Tag: Travel


Our Day Trip


⌘ My wife and I haven’t been out of town for almost 15 months and we have been planning a day trip somewhere for quite a while. Of course, I know I can come up with the plan, but she determines when it will happen. 😊  Her schedule is a lot more complicated than mine, so I always to defer to her and that works fine.

Well, to my surprise, she informed me we would take our trip in a few days, so we made plans and waited. It arrived with abundant sunshine and, as I rolled out of bed, there was an illegal smile pasted boldly on my face. I put on my robe and trotted quickly down the hall to start my coffee and turn on Einstein (my PC). 

I immediately went to Google Maps and searched for a destination on the DelMarVA peninsula (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia). Our plan was to drive 90 miles, visit several interesting places, then find a place to eat a takeout lunch (Hardee’s/McDonalds) in the truck. 

We planned on visiting Smith Beach and Silver Beach, both of them near Exmore, Virginia (my wife likes to walk on the beach and find shark teeth). With my cup full of coffee and a thermos lying in wait with more of it, we climbed aboard our truck and headed off, looking forward to our trip across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. This engineering phenomenon is 15 miles long and takes us out into the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and allows us to ride across the water alongside tankers of all sizes headed out into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s like taking a boat ride with no boat. During the 15-mile ride we went through two underwater tunnels and encountered very little traffic. I set my speed control to 55 mph and leaned back, with our radio blaring out Hank Williams, Charlie Pride, and other well-known country artists, and just watched the beautiful scenery in front of us. Within a couple of years, I expect we will have an autonomous vehicle (self-driving), and that trip will be even more amazing. 

The two beaches (Smith & Silver) turned out to be a disappointment. Neither had a beach you could walk on and cottages on the waterfront blocked visitor entry to any portion of the beach. We had our takeout lunch in our truck at the Hardee’s in Exmore, Virginia, watching the traffic swishing by on Route 13 as we talked about nondescript things. 

After finishing what turned out to be a pretty decent lunch, I started up Blue Bullet (my name for our truck) and we headed home. As we traveled across the bay, a feeling of contentment spread across my thoughts. The expected excitement of “getting out of town” delivered the serenity I was hoping for. I looked over at the woman I love to see if she had arrived at that place, but sadly I could not discern if that happened. I believe she enjoyed the trip but being unable to walk the beaches disappointed her and took some fun away. 

We have made plans for another trip next month, as we try to enrich our life by visiting places we enjoyed before this dreadful pandemic entered our lives. Our state (Virginia) has moved on to vaccinate everyone in the “1b” classification, which includes us (age 75+). With some luck, I’m hoping we can get it by the end of this month, or early February. 

Thomas Jefferson said it well: “I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” I’m gonna be working the phone to make it happen. 😊

⌘ A few days ago I noticed that both headlight lenses on our 2013 Prius were cloudy, which made driving at night extremely difficult, so I headed off to the auto parts store to buy something to remove it. I read an advertisement online about a special pad you could buy for $40 that, upon rubbing the headlight lens several times, would magically make the cloudiness disappear. I kinda felt uncomfortable with that, so there I was, standing in the auto parts store asking the attendant to tell me what to get to accomplish the task. A very personable young man led me over to the location and selected the one he uses for such a task. There were perhaps seven items that promised to be exemplary in doing what I needed, ranging in price from $5 to $25. The one he recommended (Raintree) was $7.75, so I followed him back to the register, paid for the item, and headed home. 

After getting back to the house, I sat in the truck and read the instructions, which were pretty simple: 

1. Make sure both lenses are clean.

2. Dampen a cloth, squirt some of the creamy liquid in the bottle onto the cloth and apply in a circular motion.

3. Wash clean.

Boy, was I surprised!  90% of the cloudiness disappeared. I dried them and repeated the process to see if I could get to 100%. After looking closely, I decided it was 95% effective. Now, the plan is to see how long it stays away before returning. I know it will return, but now I know an easier way to remove it. And now so do you, but I want you to keep it a secret. Benjamin Franklin said that “three men can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” Naw, I don’t believe that,… you and I can keep this secret. 😊 

⌘ I recently purchased a Kardia Personal EKG device for $85, which is about as big as your index finger. It is powered by a coin size battery and gives you an EKG reading any time you want it. All you have to do is download the app to your phone, connect it via Bluetooth, and it’s ready to take a reading. Mine sits beside my blood pressure monitor and now, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I take my blood pressure, then place two fingers on each pad of the EKG device and in 30 seconds it has a reading, showing the graph as it progresses. It then quickly analyzes the results and tells you if there is a problem. It also gives you the option of sending it to one of their doctors for a detailed report (for a fee of course 😊). You also can key in your blood pressure to enhance the results. 

I’m not sure how reliable this device is, and I certainly wouldn’t use it to replace anything my doctor wanted to do, but I think its primary purpose is to alert you when something isn’t right and needs to be looked at by your family physician or a specialist, and keeping a history of your readings, which could be very helpful. 

One morning it told me I had an-Fib (arterial fibrillation), which was discerning. I looked at the chart and I couldn’t tell anything (because of my lack of medical training), and I didn’t feel any different, so I waited until the next day to take another reading and it was back to normal. But I suspect it is a good thing to have that in the device’s history file. 

As I have gotten older, I have included things I believe will help me keep track of my health better than just asking myself how I feel. We all have often heard the phrase “silent killer” used for blood pressure and other maladies. I’m thinking the thrice-weekly BP & EKG thingy will pay dividends. It only takes a few minutes to accomplish those tasks. 

An old Spanish Proverb says, “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” My thoughts exactly! 


Kindness


⚽  In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot,” (1869) Prince Myshkin, thought it was 10 times as hard to die when death was certain: Put a soldier in front of a cannon, and he could still hope for the best; give him a definite sentence of death, and he’d fall apart. Sure enough, when another character, young Ippolit, learns that he’s dying of consumption (TB), he falls into mortal despair and seeks to hurry his end.  Eventually, he recognizes that a life shortened is not a life without meaning.

How hard it is to know you only have a limited time to live.  We tend to think that life is endless until we are told that it is not. My son had pancreatic cancer and was told he had 8-9 months left and lived only 5 more weeks.  I can recite many more end-of-life situations for people I cared about.  None of those people were in a condition to live a meaningful life after their diagnosis.  I guess, if you have many years to live, that possibility exists.  But, if the time is short, you mostly try to figure out how to say “Goodbye”.  If you are religious, you resign yourself humbly to “If it’s God’s will”, but if you’re not, I don’t know how that gets handled.  

Then, there are us older folks who know the end isn’t too far away yet have the possibility of living longer.  I think we are the ones in Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” that seek the “life with meaning”.  We try to be more understanding of faults we perceive in others, to be more financially supportive and to “lend a hand” when needed.  But I must admit I see that in the younger folks as well.  My oldest granddaughter has three children at home, a husband that’s gone for long periods of time on his job, and yet, finds it within her heart to take in two small children that needs a family.  How wonderful is that!  I have a friend down the lane from us that, during summer, takes his riding mower up and down the street cutting the grass for anyone unable to do so.  You don’t have to look far to discover acts of pure, sweet kindness from people of all ages.  And really, in the end, we should ask ourselves; have we lived a kind and generous life, have we helped others while attempting to better ourselves? Katherine Mansfield (British writer) said, ‘If you wish to live, first you have to attend your own funeral”.  My interpretation of that quote is that I need to understand that someday my life will end, and only then can I live a fruitful and interesting life.  I wish that I’d realized that much, much sooner!

⚽ During a Sunday morning service a few weeks ago, our pastor told us that during the time of Jesus, salt was a highly valued trade item, and was considered a form of currency by many people.  I recall my mother saying that someone we knew was “the salt of the earth”.  I knew it was a term of respect but had absolutely no idea of why salt was used in that context.  One of the many reasons I enjoy going to church on Sunday is because Pastor Jeff always ensures that we leave church service a little smarter than when we got up that morning. 

Salt has come a long way since then and we use it in a lot of different ways, but not as currency.  As a matter of fact, doctors today encourage us to avoid the ingestion of salt because of its ill effects on our body.  As we all know, it is almost impossible to avoid salt (sodium) in our food since it is included in just about all of it. 

I remember as an 18-year-old in 1959, going thru basic training at Lackland AFB, in San Antonio, during July & August.  Our uniforms were designed for winter and summer and all buttons had to be closed.  The temps ranged from 99° to 103° during the day, dropping into the 80s at night.  Since we sweated a lot, we were required to take a salt pill before each meal to replace the salt lost during the day. Turned out to be a very bad idea and I’m confident they no longer follow that practice.  Most of us also thought they included something to diminish our sex drive but could never prove it.  If they were, it never worked on me😊.

⚽  Tracy Lawrence, one of my favorite country music artists, has a song that includes the lyrics, “Every time I make my mark someone paints the wall”.  Probably, we all have experienced that problem.  My wife and I booked a cruise to Cuba last October and within a few months our President canceled all travel to Cuba.  We re-booked for a cruise to Mexico with my granddaughter and her husband and my wife’s colonoscopy revealed she had colon cancer.  So again, we canceled.  I could cite numerous examples of making “marks on the wall” and them getting painted over.  I guess it’s mostly my age, but I seem to complain a lot lately.  I try not to, but if I’m not careful, I slip back into that well-worn groove.  If someone were to ask me what a typical day is for this old codger, it would go something like this:

Each morning I arise at 7am, put on my clothes, including my Fitbit, and head down the hall to turn on my computer.  I walk into the kitchen and turn on my coffee pot, drink a tablespoon of Extra Light Olive Oil (morning & evening), and return to my desk.  I do my daily eye exercises (2 minutes) and within an hour eat breakfast, normally a bowl of mixed cereal.  Around 9am my wife and I do our daily exercise routine (15 minutes) standing in the kitchen.  On Mon/Wed/Fri we walk 3 miles on 3 possible trails near us.  Our goal is to walk 10,000 steps daily and we exceed that often.  My Fitbit tells me that in the last 12 months I have taken 2.3 million steps.  One day each week I do weight-resistant exercises on a machine I have upstairs. After lunch I go outside for 3-4 hours of yardwork and repairing/cleaning things.  My only vice is smoking a cigar every other day.  I asked my doc about it and he said, “At your age I’m not gonna worry about it”.  That made my wife furious.  I normally smoke it sitting in my favorite chair in front of my workshop, while listening to an audiobook, or talking to someone on the phone.  At 7:30pm my wife and I have dinner in front of the TV while watching Jeopardy and the evening news(recorded).  The TV is off at 10:30pm and we head to the kitchen to do dishes and then to bed by midnight.  The only drug I take is a weak “statin” for my cholesterol.  I spend a fair amount of time each week maintaining my website (www.tommyhale.net) and writing the missives that I post on it.  I can cite from memory the 50 US states by population, the 25 largest cities by population, the 25 largest countries by population and all 45 US presidents.  I do this twice weekly and the reasoning behind it is that it’s my test to determine if my memory is deteriorating.  I know so many people with dementia.  I try to learn something new every day.  I do believe the adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.  I guess I could also add, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”.

I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives.  Until next time, be well…. Tommy.