"" Writer's Wanderings

Monday, September 22, 2014

The National Park Road Trip

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting about what my husband has dubbed our National Park Road Trip. We always promised our kids we would go to the Grand Canyon. They just didn't realize it would be without them.

Our trip begins with visiting friends in Boise, Idaho. We'll be there on a special day, our forty-six anniversary. Our friends, who pastor Valley Shepherd Church in Meridian, were with us for our silver anniversary. I won't make him sing for this anniversary though.

From Boise, we travel to Salt Lake City and will take a look at the Mormon Tabernacle before heading to our first National Park, The Arches near Moab, Utah. Then it's on to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon ending in Albuquerque, NM for the International Balloon Fiesta. 

Lots of miles. Tons of scenery. A fun fiesta! It's been a while since we've been on the road. Let the travel begin!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy 46th Anniversary!

Forty-six years ago today was an unusually hot day for September in the Cleveland area. The bride had chosen to wear a big hoop skirt of white lace that billowed out from a bodice with seeded pearls and long sleeves that came to the ever popular bridal points over the backs of her hands. The groom was smartly dressed in a black tuxedo that must have gotten uncomfortable as the day wore on and especially when he had to make that climb into the bedroom window when the couple discovered that they didn't have a key to the house that held their suitcases for the honeymoon.

Ah, the memories. We've traveled lots of miles together.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Soup From A Toilet Bowl?

Passersby would stop and do a double take and try to figure out just what was going on inside the Marton Restaurant. It had a very unique theme: the bathroom. According to their website, the restaurant that is now called Modern Toilet Restaurant and is a chain in Taiwan, was inspired by the manga, Dr. Slump. What is a manga, you ask? Read on.

A manga is basically a comic book series originating in Japan. There are all sorts of mangas as there are all sorts of comic book series in the U.S. The particular one that inspired the Modern Toilet Restaurant is set in Penguin Village and the inventor in the village creates a robot-girl who is desperately in need of eyeglasses thus she gets into all sorts of trouble. There are 18 volumes of the manga and the anime series developed from it has 243 episodes. The stories contain lots of puns and toilet humor and parodies of Japanese and American culture.

Back to the toilet humor. After reading Dr. Slump, the "muckrackers" as they call themselves started the toilet restaurant idea. It began mainly serving ice cream--chocolate in small squat toilet replica dishes. It has branched out since then. The fixtures in the restaurant are clear table tops set on bathtubs and of course toilets for seating. The website assures everyone that the toilets, urinals, etc., food is served in are just replicas of the real thing and have never actually been plumbed.

Well, how is the food, I wondered. So I headed over to TripAdvisor to get a first hand accounting. They have a a three green dot rating (average) and are #634 out of 9150 restaurants in Taipei. Here are a few comments:

It suits the Aussie humor: Took my mum and best mate, had a good laugh the whole time!
Then went back with the wife and her Nanna.... When the hot pot arrived and it was a toilet.... The look on her face, an 80-something year old Taiwanese lady.... Priceless.

A South Korean visitor said: You sit on toilets overtop of a clear counter topped bathtub or sink. Food is brought in various bathroom-themed dishes such as toilets, urinals, and squatters. The entire thing is good fun and worth going to at least once just for the fun of it.

Most reviewers agreed you don't go for the food. And a New York visitor said "Modern Toilet is a go there once, never come again type of restaurant." Then ended with this, "Note: Ironic that Modern Toilet does not have a sit-on toilet." I guess unless you squat well, you'd better go before you go.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Wonder of a Sunset

If you've followed this blog for long, you'll see that I love sunsets. I'm a sucker for them and can't resist taking several pictures when it's truly spectacular. TripAdvisor has come up with a list of places where you can see some spectacular sunsets starting with Mallory Square in Key West, FL.

Key West knows how to celebrate a sunset and it's done every night. The square fills with people, most just observers and some entertainers. There are jugglers, singers, magicians, musicians, and dancers to name a few. The entertainment stops though as soon as the sun begins its dip into the ocean. The sunset receives a round of applause and the fun continues.

A few of the places mentioned by TripAdvisor are unusual like going to the top of a building in New York City to watch the sun set. I'm more a fan of watching it away from a city but I expect you could get some terrific silhouettes of the buildings with just the right conditions.

Actually, I can enjoy a sunset most anywhere, even sitting on my front door step and watching it light up the sky behind the trees down the street. A few well placed clouds, a great angle of the sun's rays, just the right atmospheric conditions and the sky becomes a canvas of glorious color. God has quite a palette.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Logging Sea Days

If you opt for a repositioning cruise, one that crosses an ocean to begin its seasonal itineraries in a different part of the world, for example Europe to the Caribbean, you will log several days at sea. The six or seven days at sea are usually filled with lots of activities depending upon the ship and/or the cruise line. The advantage of a repositioning cruise is also a lowered cruise price and often an opportunity to try out a more expensive cruise line at a more comfortable price point or upgrade to a nicer stateroom on your favorite cruise ship.

At sea there are more opportunities to enjoy guest speakers or learn a new dance step, a new language or your way around a computer program. Some programs include art lessons or crafts. Certain ships, like the Queen Mary 2 with its planetarium, have spectacular features. Celebrity's Solstice Class ships have glassblowing demonstrations. Water parks, zip lines, Flo Riders, and golf simulators are popular ways to pass the time as well.

The Cruise Critic Newsletter has listed eight ships that are especially fun for sea days. We've been on several. As a matter of fact, our week aboard the Oasis of the Seas a few years ago has us longing to try it again. The ship is so much fun, who needs ports?

Each new ship that sets sail seems to have at least one outstanding feature that makes it unique and beckons exploration. While ports are fun to explore, don't discount those days at sea. Even if you do nothing more than curl up in a lounge chair and relax with a good book. I have several I can suggest--but you knew that.


Monday, September 15, 2014

My Packing Personality

Usually I don't take quizzes online but when I perused an old newsletter from Independent Traveler, I found a quiz that offered to tell me what my packing personality is. Since I am a few days away from having to pack for a short two week trip (that's short for us), I thought it might be fun so I followed the link and took the quiz.

It turns out I am a Last-Second Lightweight Packer. Here's the result:

You prefer spontaneity over careful planning -- and your packing style is no exception. You're a bit of a fatalist. You feel that if you're going to forget to pack something, then you're going to forget to pack something, and there's not much you can do about it. You like to travel light, thereby avoiding airline baggage fees, pulled arm muscles and exhaustion. You've probably headed out the door with a few things left behind that you wish you had packed, but you never let it ruin your trip.

So, "fatalist" that I am, I will wait for the day before we leave to set out all the clothes and sundries we need to take for this jaunt out West and as usual, lay it all out on the dining room table to check over one last time before putting it all in the suitcase. And if we should forget something? Well this time there'll probably be a Walmart around the corner.

Want to take the Packing Personality Quiz? Just click on the link.

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