I wrote this in December. November? Got frustrated adding photos. Stepped away…for weeks. Now I’m in Phoenix at the airport waiting my flight to Honolulu. Stay tuned…

You know how those little moments happen and cause you to reflect? Almost like a déjà vu? And then one of those little reflections leads you to another?

Here’s one from today*…I was standing at the bathroom sink when Dug came wandering in and wrapped himself on the mat around my feet. The memory moment came as I was reminded about the hundreds of days that he had done that while I was getting ready for work in the morning…at o’dark hundred. He used to follow me from the bed to the mat every morning. I think he knew that it meant that I would be leaving soon. Since I’ve retired, he doesn’t do that very often and I’m wondering if it’s because my schedule is so unpredictable now? He usually just stays on the bed licking his paws (or some other unmentionable body part) waiting for me to head down the hallway. Then I do whatever I’m gonna do in the kitchen/family room and he plops himself somewhere where he can see me. If he thinks I’m heading out and he doesn’t think I’m going to get his leash, he goes and stands by the cookie jar. He knows that I won’t leave him without giving him a cookie. Small solace for being left at home. Wow. I am so grateful for retirement and not having that early morning alarm go off five days a week. What a lovely change!

The other memory that came to me today* requires a bit more reflection. In 2017, Glen, the “kids” and I went to Munich for two weeks and then Glen and I continued on to Slovenia. (If you haven’t been…I HIGHLY recommend it!) We have some good stories from our time there. The first one was when we were on the train heading to Ljubljana when it made an unscheduled stop in some small town and everyone started getting off. It wasn’t our stop so we waited to see what was going on. People were talking in a language we didn’t understand – duh we were the foreigners. Since the train completely emptied out, we decided to grab our bags and get off, too. We saw people lining up to get on a bus. There were WAY more people than seats, but we managed to get on with hopes that the bus was going our direction! Lo and behold (a favorite phrase that I learned from my Auntie Barbie in 1968)! It was our lucky day! We arrived safely at our destination. We never did find out why the train stopped and why we had to transfer to a bus. Or what happened to all the people who did not get on the bus.

Anyway, I digress…I’ve been thinking about independence. I think I’ve been a fairly independent person for most of my life and yet, like all of us…there are definitely areas of my life where I’m more dependent.

As a college student and young adult, I lived alone and I remember loving it…mostly. I moved to Chico in 1980 not knowing a single person and I had no one to rely on for support. (Remember the landline and long distance calls to parents? 10 cents a minute was too rich for my blood!) Today, I like my house to be empty of people from time to time so that I can diddle around alone (with Dug). I’m happy to take a hike alone. I go to LA alone all the time. I cook alone. (I think I prefer to be in the kitchen alone.)

However, travel is an area that I have never contemplated as a “solo” activity. Other than traveling to visit family, I’ve never headed out on my own for a vacation or adventure. Last summer in Europe, it became abundantly clear that I needed to consider and broaden my definition of traveling independently. As Glen’s health condition has changed, there are likely some trips that I’d like to take that just aren’t going to be realistic for Glen. And he enthusiastically encourages me to make those happen.

But linking back to Slovenia – As I was brushing my teeth with Dug at my feet today, it struck me that this “independent traveler” change has actually been happening for awhile. We were in Slovenia for two weeks in 2017. For the first week, Glen wasn’t feeling great so I was more or less on my own to explore the city. I remember feeling Annoyed? Resentful? Overwhelmed? The prospect of figuring out the city on my own had not been on my agenda. I had not done anything like that since I traveled in the UK for three weeks alone in 1978. In 2017, I was not mentally prepared to be independent. I remember feeling that I had been thrown into the river without paddles. (BTW – Ljubljana has a beautiful meandering river that runs right through the center of the car-free old town.) At the time, it didn’t occur to me that independent traveling might be in my future. I thought that this was just a fluke; a one-off, not a trend.

Below are some photos to give you a taste of Slovenia. Enjoy.

Ljubljana is an idyllic town with a river running through the center of old town which is pedestrian only so it’s a great place for walking.
This was the view of the castle on the hill from our apartment window. The river was right below and a couple nights a week a boat went by with an opera singer. Just magical.
This is the path up to the castle. Inside there was an art gallery, a café, a fancy Michelin starred restaurant where on our last night we enjoyed dinner and then moved out to the courtyard and watched a movie under the stars. Did I say magical?
This is the coffee shop that we went to every day – at least once. It is still owned by Alexander from Colombia. He went to school at Cal and married a Slovenian woman. He’s part of a growing small business community.that has international ties.
The countryside is no less idyllic. There are green rivers, the Julian Alps, lakes, vineyards, valleys, castles, churches, farms, and…
To the west is the medieval town of Pirán. It sits directly across the Adriatic from Venice. There’s a good story about my near drowning in the harbor. We can laugh now, but it wasn’t so funny in the moment!
Glen and the tiny streets of Pirán.

And now, I’m thinking back to Brooklyn in 2021. While Glen got out and about with me some, I definitely went out on my own. A lot. Independent day travel was becoming a bit normalized.

Here are a few memories…

Our home away from home

On to New Orleans April and May 2022…where I spent many of my days exploring the neighborhoods of NOLA on my own. Well…with Dug.

Our home away from home – bottom left where the windows are lit.
Took this on my first solo walk.
Marigny Opera House – It looks abandoned, but it has been lovingly restored – maybe not to its original beauty, but it’s a soulful place. Glen and I went to a performance there right before we left. There’s no place like NOLA.
This doe snot look like my front door. Yours?
I spent quite a few afternoons sitting in the park and watching the world go by.
Over the tracks to the grand Mississippi. Note Dug’s head at the bottom. He was not a fan of this bridge, but he got pretty good at darting across it.
For real…

And then…if you’ve been reading our blog, you know what happened in Europe last summer.

I meandered around Brodick, Isle of Arran, Scotland.

The Douglas Hotel – Our home away from home
The harbor
Brodick Castle
The western side of the Isle

I became very familiar with Canterbury on my own…

Blair and I explored Paris together…

and during our last 10 days of the trip in Nice – (we were actually scheduled to be gone 2 more months), Glen literally never left the apartment. I was out and about every day…on my own…

From our balcony…

I feel like this change in our way of traveling just snuck up on me. I definitely was not paying attention to how independent I’d become. And like most things, it’s a good thing and a bad thing. I mean, learning to be independent and having the skills to explore on my own – good. But – not having a partner to explore with and share the memories with…kinda bad. But it’s all a mindset, yes?

So how am I normalizing this concept of “independent” travel? Now what? For many years, I’ve enjoyed learning about my friend, Bennetta’s worldwide independent travel experiences. I’ve always called her my role model (for so many things) and it seems like now, I really might need to lean on her and other friends who explore the world on their own. And Glen is encouraging, maybe even pushing me to do so.

Also, I follow two groups on FB that are often interesting. They were recommended to me by my friend, Jill. The page names are something like Women Traveling Solo Over 50 and Women Traveling Solo Over 60. (The latter is the better match, but hey…it’s anonymous!) The pages are full of stories of hundreds of thousands of women (not kidding) from around the world who travel the world…alone. Or maybe with a tour. They tell their stories of success, they ask for advice about luggage or transportation or…, they share tricks and recommendations, they talk about their fears and their joys. They are very inspirational pages to poke around.

And Glen and I are also talking about ways that we can successfully travel together. We recently made a quick trip driving to LA to visit my mom. We also had a sort of ? successful trip to Alabama a couple weeks ago. I say “sort of” because we were testing Glen’s ability to “eat” on planes, in airports, etc. and that all went well. What wasn’t so great was that we both came home with COVID! Yuck. All better now. Thanks to the Fauci Ouchies, we had very mild/non-existent symptoms. Our thanks to Mary and David for ALWAYS making us feel like a king and queen when we visit them. AND every trip has some extra memorable moments! Gotta love having stories to tell…looking forward to the next one!

So…what’s this post about? It’s about change. The sneaky kind. And it’s also about taking the time to reflect on the little changes, the big changes and everything in between.

Published by gat2jdt2

60 something retirees (or semi-retirees) learning to live differently

2 thoughts on “Change…Again?

  1. If there’s anyone that I know who can dig into independent traveling and do it well, it’s YOU! Your energy, curiosity, and openness to new places is infectious. And remember, you got several amigas that would go explore with you too. Just say the word! ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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