Goodbye Jefferson Island

As long as I’ve lived in Lafayette, I had never been to Jefferson Island until Mr. Canada came to visit. It’s much smaller than Avery Island but it has a different character that I found enchanting. I took Lori there too when she visited.

We chased after the muster of peacocks that live there. (Did you know that’s what you call a group of peacocks?) Lori had a bit of food and she cajoled them closer so I could take photos, despite the fact that they scared her a bit.

So before I left Lafayette, I wanted to go there again.

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The Route

How to get to Portland, Oregon from Lafayette, Louisiana:

Well, the shortest way is up through north Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and into Oregon. But that’s not how I’m going. I want to go west. I want to drive up the California coast.

So, I bought an atlas, taped together the appropriate pages and had 2 large copies made of the compilation; one for the western portion and one for the California portion.

I started exploring and asking friends for recommendations of places to see.

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Love Letter to Lafayette

Dear Lafayette,

I will miss you so much. The last five years have been wonderful.

We didn’t get off to a great start. If I remember correctly, you seemed to be rejecting me at first. I couldn’t find a job. My life was falling apart. I didn’t know anyone. I was insecure, scared, overweight and lost.

But then, you began to give me gifts. I started walking in Girard Park and fell in love with the rhythm of the path, the breeze through the oak trees and even a cute guy or two playing tennis. As I slowly returned to my natural physical size, I laughed and cried on your walking path, sang to my favorite songs, had long phone calls and texting sessions with family, friends and the revolving door of men I attempted to date. My daily walks became my refuge. The park became a character in my story.

Eventually you gave me a job. First a small one where I was able to get back to research on the history of rockets and space travel. (The exhibit hangs upstairs at the science museum: Leaving Earth. I did that.)

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“Hi, This is Lufthansa.”

“This is Lufthansa.”

“Oh, wow. I’ve been waiting to talk to you. I’m so happy to hear from you. I have so many questions.”

“We found your passport. It’s in a Lost & Found warehouse in Frankfurt.”

“You’re kidding. Wow. That’s great. Can I have it back?”

“Yes, I’m working with my contact there to have it mailed back to you. Did you have a little black book with it? With Hebrew letters and handwritten notes?”

“Yes. Absolutely. That’s mine.”

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Coming Home [How Not to Travel Part 6]

The plane leveled off and we were free to move about the cabin. I found my make-up bag and hairbrush and went to the bathroom.

God help me, I love make-up. I’ve never been accused of wearing too much make-up but I don’t leave the house without at least some base under my eyes, eyeliner and something on my lips. I looked at myself in the mirror. I brushed my hair and smoothed it out as best I could, wishing I could wash it. I put some base on my face, maybe a bit too much. “Easy girl,” I thought. “You don’t want to walk out looking like a geisha.” I put some eyeliner on, blush and found my lipstick case. Ahhhh, lipstick. Sweet, lovely lipstick. I love you so. I felt a bit more like myself and went back to my seat.

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Being Held [How Not to Travel Part 5]

The First Night

The Russian girl led us into a multi-leveled, small building with short flights of steps in between the levels. It was like a bad camp. A lot of beige. They brought us to a room with big wooden cubbyholes and lockers. The Russian girl told us to put our stuff away.

“You can…….take money. You can take…….few things.”

I grabbed my make-up bag for reasons that are not clear to me. Vanity, I guess. She looked inside, seeing a razor, nail clippers and tweezers.

“No, you not take this,” she said. I laughed. Of course not.

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You Shall Not Pass [How Not to Travel Part 4]

“Stand aside, m’am,” the woman behind the glass said.

A short, serious looking man walked over, spoke to her then looked at me.

“Come with me,” he said. He had the paper copy of my passport in his hand. He directed me to a sectioned off part of the large room with a sign that said Border Control. There were a lot of people waiting. They looked sad and frustrated. There were two adjacent offices with doors open and a lobby of sorts. The short man started to walk off. I looked at him as if to say, “What now?”

“Someone will call you,” he said and left.

Continue reading You Shall Not Pass [How Not to Travel Part 4]

Where’s My Passport? [How Not to Travel: Part 3]

I knew I was at the right gate in Munich when I saw Hasidic Jews rocking back and forth with bibles in their hands, the fringe of shawls swaying and little boxes attached to their heads.

“I’m going to Israel,” I thought.

That first 10.5-hour flight had been rough. I had traded seats with a father so he could sit next to his wife and son. This put me next to an ornery woman whose husband was sitting in the row behind her. She complained and fidgeting the whole flight, leaning towards me and poking herself between the seats to have conversations with her husband. I think she had hoped I would offer to trade with him. It’s one thing to trade one aisle seat for another for a nice young family. It’s another to trade an aisle seat for a middle seat on a 10.5 hour flight. She was a grown woman. She could deal with it. She didn’t deal with it very well.

Continue reading Where’s My Passport? [How Not to Travel: Part 3]

The Clumsy Spendthrift: How Not to Travel


The first time I traveled overseas I was meeting a group of political professionals. I was nervous. One was a Washington state senator, another worked for Emily’s List and another worked in the White House. I carefully planned out my luggage, buying all new stuff of course. I found this cool purple bag that went over the shoulder. I stenciled a cool design on my black suitcase so it would stand out. I was determined to be stylish and graceful.

By the time I got to Atlanta, I ditched that stupid purple bag that was cutting a groove into my shoulder, bought a simple backpack and sat on the floor of the airport, rearranging my clothes, shoes, computer and other nonsense. I was always the one in the group fumbling with my camera bag or taking longer to put my shoes back on. My brothers and sisters used to call me “grace.” They were being sarcastic.

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Why Jerusalem? Why now?

I decided it’s time to make a trip.

Maybe it’s my mid-life crisis. Maybe Lafayette is getting too small. Maybe it was a reminder by a good friend that I had pledged one year ago to come up with a plan to travel by July, 2014.

I’m “in between jobs,” as they say and I have a bit of money set aside. “If not now, when?” I asked myself. So, I took the plunge and planned a trip.

There are so many places I’d like to see. Paris, Italy, Greece, Japan…….India! But of all the places I could imagine going, when I asked myself, “If you could only see one place in the world in your life, where would it be?” the answer was always: Jerusalem.

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