Thursday, June 24, 2010
Vacations are a very personal thing. There are those who are looking for total relaxation, some want entertainment ala Vegas style, some seek lifestyle differences from what they have like a northeastern going to the southwest. For me, I like to do all of the above. With so little time and so much I want to do, taking a vacation involves planning to get the most of the trip within a limited amount of time. Starting in February, I started planning the trip of the year. This year, we considered the south of France, the beaches of Greece and the southwest states of America. While I am never one who considers the logical aspects of travel; economics of the time, the threat of attack, the latest in geological disasters, or the value of the dollar, I go where my heart tells me to go. My husband, however lives by facts and figures and decided it was the wrong time to go to Europe. We decided on the southwest end of America. I have to say, I am pretty good at planning a vacation. That is because I know what we like and how to pack in the most of a vacation without jumping from one hotel to another every night and finding what suits us. I also do not travel with kids (mine or anyone elses) or with other couples unless it is to a single place like the Jersey shore where all we do is sun bath, eat and drink which is not a bad time but different from traveling where you are always on the go. The "on the go" vacation should be made with limited personnel (a tip for those approaching the life without kids era of travel) who enjoy time with each other. I started with one itinerary but in the final 3 weeks, completely changed it. My philosophy, as it has developed, is that money isn't as important as being in the first class Presidential car of the Durango train where Roosevelt, Truman, and Ford sat. I thank my friends Gary and Kristen for not only helping me find the right course but costing me an additional $700 for the flight change and train ride - but it was worth it . Kristen said I should consider going to Santa Fe, a place she hadn't been but said was worth going. Why I trusted this logic doesn't make sense on paper but it worked in reality. Gary, my photography buddy, said I had to go to Durango where riding the train to Silverton through the Colorado Rockies was an amazing adventure. The bullet holes in the taverns of Silverton left standing from the good old days where the town's only activities consisted of mining and brothels was the coolest thing on earth. It has been proven that the best planned trips were when I trusted those with knowledge or some experience. I admit, both my friends were right. We flew into Albuquerque, drove to Santa Fe where we stayed for 3 days then on to Durango for another 3 days then to Sedona for 3 days. It ended in Scottsdale where we visited my cousin and her husband who live in the "house of toys" (will explain later). What I loved about the trip: everything. Most think of the southwest as a flat, dry desert which most of the area is - and then you hit Monument Valley. Shown in all those John Ford/John Wayne movies, this amazingly, sculptured landscape was a freak of nature that is the southwest's answer to the NY skyline. I loved it. Then there was Los Alamos where they built the first atomic bomb. In an area so serene, calm and desolate, a group of scientists developed the most deadly weapon of all time making the area more glamorous than it was. But the Aha Moment, by all means, was on the road from Santa Fe to Durango where a section of land was the inspiration of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings. It was the most underrated place I have ever seen with its beautiful landscape and garden of fossil remains. Why isn't this place listed as one of the top 10 places to see in New Mexico (duhhhh). So the Durango train. What is it about trains that attract everyone. Starting with kids under the age of 10, it becomes an obsession. They love it, they sometimes leave it for a few years but if you start out with trains, you end up with trains. Husband Tony started with trains when his father collected Lionels in the 50s. Father said it was for his son but Tony never was allowed near them until his father died and he fought to get them back. When he did, like those who built rooms in their home to accommodate their needs with wine cellars or bomb shelters, we built a 20x15' room in the basement of our first house which became the "train room". It was an attraction in our neighborhood that boy scout and girl scout troops planned outings to. I have to say, it was very cool. And so was the Durango train. It was on that train we met people, like us, traveling the country. Some retired, some who bought RVs and decided to travel around the country to where ever they wanted, whenever they wanted. It made us feel like we have so much to do, in so little time. It was great talking to those our age about our life, past and present and the Stetson hats and cowboy boots we would be buying after the ride. Oh, and I can't forget the "House of Toys". Always the collector, my cousin Lucy and her husband relocated from NJ to Scottsdale adding on to their collection of toys and other great stuff. I think the next sequel to Toy Story has to made with them in mind. It is great being with them. I was curious about how she made the transition from NJ to Scottsdale. My big fear leaving my comfort zone is where I will be lonely. Always a excellent quilter and crafter, Lucy told me she made friends by joining clubs and her husband, being a sports car fanatic, found friends through his interests too. The formula to enjoying life in the later years - have interests and be interesting. They make retirement and aging look good. People ask what was my favorite place. I can't be that specific. The reason I plan these vacations is to get a little city (Santa Fe), a little country (Sedona), and a little adventure (Durango). I got what I wanted, except for the cowboy boots which I am still hoping to get. They did look great on those women dancing to that country western band in Durango. But then, the dancers to the Cuban band in Santa Fe looked cool too even without the boots. Maybe I really could live away from NYC. For now, I just want to keep traveling.