First Time Blogging Since Turning 50

Early onset senility has not been the reason why I have not logged into this blog in nearly eight weeks.  I won’t waste my readers’ (or reader’s) time by listing all the lame reasons for why I have been absent.  I think I’ve been like many people who try to keep diaries.  They’ll go to the bookstore and buy a blank journal, write in it like mad for a week or two, and then toss it in a drawer and never pick it up again.  As far as keeping this blog current, to paraphrase A. Conan Doyle, “I can but try.”

I turned 500 (oops, one too many zeroes) on April 29.  Since then, I’ve done another stint at the Columbus State bookstore.  After a day trip to Cedar Point, Susie’s sophomore year at The Charles School ended.  At the end-of-year assembly, she learned that she is one of 20 students accepted for the Early College program at Ohio Dominican University.

However, the big news for Susie right now is that she is, even as I type, en route to Romania.  She and six other teenagers–and three adult chaperons–left Port Columbus this morning for a 10-day Justice Trip, representing First Unitarian Universalist Church here in Columbus.  (This was the best expenditure of a tax refund in the 30 years I have been filing!)  Just before I started typing, I received a text message from the church’s Associate Minister, letting me know they’ve all landed safely at JFK in New York.  (They will be there until late afternoon, before embarking on the longest leg of the trip, which is between New York and Helsinki.  There will be much tighter connections between Helsinki and Warsaw, and Warsaw and Bucharest.)

Susie is the first of our immediate family to journey outside North America.  My overseas travel was 15 minutes in Ciudad Juarez in 1987, where my sole activity was buying a bottle of tequila for $1.15.  Steph lived in upstate New York until she was nine or 10, which meant frequent trips in and out of Canada.  However, Susie journeyed to Costa Rica (for the “Winterim” trip at The Graham School), and now will be headed across the Atlantic Ocean to Romania.  (Although it is known as “the Eastern Europe of Eastern Europe,” Romania plays a prominent role in Unitarian history, and is as important as Jerusalem or Rome.  The only Unitarian monarch, John Sigismund Zápolya, ruled Hungary in the mid-16th century (as John II).)  A Reader’s Digest version of the Unitarian history of the region can be found here.

Our Associate Minister picked us up at 7:45 for the ride out to Port Columbus.  (The flight was supposed to leave at 8:30 a.m., but did not leave until after 10.  He called me, and the parents of all the other youth, around 2:15 a.m. to let us know.)  Before everyone headed to the TSA metal detectors and the American Airlines boarding area, they posed for pictures.  Here is the group, rarin’ to go:

Just across from the American Airlines ticket counter, after checking in baggage and scanning passports.  Susie is on the left, in front of the Honda logo.

There were many planning meetings for this trip.  One of the adult chaperons wisely mentioned that they would be together almost constantly, and they would get on one another’s nerves.  (There will be a buddy system to make sure no one is out and about alone.)  Susie told me that when the Graham School trip to Costa Rica ended, the plane had landed at Port Columbus, and was still sitting on the runway before the passengers disembarked.  One of the teachers in charge told everyone, “I love you all, but I don’t want to see any of you for 72 hours.”
 
I am taking the day off from work.  I thought about coming in to work once I knew Susie was airborne, but my sleep was spotty last night (Susie and I had considered staying up all night, but I caved a little after midnight, and she went to bed around 1 a.m.  I was just getting to sleep when my phone rang, bringing me the news the flight would be leaving later than expected.)  I foresee an early night for me tonight.  I am hoping that Susie and the others will take advantage of the long flight over the Atlantic Ocean to Finland, and get some shut-eye during that.

Advertisements

Dateline: Merritt Island, Fla.

I have yet to take a melatonin tablet, but sleep will be fast approaching.  So, I’ll try to type some thoughts about the long trip to Orlando that ended early this evening.  I left Columbus at 9:15 last night, and spent the next 22 hours on Greyhound, and actually arrived at Orlando 20 minutes early.

This is my first time in the Sunshine State.  Susie has been down here all summer with Steph and Steph’s partner Mike.  Susie will be coming back to Ohio with me on Sunday morning (another first: the first time I have been on an airplane in almost 30 years), and I’m spending a little R and R here in Merritt Island, on the Space Coast of Florida.

I am glad I made the trip down by bus, although the portions of the trip occurring in the nighttime hours were tedious, once I left Cincinnati.  It was odd for me for a bus trip to not terminate in Cincinnati, so when the rest stop ended, I had to remind myself that I was going further south.  I was not able to sleep very well as the bus went down Interstate 75 through Kentucky, although I did manage a few scattered hours once the bus crossed the Tennessee line.  All I had to eat on that leg of the trip was an overpriced bag of animal crackers, which I bought at the Greyhound station in Chattanooga.  (The same bus station also featured 20-ounce bottles of Coke products for $2.25.  I passed on that!)

My only change of buses was in Atlanta.  The bus station there is too small and too chaotic, which is surprising for a city that size.  However, with the help of the station manager, the driver of the Atlanta-to-Orlando leg of the trip quite efficiently loaded the passengers, and we made very good time all the way to Orlando.  (During a rest stop in Tifton, Ga., I had some fried chicken at Church’s, which was my only meal until Steph, Mike, Susie, and I had a big dinner at Kelsey’s Pizza Pasta Kitchen in Merritt Island.)

The brevity of this account is a far cry from the first travelogue I ever wrote.  I think the first “long” manuscript I ever wrote (long since lost) was when I was 11.  It was called “Two Trips to Richmond, Virginia,” and I described two trips I made with my parents to Richmond, when my uncle was seriously ill with the congestive heart failure that would eventually kill him.  I faithfully described every bathroom break, food stop, Mail Pouch barn, and trip to the hospital that I could remember.  The end product was 48 single-spaced typewritten pages.

I am no stranger to long bus rides, but this one took a lot more out of me than I thought it would.  Even taking a melatonin tablet on the bus didn’t help me sleep.  I didn’t read much, either, because it seemed that would require more mental energy than I could summon.  My mood perked up as the bus neared Orlando, and especially when Susie ran up to me and hugged me in the terminal.

Now that I’ve visited Florida, there are only 11 states I have yet to visit.  They are in the Pacific Northwest, the Deep South, and Alaska and Hawaii.

I went to Volunteers of America and bought a large suitcase for this trip, and then had to buy a larger knapsack than the one I usually carry–one that would fit this laptop, as well as books, my diary, camera, and other necessities of travel.  Even so, I looked overloaded, because I also had to carry the black over-the-shoulder bag containing my CPAP machine.  (On the way back from Kelsey’s, we did some grocery shopping at Publix, since I had to buy distilled water for the machine.)

I had difficulty loading Blogger’s page while I was on the bus, otherwise I may have attempted an entry in “real time.”  (I have a hard time picturing Jack Kerouac with a laptop during his travels.)

Now, as Samuel Pepys would say, “And so to bed.”