My First Solo Travel Adventure

There have been a lot of rather depressing things on my mind lately, things I’ve been going to write about. Maybe I will, another day.  Today, it’s time for some adventure. Since I haven’t been anywhere new lately, I think I’ll travel back in time to a trip I made in 2000.

Friends of mine are now enjoying Thailand, and reading about their adventures, on Face Book, sent me in search of my journal that I wrote when I was there in August/September of 2000. At that time internet access was limited, there was no Face Book, nor did WordPress exist, and I actually travelled without being “connected” most of the time. Trips to Cybercafes, when I was in towns where they were available, were enough to let people back home know where I was and how I was doing.

There’s an inscription in the front of the homemade-paper journal that I used. It reads, “To my wonderful mother, on your 50th birthday. I hope this year provides many good things to write about. Love always, Sarah (March/2000)”

Sarah made the journal. At the time, neither of us knew that later that year she would also provide me with many things to write about. She and her husband were living in Bangkok at that time, teaching in an International School. When their three-year contract was coming to an end at the that August, Sarah generously offered to buy me a ticket to join them in Bangkok and accompany them on their last Thailand tour before they returned to Canada.

My adventure began on Sunday August 27th, 2000 when I boarded a late evening flight from Toronto to Los Angeles. From there I caught my thirteen hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan, and arrived there at 6:30 a.m. on August 29th. The temperature was already 26 degrees Celsius and it was raining.

I’d managed to get some sleep on the plane and filled the rest of the time watching two movies – at that time they were included in the price of the airfare, as were the meals. My travel companions were all Asians and most spoke little or no English. I suddenly knew what it felt like to be a minority. I was amazed by how quiet and well-behaved the many children on-board were, compared to the very uncontrollable child who ran her mother ragged and was constantly underfoot of the attendants on the Toronto-LA flight.

Afraid of venturing too far and not being able to find my way back, unable to speak the language to ask for help, I made my way to the loading gate for my final flight, and then spent the next six hours restlessly alternating between reading my book and playing solitaire (with cards!) while sitting either on the hard plastic chairs or on the floor.  There was not a vending machine to be found. I was alone most of the time, with people occasionally joining me for an hour or two while awaiting their connecting flights. At times I questioned my decision to accept Sarah’s offer.

Over the next few days, I’ll tell you why it was all worthwhile.


Well That Wasn’t the Day I’d Planned!

I woke up this morning with a couple of ideas for blogs and that was to be my priority today, right after we made a quick trip to Walmart or Staples to pick up the iPad 2 that was on sale during Canada’s version of Black Friday.

So off we went at about 9:45 am, only to find that both places were sold out! It was interesting that the one at Staples was actually $5.00 cheaper than Walmart, if they had it. They could have ordered it in, but then Jim was thinking he might like to also buy an iMac computer to do his videos. He’d been using his daughter’s yesterday and was impressed. For the first time all week we had nothing on our calendar so decided to make a trip to the nearest Apple Store, at Yorkdale Mall in Greater Toronto. Sounded easy, right?

The earlier rain stopped and the sun came out. Traffic wasn’t bad. We were at the mall parking lot by 11:45. Forty-five minutes later we finally found a parking spot – in the new underground parking lot. It was offering four hours free! Great! There were no numbers on the posts, but when we found a door nearby we made note of the number on it, and climbed three sets of stairs that took us … back outside!  A walk around a corner led us to a mall entrance, not too far from the store we were seeking.  However, there was a line up at the Apple Store, as there was at many stores. We waited. By the time we got in we’d decided that it would be worth the extra $90 to upgrade to the new iPad rather than the second generation one. We priced the iMacs. The latest version hasn’t come out yet. Jim wasn’t sure, so we got the iPad (they had plenty in stock), and then found our way to the food court. Finding a table in there was as bad as finding a parking space, and there was a wait for our food, but we finally got finished and did a little more looking around the stores.  Jim decided he’d buy the iMac that was in stock.

“Did you want someone to carry it to the car for you?” the salesman asked.  It didn’t seem so heavy so we declined and headed off to find our way back to our parking spot. We missed seeing the escalator so went outside the way we’d gone in and found the door to the stairs we’d taken. It was locked! By this time Jim was finding the computer getting heavier. Back into the mall we did find an elevator that took us right down to the parking level we needed. But, we got off in a completely different area than where we’d left the garage. We looked around.  Jim thought he knew where the car was.  I was carrying the computer by then.  “You stay here and I’ll go get the car,” he said.

I waited, and waited. Many other cars were heading towards the exit, apparently the drivers having had no problem locating them.  Jim appeared on foot, waved, and kept walking in the other direction. Twice more I saw him on foot before my familiar car pulled around the corner and stopped in front of me.

It was five o’clock when we got home.  That was the longest trip to Walmart that I’ve ever taken! Thank goodness we didn’t come away empty handed. 🙂 Jim couldn’t wait to get his new toy out of the box.

Lest We Forget






This morning found us enjoying a late breakfast at a very popular family-run restaurant in the small community of Tincap, just north of Brockville, Ontario.  The place was packed.  Rather than wait for a table, we sat at the counter. It was a few minutes before 11:00 when we dove into our bacon and eggs.  Some old time country music played on the radio, competing with the sounds of clanging dishes and friendly chatter, including the high pitched voices of some very young patrons.  At 10:58 the music changed to a solemn voice  speaking about the desire for world peace; then the bugle sounded and the chatter began to diminish.  When the radio went silent, so did the restaurant.  Even the young children seemed to understand.  A pin could have been dropped during the next two minutes and been heard.  I swallowed the lump in my throat.

Climbing Back Out of the Fog

Sometimes life just gets too busy and too complicated, and I find myself pushing through a fog. The back of my mind percolates with all the things I want to do, while the front is working with my body to get me through the distractions that require immediate attention.

Two weeks ago we finally got the call that we’d been waiting a year for; a room was available for my mother in Long Term Care. No time to wait to decide, though.  We had to accept it within 24hrs and she had to be moved in five days! Twice in those five days we made the three hour trip to Brockville to start the procedure, and the packing, and finally do the moving.  Doing this for a 98 year old whose memory and comprehension have understandably diminished during the past few years (the reason she could no longer stay in the Retirement Home) was very stressful on all of us. When it was finally done and we returned home with a car and trailer full of the excess belongings that she couldn’t take with her, I had no strength to tackle the chores that were still percolating, let alone do any blogging.

I’ve been trying to climb out of the fog ever since,  but I found myself flitting from one thing to another, unable to get back to my usually organized self. I first drafted this blog a few days ago, but I didn’t like it. It sounded too depressing.  The absence of sunshine only added to my problem. I preferred to spend my time lost in the world of a fictitious novel and that’s where I spent most of the last two weeks.

But then I read a couple of inspiring blogs, one by Felice Cohen about getting organized with a To-do List, and one by Christine Peets about November challenges. I returned to my office and cleared out my space before tackling the number one project on my To-do List — the biography of my uncle. I had reams of hand written pages he’d sent me, and a box of picture albums and other photos to scan. I jumped in and got to work. What a good feeling to see the pieces finally begin to fall into place. And when I took little breaks from the keyboard, I used the time to quickly complete other small tasks, and cross them off my list. The fog began to lift.

Today the sun is trying hard to shine. There are a few blue patches in the sky. I’m once more optimistic.