
The help is greatly appreciated.
Barely visible at first
Camera shy

That face ..

TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION MOMENT

I was laser focused on not slipping in the muddy and wet (but flat) terrain.  My glasses fogged up from humidity and my phone (used for photos) was in my pocket but was somehow very dim, so basically I have zero visibility.  And then I hear “Hello?  Hello?? I can’t hear you!”  And I look at my phone and realized I accidentally dialed my sister Margie in Los Angeles, who came through clear as a bell.  In a deep gorge in Western Uganda near the Congo border.  But try making a call from Coldwater Canyon in Los Angeles and there’s no reception.  No, we didn’t actually speak.  In a panic I disconnected from just being baffled at the whole incident.  We’ve of course had many a good laugh since via text.

At this point, our formal itinerary from Africa Travel Resource came to an end at the (literally) picture perfect Ndali Lodge.  I encourage you to click on the link to read the story of this amazing place, which land dates back nearly 100 years.

The open air gym
With gracious owners Aubrey & Claire Price

There’s just one caveat for staying at Ndali :: Must love dogs.  Or at least not mind them.  Personally they were a sight for sore eyes having been away from our three for so long.  Two were mere puppies — not more than 10 weeks at the time.  One of the older ones slept on our porch all night.  How can you not love Basil, the brown guy upper left.

Cocktail hour

And, finally, two last incredible views.   Next post :: Africa Hits & Misses plus R&R in Bermuda