I was saddened to see Washington, DC covered with fencing, and a strong law enforcement presence around government buildings. Both the Capitol and the White House are completely surrounded by fencing and National Guard troops. Even Lafayette Park, across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was fenced off. I could get no closer than a block from the White House or Capitol.
I also observed numerous vehicles entering the Executive Office Building of the White House, completely with armed guards, bomb sniffing dogs, and metal detectors. It saddened me beyond words.
Many tourists I spoke to are still in chock regarding trump’s insurrection on Jan. 6. They are embarrassed and upset that he did not call-in additional law enforcement sooner.
I also spoke to many law enforcement officers from nearby Fairfax County (west of DC). They received the emergency call and were told to expect the worst. When they arrived, the riot had already subsided, though many officers were injured. I thanked them for their service, for risking their lives to keep our nation’s capital safe.
The first photo is taken from just north of Lafayette Park, as close as I could get to the White House. The bomb sniffing dogs (second photo) were used at all entry points to the White House. The third photo of the Capitol Building indicates how close or how far I could reach via bicycle or on foot. And the fourth, a sad reminder of President Lincoln across the street from Ford Theater.
On a brighter note, I had waffles for breakfast at the Lincoln Waffle Shop across from Ford. I bought a big breakfast for Carlton, a homeless African American man who was panhandling out front. He wanted money for a tent, and some ibuprofen. I bought the ibuprofen for him. I bought a big bowl of noodles for a DC police officer on my first evening. He wanted me to know that the force appreciates the support of both residents and tourists.
I noticed that law enforcement officers seemed more willing to engage people, and talk. I also saw that the Black Lives Matter movement is alive and well, as is DC statehood. Maybe in our lifetime?
Mostly, I am happy that Washington, DC has returned to normalcy, decency, and dreams for a better, less contentious four years.
If you have been to Washington, DC as many times as I have, it becomes increasingly difficult to write an email about anything new. Of course, we have new residents in the White House, as well as in Congress. And I will say it is for the better. I found the last four years to be contentious, with a disturbing rise in White Supremacy. The enabling of hate, and hate crimes should have ended long ago!
But moving on, what is new, unknown, or undiscovered here?
There is no “J” Street in DC. Seattle gets less than annually than DC (39 inches), very surprising. DC has the second busiest Amtrak station after NYC. DC residents consume more wine per capita than anywhere else in the US. The Capitol Dome, where the insurrection of Jan. 6 took place, consists of almost NINE tons of cast iron. Washington, DC is named for both George Washington, and Christopher Columbus. The White House has 35 bathrooms. No comment! And 28 fireplaces. Jimmy Carter watched more movies in the White House, 480, than any President to date. DC is home to two endangered animals, the dwarf wedgemussel, and the Hay’s Spring amphipod. The Library of Congress is home to more than 170 million items. The DC Metro is the second busiest (5 million annually) subway transportation system, after NYC. DC has some rather famous people born here:J. Edgar Hoover. Al Gore, JW Marriott, John Philip Sousa, Duke Ellington, Bobby Kennedy, Stephen Colbert, Connie Chung, Samuel L. Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Kevin Durant. There is a typo on the north wall of the Lincoln Memorial (I will not tell you!). President William Howard Taft is credited with starting the 7th inning stretch at baseball games. The District of Columbia has 706,000 residents, more populous than Wyoming and Vermont!. Not only George Washington never reside in the White House, but he also never lived in DC. The Washington Monument was once the tallest building in the world (1884). The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of only four non-Presidents honored on the Mall. The Capitol building was designed by a British doctor, William Thornton. There were more members of the media at the 1963 March on Washington, than Kennedy’s inauguration two years earlier. Both the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers started out as Washington Senators. A law degree is not a requirement to be a Supreme Court Justice, 57% have not! There is a basketball court on the top floor of the Supreme Court building. Over 30 million of us visit the Smithsonians each year.
Our nation’s Capital is a wonderful place to visit. Even when the Smithsonians are closed!!! There is plenty to see and do. Should it become the 51st state? Why not?
Written in 2012 We hoped to hit the cherry blossoms at their peak this year. We missed out a few years ago. We were too early in Japan, and too late in Washington, DC. The blossoms arrived early this year due to mild weather. We missed it again! (We did hit peak bloom day in Washington, DC a few years later!!) The photos above prove it.
We hit the cusp of the Cherry Blossom or sakura in Japan last year in March (2009). We were probably about a week early. Though we caught a glimpse, here and there, it is nothing like we are expecting in Washington, DC this week. So, I will load up on my allergy pills, nasal spray, and eye drops in preparation for the onslaught of beautiful pink and white blossoms that line the nation’s capital. Now, we are most a week late. So few left, that I could not even bear to take a photo.
As last calculated, the peak bloom date was March 20-23. We did not arrive until April 4. The Peak Bloom Date is defined as the day in which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino Cherry (Prunus x yedoensis) trees are open. The date when the Yoshino cherry blossoms reach peak bloom varies from year to year, depending on weather conditions. Cherry Blossom Festival dates are set based on the average date of blooming (April 4), but nature is not always cooperative. Unseasonably warm and/or cool temperatures have resulted in the Yoshino cherries reaching peak bloom as early as March 15 (1990) and as late as April 18 (1958).
According to the National Park Service, the Blooming Period is defined as the period that starts when 20% of the blossoms are open and ends when the petals fall and the leaves appear. The Blooming period starts several days before the Peak Bloom Date and can last as long as 14 days; however, frost or high temperatures combined with wind and/or rain can shorten this period. The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or “Sakura,” is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
In 1885, Mrs. Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore, upon returning to Washington from her first visit to Japan, approached the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, with the proposal that cherry trees be planted one day along the reclaimed Potomac waterfront. Her request fell on deaf ears. Over the next twenty-four years, Mrs. Scidmore approached every new superintendent, but her idea met with no success.
Finally in 1906, Dr. David Fairchild, plant explorer and U.S. Department of Agriculture official, imported seventy-five flowering cherry trees and twenty-five single-flowered weeping types from the Yokohama Nursery Company in Japan. He planted these on a hillside on his own property in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he attempted to test their hardiness.
In 1907, The Fairchilds, pleased with the success of the trees, began to promote Japanese flowering cherry trees as the ideal type of tree to plant along avenues in the Washington area. Friends of the Fairchilds also became interested and on September 26, arrangements were completed with the Chevy Chase Land Company to order three hundred Oriental cherry trees for the Chevy Chase area.
A year later, Dr. Fairchild gave cherry saplings to children from each District of Columbia school to plant in their schoolyard for the observance of Arbor Day. In closing his Arbor Day lecture, Dr. Fairchild expressed an appeal that the “Speedway” (no longer existing, but marked by portions of Independence and Maine Avenues, SW and East and West Basin Drives, SW, around the Tidal Basin) be transformed into a “Field of Cherries.” In attendance was Eliza Scidmore, to whom he referred later as a great authority on Japan.
Mrs. Scidmore decided to try to raise the money required to purchase the cherry trees and then donate them to the city. As a matter of course, Mrs. Scidmore sent a note outlining her plan to the new first lady, Helen Herron Taft. Mrs. Taft had lived in Japan and was familiar with the beauty of the flowering cherry trees. Two days later the first lady responded:
The White House, Washington April 7, 1909
Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.
Sincerely yours, Helen H. Taft
The day after Mrs. Taft’s letter of April 7, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, the Japanese chemist who discovered adrenaline and takadiastase, was in Washington with Mr. Mizuno, Japanese consul in New York. When he was told that Washington was to have Japanese cherry trees planted along the Speedway, he asked whether Mrs. Taft would accept a donation of an additional two thousand trees to fill out the area. Mr. Midzuno thought it was a fine idea and suggested that the trees be given in the name of the City of Tokyo. Dr. Takamine and Mr. Midzuno met with the first lady, who accepted the offer of the 2,000 trees.Five days after Mrs. Taft’s request, the Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, Colonel Spencer Cosby, U.S. Army, initiated the purchase of ninety Fugenzo Cherry Trees (Prunus serrulata “Fugenzo”) from Hoopes Brothers and Thomas Co., West Chester, PA. The trees were planted along the Potomac River from the site of the Lincoln Memorial southward toward East Potomac Park. After planting, it was discovered that the trees were not named correctly. The trees were determined to be the cultivar Shirofugen (Prunus serrulata “Shirofugen”) and have since disappeared.
The Japanese Embassy informed the Department of State that the City of Tokyo intended to donate to the United States two thousand cherry trees to be planted along the Potomac River. On December 10, 2000 trees arrived in Seattle from Japan. On January 6, 1910, the trees arrived in Washington, DC.
To everyone’s dismay, an inspection team from the Department of Agriculture discovered that the trees were infested with insects and nematodes, and were diseased. To protect American growers, the department concluded that the trees must be destroyed.
President Taft gave his approval to burn the trees. The probable diplomatic setback was alleviated by letters from the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador expressing the deep regret of all concerned. Dr. Takamine and the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, met the distressing news with determination and good will. Dr. Takamine again donated the money for the trees, whose number had been increased to 3,020. The scions for these trees were taken in December 1910 from the famous collection along the bank of the Arakawa River in Adachi Ward, a suburb of Tokyo, and grafted onto specially selected understock produced in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture.
On March 26, 3,020 cherry trees arrived in Washington, D.C. The trees were comprised of the following varieties:
“Somei-Yoshino” ……………………………..1,800 “Ari ake”…………………………………………….100 “Fugen-zo”………………………………………….120 “Fuku-roku-ju”…………………………………….. 50 “Gyo-i-ko”………………………………………….. 20 (The Gyoiko were all planted on the White House Grounds)
A day later, Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin, about 125 feet south of what is now Independence Avenue, SW. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the first lady presented a bouquet of “American Beauty” roses to Viscountess Chinda. Washington’s renowned National Cherry Blossom Festival grew from this simple ceremony, witnessed by just a few persons. These two original trees still stand several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones Memorial, located at the terminus of 17th Street, SW. Situated near the bases of the trees is a large bronze plaque which commemorates the occasion.
That is probably more than you ever wanted to know about the trees. People here are very proud of the trees, even the ex pats. Good night, Chet.
Side note: Everyone says to head north in our effort to catch the blossoms. It is colder up toward Maryland, right, Marilyn? Maybe they are just trying to get rid of me! No blossoms here! Must try elsewhere. Fast forward to 2021 : Just happy to be here on the east coast, able to travel safely. Note #2: The National Park Service has estimated that peak bloom will be in the first week of April (2021) when around 70% of the blossoms will be open! Note #3: According to the National Park Service, the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms is expected to take place between April 2 and 5 this year, depending on weather conditions. The peak bloom date for DC’s cherry blossoms is defined as the day on which 70% of the blossoms of the Yoshino cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are open, but visitors are urged not to descend in droves on the area given the restrictions on large gatherings. For me, the cherry blossoms, regardless of location, are a joy to behold. We have them in the nearby farms back home, here on the Potomac, and Japan. Enjoy them wherever you are!
While many east coast cities, namely New York, and Boston, can be quite expensive, Washington, DC is more affordable. Why? Because many attractions in the city are free, easily accessed by public transportation, and appeal to wide range of ages. Here are a few to consider on your next trip to our nation’s capitol.
The National Mall, and all of the monuments and memorials are free.
You can visit President Biden at the White House, if you make arrangements through your US Senator or Congressman.
All of the Smithsonian Museums are free. I love them!
The Kennedy Center has free tours, as well as free daily concerts.
The Library of Congress does not require a library card!
It may be difficult to get into the US Capitol Building after the trump inspired insurrection, and the lone terrorist who stabbed two capitol police officers. I would stay away for a while.
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving will show you how money is made.
The Maine Avenue Fish Market, though not free, will cook and season your seafood to order.
Though my hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer there, the Supreme Court may be visited with free 30 minute lectures in the main hall.
The place President Lincoln was assassinated, Ford’s Theater, is still here on Tenth Street.
The most popular memorial on the mall is the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
A personal favorite is the ML King Memorial, with quotations from his “I have a dream” speech.
Georgetown is free, but I guarantee that if you hang around long enough, you will buy or eat something.
Choose wisely, as you will soon realize that there are more places to visit than hours in the day.
My personal favorites are:
National Japanese American Memorial Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Union Station Eastern Market The cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin (my reason for going again) National Museum of African American History and Culture (featuring Lemoore’s Tommy Smith) Clyde’s of Georgetown (I always have lunch here, brings back fond memories of previous visits)
Per CNN: With the year we’re having, every day should be National Beer Day. But the date of the official beer celebration is April 7. Crack a few of your favorite brews Wednesday and raise a toast to President Franklin Roosevelt, who signed the legislation into law in 1933.
Have you noticed that there is a day for almost anything? Lately, I have seen national popcorn day, national burrito day (I like that), world party day, national go for broke day (I assume to honor the 442 regiment), national raisin day, national pet day, you get the idea.
First, I never knew we had a National Beer Day.
Two, how is it celebrated?
Three, what are my favorite beers? Firestone Walker 805, Corona, and any beer served at the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Beer has been made for over 5000 years!
After he won the Nobel Prize, Neils Bohr was given a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house.
At the wife carrying championships in Croatia, first prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
The top state for beer consumption, per capita, is surprisingly New Hampshire.
Germany has a 5 kilometer beer pipeline carrying beer.
Winston Churchill called the concept of Prohibition “an affront to the whole history of mankind.” President Barack Obama was the first president to host a White House homebrewing session, according to NPR.
Is there anything better at a baseball game than a hot dog and a cold beer?
How best to celebrate? Either your favorite watering hole, a day at the old ballpark, and a six pack of your favorite brew on your back patio.
I went to the Final Four in Dallas two years (2014) ago. I went to a previous Final Four in Los Angeles back in 1972. This mega event, as you can read below, has morphed into an event bigger than anything else in collegiate athletics. And it is even more special this year. My California Golden Bears made the tournament as the fourth seed (and lost). And my adopted Fresno State Bulldogs made their first “Big Dance” since 2001 (and lost), by winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. This year’s Final Four should be bigger and better than ever!
During last year’s shutdown due to the pandemic, the NCAA basketball tournament was not held, hence no Final Four. The many men and women who play college basketball missed out on the biggest stage of your young lives. This year has provided some redemption for their many years of hard work and sacrifice. I hope they enjoy every minute of their moment in the spotlight.
Here is my story from 2014: All sports fans know when I say Final Four, I mean the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament, often called either “The Big Dance” or “March Madness”. The 68 best collegiate basketball teams play a single elimination tournament to determine the National Collegiate Champion in basketball.
The tournament was started back in 1939, and has since been called, among things, March Madness, the Final Four, and The Big Dance. Thirty two of the teams selected are conference champions. The other 36 teams are selected by the NCAA Selection Committee. The selected teams are divided into four regions, seeded based on record and strength of schedule. After four games played by the lowest eight ranked teams, the remaining 64 play a tournament over three weekends.
Each weekend eliminates three-fourths of the teams. The final 16 remaining after the first weekend are called, “The Sweet Sixteen”. The remaining four after the second weekend are called, “The Final Four”. This “Final Four” weekend is the biggest weekend in college basketball.
The UCLA Bruins have won the most NCAA titles with eleven, ten of which were coached by a legend, John Wooden, often called, “The Wizard of Westwood”. In fact, the first and only Final Four championship game that I have attended was in 1972 at the old Los Angeles Sports Arena. UCLA was victorious over Florida State by a score of 81-76. The famous Wizard of Westwood, Coach John Wooden
My California Golden Bears won their only NCAA Championship in 1959, over West Virginia, 71-70. The star for West Virginia was Laker great Jerry West. Cal had no real stars, but was coached by one of the best coaches of all time, Pete Newell. The following year, Cal was the runner up to Ohio State. Do you see a resemblance? Yes, it is Laker great and now Warrior exec, Jerry West, the logo for the NBA
The tournament has grown since I last attended. The weekend of the Final Four is now an extravaganza much like Super Bowl Weekend. Between the two semi-final games on Saturday, and the Final on Monday evening, numerous other events are held. This year, the biggest event is a three day free music concert in downtown Dallas, headlined by “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on April 6.
Officially, it is the March Madness Music Festival, to be held in Reunion Park, on a first come, first served basis. I wonder what time I need to show up? Other headliners for the three-day fest are Jason Aldean (it is Texas, after all), The Killers, and Tim McGraw. I just want to see and hear ‘The Boss”.
Reunion Park is located in downtown Dallas, about 18 miles from Texas Stadium. The Championship game will be held Monday, April 7. The Texas Stadium venue is also the site of the world record for basketball attendance. The 2010 NBA All Star game drew a record crowd of 108,713. I foresee a total madhouse.
My plan is to arrive Saturday, and make sure I secure a good place to hear “The Boss” on Sunday. But also, when I arrive on Saturday, I plan to buy my tickets for the Championship game on Monday night. But I will buy my tix from one of the two losing teams’ fans on Saturday, hopefully at a big discount. As they walk out of the stadium, rather disappointed, I will take advantage of their utter disdain for all things basketball. After all, 50% of all teams have to lose!!!
When I said the Final Four has grown, the entire CBS package brings $500 million to the NCAA. The revenue is divided among the teams and conferences, based on a rather complex formula. You can imagine back in 1972 when I last went, the TV contract was quite small in comparison, and there was no three day music concert. My how things have changed. I do not even recall a merchandise tent outside of the old LA Sports Arena. A good time will be had by all!
PS: I do not have a favorite for tonight, but will root for both an exciting game, and the underdog. This entire weekend is so different than my first Final Four. My seat was in a luxury box, of all things. And the food and booze were flying. And I had the first $20 burger of my life, certainly Texas sized, I could only eat about a third of it!
Fast forward to 2016. Only a single Number One seed made it to the Final Four. Once our own favorite gets eliminated, I think we tend to root for the underdog. No doubt these teams that make the Final Four often cheat like crazy. The problems at both Syracuse and North Carolina have been in the news throughout the past year or more. My feeling is that the schools should just pay the kids to play a sport, and make a space available in the classroom to the kids that want to be there!!
For 2021: The west coast has risen again in basketball. The Conference of Champions (Pac 12) had four teams in the Elite 8. And now two west coast teams, UCLA, and Gonzaga will play in the Final Four!!!
You can just imagine that with the vast amount of air travel I have done, that I have seen some really strange behavior. Maybe bizarre would be a better term. Here they are in no particular order.
Stinky First Class Yes, I was seated in First Class on a flight to Denver, but I actually had to ask the Flight Attendant if I could move back to Coach. Why? It stunk so bad, I could hardly breathe. Turns out it was the Grateful Dead on their way to a concert at “Mile High” Stadium!
The Big Breast Tell me how a woman is breast feeding a 7 year old on an inter island flight in Hawaii! Everybody was both appalled and laughing!
The Yogist She just decided to take over the aisle and start her yoga workout. She made everyone wait until she was ready to move.
The Quick Change Artist Some women think they can do anything underneath a blanket. Well, it was rather obvious, and it was not pretty, if you know what I mean.
The Farter Yes, on the way back from Costa Rica, the older Hispanic lady in front of us, in First Class no less, was farting up a storm. I started fanning with a magazine. The couple next to us covered themselves with the blankets, and were laughing hysterically at me!
The Clipper Not Joltin’ Joe, but an old Asian man who decided to slip his toenails at his seat!
I am sure each of you must have as good or better story. Let’s just say, when you think you have seen it all, something else rears its ugly xxxx!
I found this article in Winespeed to be quite insightful: When phylloxera destroyed most of the vineyards of Europe plus many in the Americas in the late 1800s, Australia was largely spared. One of the lucky legacies is that Australia now possesses many of the oldest vineyards in the world. In the Hunter Valley, for example, the Stevens Vineyard, now owned by Tyrrell’s, includes an “Old Patch” of chardonnay, semillon, and shiraz planted in 1867. Similarly, in the Barossa, the Hewitson family owns the Old Garden Vineyard which contains the world’s oldest mourvèdre, planted in 1853. Also in the Barossa, Penfold’s famous Kalimna “Block 42” of cabernet sauvignon planted in 1888 is thought to be the oldest cabernet sauvignon on the planet. Indeed, although definitive records do not exist, the Old Patch vines are thought to be first generation cuttings from the famous James Busby Collection of vines originally planted at Sydney’s Botanical Gardens in the 1830s—vines that went on to be the source of plant material for vineyards all over the country.
You know how much I love the Loire region of France. Every avid wine lover should know about Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, in Savennières, in the Loire Valley of France. Considered one of the greatest white wines in the world, Coulée de Serrant is made on the single estate also called Coulée de Serrant. The prized vineyard (first planted in the year 1130 by Cistercian monks—whose small monastery still stands) is owned by the Joly family, and today consists of vines aged from 35 to 80 years old. Current winemaker, Nicolas Joly, was among the earliest and remains one of the most ardent practitioners of biodynamics in the world. The vineyard is cultivated partly by hand and partly by horse because of the steep slopes overlooking the Loire, and because the hooves of horses loosen the soil perfectly without compacting it. Though it is just 17 acres (7 hectares) in size, Coulée de Serrant has its own appellation. Only a handful of other appellations in France are made up of a single property, including Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, and Clos de Tart, all in Burgundy, and Château-Grillet in the Rhône.
“The efforts to demystify and simplify [wine] never ring true because they ignore the fact that wine by its nature is mystifying and complicated. These qualities can be embraced and celebrated without suggesting that they require mastering, but that would force us to think and talk about wine in a different sort of way, as a food staple to be enjoyed rather than as a symbol of status or as a ‘lifestyle.’”—Eric Asimov
Prices will be going up! Can you believe there is a 39 percentage decrease in grapes crushed in Napa, California in 2020 compared to 2019 (Sonoma County crushed 36% fewer), according to the 2020 Preliminary Winegrape Crush Report for California. The drastic decrease in the state’s crush figures—the lowest since 2011—is primarily the result of wildfires across the state during harvest. It is estimated that between 240,000 and 325,000 tons of grapes were left on the vine due to smoke taint. And what is kosher wine? It is a common misconception that wine need only be blessed by a rabbi to make it kosher (Yiddish, from Hebrew kāshēr, meaning “proper” or “fit”). To be kosher, a wine must also contain only kosher ingredients. For example, fining agents may not be derived from animal by-products, which rules out egg whites, casein (a dairy derivative), and isinglass (air bladders of fish). The wine can only be handled—from the vine to the wineglass—by Sabbath-observant Jews unless the wine is mevushal (Yiddish for “cooked”), which involves heating the wine until it is pasteurized. During Passover, Jews drink four cups of wine (for the four promises the Lord makes to His people in Exodus 6:6-7) at the Seder meal, which occurs on the first two nights of the holiday—March 27-April 4 in 2021. To be kosher for Passover, wines must also be free of certain additives, such as corn syrup, which producers of concord grape wines (such as Manischewitz) sometimes add.
Speaking of old vines, the nearby vineyards in Lodi are full of old growth, old world varietals. I strongly suggest you take a drive over. Better yet, throw your bicycle on the back of your SUV, and make a day of it. We often drive up, cycle around the vineyards, and have a nice lunch at Michael David Winery. But there are many vineyards to choose from. Just google “Lodi wine” and you will be astounded by what you will find!
Most of us have arrived at the airport, only to realize that we forgot something. I once went on a trip to Kauai, and forgot my golf clubs!!! And golf shoes. I had to rent clubs, and buy another pair of golf shoes. Since that untimely event, I always use a list when I pack for a long trip.
After printing my boarding pass, I always place my passport in a clear plastic folder with the rest of my travel related documents. If you use the airline’s app, I would still print a boarding pass as a backup. And I always keep my Driver’s License (Real ID) in my wallet. And I have photos of each on my cell phone.
The online check in process serves several functions. One might be paying for your baggage, printing a bag tag, and even choosing or upgrading your seat. I always try to do this 24 hours before boarding. Always!
I always have the airline’s app on my phone, even if I don’t use it. I also agree to receive text messages regarding delays or cancellations. And another really important notice, gate changes.
Often overlooked is how to dress for the flight. Comfortable, yet tasteful is my suggestion. One item that should be banned, in my humble opinion, is flip flops. Why? Think about it, in a fire, flood, or making a run for it, flip flops are a real liability. And even in summer, a light sweater or jacket since the planes are often quite cold.
The proverbial refillable water bottle has become an important part of travel. But so are some snacks from home. Just a small bag of nuts, an energy bar, or cookies will help you get to the next meal. I hate paying outrageous prices for airport snacks that are both stale and unhealthy. Save some money and spend it on a nice meal at your destination.
Spring for TSA Pre-Check! The lines are shorter, and it only costs $85. And you generally leave your electronics inside your bag, keep your shoes on, and zip right through.
If you are unfamiliar with an airport, it pays to go online for an advance look, or use the map in the airline magazine. Some airports, like Dulles in DC, Denver, O’Hare in Chicago, Heathrow in London, LAX, SFO, and Hartsfield in Atlanta are configured in a confusing architectural nightmare at best.
Whether renting a car, using Uber or public transportation, I always look at my options online before landing. Signage, particularly in foreign airports, might not be as clear as airports here in the US. The worst of course, was in Russia.
If you have other suggestions, please share. Travel should be fun, free of hassles, and a memorable experience.
Now that we are flying again to far off places, jet lag has reared its unwelcome head. Nobody talks about it, since we are consumed with vaccines, masks, and which countries are open to Americans. It does seem that as I get older, I am more susceptible to jet lag. Also, flying west to east is a bigger issue than east to west. At least it makes European travel better once I return home.
What is jet lag? I like the Mayo Clinic and their explanation. Jet lag occurs because crossing multiple time zones puts your internal clock (circadian rhythms), which regulates your sleep-wake cycle, out of sync with the time in your new locale. And because it takes a few days for your body to adjust, your sleep-wake cycle, along with most other body functions, such as hunger and bowel habits, remains out of step with the rest of your destination.
And sunlight is a factor: A key influence on your internal clock is sunlight. That’s because light influences the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that helps synchronize cells throughout the body. At night, when the light signal is low, the hypothalamus tells the pineal gland, a small organ situated in the brain, to release melatonin. During daylight hours, the opposite occurs, and the pineal gland releases very little melatonin. You may be able to ease your adjustment to your new time zone by exposing yourself to daylight in the new time zone so long as the timing of light is done properly.
I have my own methods to deal with jet lag. First, some jet lag facts, per the Mayo Clinic, for you. My reactions are in (parenthesis).
You may experience one or more of these symptoms:
Disturbed sleep — such as insomnia, early waking or excessive sleepiness (always)
Daytime fatigue (definitely)
Difficulty concentrating or functioning at your usual level (rarely)
Stomach problems, constipation or diarrhea (rarely)
A general feeling of not being well (rarely)
Mood changes (not sure)
And some risk factors:
Number of time zones crossed. The more time zones you cross, the more likely you are to be jet-lagged.
Flying east. You may find it harder to fly east, when you “lose” time, than to fly west, when you gain time.
Being a frequent flyer. Pilots, flight attendants and business travelers are most likely to experience jet lag.
Being an older adult. Older adults may need more time to recover from jet lag than do younger adults.
So, how should you deal with or prevent jet lag?
Arrive early. If you have an important meeting or other event that requires you to be in top form, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust.
Get plenty of rest before your trip. Starting out sleep-deprived makes jet lag worse.
Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave. If you’re traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. Go to bed one hour later for several nights if you’re flying west. If possible, eat meals closer to the time you’ll be eating them at your destination.
Regulate bright light exposure. Because light exposure is one of the prime influences on your body’s circadian rhythm, regulating light exposure may help you adjust to your new location.
Stay on your new schedule. Set your watch to the new time before you leave. Once you reach your destination, try not to sleep until the local nighttime, no matter how tired you are. Try to time your meals with local mealtimes, too.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your flight to counteract the dehydrating effects of dry cabin air. Dehydration can make jet lag symptoms worse. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can dehydrate you and affect your sleep.
Try to sleep on the plane if it’s nighttime at your destination. Earplugs, headphones and eye masks can help block out noise and light. If it’s daytime where you’re going, resist the urge to sleep.
I have my own little routine for long flights to Europe, Asia, or South America. I try to get plenty of rest before my trip, but it is not always possible. Most flights leave mid-day from California and arrive the next day. I generally have my first meal and a glass or two of champagne.
I take advantage of the overnight “darkness” of the flight by sleeping with the help of a low dose prescription sleeping pill. I either read or watch a terrible movie until I fall asleep. I always take my shoes off and use the airline socks.
I forgot to tell you I am generally seated in First Class since I use miles to upgrade! That is my SECRET to beating jet lag!!!