Category Archives: Travel

When I Lived in Aleppo

Early in our marriage, my husband and I liquidated or stored most of our meager belongings, hopped a plane, and landed in one of the beigest places we’d ever seen. We set out on our first adventure together — teaching at an international school in Aleppo, Syria (known regionally as Halab).

aleppo citadel before war
The gateway into the Citadel, the city on the hill, snapped during our first month in Aleppo. Click here for more breathtaking views from The Guardian. Today the Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site has been damaged in the war that broke out in 2011.

I want to share with you what that was like. I want to remember what it was like. There is virtually nothing else I can do to help Aleppo today, other than prompt you to think about it, about the very real people who are trying to survive there, who are dying there, who are burying their dead there.

I knew warm and kind people there. I had fun times there. Even the icky things left me with fond memories of there. Continue reading When I Lived in Aleppo

Fly Fishing

The summer of 2016 seems to be the one where I do a bunch of things I never thought I’d do. In June it was whitewater rafting, and in July it was fly fishing (full account over on MileHighMamas.com, with commentary from both of my kids).

silverthorne fly fishing
The rainbow trout I caught (and released). Fly fishing experience courtesy The Colorado Angler.

In August, it is slated to be the mind-blowingest one of all: parenting a high schooler. How is THAT happening??

Anyway, my family was treated to a lovely weekend in Silverthorne, Colorado, just an hour up I-70 from the Denver area. People sometimes think of this town as a place you stop on the way to ski resorts, stopping at the Outlets for some deals, but we ended up loving Silverthorne as its own destination.

My Predictions About Fly Fishing? All Wrong.

I’d predicted I wouldn’t really enjoy fly fishing, but I did. I predicted my daughter would think it boring, but she loved it. I predicted my husband would be the only one to catch a fish, but he wasn’t (though his was the biggest). I predicted my son would love fly fishing, but he merely tolerated it.

fly fishing brown trout
The brown trout I caught (and released).

I didn’t think I’d look good in waders, but damn if I didn’t rock ’em. I didn’t think I’d touch the fish I caught, but I did. I didn’t think I’d ever want to go fly fishing again, but I do.

We later tried stand up paddleboarding, and also I managed to embarrass my teens at an outdoor concert with my middle-aged (how did THAT happen??) singing and dancing. We toured a microbrewery, ate ice cream along the Blue River, grilled our own steaks, and made many memories together.

It was a super fun mini-trip. No wonder we’re hooked on Silverthorne.

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This post is part of #MicroblogMondays? Whazzat? A post that’s not too long. Head to Stirrup Queens to join the fun.

Busting a Fear

You may recall that I am one of the most bawk! bawk! chicken-y people around (remember the double-dose of Xanax I needed to get through a simple LASIK procedure?).

I am on a quest to bust through some of my limiting beliefs, like the one that says I don’t get along well with water, especially wild water. So earlier this month when we took a family weekend in Colorado Springs and the others wanted to go whitewater rafting? I resolved to model for my kids how to be brave, how to “feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Gulp. I don’t much like being cold, being underwater,  or proving the existence of gravity.

Thanks to guidance from VisitCOS, we entrusted Echo Canyon River Expeditions with my family’s desire for an adventure and my desire to not die a watery death.

family goes river rafting

When we checked in, the owner approached my husband and me to ask if we were first-timers (I was) and if we’d agree to provide a testimonial on camera when we returned. I balked. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to. Endure was about the best I could hope for. I told the owner I’d let him know after I returned.

If I returned (please God let me return). Continue reading Busting a Fear

Transformative Travel: A Falling Out

Twenty-four years ago I was halfway through a year working in Japan. I had been teaching English, traveling the country, and working out some issues by leaving my falling-apart life behind for a bit.

Phase 1 of the year was Wonder. Everything in the first half of 1989 was new and fascinating: the food, the people, the culture, the freedom. This period of growth and opening was exactly what I’d come for.

Summer brought Phase 2, which was Settling In. I felt confident enough in my language and getting-around skills to host my parents and sister for a visit in July and my boyfriend in August.

Things fell apart for Phase 3. Let’s call it Ick. I had no more visits to look forward to, I became very homesick (especially for Boyfriend), and I was bored to tears with my job. Speaking simplified English and covering the same topics over and over allowed me to practice and perfect the art of the clandestine yawn to the point where I thought my cranium would explode.

The heat and humidity were stifling to this dry-heat girl raised in the semi-arid Rocky Mountains. By the end of the summer, I was sick of sopping though my clothes ALL THE TIME. It was only after midnight that it was tolerable to go outside. Conveniently, this is also when I would gather several hundred yen and head to the international phone on the street corner to call Boyfriend, who would be available then due to the time difference.

One suffocating night, around 1 am on my way home from the phone booth, I noticed a man with a flannel jacket (??) hanging over his forearm. Odd. He began to follow me along a deserted street, and I saw that his OTHER arm was moving up and down. Rapidly. With a grin, he flapped open his first arm to show me what he was pumping.

I freaked out, even though I knew I wasn’t in any physical danger. He was a swine, but a harmless swine.

Still, I felt violated. The next day at work, I insisted that my coworker, a bilingual Japanese woman, help me make a police report.

She explained to me that reporting such a “crime” was just not done. Men will be men. Even if police DID look for the perv, even if they DID find him, nothing would happen to him. Shikata ga nai.

I insisted, and she accompanied to me to the local police station. In my mind I was quite powerful, bringing healthy feminine boundaries from America to my host country. I would save other women from this preying public crank wanker.

While my colleague stated my case in Japanese with the unamused officer, I puffed myself up with over-the-top dignity and  self-importance. When she turned back to me, however, the translation deflation hit.

Know what the police officer said, as relayed to me by my coworker?

It probably fell out by itself.

Ma-tha-fa-ka.

I may have fallen off my chair. All by myself.

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This is a former Show & Tell post repurposed for the Generation Fabulous bloghop around July’s theme of Transformative Travel.