Traveling Zen:::The Paperback Version is now Available!

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I Think I’ll just have a Tantrum!

 

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It will take a true traveler to appreciate this. Everyone else will most likely be unsympathetic and follow the thought with the statement “stop whining”. So be it.

Traveling is not just going from A to B, it’s a passion. I love it from choosing the destination, the planning, the getting there, the “there” and even the coming home. I love the “trip” almost as much as the destination.

This time last year, we were packed and on the 28th of February, we left for Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia and China. This was a big deal and I was anxious to see the results of all the planning, from using Airline Miles, Hotel Points and well, everything. It was a Grand Adventure.

Here’s the whining part. I have been melancholy all day. I am missing the adventure and due to “life”, there are no adventures planned in the near future. Nothing is horribly wrong, fortunately, but our travel has been put on hold. My writing simply pales in conveying the passion that a true traveler feels at being “grounded”, unable to explore the world.

Tomorrow will be a long day. I am thankful that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have and I realize that many others can’t travel and…Ugh, this is Crap!, blah, blah, blah… So, I’m a selfish #!@&! and this is all about me! I want more and I’m gonna sit here with my arms crossed and my bottom lip hanging out until I get my way.  I may even hold my breath or stomp my feet, me, me, me whatever; It’s time to go!

 

Trying Something New; A Video

Some thoughts just have to be spoken. Let me know what you think. I know it’s too long, but if you survive, an opinion would be appreciated. I’m reading and at few points the language gets kinda “salty”. 🤭🤓

Finding the Gate to Hell; Culture shock in a Chinese Bathroom.

This is a cautionary tale of travel. Ok, cautionary but hilarious. I was thumbing through my pictures of our trip to China and oddly, I found this photo. It looks like a bathroom floor but in reality, it’s the entrance to hell; at least that’s what I thought that day…

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So how did I end up staring into the abyss? It started in Vietnam. When we travel, we like to wander and we wandered into a “restaurant”, for lack of a better word, for some Pho. The #1 Rule of travel is “don’t drink the water” especially in countries that have signs everywhere that say “don’t drink the water”. The first thing I noticed as we enter, is a lady sitting on the floor pulling cooked chicken off the bones and putting the meat in a bowl. The stack of bones was about two feet tall, so I concluded that she had been at it a while.

We sit down, order Pho and drink some strange packaged beverage while we’re waiting. By the way, Pho is a noodle/vegetable soup kinda thing and I ordered mine with meat (not chicken).

Our meal came, it was good and we left. I spent the next hour trying to identify what kind of mystery meat was in my soup and finally gave up as it was probably better not to know. That night, my stomach was not very happy. Soon we go to Cambodia and things go bad fast. Four days later we’re in China and while I felt okay, my digestive system was having epic problems.

I always believed that I had two things going for me; a garbage gut and a twisted sense of humor. The first was a mess, the second was having a heyday. I couldn’t help but think of all those movies in which so and so slipped a laxative into someone’s drink and the hysterical bathroom scene that followed. I looked around for cameras, thankfully there weren’t any.

While in China, we took a bus tour and ended up near Changping. After forcing myself to eat lunch, the proverbial “sh#t hit the fan” and I was in desperate need of a bathroom. It was a chilly day and I was wearing multiple layers of shirts and a coat. I finally found a bathroom, sort of.  Picture a large room with stalls and no doors. On the floor, a hole. No rails, no hooks and to my horror, no toilet paper. Apparently it was a “bring your own” kinda place.

I stood over the hole, peering into the abyss seeing only darkness with no bottom; I expected flames. People were walking by. I realized that I was now in hell and was running out of options quick.

They say necessity is the father of invention and I was at critical mass. I learned three things that day; The gate to hell is way too small, Pho is an evil soup and that I came in wearing a t-shirt and left in a halter top. Desperate times and all that.

Finding the exit as fast as possible, I stealthily made my way to the bus, waiting for the maintenance crew to run screaming from the building in search of the culprit.

Ultimately, I was able to leave the country without being arrested and forced to clean that building. It took an additional two weeks to clear that nightmare from my system. It never occurred to me that I would ever catch a stomach bug, but I forgot one important thing; Pho is a soup and that soup usually has a broth and that broth is made with water and that water probably came from a faucet that has a sign above it that says “don’t drink the water”. I do also hope the maintenance guy is done with his therapy and back to living a normal life.

Happy Travels

 

 

 

Going From A to B. The Second Half of 2017; By the Numbers.

 

Our return from St. Louis marked the end of our 2017 Travels.  It’s been an amazing year and I am looking forward to 2018.  Our next trip is to Florida in January. In an article dated July 31st, 2017, I broke the numbers down for the first half of our year.  I’ll list the numbers for the second half of the year and then I’ll do a grand total for 2017. We started the second half with a trip to Santa Fe, NM and ended the year in St. Louis, MO.

  1. 12 trips, ranging from 1-7 days
  2. Stayed in 12 different hotel Brands
  3. Stayed in 1 VRBO
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~11,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~8,740 Miles
  7. Rented 6 Vehicles
  8. Used 3 Ubers
  9. Endured 9 different Airports
  10. Held Lilly’s hand for 24 airplane take-offs and landings
  11. Visited 12 US States

Clearly the second half of the year was a bit more sedate than the first half.

Here are the combined numbers for Travelinggump.com’s 2017 Travels:

  1. 28 Trips, ranging from 1-17 days.
  2. Stayed a total of 119 nights in various Hotels
  3. Stayed in 2 VRBO’s
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~60,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~15,440 Miles
  7. Rented 13 vehicles
  8. Endured 31 Airports ( A few more than once).
  9. Held Lilly’s hand for 86 take-offs and landings
  10. Visited 19 US States
  11. Visited 5 different Countries
  12. Took 7 buses
  13. Took 4 Taxi’s
  14. Used Uber 9 times
  15. Used Lyft once
  16. Used one Roller Coaster to get to and from the Great Wall of China
  17. Used 3 Tuk-Tuks
  18. Added well over 1.5 Million Points/Miles to my travel portfolio
  19. Reached Diamond status with Hilton, Platinum with Marriott/Ritz and Starwood, Spire Elite with IHG (Intercontinental and Holiday Inn) and Discoverist with Hyatt (Ho-Hum).
  20. Loved Every Single Minute Of It All! (except maybe the tummy bug I caught in Vietnam, not so much).

Wishing you Happy Travels and a Wonderful 2018!

Michael

Bullhead City, Arizona. Growing Nicely!

 

Bullhead City is a city located on the Colorado River in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, roughly 90 mi south of Las Vegas, Nevada, and directly across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada, whose casinos and ancillary services supply much of the employment for Bullhead City. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 39,540.

It is amazing how much this City has grown.  Driving down the main highway, I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness and excellent maintenance of the roadways.  Modern shopping and restaurants abound.  There is a multitude of facilities where you can rent equipment to explore the Colorado River and casino gambling is just across the river in Laughlin.

Laughlin, by the way, is an excellent alternative to Las Vegas.  Wonderful hotels without the chaos.

During this trip, we stayed at Holiday Inn and completed their Accelerate Promo (46,000 Points added) and Marriott to complete their Megabonus Promo (complete two stays and earn a free night).  Also completed the American Express/Hilton, stay two nights and receive 10k bonus and saved $35.00 on a Hilton stay with an Amex Platinum offer. In addition, used points to enjoy a couple of free nights when it was a great value and earned a boatload of Hotel and Credit Card Points on meals and fuel expenses.

I will definitely be returning.

 

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…