Not sure what kind of nutcase plans a post pandemic road trip amidst a fuel crisis & general world chaos but when you get the travel itch all i can say in my defence is that it needed scratching.
When it came to transport it was definitely a ‘Goldilocks’ decision as I determined we needed a van that was neither too big nor too small but one that was ‘just right’. Copious googling turned up the Kuga Hi-top from Travellers Autobarn that seemed at least on paper to meet all the requirements. The only snag was that all their depots were located on the West Coast & we wanted to catch up with people one of whom lived on the West Coast.
Some of you may have picked up on the fact that route planning for me is actually part of the journey so it was that I set about mapping out the shape of the ‘trip of two halves’ as the first section would be with my daughter & the return with my husband. It would be quite a circular journey with a van pick up / drop off in Las Vegas.
On the evening we checked in to the Hotel Excalibur (think Disney like castle with a magical lift system that seemed to deliver you to different places each time) the most we managed was a quick walk to the Hello Kitty Cafe & the M&M shop before sinking into a comatose state.
Next day we arrived at the depot to pick up the van which was a much longer and slower process than previously experienced but eventually Morrison was ours to drive away. The delay stemmed from the fact the van was undergoing ‘routine service’ which included the fitting of a complete set of new tyres. Sams Town is now possibly my favourite KOA site I’ve been there so many times it feels like a second home & its so undeniably convenient for wagon provisioning with a supermarket across the road.
As neither of us had been to the ‘old downtown’ we headed for the Freemantle area to compare it to the more modern ‘Vegas strip’. On a whim we decided to go on the zip wire that whizzes yo over the heads of the hordes of people that are busy visiting the shops & bars below it. The Fremantle Experience at 40mph was for me a little on the tame side compared to Velocity II in Wales but it still was fun & afterwards we rounded the evening off with a beer in a local bar.
Next morning with the fridge full of white claw & salad plus a tyre warning light winking at us we set off the next day for Phoenix.
Lockdown life seems now to have begun to put strain on even the most resilient of folk myself included. Cravings for putting on nice clothes & eating out seem to be gripping even the biggest homebody amongst us.
Given my penchant for road trips when hubby mentioned he needed a drain cover I leaped at the chance to drive out to get it. My daughter thought it would be fun to come along for the ride & so we found ourselves whizzing along the motorway singing our favourite tunes at loud volume. Even the torrential rain didn’t dampen our spirits & as we neared our destination we spied a drive through Starbucks that was actually open.
You may recall from a blog or two ago my experiences at builders merchants haven’t always been positive but in comparison this place oozed with enlightenment. Weaving around performing a sort of strange socially distanced dance around trying avoid poking an eye out on a protruding pipe or come within ‘spitting distance’ of one another in order to place a heavy metal grating securely inside my car was bordering on comical. Left me wondering if I should have filmed it for Tik Tok?
Feeling buoyed up we retraced our steps & drove to the Starbucks to join the queue, excitement building as we crept towards the board displaying all the delights on offer. Ordering & eating out alone in Fort Lauderdale pre lockdown hadn’t felt difficult yet as I feebly tried to enunciate my order clearly to a speaker on a stick in a Swindon carpark it felt I was participating in some terrible ordeal.
Having recently broken a front tooth I was grateful for the degree of anonymity of remote ordering. Under Lockdown rules unless you are in imminent danger of exsanguination or asphyxiation all appointments are off.
Home application of a precarious dental patch in place I reeled off the order for a tooth friendly non toasted cheese toastie & included several abortive attempts to pronounce my daughters choice of beverage correctly. I imagined the servers eyeballs rolling in her sockets at my oratory failings but quicker than you can say ‘ruby flamingo frappuccino’ our meal in a bag was ready.
Paid & parked we sat in the carpark tucking into the goodies watching the queue ebb & flow in front of us. Feeling almost high with the fact we had ‘eaten out’ & my tooth was still in tact we drove on to complete the mission to deliver a dozen eggs & potted herbs to my son & his partner.
As I write & despite careful eating I am on my second go at DIY dentistry with no real idea of when a professional one will be possible. I consider myself fortunate that as a former nurse who keeps a comprehensive first aid kit I actually had some of the repair product recommended by the dentist.
However the repair was not straight forward and way off what the product is properly intended to do. It certainly wasn’t to be found in any You Tube videos on home dentistry I came across (who knew this was such a thing) & was in a position to order more of the stuff in case of further need. In light of this discovery I regret missing the opportunity of making a potentially viral video involving the use of icing tools doubling up as dental probes.
All joking aside this has planted the niggling notion that there may be a great number of others less able being left to cope with simple yet troublesome medical issues that left will be much harder to fix.
When we slipped back into the UK it was evident that life was entering strange times especially as my daughter was soon gripped by in-depth spring cleaning. On discovering a long abandoned 30 day shred dvd lurking at the back of her wardrobe we decided to give it a go given our normal classes were going to be off limits.
With Lockdown now in full swing & were nearing the ‘shred end’ we had become incentivised by the definite changes that were taking place. So on discovering our exercise guru now had an app we signed up immediately. Having decreased 1 cm over all the key measurements I was keen to capitalise on the progress. I may not quite have gained the sculpted look of Jill’s ‘best girl Nat’ from the dvd but for the first time ever I was starting see discernible abdominal muscles!
So tantalisingly promised ‘buns of steel & washboard abs’ we find ourselves now 12 days into ‘bangin bikini body’ & the outcome may prove akin to a modern miracle in my case if the promise comes true. Though maybe stealing a pecan slice to go with my post exercise coffee & sit down might make it slightly less deliverable.
Following the regime daughters on app means that Jill gives us exercises based on her considerably younger profile rather than mine so its somewhat of a triumph that I am sat writing this at all. I discovered the difference between the workout regimes whilst sipping wine on a beanbag watching mine run through to keep the days in synch. After all that effort I am not missing out on the credit & virtual badge.
Foam rollering can be a tad painful but necessary especially as I am not able to have my regular sports massage at the moment. I started to invest in these as a means of helping me avoid injury & bringing back flexibility.
On a rare sortie to the supermarket my daughter was able to purchase two firmer, & slightly textured 14cm rollers which a are a little easier to use than the 33cm we already had. Sadly not so much luck finding heavier hand weights, who knew that these items would be rarer than hens teeth in the thralls of a pandemic.
I have harboured the suspicion that there are a few who still consider older women incapable of participating in strenuous exercise let alone a martial art. Revelation of attendance at the annual summer camp is usually met with some degree of surprise mixed with incredulity.
So the prospect it will not run this year brings a tinge of sadness & the likelihood I will not be attempting the timed run to the beach. I recall the first camp & my horror at the prospect of even walking up the hill at the start. Shamed by the fact the team had to go at the pace of the slowest I made a pact with myself to improve. After struggling at the next couple of camps I was assigned to a team where one member who’s ‘day job’ was that of a personal trainer. Gasping out my plan as we approached the hill she started to coach me. Indeed over the week she totally transformed my mental approach & running style. Right up to the day of the timed race I was uncertain whether to participate but in one moment of madness I felt my hand go up when they asked who was running.
I think I genuinely shocked some & whilst I harboured no illusions of winning I dearly did not want to be the last. Perseverance over the years finally paid off as I was the third lady over the line last year & given the first was at least 25 years my junior it remains a personal triumph. All of which I was reminded of by Jill Michaels who points at Nat’s stunning torso & says ‘You want to look like this? You got to work for it!’ & how true that is for exercise as well as other aspects of life.
Which leads me to reflect on my approach to learning to play the guitar. I embarked on this a couple of years ago when thinking I would have time to fill during early retirement. Trying to play everyday if only for a few minutes & it does seem to help improve cognitive function & dexterity as well as a means of escape especially now when the ‘mental claustrophobia’ of lockdown starts to bite. I love to travel & should have been on an adventure as I write but this obviously was cancelled leaving me channelling my energy else where. So have been attempting to write music & lyrics but it remains to be seen whether these will ever be let loose on an unsuspecting audience any time soon. Still it has served to increase my love & understanding of musical technique if nothing else. Who knows maybe I will find the courage to at least post the lyrics at some point.
So until next time I bid you adieu & hope you stay safe.