Wednesday, April 18, 2012


You know it's getting closer and closer to travel time when you catch yourself in the middle of town hall meetings at work imagining...

I'm getting up from a refreshed sleep in my comfy bed in room #6 at Goodwin House in Keswick. I'm showering, having a lovely full English breakfast, and putting on my daypack - excited that today maybe I'll break some personal walking record. (Mind you, that's not really hard to do!)

Unlike most days in England, it's crisp, clear, and perfect walking weather. I've borrowed Dawn's hiking dog, Kimmi. Got my GPS, my hiking stick, water, and a sense of adventure on. I'm heading out the door.

Walking to the shoreline, I catch a ferry to a spot on the opposite shore. I've always wanted to do that.

"And now we'll hear from project manager "X" on how to funnel widgets through square holes."

I try to stifle out the widget talk, with a glance up the mountain. I head through the trees on the shoreline and up the incline. Kimmi already knows the way, so it's pretty easy to just follow along behind her. She's got a bright green tennis ball in her face. I'm assuming at some point, I shall become the defacto dog entertainment center.

But, until that point, I'm heading uphill through the verdent forest. I can smell fresh foliage and wet earth. Kimmi is smiling and panting. We get to the top of the ridge and I can see...

"Now, we're going to hear from project manager "Y" on how to funnel widgets from square holes back onto the assembly line."

forever, it seems. The sky is so blue, and Derwentwater spreads below like a cool reminder of pure water lapping against the shore, lake fish, and the unmatchable peace of nature.

I turn my face upward, and like my elderly friend Margaret, I murmer out loud..."I love the sun."

I take a lot of photos which will some day end up on the cover of National Geographic. Perhaps the one of me tossing a slobber-soaked tennis ball to Kimmi. The one of me in my element... in England... in the forest... by the lakes.

But, for now,








Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two months? Really?

Two a.m. and the garbage trucks over at the strip mall behind my complex are keeping me awake dumping dumpsters at ungodly hours. There should be a law, yanno?

Anyway, I just realized I hadn't posted in eons. It's four days til I leave for a long weekend in Galveston and two months until I leave for my beloved UK. I always say that each trip has its own vibe or theme. The last trip was a quiet finding myself, spiritual exercise. The one before had been about meeting new people. This trip, however, doesn't seem to click on either of those cycles.

I'm just a happy camper because I get to plan fabulous things and wonderful things and happy things. By the time the day of flight arrives, I'm usually just able to go on autopilot and open myself for new adventures. So, what's planned for this year???

Well, I mentioned the Trafalgar tour, and the trip to Lindisfarne. But there are other adventures in store.

The first will be actually getting to my B&B in Edinburgh! You see, the airport in Edinburgh is quite a distance from the city centre. Taxis are expensive. My bag and baggage will have to find ourselves a bus from the airport to the Royal mile. Mind you, this is after: driving from Austin to Houston, going through checkin, flying for 10 hours, going through customs, being held for a four hour layover at Heathrow, and flying to Edinburgh. I imagine I will shower and crash that first day.

Then, it's an early morning trip to Lindisfarne for the day. Somehow I'll have to find my way to the place where the bus departs... another adventure!

I have one more free day before the guided tour takes off. I'll either head to Stirling Castle or chill in Edinburgh. Then, Sunday, the Trafalgar Tour starts.

I have a whole lotta mixed emotions around this guided tour thing. It's an adventure because I typically don't do guided tours. I also don't typically like being tied to someone else's timetable. For instance, I'd rather spend my time touring the Talisker distillery in Skye than hanging out at the 18th hole of St. Andrews golf course. But, who knows? I've sometimes found the most beautiful days are the ones that happen serendipitously in places I never thought beautiful things would happen.

Perhaps on the 18th hole, I'll meet Richard Branson! He'll ask me if I want a job for Virgin Atlantic visiting hotels and sights in Great Britain for the airline partners program... you know, seeing if they're up to snuff and such like. And I will say, "let me think about that ok yes." :)

The wonder of travel for me is just to keep my eyes and heart open and my mouth shut. I have seen some glorious things on my trips.

I'll be hopping a train in Glasgow at the end of the tour to head for the Lakes in England. What a wonderful wonderful thing that will be. First, I am so happy that I'll get to see Neil and Sarn! You may recall from past trips that we've had some pretty fun adventures together. Neil will never live down the whole cow pie episode. And I *still* laugh when I think about the hike we did to Castlehead. Me, huffing and puffing up hill, climbing a sheer mountain face (ok, it was a small hill, but I have an imagination!), hauling myself over the edge and succumbing to exhaustion...

only to be awakened by the twitters of the little old ladies sipping their tea on a rock nearby! Americans are way more outta shape than Europeans on the whole, I'd say. Too much office job, too little hauling butts over sheer rock walls. ;)

Anywho, it is by the kindness of Neil and Sarn that I will have a ride to and from Penrith. I'm hoping to get a chance to meet Dawn this time. I have several virtual friends who are hikers in the Lake District. They do things that I only get to imagine... hiking daily, taking gorgeous pictures of beautiful places. In my mind I'm all decked out in my hiking gear with my hiking dogs and my GPS and galavanting on 20-mile treks on a daily basis.

The three-day hike on the dog-walk this week seems to fade in comparison somehow! But, in another life, I'm sure I hiked quite a bit.

From the Lakes, I'll go to London with precious little time left to spend. Greg and Kim are meeting me there, and we are heading to a musical called Matilda - written by a musician the three of us like (Tim Minchin). Kim, who is always and forever one of the kindest people I've met has set up a high tea for us at Hotel Russell.

I really won't have time to do much more than that! Leaving at 9:30 in the morning on Wednesday for home. I really should have taken an extra week.

However, stay tuned! If I can save enough, there may be a repeat of the whirlwind War of the Worlds Dublin tour that I did in Dublin 2009. There is a new War of the Worlds cast starring Liam Neeson... and I want more time in Ireland. My only gripe is that it will be in WINTER. What were they thinking?

Ireland in summer was barely tolerable weather-wise. Ah well, the people make it a much warmer place. I had a great time there.

So, see you next time on "Where in the World is Joy Now?"