Should we go? (on a road trip)

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – September 25, 2020

by Tom Blake Columnist

                                    Part One – Should We Go?

It seems that every time my partner Greta and I plan a trip, situations arise beforehand that make us ask: “Should we go?”

In 2004, we planned a train trip from Madrid to other cities in Spain. A couple of weeks before our scheduled departure, terrorists bombed Madrid’s Atocha Train Station. The bomb was detonated on the tracks from which our train was scheduled to depart.

In a column, I asked Champs: “Should Greta and I go on this trip?” Champs responded with a resounding “Yes! If you cancel, you let the terrorists win.”

Greta and I decided to go. However, we canceled our train reservations and rented a car instead. Navigating hundreds of confusing roundabouts likely made driving more dangerous than taking the train.

This year, we canceled an 82-day roundtrip cruise that was departing in October from Ft. Lauderdale. The ship’s itinerary included crossing the Atlantic Ocean, navigating the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, and circumventing the coast of Africa and back to Florida.

You’re probably thinking: “COVID-19 must have forced you to cancel.”

But that wasn’t the reason. We canceled before the pandemic arrived. We decided against going because a 737-passenger airliner was shot down with a missile over Iran in January 2020.

Our thinking was: Tensions in the Middle East are heating up again. Our itinerary takes us into the Middle East. If a commercial airliner can be shot down, what’s to stop some crazies from shooting a missile into a cruise ship with the words “Holland America” emblazoned on the smokestack? In addition, the itinerary was taking us through places where pirates had attacked ships recently.

As it turns out, Holland America canceled the cruise a few weeks later due to the pandemic.

We still had a yen to travel. In February this year, we made reservations to take the train to Seattle for a week beginning March 9 to visit relatives. In early March, when COVID-19 first surfaced in the USA, Seattle was the initial hot spot in America.

We wondered “Should we go?” We thought that being on a train for 33 hours going to a pandemic hot spot was not a good idea. We canceled.

Last month, the pandemic seemed to be easing somewhat. We had a one-week timeshare to use before the timeshare expired in October. So, we booked a resort in the Napa Valley wine country for September 20 to 27.

Our plan was to drive from Dana Point up the 5 Freeway, stop a night at Harris Ranch, and then on to Napa. On the return trip, we planned to spend a night at the Davenport Roadhouse (a few miles north of Santa Cruz), which is owned by friends of ours. And other friends were going to join us for dinner at the Roadhouse. And yet we wondered: “Should we go?”

Of course, we knew we’d have to be careful with the still-active pandemic. To avoid public restroom stops along the way, we purchased a portable camping toilet that fits on the backseat floor in our CRV. We even tested sitting on it in the car. We were ready to roll.

 Tom and Greta’s personal travel aid

I promised Greta if the portable was necessary to use along the way, I’d even pull over and stop the car. We wanted no backseat tumbles or mishaps while the car was moving!

And then in late August, the heatwaves hit California. We thought, “What happens if our car breaks down? Maybe we should rent a car? If a rental car broke down, the rental company would provide a replacement.” But, with the pandemic, we didn’t want to drive a car that other people had recently driven.

The heat meant we’d likely be inside in air conditioning most of the time.

And then the fires hit California. The two places we were going, Napa and Santa Cruz, were, where the second and third-largest fires, respectively, in California history were burning. The friends we were meeting for dinner in Davenport lost their home to fire. Plus, their son lost his home and my buddy’s sister lost her home. The air quality in both places was dangerous.

On September 7, California closed several national forests due to new fires. Who could forecast what September 20 would bring fire-wise? Would we have to worry about heat, fires, and air quality? Again we asked: “Should we go?”

All these considerations kept nagging at us. We thought: “For now, we should just stay home. Why chance it?”

We decided South Orange County is a good place to quarantine. I do my Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Dana Point Harbor, and Greta will do water aerobics when the pool where she swims re-opens.

So, we opted not to go, at least not now.

Oh, does anyone need a portable camping toilet that’s never been used for a cheap price? I suppose we could have a yard sale.

Tom’s comment: After this eNewsletter was published, one of Tom’s readers, aka Champs, offered to purchase the portable potty. But, Tom’s partner Greta didn’t want to sell it after all, saying sometime in the future they might use it.

            Part 2 – Comments from Champs – Liars, losers and lunatics

Jim – Humor columnist for Desert Exposure Magazine (

“Regarding the term,”breadcrumbed.” It could have applied to my first marriage. I gave her bread; she gave me crumbs.”

Arlene – “How ironic you mentioned POF (the free dating site, Plenty of Fish). I’ve been on it for years, to no avail. Lots of liars, losers, and lunatics. Currently, a man in Beverly Hills (iffy if he’s from there) contacted me. He says he’s a yacht-designer. OK. Yesterday, he left for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and the oil fields (?). He says he’s from Spain and is calling me ‘mi amour,’ etc.

“I have never met this man and am amused by his stories. I guess it’s a diversion more than anything that could make me hope it’s a possible match.

“My feelings are that we are not puppies. Time is of the essence in finding someone. I hate being alone; no kids or family here. I am unable to get a pet due to regulations where I live. Wasting time I abhor. Yet, here I sit alone at 67. Covid has halted my dancing and club activities. ZZZZZ”

                            Tom’s response to Arlene:

Of course, the man you met on POF (the yacht designer) is most likely a scammer. What is a yacht designer doing in the Alaskan oil fields–doesn’t track? And the Beverly Hills aspect sounds bogus also. Don’t believe him. That’s the M.O. of a scammer.

Sometimes these guys send a token gift that makes gullible senior women believe the guy is for real. Some women end up losing a lot of money. Please, please, don’t buy into it.

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at

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