Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Posts tagged “travel

Strangers on a Plane

My boarding pass, and the Midwestern sky the day of my travels.

(L to R): My boarding pass and the Midwestern sky on the day of my travels.

I met a man on a plane last month. He was the kind of guy I’ve been seated next to a hundred times on a flight without saying more than a polite hello: a generation older than me, graying hair, jeans, tucked-in button-down shirt, sneakers. He reminded me of my dad.

We were flying Southwest, which has an open seating policy, and I happened to have A1 for the only time in my life. A1 is the first passenger to board the plane, and accordingly, I got to choose the first seat. Now, this is tricky proposition for an introvert who likes options. The entire plane is open (great!), but I’d be fully responsible for my personal placement if I ended up in the wrong neighborhood (not so great). (more…)


Back to the Alternative Grind

L to R: Threesunset scenes in Florida; 5K racing on my birthday; my October photo project; and M's new poetry blog

L to R: Three sunset scenes from Florida; 5K racing on my birthday; my October photo project archive; and M’s new poetry blog

We realized today that we haven’t posted an update in close to two months. How does that saying go? Time flies when you’re exhausted, confused, and energized by new ideas? We arrived home from Germany at the end of September, having traveled for 12 of the 15 preceding weeks. Six weeks spent road tripping across the Canadian and American west followed by six weeks in Europe, with three weeks at home in between to do laundry, repack, and taper for the marathon. By the time we finally returned to our cozy apartment in New Hampshire eight weeks ago, we were jet-lagged, burned out, and ready to slow down. And we were supposed to leave in six days for our next adventure: two weeks of national park hopping in the Pacific Northwest. (more…)


Brötchen and Handball: Our German Stay-Cation

L to R: The TVG handball team; morning along the Main; garden scenes and fresh bounty.

L to R: The TVG handball team; morning along the Main; garden scenes and fresh bounty.

We’ve been in Germany for more three weeks, and our spoken language skills have progressed to the point where we can order dinner and drinks in a restaurant (confirming that things are meat-free as needed), handle travel on the bus and train (including reading the many signs indicating the once-mighty German rail lines are running late again), decipher pop songs on the radio (and Adam Sandler movies), and make (limited) small talk.  I can also rattle off most fruits and vegetables and kitchen verbs, thanks in large part to cooking several dishes from a German recipe book. But the true test of our German skills is tackling the morning visit to the local Bäckerei for fresh breakfast rolls (Brötchen). (more…)


Grüße aus Deutschland! (Greetings from Germany!)

L to R: Our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German;

L to R: On our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German at 38,000 feet; the main street in the town where M’s family lives; exploring the Johannesburg Castle in Aschaffenburg; and the cast of “Spring Awakening”…auf Deutsch.

We’ve been in Germany just ten days, but it feels like a lifetime…in a good way.  We left Ireland last Tuesday after a fantastic week, capped off with two active days in Dublin.  It was a short, productive flight to Frankfurt; M worked on the poetry book he’s co-editing, and I practiced my German (which needs a bit of practice).  Our flight landed nearly an hour late, but M’s uncle and cousin were waiting patiently for us just past customs.  We had initially planned to take the train, but after a long week of travel, we were grateful for their offer to pick us up.  We chatted all the way back to their house in a small town along the Main River south of the city of Aschaffenburg.

We stayed local the first few days, getting used to another time zone and catching up with M’s family.  We’ve traveled here each of the past two summers, but in prior years, our visits have been planned around M’s cousins’ weddings.  It’s a nice change of pace to be without a formal agenda on this trip. (more…)


Day 1 in Ireland: Cliffs, Cars, and Clifden

Ireland

Day 1 adventures (L to R:) Sunset takeoff from Boston; our tiny, barely-automatic rental car; looking south at the Cliffs of Moher; O’Brien’s Tower atop the cliffs; and veggie fare in Galway.

Greetings from Ireland!  We left from Boston Monday evening on an overnight flight to Shannon Airport on Ireland’s west coast.  Our plan to sleep through the flight and wake up refreshed in the morning was foiled by the fact that you can really only manage about two hours of sleep on a six-hour flight.  So we were more than a little sleepy upon arrival and quickly downed two airport coffees to jump-start our new day.  We picked up the rental car we had reserved in advance, having splurged an extra $100 or so for an automatic.  We’d heard tales of terror about driving on Irish roads, and although we can both drive a stick shift, we didn’t want the added pressure of figuring out how to do that with our left hands.  Driving on the right side of the car on the left side of narrow roads while navigating endless roundabouts would be tricky enough. (more…)


Catch Ya on the Flip Side…of the Atlantic

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Our bags are checked, and our flight’s on time!  After a surprisingly uneventful cab ride to the airport (think middle-aged metalhead in a crumb-filled mini-van…),  we cleared security in record time and relaxed over pre-flight veggie burgers and beer.  In a little less than an hour, we’ll board our overnight flight to Ireland.  With any luck, we’ll fall asleep quickly and wake up in the Emerald Isle.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting near-time updates from our travels in Ireland and Germany as well as sharing a series of posts highlighting our recent road trip across the American West.  We hope the resulting “time whiplash” doesn’t deter you from following along. We are looking forward to sharing this next leg of our travels with you. -J&M


And Then There Were None

A rough depiction of our route this summer...including the elusive last three states on my "visit them all" list.

A rough overview of our route this summer, including the elusive last three states on my “visit them all” list.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a goal of visiting all 50 states.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Visiting every state seemed to promise a life of travel and adventure, and it gave me something to look forward to.  It also appealed to the analytical side of my brain, one that speaks in facts and figures and percentages.  So after a fairly well-traveled childhood and a cross-country road trip with my sister 15 years ago, I’ve been chipping away at the stragglers one by one.  One of the highlights of this trip was the prospect (and eventual reality) of checking off the final three states—North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho—on my list. (more…)


On The Road Again

L to R:

L to R: Outside our building on morning #1, small town NH diner, Niagara rainbow, running by the falls in ON, and exploring Charlevoix, MI

Greetings from Grand Forks! So much has happened in the last few days, making it hard to believe we’ve been on the road for less than a week.  We’ve traveled more than 1,800 miles from home in New Hampshire to this university town on the Red River.

After setting out early last Wednesday morning, we were able to connect with friends from California (who happened to be in NH on vacation) and meet their adorable five-month-old son. We stayed in Niagara, ON Wednesday night and enjoyed a misty, rainbow-filled run along the falls in the morning before arriving Thursday afternoon at a friend’s house near Lansing.  We spent a sunny few hours floating around the pool, catching up on the last year and enjoying good company.

We hit the road again Friday morning and meandered (more…)


Life as Art…Art as Life

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

Conceptual art, or idea art, is an art form in which the concept (or idea) that generates a piece of art is more important than the art itself. For example, poet Kenneth Goldsmith (of @ubuweb) recently announced his plan to “print out the internet.” Clearly, Mr. Goldsmith’s idea is loaded with intention. The idea, and the public’s response to the idea, is the art. I hope we never actually see the internet on paper, but the idea has given us much to contemplate.

Another common aspect of conceptual art is the rejection of self-expression. Once the idea and rules are set by the artist, expression is abandoned and the piece becomes what the rules and form allow, nothing more. Many would compare this to the process of computer programming, although I would argue that this comparison ignores an enormous amount of human variation, innovation and expression that exists in the programming and software development world (another blog post altogether).

I, however, am a believer that self-expression cannot be taken out of art. The moment an artist makes a decision (at the highest or lowest level) that influences the piece, self-expression has occurred.  But I often wonder if there is an opportunity to embrace the self in conceptual art. (more…)


The Countdown is On

Tools of the trade: Old school road tripping with an actual map; freshly-minted passports ready for the next 10 years of action; and a sneak preview of  our fall travels.

Tools of the trade (L to R): Old-school road tripping with an actual map; freshly-minted passports ready for the next 10 years of action; and a sneak preview of our fall travels.

Happy June, everyone!  We hope those of you in New England are enjoying this early taste of summer.  We’re staying cool indoors today, putting the finishing touches on our upcoming travel plans.  For the past month or so, we’ve been busy mapping out three separate adventures in 2013: an old-fashioned road trip through the western U.S. and Canada, a European slow-cation, and a Pacific Northwest park-bagging loop.

All that trip planning has been in addition to the task of figuring out things like where we want to live for the next year and how we want to balance work and travel as we continue down this path of self-employment.  For the most part, we’ve answered the big questions, and we can freely go forth into the universe for another round of aimful wandering.

So what’s ahead during WPG’s main travel season this year?  (more…)