England My England, Part II

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Travel | 7 Comments

Christie’s adventures continue with connections nearly missed, rekindled and newly made

The tiny train, a toy really, shunted me from Derby to a station near Nottingham. I had missed the last London express and the ticket seller assured me that the only way to get back that night was to pick up the express from Nottingham. I was deposited in the original haunted railway station. The quaint brick waiting room with its fading pastel scalloped façade and boarded-up windows looked spookier in the murky darkness than the station for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Beyond the station I could just about make out fields and woods, i.e. middle of nowhere.

Acting more confident than I felt, I set off down the deserted platform towards what I thought would be an information board. The driver of the departing train leaned out the window and yelled “Oyup luv, you better get crackin’ up them steps and o’er t’other platform, London train ‘bout to arrive.” I looked down the line to see a light getting bigger and closer. Read more

England My England

Filed Under All Posts, Christie Healey, Family, Travel | 10 Comments

Leave the pomp and circumstance behind, and take a walk on the wild side with Christie

I just returned from my first visit to the UK in five years. Nothing much has changed as far as I could tell. The nation was a bit tired from celebrating Kate and Wills wedding bash, but most seemed to agree it was a superb demonstration of British pomp with a liberal dash of the moderne. The unexpected day off courtesy of more PR conscious royals and a wobbly coalition government cheered the nation; and everyone was appreciative of Beatrice and Eugenie’s efforts to incorporate vaudeville into the day.

Clever Cat, who is about to visit the Sceptered Isles herself, asked if I saw any theatre during my trip. Hah! I visited my family. Now honestly, isn’t a visit with your family the best theatre ticket in town? Comedy, drama, mystery, it’s all there. Not that my family is any different from anyone else’s; a group of people thrown together through biology and desire, well-practiced in their eccentricities.

I spent a glorious few days with my sister in her new Cornish home. I really envy her retired life with all the conveniences and benefits of a social welfare system that is ailing but not yet dead. Baby boomers across the Pond are quietly enjoying their “golden” years trying not to feel too badly that they are probably the last generation to experience these joys. Read more

Art That’s as Hot as Haiti

Filed Under All Posts, Travel | 8 Comments

Artist Pascale Monnin
Artist Pascale Monnin

On a recent visit to Haiti, art dealer, museum curator, Haitian native, and Fifty is the New contributor Carine Fabius seeks out light and joy amongst the desperation and darkness.

(Originally published in The Huffington Post.)

It’s hard to find joy in Haiti today. I’m just back from a three-week trip to my native land and words will never convey the range of emotions encountered in the core of my being and among those who live the day-to-day grind that is Haiti today. People are stressed, traumatized and depressed. In a place where some 250,000 people perished, it seems everyone knows at least five people who died. The force of Mother Earth has left many in a state of shock unnoticeable at the surface level. But dig just a little and a familiar faraway look and haze steals over the face of anyone recounting what many refer to as bagay la, “the thing” in Haitian Kreyol (bagay rhymes with sky).

For a couple of days I stayed at a tiny house just outside of Jacmel (a coastal city in the south which was reportedly destroyed by 70 percent, although that figure is slightly exaggerated) where the caretaker recounted what residents there saw just after the exact hour and minute forever emblazoned in his mind: 4:52 PM. He said that after the shaking stopped, they watched the ocean recede 200 feet with a terrible force, as if fueled by an enraged and giant jackhammer. Flapping fish, stunned lobsters and other sea life remained stranded on what looked like a post-apocalypse beachscape. Fears of a tsunami-force return prompted them to head for the hills, but for naught in the end; because, as he relayed in a hushed, still-bewildered tone, the ocean returned at a chilling pace—creeping back in at a strangely measured tempo over the next day and a half. Read more

What Happens in Ireland Stays in Ireland

Filed Under All Posts, Humor, Prudence Baird, Travel | 15 Comments

From Dunmanway to Dingle, summer vacation with Prudence and family is as unpredictable as the weather.

What on my Streetwise Dublin map looked like a ten minute stroll from the Grafton House B&B on Great George Street to the car rental agency across the Liffey River turned out to be a bit longer—45 minutes longer, to be exact. This wouldn’t have been a bad thing if the rain hadn’t blown in, turning a blue sky dotted with cotton ball clouds into a grey, oppressive canopy pushing pinprick rain into our faces.

“How cheap is this umbrella?” my husband asked as the mini-brella I bought back in the States turned inside out in front of Christ Church Cathedral and the medieval ruins of a Norman chapel built in 1230 A.D.

“Mom, how could you?” protested Casey, whose raincoat zipper went off track on a busy street corner and had to be fixed while being jostled by groups of tourists and umbrella-wielding Irish businessmen.

Ah, family vacations, where everything that goes wrong—including the weather—is mom’s fault, and everything that goes right goes unremarked. Read more

What of Faith?

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Travel | 11 Comments

alfombra
Photo by Pattie Traynor

Melissa Howden explores the nature of faith and its attraction, hopes and painted prayers

I’ve got a thing for Faith – Faith, as in the word with the Latin root of Fidere meaning “to trust”. And then there is Faith’s friend Belief, which used to mean, “Trust in God”. For the longest time Faith was about a certain kind of loyalty or belief in a person. Somewhere along the line Faith took on the more religious connotation and Belief came to be understood as “mental acceptance of something as true.” Faith/Belief, the two together interest me. Not as a byproduct of organized religion but simply as something I rely on. Ironically I get particularly obsessed with Faith when it seems to be in short supply in my own life.

When I slip into a space of doubt I look to the faith of others. As a natural born traveler, I’ve had the good fortune to witness faith globally. Encountering someone in an act of private devotion always catches me short of breath and makes me cry. During these times I’ve started to recognize the nature of faith as active, action being critical to faith. At its core, faith is a verb, not a noun.
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Canyons, Cactus, and Casinos, Oh My!

Filed Under All Posts, Connie Stetson, Courage, Travel | 14 Comments

grand_canyon_rapids
Connie and Lee tackle their first rapid

Connie Stetson discovers a brave new world with adventure around every curve

As I write, it’s been a little over a week since Lee and I completed a month-long, nearly 300 mile journey through the sands of time. Literally. I am still rinsing the freaking sands of time out my gear.

My husband, with the Greenwood Expedition, party of 11, began a river trip at Lee’s Ferry near Glen Canyon Dam on Jan. 27th to raft the upper Grand Canyon. I left Fresno on Feb. 4th, flew to Flagstaff, took a shuttle bus to the South Rim, checked in at the Bright Angel Lodge, and at 8:30 am on Feb. 5th, I began my journey down, down, down, through snow and ice, mud and streams, more than ten miles, seven oceans, and millions of years of geologic time, (sorry, fundamentalists…that would be more than 6,000) — to meet them near Phantom Ranch on the mighty, muddy Colorado River. The next day, in a driving rainstorm, two walked out; and then we were ten, in four rafts, launching off into the rapids of the Grand Canyon.

How was it, you ask? It was exhausting, thrilling, challenging, beautiful, vexing, uncomfortable, cold, painful, quiet, noisy, scary, soothing, hard, transcendent, and nourishing. Read more

Sea (See) Change on a Sea Cruise

Filed Under All Posts, Melissa Howden, Travel | 9 Comments

Roatan, Honduras

Roatan, Honduras

When Melissa Howden embarks on a lesbian cruise, a tropical storm is not the only occurrence that stirs things up.

Prologue
A couple of years ago I started to learn how to surf. At the time my greatest challenge was learning to read the water.
How many waves in a set?
Which set might have a wave I can possibly catch?
Are they breaking to the right or to the left?

The combination of matter—the water, the board, the bottom and me—had the potential for magic or mayhem. And so it is with so many things in life.

——–
My girlfriend is a fan of the group lesbian get-a-away. The only group I’m a fan of is the small dinner party. Nevertheless, for the last week I have been on a lesbian cruise.

Lesbian cruises are not a new phenom. OLIVIA Travel has been doing them for 20 years. This voyage however is the first for a new company called SWEET: The Future of Lesbian Travel.

A week ago we hauled out of New Orleans in a mad attempt to skirt Hurricane Ida as she hurtled into the Gulf. Some were saying that the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Weather distinctions make no difference to me. A boat in any storm worthy of Weather Channel note is NOT fun. A subtle reading of the water becomes very simple: THOSE ARE BIG FREAKIN’ MY FREAK WAVES BREAKING ON MY ELEVENTH DECK BALCONY! Read more

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