Are you tired of looking at the same four walls? While you can’t exactly hop a plane to Paris these days, no one says you can’t go on a drive. Maybe even a long drive – say 6 days? That’s what we did in October, and during that time we visited the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Little Bighorn Battlefield and Yellowstone Park, to name just a few.
You may be thinking, how do I see these amazing sites during a international pandemic? VERY CAREFULLY – but it’s doable. Just like life in general these days. Here’s how. Get together with some good friends who are also being careful about Covid exposure. Do a lot of research, map out a route, and make your plan. If you’re aware of the risks and how to avoid them, you can have a good time, be safe, and see the world (or whatever part of it you’re currently allowed to inhabit).
Here’s a Few Helpful Hints
GETTING THERE – On the plus side, road tripping is safer than travelling by plane or other methods of public transport – namely because you don’t have to share the air with crowds of questionable people. It’s also much less complicated. Does anyone else break out in a cold sweat at the thought of booking a plane ticket online? I once did it backwards and ended up with a ticket from the place I was going, to the place I already was. It cost a lot of money to fix it. With a road trip it’s simple. Gas up your car, kick the tires and hit the road.
LODGINGS – Choose high quality hotels and ask ahead of time what their policies are for cleaning and sanitizing. Next – don’t believe them. While we’d like to think everyone is as concerned with our health as we are, it’s probably not true. We brought our own cleaning supplies and sanitized everything – doorknobs, countertops, bathrooms etc. – as soon as we entered the room. Once you’ve done a thorough job, you can relax and enjoy the space.
SLEEPING – Bring your own pillow and blankets if you have room. I actually thought about bringing a sleeping bag but realized if there were germs on the bedding it would just get on the sleeping bag and then on me, so decided not to stress over this one. Most hotels have removed the bedspreads and wash their linens in super-hot water.
FOOD – Pack a cooler with sandwich supplies and treats to avoid having to stop at restaurants. We brought Bagels, cream cheese and lunchmeat, apples, bottled water, beef jerky, chips, licorice, and much much more. One of our party insisted on bringing carrots and humus. I wasn’t excited about this blatantly healthy snack, but it grew on me. When your supplies run out or you just can’t bring yourself to eat another bagel, there’s always the drive up window at McDonalds.
Do not, I repeat, do not buy elk dogs from the convenience store when you stop to buy gas. These may look tasty, but they aren’t . . . possible secret ingredient of sawdust. (Thanks anyway Ed. It seemed like a good idea.)
REST STOPS – Eeeew. No way around it, you’re going to have to use public restrooms. The best advice – basically, try not to touch anything. You can turn on faucets with your elbows and its O.K. to carefully flush the toilet with your foot. Do not stomp on it and break the handle though or you’ll be in for a world of trouble.
Also NOT recommended, the previously unheard of option of squatting on the toilet seat. Wait . . . what? I’d never even heard of this practice until I saw the sign in a restroom at Yellowstone.
Apparently, many people think squatting on the toilet seat is a good idea, so many in fact, that the park service had to make a sign discouraging the practice. If you’re concerned about germs – and who isn’t these days – use the disposable seat covers available in every public restroom. Honestly dear readers, while actual physical contact with a public toilet seat is not recommended, neither is squatting.
IN CLOSING – As always, wear a mask, carry plenty of hand sanitizer and wipes, and socially distance from those outside your immediate group. While there’s still a chance of getting sick, this can also happen on a trip to the grocery store, and frankly, I’d rather be struck down doing something fun. If you follow these tips and use a little common sense you can still get out and leave those four walls behind.
I’d love to hear about your road trip. Keep in touch!
Authors Note: I know, some of you may still be in lockdown and travel of any kind is not possible . . . sigh, my thoughts are with you. Hang in there though, your time will come.
I’m babysitting my daughters Hedgehog. It’s very cute and I want to love it but it’s difficult because every time I pick it up it rolls into stickery ball of prickles. Clearly it thinks I’m scary, and while I’ve never seen myself in this light, I’m not offended since the hedgehog is afraid of everyone and everything. It’s too bad, because it actually has a pretty good gig.
It has a fun cage with lots of amenities.
The problem is this sleeping bag. See the green fuzzy blanket thing? That’s where it sleeps and also spends 99 percent of it’s time. Now I understand, the world is a crazy place. We often feel like tiny insignificant bugs easily crushed by the swatter of life and it can be tempting to stay in bed with the covers over our heads. But when we do, we miss out on a lot of fun. Hedgehog could be playing on it’s wheel, or running up and down it’s ramp. It could be eating some of it’s fun treats – dehydrated cricket or mealworm anyone?
But instead it hides in it’s bag, under a towel, inside a drink cup, anywhere it can get away and pretend to be alone.
After a few days it began to warm up to me. It allowed me to hold it without inflicting severe stab wounds, and I believe it might eventually tolerate my friendship, but in the meantime it lives its life alone and misses out on a lot. I’m reminded of a story about a man who went on a cruise and stayed in his room eating saltines because he didn’t know about the free buffet in the dining room.
Lessons I’ve learned from the hedgehog? Don’t hide in the dark. Pluck up your courage and come out and play – even when you’re a little afraid. Most people aren’t that scary, and life might be more fun than you think.
I found this great quote at Sleepy girl check out her blog!
It seems some of you have noticed I haven’t been writing lately. For those who were concerned, thank you for your nice notes but no I wasn’t sick, well physically anyway. For some reason I just stopped writing. I had lots of topics I wanted to address, but literally could not make myself sit down and do it. Instead I just checked out and opted to float for awhile.
I’ve decided it’s due to the stress of this crazy year. We in Utah started with a bang, In February Covid appeared on the horizon, and I watched in amazement as people in China donned face masks and refused to leave their homes. Hot on the heels of this disturbing development Utah experienced a 6.0 earthquake which caused major damage. Two days later, lockdown.
My place of employment, closed its doors and we were all assigned to work from home. Unfortunately, this did not compute. I work in a library, I help people find books. I check books in and out, I pull holds off the shelves. This is not a job one can do from home. Luckily my employers were flexible. We were given other tasks to do and were still able to keep our jobs, for which I am forever grateful, but it wasn’t long before I really missed my job.
In the meantime, our society cracked open with the murder of George Floyd. Riots broke out and we watched in horror as people fought in the streets, occupied public areas and vandalized stores, all in the name of the racial equality.
Then we were back to natural disasters. California held it’s annual fire storm, but this year it was so much worse. At one point it seemed there’d be nothing left to burn if the fires continued to rage. Other states jumped on the bandwagon and in Oregon my poor mother was evacuated from her home as flames licked the edges of her neighborhood.
The icing on the cake has been the appalling and cringe-worthy presidential election. The initial presidential debate left me stunned and sick to my stomach. Is this what we’ve become? Bullies pushing and shouting in the schoolyard? What happened to the professionalism, dignity and honesty that supposedly goes with the office of President of the United States?
I tried to unplug from the daily chaos that was the presidential race but it wasn’t always possible. I dreaded reading about the topic, yet kept getting sucked in. I felt like someone who’d stumbled upon a grisly auto accident and couldn’t make myself look away. When I realized that my heart would start to race whenever I read the latest election news, I finally got a grip and quit checking my google feed.
So now that it’s finally over, its really not. There are too many casualties, one of those being my confidence in my country’s democratic system. Seriously, can we all just calm down? If your side lost, try to move on. If your side won, be considerate of other’s disappointment.
While nobody likes a sore loser, there is much to be said for being a gracious winner. I read about someone driving a truck around Washington DC with a large picture of Donald Trump painted on the side, along with the words Loser. Badly done winners. I distance myself from you.
So how do we get back to ourselves? Somehow we need to to start acting like adults and not hormonal teenagers run amuck. We need to get back to America, the beacon on the hill. Lets rise up and shake hands and let go of our fury. 2020 is waning and a new year is almost upon us.
Lets do it better . . . I want to be able to write again
Have you been overwhelmed by 2020? What are you doing to keep your spirits up?.
Ready for another installment of my epic travel fails? Read and learn – what not to do.
Over the years I’ve discovered that travelling is a perfect way to broaden your horizons. It’s life changing, mind-boggling, and blows your preconceived notions out of the water. Its also a good way to make a monkey of your self. When you travel you step out of your comfort zone. You meet people with different customs, and visit places where you don’t know what your’e doing. In short, no matter how carefully you plan, something is bound to go wrong. At that point you have a choice, you can either pack up and go home, or laugh and take notes for a future blog post – like this one
How to Lose Your Wife
In September 1988 we were road tripping around Switzerland. Our party consisted of myself, my husband, and two other couples. This was in the early days of our adventures and we loved being spontaneous and schedule free. It was also the dark ages, commonly known as the pre-cell phone era. Our travel system was relaxed. It consisted of doing whatever sounded interesting during the day and finding a hotel or B&B when the sun set. As far as we were concerned, this approach worked well – until it didn’t.
In Switzerland we shared two cars between the six of us and at this point the girls were in one vehicle, boys in the other. It grew dark as we motored along and we agreed to follow the men’s car until we found a roadside inn. We stayed close on their heels – or so we thought, until we realized the license plate number of the car ahead of us had changed. Someone had sneaked between us and led us astray!
We pulled off the road in a panic, afraid to go forward, afraid to go back. In the meantime, my brother-in-law was happily driving up a freeway on-ramp when one of his companions looked back and discovered we were gone. They shrieked to a halt and my husband jumped out of the car to direct traffic as they backed the car all the way down the ramp. Luckily it was mostly deserted at this time of night. (Crazy Americans!) But now what?
We had no way to get in touch with each other and we had not discussed what to do if separated. It was soon clear that the occupants of our two cars might never see each other again. There we sat, frozen with indecision, when our knights in shining armor miraculously pulled up beside us.
Hallelujah! All was well, and we learned a good lesson. Spontaneity is great, but there is a limit. Always have a meeting place should you get separated. Always have a way to communicate with each other, and most important – try not to lose your wife.
Good morning all. It’s a crazy time where all the rules have changed, but the one constant is this beautiful world we live in. I hope everyone’s managing to get out and enjoy it. As for myself . . . Today I walked through fields of wildflowers. I sat by a lake surrounded by lofty pines and mountains that still held a trace of snow. I wish I could start every day like that.
Everyone’s staying closer to home these days and frankly, we’d rather not. But one of the unexpected benefits of not being able to travel, is having time to see the sights in your own backyard.
I’m lucky enough to have friends who live within walking distance of several mountain trail heads and our excursion today took us to Cecret Lake. Lest you think I’ve missed a typo, rest assured that’s how its spelled. The lake was discovered by gold miners who named it Secret Lake but spelled it phonetically – Cecret.
It’s easy to see where the name came from. Cecret lake is invisible until you’re right on top of it. You scale a craggy ridge and surprise – there it is in all it’s tranquil glory.
Cecret lake is located in Albion basin, near Alta ski resort. A steep but not too difficult hike takes you from the trail head to the top of the ridge, but while the destination is amazing, getting there is more than half the fun. Here’s a few images of our walk on the way to this hidden gem.
The trail was lined with wild lupines, white star flowers, and many others I couldn’t identify but enjoyed just the same.
The variety of landscapes makes for a fascinating hike. In a short time we walked through meadows, rock strewn hillsides, and soaring trees all set against a backdrop of brilliant blue sky
While I’m still not happy about current travel restrictions, I’m coming around. Utah’s mountains are as spectacular as Switzerland’s. We have sparkling lakes and rivers, and people come from all over the world (well, they used to) to visit the national parks. I for one, have decided to get out and love the world I’m in. Hey, the view from the back porch is actually pretty amazing.
Dang! Don’t you hate those surprise selfies?
The Llibrary Lady would love to know what you’re doing for fun during these crazy Covid days. Outdoors? Indoors? Let’s share some ideas on how to bust those stay-cation blues.
Here’s another great post by my friend Margie at Happily Ever After Retirement, about the joys of getting out in nature.
Oh Danny boy, the pipes the pipes are calling . . . “
The mournful tones of a bagpipe filled the air and we followed the sound to our gathering place in Cape Bretton, Nova Scotia. As people assembled, the tune changed to a reel. Toes tapped and hands began to clap to the jaunty music, and it wasn’t long before this pied piper had a captive audience. Finally, with a nod of his head, he motioned for us to follow as he walked past the world’s largest fiddle and into the Cape Bretton Music Hall. We were going to a concert!
Cruising with Royal Caribbean in October 2019, we boarded in Quebec Canada and sailed down the Eastern seaboard to Florida. We’d had lots of adventures so far but were especially excited about our musical excursion to this windswept island.
Cape Bretton played an important role in the revival of Celtic music. In the late 1700s, it became home to a steady stream of Scottish refugees who were evicted from their homes during the clearances. The Scottish fiddlers introduced a unique style of fiddle playing characterized by up-bowing, which forever changed the sound of many traditional tunes.
Eager to experience this legendary music in person, our group of 20 wound through the concert hall and up the stairs to a meeting room where our musicians waited.
After a warm welcome and a brief history of Celtic music, they got down to business.
“We’re playing the same music our ancestors played 350 years ago,” said guitarist Chris Garrity. “This one’s called Cutting Ferns, and it’s about a man who walks through a forest filled with fairies. They agree to let him go only after he cuts down all the ferns in the wood – an impossible task.”
With that, the players dove into a bouncy tune that filled the room and lifted everyone’s spirits.
Kimberly Fraiser – fiddler, singer, and stepdancer extraordinaire, told of another favorite melody. “This is so beautiful that brides often ask me to play it at their weddings. I always hate to tell them the title of the song – Heavy is My Fate.” The lovely melody that followed was anything but heavy and it was easy to see why a bride would choose it for her special day.
It wasn’t long before the musicians, energized by their own music, were on their feet singing and dancing as they played. We were tempted to join in and eventually got to do just that as they called a few audience members up to learn the steps to a folk dance. We were soon twirling and stomping and feeling very Gaelic. Laughing and out of breath, we returned to our seats to enjoy the rest of the excellent performance. When the concert ended we sampled traditional oatcakes, and visited with the musicians. We were sorry to leave, but while the concert was over the music lingered, and I often catch myself humming the catchy tunes.
The remainder of the day was spent wandering the town of Cape Bretton, tasting local delicacies and enjoying the geriatric grandeur of the architecture in the Heritage District.
I would love to return and spend more time in Nova Scotia. The very name brings back childhood memories (fueled by music-loving parents) of a haunting tune by Ian and Sylvia called Nova Scotia Farewell.
Have you ever been to this beautiful part of the world? Where did you go? What did you see? I’d love some recommendations for my next trip.
That’s all for now. Happy travels!
Wait! The Glasgow Gallavanter just sent me this great link to a post about her travels in Nova Scotia. Check it out!
How can we come together when our communities are so divided?
(This is a guest post by the Library Lady’s friend, Duck.)
Duck and his friends were eating apples one day. The apples were red and shiny and tasted delicious, except for Duck’s apple.
It was bad. It made duck sad to get the bad apple, he threw it away.
Duck decided to go for a walk and visit his neighbors. They had lived by Duck for as long as he could remember, and they’d always been friends. As they talked, they told Duck that sometimes policemen were mean to them and didn’t treat them like everybody else. That made them afraid.
Duck was confused, why would anyone be mean to his friends? And especially a policeman? Duck loved policemen. He thought they were heroes. Why would the people who take care of us be mean?
“There are some bad apples in the bunch,” said his friend.
Duck thought about his bad apple that morning. Maybe it was the same with the police, mostly good shiny apples but an occasional bad one?
Duck wished all the good apples would get together and throw out the bad ones so everyone could be friends. “Can’t we all just get along?” He didn’t know how to make that happen but somebody else did.
Duck’s friends invited some policemen over to dinner. They were happy to accept. When the day came, they all sat down together, ate good food and talked about important things. Everyone listened. They got to know each other and felt a lot better. Duck thinks getting together to talk when things go wrong is a great way to solve problems, and that maybe people should do it more often.
Library Lady’s Note –I was proud of my friends for reaching out and trying to communicate in a calm and positive manner. And while one dinner is not going to solve all the racial problems besetting us it’s certainly a good place to start.
My friend Ludy and I have been walking buddies for years. She’s an amazing person who is raising excellent young men. In the midst of the rioting in Salt Lake City one of her sons went down to the police station. He rounded up some policemen and asked, “Have any of you ever been to dinner in a black household? My Mom’s a good cook and I’d like to invite you to our house.” So the policemen came, and they all talked about serious issueslike the systematic problems in the police force which turn good apples into bad ones.
Clearly things need to change but killing and rioting is not the way to do it. Sitting down together in a friendly relaxed setting is so much better. I know there are good people on both sides of this equation and given the chance, they’re the ones who can fix this problem.
Is traveling a thing of the past? I sincerely hope not, but for now my travel plans are on hold. As much as I love to see new places and breathe the rarefied air of somewhere else, I still hesitate to set foot on a plane. It’s not just the thought of sharing germs with other passengers – since we’re all wearing masks and being considerate about social distancing right? No, the fear is that I’ll get far far from home and everything will shut down again, trapping me in Tangier or Uzbekistan or any other place that’s fun to visit, but definitely not my living room.
So, since uncertainty is a certainty these days, I’ve decided to stick close to home which in my case is Salt Lake City, Utah. That being the case, I’ve compiled a Doors of Salt Lake post for Norm’s Thursday Doors. The following are just a few of the fun doors I’ve come across in my local wanderings. Hope you enjoy!
The door to the First Presbyterian Church is a real beauty, as is the rest of this Gothic Revival style building.
The Up House is actually in Herriman which is not quite Salt Lake, but pretty close. This is a fun recreation of the house owned by Carl and Ellie in the Pixar movie “Up”. The colorful home is an exact replica inside and out, of it’s movie counterpart, and the owners are very patient with photographers.
This is the door to a Salt Lake City landmark. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints temple took 40 years to complete and was dedicated in 1893. The details are amazing. Look at this door, and the metalwork on the doorknob – no wonder it took so long to build.
From simple to spectacular, you see a wide variety of homes in Salt Lake. The one on the left, is a refurbished settlers home, with a pretty wooden door and decorative storm door. On the right, the Mckune Mansion located near Capitol Hill. Both date to early 1900’s.
More doors to downtown dwellings – eclectic styles that just shout “stop the car and take a picture of me!”
The Victorian Gothic style Assembly Hall is located on Temple Square and has been around since 1877. Its 24 spires add a definite touch of drama.
These imposing entryways belong to the Salt Lake City and County building, and the city’s Capitol building.
Of course we’ll wrap up with one of my favorite places – the Salt Lake City Library. Admittedly the doors are rather modest, but made special by the fact that they lead to worlds of adventure.
” Books are the plane, the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey, they are home. ” Anna Quindlen
With that I’ll close. Wishing you happy travels whether abroad or in your own back yard.
Good morning to all. Today I’ll take a moment to speak to library patrons and anyone else who wants to delve into the deep dark secrets of the library world. WARNING – this article contains topics of an adult nature, such as how to correctly checkout and return library items. Library Patron: “But I didn’t think it was that complicated.” Library Lady: “It’s not, if everyone does it right.” Here are three ways to make life easier for yourself and your librarian.
But Remember to Return It
1. I’ve Already Returned That
Let’s say you’ve turned in your library books but according to your account, Gone with the Wind and Zombies, is still outstanding. What? you think. This is not possible. I turned in all my library items, there must be a mistake. You approach a librarian and say, “I already returned this. I specifically remember putting that exact book in the slot. “ Well, here’s the thing, dear friends, we at the library want to believe you, but . . . everyone says that. The tune or the lyrics may differ from person to person, but it’s essentially the same song. And guess what? Nine times out of ten, when the person agrees to go home and check around, they find Gone With the Wind and Zombies in their reusable grocery bag, in the trunk of their car, or in their child’s backpack to name a few notorious hiding places.
So here’s what the Library Lady would like you to know. Before you get in a tizzy about a missing library item, do this: look under the couch cushions, on your children’s bookshelf, under beds and between mattresses. Check under the car seats, in stacks of newspapers, and my own personal favorite – in your luggage. (I once paid for a lost book I knew I’d returned, then found it in my suitcase when packing for my next trip.) If after all this you really can’t find it – come on in and let’s talk.
2. I Never Checked This Out
“A Mermaid’s Kiss? I would never check out a children’s book. I only read mysteries. This is definitely a mistake.” I get this. Why? Because it happens all the time. Once again I’ve done it myself. You look at an item on your account and think, what is this! After becoming all hot under the collar and fuming about the injustice of someone else’s book getting checked out on your card, you stumble across that very item in your work locker or on your coffee table underneath the magazines.
“Ohhhh, that Mermaid’s Kiss.” What the Library Lady would like you to know: If you have an item on your account that doesn’t ring a bell, Google it, or look it up on Amazon. There you’ll find a cover picture and description. If you’re still sure you never checked the item out – come on in, we’ll talk.
3. It Was Like This When I Got It
Oh the stories I could tell, but I won’t (tell all of them) because I love book people and wouldn’t want them to think I was amused by their antics. One patron returned five children’s books which all had purple felt pen coloring in them. The father of the budding artist was convinced the books were like that when he checked them out. Unfortunately, the odds are pretty slim that out all of the books in the library he chose the five which were identically felt penned.
We’ve had books returned with so much water damage they wouldn’t even close. “But it was like this when I got it.” Believe me, it wasn’t. Nothing like that goes back on the shelves. Cover ripped off and dangling by a thread, stove burner imprint melted into the cover of the book, crushed with tire marks across pages 73 and 74 – same answer.
Of course, nobody’s perfect least of all the Library Lady. Some times things slip by and a patron gets home with a problem which really was not their fault. What the Library Lady would like you to know: Before you take things home from the library, look at them carefully. Open DVD and CD cases to see if the discs are really in there. Check children’s and other books for damage – coloring, torn pages etc. Then, If you accidentally get home with a damaged item, call us right away, and we’ll talk.
The whole idea of a public library is to get great books and media into the hands of great people. Hopefully this little reminder will make that process easier and more positive for all.
Have you ever lost a library item then found it in a weird place? I’d love to hear about it – I’m keeping a list of places for people to look.
Thanks Tierney, I appreciate being nominated for the Liebster Award. Tierney is an amazing textile artist (as well as a big library fan) whom I’ve been following since I started my blog. You can find her here. I’ve been wanting to link a favorite post from her blog but was waiting until my library opened up again to do it.
Woohoo, the time is finally here! We’ve been allowed back in the building after almost 2 months of sheltering in place due to COVID 19. I am so excited to see my coworkers and get back to some semblance of normal. So far we’re not officially open to the public as we are taking this in-between time to do inventory etc., but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To those patrons with their noses pressed against the glass waiting for the doors to open – Patience my dears, the time is near.