Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Barcelona to Abu Dhabi and a Day in Haifa We Didn’t Expect

We had scheduled a full-day trip to the Golan Heights today, sort of a sentimental journey for our curiosity. We often visited a site in Jordan, Umm Qais, overlooking the Golan Heights from the east. We thought it would be fun to see it from the west side.

After our trip to Acre, we decided the last thing we wanted to do was to spend a full day on a bus with largely unmasked people who were coughing and sneezing, and it was not a location that mattered a lot to us, so we canceled.

We felt really good about our decision. I slept well and I got up early and had the laundry room all to myself, got a load started, then went up to the Horizons Lounge to have some hot coffee and watch the other passengers depart.

I put the clothes in the dryer and went back to the cabin where AdventureMan is awake and ready for breakfast. He is coughing and sneezing a little now, too, and we both drink pots of mint tea at breakfast. 

I grab the rest of the laundry as it finishes drying, we quickly fold and put away and head for our happy place on board, the spa. Most of the passengers seem not to be early risers, so when we go, before we start our day’s activities, we have it all to ourselves. My old turquoise swimsuit balloons when the jets of air hit, but no one is there to see and I will toss the suit when we start packing for our return and will never miss it. I hang on to old swimsuits just for this purpose, to get rid of them and not have to worry about transporting a damp suit. This time, hmmmm, I actually wish I had brought a newer suit that’s not saggy! I tell myself it’s OK, no one else is around this early in the morning, but – I live in fear.

After our spa time, we take our time getting ready to catch the shuttle for Haifa. The crew emergency drill begins, and we head for debarkation and wait for the shuttle. I meet a couple from near Bruges, Belgium. He is 59, and had a stroke. He has all his facilities; hears and understands but cannot communicate except by facial and hand expressions. His wife tends to him in his wheelchair and is taking him into town for the day. We have a great conversation; I am reading a book from a series right now about Bruges during the commercial explosion of the late 1400s as Bruges and the Netherlands led the way in international trading. 

The Shuttle drops us off in front of a hotel just by the main street through the Colony.

We explore the old German Colony of Haifa, and look for the Arab Market, which we discover is not open on Sundays because most of the Arabs are Christian. I do find pistachios, for which I have been searching, in one Arab quick shop which is open. They take Euros, and the nuts are very inexpensive.

Look at these wonderful old trees!

This large cathedral is St. Elias, in the center of the Arab Quarter, where everything is closed because it is Sunday.

We find a restaurant, the Gardens, for lunch and have a delicious lunch with freshly baked bread and cheese, lemon mint iced drinks, and a baked eggplant dish with tahini, finishing with Arabic coffee. We were definitely in our happy place.

The bread is still too hot to touch, full of a salty cheese, fresh out of the oven. We can hardly wait.

As we sat there, a photographer was preparing foods and photographing them for the tablet menus they are using to show their very international clientele what the dishes look like. A hungry cat and her adolescent offspring wandered the restaurant looking for handouts, and avoiding dangerous feet. 

My eye is caught by the patterned fabric they are using on the table 😊.

After lunch, we caught the shuttle back to the ship, went through the facial recognition process, and put our goods through the inspection machine, very TSA like, to get back on board. We also had to turn our passports back in as they will need them to get our Egyptian visas for the upcoming Suez transit and visit to Sfaga and Luxor.

As we boarded the bus, we talked with a New Hampshire couple who had been visiting with old friends overnight and had so much to tell us about their very different way of life but similar challenges, with children fighting old expectations and grandchildren underfoot. She also shared a cracker made with all kinds of seeds that was delicious. I’d love the recipe.

We got back at ship around 2:30. 

We took a snooze. That’s what cruises are all about, sleeping, eating, (for some, a lot of drinking) and a little bit of touring. Many passengers took long day tours to Jerusalem or Masada or the Dead Sea and are not back yet, so we made a last-minute decision to go to tea at 4:00 while there isn’t such a crowd. Great decision. Very low attendance, most tours were not back, and our friends Ed and Alan were there. We chatted with them, had some tea, listened to a string quartet, and spotted a submarine monitoring the harbor. Yes, really.

I can’t believe what I think I am seeing:

We stroll along the walking deck. I had thought this would be a place full of runners, but runners are few, and most of us are walking at various paces. We go back to our cabin and read. Time to read is such a wonderful luxury.

We love ordering dinner in our cabin. Ashok brought the fois en croute with a reduced port sauce AdventureMan loves so much, and a French Onion soup. I had Thai soup and some chicken. It was quiet and so private – and so wonderful. Another luxury – privacy!

We split a Creme Brulee for dessert. Ashok wants us each to have one, but I have diabetes, and AdventureMan helps me stay on track by splitting desserts with me.

We hear groups of our passengers returning, and we watch another cruise ship depart:

It’s Sunday. On some cruise ships, they have religious services, but not on the Oceania Nautica. At one point, AdventureMan asked me about this man named Bill, who has a group that meets every single night in a part of the restaurant. I explain to him about Friends of Bill W and the meeting for recovering alcoholics, and how glad I am to see that like-minded people can meet and strengthen one another on a ship where every day the cruise director tells us to “Grab a drink and make a friend.” I wish there were an Episcopalian group.

I feel great during the day, but when I lie down at night I get all stuffy and it sticks in my throat. I wonder if it is the cleaning supplies they use? I am constantly waking up, and have fevered dreams, although I have no fever. Finally, around three in the morning, I applied a hot towel to my sinuses and moved to sleep on the little couch, so I would be more upright. It was the right thing to do – I slept until seven thirty in the morning.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Entertainment, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Stranger in a Strange Land, sunrise series, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Barcelona to Abu Dhabi: A Stop in Haifa

First, a little orientation. On the map above, in the upper left corner, you will see Acre, and just south of Acre you will see Haifa. At the bottom central, you will see Jerusalem / Bethlehem / Hebron and a short distance to the east of Jerusalem you will see Amman, Jordan, where we lived for two years several years ago.

Early, early in the morning, we make port in Haifa. It isn’t picturesque, the port, and we are instructed that every person on board has to make a face-to-face immigration visit even if they are planning to stay aboard.

Those of us on trips have to do it en route to our tour bus. It is bureaucratic and annoying. The lines are long. There are two other larger tour boats in town, an Azamara and a Costa (full of Italians) so there are a LOT of people processing, and there is also a lot of noise.

The lines more quickly, and we find our bus, which is fairly full, and . . . there is more coughing and sneezing. Some of us are masked. My forehead and upper cheeks feel a little tight, like some little allergen is bothering me.

The trip is to Acre, an old Crusader stronghold with a fascinating history, but we don’t get a lot of the history, but we do get a lot of the guide’s perspective on Israelis and Arabs and threats to Israel, and generalities about the medieval times.

He takes us first to a large souvenir shop with two meager restrooms, and lets us spend a long time there before even beginning our trip.

We spent our time wandering around – nearby – and taking photos. It was a waste of our time, and there was so much we could have seen.

He won’t tell us where we will meet, does not want us wandering off, and because we don’t know when and where we have to meet, we have to stay with the group, my least favorite thing. He may have known a lot about Acre and the Fort, but he failed to convey the significance of what we were seeing, and he failed to place events in their context. “This is the Knight’s Hall” he would say, and let us look at a barren room with a slide show.

We found a map to help us out – except that it was in Hebrew

When we left the fort, the guide led us to the Arab market, we had about an hour. We could hear the call to prayer. Everything was about to come to a halt and we were starving. AdventureMan found a really good – really busy – falafel stand. It took us about half an hour just to get the meal, but it was so worth it – lots of vegetables, pickled eggplants, onion, etc, and the falafel were fresh out of the pot for each sandwich. That, and being able to watch all the regular customers as they ordered take-out for their families, was a lot of fun, and the best part of this trip to Acre. 

I have visited Acre before. It is an old city, with a long history, back and forth. It was a sleepy old seaport, then a Crusader Citadel, then the site of a lengthy battle, which the Moslems won. A few Crusaders escaped alive through a secret hidden tunnel. I was so looking forward to visiting this site. I feel short-changed. If I had it to do over again, I would skip the Oceania tour and take the local ferry to Acre (Acre is a very short distance from Haifa) and we could wander at will (it is not a large location) and take the ferry back and see the things we want to see at our own pace.

When we got back on the bus, it was a hassle getting out of the lot, one couple was missing, and a lot more people were coughing. I couldn’t wait to get back to our quiet room on board. I also had allergies, or sinus, an almost-sore throat and I was just tired.

We considered ordering dinner in our room but decided it would be quicker to just run up to the Terrace buffet and grab something quick. We both had the asparagus salmon soup (not a lot of salmon) and I had a variety of vegetables – a pickled rolled up eggplant called involtini, a little mousse of sweet red pepper, some olives. 

We ate outside – we have a table we like a lot to the far right, shaded from the breeze. It was actually warmer eating outside than inside. I drank a lot of mint tea with lemon and honey for my throat and head. Moustafa, our Turkish waiter, told us about farming practices near Ephesus, where he is from, about yoghurt, and fat content, and wanted to know about the varying kinds of cattle in the US. We didn’t know a lot, he was asking really good questions. We love those kinds of conversations.

By the time we got back to the room, all I wanted to do was go to bed.

I slept poorly, my sinuses swollen, not able to breathe well, feeling like a cold was coming on, until some point I got up and went to the couch where I could sleep in a more vertical position. It worked. I could breathe again, and when I woke up, I was feeling pretty good.

January 26, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Health Issues, Hot drinks, Middle East, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

At Sea On U.S. Election Day

It is wonderful to be at sea in the turmoil of this year’s election. No one is talking about it onboard. What a relief.

We are told there are passengers from 39 nations on board, and crew from more nations. The entire day, we hear not a word about the American election.

The demographic is very much our age group. If anything, we are younger than most. Hard to say, but we see some very old but still adventuresome travelers, which gives us hope for our own future travels.

We were wide awake before seven. I got up and went to get some coffee. We can have it delivered to the room, but on these relaxed days at sea, we don’t like to commit to a time and it is just as easy to go get my own cup at the dedicated coffee bar. Actually, coffee is available in many places on the ship, and the smell of coffee early in the morning wafts everywhere.

We had decided to try The Grand Dining Room for breakfast, wanting to be less formal in a very formal environment.

The waiters are all white-jacketed and very pleasant. The menu is lovely – the tastiest item was smoked salmon with cream and capers and white onion, a great way to start the day. AdventureMan shared with me. The fruit platters were large enough for two; I cut most of mine into small pieces to stir into my virtuous oatmeal. Don’t you think smoked salmon is virtuous too? I think I prefer virtuous tasty smoked salmon to virtuous oatmeal. 

I am not complaining. I eat oatmeal every day at home. As a diabetic, it is great for keeping my blood sugar levels down. The Nautica had really nice oatmeal. And oatmeal just pales in comparison to all the lovely choices available for breakfast, all the beautiful pastries, croissants, breakfast breads, all the lovely foods with a lot of fats and sugars. Yes, even on a cruise, I pay attention. I will try not to whine again.

After breakfast, I grabbed some of my hotter weather clothes to iron – the compression bags puts some serious wrinkles into linen clothing.

The laundry room is much smaller than it appears on the ship map, but the iron was hot and efficient, and there were other passengers doing small loads of washing and drying. It is handy that it is all free. There is a laundry on board, and although we have laundry service I prefer doing my own laundry. We have a line in the shower where we can hang items we have hand laundered in the sink, and we found little detergent slips on Amazon that are very compact and efficient for hand laundry.

Then we walked the walking track, windy, invigorating; we have a lovely sunny day, warm enough but sometimes the wind was so strong it blew me into AdventureMan. I am happy we packed some of our cool-weather gear; when we are at sea, it can be windy and chilly. We checked out the gym, where AdventureMan found mats available for stretching as I look eagerly at the outside spa overlooking the bow of the ship. Heaven!

Back in the room, AdventureMan naps as we wait for the eleven o-clock enrichment lecture on the Origins of the First Crusade, in preparation for our time in Sicily and Israel. I am excited we will be going to Acre, the old Crusader stronghold, the day we arrive there.

 The lecture was well attended, probably four hundred or so passengers.

And then off we went to lunch at The Terrace restaurant.

We have found a table we love; sheltered by a small wall but still with a good view out over the aft of the ship. The Terrace is the ship’s buffet restaurant, except that it is not like a buffet where you dish up your own portions. There are very pleasant wait-staff every few feet who put food on your plate. You can say “a very small portion, please” or “could I have a little more of that?” and they will give you exactly what you wish. Don’t you love having choices?

It all feels so indulgent.

After lunch, I read while AdventureMan attended an afternoon lecture on How Man Learned to Navigate by the Stars, which he said turns out to be very complicated. Here is the truth, I will admit it, I needed a nap. I am not yet fully adapted to the time change. The little couch is a perfect size for me, and there is a soft sea-green throw I can cover up with and I am out like a light.

Dinner this night is at the Polo Grill, and, sadly, while these reservations are greatly coveted, by dinner time I don’t care. I don’t much want to dress up; I wish they would just deliver the dinner to the room, but this is part of the Oceania experience and so we dress and go up for dinner. The code is “country-club casual.” There are many interpretations of what that might mean. Here is ours.

I had a shrimp cocktail, tomato salad, and lobster, AdventureMan had the Lobster Bisque, Fois Gras en Croute, and the lobster, and we split a Creme Brûlée. The Creme Brûlée was very good.

It is a lovely kind of evening, and we enjoyed ourselves because we do this so rarely. The night is sweet and warm, the moon is full, and we can’t resist a lap or two around the walking track before we go to sleep.

January 20, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Bureaucracy, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Tapa Tapa; Sidewalk Dining in Barcelona

Have you ever noticed it’s never the issues you worry about that happen? I had a concern that with jet lag we would be hungry when places weren’t open. As it turns out, our own schedules are so off that we fit right in with the Barcelona late-dining set.

We wanted something light for dinner, so decided to walk around the corner.

Just out the door and around the corner of our hotel, we came across this:

It’s just a little convenience store with a variety of small things, matches, snacks, little laundry detergents, etc, so you must wonder why it mattered to us? After all our years of living in the Middle East, our grandchildren adapted “Baba” as their special name for AdventureMan. He loves being Baba (a common for a father or grandfather in Middle Eastern communities) and he loves having a little grocery store named after him in Barcelona.

A couple blocks up, near the Gaudi house, we found Tapa Tapa, and what hooked us was they had pictures of the tapas. I ordered mussels, my husband ordered stir-fried vegetables, both were delicious (we shared) and light. By the time we walked back, we had done almost 14K steps.

Gaudi House

So much garlic! It’s a good thing we were sharing!

We were really hungry for vegetables, and these were tasty and delicious.

Can you see the pictures of the meals on the mats under our dishes?

It was a lovely, mild night as we strolled back to the hotel. Sometimes you really are just happy and you know it.

As we packed our bags for a 0900 pickup and got ready for bed, we decided we didn’t need to get up early and go to the Santa Catalina Market the next day. Santa Catalina had been the one market I really wanted to see, a market area where real people shop for groceries, or have a little breakfast, not like Boqueria, which is a very social quick-food place. Santa Catalina closes down Saturday afternoons and is not open on Sunday, so I didn’t get to go and I was disappointed. There is a part of me that would have liked to get up early and rush to the market to experience it, then rush back to the hotel for our transfer to the ship.

Sometimes I hate being older and wiser. And the grown-up part of me knows that rushing and not giving yourself time to pay attention to the details is a recipe for disaster. I used to take more chances. When did I become this person with good judgement?

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , | 1 Comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Mostly Remote

Arrival in Denver

How often in life do you get to say “Best Trip Ever!” I can think of two or three trips we have taken which qualify, even though on two of them one of us ended up sick a couple days. This trip, no one got sick, and there were no bad surprises.

You’ve seen this map before, when we were in the planning stages; nothing changed. We flew to Denver with American Airlines. Because we believe COVID is contagious, we chose to fly Business Class and to wear masks. The unpublished contagion rate in Florida hit almost 20% this week, so we are trying to eliminate as many opportunities to catch COVID as possible.

As AdventureMan says, “On a good flight, the number of landings is equal to the number of take-offs.” Our standards are low, but exacting. We had a great ride to the airport (our son) and plenty of time to get through TSA. We had two segments, plenty of time in Dallas-Fort Worth to connect for Denver, and while the food was negligible, there were no fights on board that we know of, we boarded and deplaned quickly; we have no complaints.

Denver was easy. When we got to the car rental lot, they did not have our reservation but with some work, were able to find it and gave AdventureMan his choice of cars, so he chose a sporty Nissan Rogue with ski racks on top. It’s 90 degrees F in Denver, but so dry we have to apply Vaseline to our lips every fifteen minutes or so.

LOL, notice the Florida license plates. We can run, but we can’t hide.

We chose to go VRBO in Denver; we wanted to be near to Little Diamond, who used to come visit us in Germany, in Doha and in Kuwait. We wanted to have time where we could catch up, and we wanted to have some time with her two beautiful children.

The VRBO was lovely, cool and spacious, and surrounded by a gorgeous garden that smelled good! The lilacs – so many lilacs! – were in full bloom, the iris were in full bloom, Spring was springing forth with exuberance!

We were hungry. We had landed around lunch time; by the time we rounded up the car and found the VRBO, we were really hungry, so we headed for Colfax Street, full of eating opportunities. We laughed that we would end up at YaYa’s, but it was so much fun. YaYa is Turkish, his wife is Nepalese, and his employees are Saudi Arabian, Tunisian and Yemini. It’s like a mini-UN, and they all work together and get along. The food was also delicious.

Yaya in cap

We started with the lentil soup, and shared a hummus. AdventureMan chose a felafel sandwich and I chose a lamb kebab.

Storefront
Addas
Hummos

As we finished, a man was washing the front window, so we got to walk through the kitchen, really fun for us to go behind the scenes. Yaya told us he had served both the Royals and the Cowboys that day, a very busy day, but that it was really wonderful to have customers IN the restaurant again. This was a lovely way to start our time in Denver.

We took Colfax into downtown Denver, loving the vibe. Downtown is alive, people really live there, it is full of businesses – and high cost parking. Lots of public art, a feeling of energy and optimism in Denver.

We headed back, stopped by Little Diamond’s house and took her dog for a walk, headed over to our VRBO for a little late afternoon snooze. As the VRBO was close to Little Diamond’s house, she popped by and we all went to dinner at the True Food Kitchen in nearby Cherry Creek. As usual with her, once we start talking, it never stops. We had so much catching up to do, and her life is so busy, complex and satisfying. We hated for the evening to end.

At the VRBO, I am noticing the internet works great. In fact, almost every place we stayed, the internet worked great. So great that I am forced to think I need to commit to confronting my behemoth provider in Pensacola about how often my service drops connection, even after they provided me with something they said would blow my mind with its speed and connection. I am not blown away, and using the speedy, reliable internet along this trip has brought that to my attention in a way I can’t ignore.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Food, Geography / Maps, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Coming Up: Red Desert, Dinosaurs, Petroglyphs and Night Skies Travel

Denver, Red Desert (WY), Dinosaur Monument (UT), Moab, Breckenridge, Denver

We take small local trips, but this is our first Spring Out-West trip since last year. We’ve got some highlights – seeing our niece in Denver (early readers know her as Little Diamond) and getting to know her growing children, staying in the Elk Hunting capitol of the world, Craig, Colorado (well, just because who knew?), exploring the Red Desert of Wyoming and visiting remote and rarely seen petroglyphs and pictographs, on through the Flaming Gorge to the Dinosaur National Monument, and then down to a cabin just south of Moab where we will be heading down to the Canyon of the Ancients, near the four corners area of the United States, for more exploration of ancient ruins, focusing on petroglyphs and pictographs. From there, a family meet-up in Breckenridge, a stay with my sister in Colorado Springs, and back up for one last family visit in Denver before we fly back to Pensacola.

Monument Valley Petroglyph

Grand Escalante Petroglyph
Moab Petroglyph

The trip focuses on remote locations, petroglyphs, pictographs, and lesser-visited sites with dark skies, where we will stay mostly in cabins. We are always up to try to find an unknown gem, like the Traveler’s Rest Cabins, where we stay on the east side of Glacier National Park. (I see they are now for sale; I can only hope the new owners are as wonderful as the current sellers.)

Sometimes when choosing a hotel or restaurant, I am hooked by a clever name, so in Rock Springs, WY we will stay at the Outlaw Inn. It’s a Best Western, not a cabin, but I love the name. Rock Springs is also famous for herds of wild horses and outdoor activities.

The whole trip is outdoor activities, with an occasional visit to a specialty museum or two to help us understand what we see. We have two reservations at Arches National Park, the earliest reservations we could get so as to have the benefits of fewer people and the glorious morning light hitting the arches, and reservations for a sunset cruise on the Colorado River, for the same reasons – views with the glorious light of sunset. My husband wants to eat at a famous restaurant, the Sunset Grill, overlooking Moab, so we will make reservations far in advance – the place fills up quickly.

When we land, whether it’s Bozeman, Denver, Juneau, Portland or Seattle, we always give ourselves enough time to visit a local store to stock up on water, apples, oranges, peanut butter, crackers and necessities like tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, insect repellant, sunscreen – anything we might need and not want to carry in our suitcases. It gives us a lot of flexibility, so we don’t have to worry about finding a meal when we are remote. On the other hand, we love a good meal, so we plan to find places in advance, and make reservations. It works for us.

I’m getting excited just writing about it. Planning trips has gotten me through the COVID desert; even just doing the research and getting reservations gets my blood going faster as we anticipate new sights and experiences, new adventures.

And yes, I’m taking you with me 🙂

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Eating Out, Geography / Maps, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Spiritual, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Secret Admirer Sends White Roses

This morning, just after I returned from my swim at the Y, the doorbell rang and my favorite florist delivered a dozen white roses from “My Secret Admirer.” AdventureMan didn’t bat an eye at the delivery. He knows I love white roses.

It’s been a great month. Last weekend we were in New Orleans for some Ethiopian food, walking around the French Quarter and Market, ice cream at Creole Creamery and grilled oysters at Superior Seafood – and then, more walking so that all that good food didn’t stick to us 🙂

It goes on – the new couch will be delivered tomorrow, God willing. Life is sweet.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | Beauty, Eating Out, Exercise, Food, Holiday, Marriage, New Orleans, Quality of Life Issues, YMCA | Leave a comment

Leaving Bozeman, Day 14

AdventureMan hates my phone alarm, which is a tune called “Twinkle.” He always says it reminds him of hotel mornings when we have to get up at what he calls “The Cr#p of Dawn.” This was one of those mornings, we need to be up, get to the airport, turn in the car, check in two hours in advance, etc. 

Don’t you love this Mama Bear’s big claws?

It all goes smoothly. We drop our keys in the drop box, still a little nervous that we never received a contract for the upgraded vehicle. By the time we reached Dallas, I had a confirmation of the car rental return and a copy of the contract. Go figure.

The airline people were not at the airport two hours before the flight. Oh well. We checked in and had time for breakfast at the Copper Horse before boarding for our flight. In Dallas, we found a BBQ take-out and ate in the waiting room. 

We arrived safely back in Pensacola, on time, and there were zero taxis and about six sets of people in front of us. We never do this, but we called our son and asked if he would pick us up. He arrived, fully masked, welcomed us back, and drove us home. That night, he texted that he and our grandson both tested positive for COVID and the family would be quarantined, They live just blocks from us, so we were able to see them, to bring groceries or whatever they might need. They were tired and achey, but never got very very sick. 

I just took a break; AdventureMan asked me how the trip report was coming and I said I was finishing up and I was astonished at how much COVID had been an influence on this trip. From the start, when Viking cancelled our planned cruise in May, to the end, with hotels and restaurants struggling to find staffing, COVID had played a major role. We need to be paying attention. Things are changing. We are going to need to do things differently. We need to start figuring out those strategies now.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Climate Change, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Public Art, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Safety, Travel, Wildlife | , | Leave a comment

Into the Great Wide Open, Day 13, Bozeman and the Museum of the Rockies

We have space! I am up early, and I can brew a pot of coffee while AdventureMan sleeps in. We are not in a hurry, the Museum of the Rockies won’t even open until 9:00, so we can take our time. We like museums, and we really like the Museum of the Rockies. Last time we were there, they had a visiting exhibit on Genghis Khan; this time they have an exhibit called Vikings Begin, and I love all the new things we are learning about Viking culture and explorations. We have a quick breakfast downstairs, grab what we need and head out. 

Usually when we get to a museum we are early and there are few people. This time, there is a bus load of people who look a lot like us. They seem to be Montanan, maybe not from Bozeman, but maybe a church group or an affiliated group of some kind, around our age, all of them. There are also a few families with children. Not a big crowd but a healthy number of people.

We go through the Viking exhibit, which is exquisite, but small. I watch a couple of the videos, blown away by how far the Viking trading ships went, from deep into current day Russia to the coastal areas of North America. 

We go through the early western exhibits, then split off, AdventureMan to spend time with the dinosaurs, and me to see a planetarium presentation on the northern skies. I love this show; it focuses on what our early ancestors saw from different countries, they show us the differences between what people see in Bozeman, at 45° latitude, New Orleans, at 30° latitude, and Northern Europe and Alaska, at 60° latitude. 

I had a little time after the show to visit the gift shop, which had many empty shelves, which they were busy replenishing. As I checked out, I asked “didn’t you used to stock more of just about everything?” and she told me that they were even pulling stock from old exhibits to display as the containers were not arriving with new stock. This is another recurrent theme, here, in Pensacola and just about anywhere we travel, problems with the supply chain. This COVID has put a huge kink in the old normal, and we are going to have to find new ways of dealing with changes brought about by both COVID and climate change.

Our lunch was hilarious. The Museum of the Rockies is close to down town Bozeman, so we found a parking place and walked around until we found something that looked like it would do. It was called the Main Street Over Easy, and you go through a door and down a hallway to find it. We arrived just at change-over time; the place was packed with breakfast eaters just finishing up, and we were shown to a table and given breakfast menus.

A lady at the next table said “At the risk of being intrusive, they have a lunch menu. Just ask for it.” She was right. We asked for the lunch menu and we got it. The server, who was a delight, said “Here’s the menu but today we don’t have any burgers.”

Not a problem. I ordered a French Dip and a salad, AdventureMan ordered Fried Fish sandwich with salad. I don’t know how long it took to get them; we were engaged in conversation with the lady who was from Whitehall, between Butte and Bozeman. We were as interested in her, and her views, as she was in ours. We both have governors who have forbidden schools to mandate masks. (Upon my return from Montana to Florida, both our son and his son tested positive for COVID and are currently still in quarantine.)

Love all this space
Getting organized for flight back to Pensacola

We headed back to our hotel to strip our bags, re-pack, and in my case, iron my little linen dress for the next day. We rested up, then headed out for dinner, again at the Blacksmith Italian. 

We had a booth in a side room, more quiet until a large family arrived to celebrate a special occasion, and that was fun, too. 

AdventureMan ordered the Caprese Salad and the Charcuterie board has his entree. The Caprese salad was wonderful, the tomatoes had taste and the cheese is house-made. I ordered squid ink noodles with shrimp and crab, very tasty, spicy, just the way I like it. Our last night in Montana, so we split the Tiramisu, which is really enough for four people, loaded with a rich whipped cream on top and a taste of liqueur moistening the ladyfingers. We shouldn’t have, but we enjoyed every bite. 

Caprese Salad – a WOW
Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp and Crab
LOL, the Charcuterie platter with nothing missing 🙂
This bread was delicious!
Tiramisu!

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Cultural, Eating Out, Hotels, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Into the Great Wide Open: Day 12, Jackson Hole to Bozeman through Idaho

I have a Swedish sausage with my breakfast, because of Swedish descent as I am, I have never had a Swedish sausage. I like the taste, but not the consistency, which is kind of loose and crumbly. Great coffee, great muesli and love those berries. 

Very hazy day, trouble with allergies and breathing due to particulate matter from raging forest fires

Gas leaving Jackson Hole is $3.99 a gallon at the cheapest station.

I take a photo of the motel we stayed more than forty years ago, just outside Jackson Hole, when we were traveling across the USA in our Volkswagon Bus en route to Monterey, CA for grad school and language school and knew we couldn’t afford to stay inside Jackson Hole. We were right across from the Elk reserve, and once we got our little baby to sleep, we sat outside and watched the enormous herd of elk as they munched and wandered. It isn’t so far outside Jackson Hole, now, and I am glad it is still there. 

This is the second day where we experience haze. We drive up over the mountains into Idaho, and spend a couple hours on very rural highways sharing the road with large combines, harvesters and all kinds of farm equipment. 

The scenery starts to change when we near Big Sky and the Gallatin River. Lunch was apples with peanut butter alongside a road with trucks whizzing by.

Marriott Residence Inn

Once again, our hotel room is not ready. As we wait, another man gets the same response and also that he will not be on his requested floor. He is very angry, says he reserved a month ago (!) and wants to be accommodated. Later I ask the desk clerk if they are having problems with finding people to work and she says yes, that it is a problem everywhere in Bozeman. I suspect that they have closed off the top floor and are also limiting the number of people they can serve until they can guarantee the ability to take care of them. 

I am thinking that this has a lot to do with demographics, and problems with finding good, reliable, safe child care, and finding jobs which will protect their workers and also provide benefits. We can see that many of the hotels are now offering health insurance and educational benefits to the people they hire. I am thinking the labor market has a little leverage, and they are using it to better their conditions. 

And yes, that may inconvenience business owners and managers, and inconvenience customers, like us, but for the greater good, perhaps we can find a balance where everyone wins?

Our room is lovely, and quiet, and spacious. 

We have reservations for dinner at Blacksmith Italian, a restaurant we both found intriguing. Bossy Lady totally screwed up getting us there, sometimes she doesn’t really know everything, but she got us close enough and we figured out the rest. 

The minute we walked in, we knew we were in the right place. It was full of local people. The plates coming out looked very fine. The smells were delicious.

We split a platter of meats and cheeses; it was full of delicate tidbits, duck and Italian sausage and tiny pickled peppers filled with ricotta, etc. This came with crispy tasty triangular bread, a little salty, very tasty. AdventureMan had mussels and a side of pasta as his main course, and I had calamari with a Putenesca sauce and a side of pasta. The sauce was fabulous; I didn’t even need the calamari, the sauce was so engaging. The wines were equally good; I had a Barbera and AdventureMan has a Lacryma Cristi white wine which was so good, I ordered it the next night.

Calimari with Puttanesca Sauce
Side order of pasta

Yes. It was so good we reserved for the next night, too. It would be our last night in Bozeman, might as well end on a high note.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment