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We’ve all filled out  checklists for “things we like to do.”  You know, the list where you tell the world about your favorite pastimes like travel, cooking, knitting, playing tennis, reading, or running for Congress.

I think my list might have just gotten shorter.  At least for the kind of travel that demands sightseeing, eating out for three meals a day, making endless decisions about what to do, as well as packing and unpacking on a regular basis. Add the role of navigator for car rides through an unfamiliar city; a role fraught with the opportunity for conflict between travel partners. Unexpectedly,our GPS friend could suddenly change her mind, periodically throwing in a misadvised right turn that could take us miles out of our way.  Sometimes, you can’t tell who to believe anymore.

We just returned from a ten day trip to Portland, Vancouver and Salt Spring Island.  By the time I arrived home last night, I’d eaten 30 meals at different restaurants, checked in and out of three different hotels, acquired an upper respiratory infection, gotten tired of looking at tatooed bodies and skanky beards, decided that no farmer’s markets top our Santa Barbara farmer’s markets, sampled a dozen different local brews, ate regional ice cream whenever possible, and was saddened by the numbers of homeless that barely manage to get by in the cities we visited.

bearded men

This NW trip was largely motivated by curiosity to check out the food mystique that surrounds Portland, Oregon.  My husband is the real foodie in the family. He was a foodie before anyone had even coined the term.  Eating good food is second only to fishing for him. His capacity for culinary exploration is boundless. His willingness to travel is dependent upon what the quality of the food will be at our destination.  His passion is unrelenting.  On the morning of our departure for the Portland Airport, he proposed that, we not eat at our hotel, but rather stop for breakfast at one of the famous and admittedly fabulous donut haunts in Portland. It was futile to suggest otherwise.

apple cider donutIf if ever dare to suggest that we skip a meal on our travels, the look of hurt and sadness that crosses my husband’s  face, quickly makes me say, “just fooling.”

Around Day 5, I started counting the # of days until I could come home.  My illness left me with little energy and less enthusiasm for exploration.Big cities are morphing into a similar deadening architectural consistency. An ever expanding march of monolithic high rises have risen across the sky of the urban landscape. The corporate world quickly fills in any blanks, so that shopping too has become homogenized and monotonous. For me, the most compelling parts of the landscape were the natural ones.

salt spring island

Salt Spring Island

The views seen at the edges of the cities on Salt Spring, Vancouver and Portland were beautiful.  But so are the views closer to home.

Do I sound jaded?  My heart just wasn’t in it this time.  Bottom line?  This kind of travel was work. I no longer want to fill my day chasing Things Meant to be Seen and Eaten.

This morning when I awoke, I smiled in recognition of the familiar light and objects that surrounded me.  The wall behind my desk has an informal arrangement of people and things I love.  As my gaze fell on each image, I felt welcomed back into the world where I am surrounded by the people, memories, places and things I love and give my life meaning.

momentosjapanese momentos

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


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