Snippets from the Road

Snippets from the Road



It’s a very good thing that I love trip planning because the time spent finalizing this itinerary has been rather inordinate.   And that’s a proverbial understatement.

Not long ago, I posted a blog (click HERE) about just how complicated it is to plan an international trip at this particular time due to Covid uncertainties.  Or maybe it’s just because of this destination.  Regardless, that itinerary became moot a week ago and a new one was suggested, agreed upon, and flights were changed.  Again.

We’re now at zero minus 2 days until departure.  Vaccinated to the hilt, results in hand, Covid tested (the first of many for this trip), we are packed and good to go.  We hope.  Maybe just a bit of praying involved.  Our new map is below.  It does look like a lot of moving about, but the flights are mostly short within Tanzania and Uganda. And it is fascinating to see the landscape between destinations.   As for Kenya, we have a brief layover  through Nairobi as they have new restrictions in place prohibiting seeing more of that country.   Trip highlights, starting from the lower right:

Tanzania:  Dar es Salaam (plane change only) to Arusha (near Mt. Kilimanjaro) to Serengeti East to Ngorongoro Crater.

Uganda:  Entebbe, Bwindi Forest, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale Forest (all in the western part).

Back to Entebbe to Nairobi to exit the continent.


Fingers crossed, the next post will be from on the ground in Tanzania.  Stay tuned ..

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know



First the encouraging news :: travel agents, cruise lines and tour companies are all reporting record bookings for 2021.  If you’re like so many of us who love to travel, you’re itching to get back out there!  But the how, when, where and all the rest have unique protocols in place.  Nearly as fast as we read something, there is a new rule.



Following are some great sites help you plan.  One of the absolute best I’ve come across is Sherpa via American Airlines.  It is so simple and so full of great information regarding entry Visas and in particular COVID restrictions for any country in the world.  Amazing, up to date, and beyond helpful.

Next is the CDC website.  These links are very comprehensive (if a bit complicated).  I just want the bullet points!  Regardless, check out the following:

Domestic Travel

International Travel  (this is a biggie with re-entry requirements just published for all US citizens)

PLANS (which could be cha-cha-changin’)

I’ve written about our upcoming trip in April to Kenya and Tanzania.  American Airlines main partner is British Airways.  The vast majority of flights heading east have a stop at Heathrow along with exorbitant taxes.  If I can get somewhere and avoid Heathrow, I’m thrilled.  That is the case for this trip.  Our mileage tickets via American partner Qatar Airlines fly to Doha, then on to Nairobi.   Except Qatar now requires a 5-day quarantine. That does not work for our trip schedule.

But, and it’s a big but — some countries allow transit passengers meaning you can transit through the country but not leave the airport.  Sounds like a great plan largely depending on the length of said transfer.  Say it’s 12 hours.  What then?  Well, many large international airports (Hamad in Doha included) have hotels inside the terminal.  They are pricey, but you can book for as little as a few hours to rest, shower, change and proceed on.  It’s not nearly as interesting as departing the airport to actually get a glimpse of the destination or go out for a meal.   But it’s certainly beats hanging around a terminal — even if you have lounge access.

The decision for this year’s route is in flux as we speak. That is, until I can confirm transit status through Qatar.  Heathrow allows for transit passengers so it might just be easier to add the extra cost and change the tickets.    Whatever the route is, it will be with full knowledge of requirements for the trip ahead before leaving.  But we are leaving and that’s the best news of all!

Snippets from the RoadU.S. Travel


Stunning Park City vista

After one week on the recent road trip (click HERE for earlier posts), it was time to begin the long journey back.  From South Dakota, we ventured for a brief time to western Nebraska.  Small town food once again was a delight, as in tapas-style dishes for lunch in Scottsbluff.  The Tangled Tumbleweed is doing some delicious small plates and we were very happy to have found them!  On the to-do list is a longer trip to Nebraska, in particular Omaha.

Nebraska-style Tapas

We had an overnight in Denver on the first day dine-in was allowed in restaurants.  Few places were actually prepared.  The hubby called about six restaurants to find a dinner spot until we landed on one that was open for business, called Gaetano’s.

They were very polite (but firm) in the requirements:  Masks at all times except when seated; temperature taken upon entering; guest book sign-in for contact tracing.  Nevertheless, kudos to these places as it’s harder on the staff than the patrons.  They are running around in masks and gloves, constantly cleaning surfaces while trying to provide service with a hidden smile.  It’s not easy to converse either.  We were happy to support the establishment nonetheless.

From there it was a hike to the next stop, Salt Lake City.  We stopped for lunch in Laramie, WY, after which a warning light about tire pressure caused another stop.  We were directed to downtown Rawlins to a tire store.  Unable to find it, we pulled into a hardware store parking lot to ask directions.  The driver rolled down his window, and we asked if he knew the place.  He began to direct us, paused, and said: “Are you ready to go now?”  “Yes, we are.”  He said, “Follow behind me; I’ll drive to where it is.”

I’ll refer you back to an earlier post entitled “Never Underestimate the Kindness of Strangers.” At any other time, I wouldn’t think to mention this gentleman happened to be black and we’re a couple of white strangers.  But this occurred during the Minneapolis riots.   After following him to the right place, we thanked him for his graciousness as he went on his way.  We have been the beneficiaries of this type of random goodwill and kindness and would do the same in our home city without a moment’s hesitation.  Perhaps the timing of this particular incident is what made me tear up wishing this happens without exception.

On a lark we stopped at the renowned Park City area for dinner (The Eating Establishment) before heading on to Salt Lake City for the night.  Oh, how I miss my skiing days.  Then I remember the creaky, artificial and repaired joints and I snap out of it.  It was a gorgeous and unseasonably warm night and Main Street was lively with people.  Just beautiful.

Yummy burger & fries
Main Street, Park City
Stunning Park City vista

From there, it was an insanely long and boring drive to the last night of our trip, Reno, NV.  There were two unexpected high points:  a “pit stop” at the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats (below) and the discovery of another wonderful cafe called McAdoo’s in Elko, NV.  Absolutely delicious and very fresh food at this very small establishment in what I like to call “the middle of nowhere.”

There’s another one??

The hubby had not been back to Reno since living there in the early 80’s.  His two older brothers had a business called Parts World (six locations), and he handled the finances.  See below for what the “world HQ” now looks like.  To say Reno has changed in the 37 years since he was last there is the proverbial understatement.   All hell began to break loose in the evening as we dined with his great Reno friend and political menptor, Patty Cafferata.   Our phones all sounded the curfew alerts so we made a mad dash for our hotel.  We had a view of the protests from our room, but thankfully things calmed down.

I did not know that.
Patty & Bruce

The long drive home took us to Mammoth for a quick lunch, then that familiar drive along HWY 395 and then 14.  A helluva journey.  Ten states in 10 days clocking 4,500 miles with so very many lasting memories.


Snippets from the RoadThings I Love



Let’s start with the gratitude first.  My family is healthy, we have everything we need and are employed.  For that we are truly grateful.

Sunday, April 19th, should have been the first day of our Italy trip — starting in Rome.  Obviously that could not happen.  In addition to traditionally traveling with the hubby after the normal end to tax season, we were bringing our kids to celebrate their 30th birthday’s — Sam’s last August and Hannah’s this December.  Rome/Florence/Venice/Milan — their first and our fifth trip to this magical country.

So how to soften the blow (which I know CANNOT compare to what many others are experiencing)?  Bring Rome home.

Italian tablescape: Lavender, lemons, tomatoes

My go-to cook for Italian food is often Lidia Bastianich, so I used her pizza dough and sauce recipes.   Along with the pizza, I composed a platter of caprese salad, proscuitto, parmesan chunks, etc.  For dessert, I searched the internet for a classic Tiramisu recipe and settled on this one.

Dough divided into three balls (15 oz each) after initial rise. Two were used.

Finished product
As good as it looks. I used Kahlua; no rum ..

When life hands you lemons, drink limoncello!  Cin Cin — Italy, we’ll see you as soon as we can …

A good Barolo with dinner – Elio Grasso 2008
Snippets from the Road



(This March 3 post is updated at the end … )

With the big post-tax season trip just six weeks away, I’ve been repeatedly asked these questions:  “Are you cancelling your trip?”  “Are you concerned?”  “What are your thoughts about …”

My answer has not changed.  No, we are not changing unless we are forced to.   In other words, if all flights to Italy are cancelled, then I guess we’ll change our itinerary — flying into Rome and departing from Milan, with additional stays in Florence and Venice.  American Airlines currently has a deadline for flight changes without penalty until March 16.  All of the hotels and cars may be cancelled without fees.  So not much at stake while we see what happens.

We’re a generally healthy family who in all probability would tolerate a flu without much fanfare. While I’m not looking for adverse conditions, the fact is we could stay home and get sick.  So what the heck .. onward.

My Snippet from the Road:  Carry on unless you’re forced not to.  Wash your hands.  And if change must happen — the South of France is just an hour flight from Rome.  A win/win.

UPDATE:  In case you’re interested in where we stand now (March 13), we are looking to postpone just a few weeks from our original 4/17 departure.  Typically we’re home around May 10 looking forward to attending Dodger games.  Since that is also postponed, our timing is flexible throughout May.   It would be a pleasure to be among the first to help resurrect Italy’s economy in some small way.

The plan is to see how things look at the end of March/beginning of April before changing flights and hotels.  Until then, we’ll talk to each other, catch up on reading and perhaps binge watch cooking shows on Netflix …

Snippets from the Road


DucksDuck family

Well-known talk show host, author and renown world traveler Dennis Prager has said the reason he always tips airport shuttle drivers is because he knows others will likely follow suit if they weren’t so inclined to do so until observing him.

Boy, did this ever become true, albeit in completely different circumstances.  Baggage handling ineptness at Miami airport caused us to nearly miss our connection.  The only available overhead bin space was 10 rows behind our seats once we finally boarded.  Upon landing, the hubby waited until he could make his way back to that row (not very easy) to get our two bags.  I waited at our row, but stood up and was kneeling on the aisle seat facing backward.  An exiting passenger said to me “Have a good weekend!”  So I responded in kind.  The next one said “Thank you” as did a series of successive exiting passengers.  It quickly became clear the first passenger assumed I worked for American Airlines so he was polite in his departing comments, and the rest of the passengers followed suit — essentially proving Mr. Prager’s theory.

Here’s the amusing part (for me).  This occurred after about 10 hours of travel, with no make-up and wearing a nondescript black t-shirt.  In other words, kind of a low bar for a flight attendant’s appearance.  Oh, well.  People in the immediate area and I had a great laugh when I told them I don’t work for American but appreciated their comments nonetheless!   My Snippet from the Road:  Be a good example and others could very well follow your lead.