Tag Archives: travel

I am further ahead on packing at this point than I was last year

Greetings, readers. I am still here today, and to my surprise I have time to dictate a short blog entry. I am going down a list of activities to get ready to leave for camp. I have a lot of items checked off already, like laundry done, packing things like my GPS, and double checking on my rental car so there will be no surprises when I pick it up. I want so much to be organized and on top of details like my mom was, and Rebecca thinks I am doing a great job.

Last year, as I recall, I was frantically doing a load of laundry the morning I was to leave. To some people, that might sound perfectly fine, but I like to have the car packed and ready to go early in the morning. That way, I can grab a quick breakfast and get on my way whenever I am ready. Most people, when they travel, don’t have a specific departure time, but my mother always tried to leave at 10:00 in the morning. Through trial and error, she found out that it put us in Connecticut – our evening stop – late in the afternoon and just before she got overly tired. This is a timetable that works for me too.

The last couple of years when I drove to Maine, I found out that I have to take more frequent breaks, but I still hope to arrive in Southington, Connecticut before dark. That is my goal, because my nighttime driving vision is not what it once was.

I have to make certain that Keekee is well taken care of in between Rebecca’s almost daily visits. That means cleaning out the litter box, making sure her water bowl is full, stocking up the dry food in her gravity feeder, etc. I think Keekee already knows that daddy is going away. She is very clingy towards me today and keeps meowing at me as I dictate this entry.

On the way up I will be stopping at Portland and visited Hadlock Field and purchasing some Sea Dogs souvenirs. Right after this blog entry is over, Rebecca will have the pleasure of watching me plow through the clutter on Dead Red to find the last year’s purchased Sea Dogs hoodies. I don’t want to have to purchase them again.

Rebecca will be doing the next three entries and then I will be back. That will wrap this short entry up for today. Please wish me a safe journey and a happy vacation. As a lot of you know, I look forward to Bear Spring Camps every year.

Until soonest, take care, have a great two weeks, and happy reading.


Top ten lists of things to discuss other than politics

Greetings, readers. I am absolutely fed up with all of the mud-slinging political ads on TV, as well as the news reports about how each candidate is better than the other. Local and state races are bad enough. Please, don’t get me started on Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump! Grrr.

Here’s a list of other topics I talk to my friends about. They’ll be in no particular order this time around. Here we go.

#10. Pets. [I know I can talk about my kitty-cat Keekee for hours, and I like to hear other people talk about their beloved animals.]

#9. Talk to a friend over coffee if that friend is having difficulties. [Sometimes talking about our problems with someone who cares can help a lot. And it helps to remember that the world is bigger than politics, even elections on the national level.]

#8. Talk about the weather. [Sunshine, stormy or in between, everyone has some weather. And some people are still recovering from last week’s hurricane Matthew. They definitely have more to talk about than the candidates.]

#7. Chat about sports. [With so many different games, so many teams, in so many cities, there can be hours of avid conversation.]

#6. Discuss your favorite cars {old or new}. [Not everyone gets into cars like I do, but a lot of people have vehicles. It is fun to compare driving experiences, horsepower, styles, and colors.]

#5. Rant about your boss or co-workers. [First though, be sure they can’t hear you!]

#4. Talk about the latest technologies. [There are so many shiny new things, and they are so exciting.]

#3. Chat about a trip you once took. [A change of locale, different food, maybe a different language and culture; all these can be part of an interesting conversation.]

#2. Tell your friend about a dream you had. [Everyone can relate. Almost everyone has a weird dream they can remember and share.]

#1. Console someone who just lost a loved one. [This will really bring things into perspective. A bunch of politicians yelling at each other means nothing at this moment. Our connection to one another is so much more important.]

Well, there you go; my list of topics to talk about other than politics. Do chime in with your list if you want to, here or on Facebook. Until next week, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.

My life without a car

Greetings, readers. I have been without a car since 2008. I enjoyed the years I drove very much, but an accident totaled my vehicle. With the money situation the way it is, I’ve been told by my accountant that even a used car is not in the current spending plans. For now the occasional Zipcar will have to suffice.

In the early years of my driving career, I would drive past our local airport and head for the back country roads. They would twist and turn and that drive really kept my skills and reflexes up. The only time I really drive distances now is in August when I go to Maine in a rental car.

Even though I have Meals on Wheels, a lot of times I like to have an evening snack when I watch TV. Luckily there is a store nearby, but it is a drug store with a small selection of food in it and their prices are not cheap. For me to go to an actual supermarket I would have to either rent a Zipcar or take the bus. The bus poses two problems. First, I’m going by someone else’s time schedule. And second, depending where I get dropped off, I would have to lug my bags back home. It is not the worst thing in the world, but when you have a convenience store right in walking distance, that choice is more expensive but quicker.

The only doctors in walking distance are my psychologist and the dentist. My general practitioner and, most importantly, my neurologist, have to be reached either by bus, cab, or Zipcar. This can get a bit expensive and inconvenient. For my next doctor’s appointment, I will need to get a bus an hour and fifteen minutes early, because the next scheduled bus would make me late to my doctor’s appointment. And as much as an hour could be between the end of an appointment and the next bus.

I don’t mind taking alternate transportation when it is needed, but I’ve cut my Zipcar usage way down. Basic insurance is covered by the company, but yearly dues and full insurance are two yearly major expenses for me.

If I had my own car, I could hop in it tomorrow and go visit Walnut Grove, Minnesota, if I wanted to. To accomplish this in my current situation, would require a check of the Amtrak train schedule, one of the many long distance bus charter companies, or an airplane. With money tight, I think I’ll just stay home. My point is, that if I just want to get up and go, I can’t. About 75% of my life must be planned out.

Zipcars do help. But that sense of freedom, of hopping in my vehicle and going anywhere anytime is gone for good. From now on, I will have to walk, take a bus or a cab, or some other means of transportation, to get where I’m going. This coming Sunday for Easter, as happened this past Christmas, my girlfriend’s friends have invited us to have dinner, but they have to come pick us up in their car. Although this is not the most terrible thing in the world, I do feel a little bit like a burden to them. Perhaps next holiday, we’ll rent a Zipcar and pick them up.

If I have to take my girlfriend somewhere, like to her doctor or to the hospital, the Zipcars are $9 an hour, and we would book it for at least 3 hours to be sure we have enough time. My lowest tally with her has been $27. That is not exactly the same as her chipping in $5 for gas if I took her in my car. Plus, if all the Zipcars are rented and she needs to get there in a hurry, we are calling a taxi cab. And once again, we wait for them. If we want to take a drive to see the scenery, or go for a special lunch someplace that is a few towns over, I would want to rent that Zipcar for at least 3 to 4 hours, and we are talking about $36. Sometimes we just don’t have that to pay, so we don’t go.

Do I miss my car? Absolutely. With all the expenses, such as gas, upkeep and insurance, I’m probably lucky that I don’t have one. Knowing my luck, I would crack a cylinder head and it would be a $3,000 repair. Do I miss my freedom? Absolutely. But in 8 years I’ve learned to adjust. Things are more difficult without a car, but I am making it work.

Until Friday, when we will have another interesting blog post for you, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

Traci was a big hit with the family

Greetings, readers. Here is a follow-up to the blog that posted on Thanksgiving day; successfully, I might add. I will admit I was a little bit worried having Traci meet all 50-plus members of Dave and Geri’s extended family at once. But she fit right in. She decided that she wasn’t going to be nervous, and everyone loved her. It made me so happy to see her talking to people and getting to know them.

A week ago today, Wednesday, Traci and I left for New Jersey and enjoyed a gorgeous drive down to our destination, 30 minutes past Philadelphia. I couldn’t believe that for the full three days of the visit it was sunny and warmer. We actually had cool air on in the car.

I’m not going to say it is scary, but I found out that my night vision isn’t quite what it used to be. Driving on the roads at night in an area I’m not familiar with, was a wee bit stressful even with the GPS. Once we found Dave and Geri’s house, all was right with the world.

Thanksgiving morning was wonderful. I slept in a little bit but came down for morning coffee and quiche before the parade started. We watched most of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but had to leave for the church hall before Santa Claus rolled around. First time I’ve missed him in I can’t tell you how long.

The holiday dinner itself was exquisite. I’m not going to call it a delay, but most of the folks wanted to see the Philadelphia Eagles football game before they ate dinner, so serving was put off for three hours. I had asked Geri if I could say Grace, because I also wanted to make a little speech as I do at gatherings from time to time. She happily agreed. Once everyone was seated, and my Grace and speech had been said, we partook of a wonderful soup made by Shannon Merkhofer, followed by turkey, ham and every trimming you could think of. What an amazing meal. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the delectable desserts were placed in the serving area. I had the pumpkin pie because I am a traditionalist. The sun had already gone down when the party began to wind down, and it did take a while to put all the folding chairs away and clean up all the pots and pans. When we arrived back at Dave and Geri’s house, Traci immediately went to bed. Geri decided to take the dogs for a walk, and Dave and I collapsed on the couch with the Green Bay Packers game on in the background.

On Friday morning, I was up early to have coffee with my brother and buddy before he left for work. Later on, Traci came downstairs, followed by Geri. We had breakfast and then we packed up, because Traci wanted to go to a hobby store nearby to get a stuffed animal as a souvenir. We had seen The Happy Hippo Toys store while we were parking the car the day before.

As we got on the highway to head home, I was happy and proud that everything had gone so well. I was driving in the big city, or at least on the interstate nearby, and Traci was enjoying all the sights. She loved the skyline of Philadelphia, just coming off of the Ben Franklin bridge.

We got home about 3:30 Friday afternoon, and I will admit to you I was exhausted. It’s always strange but true, no matter how much you look forward to going somewhere and how much fun you’ve had, it is a nice feeling to come home to familiar surroundings. I was happy to see my kitty cat Keekee and she was happy to see me.

If I had to rate this trip, I would give it A+, 10 out of 10.

Until Friday, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, do take care, and as always, happy reading.

In control

Greetings, readers. After much reflection over the past few months, and with the help of my therapist, I am becoming a more confident person. I am starting to regain control of my life and it feels good. In 2009, when I made my triumphant return to Bear Spring Camps I had to go by airplane, for I was not confident enough to drive the 1,200 mile trip by car. It was great fun, because I love airplanes, but I missed all the scenery that I so enjoyed looking at as a passenger when Mom drove the trip. For the past four years, I’ve rented a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Here’s how it gave me back control.

With the aid of the rental, I can stop where and when I want to stop. I can pull off for a stretch at anytime, grab a coffee and a donut at the Dunkin’ Donuts, and choose any motel I want. When I traveled by bus for two years, we stopped when they wanted to, and you were all but threatened to get back on the bus on time or they would literally leave without you. Going by plane was nice, but oh, brother, all that waiting and the long lines at the security checks. The biggest benefit of the car to me is that I can pack my truck full of whatever I want to take to camp. I am not having to limit myself to a couple of carry-ons. And no luggage lost on the way.

My mom was always in control. It was one of the things I loved most about her. It seemed that almost every minute of every day was planned out and organized. I can remember Mom beginning to plan for the trip weeks in advance. I’m striving to be able to get all the accommodations booked and confirmation numbers written down well in advance. It is one less thing to worry about a few days before leaving.

On a non-camp note, I’m also taking steps to become more confident in other aspects of my life. Good friend Rebecca as well as others are helping me in this endeavor. Do I want to drastically change Joseph Kockelmans? No. He just needs peaked and tweaked a little. 😉

Until tomorrow or next Wednesday, take care, chin up, be well, and happy reading.

Boy, do I have spring fever

Greetings, readers. First off, good job to Rebecca for the great blog entry from the other day. It got lots of hits, as hers tend to do. Two thumbs up.

Now, oh boy, am I waiting for spring time. To put it politely, I am tired of freezing a certain section of my body off every time I walk across the street for a cup of coffee. I don’t know if I have hyperactivity or not, but when I am at home, I want to go for coffee, and twenty minutes after I get there, I’m thinking about all the reasons why I want to hurry and get back home. Welcome to my world.

Going to and from my various local errands this past winter was very uncomfortable for me. I have made my broken-down coat last as many years as I can. It is going to be tossed away when spring time hits. Next winter I will go to the Goodwill store and purchase its replacement.

I have already decided what I am going to do this spring and summer. First, I’m going to do a lot more walking. I no longer have my massage therapist who kept me healthy and feeling good. So every warm sunny morning, before it gets too hot in the day, I will devise a route and walk it – say four times a week. I would also like to think that I could partake of some kind of sporting activity. That may have to end up being bowling, because after all these years, if I would try softball or basketball I think I would fall on my face and pass out.

Another thing I want to do this spring and summer on Fridays here in State College is go to the local farmer’s market and purchase healthier, fresh food and have a better diet. I will have more energy and my risk for diseases later in life will be less. I am going to now share with you, my readers, my basic diet. Tortilla chips, ice cream, marshmallows, occasionally a tall cup of grape juice, and my only real nutritious food of the day, a real fruit wild blueberry muffin with my morning coffee. Yes, indeed, I do need to eat better and soon.

Lastly, while the weather is going to be better this summer, I hope to visit family members. That is always achieved more easily when the weather makes traveling safer, with no snow or ice. There are a number of people who I would like to visit and get caught up with, and I really can’t wait to do it. I have been sitting in this small apartment way too long. One of these years I still hope to move to either the Carolinas or Florida. Whether that will really happen or not is debatable.

Until next time, have a great weekend, take care, think spring, and happy reading.

A rough patch in my life

Greetings, readers. I am fighting through one of the toughest times of my life right now; the loss of a friend. Did this person pass away? No. I wish it could be that easy. She lives in my building and I run the risk of seeing her at any moment that I am not in my apartment. It should not affect my behavior, but I have caught myself putting my sweatshirt hood over my head to avoid seeing anyone in the lobby area.

Being afraid of life is a terrible thing. I have felt this way before, but not to this extent. I’ve decided not to alter my daily routine. Certainly I could have chosen different eateries to frequent, or hang out at places where I deemed she wouldn’t be. But that’s being afraid of life. That’s not acceptable to me. I won’t do that. If I do…, she wins.

What to do? I’ve told both my accountant and my writing assistant that I “Gotta get the hell outta here!” They both agreed. For my sanity I feel that at least a weekend’s break from State College, Pennsylvania is in order; maybe longer. This poses a problem for me because I have other obligations in town. However, my health does take precedence.

My two choices are to go visit my buddy and brother, Dave and family in New Jersey for a long weekend, or to visit my Aunt in California for a week or so. The former can be done by bus, the latter must be accomplished by airplane via Orbitz.com.

Whichever I choose, I’m sure of two things. First that it will be the correct choice for me, and second, it will benefit the visitor. I’ve not seen Dave or my Aunt in quite a while.

The next blog entry will be another top 10 list.  🙂   Until soon, stay well, enjoy life and happy reading.