Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Next Grand Adventure

Our last Grand Adventure got its own blog. While I don't think the next one is quite long enough to justify its own blog, I do intend to give it some coverage here. It's to the place that has long occupied the top spot on my list of places I'd like to visit. I used to toy with the idea of heading up to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, hopping on a plane, and going there for a weekend. A winter visit was always especially tempting because of the probability of seeing the Northern Lights, something I haven't done for too long. With the 25th wedding anniversary looming, several months ago I sent the husband an e-mail to the effect of "25th anniversary. Northern Lights?" I actually didn't expect him to take me seriously, but he did, so we're off on February 19 for a week in ... (drum roll) ... Iceland.

Since Icelandair no longer flies out of BWI, getting to Iceland takes a bit more planning than it used to. And working a trip around the husband's teaching schedule added even more complexity. Fortunately, we have a good travel agent (Rochelle) and travel agency (Peace Frogs); I don't think we could have pulled this trip together without them. As the husband noted, we possibly (not probably, but possibly) could have arranged everything ourselves, but it would not have been cost-effective given the time it would have taken and the mistakes we might have made or the things we might have overlooked. While we're hoping to have some lower-case adventures on this upper-case Grand Adventure, we don't really want them to be of the travel snafu variety. Hence, the need for a good travel agent, and we'd highly recommend the one we have.

But back to the Grand Adventure. We'll leave here on Friday, February 19, as soon as the husband finishes teaching, and head to the Richmond airport, about 70 miles away. We'll fly to JFK in New York City and, from there, to Reykjavik, Iceland. We arrive at 6:45 a.m. local time Saturday. (Interestingly enough, "local" time for Iceland is Greenwich Mean Time, despite their appearing to be one time zone to the west.) The first planned adventure, Saturday afternoon, is whale-watching. No whale sightings are guaranteed, but we're hopeful. If you read the fine print on the whale-watching website, the boat also passes some islands inhabited by puffins, so it might be double the fun. (If you've done any reading about Iceland, you'll know that we might also see puffins on the dinner menu.)

The next day, Sunday, we're off on the Northern Lights adventure. This will take us to the Sel-Hotel Myvatn at Lake Myvatn (Midge Lake, which is why visiting in the winter may be better than the summer) in the northern part of the country. We'll have two nights in which to look for the Lights, and one full day in which to see a bit of the country. Right now, we're leaning toward a tour described as the following: "Lake Mývatn is a wonderful place in both winter and summer. On this tour we will explore its surroundings. Volcanic and geothermal activity near the lake have created spectacular landscape and scenery. We will make many stops by the lake; such as at the thermal area of Námafjall, where you will see boiling mud pools and bubbling sulphur pits, an underground cave with hot spring, the dark city of Dimmuborgir, the lava sculptures and the beautiful woodland in the nature park Höfði. All this and many other spectacular areas awaits you on the Lake Mývatn wonders tour."

On Tuesday, which just happens to be our 25th anniversary, we head back to Reykjavik where, on Wednesday, we plan to combine my crossing off one item from my list of fifty things to do in my fiftieth year (yeah, I know I'm late, but it's taken longer than I thought it would) with the husband's possibly finding relief from his arthritis. That means horseback riding in the morning and a visit to the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon. Details can be seen here. We're keeping Thursday free for anything we might want to book while we're there or just strolling the streets of Reykjavik, shopping, photographing, or whatever.

We fly back on Friday, to Boston's Logan Airport, where we catch the last flight of the evening back to Richmond. It would have been nice to stay an extra day, but the husband will have midterms to grade, and we'll both need a couple of days to shake the jet lag I'm sure we'll be feeling. Another Grand Adventure will have come to an end, leaving us back at home to start contemplating the next one.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ringing and Resolving in the New Year

Last year about this time, I put up a post about my resolutions for 2009, which suggests that I should do the same for 2010, that is, reflect on how I did with my resolutions for the year just ended and what I'd like to accomplish in the year to come. I concluded last year's post with the comment, "I can't help but think that 2009 is gonna be one heck of a ride." If you followed along on 2009's Grand Adventure, then you know that it was one heck of a ride. Even without the whole trip thing, it would have been a good year; that just made it better.

Does that mean I achieved the resolutions I made for the year? Not really. I did better with some than with others, which is about par for the course when it comes to me and my resolutions. I didn't lose the weight I wanted to lose and actually gained a wee bit more. Yep, I just carried that one over to the 2010 list. I did exercise more than the number of times I resolved to, but then that's not really hard. Still, I left it on the 2010 list just to be safe. I wanted to make it through tumble falls in Myo Sim karate in 2009, and I almost did. I'm still wrestling with vertigo on tumble falls. Some days I think I'll be able to overcome it; other days I ponder being a terminal yellow belt. I decided not to resolve anything in terms of karate; I'll just see what I might accomplish. In Myo Sim kendo, I resolved to work toward my black belt, not really thinking I could realistically get it after being gone for two months. Black belt earned, I'm resolving to learn the material for second degree black belt in 2010. That's by no means a resolution to earn my second degree black belt, just to learn the material I need for it so that I can practice, practice, practice.

I also resolved to blog more regularly in 2009. While I certainly accomplished this during our trip, I failed, though perhaps not epically, during the rest of the year, particularly the last couple of months. For 2010, I decided to resolve more globally and simply "to create more." This covers my penchant for fiber as well as for words. Also on the writing front, I resolved to start a karate notebook and better organize my kendo notes in 2009. I did this, but barely. Perhaps because I'm at a fairly low level in the karate rank hierarchy, I find it difficult to write down how to do things. For 2010, I kept the bit about improving my kendo notes and dropped mention of karate ones. I also resolved to finish in 2009 more of my 50 things to do in or for my 50th year of life. I succeeded, with a few substitutions that I need to add to the 50 blog. For example, I wanted to see the sun rise over a beach again, but am willing to take the sun rising over Angkor Wat as a very worthy proxy. For 2010, I resolved to finish the list. I figure that five years should be sufficient for completing 50 things; when I do my list of 60 for my 60th year, I'll give myself six years in which to complete them.

Finally for 2009, I resolved to "go with the flow more." Whether I really accomplished this is probably open to debate. I think I did really go with the flow more while we were on our trip. Of course, when one is removed from much of their day-to-day responsibilities and, yes, headaches, it's easier to be mellow and take things as they come. I will admit to screaming, crying, and basically losing it when the pack of dogs was running around my legs in Siem Reap and I felt the teeth on the back of my leg, but then pretty much coped with what needed to be done. For 2010, I actually didn't put anything somewhat touchy-feely as this 2009 one was. I'm not sure why I didn't include one; maybe I feel that if I succeed on the "create more" one, I'll have the emotional energy to deal with whatever life might throw my way. I guess we'll see.

Will 2010 be the heck of a ride 2009 was? Probably not in the same way, but I have an idea it won't be too bad. More on that in another post, though, since some of those day-to-day responsibilities are calling, in particular the one about making dinner for the main men in my life and the mother (mine) who lives downstairs. And we're off!