Friday, March 28, 2014

overthinking, underdeciding

Dear Readers:
I've been trying to work something out for a couple of weeks.
I've avoided writing about it because it may be very dull reading.
But I can't seem to write about anything else, so here goes!
Your thoughts and suggestions are most welcome.

I may be taking a little trip.

Flashback: For most of my life I have loved my rare opportunities to travel, always on a shoestring (think "hostel" rather than "hotel") and usually wearing a heavy backpack half-full of cameras. I was never good at "vacationing" but I was always up for a project...a portfolio of habitat images, research for an article, scientific field work, learning a new skill.

Now it's been four years since I've spent a single night away, which seems impossible even as I type the words. It's been five years since I've been on a plane! That was when a work trip took me to a committee meeting in Yosemite. And when the work was over, I added a few days to the journey and spent them alone in Sequoia.

It was a precious, revitalizing time.

I hadn't realized that I needed revitalization.
But I really, truly did.


Now, then.

Some time ago, I mentioned to my Physical Therapist that I had stopped going to the theatre. In previous years, I had perfected my Summer Shakespeare System: in the morning, drive two hours to Lenox, get a motel room, do a lot of stretching. See a matinee performance of one play. Take a walk, have a bite to eat, keep moving. See the evening performance of a second play. (Ask the person in the next seat who stole my little inflatable back cushion during Intermission to kindly give it back! Too funny.) Spend the night in the motel, with long soaks in a very hot tub. Next day, catch a matinee of whichever play is on (seeing one of the plays twice - what a luxury!), then drive two hours home, with one long stop midway to stretch and walk about. I could expect several pretty grim days after one of these jaunts, but it was worth it.

Apart from the physical issues, the experience was perfect.
Shakespeare is the Sequoia of theatre for me.

My Physical Therapist was sad that theatre had become Another Thing no longer on my agenda. She told me that the dry climate of Arizona often brings great relief to people with joint issues, and perhaps I might want to consider returning to the Southwest?

Flashback: Back in the Jurassic period of my life, I spent a lot of time in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. I enjoyed visiting the desert, but I loved the mountains of Colorado. In fact, I was just wandering through Colorado and I stayed 7 years.

My PT's recommendations always carry weight, and I thought long and hard about testing the idea. So last year around this time - after the risk of frozen water pipes and before kidding season - I tried to find a critter-sitter. No luck. Soon it was a moot point, as kidding season began. Then gardening season. Then it was suddenly Autumn, and I found someone! Pat came and met my crew, and had a very nice way with the animals.

But she wasn't interested in minding anyone else's animals in the Winter. 

"Why, Pat?"  LOL.

Fair enough. I'll wait.

Four months later, although there is still plenty of snow and the ice is thick on every hazardous pathway, the end of this challenging Winter is in sight. Once again, there is a narrow window of possible travel time, and now I have someone I can trust to look after the animals. The timeframe is bookended by Pat's availability (beginning April 12) and my need to be back for kidding prep and seed-starting (early May).


this is the long-awaited Big Chance!

And yet...

I am stuck, my friends!

I am so wide open to the idea of travel after this long hiatus,
the range of options that pop into my mind is dizzying!
This dizziness is counterbalanced
by limitations which I do my very best to ignore in daily life
but which I would be a fool to ignore in the planning stage of a journey.

Unfortunately, I am a fool.

Maybe writing about my repetitious train of thought will lead to a good decision?

Maybe you can help?

My Train of Thought visits three stations:

First Stop: I ponder how to best get from Point A to Point Elsewhere, when being in one position for any length of time is so difficult. Rent a car, so I can stop as often as needed to either walk around or stretch out in the back? Look for short or non-stop flights? Trains? Take some sort of "tour" such that I am not responsible for any aspect of transportation, and can spend time in a zero-gravity position whenever I choose? And about the time I realize I've just spent four hours online researching travel by boat and imagining the thrill of watching unknown riverbanks drift past my eyes from the welcome relief of a deck chaise, it occurs to me that a journey of any kind may be totally unrealistic... Woo-ooo-ooooooh! All Aboard! The train is leaving this station!

Second stop: no journey at all? But how could I waste this rare opportunity to leave the animals in good hands and refresh my soul with travel? The easiest thing would be to just get the first cheap flight to anywhere, and GO. Wheee! I know how to do this! Let's see...I've long imagined spending time in the southern Appalachian region. Or wouldn't it be fantastic to head for the Sierra Nevada again, because it already feels like a place where I could take root? But if I'm going 3,000 miles, why not just get a non-stop across the sea while the airfares are "low"? I've never been to England or can that even be possible? Must go there - this may be my last chance! Or to the green, green Azores! Spain, Italy...or maybe revisit France? Or Portugal? Or... Quick, back on the train!

Third stop:  WHOA! The original point of this operation was not to run off on holiday, it was to experiment with the effect of a different climate on my baseline pain issues. Won't I be wasting that chance unless I go somewhere with a moderate, dry climate, and lots of trees? An area I might potentially be able to relocate to, in order to improve my quality of life? Which brings my mind back to thinking about pain, and...wait a second, doesn't that station look familiar? Oh! It's where we got on! This train is on a loop! Chug-a-chugga-chug-a-chugga....

You see what's been going on in my little squirrel-brain lately.
It's the bane of the squirrel mind.

"Shall I go forward? Backward?
I seem to be stuck on this fence,
but it's not very comfortable here!"

Any thoughts?


Destination recommendations?

Oh, and if anyone has personal insight on the "dry climate = reduced joint pain" scenario, I would very much appreciate hearing about it.
Thanks so much.


  1. First of all, if joint and other pain is an issue, by all means do whatever it takes to avoid the climate of northern Europe. hell on wheels.

    But if you narrow your search to dry and warm, that could help. How about a trip to SoCal, then? lovely spring weather, beautiful wildflowers in the Bay Area. How about a spa experience, which can be blog material, if it has to be useful!

    And do stop assuming that this might be your last chance! life is amazingly long when you see how many second chances we tend to get, even when we don't recognize them as such at the time.

  2. Hi Boud - I thought of you yesterday when I bought a massive bag of grapes for the freezer! :)
    Not really assuming "last chances", except in the general sense that any time could be the last time for anything, ever, always. I just meant that if travelling by plane now turns out to be truly physically miserable, this may be the last time I get on a plane "for fun." A past example: after four days of 24/7 discomfort on a small boat that was not built for passengers, I was forced to admit to myself that the ability to stand up straight while inside a shelter has a higher priority in my life than it once did. It was a lovely boat, and I don't regret going because I always thought I would enjoy sailing. But I would only repeat that particular experience at gunpoint.
    Thanks for replying - I am thrilled you made it through the epic-length post! :)

  3. Palm Springs, California photographs always remind me of the 1950s, stylish, and easy lolling about. Find an interesting festival or my first choice, Greece.
    Great post
    I think my life has been blah because its been decades since I've seen a Shakespeare play in a real live theatre.

    1. Years ago I imagined a perfect road trip based on the double theme of Shakespeare and hot springs...couldn't make it happen, but still think it was a splendid idea!
      Greece, now....mmmmmm.

  4. I'm afraid your talking to someone who doesn't have much faith in Sweety life is short..... I'm alot like you in the sense there is SO much i want to see and do and when someone asks me okay where do you want to go i'am frozen by all the possibilities...... so i always say ..You choose..... I wand to see and do it all that theres no way i could be disappointed...... so i say throw a dart at the map..... or put all the places on strips of paper and draw one out of a hat...... Most importantly...just it......don't let this opportunity pass..... Hugs! deb

  5. Well, if you are thinking that you want to travel and have put this much thought into it then that definitely means you need to go. If you don't, you will regret it and kick yourself for some time to go. As to where or how to go, that's something you have to decide for yourself. It's a great big world and there's much to see. Even if you stay stateside, there's 50 states to choose from. Don't go anywhere that's still cold. Definitely head for a warmer climate. I'm the type that likes to be in control which is why I rent a car; but there's something to be said for just getting on a train and going from one point to the next. I would actually like to do that. Book a train trip that stops all kinds of places so I could explore, get back on again and go to the next station. Not so sure about a cruise as I get seasick really easy. Anyways, just do it -- narrow down your choices and make a decision. I'm sure you'll figure it out. Best wishes and blessings, Tammy

  6. I meant to say "some time to come" not go :/

  7. I am a Libran and I feel your pain (that of under-deciding!)

    1. Kath, at first I read this as "I am a Librarian," and thought, "Yes, I always have trouble choosing a book, too!" ;)

  8. I can't help you with the travel suggestions but I agree that you must go. Whenever and whatever sounds most relaxing and flexible. Good luck!

  9. Hmm, I live in a very dry environment, and my joints still hurt like hell. However, maybe they would hurt more in a humid environment?

    I have tons of trouble flying. It leaves me in terrible pain, unless I plan it super well (either direct or taking a very long walk in the airport during a layover). So, I understand that part too.

    By all means, you should go someplace!!! I don't know you well enough to know where to suggest. There are tons of high desert type places in Utah and Arizona. Perhaps one of those? It would be dry. It would be warm (and maybe even hot near the end of that time period).

    Anyway, I hope you figure it out!

    1. Yes! I've also walked miles in airports, as one of many little pain-delaying strategies, some more successful than others in the past. Thanks for weighing in, KB. So far, I have not heard from even one person who has experienced a reduction in their level of chronic joint pain after moving to a drier climate. Of course, my PT hears from a lot more people than I do, but still...surprised I'm not hearing at least a few similar first-hand stories.

  10. Selfishly I'd like to say come to England then I might get the chance to meet you - but it is certainly not warm and dry here! I hope you find the perfect solution. xx

    1. Lucy, that is so sweet, and honestly if I was planning a "normal" holiday, I would be heading straight for Britain! And if/when I ever do, I hope very, very much that we'll be able to connect. Thanks :)

  11. I'm glad you wrote the post! It will at least help you sort out your thoughts-and by reading the comments I can see you have gotten some great suggestions. I don't have any to add-except for you to GO! Even if you don't go very far away-like the theater trips-it will be a time of rest and renewal for you. Of course if you choose southern Appalachia-I MUST see you in person LOL : )

    1. You're right, Tipper, it really did help me sort out the options and identify the real stumbling block. Thanks for suggesting the value of short trips as well...something else to think about. And oh, my, yes, if I EVER manage a visit to your neck of the woods, as I often imagine, you can bet I'll be hoping for a get-together with you! :)

  12. Come visit me and I will NOT put you to work! As to joints...if you've got mineral springs any where near you...go there and soak. Truly, makes a world of difference. I go to Jefferson Pools, now owned by the Homestead, and soak a couple of times a day...makes me feel brand new.
    Getting away is good, getting away often is better. There's nothing like a new perspective both physically and emotionally to sort things. Life things. Whatever you do, just go somewhere, Quinn.

    1. I LOVE hot springs, always have, but the closest I know of is in West Virginia, so...not very near! I envy you being close enough to soak in the Jefferson Pools.
      Thank you so much, Sandra. I never see the banner image on your blog without thinking how wonderful it would be to see that view firsthand. And if I end up on a southeast roadtrip and am lucky enough to be looking down that gorgeous valley, I most certainly WILL help with chores! I can imagine a lot of things, but sitting around while someone else does the chores is not one of them! :)

  13. Quinn- by all means go! I would suggest Sedona or somewhere in that area-- I don't think I'd go too far- just in case your pain issues wreck havoc-- don't waste this wonderful opportunity to travel--


    1. Thanks, Vicki - I actually am looking at the Sedona/Flagstaff, northern AZ/Four Corners area. But now that I've "talked it through" with readers I'm more realistically facing the likelihood that any type of travel will be unrelentingly painful. It makes a trip seem like a grueling endurance challenge instead of the exciting adventure it has been for most of my life. But...if there's a possibility the dry climate really could make a difference in baseline pain levels, I'd certainly like to know!


Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.