Travel during pandemic. Readers comment

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – October 2, 2020

By Columnist Tom Blake

Four Champs respond to last week’s topic: Should we go on our planned trip during the pandemic?

Judith, “My partner and I went on the trip you talked about – only we stayed in Paso Robles two nights, had our wine tasting reservations, stayed in Occidental Inn, two nights, and on the way home had one night at the Harris Ranch.

“We went the last week of June and it was great. My granddaughter was getting married at a B & B in Santa Rosa. The ceremony was Zoomed with 50 computers all over the country. 

“We purposely avoided big cities and it was all very respectful.  I am unable to wear a mask and glad it was then. We were careful but all the businesses were cautious and clean. Indoor dining except for the Napa area. The Bed and Breakfast cooked but it was served in a lunch box! 

“My Family gave lots of hugs and we socially distanced only the father of the groom, just recovering from pancreatic cancer. No one got sick.

“We did one more short trip to La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for two days in August. It was clean and La Jolla enjoyable with few people. My partner celebrated his 83rd birthday during our stay.

“We only live once and we have no fear, it has been a horrible six months for our travel plans, but we have had time to reflect on the importance of our diet, health, and priorities.” 

Bonnie. “You and Greta have had a string of tough luck with travel plans. Your stories are aligned with mine. Almost exactly (Terrorism in Europe in 2015 and fires in CA in 2018).

“The good news is when you enjoy your own company, and in your case, the company of your beloved, you can have a vacation at home in OC and have a wonderful time. I think that is the secret.

“We had tickets and reservations for Paris, Annecy, France, Switzerland, and London this September – right now! – for three weeks. Keyword: had. All were canceled, beginning with my favorite, Air New Zealand, canceling the flight to Europe.

“Solo travel has to wait, for now. I have learned how enriching solo travel can be – without tours. I enjoy a year of planning and research and then the trip, itself. Magnificent experiences. Both planning and traveling.

“I have learned to pack a carry-on only, with a total of 14 pounds, including suitcase weight, which allows me on any/every flight with weight limits. And so light for me to navigate to haul around. Happy traveler. Planning now for 2022 Europe!” 

Gail, “Sorry about all your canceled trips. This is a hell of a year (When traveling roll with the flow).

“I would love to buy your camping toilet – I would even be willing to meet you to pick it up. I have a trip to LA in November and could meet you in Laguna or somewhere convenient. I would gladly pay for it now if you wouldn’t mind hanging onto it for a bit.”

Tom’s response to Gail: “This pandemic has made us all adjust our lives, including Greta and I purchasing the portable potty. I never imagined that I’d publish in an eNewsletter a short discussion about buying and selling a portable toilet but I guess I asked for it by posting (jokingly) if anyone wanted to purchase it.

“Thanks for the offer to buy the potty. However, Greta has subsequently told me rather strongly that she doesn’t want to sell it. So, to keep her happy, I’d better keep the darn can.

“I bought it on Amazon Prime. The brand is a Stansport. It didn’t cost much. They would deliver to your city.”

Fred: “Similar situation as you and Greta. I planned a road trip early September, only to cancel. Hotels along my route were canceling and many places of interest were closed. That coupled with bathroom facilities, dining etc., made me rethink. Do I want to travel to Yellowstone Park via Nevada, Utah, Idaho and return via Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico & Az. under unknown circumstances?

The answer: No. 

“Then made cruise reservations for 28 days in Europe for May 2021 only to be notified by Royal Caribbean a month later that cruise has been canceled.

“As William Bendix used to say, ‘What a revolting development this is!’  So, like you, I’m staying home until this germ is controlled.”

Champ birthday note: Today is Champ Dee’s birthday. It’s a significant one, which I won’t reveal. She lives in nearby Laguna Niguel, in Southern Orange County, Ca. Dee has been a Champ for years and has a heart of gold. Some Champs have met her at the Meet and Greets. So here’s to you Dee. (Rumor has it that there might be a new puppy in the house-arf, arf).


When the unanticipated happens when traveling roll with the flow

When the unanticipated happens when traveling roll with the flow

by Columnist Tom Blake

On September 8, 2019, Greta and had just completed a 30-day trip in Europe. We were boarded our flight to Los Angeles Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, and boarded a plane to come home. After flying for an hour, a “traveling roll with the flow” event happened.

Greta and I had sweaty palms for awhile. OK, I admit, that statement is a bit dramatic, but there’s truth in it, which I will explain.

In 20 years of traveling together, we understand there will be travel-related situations that arise that aren’t pleasant, or, weren’t planned or anticipated.

They accompany the travel game. They won’t appear on your itinerary. They come unexpectedly.

And the way you deal with those situations? “Roll with the flow.”

This happened last Saturday. Greta and I were scheduled to fly home to Dana Point, California, at the end of our 30-day holiday to Ireland, Greenland and Iceland.

We disembarked our cruise ship in Amsterdam at 8:45 a.m. We waited at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to catch a 4:30 p.m. flight to Paris’ Charles de Gualle Airport, where we were connecting to a nonstop Air France flight to LAX.

The connection time was tight. We barely made our 6:50 p.m. departure and were happy to be buckled into our seats on Air France. We were going home, and it felt good.

An hour out of Paris, above Northern England, the pilot announced over the PA, “We have a mechanical issue. The anti-collision radar has stopped working. We can’t see other airplanes. We cannot fly over the Atlantic Ocean without it. We are turning back to Paris. It should be a quick-fix.”

I looked at Greta, saying, “There is nothing we can do except Roll with the flow.”

I didn’t mention to her that I was concerned about flying into such a busy airport (10th busiest in the world, 481,000 aircraft movements in 2018) through clouds, the ground not in site, with no anti-collision radar. I simply crossed my fingers while listening to The Beach Boys sing, on the plane’s in-flight entertainment system. I could sense in looking at other passengers that some were concerned.

I watched the screen in front of me as it showed the U-turn and the airplane progressing back:

  Eyes glued to the screen at my seat

On final approach, still listening to the Beach Boys, their song, “Don’t Worry Baby,” started playing, which I thought was almost humorous.

The plane landed. Some passengers applauded. We were safe. Nothing else mattered. A few hours inconvenienced but so what? Roll with the flow.

Passengers were told to take all carry-on items off the plane. And to go to the ticket counter. But we were not told which counter or how to get there (Air France has about 100 counter windows there).  Some 300+ passengers were wandering around trying to find the place where we were to congregate. It was 10 p.m.

We were not told anything except to get in line at the counter. An hour later, Greta and I got to the counter. We were told, “The flight is cancelled. It will go tomorrow, hopefully.”

We were given a box lunch and a voucher for an airport hotel that took us over an hour to get to—there was no transportation available at that late hour other than an inside-the-airport-connecting train that we couldn’t find. The Air France lady had tried to explain to us in French how to get there.

We were walking through dark parking lots and potentially dangerous areas. I thought, yikes, this is possibly more dangerous than the flight that turned back.

A few minutes before midnight, we arrived at the hotel. I got in line at the hotel reception desk and told Greta to go to the bar and order us glasses of wine, before the bar closed. It had been 15+ hours since we had departed our ship to go home.

The wine was decent; the box lunch filled with carbohydrate and sugar snacks. Not edible.

                                   Blue Lunch Box

     Carbs and Sugar

But, we had a roof over our heads and we were safe: Roll with the flow

The next morning, an email arrived early from Air France: “Check in is at 9 a.m. Flight departs 11:30 a.m. We cannot locate your checked luggage. It didn’t make the connection from Amsterdam. Rest assured, we are searching for it.” Roll with the flow.

We had to retrace our steps to the airport check-in for our boarding passes and go through tight security again. When we finally got to the gate, Air France had changed it to the opposite end of terminal three. Oh well, what’s another 300 yards? Roll with the flow.

We departed at 11:50 a.m. and arrived safely at LAX, about 20 hours after originally scheduled. Amazingly enough, the “lost” checked luggage was on the flight with us after all.

I won’t even get into the traffic mess at LAX these days. It was horrendous. Trying to find your Lyft or Uber driver is zoo-mania.

In travel one needs to Roll with the flow.