Saturday, June 27, 2020

Is it Today or Tomorrow?

I read a funny that said “Tomorrow is another day used to sound hopeful. Now it sounds like a threat.” Ain’t it the truth? I’m not going to even utter “What’s next?” because I don’t want to know.  I’m having trouble knowing what day it is! I have just about given up on keeping my faithful readers in the know of what is happening in the travel world. Things are constantly changing, day by day, state by state, and it’s like trying to zoom in on a moving target. The biggest issue is that it isn’t progressive, meaning we are working on something that, with time, will be completed. This pandemic crisis is more of a “some steps forward, steps back, reverse, stall”… We just wake up each day and try to figure out where we are in the process. 

There aren’t any big bargains to be had because of the impact to travel.  Personally, I’m seeing higher than usual prices. I’ve paid an extra dollar for a burger a few times based on “beef shortage” but we know there are plenty of cattle, it’s the processing that is backed up and creating the shortage that drives up price increase. 

I truly believe people are tired of waiting. A beautiful summer is rolling out and I’m hearing about families doing more things closer to home. I’ve always enjoyed telling you about attractions in our back yard that we so often neglect. This is the summer to see some close to home things. Double-check those hours of operation are the same (I’m discovering not everyone has updated their website, so a phone call is a good idea). It’s not a bad thing to help our local economy either. 

This is the summer to attend local festivals and support those organizations that work to entertain us year after year. Find out when the July Fourth activities are in your hometown and take your chair! Call a neighbor that has been in lock down and just go! Practice the social distancing that makes you comfortable. Tuck in some cash to buy some refreshments from the vendors. Drop some dough in the donation bucket, if there is one. We have certainly learned the world can come to a screeching halt, so once more your Fearless Leader says “Go while you can!”

Husband Doug has started a little Sunday ritual of making phone calls to friends that time and distance have gotten away from us. His calls are a win-win and always appreciated. I enjoy overhearing the memories that bubble up. These calls are so much better than a signature on a Christmas card. Maybe you could call some travel friends and replay some stories of when we were Good to Go.

We will continue to pray for our world. We’ve certainly learned a lesson in not taking things for granted. We are blessed to live where there are places to get outdoors, to explore or just to walk.

Tomorrow will be another day. Let’s make the most of this day.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sayin’ it Clear as a Bell

I have a friend whose momma lets loose the expression “World! World!” when she is at loss for words. At least, I think that’s what she is saying... I’m not really sure, but I get the meaning.

I’m wanting to write that things are almost normal and everyone is Good to Go. We are certainly headed that direction. In fact, I will be guiding a tour that is headed to the Five Great Lakes in July and I’m counting the days. With all the twists and turns that 2020 has given us, I’d like to say we are taking the trip “come hell or high water...” another favorite family expression, but since we are headed to lakes, I won’t tempt fate.

If you are ready to join a group of fun loving people and get out of town, if you are ready to pencil something on your calendar to look forward to, I hope you will join us on this tour or one of the many others that are “ready to roll” in the second half of this year. Our partnership with Making Memories Tours is “chompin’ at the bit” to get groups on the road again and travel. Check out our website and call the number listed for a catalog of the available tours planned.

It seems like it’s been “forever and a day” since I’ve packed up Big Red and met a motor coach. “Heavens to Betsy,” it’s been so long since we have looked forward to somewhere to go. My friends in the group travel business are in the same boat, we all have cancelled more trips than “Carter has liver pills” because of the world pandemic, and it’s been a “bitter pill to swallow.” We are travelers. We are like “fish out of water” without tours in the works and we are “wound up tighter than a three-day clock.”

Our Travel Tuesday adventures where we have our followers vote on where to send us for the day, has just “whet my  appetite” for road trips. This  week we headed south to Muskogee to learn what “Okie from Muskogee” really means especially to that community thanks to Merle Haggard.  We were” over the moon with stars in our eyes” as we visited the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame where Oklahoma artists from the music industry are showcased in a modest museum/venue. The thing that made us “pop our buttons” was the number of artists that call Oklahoma home.

We also took in the Roxy Theater in Muskogee that houses the Oklahoma Movie Hall of Fame. Films, artists, and writers, those behind the camera and in front of it are recognized here with framed placards. It’s a simple display that reminds us that there is Lights! Camera! Action! in the middle of the USA.

We decided to just “go for broke” and take in Okmulgee while we were in that “neck of the woods”. This is the tribal headquarters for the Creek Nation, and “believe you, me” that tribe has gave that area a big “shot in the arm”.

Let me be “clear as a bell” when I say there are still ways to enjoy some road trips and look forward to the day we are Good to Go as a group again.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Exploring the Territory

My travel buddy, Connie Molder, and I have been taking off on road trips the past several Tuesdays. We’ve made a bull’s eye out of a four-state area map and numbered areas that we could get to within a three-hour drive. We draw out three numbers, ask our Face Book followers to vote and on “Travel Tuesday”, the voters tell us where to go. It’s been a hoot. There are a couple of reasons for this escapade; 1) We want to stay in touch with our travel family and 2) We are bored and ready to travel.

Last week the winning vote sent us to Sallisaw, Spiro, and Poteau. We hit Visitors Centers, we Google and we ask locals that we encounter along the way. We try to see and do as much as we can within our day and video our finds to be viewed on Face Book. Discover Oklahoma, we are not. We can hardly manage the camera on the iPhone.

This week, our voters sent us to Paris! Arkansas that is. We stopped in Ozark at the Visitors Center and peppered the greeter with “what to do?” questions. As it turned out, it was her first day on the job, so she called in her supervisor and we had a brain-storming session of things to see. We made our way to a tiny museum housed in the old depot on the banks of the Arkansas River. We took a look around at their collections but a three-ring notebook caught my eye. The cover read “The Stories of the People of Ozark.” Inside were brief profiles of resident farmers, quilters, and story-tellers. Susie, the museum volunteer, said Sonny, the one with stories, might be found sitting in a recliner in his yard. I quickly asked for directions.

After traveling Timber Road and taking a right into Beulah Land, we hit gravel just as Susie described. Turns out Sonny is a busy guy and he wasn’t in his story telling chair and his truck was gone. I was so disappointed. Wouldn’t that have been a hoot? There’s characters in every town that people should have the joy of listening to them regale tales. Who comes to your mind to send an out-of-towner to visit?

These one day adventures have given us the chance to travel.

We have turned off the interstate and taken the Scenic Route. We have admired  lush green pastures and manicured lawns. We have “Ahhhh’ed” over flowers, wild and tamed. We’ve bragged on bridges. We’ve pointed out places that are picnic perfect. We’ve bought fuel at tiny gas stations. We’ve gone in junk stores and purchased treasures. We’ve laughed with locals and seen the places that “somebody oughta do something with that place.”

We’ve made several discoveries along our way. Even though our states are arranged where we might travel through three on one trip, each state is reopening at a different pace. Things in Oklahoma seem fairly back to normal in appearances with social distancing being the requirement. Arkansas is currently still asking customers to wear a mask upon entry into restaurants and attractions. Missouri seems to have a combination of things happening. It’s difficult to tell what is state required and what is business required. I would suggest being prepared with a mask or bandana in case the place you are headed has posted: Face Mask Required.

It certainly seems the family owned businesses are ready and welcoming for us to come eat, shop and spend some money. The bigger the business, the farther away the owner and the slower the reopening of the establishment is my opinion. Sadly, this means government operated places, like visitors centers and resorts may not have the open sign out. Best to call ahead. We were surprised to see campgrounds with “Full” signs. We weren’t sure if that was due to restrictions on the number of sites rented or if folks are ready to be somewhere else, even if it’s sleeping in a tent.

Until we can load the motorcoach and be Good to Go, I will explore the territory and report back. It’s the best I can do. Follow our Girls Travel Tuesdays on our Good to Go Facebook Page at:

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Getting Ready to Fly Again

If you are lucky enough to have travel in your plans in the near future, and that travel involves a flight, you probably need to know some of the changes that are taking place so you will be Good to Go. Of course as we navigate what was second nature, we will have to prepare for things to be different and constantly altering as we go along. I did a bit of research on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website to see what info I could pass along about flying. Here’s a brief list of some of the adjustments to be expected at some airports at some airlines.

Keep possession of your boarding passes. Instead of handing their boarding pass to a TSA officer at the travel document podium, travelers should now place their boarding pass (paper or electronic) on the boarding pass reader themselves. After scanning, travelers should hold their boarding pass toward the TSA officer to allow the officer to visually inspect it. This change reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a passenger’s boarding pass thus reducing potential for cross-contamination.

Separate food for X-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process; separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food and reduces potential for cross-contamination. TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags.

Pack smart. Passengers should take extra care to ensure that they do not have any prohibited items, such as liquids, gels or aerosols in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces, in their carry-on bags (water bottles, shampoo). In response to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from the carry-on bag before being submitted for X-ray screening. If a bag is found to contain a prohibited item, passengers may be directed to return to the divestiture table outside of security with their carry-on bags to remove the item and dispose of the item. The passenger may also be directed back outside of security to remove, items that should have originally been divested (such as laptops, liquids, gels, and aerosols, and large electronics) and resubmit their property for X-ray screening. By resolving alarms in this manner, TSA officers will need to touch the contents inside a carry-on bag much less frequently, reducing the potential for cross-contamination.

Practice social distancing.  Passengers should allow for social distancing to reduce direct contact between employees and travelers whenever possible without compromising security. Noticeable adjustments leading up to the security checkpoint include, increasing the distance between individuals as they enter the security checkpoint, placing visual reminders of appropriate spacing on checkpoint floors and staggering the use of lanes where feasible. No two airports are alike, so this could look a little different at each airport.

Wear facial protection. TSA officers at checkpoints are now using facial protection. Travelers are encouraged to wear face protection to the checkpoint as well. Please note, however, passengers may need to adjust it during the screening process. Travelers are also encouraged to remove items such as belts, and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.

Travelers who have not flown since the pandemic are also likely to notice some other changes. They include:

  • Reduced security lane usage due to the reduction in passenger volume.
  • All TSA officers at checkpoints wearing masks and gloves.
  • TSA officers optionally wearing eye protection and clear plastic face shields at some locations.
  • TSA officers will continue the practice of changing gloves after each pat-down.
  • Plastic shielding installed at many travel document checking podiums, divest, bag search and drop off locations.
  • TSA officers practicing social distancing.
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces in the screening checkpoint area.

This information was found on the www. website. But I would expect to see more as travel by air comes back and the problems are discovered and worked out. Some airlines are currently checking temperatures and will deny boarding if a flyer shows symptoms of illness. Until we learn what is expected of us, patience may be the most important item a traveler can take to the airport.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Memories and Faith in Traveling

What does a travel girl write about when she hasn’t been anywhere? When “Good to Go” has been “No Go” what’s there to tell? Memories. We rely on little trips down memory lane that bring us joy and satisfaction of a travel experience.  I’m not a big shopper, but I do buy small things that will conjure a memory for us in our daily lives. Yesterday at lunch, I had our chunk of salt and the tiny grater on a plate. We were offered a similar hunk of salt in Peru this last February. We all thought it was so fun to grate onto our food, so I bought some to bring home for our table. Yesterday’s salt reminded us of that wonderful trip, that meal, that experience.

The bacon crumbles were in a tiny colorful platter, hand-painted in Ecuador. We held the little wooden dish and remembered the market when the artisans used a riot of color on everything. Something like Pennsylvania Dutch tole art on steroids. Our little bowl brought back that trip to the handicraft market.

When traveling with Good to Go, I buy postcards that I never send during a trip.  In some of my Hunker Bunker cleaning/organizing, I happened onto stacks of these picture postcards of places I’ve been. I have mailed (sometimes randomly) about 100. A fun little memory for me and hopefully a smile from the recipient. Who doesn’t love to get a postcard in the mail?

Open up the closet of any real traveler and you are bound to find items of clothing purchased around the world. Son Caleb used to love to wear things to school that prompted the question from his buds, “Cool shirt, wher’djagitit?” And he got a kick out of answering with the exotic locale his mom had purchased it such as, “France,” or “Australia”. We’ve all got a T-shirt or 20 bought with the destination screened on the front to announce to the world we’ve been there. I’ve got a huge T-shirt with simply the word “faith” across the front. But trust me; there is a memory of how I acquired that shirt.  This past January the Good to Go Gang took a Caribbean cruise out of New Orleans. About the second day, I passed a rather big guy wearing this T-Shirt with “faith” across the chest. He smiled and spoke to me and my Perky Patti self, returned the smile with “like your shirt!” He surprised me with, “I’ll give it to ya next time I see ya!” I laughed appropriately and stepped into the elevator.

The next time I saw the big guy he had on the same shirt, this time in black. I grinned and said “like your shirt!” He remembered me, laughed and said, “Oh, yeah!”  The next time I saw him, I was sitting on the Lido deck having lunch with several of our gang. Here came my friend wearing a white “faith” shirt. He spotted me first and smiled and “This will probably embarrass me more than it will you!” and he pulled that cotton-pickin’ T-shirt over his head and tossed it to me. The shirt off his back. Well, I was more than a little surprised and I knew the back story, but you should have seen the faces of my travel friends. Jaws dropped and eye brows shot up and I’m sure their minds were a tornado of ideas on what the heck just happened.

I brought it home, washed it up and kinda laugh every time I yank it on. Faith in traveling… that’s Good to Go.

Is it Today or Tomorrow?

I read a funny that said “Tomorrow is another day used to sound hopeful. Now it sounds like a threat.” Ain’t it the truth? I’m not going to ...