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Travelin' by Leah Jean
I was just rereading "Traveling Man" and thinking about a few other things. Yes, James, sounds like you've got a pretty cool job. I love to travel too ... but haven't been doing a whole lot of it in the past several years. That was one of the main reasons I joined the Air Force. I wanted to live overseas, not just be a tourist. I've always had a strong curiousity about life around the world.

And it sounds like you've gotten off to a good start. New York and Florida? Famous golf courses. [Yes, even I've heard of Innesbrook (is that the correct spelling?)] Plus steak places and the Cheesecake Factory? Yum! But you'd better make sure you do a lot of sightseeing (walking) before or after eating at those places! The last time Daryl and I ate at a Cheesecake Factory was about 12 years ago? We weren't too impressed with the dinner but, of course, the cheesecake was to die for! The restaurant is still located down in Baltimore's Inner Harbor district (big touristy shopping nightlife kind of area off the Atlantic Ocean) so we rarely go down there. Too crowded usually.

New York City is definitely the place to visit! But Daryl, being from a small New York town near Albany didn't care much for the "big city". I did manage to drag him down there once a long time ago and then we took a tour bus up there once also. I really learned that letting someone else do the driving and parking is very important in places like that. Also if you ever go up there during the winter around Xmas, try to see the Rockettes of Rockefeller Center (usually require reservations well in advance!). But at least take the backstage tour if you can't see a show. It makes watching the show sooooo much more interesting when you understand some about what is going on. The hydraulics involved in that huge rising floor in the middle of the stage is just amazing!

Do you know that I have never been to the Empire State Building and never saw the Twin Towers either. But I did do the Statue of Liberty. That's a nice claustrophobic little climb. I think they had an elevator up so far and then you had to climb up??? Or am I confusing that with the Washington Monument? [That one definitely requires an elevator!!!) There is a "touist mantra" you have to keep saying to yourself though when planning visits to any of these very popular sites, "Go during slow times". Otherwise you can easily waste half a day just standing in some seriously long lines. And then all of that standing will wear you out so much that you don't want to run around too much more. New York City is a place you could easily spend 5 days in just trying to take in the major sites.

Here's another example of "lessons learned". Once Daryl and I took a sightseeing trip down the Potomac from D.C. to Mt. Vernon (George Washington's old plantation). The house is itself is a normal museum but also the grounds are a "living museum" with working gardens, etc. So it was a lot of walking too. But the really fun part was climbing the bluff up from the boat! It was a steep climb up a whole lot of stairs!!! Again, I was really exhausted after that day.

It was so funny thinking about my old touristing experiences too. A few of us were talking about trips experienced or to be experienced in the future. One guy has a daughter who is taking French and will be spending 6 months learning in Paris. So he said that the whole family was planning on going over there sometime in the future with daughter as a tour guide. He declared that they didn't want to act like tourists though and take tours. But I warned him that I used to be that way ... but have since found that it is better to let someone else handle the plans to a certain extent. Most people don't realize how confusing places like Europe can be and how time consuming it can be to try and do things yourself. I've learned that I need all my energy for just walking to and from museums, palaces, gardens, castles, etc. For instance, do you know the one big difference between a lot of palaces and castles? Castles are strategically designed so a lot of times they are on steep hills ... and sometimes mountains. Big hint: if you go to Germany to visit Neuschwannstein (the castle famous for inspiring Disneyland's castle), don't try to walking up the hill (mountain?) to it. The road is amazingly steep and long! I was dead by the time I got to the front gate. So it was hard to really enjoy walking around the castle itself. Fortunately a lot of castles are a lot smaller than we would normally invisage. But I was extremely exhausted by the end of that day!

So, James, make sure you wear really comfortable shoes. Also get to know what your wife really likes in the way of presents. Because you're gonna have to make up for leaving her behind with the baby so much. ;-) [Hopefully she will get to accompany you on some of the choicer locations though.]



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