Tired of Traffic Congestion? How ‘Bout the Versatile Scooter!

In most major cities of the world, the scooter is the “family car”.  Not here in America though.  Our love affair with the automobile is well known as are the excuses we offer as to why scooters won’t work for us.  Such as:

We can’t haul our “stuff” for work or pleasure…

 

….and how do we haul our pets?

 

I need my SUV for my kids; what about the family?

But what about the weather?

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Ok, but my car defines me, I like some Bling!

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Fine! But how can I dazzle my love? What about romance?

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The next time you’re bogged down in traffic, maybe you’ll consider the glorious and versatile benefits of the scooter.

Happy Giggling Travels!

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The September 2017 Adam Henry Awards

Who is Adam Henry and why an award?  First, Adam Henry is not a person. It’s Law Enforcement Vernacular using the letters of the alphabet to create a euphemism for someone who is an a$$ho!e.  So, obviously, to earn this award you have to be an…well, you get it.  This could also be called the “I’m fed up with your crap” award.  Let’s begin!

We’ll start at the bottom, the Bronze medalist.  Our Adam Henry Award goes to: The sports players who kneel during the National Anthem.

Thankfully, our Constitution (Bill of Rights, 1st Amendment) guarantees you the right to protest peaceably (free speech and assembly) and you’re doing just that.  I’m also willing to concede that through whatever skill you possess you somehow bubbled up to the top and are on the team, which couldn’t have been easy.  Having said that…

I have no idea who or what you were like before fame and fortune but I doubt you protested anything.  I also doubt you were a role model for anyone other than, maybe, your family.  Yet here you are, lots of money and enjoying your 15 minutes of fame.  Apparently, you’re now special and you feel that you have an important opinion that matters and an audience who seems to be actually interested in your every utterance.  Here’s the pitch, strike 3!, yeah, not so much.  With the exception of the media, who are desperately hoping you’ll say or do something stupid, nobody cares…at all.  No one really cared about what you thought before you were “a celebrity” so why in the world would they care about what you think today.  I doubt your new status has suddenly made you any smarter.  So enjoy your 15 minutes, and please, stay down on your knees and get comfortable.   While I have no use for you, I’m sure that some admirer standing nearby could find a use for a guy in your…position.

 

On to the next Adam Henry award, our Silver medalist.  This goes to CNN, Fox News and the media as a whole.  With bonus awards also being given to CNN’s Don Lemon and Fox’s Sean Hannity.

Thankfully, again, our Constitution (1st Amendment) guarantees you the right to the Freedom of the Press and boy are you having fun with it! What was supposed to be news, is now a variety show, complete with a panel of experts.  In the past, Walter Cronkite would have about 30 minutes in the evening to tell us what happened in the world today.  He didn’t mess around as the Walton’s were coming on at 6 and we needed to know if Jon-Boy, who last week had suffered a head injury, was going to recover.

The media, literally, lies in wait for someone, anyone to do anything that they can make a dollar on.  This sick variety show, especially as presented by Lemon and Hannity, specializes in keeping gaping wounds open for as long as ratings and their handler’s will allow. They call this journalism and hide behind it’s shield of protection.  These news channels should be viewed in the same fashion as the Home Shopping Network.  The difference being that the media is selling human misery instead of the latest jewelry

 

The last Adam Henry Award, our Gold medalist, goes to…Us.  We watch the “news” shows, listen to the opinions of fools and allow this insanity to continue.  We can’t agree with each other on even the simplest of things.  We are a complete incurable mess.  Do you ever wonder why aliens haven’t stopped here? Our intergalactic reputation is that bad.  I’m certain that there is a billboard with a warning near Mars. I have no solutions to offer but I am positive that the evolution of humanity will ultimately cure this problem in one way or another.  So, in the meantime, even though we’re totally screwed, let’s all enjoy our awards, we certainly earned ’em.

Don’t Forget About The AAA

It always amazes me when I speak with people who travel and they don’t have a membership with AAA.  For $54.00 a year, you get this:

Most say “I’ve got towing with my auto insurance” or “Really, why do I need that?  I have it for two main reasons; Hotel and Car rental discounts.

If you rent cars and stay at Hotels, you could save a lot of money over the span of a year.  Here is just one example from Hilton Hotels.

Kansas City, Missouri Downtown, AAA rate $179.00 and the best rate with the Hilton Honors Discount, $195.00.  That’s a $16.00 savings for just one night.

Below is an example of a Hertz Rental.  Same date and time from San Francisco International.  The left two examples are through the AAA site, the right example, through the Hertz site.  They were both “pay later” and no additional discount codes were used beyond what you would receive as a member of either.  AAA came in at $79.08 and Hertz at $117.69.  With AAA, you saved $38.61.

 

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Remember the cost of AAA? $54.00 a year.  We just saved $54.61 in one hotel stay and one car rental.

https://www.aaa.com

Happy Travels!

 

 

Women, World Travel and The Idiot Male

“Ten of the world’s most dangerous cities for women who travel alone”.  I’m staring at the screen and getting angrier by the second, not at the writer who wrote the piece, but at the title.  I just can’t seem to get beyond it.  I’m hung up on the fact that such an article would even have to be written today. That a woman, by virtue of her gender, has to “travel” differently than a male.  What pathetic class of knuckle-dragging idiots caused this?  Easy answer… men.

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I open the article and it has pictures; male soldiers holding rifles in one country, then another with pictures of other men holding rifles, scowling at the camera.  I keep scrolling, more males, more weapons and more warnings; don’t go here, you could be sexually assaulted.  I’m sensing a trend. What happened to us?  How did we get here?  Who in the hell put men in charge of anything?  IMG_0172Unfortunately, I need only look back to my childhood to find the answer. I was raised a southern Baptist and attended a church where the bible was interpreted “literally”.  In other words, if the bible said “Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:22-3) then the pastor made sure that we understood that this came directly from God, word for word and that was that.  I was taught that this is just one of the many helpful “marriage tips” contained in a book that many, including myself, hold dear.  Today, I don’t read it as “literal” and simply take these “verses” as the thoughts of writers from a different time and place.  I also read Homer, Dante, Mark Twain and Sports Illustrated in the same fashion.  I also suggest to you that organized religion, in its many different forms, and the varied literal interpretations of their “book” (Bible, Koran, Torah etc…) are the root cause of many of our problems today.  Just turn on CNN.IMG_0183

What does this indictment of religion have to do with travel or the article mentioned above?  Everything.  Why are women in “danger” to travel alone to these places?  Because, since literally “In the beginning”, men have been taught that women are “less than” and that respecting a women is secondary to respecting yourself.  Who taught us this?  Usually a male waiving a book in the air, his feet firmly planted on a raised platform, while an offering plate travels from row to row. IMG_0182 Wait a minute, now you feel offended.  You should be.  Do you really think it’s not that way today, that women ARE equal?  That organized religion plays no part in the formation of today’s laws or has no effect or influence on a woman’s right to choose.  I mean, it’s been 98 years since we “let” them have the right to vote.  But that was then, this is now…IMG_0170

The world seems to think that we are the most progressive country on the planet.  I honestly don’t know what “progressive” means regarding women’s rights but I do know that if we’re the leading example, then the women in “less civilized” countries likely don’t stand a chance.  In fairness, I don’t feel that anyone is safe in the article’s listed countries, male or female.  The centuries old recipe of men+religion+power has been disastrous and it doesn’t look good going forward.  To travel the world freely is to live life to its fullest and this joy should be available to all who desire it.  To deny anyone this gift because of a religious belief or some antiquated male-dominated custom is intolerable.  Incredibly, some “modern” countries still refuse to allow women the right to even drive a car.  To the countries (men) who oppress women, enjoy your 15 minutes, because the passage of time brings change and your days are numbered.

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So why does this matter to me, a male?  I have had the good fortune and privilege of being surrounded by strong women of character my whole life.  The men, not so much.  My Mother, Wife and three brilliant Daughters, who are all world travelers, would never tolerate anyone who suggested that they should yield to any man as described above.  They would gladly display his head at the end of a pike (ok, maybe that would be me) rather than endure the presence of such a person.  And for their strength, perseverance and sheer will to rise above, I am eternally thankful.

It’s amazing how an article about travel evoked such a strong emotion in me regarding the topic of the human condition.

 

The Forbidden City of China, a Thought…

China was a bit of a challenge for me.  It is a serious country filled with very serious people.  I’m standing in front of the Forbidden City surrounded by citizens who looked less than thrilled that we were there.  To say I didn’t blend in would be a huge understatement.  No one said anything or was rude in any way, but I could feel the tension.  Across the street is Tiananmen Square.  Ultimately, we entered the Forbidden City and it was as beautiful and you would imagine.  Video cameras are noticeably everywhere (look over my left shoulder) and uniformed security officers were never out of sight, be it here or the side streets, you were never alone.  I was a stranger in a strange land…and someday, I hope to return to learn more about this amazing country and it’s people as I feel as if I have just scratched the surface.

Travelinggump.com/china

A Few Snarky Thoughts About Flight Attendants and Passengers

The Flight Attendant asked for our attention.  As usual, most ignored her but she was patient and asked again, this time using a sarcastic tone.  It was a small commuter jet and she stood at the front, hands on her hips, smiling deviously.  With everybody looking on, she announced that today was her last day and this, her last flight.  She pulled out the demo-seatbelt, held it up and then tossed it back in the cabinet.  The yellow life jacket, oxygen mask and safety card soon followed the path of the seatbelt as she stood there grinning from ear to ear.

She then said what I imagine every Flight Attendant wishes they could say; that if you are too stupid to not know how to use a seatbelt, you’ve got bigger problems than a seatbelt demonstration can fix.  The whole plane was giggling.  She then told us that we will not be flying over water so forget about the life vest, that if the oxygen mask falls, to do our best but realistically, we’re probably screwed anyway and to forget about the safety card, it’s a dull read.  At this point, the laughter was so loud, I was surprised that the Pilot didn’t pop his head out of the cockpit.  She then smiled and told us to relax and enjoy the flight.  She was my new hero.  I’ll bet she felt wonderful getting that off her chest, I know I would.

This happened a couple of years ago and I think of her every time I hear the spiel.  It resonated with me.  Think of the amount of steps you have to endure just to actually get on a plane, from navigating the schedules, buying the ticket, getting to the airport and then making sure you comply with all of the TSA requirements and procedures and then, if you’re lucky, getting physically on the plane, only to have someone then demand your full attention, while they explain the proper use of a seatbelt as if you just crawled out from under a rock.

Clearly, I’ve spent too much time on airplanes this year as I’m getting kinda bitchy.  Indulge me though for just one more gripe.

Earlier this year, we flew to Vietnam, Cambodia and China.  When the plane landed, the passengers grabbed their luggage and beat a path off the plane as if someone had yelled fire.  It was glorious.  This happened in all three countries and it was impressive.  For some bizarre reason, we (people who live in America), are at our leisure when we travel.  We land, the door opens and people just take their time.  Ironically, it’s not the senior citizens.  They usually have the courtesy to wait in their seats, allowing everyone else to exit.  It’s everybody else. They chit-chat with fellow passengers and linger in the aisle as they casually pull their carry-on luggage from the overhead storage, while everybody else behind them waits and waits.

Today, I flew domestically and all of the above happened.  It was completely maddening!  So to all the inconsiderate (fill in the blank) passengers, who I desperately want to beat, grab your (fill in the blank) and get the (fill in the blank) off the damn plane!  I keep hoping for the Flight Attendant who announces “today is my last day and this is my last flight” as she is jabbing these people in the backside with a cattle prod.  Oh, dare to dream…

 

 

 

 

 

Mission: Napa. How Hard Can It Be?

The Master Plan:  Go to Napa, California and tour a few wineries. We’ll go in September and meet our oldest daughter, Lindsay and her husband, Ben. This will be great! Sounds simple enough, right?

I use Delta Miles and get two tickets. I Reserve two rooms at the Hampton Inn in Napa using Hilton Points. SilverCar?, yes please. Done, a well oiled machine at work here… Total out of pocket, maybe $220.00 (most of which was Silvercar as I’m sort of a princess when it comes to Audi). And that was that…inexpensive and efficient.

Then…our second oldest daughter, Nicole  found out that she and her husband, Andy could join us. This was fantastic news! We never seem to get enough time with our kids, especially our two oldest daughters. I match our Delta tickets using a Delta companion fare and we are set. We’ll fly to Napa together. We’re excited, they’re excited. And that was that…

Then… Lilly makes an interesting observation;  The Grandkids. See, if something goes wrong in our daughters’ world, we’ve got to be there for the kids. Now we’re all on the same flight.  This is a problem. We bite the bullet, trash our two Delta tickets and book United Airlines with United Miles…and some cash. Problem solved, all is well and right again. And that was…

Then…wait, we need another room. Hello Hilton, what do you mean full!? That’s fine.  We want our kids close anyway. Goodbye Hilton, Hello Airbnb. Everybody chips in and we’re back on track. And that’s…

Then…our oldest Points out that there is six of us now and the Audi seats five. Crap! Goodbye Audi, hello Enterprise and a… Minivan.  And that…Oh, Gawd, a minivan. Ugh

Finally! The day arrives. We are outta here!  Lindsay is already on her way. We fly out on United and Nicole flies out on Delta a few hours later. We should all get to San Francisco at about the same time. An excellent Master Plan executed with catlike precision… We land in Chicago and settle in for a delicious breakfast. It’s right about here that the wheels came off the wagon…

It started with a text. Nicole’s Delta flight was delayed 30 ish minutes due to a “fluid” leak. This is still ok as it works with the Atlanta connecting flight. I booked the flights for her using my account, so I start getting delay notifications on my phone. Ding, ding…now it’s an hour delay then an hour and a half, ding ding ding! Ok Delta, we only have two hours to work with here.

The news is really getting grim, it’s a fuel leak, delay, delay, delay and now we’ve passed the connecting flight time. Alternate fights to Atlanta…none. Crap! Nicole has brow beaten everyone she can and we are far away in Chicago. Delta keeps texting flight delay times.  My phone is blowing up. They are now sending another plane with a departure of 6:30pm and an arrival in Atlanta at 9:30pm (ish).

Delta feels they can get them to San Francisco sometime Saturday, maybe. Screw Delta, Hello United! United has a flight that would work well. Two one-way tickets to San Francisco please. $675.00 each or 12,500 miles plus $81.00. I used Miles which I transferred from my Chase Sapphire account. Then I called United and verified that it all worked, thumbs up…Done. And that’s that…

Then…as we are boarding our plane, Nicole calls and they won’t issue boarding passes at the gate. Are you $&#%* Kidding me! I’m on the phone with United, Nicole is also on with United, Lilly is on her phone with Andy. At one point, I was on two phones. It’s chaos.  The line is moving and United wants me to “certify” my account before they’ll issue Nicole’s boarding passes. Their flight on United is getting ready to close the gate and they can’t board.

Now we’re on our plane and they’ve closed our doors, the United representative, who keeps putting me on hold, comes back and casually says “what’s your least favorite vegetable?”. I bark the answer and he puts me back on hold. I’m losing my #%!* and about to have a stroke. He then comes back and says “you’re certified, have a nice flight”. That’s it? That’s it…bye. Ooooo k! I get a text from Nicole; they are on the plane, finally. I slump down in my seat, exhausted. I’m starting to giggle as I say to myself, “I hope our car rental goes smoothly, I mean, what else could possibly go wrong?”

 

And Lassie Gets A Window Seat…

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We just boarded our flight from Chicago to San Francisco.  Clank, clank, clank.  I lean out into the aisle and see a large sheep dog trotting towards me, his name tag making a metallic sound with each step.  The 737 is a 3-row-3 and the dog and his owner, who looks like an older hippie, stop at the seats in front of me.  The window seat was empty and the other two filled with bewildered passengers.  “We’re in the window seat” the dog owner says, “Both of you?” asked the passenger in the middle. “Yep, and this is his first flight too, he will be sitting on my lap”  Everybody gets up and they squeeze in.  The dog is soon asleep and seems quite content.  His owner, however, has the look of a man who’s just realized that he’s got a very large, very hairy 50 lb dog on his lap for the next four + hours and no room to move.  I wonder if he is rethinking his plan…