Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Motivational signs

I just ran a half marathon in Nashville, Tennessee.  Yes, three weeks ago I ran a marathon in Paris, France.  No, I'm not on a mission to kill myself.

And the truth is, I don't even LOVE running.  I like how I feel when it's over.  I like being part of something that is "larger than me".  A community of people with common goals.

EVERY time I participate in a sporting event, I think "I hope I'm doing this when I'm 80".  Looking around at a group of people all trying something.  Trying.  Doing.  Less than 1% of the world population has ever completed a marathon.

We forget those things when all our friends are doing it.  When everyone we know does it.  We are just a little "blip" of the world.  All shapes.  All sizes.  All participating in something "bigger".

But something even greater than the participants?  The fans.  The crowd.

The individuals on the sides of the race cheering the participants on.  They are the best.  I don't think they know what it means to have them say "Keep going".

Even though we train - or we don't - it's the "fans" that help us out.

In Paris, after I saw my family, there was a huge group of volunteers all in green shirts saying "Andele, Andele"  (Hurry Up! - in Spanish) Those two things kept me going for at least a mile.

Or the German crowd with "Hop, Hop"  (once again, Go, Go)

And in America, there are signs.  I don't recall any in Paris or Athens - but they are all over the USA.  Signs, that make you smile and take away your thoughts from the pain.

"U are the only TEN-I-SEE"  (took me a few minutes to think why that was funny as there is no "I" in Tennessee)

"I tried running, but I kept spilling my wine"

"All 30-39 males, turn here, I'll show you a short cut"  (from cute girls at a corner)

"The only thing we run is up a bar tab" - from the cute college boys near Vanderbilt

"Go, Elise, Peter and Random Stranger"

"Growing out your bangs was harder than this - keep going"

"Mom, we are hungry - hurry up!"

"Have you seen my dad?"

And how the kids lined up along the way?  You have to give them a "high five" it makes their day.

Or not the sign, but the guy with no legs running on the "running legs" with his Army shirt on.  How can you pass him?  Yet, how can you not keep up with him?

Oh, yes, then there is a lady in a wheelchair on a corner, with her sweater on and a blanket over her legs - she's holding out her hand.  Cheering everyone on.

How can you not, go let her cheer you on?  They tell me, people came from across the street to touch her hand.  Later a random stranger will stop her to tell her thank you for cheering her on - she touched her hand.

But for me, she is my Granny.  She lives in Dallas. I live in Denver. She turns 85 tomorrow. I turn 45 in a few weeks. We are here to celebrate our birthdays together - in Nashville, TN.  Neither one of us had been here before. It doesn't get much more motivating than that.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sure, that's great

We had this great, incredible, wonderful time in Europe.  And you know, the very first question from EVERYONE is?  Are you going back to Hawaii???

Yes, we get:  did you enjoy your trip?  How did Lily get to go with you?  SO, what's next???

Are you still going to Hawaii this summer?

It breaks my heart.  All of it.  The fact that we aren't going back and the fact that still that is the first question asked.

We broke up.  We have to break up.  For now.  At least, me and Hawaii.

But you know what happens, some how, some place, someone begins to root for the under-dog.  The one against all odds.

Yes - that's great you went to Europe.  It's great that your kids went with you.  It's great that you ran a marathon.  BUT, what about Hawaii?  What about your summers?  Are you going back??

I guess I'm not the only one whom knows when someone else is in love.  That Europe thing - that was nice. distractions are always good.  Much like the young boyfriend whom distracts you from your mission. It was fun. That was adventurous, but us readers know, it didn't fill your soul.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More stories

There are more stories from our trip to Europe coming.  Hence the reason the summary of events was given.

I have realized if I don't keep up with the day to day moments, they are lost.  Not lost, but stored in the back of your mind.  Stored until we need them again.

We had an incredible wonderful time.  The boys were put on a plane back home - in Paris - by themselves. I couldn't even go through security.  It was a first. I sat and waited until their plane was in the air.  They flew from Paris to DC to Denver - three capitals in one day.

Lily and her mom continued on to their next adventure.  Headed to Italy for more travels.

Me, letting the caterpillars start their next stage into the butterflies I know they will become.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Boat Thieves

After the pick pocketing event - well, at least part of it - we ended up at the Police Station......

Lily's mom had chased down the guys.  One guy ran away from the police.  The other was arrested.  I had Lily and the boys.  We were told by the police that Lily's mom was headed to the police station.  Too bad the police didn't tell her mom she was okay.

All was good on our end.

Boys and I arrive at the police station.  One of the pickpocketer's was sitting on the bench in the middle of the police station.  On the other bench, three still drunk college guys were sitting.

The other guys kept offering to help us translate.  Kept offering to help us talk to the police.  One of the police officers kept telling them to be quiet.

It wasn't until after Lily's mom arrived at the police station and we were all told to sit down, that I noticed our three helpful still drunk college students were handcuffed to the bench.  The pick pocketer was also handcuffed to his bench - I guess this is what they used instead of holding cells.

They were cute.  Really cute.  They spoke French and English and were SOOO trying to help us.  We kept getting sushed!

When I realized they were handcuffed to the bench, I asked what they did.  "Oh, we took a boat and were riding up and down the Thames River."  I giggled.

How could you not?

Isn't that what drunk college students were supposed to be doing?  I wasn't sure if they stole the boat or were just driving an unlicensed boat up and down the river.  I don't promote stealing.  I am also against damaging others property.  But hey, if this was a joy-ride...... Well, I thought it was kinda funny.

The other guy says to me, "Did you just laugh?"  Yes.  He says, "you thought it was funny"  "Yes, Yes I did."  How could you not?

I mean, if they were damaging things, I would not have thought it was funny.  A joy ride?  I just shook my head.

I joke, "I fell in love in the back of a cop car".  These guys were good looking, helpful and the hangover had not set in yet.  How could you not fall in love with them?  They were like watching a movie.

Nolan and I leave the police station.  Duncan said they continued to carry on.  Everyone was annoyed with them.  Of course they were.  They were drunk college boys not quite yet regretting their decision from the night before.

Fun to watch them still think they made a not so bad decision.  Not sure I would feel this way if it was my boat.  Unless, they only wanted to borrow it.

Duncan and the rest of the group set there for a few more hours with them.  I'm sure I would have fallen out of love with the boat thieves......

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Characters in the play

I figured I should give details to the characters in this play:

"My running buddy" - aka Dave. I met him 4 years ago when I needed help training for my first marathon.  He lives in Denver.  He is married with three grown kids and now four grand-daughters.  I'm blessed to have him as my friend.  He's been married for over 40 years.  One of the greatest things about our friendship.  Is well, we are friends.  It's not romantic.  We run together.  Literally.

"My sons" - the two boys I gave birth

"My kids" - the two boys I gave birth to and a daughter I picked up along the way.

"Lily's mom" aka Cristina - my daughters mom.  We are a modern family as is as much as I might love her daughter, she is her mothers daughter.  Also, we are friends now too.  (The mom is also my ex-boyfriends' ex-wife, but I would rather concentrate on the present, not the past).

Me - mother, daughter, sister, friend.

Friends - those people you meet along the way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't pick my pocket

There are signs all over Paris to watch for pick pocketers.  I guess this is the case in most major cities, but it happened it us.  

Here is Lily's version of the story.  (paragraph breaks inserted by moi)

We were on our way to run the Pre Paris Marathon, Nolan and Duncan were waving their American flags. We walked down into the metro and my mom and I looked at the map to see which stop leads us I the Champs Elyseés. I said this way mom and she said no let's go this way today just for a change.

 So Nolan, Duncan, my mom, and I walked towards the turn style. Nolan first then Duncan put their tickets into the machine. My mom attempted to insert hers but it didn't work because she put it in upside down so she let me go ahead of her. 

Just as I put my ticket through I feel someone pretty much feel me up. I turn around and I see a hot French guy and I was just like well ok then. But then Duncan screams "they took your phone!" The boys split- 2 one way, the other boy a different way. My mom turns around and runs fucking fast after the two boys, (being her ticket didn't work the first time so she was still outside the turnstyle). Shes screaming "stop them!" So after watching my momrun faster than I've ever seen, I jump over the turnstyle and run up the stairs after the other boy. I get up to ground level and walk in the only direction the boy could've gone.

 I see him just causally sitting down on the curb. I walk up to him and stick my hand out and say give me my phone. He just stands up and looks away like he doesn't know what I am talking about. A French woman walks past and I stop her and try to explain in the little french I know that that boy pickpocketed me and to please help but she doesn't understand. 

The boy walks down the street with me following him. He turns a corner and sprints, bitch I followed him as fast as I could. I am yelling help, stop him but it was all old people on that street. He takes another turn and then disappears. So there lily is crying her eyes out telling herself to calm the fuck down and to think. So I walk back to the metro, & as I am walking a man notices I am hyperventilating and stops me and asks if I need help. He says he will take me to the police office but I told him I should go back to the apt. first to tell the rest of my family so he writes the address of the police station for me on a piece of paper.

 As I am crossing the street I see a police man. Well apparently the police in France doesn't speak English. He recognizes me because my mom was running down the street. As he Is trying to find my mom through the walkie talkie, Nolan and Duncan show up with their mom. 

We end up walking to the police station. Once we get in I spot one of the boys right away, handcuffed to the bench. Then my mom walks through the door with five police men. Little did we know, after my mom sprinted out of the metro station. She ended up running after the two boys three streets over screaming "police" at the top of her lungs (she peed her pants). Two policemen on motorcycles chased after the two boys while my mom trailed behind. The policemen did a James Bond slide with the motorcycles and stopped the boys in their tracks. 

The police patted down the hot French guy and sure enough found my phone. As they told the boys to stand up and face the wall in order to handcuff them, the hot one sprinted and didn't look back. One police ran after him but after 10 steps realized with all of his gear on he wouldn't be able to catch him so he backtracked and hopped on his motorcycle. 

Long story short the policeman didn't catch the hot one but we got one boy and he's sitting in a cell right now, and will be for 48 hours. Oh and obviously lily got her phone back. 

This is me again - needless to say, it was a dramatic morning.  The boys had run back to get me.  The 5k they were about to do ran right past the apartment and I was going to finish with them - no one got to run.  And poor Dave was at the apartment (command central) not knowing what was going on.  As when Lily's mom didn't know we had Lily with us.  Nolan and I walked back to the apartment leaving Duncan, Cristina and Lily at the police station to fill out the report.  

All safe.  

Conspiracy Theory

What if we all believed the same way?  Thought the same way?  Had no original ideas?

In my opinion - it would be a VERY boring world.  The problem is, not everyone thinks it would be a boring world.  Most people think "You should think the way I think".  It's comfortable there.

That's okay too.  Some people think, I'm right.  You are wrong.  Or you might not be wrong, but my way is better.

The problem with that is, that you must accept that I am wrong, and maybe other people are right.

For instance, I remember having a conversation about the Pope.  My ex-husband thought the Pope should be willing to change his way of thinking.  Modify to modern times.  I thought, I think it's great that he doesn't. In this day and age, for someone NOT to change for everyone else I admire.  I also admire you for not sub-coming to my thoughts because of yours.

I've always had a connection to Princess Diana.

There were times when I was told I looked like her.  Of course, I had the haircut.  Many I people I know were told they looked like her.  Maybe that was why we all loved her - we all thought we looked a bit like her.

My entire last trip through Europe, I would think of her and my eyes would water.  I couldn't have a conversation about her without my eyes watering up.

Which is really ironic - as I don't watch TV, I don't read the "popular" magazines - I'm not sure of the "popular" celebrities. Even my oldest son said "I don't get your obsession with this Princess".  Of course, I was pregnant with him when she died.

Of course he wouldn't.  She was the American Princess too.  Maybe the next generation feels that way for Kate too.

But for me, it made me cry several times.

I cried at Kennigston Palace.  (her house)
My eyes water up when I see her sons together.
Or when there are pictures of her grand-son.
Or either of her boys.

All I can think, is please, can I go tell her sons how proud their mom would be?

I was standing on a bridge in London and thinking "Diana, you would be proud"

Then during the marathon, we run through many tunnels. Short ones.  Tunnels above the ground (which I'm not sure what this really means), then a LONG tunnel.  When we first start the tunnel, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA is playing.  There are strobe lights.  It made my day.

Then about half way through the tunnel - they are still playing music (all in English), but now it's hard to breathe.  There is no air.  There is no light.  I want out of this tunnel.

Finally, you can see the light, it's bit uphill.  There is still no air.  According to my watch, which stopped working - this was my best mile.  But there was light.

Upon exiting the tunnel, my family was within the next mile.  They told me my running buddy had already passed.  But they were there cheering me on.

I later realized that was the tunnel where Diana had been killed.  The memorial is just outside the tunnel.

I'm telling this story on the plane from Paris to London to the lady sitting next to me.  Wishing I had known before the story of the tunnel I started out liking.

She's says to me:  "You want to know my theory?"

"Why of course", I reply.

"Diana didn't really die in that tunnel - there are too many weird things about it".  "Prince Charles couldn't really "leave her" to marry the love of his life - the world was in love with Diana.

"Hmmm", I replied.

"I have a conspiracy theory", she says.

"Oh yes?" I say

"Prince Charles knew he couldn't really be with the one he loved.  So, Diana took "the buyout", the boys (her children) know. So they made a deal.  She died.

She's living with the love of her life on an island. Her boys still come visit.  I'm guessing she has dark hair now."

After that story, I didn't cry any more.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Traveling with Teenagers

It's not as bad as you think.

Yes, they are still surly at times.  Yes, they still want to eat all the time.  Post things to their friends on line all the time.  But for the most part, they are fun, open to adventures and different things to do.  Open to seeing new things.  No, they don't want to go to the "boring stuff", but that's okay - some things in life, you just have to do.

Many of my friends are about to send their kids on trips without them.  It will be my kids turn soon, but this is what I would recommend:  (if you go with or without them)

  • Don't let them know their phones will work internationally.  Only on wifi.  (And if they do discover this will still work - they must pay for it).  You can find wifi at coffee shops.
  • There are "SIM" cards for purchase in most European countries - meaning your phone will work locally (and data) with only the cost of the SIM card
  • Make SURE the credit card/debit card you/them take has a "chip" on it - many machines will only accept the ones with the chip. (I wish I had known this)  
  • Wrap that credit card with the chip in it in foil - there are scanners people carry around hoping to get a "read"
  • Don't carry your phone or wallet in your pocket - you are in big cities.  Just like in the United States - be safe.
  • If you have a backpack, tie the zippers together.
  • The ATM's will have the best exchange rate.  Have them use their credit/debit card to get money.
  • Take some basic snack food with you - I packed individual packs of peanut butter (great on bread and fruit and a good source of protein).  Protein Bars, crackers and peperoni
  • Sodas are expensive.  It is very common to pay 2 -3 euros for a "soda"  (3-4.5 dollars) - it truly is cheaper for them to drink beer and wine.  Break the soda habit now.
  • Let them map the routes on the metro.  Whom really cares if you feel like Alice in Wonderland for a bit.  You will get there.
  • Walk to places.  You get to discover things you would have missed.
  • Rent bikes - You have experiences you wouldn't have believed.
  • Go to a church service.  They will still think it's boring, but you will appreciate it.  And sometimes it's okay to do what you want to do.  After all, this is your trip too.
  • Go to the local farmers market - the raw birds still have their heads and claws attached.  You can buy pigs feet too.  Let them discover what their food really looks like.
  • Go to a park and take your lunch - it might turn out to be one of their favorite memories.
  • It's okay if they want to watch a movie one night - they are just as tired as you.
  • And if you don't get going until noon one day - that's okay too.  
  • It's alright to eat dinner at 11:00pm or breakfast at noon.  
Just remember, "Youth is wasted on the young".  YOU go enjoy your trip or your time spent without them at home.  It's just your job to expose them to the world out there.  

Not to worry, they will be asking you to foot the bill to send them back soon......

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Sometimes you just have to go.  I'm not a good "traditional" tourist.  Not the "let's spend all day in a museum".  The "Let's go here and do this."  I'm more of a:  "Okay, we are in Paris - all I know I really want to do is go up the Eiffel tower and take the boys to the Louvre."  Everything else, we will stumble upon - or someone will tell me "Oh, you must go here".  

If I had set an itinerary, I’m not sure this is what it would have looked like.  But I’m glad it turned out this way. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Arrival in Paris from the EuroStar
Got to Dave’s apartment via the metro – in a country where I don’t speak the language with my kids.
Waited a bit to find Dave (my running buddy) – Lily and her mom arrived about the same time. 
Boys and Dave went to park.  Girls walked over to park – all walked Eiffel tower.
Dinner at a local restaurant around the corner.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Scottie (the chef) arrived at 10am for us to go to the market.
Market – bought lunch and ate in park across from Eiffel tower
Back to apartment to drop stuff off
Started walking to Notre Dame.  Ending up renting bikes and riding through Paris
Notre Dame
Small Café
Apartment for dinner Scottie had prepared

Thursday, April 3, 2014
Sacre l’Cuere (didn’t leave the apartment until 1)
Lunch at small café
Dave flirts with a 6’8” black transvestite in red suit whom we name Lola.  He goes home to take a nap.
The rest of us go to the Eiffel Tower – walked to the second level.  Kids and Lily’s mom take elevator to top.
Stayed until dark and the lights started changing.

Friday, April 4, 2014
Dave and I go get our race packets
Boys and me to Louvre
Lily, her mom, Dave to another museum (need to look up name)
Dinner party at the house with all of us, plus Dave’s French tutor, her daughter, son & his girlfriend

Saturday, April 5, 2014
Lily’s mom and kids head to run 5k – pickpocketed, Lily’s mom caught guys – morning spent in police station with guys and “boat thieves”
Dave running command central then goes to bed while
Kids and mom’s go to Champs Elysees to see arc de triomphe. Walk down the street
Kids and Lily’s mom go see gardens
I eventually leave them and ride metro back to try and save my legs.

Sunday, April 6, 2014
Paris Marathon – start time 9:45 – finish time 5 or so hours later….
Kids and Lily’s mom at mile 18
Tutor’s daughter comes over to apartment for visit
Celebration cocktails at apartment
All go out for dinner

Monday, April 7, 2014
Depart apartment to take boys to airport for first international flight alone
5 hours later, I return to apartment
Sore – not as bad as I thought I would be, but tired
Lily, her mom and Dave go to Luxemborg Gardens
I took a nap. 
Dinner at home prepared by Scottie

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
(Boys have brutal re-entry day home!)
Train day trip to Monet’s house and gardens
Late night dinner (are we having breakfast?)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
2 mile run for Lily’s mom – walk for me.
Lily and her mom depart for the next part of their adventure.
I set on the terrace and read a book.  At some point Dave joined me.

Thursday, April 10, 2014
Day in Reims (Champagne)
Tour of Notre Dame Cathederal Reims
Tour of Tattinger Champagne
Running back to go to Veuve-Cliquot
Train back to city
Dinner at apartment

Friday, April 11, 2014
Run in morning
Realizing the tunnel I had run through was the tunnel where Princess Diana had been hit – went to see the memorial
Visit the American Cathedral
Paris Opera
Paris shopping
Latin District
Dinner and singing
Arrive home 1:30am!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014
Awoke way too early
Headed to metro.
One change of metro.
From metro to train station, foiled a pickpocketer (he picked the wrong girl)
Paris to London (traveled with students)
London to DC
DC home……….

As we know, if we had this written down BEFORE, we wouldn't have believed it.  No wonder I’m tired.

All the details and fun incredible stories to come.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We thought we needed an Alice

Remember the show The Brady Bunch? There were six kids, two parents and a "housekeeper".  What I really love is how "everyone got along" - Also, there was never any mention of the kids other parents.  Poof, it was like the other parents (meaning the mom of the boys and the dad of the girls) never existed.

But, Alice existed.  She was there from the very beginning.  I remember her wearing a "maid's uniform" and remember her in the kitchen, but I'm not sure what she "really" did on the show.  Maybe laundry.  Maybe cooking.  She got to live with them too.

While in Paris, we've had an Alice.  Only her name is Scottie.  She's not living here.  She comes in three times a week, with groceries and cooks.  We don't even have to be here.  She will prepare the meal (or meals) and leave notes on how to heat them up.

My running buddy so graciously invited us all to stay at an apartment he rented for the month.  A three bedroom, two bath apartment right by the tour de Eiffel.  The apartment is beautiful by any standards - HUGE by French standards.  He also found Scottie to help us all out.

The meals have been incredible.  With leftovers and extra dishes to supplement the other days.

For example, she made a huge batch on lentils (small green legumes) sauteed with onions, broth and carrots.  You can eat them warm for dinner (as we did) - the the rest you serve cold (the lentils) with a warm egg on top for breakfast.  I think we ate that every morning (along side our croissants and pastries from the bakery around the corner).

Yesterday, my running buddy and I went to Champagne for the day.  What a fun day.  Toured Taittinger and of course had to stop by Veuve-Cliquot.  It was a long day.  We left at 7am to the metro.  To the train to Reims (the town) to the Cathedral (The Cathedral where France and Germany made a "pact" to be friends again in the 60's - apologizing to each other for past regressions) to Taittinger (champagne) where we were able to go in "Caves" where champagne is stored that was from the original church built in the 4th century.  The walls were chalk and soft - when you touched them they were clammy and helped control the humidity for the champagne.

Lunch.  Walking through the town and the train back to Paris (about a 40 minute ride).  I think I dozed off on the train.  There might even have been some drool.

Then to the metro.  Wait, let's just stop right here and cool down.  (I'm not sure how people actually live in cities like this - it's grimy, it's busy and it's dirty.)  Have a beer and watch people walk by.

It's now close to 8pm.  We walk back to the apartment.  Dinner was waiting in the fridge with instructions on how to heat it up.

I think everyone needs a Scottie.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The days are long

I'm SOOOO behind.  As you probably know.

What a week.  There hasn't even been time to write it down.  You just go and do and go and see and just be.

Wonderful stories to tell and share.  Even a scary story - that turned out well.

We've gone out for dinner at 11:00pm.  The only day dinner was eaten before 8:30 was the night before the marathon.  (By the way, at mile 23 I did say "I'm never doing this again" - but that moment has already passed).

There were several days when it was noon before we left the apartment.  There were bike rides.  A trip to the top of the Eiffel tower.  Crepes.

Raining cool weather.  Beautiful sunny days.  And the perfect cloud cover on marathon day (after the first 8 miles)  (more to come on the marathon)

One of the phrases that people tell you about your children is:  "You are going to miss this."  Mostly, I don't really agree with this statement.  I enjoy the moments I'm in.

Then someone told me a better phrase - "The days are long, but the years are short."  I like that much better.  The days on this trip have been long and filled with many many activities.  But, it's almost over, in the blink of an eye - and I'm soooo behind.....

Friday, April 4, 2014

Older than our country

Westminster Abbey.  The original Anglician church.  The place where Princess Diana’s funeral was held.  The royal wedding of William and Kate. 

A short service.  We went to the 10:00am service.  It was a simple service.  A short service.  The choir did most of the work.  It was beautiful to watch and see.  A wonderful place to sit and just enjoy.

The beauty.  The history.  The church its self was over 1000 years old.  An opportunity to enjoy the  feelings of being a part of history.

We then continued to Big Ben and Parliament. Buckingham Palace to walk down the “mall” to Picadilly Circus – the theatre zone – where there happened to be a movie premiere going on.  Red Carpet and Hollywood Movie stars.  We weren’t too close, but could still see the stars.  To Trafalgar Square – where I told the kids, they will recognize this spot in MANY MANY movies they have seen.  A got a great shot of the kids in Trafalgar Square with Big Ben in the background. 

Let’s buy tour bus ticket – it includes a River Boat tour.  We then head to the River and the boat cruise down the river under the “Wibbly Wobbly bridge”  (A bridge that was opened by the Queen one morning and closed before noon by the police – it wasn't safe and would wobble). Under the London Bridge – that didn't fall down on us, but the famous Bridge with the famous song.  On to the Tower Bridge.  The very beautiful bridge.  To the tower of London.  By this time it was closed and we couldn't see where Henry VII actually beheaded his wives

To the Shakespeare Globe – where they had performed the Merchant of Venice the night before (bummed we didn't see it).  The only building still standing with a thatch roof after the Fire of London.

To the oldest Pub in London (next to the Globe) for a pint to a Greek restaurant for some incredible Greek food.

Back over a bridge to the Underground home.  A day well spent visiting buildings and facts older than our country.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tourist Time

Where do you start???  You start where you are.  You start by getting on the Underground and stopping where it tickles our fancy. 

We stop in Notting Hill – yes, like the movie.  Yes, with our suitcases in two.  It was market day.  All the shops are open with tables in the street.  It was crowded.  Beautiful weather.

By mid afternoon, we are tired, hungry and dirty.  There was a street vendor selling records – yes, records.  I asked him the “closest pub to grab some food”  “It’s right behind me”.  Huh?  There is nothing but your booth.  “No, go right here, then there is a little door, then you duck and then you will be in a pub.”  The kids called it the “Hobbit Pub”  As there was a table for the five of us – set just to the side,  just between two “hobbit” doors.  Short doors you must duck to go through.  Not just slightly, but bend over and almost crawl through. 

You must then order your food at the bar, and they will bring it to your table.  Some fish and chips for everyone.

Another underground to our hotel.  Lily and her mom go to the place they were staying.  We will meet you tomorrow at church.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Surprises are so much fun.  They are also really hard to pull off. 

On one hand, you really want it to be a surprise.  On the other, you really want to tell the person what is going on.  Argh!!!

Lily – the boys sweet sister from the island.  We had this plan for her to come with us to Europe.  She could either fly from Denver to LA – then with us or directly from LA to London.

Her dad said no.  She couldn't go without him or her mom.  So, her mom says “fine” – I’m going too.

The boys and I fly from Denver to Houston.  Houston to London.  They fly from Los Angeles to London.  They were due to land one hour after us.

When we landed in Houston, there was something wrong with the jet way, we were delayed about 20 minutes.  After running to the other gate, they literally closed the door in front of us.  You aren’t getting on the plane!!!  I was SOOO mad.  But there was another plane leaving for London in 20 minutes.   They got us booked and checked in, ordered us a cart and got us to the other plane – right across from where our last plane had landed!!! 

Nerve wracking, but we were on the plane.  There was plenty of room.  We could all breathe, watch TV, eat and sleep.

Arriving in London – it is now noon London time.  The middle of the night to our bodies.  We are dirty.  We are tired.  We can’t wait to get going.

Only Nolan doesn't know we are meeting anyone. 

We go through customs.  We get our bags.  What the heck do I now do for an hour?  Their plane had just landed, but I knew it would take them about an hour to get through customs, get their bags, etc…

Duncan knows what’s going on.  They are due to arrive at another terminal.  Easy enough “Nolan we need to go find the train – it’s at another terminal”.  We take the long way.  We take a short train to the other terminal.  We walk the wrong way – it says “arrivals”.  Nolan, “we are going the wrong way!!”

We get to the area where the passengers come out.  Okay, I figure we have about 30 minutes now.  Duncan keeps wondering off.  I keep going to refill my water bottle.  I said one of the bathrooms was out of order.  “Nolan, will you go check with that desk about the trains”.  I went and exchanged money.  I finally went to buy Underground tickets.  I am running out of options. 

“Can we GO???”  says Nolan.  “Why are we hanging out here at the AIRPORT? Let’s go”

I was running out of ideas.

Ah, here she comes.  Duncan sees her.  Nolan’s back is turned.  She grabs Nolan and gives him a HUGE hug from behind. 

Smile now.  He says “What are you doing here?” ;-) Hugs all around

We all get to the train.  We are all giggling like it was yesterday when we were all together.  

Lily’s mom says “So, Nolan, you had no idea?”  Nolan, “I was wondering why my family was acting so weird here at the airport.”


Sorry for the delay - I've only had limited internet access.  Posting as I can!