Travel makes the roses smell stronger.

In my quest to stop and smell the roses, I recently traveled to NYC with my oldest daughter for six days and five nights. She loves to travel and so do I, so when she booked the trip and10501778_10206332863234501_4517989980375610030_n
asked if I would go along, I was excited. It was time for a break, and to be energized. It was time to not think about the events of the past few years, and to simply enjoy a new part of the country and my middle child. Last July my husband and I spent ten days in Florida. We visited with my son, daughter-in-law, and our two grandchildren. It was a precious visit away during a very stressful time, and the kids pulled us out of the mainstream of life while we awaited the results of my husband’s Neurological Exam. It was a blessing that they were able to yank us away and spoil us. It was good timing and we needed it in order to work up the nerve to read the findings. In February, we gathered together as a family in Florida. This time, it included all of our children. We celebrated my husband’s 49th birthday as a family. I slept in between my two precious daughters so that the boys could bond in the living room. Our grandson decorated the house with balloons and streamers, we made dinner, bought a cake from the local Walmart, and sang loudly. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with our family. My father is forever the practical one, and would never leave the house if given the choice. He loves staying put, would rather have my mother’s cooking than anyone else’s, and is perfectly happy never leaving. My husband is a little bit like that, especially now. He would much rather stay home, work around the property, and sleep in his own bed. My mother on the other hand, loves an adventure. Torn between leaving Dad and wanting to join in our excursions, she lives vicariously through those who travel. I think that is where my daughter and I get it from. My son and youngest daughter are much more like their father and grandfather. They want us to come to them. So, we took off for NYC. It took some planning, because we had to find coverage for my husband. He is at a funny spot right now. Although he has been upgraded from mild to moderate Dementia, he is at a really good place right now. He loves the summer, to be outside, to mow, garden and ted hay. He genuinely loves this time of year and is so busy that he falls into bed at the end of the day, pooped. As a result, I was able to hire a young boy to stay with him nights, through breakfast. This way, he could be sure that my husband had his meds and ate at least 2 decent meals. My husband was excited about it, and liked the idea of having a “Guy’s Week” and looked forward to gong to the batting cages, to a movie, and to sleep outside in a tent at his friend’s house. We had a rough start trying to hurry to the bus station and it was totally my fault. I hadn’t given myself enough time to travel to Portland from our rural home. However, we shook it off and once on the bus, we folded ourselves into a pretzel, pulled out a good book, and rode the six hours that it took to get to NYC from Portland, Maine. I only wished that I had been able to sit with my daughter because snuggling that close to complete strangers is a bit awkward. 11751039_10153516472838184_335601827_n Once into the city, we wandered aimlessly about. We knew we were close to our destination, but we were walking in circles. We had to get creative, since my daughter’s GPS wasn’t working. She called a friend, who sent us a picture of a map! How clever! It wasn’t long before we figured out the grid system and was able to get to where we needed to go. The hotel was misleading. The main floor was lavish and swanky looking. The floor we stayed on, not so much. The beds were hard, there was dust on the TV stand, mildew in the bathroom, no mini refrigerator or microwave, and the air-conditioning was more like a cool fan. The view was of the side of another building, although you could see the street below, and you couldn’t open the window. The WiFi didn’t work, but the cable did, and although the towels didn’t dry, the showers worked and had a good steady stream. It was quiet, safe, dry, and had a good location. Could have been worse…better than tenting. The good news is that we felt pretty safe. 11352256_10153516470293184_367672722_n There is a strong police presence in Manhattan. Most every block has officers on it. If you stayed looking forward, didn’t make eye contact, and looked like you knew where you were going, all was well. It is all about blending. My daughter will tell you that I struggled with this a bit. She gave me the hairy eyeball when I tried to sneak a look at the map, and looked up at the tall buildings. Harlem and Brooklyn were a surprise to me. They were a lot nicer than I anticipated. However, after news of a shooting in the Bronx, we decided to pass. We met some really nice people on the trip. One thing that we learned was that if you were nice, they were nice. Day 1, we met a kind man on the sidewalk who wanted to sell us tickets for sightseeing.freestyle-bus-image I was concerned about being swindled and this made him smile big and wide. He had dark black skin and big white teeth and eyes that sparkled. It was clear that he loved his job. He joked with my daughter, referred to me as “Mama” and talked us into the best investment of the week: 5 tours of the city for $58. We went Uptown, Downtown, took a night tour through Brooklyn, and a Ferry ride while tour guides talked to us about building architecture, history, important people, food and culture. It was fantastic! We met people on those trips from all over the world, including a cute little couple from England who were on holiday. You can’t go to NYC without seeing a show, so we saw Aladdin. It was fantastic! aladdinIt had a cute twist that made us laugh, contained some wonderful talent, and I couldn’t help but think of my brother-in-law, the entire show. He would have thoroughly enjoyed the genie, who could pass for his brother. I was surprised at how many didn’t dress up for the show. I saw a lot of casual attire. I was also surprised to see a boy in the audience playing video games on a tablet while we waited for the show to begin. The biggest shock of the night, was a $6 bottle of water! They say that NYC is the city that never sleeps, and it doesn’t. It also doesn’t stop moving. One tour guide shared that they design the road so that emergency personnel can go through without disrupting the flow of traffic. Sidewalks include movement, with no real rules. People don’t walk on the right. They just walk. It is all for one and one for all, as you swerve in and out of other pedestrians. Walk signs are merely a suggestion, traffic signs are mostly followed. Traffic is noisy with lots of honking, and much of the time you hear sirens. I joked with my daughter, but truly the second grade teacher in me prefers to believe that the taxi drivers are friends. imagesThey honk “hello” whenever they see one another. Every time I said this, I received an eye roll, the shaking of the head, and “Oh Mom” from my daughter. The 9/11 Memorial was every bit worth the $24. Filled with tourists, it was silent and somber as people reflected and prayed for those affected by that day. I appreciated the artifacts that were preserved so that those too young, or not alive in 2001, would never forget. I was overwhelmed by the news footage and the sound of taps on the way-out the door, but appreciated the work that went into keeping the public informed about that horrific day, the 4 planes that went down, and the world that was impacted. We wrote a note at one of the exhibits that promised that we wouldn’t forget the day and how hard we prayed for a broken city. Picture1aThe pools outside that continually flow at the base of both the north and the south towers reminded me of tears, as I traced my finger over names of those lost. It seemed almost fitting that as we left, it began to rain. hop-on-hop-off-cruisePart of the tour package included a Ferry ride around Lady Liberty, and I was floored by the magnitude of the statue. 11751273_10153516470733184_1687194783_n You could really tell how tall she was when you looked at the size of the people milling around the base of it. She has been through an awful lot, yet she has stood the test of time: wars, depression, weather, and economic ruin. Sometimes I feel like her as I remain determined through life’s challenges: standing tall, strong, with my hand up, my eyes forward, keeping the faith. It was a hot summer day, with a slight breeze, and one that I will never forget. We made memories that day, my daughter and I. The saddest part of the trip was seeing the homeless. I saw young people around 19 years old, old men looking through trash, others fighting over the spot they had chosen for the night. One man lost his shoes while he slept. I passed a man trying to talk another man into going to a shelter, who was refusing to go. Another just wanted money enough to stay in a Hostel for the night. I couldn’t help but hear my husband’s voice, “Cind, they all have a story.” I wonder what their story was. When I looked at the red-head with the freckles outside of Starbuck’s, I couldn’t help but pray for him. He is someone’s child. He could be MY child. It warmed my heart when my daughter offered him money toward the Hostel, and when we shared some bread with a homeless man who was so gracious and excited that the bread was warm. I was also surprised with the one who turned down my offer of bread, and saddened me when my daughter explained that he wanted drugs not food. When I got home, the first thing I did was embrace my sweet baby and thank God that we live where we do. I love to travel, and my daughter will always have a travel buddy, but I have to tell you, going away always makes me appreciate where I live a whole lot more. It’s not just about the cost of living, which is so much less than the city, but it is about family, friends, and the neighborhood. I love the feeling of camaraderie that we have as a community that you just can’t get anywhere else. I love opening my windows wide, looking over a wide expanse of trees and mountains, quite and peaceful surroundings, not needing to lock doors and windows, and the spirit of the country. I love my family, my friends, my church, and my workplace and feel so blessed to live where I do. I love the great expanse of gardens and lawn that surround my home and the opportunity to walk the property that the Lord has provided my husband and I. So for today, I feel grateful and blessed for the special time that I had with my daughter, and the sweet smell of home. As with every trip, it is fun to go away, but it is always nice to come home. 1896925_10206377044258999_5368382780430162029_n

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