March 30th, 2022
What a crazy time it has been in the two years since that insane 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It slapped the entire planet, sending it to its room for weeks, months on end. The rhythm of adjustment was curious: the panic, the fear, the exhaustion, the sadness, oh the deep sadness, the acceptance, the gratitude for the little things we had taken for granted our whole lives.
Coming out of it was just as surreal, but in a different way. Most of us were gun-shy, still seeing the outside world as a toxic place. And of course, we all had brand new skills, for cleaning our homes and ourselves ‘the right way’. And thankfully, for a long time, people continued to respect one another’s privacy and personal space, knowing that many of us were emotionally exhausted.
During these last two years, I settled into a rhythm that would not have been possible without the stay-at-home order that lasted for months in 2020. I found a rhythm between writing, reading, drawing, and painting, my four favorite activities, and learned too that self-care need not include self-recrimination.
Now to my travel plans!
Happily, despite more vision loss and these old bones of mine, I am preparing to board a plane in two days, on my way to England and Wales for the entire month of April. So exciting! A great way to christen my sketchbook is to draw the art kit that I plan to take. Only artists will understand how difficult it is to commit to a finite set of art supplies for an entire month. I admire consistency, but apparently not enough to emulate it! This is what I came up with.
31 March 2022- The Day before Lift-Off!
I have been creating and collecting PACKING LISTS since 2012, and before. Oddly enough though, I just realized there are TWO ways to think about it:
- The Planning: What to Take (clothing, toiletries, footwear, art supplies, electronics, identification, misc)
- The Actual Packing: How to Pack it (Wet vs. Dry, emergency access vs. deeply packed, TSA and plane access)
I’ll use my 14-day packing list for this 30-day trip. All I might add are the things I can’t easily purchase there: maybe an extra pen and paint palette, extra Rx prescriptions.
April 1, 2022: And We’re Off!
No need to set an alarm clock when the bus you need to catch leaves at 5pm! These red-eye flights to Europe always feel odd, to start a big adventure when you normally would be winding down for the day. I have learned I don’t do well with being awake for 30 hours straight, so here is my actual schedule for today:
Up at normal time in the morning, make sure everything is packed and travel clothes are laid out. ‘Act normal’ until noon.
Noon-3:30pm: NAP with the help of Benadryl. (Set the alarm for 3:30pm!)
4pm: Beautiful day so walk to bus stop. Last exercise for a while
5:00-6:30pm: Bus to Logan Airport, Boston
6:30-9:30pm: Check-in at Virgin Atlantic, go through security
(Drink tons of water and pee often. Dehydration is the enemy of air travelers!)
9:30 Eastern Daylight Time/2:30am British Summer Time: Lift off!
Seven hours later…
9:15am local BST (4:15am ‘Body Time’): Landing at Manchester (UK) Airport, go through customs, stagger to find Road Scholar host/guide waiting to collect all of us—it is now April 2nd somehow….
2nd April—The Day of Daze
It’s always like this. No matter when you arrive at the hotel (usually mid-morning), the rooms are not available until 3pm so you end up sitting in a huge lobby full of tired folks in various stages of grumpiness. The seasoned travelers are quietly cheerful. The athletic Tiggers have found the concierge, checked their bags in the office, and are off exploring the area, with or without the dead-give-away trekking poles.
Thanks to the Benadryl nap at home followed by a second one on the plane, today I am lucky to be one of the silently contented folks. As soon as most of our group arrived (24 in total, one still missing), we were escorted into a private dining area of the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport Hotel to enjoy a delicious jet-lag lunch and brief welcome speech from our Road Scholar hosts. Before we knew it, a member of the hotel staff joined us to announce that our rooms were ready. One by one we were given our room keys (they really have this down to a system for tour groups), and I headed up to my room. Knowing we would only be there for the one night, I had strategically packed all my overnight toiletries, as well as a fresh set of undergarments, socks, and a t-shirt, all in my green backpack. No need to open my real suitcase at all until tomorrow, when we arrive at our first ‘real’ hotel (we’ll be there four nights). Then I will totally unpack, an easy thing to do when you use packing cubes as I do.
5 o’clock and we met up again for a more detailed Group Orientation as well as introductions all around, followed by dinner. During dessert (about 7pm) our final group member arrived, tired but smiling, and we all cheered! Ellen Davies, my soon-to-be roommate, is from Maine and had been forced to take a later flight due to traffic in the Callahan Tunnel in Boston, followed by a mix-up at the TSA security screening at Logan. What a trouper though! No complaints, just happy to finally be with us all. She is having her dinner now, and the guide hosts are keeping her company (the rest of us have gone back to our rooms.) I bet she’ll find me asleep when she finally gets to our room! Too tired to write much more just now. Eye drops, brush my teeth, and BED FINALLY!
(Note: the pace picks up in the next episodes, I assure you!)