I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately…death and dying. It’s not a pleasant topic so I keep it to myself. I was thinking though, where would I like to go before I die? There are so many awesome places and sights to see on this great planet of ours. Of course, being disabled kind of puts a damper on those dreams of traveling. Add to that the problems with COVID-19 and well, I guess I’ll have to be content with seeing beautiful photos online, at least for foreseeable future.
I had a rough time with this list. There are so many beautiful destinations on Earth! When choosing a country, I then had to think about where would I go within that country? What would I like to see? Many were obvious but I had to really think hard on a few! Sooo many choices! This list is just a tip of the iceberg!
Where would you like to travel? If money were no object, and if you had no limitations, commitments or obligations, where would you go? Below are my Top 10 choices. I can dream, right?
10. The Grand Canyon, Arizona – With the Colorado River flowing through this immense canyon of layered red rock, it must be a spectacular sight! The canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide in some parts, with a depth of over a mile! People say photos and videos do not do this natural wonder justice! It must be witnessed in person!
9. Antelope Canyon, Arizona – This gorgeous formation occurred from the erosion of red sandstone, due to flash flooding and winds. Several tourists have met their demise because flash flooding can occur even when it’s not raining. It’s especially dangerous during monsoon season. Light beams at certain times of the day create wonderful photo ops! I can only imagine!
8. Glacier National Park, Montana – This beautiful park of over one million acres, sits on the Canadian-US border. It consists of 2 mountain ranges, 200 lakes, 50 glaciers, thousands of species of plants and hundreds of species of animals. I would love to walk the trails that flow through the meadows and forests of this magnificent park!
7. Alaska – I was never particularly interested in Alaska until I learned of a train tour that takes you from Skagway through White Pass Summit, where you witness the glorious scenery of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and gorges. This historic railway was built in the 1890’s during the Klondike Gold Rush.
6. Venice, Italy – Can you see yourself touring the city on a gondola and eating authentic Italian foods in quaint little cafes? I’d love to go sightseeing and witness for myself the incredible architecture, bridges, canals, churches, and museums. Of course, while in Italy, there are other cities worthy of visiting, too!
5. Sequoia National Park, California – Home of the Giant Sequoias! What a sight (and feeling) it must be to stand next to a 200 foot tall tree! Imagine the trunk of that tree having a 40 foot circumference! Some of these sequoias have a life span of over 3000 years! Can you even imagine that? I’d like to hike the trails in this park and view the waterfalls, caves, cliffs, and canyons for myself.
4. Finland, Norway & Sweden – Well, these 3 gorgeous countries are tied for 4th place on my list. Why? I couldn’t decide which would be the better option to view The Northern Lights! Aurora Borealis can be seen in such glory in the Lapland/Arctic of these countries. I’d love the chance to camp outdoors in various spots for some fantastic photos! I would also have to visit some of Finland’s beautiful castles, such as 15th century Olavinlinna, which was constructed on a rock in the middle of a lake, the 13th century medieval fortress Turku Castle with 2 dungeons, and I can’t forget the Snow Castle! They rebuild it every year because it melts in the Spring! It has snow beds, thrones, sculptures, towers, and even a drawbridge – all made with compacted snow! Norway and Sweden also have a few medieval castles I’d love to see.
3. England – My #1 destination in England would have to be Stonehenge! There’s debate over the age of this monolithic monument, but it’s speculated that it was constructed around 3000 to 2000 BC. After Stonehenge, I’d have to roam the country-side looking for castles! The 12th century Windsor Castle, 11th century Tower of London, and Warwick Castle (also 11th century) come to mind. I can’t forget other sites such as the Wax Museum, National History Museum, and William Shakespeare’s home. Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is something I know very little about, except that it has rock formations which span 3 of Earth’s time zones – Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous – 185 million years in all! It would be a breath-taking sight!
2. Ireland – Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t visit some of Ireland’s castles! Kilkenny and Carrickfergus Castles (both built in the 12th century) are definitely on my list. The famous Blarney Castle (15th century) would be my first stop, I think. Why wouldn’t you want to kiss the Blarney Stone? Legend has it that if you kiss the stone you will receive the “gift of gab” (great skill of flattery). To kiss the stone one must ascend to the castle’s highest peak and lean over backwards from the parapet walk. Not sure if I could do that even if I were physically able, but I’d like the chance to try! I’d also hit a few of the local pubs, because why not? When in Ireland, do what the Irish do, yes? Ireland is home to many a lovely landscape; waterfalls, cliffs, caves, and sandy beaches. Also on my itinerary is The Giant’s Causeway, a rock formation nearly 60 million years old! Legend has it that it was created by giant Finn McCool.
1. Scotland – Scotland will always be my #1 because of the beautiful landscapes and of course, the castles! My first stop is the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle. She is my all-time favorite castle, but others I’d like to see are the 12th century Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, Edinburgh Castle (also 12th century), and the 13th century Urquhart Castle. Urquhart sits beside Loch Ness, home of The Loch Ness Monster, aka Nessie. While in the Highlands, I’d most definitely put on my hiking boots and find some photo-worthy sights – I’m sure there will be plenty of those! Caves, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and other castle ruins. I’m sure I’ll be busy…and exhausted!
Whew! There’s my list of places I’d like to see before I die. You may have noticed that most of my destinations include some hiking, which is something I always enjoyed. If only I had the money to do these things back in my backpacking days! You may have also noticed that I have a passion for castles! I love Medieval History and castles! My ‘handle’ for most online activities is “Castlefreak.” I used to have a Facebook page about castles, but I just didn’t have time for it. I’m thinking of reviving it!
I do hope you enjoyed my list! I enjoyed making it! I’m sure I’ll think of places that I forgot, but I’ll just make another list later – because, why not?
I’m surprised I haven’t coughed my brains out by now. I started feeling a scratchy throat on Wednesday night. I felt pretty good on Thursday so we went out for some groceries. Since the weather has been colder and we already had a little snow, I figured we’d better stock up on water, canned goods, cat food etc., and maybe get Thanksgiving dinner staples just in case.
I held up surprisingly well. My pain level wasn’t too bad. Of course, it would have been a completely different story had Walmart not had a scooter available. Afterward, Dad and I were both exceptionally hungry, even though we had breakfast. He had cereal and I had oatmeal. Dad said, “If it wasn’t for your diet we could go have pizza at Vaccaro’s.” At that point, I was so hungry I didn’t give a crap about my diet. I quickly swerved over to the left turn lane, “Pizza, it is!” My weight-loss buddies won’t be happy with me, oops.
I went to bed early because I didn’t have my usual cat nap and I had that scratchy throat so I figured I’d better get as much sleep as possible. I felt ok other than the scratchy throat but once I laid down the coughing started and it wouldn’t quit. I hacked and hacked all night long. Then I got a chill that I couldn’t shake. No matter how high my ceramic heater was set, no matter how many blankets or how much clothing I put on. I don’t think I slept 2 hours all night.
Yesterday, Friday, I was like a zombie. No sleep makes for a lousy day. I couldn’t crochet. I couldn’t read. I tried playing Mahjong on the computer but my mind just wouldn’t (couldn’t) focus on anything. I even tried writing Friday’s Funnies to post as per the norm but I just couldn’t. I felt like I was a little drunk. I was achy and that chill persisted. I tried to nap but I was still cold and that damn cough!! Every single time I felt as though I was drifting off into sleep, I would start hacking again. I took a couple of Tylenol and at about 10pm last night, the chill lifted, the achy-breakies subsided, and I was able to crochet a little. I went to bed early again, hoping to sleep better than the night before.
I was in luck. I did sleep better with less coughing and I stayed warm. Today, I’m just one big, walking, coughing mess. I’ve been drinking hot tea with honey or hot tea with lemon, sometimes both. I’ve made my tea with slippery elm bark, as well. I’ve had my fill of chicken soup. My cough drops and lemon drops are nearly gone. It’s all just temporary relief…but so is the cough, so I guess I’ll survive!
I’ve been depressed lately. I’ve only spoken to 2 other people about the issues bringing me down and I won’t discuss the details here but there are a few things I do want to say.
No one really understands what a person with chronic pain is going through. They will never understand until they’re the ones suffering from it. It’s debilitating. It’s exhausting. It’s sad, and it’s lonely.
I can’t just make plans to go do something because I don’t know what my pain level is going to be from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next! When it rains or when the barometric pressure rises, I am in more pain than usual.
I don’t want to be sitting at home. I’d like to be working. I’d like to be doing the things I used to do. I’d like to be able to pursue the hobbies and activities I thought I would be pursuing at this time in my life. I’d love to be able to go visit my grandkids, near and far. I’d love to go to the movies, hit the Mall, or go to a Flea Market. I’d love to go to museums, haunted houses, and concerts. Hell, I’d love to just do the simple things we all take for granted when we’re healthy, but these days everything is a painful chore.
I have good days and I have bad days, but let me be clear: Having a good day does not mean I’m pain-free. It just means my pain level is at a more tolerable level. Just because I smile or crack a joke doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. It just means I’m trying to be as close to “normal” as I can be, for appearances. I don’t like people feeling sorry for me and I sure as hell don’t like being the center of attention. So, I try to be “normal” like you.
I’m not lazy. Chronic pain is not an excuse to get out of doing things. I don’t have the energy to go to events like birthday parties, weddings or luncheons. When I do attend a function of any kind, I have to leave early. I just can’t handle hour upon hour of socializing and appearing to be happy. Another consideration is accessibility. Will I be near a restroom or will I have to walk a long distance to get there? Will there be stairs or an upward/downward slant? Will I be able to sit down? Is there a place where I can rest? Will I have to stand in line? There are so many things I have to consider before doing anything.
When you suffer from chronic pain, you also suffer a loss of identity. The things that made you who you are, are gone. I used to be a cross-country backpacker. It was something I hoped I could back into when my kids were grown and out on their own. I can no longer look forward to that. I used to be a great cook. I used to be a small business owner. There are so many things that made me who I am but now I’m having to find a new me. It’s hard to reinvent yourself when you can’t actually do anything anymore.
I hate when people say things like, “I hope you feel better soon,” or “Have you tried x, y, or z?” Seriously? Yes, I’ve tried everything under the sun. Nothing helps. Someone once said to me, “It’s just arthritis.” If this were just arthritis then I could be more active and exercise some of the pain away. If it were just arthritis I could find a simple remedy that would ease my discomfort. But it’s not just arthritis. I have joint damage in my knees. My legs are bowing outward at the knees. This is what makes walking and moving about so difficult, so painful. Then there are the people who, good intentions or not, are very condescending. Calling me “hon” or ‘sweety” when I’m having a bad day is a sure-fire way to get ghosted!
Chronic pain never goes away. Chronic pain causes depression, anxiety, changes in mood, appetite and sleep patterns. It causes loneliness, grief, isolation, and fear. Yes, FEAR. Every day, I have to think about every movement I make, every step I take, for fear of falling or doing too much and making my pain level go up even higher. I fear that I will injure myself and lose the little mobility I have left. Have you ever thought about being stuck in a nursing home? I have.
I’m so sick and tired of being expected to do things. I only go out when I have to go out. I go out for groceries once a week, go to doctor’s appointments, pick up meds, etc. Yes, I go out to lunch once a week, but that trip serves a dual purpose. I normally have other errands that need to be done. People don’t realize that in between those days is rest and recovery.
On top of the daily struggle, the holidays are approaching. The most depressing time of the year for me. I won’t have family and grandkids around. I won’t be able to cook all the delicious yummies I used to make for my family. I can’t wrap gifts easily, so gift bags it is! I can’t decorate or put up my big tree. I won’t be looking forward to any of what the holidays bring.
I’m not writing this for sympathy or attention. I want people to understand what chronic pain is and what it does to a person’s life. It’s crippling. It’s not my cup of tea and I’m pretty sure it’s not yours either.
I’ve been a bit absent as of late; suffering from quite the “writer’s block” and at the same time, my friend and fellow blogger, Linda, writes about her own ‘slump’ in Why Weight? She writes of her own struggles with getting healthy and losing weight, and how difficult it is to change old habits. When Linda asked if anyone would be interested in getting together to support each other in our weight loss and healthy lifestyle journeys, I jumped at the chance! You see, I’ve been struggling with my weight ever since my first child was born!
If you’ve been following my blog then you know a little of my struggles. I’ve been trying to lose weight for quite some time and when I finally found something that worked for me (Nutrisystem) I lost 60 pounds! The problem was that I couldn’t afford to stay on the full program indefinitely and I started gaining my weight back, slowly.
I keep trying to get back on track… I mean, I keep getting back on the track and then I get run over by the stinkin’ train! It’s hard to change habits. I think it’s difficult for a lot of people and without support, where are we? It’s always nice to hear a “Yay! It’s great that you lost 2 lbs. this week!” or maybe “You look great!” now and again. Heck, even when we fall down it’s nice when someone says, “It’s ok, I’ll help you get back up!”
So, I offered to help Linda work on some ideas of getting together and supporting each other, which led to the opening of a Facebook group. Lisa, from Lismore Paper, wanted to be a part of the adventure as well, so now we’re well on our way to being the greatest weight loss and healthy lifestyle support groups ever!! With YOU along for the ride, we will succeed!
If you’d like to join the group, “Weigh to be Healthy!” you can find it here. This group is all inclusive, meaning that no matter what your weight and health struggles are, we are here to support you! Linda, Lisa, and I are looking forward to this new adventure!
If you’d like to meet the other two wonderful bloggers who will be there every step of the way, you can find links to their blogs below.
Linda at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles
Lisa at Lismore Paper
Signing off for now, with the hope of seeing others join us in support for the health of it!