Friday, January 6, 2017

Think big -- take that trip: usher in the New Year with a plan to go somewhere, do something new -- stretch!

Keller and Cookie both love Rome, but had never been there together.
Now they've visited Italy together a half-dozen times and Rome is a semi-annual tradition, here at Trevi Fountain.
Keller and Cookie climbed the Auckland, New Zealand, Bridge last year --
 after she conquered her fear of heights on the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia. 
Sky's the limit in this new year, with planning, energy and determination.



HAVE YOU always wanted to climb a bridge hundreds of feet above the water?  Have you had your heart set on a trip to the Galapagos? Yearned to hike the Himalayas? Ride a bike in Vietnam? Traverse the Great Wall and get close-up to the Terracotta Soldiers?  Kiss your lover then throw a coin into Rome's Trevi Fountain?
Biking in Vietnam was a dream of both of us. This past
year, we made it happen with planning and patience.
WHAT THE heck are you waiting for? No one is going to put you on a magic carpet and whisk you to an exotic location you've longed to visit. No one is going to teach you to play the saxophone or do a sexy tango with your partner.
If you want that tattoo, get it, baby. Promised yourself a cruise before you sail into the beyond?  Book it, Dano! Now's the time.
YOU ARE driving the bus.
If your family gathered for a funeral and talked about a reunion -- "we should all get together at a happier time" -- why not make that happen this year?  Think a summertime gathering in someone's back yard or cabin.  If you're separated by states and oceans, meet at a half-way point. Or consider Christmas at the sibling with the largest home? (You can work out the details later.  Get everyone to commit to the dates NOW.)
Time to indulge your alter ego?  Cookie's tattoo is ready for the new year.
Keller sports his new look -- if only in fun for a few hours.
WE ASSOCIATE the turning of the new year with resolutions. For me, it's a time to look at the globe, give it a spin and see where I'd like to be.
Without sounding too much like the old Johnny Cash tune, "I've Been Everywhere," I actually have been around the old globe a few times. You may be the armchair variety or a for-real globe-trotter.  Either way, try  fresh ways to approach travel?
*Is there someone you'do like to share your knowledge with? A favorite niece or nephew, an aging or widowed auntie?
*If you are alone and reluctant to travel solo, look around your circle of friends, considering the groups and outlets you have. There may be someone equally interested in traveling, just needing a nudge.
Tango lessons for 2017?
Most cruise lines and many tour agencies will work with single travelers to pair them with other singles. Or if money is no object, you can pay the single-occupancy premium. Chances are you will hit it off with someone on the tour or ship and plan your next trip together.
In this reporter's humble opinion, there's no excuse for not taking the leap, making the first step toward adventure.
WE TOOK a bike trip through Vietnam last year -- thoroughly delightful. Again, planning -- sometimes two years ahead is necessary.
I am not an accomplished biker but the group guide found a bike that made me comfy and didn't  have 75 gears.
Cunard's Queen Elizabeth awaits a visit from you.
I had never considered myself an athlete-- and still don't-- but my partner talked me into climbing Sydney, Australia's famous bridge. While I nearly fainted at the prospect, I summoned my courage and did it. The thrill of accomplishment boosted me into a surprising new level of daring. I booked two more climbs, to the astonishment and pride of Keller!
I will never be an Olympian, but I conquered an old fear and discovered that I love bridge climbing.
AS FOR teaching old dogs new tricks, Keller had never considered himself a singer. As his tit-for-tat nod to my climbing bravado, he picked up his chorister's score and last year sang in choral groups I accompanied. I can climb. The boy can sing!
We both love Tango, that sensuous dance of Argentina. So we signed up for tango lessons.

My sister Misha, center, was the driving force behind a family reunion.
She invited us all to Atlanta for her birthday more than a year ago.

We also made a list of performers we love--
including Tony Bennett, who topped both our lists.  We have seen him in concert four times now, twice with Lady Gaga. Do a Google search on your favorites. Make it happen. With planning and budgeting, you can.
If money is a concern, find ways you to make your dream happen. If you eat lunch out, start packing it.
If you are a clothes horse, head for the thrift store not the department store. If you've always wanted a tattoo, you're not getting any younger. There are many places to have one done safely. Start with a temporary one.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga can be in your
concert line-up.  
If you're trying to save money to indulge your dreams, here are a few easy tips gleaned from year of packing my lunch to work at the newspaper. (To afford room service in hotels, later.)
Picture yourself enjoying a sunrise in a new city,
then work it out so it will materialize!
*By-pass expensive coffees out and keep teabags and coffee at work.
*Watch the heat bill. Layer up to save bucks.
*If you spend big dollars at the beauty salon, color your own hair.
If someone you know has a talent you wish to learn, ask.
Here's Keller sailing. He taught Cookie the ropes, too.
*Eat beans and rice and turkey burger instead of filet. Buy in bulk.  The idea is to set goals and decide what you need to do to make them happen.
THESE POINTERS are not new or original. To paraphrase Mark Twain, we are all borrowers.
Make a game plan that suits you, gleaning from those who inspire you.  Make it happen. 
Maybe you have hidden treasures in your house. Will you ever use the sterling silver?  Maybe a trip would mean more.
Is there someone in your family who could help you organize a reunion? A retired teacher, someone recently alone and looking for a project?
Let your imagination go.
Line up the trip. Book the concert series. Call the music teacher.  If your partner has a passion you have yet to share, jump in. I never thought I could be a decent first mate but I can "come about" now with the best of them!
So here's to stretching, making the first move towards transferring  the dream into the reality column.
Happy new year. Make it HAPPEN, friends. 
Gear up your bus into a new world of adventure  and remember to explore, learn and live with
Thousands bid adieu to the beloved Orca shows at SeaWorld.
A new show is being prepared and will feature the magnificent animals
in a more natural environment, without the tricks but with lots of information

NEXT UP:  It's the end of an era at SeaWorld where  SeaWorld's internationally famed killer whale shows are getting a re-do. The whales will remain at SeaWorld, in a new show which will do away with the tricks beloved by millions, and introduce a new spectacular venue in which the magnificent creatures can be observed in a more natural environment. Check out where we deliver a fresh look at travel and the arts around the world.


  1. Inspiring--and so much fun.
    Thank you for encouraging me to dust off my tap shoes and book a cruise through the Greek Isles. My bucket list is shorter thanks to you, Cookie.

  2. Can't wait for the SeaWorld story and Mr. Keller's artful photos. And this delightful plug for daring made me hear "carpe diem."