Transition to the train

I’m on the train,quite literally! The whistle is blowing as we glide down the banks of the Connecticut River in Springfield, Massachusetts. The sun is sparkling on the water, quite unlike the YouTube tornado video Emily and I watched last night when I realized she had missed the tornado story while she was in India this spring.

Because of the hurricane (one natural disaster after another), there is currently no train service from Brattleboro,although that will be remedied tomorrow. The bus was a half hour late but since it travels so much faster, we still arrived in Springfield with plenty of time to catch the train south. I’m happy to finally be moving as the leaving is one of the harder parts of a journey for me.

When I was a girl, our family used to drive to Washington, D.C. every April to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin. Last May, I helped to drive the school bus to D.C. with our junior high students. It feels fitting and easy to start this trip with a long weekend in Washington. I will stay with my nephew,Sam, and visit friends there. More on that later…

Yesterday, I finally managed to winnow down the contents of my new suitcase/backpack so that I could close it easily. I cheated a bit by mailing my big hiking boots out to Arizona where it will be easy to carry them in a car. I also have a daypack. If I get this right, I’ll try out adding a picture of my luggage here:

Please be patient with my learning curve with pictures!

With my bags all packed, the waiting to leave began. Emily was substitute teaching in Marlboro this morning in the primary room so she invited me to help with morning meeting and to attend All School Sing. As we sang the going out song, The Road is Calling as leaves are falling, the sense of really leaving hit me strongly. I’ve never been good at goodbyes and this one was a bit of a challenge. Since Em has inherited my teary leave-taking, it was probably just as well that we said good bye in front of a primary class. I left quickly and with tears in my eyes.

Once at the train station, I sat in the sun with a couple of NY Yankees fans chatting about baseball and Italian food. I have my own seat here on this train but know they were only the first of many people I will meet on this journey.

Wow. We’re already in Hartford, CT. My time flies when you’re having fun! Now to see if I can post this. Another traveling challenge …

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Flights, visas and a typhoid shot

As I close in on starting the first leg of my domestic journey, there are a number of things that I needed to have finished for the international part of my trip in January. In each of three cases, they proved to be more challenging than I had expected.

First up was getting my around the world ticket arranged. I knew which countries I was going to and in what order after more than 2 hours with a travel agent this spring. When it came time to book the ticket this fall, it turns out that the airlines didn’t want to deal with such a complicated ticket and politely ignored it. Instead, we ended up booking a series of single tickets. Surprisingly, that ended up saving me about $1,000 and resulted in some better connections. The down side is I won’t get a huge amount of frequent flier miles in one alliance and I’ll have to reconfirm tickets as I go. (You can click on my itinerary on my home page to see where I’m going).

Next up was getting visas. The travel agent steered me to a website that will process visas for a fee. The fee was very pricey but I decided that it would save me a lot of trouble and time since I’ll be on the road soon. I started filling out forms, got my passport photos taken and then realized there was more to this than I had thought. I needed to have evidence of my accommodations in Turkey, a bank statement to prove I could pay, and various questions I didn’t have answers for yet. Grrr. In a delightful coincidence, I ran into a well-traveled neighbor in town while taking a break from forms. I asked her if she knew of a hotel in Istanbul as I needed one for my visa. “You can get your visa at the airport”,she said. “What about for Nepal? Indonesia?” The story was the same for each country. “Check out the Lonely Planet and the embassy sites to confirm that”, she told me, and indeed, she was correct. I can get my visas at each of the airports. Great. Check that off the to-do list!

The last piece of the travel puzzle was my shots. I’ll get rabies shots in December (and the pharmacist jokingly said she’d get me a collar to go with them) but I needed to get my typhoid shot before I leave. I had one of these many years ago before I went to Mexico and I remembered my arm feeling like it weighed 50 pounds. Today I bravely went to the pharmacy to pick up the vaccine and bring it to the doctor’s office. Surprise. They don’t make the shots any more. Instead, I have 4 pills to take every other day until they are finished. Guess who will be bringing an ice pack onto the train on Friday with one more typhoid pill to take?

Now, to finish packing and just a few more errands…

Technical glitches

Just a quick note to explain that last night a friend and I were trying to work out how to post on my new IPad.  In the process, some fake posts ended up on Facebook and as e mails to subscribers (I assume).  We erased what we could and ended up permanently erasing a blog post as well.  The learning curve is still there so apologies in advance.  I’m writing this from my laptop (I know how to do that!) and will have the rest figured out before I leave on Friday on the train.  At least hope springs eternal!

A New Blog

I’m thinking of this year as my lemonade year.  After having had a few lemons thrown my way over the last three years (broken marriage, my mother’s death, computer stolen, best friend moving away, bike crash etc.), it’s time to make the lemonade.  With grown children thriving and some money from selling my parent’s home, I decided to take some time for me.  This year is about making connections with friends and family across the country, traveling to places far and wide, pushing myself through my fears, giving back and taking stock of my life in this middle age.  I have left my classroom in Marlboro in great hands, a young teacher who has lots of energy and skills.  For this year, I will be looking past the familiar Vermont landscape and the wonderful web of people here and see the world, or at least more of it than I ever have before.  I hope to gain a new perspective on my life and the world, meet new people, experience new things.  I’ve always had a travel bug and I’m giving into that urge to see what’s around the next corner.

The general plan is to do a domestic trip within the U.S. during the fall, come home for the holidays, and head out on an around the world trip in January.  I’ll be traveling alone for the most part but meeting up with friends here and there along the way.  I’m leaving on 9/30 on a train to Washington, D.C., the first stop on my trip to the west coast.

I will post my itinerary, what I know of it, on a separate page.  Unlike my bike trip blogs, I won’t be writing every day but as time and internet access permit.  If you would like, you can “subscribe” to this blog.  You’ll get an e mail when I post so you don’t have to keep checking to see if I have added anything new.  If you’d like to make a comment, you’ll be asked to put in your e mail address but that’s not published and it’s only the first time you comment.  I’ll add pictures as I can but know that on the international trip and with an ipad instead of a computer, I will probably add just a few pictures as I go.

Enjoy!