London 2018: City Cruises River Cruise

Day 3, Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday we made the most of our day.  We were up at 7 and out of the hotel room by 8:30 – it was a bit chilly in the morning!  There was a bit of trouble with the Tube, since there was some sort of issue with a train on the line we wanted, but we were soon on our way to the Westminster Pier.  We were going to take a cruise on the River Thames!

Brandon, me, Taryn and the River Thames

City Cruises offers a 24 hour, hop-on-hop off pass; we boarded and enjoyed a leisurely ride up the river on the boat.  Our guide gave us lots of information on the history of the river, and the buildings and bridges that we saw along the way.  He was very funny too, and it was a beautiful day for a boat ride!   If the weather is cooperative, I would definitely recommend sitting up top – you can’t beat the view!

We departed at the Tower Pier; we were going to the Tower of London next!

Tube Stations: Earl’s Court (hotel), Westminster (at the River Cruises dock)
Costs: City Cruises River Cruise – 18.75 pounds (free with London pass)  Note: City Cruises advertises this as a 24 hour pass, but the boats only ran until about 6 pm at the latest – check the times!


Circus Trip 2018: Withdrawals

I have been home since Monday night.  I unloaded the car and have put away most of what was loaded into it.  I have seen my parents, four of my friends, got my hair cut, and had my tires rotated.  I brought my cat Coraline home.  It has been good seeing people here, but I miss Jeff.  And I miss being on the road.

I drove 13,660 miles on my trip.  It’s hard to believe there are that many miles to be had in the United States, but there you have it.  That’s almost as many miles as I typically drive in two years!  Even with that many miles, there was so much I didn’t see, and I would go back out in a heartbeat if I could.

I am certainly missing this view, from Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Circus Trip 2018: Reconnecting

I was 13 years old when I met him; we were introduced by an older mutual friend.  He was 15, adorably cute, funny, and sweet.  We were both instantly attracted to each other.  We started dating, and spent a lot of time together, but sadly, neither of us really remembers how long we were together.

The memories are 30 year old memories.  The photo booth at Woolworth’s, him meeting me after school at my school (his school got out earlier than mine), walking around downtown for hours, lots of kissing.  Snippets of a time when we were happy together – the kind of happy you feel as a child, before responsibilities and life weigh you down so much.  Our biggest issues were making sure we made it to the last bus home, doing our homework, and arguing with my brother about how much time we each got on the phone.

He spent a lot of time at my house; my parents were stable and kind – his parents did not give him the same sort of blissful childhood I enjoyed.  He was living with his dad and step-mom in my town, but he didn’t feel wanted.  My house was a respite for him, with the kind of parents he wanted to have.  I have the kind of parents that any kid is blessed to have.  We spent a lot of time in my room, talking, kissing, laughing.  We cooked after school snacks; and I began his lifelong attachment to Minute Rice, although I didn’t know that at the time.

And then we got in trouble.  We snuck out together and stayed at a friend’s.  It was innocent; the stuff of good kids who were smart and cautious – we watched The Princess Bride, stayed up all night and kissed.  But he got caught.  He was marched over to my house the next day to confess to my parents while I was still out with my friend.  I got grounded for a few days.  His punishment was excessive; he was put on a plane and shipped back to his mom’s in California.  Banished for a minor teenage mistake.  I never even got to say goodbye.

Life went on and I pined for him at first; later on the memories faded and I thought of him less.  But I still thought of him from time to time.  I even tried to look him up more recently online and on Facebook, but was never sure if any of the countless profiles with his name was his.  The one who got away.  The curse of a common name.  I never knew he thought of me too.

In early July I posted a video on YouTube of my swim with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium in order to embed it into my post on this blog.  It was shortly before I left on my big road trip, and it was the first and only thing I have ever posted under my name on YouTube.  A few weeks later, on July 30, I was at a tiny state park in Minnesota.  I needed a day of rest and had found a little out-of-the-way park on a man-made reservoir with farmland all around.  It was quiet.

I woke up from my first night in the park to find a comment on my YouTube video.  “funny, i used to have a girlfriend with the same name…..but she had braces and LOVED minute rice. then my parents screwed it all up and grounded me for life. i felt like a jerk and always missed her. its probably been 30 years now. i’m a dummy.”  The comment was left with an obviously fake name, but I instantly knew who it was, and I knew he had found the right girl – given that only one other person on the internet shares my extremely uncommon name.

We started emailing, then talking on the phone, as I drove further and further away from California (where he still lives), on my trip.  The connection we felt as teenagers was still there; he still made me laugh, his core personality was the same as the boy I dated at 13, only grown up now.  We have both been through our share of joy and trials, and we both keep trying to find happiness in the simple things in life.  We found ourselves talking everyday, and he soon asked if my trip would take me through California.  Days turned into weeks, then months, as we texted and talked, and exchanged photos – my trip, his life at home.

My trip did indeed take me into California, where the things I was feeling over the phone turned out to be even stronger in person.  Can first loves work out?  Can you find happiness with someone from your past who has found you again?  We never broke up as teenagers; there was never a fight or a gradual loss of interest.  He was simply taken away from me.  At 13 and 15, before cell phones, driver’s licenses and the internet, or even the money for long distance phone calls, being 1,100 miles away from someone is the kiss of death for a teenage romance.  But we have been given a second chance after all this time.

He is kind and sweet and I have fallen in love with him all over again.  His quirky sense of humor makes me laugh; he keeps me from being too serious.  There are details we both need to work through if we are going to work; it will take time and it is complicated.  We both want it to work though.

It is strange that my past found me 2,000 miles and 30 years away from home?  That we just clicked – the same way we did when we were kids?  I always wanted the fairy tale.  And finally, once again, my Westley found his Buttercup.  As you wish.

Me and Jeff


Circus Trip 2018: The Home Stretch…

Tomorrow I’m leaving California for home.  I don’t want to, but I have to get back to restart things at home.  I have been away almost four months, and in California for over a month.  I don’t want to, but it’s time.

I’m not sure how it will feel to be back home.   I am excited to see my friends and family.  Excited to see my horse and my cat.  Excited to see fall in one of the beautiful places in this country.

I feel more ambivalent about the house.  It is beautiful, but it is too large for just me, and it is a lot to maintain.  My ex-husband wanted a larger house after we married, but I miss the small home I owned when I was single.  When we got divorced, it made financial sense to stay in my house, and I wasn’t emotionally in a space to pack everything up and move, but I have been thinking for a while about whether I want those memories there.  I know it is time to make new ones.

Leaving California to go home also means leaving someone special to me.  A month here has given me one of the things I have been missing most in life – love and affection.  I won’t be cryptic – I found someone – or to be more accurate, he found me.  I’ll introduce you in another post.

So tomorrow morning I’ll be back in the car for the long drive north.  Sigh…

Thank You for Your Service

A year ago today, I was at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. visiting the memorials.  It was a cold, sunny day and it was a humbling experience to visit the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.  There was a ceremony honoring veterans at the Vietnam Memorial, and there were many Vietnam Vets in attendance.

To all of our Veterans, thank you.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

London 2018: Dinner, A Drink, and a Walk

Day 2, Monday, June 25, 2018

After we went to the Churchill War Rooms, we stopped in at a pub close by for a drink.  I had a nice Chenin Blanc, and Taryn shared a bit of her cider with me.  It was a nice break on a hot day.  I don’t think I have mentioned yet that London was unseasonably warm during the two weeks we spent there.  It was in the low 80s every day, there were barely any clouds ever, and it only rained a tiny bit one evening after we were already back at the hotel for the evening!  Spectacular!  But I digress.

After our pub break, we walked.  And walked.  And walked some more.  It was about 2.2 miles, which normally wouldn’t be very taxing, but we had walked a lot already, and it was hot!  Our destination was the Foxlow in the Clerkenwell district, a restaurant where we were meeting some friends.  It took a while!

Along the way we got some great views of the River Thames, the Household Cavalry Museum (I would have liked to have seen inside but it was already closed for the day so we wandered around the courtyard for a few minutes), Whitehall Gardens, a gorgeous church, Smithfield Market (a meat market that has been in continuous operation since medieval times), and some of London’s incredible architecture and statues.  It was a beautiful walk.

For dinner at the Foxlow I had the Flat-iron steak with salad, and a cider.  It was delicious!  I had a couple of bites of Taryn’s sticky pudding with clotted cream for dessert too – it was yummy!

After dinner, we took the Tube back to the hotel, and arrived more than ready to tumble into bed!  What a day!

Tube Stations: Barbican (near the Foxlow), Earl’s Court (hotel)
Costs: Dinner
FitBit Steps: Almost 19,000!

12 Corners Aromella

When I was in Michigan visiting my family, my cousin and I took a day to head over to Lake Michigan.  We had lunch at a brewery, did a little bit of shopping, went to a couple of the wineries in downtown South Haven, and checked out the lighthouse too.

We stopped at 12 Corners Winery tasting room in downtown South Haven, named for the Twelve Corners neighborhood where the vineyard makes its home, and did a wine tasting.

The Aromella intrigued me.  It is a hybrid grape; a cross between Traminette and Ravat 34, developed at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 1976.  It was renamed Aromella in 2013 (that took a while!).  I have had Traminette, and like it, but I have never had, or even heard of Ravat 34.

The result is a sweet (but not overly so) white wine that tastes similar to Moscato, but with more floral flavors.  The 12 Corners Aromella is estate grown, the residual sugar on this wine is 5.5 percent and the alcohol content is 11.8 percent.  It was delicious and a great opportunity to taste a new-to-me grape!  It is also reasonably priced at $14.99 a bottle.

If you have tried it, let me know what you think!