Archive for January, 2010

January 31, 2010

A Winter Fable

Jessie in warmer days

Jessie in warmer days

As I was walking Jessie this afternoon, just one more bitter cold Sunday, I was remembering an incident we had a couple of winters ago. It reminded me that some adventures are small and close to home, and we do not have to count on international travel to provide us with experiences that make us wonder.

Winter 2008, and Jessie and I were out on a walk around the block; it was cold and snowy and the sidewalks were icy. It was probably right around the time I thought to myself ” Amazing I have not fallen yet” that I did just that. (Actually I think I was also remembering the time when I was running down a different slippery sidewalk with my baby in my arms and I fell, tossing the heavily swaddled bundle of joy into a snow bank where he luckily had a safe landing. But I digress.)

This time many years later there was nothing as precious as a baby in my arms, but I *had* been carrying a neatly knotted plastic bag containing Jessie’s ‘business’. My arms flailed wildly as I was going down (and trying hard not to land on Jessie) and that bag was flung like a shot put …somewhere. When I got up and dusted off, with mostly only my pride wounded, I could not find that bag anywhere. I searched high and low but with no luck. I’m afraid it might have gone into the crowded bed of the pick up truck parked on the street, and that poor guy would come across it and wonder who would do that kind of thing to him, and why.

Well OK this is not a really exciting story, but it is one of those things I wonder about on occasion. Where did that bad of poop go???

What’s one of your small adventures that fills you with wonder?

January 30, 2010

Meet our Pal Dorothy Johnson

This is one in a random series of interviews with our families. We have so many interesting people who travel with us, and a few simple questions get fascinating answers.

How did you find TFA? Simply by googling on the web site and then following up with phone call with more questions. The people on the phone were so friendly, helpful, and positive sounding, that after their help and follow-up with references, we knew it was the right company for us for this trip.

Why do you like to travel? I enjoy learning about new cultures and seeing new scenery, as well as learning more history, etc. The more I see of the world, the smaller I find it. The more I see of the world, the more interesting I find it. The more I see other cultures, the more I realize how much we all have in common, even though at first they may seem “a world apart”.

What was your first trip outside the USA? When I was 17, I went on an 11 week bicycle trip (on a 3-speed bike), to 8 countries in Europe, staying in youth hostels. Eight weeks was with a small group organized through American Youth Hostels; then 2 weeks totally solo, and the final week I stayed with an exchange student. This trip certainly opened my eyes and helped me grow up quickly after having spent all my previous life on a farm and attending my first 9 years in a one-room country school.

What is your favorite travel moment? Maybe it was running a full marathon on the Great Wall in China. In Tanzania, I especially enjoyed going to two different schools and two different Massai villages and getting to “know” the people…. They were very eye-opening experiences that I will never forget. Oh, the BIG roar of the lion right outside our dinner tent at the conclusion of our final dinner on our safari!

What is your favorite hobby and why? Running. I began running in 1986, at the age of 41, and immediately (or finally) became hooked on it, for fitness, health and social reasons. I have enjoyed my new challenges of a marathon or two or three each year, having completed 20 marathons this decade, and 2 more registered for this spring, including my first Boston Marathon. I also organized a running and walking club in our local area and enjoy having new people join us, again for fitness, health and social benefits. I am not a fast runner, just a determined runner. I found running a valuable outlet when I was struggling with my first husband’s health and death. I have also found running to be a wonderful common bond with my second husband, as well as a role-model for my children and grandchildren and also for generating energy to keep on the move.

Anything else you want us to know about you? I have been blessed with 8 grandchildren and because of my love for traveling and for them, I made the choice to reward them with a trip of their choice, giving them the invite on their 10th birthday. At that time, or in the upcoming years, they pick a destination and together we work out the details. This would be a trip with me (and my husband, if desired, and them only). I thought they might like to go to NYC, Chicago or Florida. Little did I know realize that they would pick the Galapagos Islands (“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to go there”), Tanzania (“I want to go see elephants in the wild” –his security blanket was “Ellie”, a soft cuddly elephant-blankie), and now we are anticipating our adventures with a granddaughter, going to Argentina. She has been a student in a Spanish immersion school and that is one country her school trips will not be going to, but has heard much about from some of her teachers. I understand my 8-year old is already thinking of various countries she wants to consider, if she gets her invitation! There is no way I would have seen these parts of the world if I had not left the invite to be so open. I’m wondering where all in the world the other 5 will “take me”. (I hope they realize this is more valuable than a car…for graduation or for their 16th birthday)

I also have been a delegation leader for the past 8 years with both junior high and high schoolers with the People to People Student Ambassador program, which has allowed me additional travel opportunities.

In my spare time, besides traveling, I enjoy running, sailing, biking, golfing, walking, cross country skiing, playing bridge, church activities, photography, watching sunsets from my lake-home living room/shoreline.

I am a retired junior high teacher.

January 28, 2010

Heading to Peru soon? Here is what we are thinking…

I am writing to you to provide you an update on a weather situation in
Peru that is currently impacting the Cuzco and Machu Picchu areas.
Earlier this week the region had three days of non-stop heavy rain. It
is normal to get rains in the January and February period but these
rains were beyond what they’ve seen in 15 years. The flooding from
these rains has caused damage to the infrastructure in the area and
mudslides on the train tracks to Machu Picchu. The trains connect Cuzco
to Machu Picchu so the rains have stranded many tourists in Aguas
Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. As of this morning many
of these tourists have been taken out of Aguas Calientes by helicopter
but there are a lot more to evacuate.

As of now our expectation is that by March/April the conditions in the
region will have improved and we will be able to run your adventure.
Once the rains subside there will be evaluations of the damage, work
begun to fix what needs to be fixed and alternative routes developed
where necessary. Peru is accustomed to dealing with heavy rains and
flooding and we expect that they will be able to this year as well.
Since our first priority is your safety we are monitoring the situation
daily with reports from Cuzco. If in the next month the damage is
such that your trip can’t be run safely then we will take the necessary

Please feel free to call us if you have questions.


Jim Kackley
General Manager
Thomson Family Adventures