Rhonda is a bit panicked in this picture. Fortunately she is not panicked by a pandemic. Are you panicked by pandemic, feeling stressed.? Are you fearful of getting the coronavirus or fearful for an elderly loved one with underlying conditions? Is your business failing? Have you lost your job? Are you fretting over the latest statement on your evaporating retirement account that has been devastated by a plunging stock market? Is isolation driving you crazy? All your events
Her nickname was "Twinkle." Can you guess why? I’ve been thinking a lot about eyes. The truth is, I’m not sure what it is I want to say. My vision for this article is a bit out of focus. I’m just really feeling compelled to talk about eyes. Rhonda has beautiful blue eyes. It’s not just my biased opinion, one of her nicknames growing up was “twinkle”, a well-deserved moniker for the sparkle in her eyes. Over the last year her eyes have been threatened. She’s been in pain. We’v
Today I can’t wait to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon. For centuries, people have sought the benefits of geothermal spas. You might be surprised to learn the lagoon is manmade. The water is a byproduct from the nearby geothermal power plant. The rich mineral content is provided by the underground geological layers and pushed up to the surface by the hot water. The water renews every 2 days. Very few organisms live in the water apart from some blue-green algae, despite the wat
Today we’ll take a cruise in hopes that we’ll get our first glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. The oldest known auroral sighting was written in 2600 B.C. in China: "Fu-Pao, the mother of the Yellow Empire Shuan-Yuan, saw strong lightning moving around the star Su, which belongs to the constellation of Bei-Dou, and the light illuminated the whole area." Thousands of years later, in 1570 A.D., a drawing of the aurora depicted candles burning above the clouds. I
How do you want to be remembered? There it was on the center of the stage, a lunch pail, just like the one my Grandpa used to carry. It was a sermon illustration, though I have to confess, I have no recollection of what it was illustrating or even the sermon that day. I was flooded with memories of my Grandpa. He was a tall, rugged, weathered man. Farming hadn’t worked out for Grandpa. Some maybe looked down on him for that. He and Grandma had to move to a tiny little hous
THIS HEADLINE GRABBED MY ATTENTION I quickly checked the location where the ticket was purchased to make sure I wasn't the winner. Wait, I guess that means I would have to have bought a ticket right? Well I didn't, and I certainly wasn't in central Iowa at the time.
I'm not in the habit of buying lottery tickets. Oh I bought a couple when the jackpot got real high, like a billion dollars or so. Who wants to buy a ticket when the odds are much better and you can only win
We'll help make it tolerable, at least understandable. Seeing amazing places and having great experiences is worth the hassle inherent in flying today. Remember that popular airline commercial, "Fly the Friendly Skies." Remember the 60's when flying was fun, glamorous even? Those Pan Am flights of well dressed people seeing the world, while being served on real china complementary food and beverages? Am I the only one whose family's weekend entertainment might be going to
Here are a few of the coffee table books Rhonda has made to remember our travels. You've taken 100's, possibly 1000's of travel pics. Now what do you do with them? The question should probably be, "what not to do with them?"
Let me just say, you don't necessarily need a fancy camera. I take most of our pics on a cell phone. I post them on Facebook, and make very enlarged photos from them without any graininess. I found a little APP called Quik that makes really neat sho
A Valentine's Story This is my friend Mary's story Rhonda checked the answering machine at home. She said, "Mary called, she said it wasn't urgent and I could call her when we got back from Alaska." It's probably about a trip", I said. Mary travels with us. In fact, eXtra Touch likes to take some matchmaking credit. Mary and her husband lost their first spouses. When there was only one seat left on the eXtra Touch bus, Mary sat down next to a past acquaintance, Dick, and
That's our new bag. Bought it in Stockholm for about $350. When it got this huge slice through it on it's second trip I said no worries, it's got a great warranty. When we called to collect they said, "Oh it's not warrantied from airline damage." WHAT? I'm sorry SAM'S SON but that is just not rITE. PHILIPPIANS 4:6-8
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which
Today we are at the leaning tower of Pisa. It started to lean during construction in the 12th century. As an architect, that would have been a crisis. Sioux City's City hall did the same when it was built in 1895-1897. It was designed to resemble the Palazzo Vecchio (old palace) in Florence, Italy were we were a few days ago. When I was part Sioux City City Hall's reconstruction in 1995-1997, it's leaning tower caused me plenty of anxiety. If you want the little known s
Have you ever seen the northern lights (aurora borealis)? We have, and we're on a quest to see them again. We're headed to Iceland next October, one of the most popular destinations in travel. Here are some tips for Americans considering an Icelandic adventure. We're drawing from our son (who's been there and can't wait to return), as well as sources like the USA today. Iceland is expensive, especially the food. We've got some tips on what to eat on a budget, and our tri
In June we toured Scandinavia, land of the Vikings. The Vikings had a reputation of being tough, fearless, ruthless, invaders and plunderers.
We also toured a place called Vaxjo, Sweden. This area of southern Sweden is famous for glass, and its nickname is “Kingdom of Crystal.” Millions of tourists come to see the glass there each year. The most famous of the glass producers is Kosta Boda founded in 1742. There are two things about glass, it’s usually fragile and tran
A few years ago about this time we were on the east coast visiting our son. We took the opportunity to visit Liberty Hall on the 4th of July. As a travel adviser I can tell you, definitely visit these historic sites, but perhaps the 4th of July is not the most opportune time. Still, after waiting in line for some time, I do not regret standing in the room where our nation was forged over 240 years ago. It is a truly moving experience. I've been thinking about our upcoming Jan
TYPES OF LUGGAGE
It's not complicated. Luggage is either hard or soft. Hard luggage comes in two basic types, plastic or aluminum.
What are the advantages of each? Soft luggage is lightweight and pliable; meaning I can jamb it into the trunk or more importantly, that overhead bin in the airplane.
Plastic luggage is both lightweight and supposedly durable (more on that later). Plastic luggage is not malleable making it more difficult to fudge on the approved airline
Getting lost? I recommend it. Get out of the hotel and out of your comfort zone. You may never get back here again. I've come to live by that motto all over the world. It has resulted in amazing experiences I never would have had laying on the bed watching foreign TV I couldn't understand.
There was one time recently where I was a bit more scared then I normal. Terrified you might say. I'd gone on a bike ride in France. It was a fabulous afternoon, right up until th
Let's face it. The glamour of air travel is over. Remember those days as a kid when you went with your family to the airport just to watch the planes take off and land? Remember the glamour and nostalgia of those Pan Am commercials? The adventure of seeing the world in style and being pampered like royalty? Yah, that doesn't happen anymore. Sometimes it feels like the worst part of travel is, well, "travel". Being there is great, but getting there in the modern era of
I’ll let you in on a secret. When Rhonda is in bed I rearrange the kitchen cupboards to make sure all the cups and glasses are organized by type and size. They also need to be organized in very neat rows. Sometimes I even need to have the patterns on the dishes line up in the same orientation. Don’t get the wrong impression, Rhonda keeps a pretty tidy house and doesn’t just throw them in the cupboard. Remember the Odd Couple? I’m Phelix, an anti-clutter O.C.D. neat-nick
I don’t believe in extended warranties. I bought a couple when I was young and naïve. When it came time to collect of course, the particular product repair was not covered. I’ve never bought a policy since. I took the skepticism earned over these lessons learned and applied it to travel insurance. It seemed a waste of money for a trip I had no intention of missing. Rhonda thought differently, and as often is the case, she was right. 2014 was the year I became a believer.
Welcome to my fitness room. It’s a little crowded right now because I have my bike in here for the winter to get ready for RAGBRAI next summer. That’s me on the screen too, well at least its my avatar. To make my rides less monotonous, I ride using a bike trainer and this program that allows me to have a virtual ride at different locations around the world. Yesterday I rode in London, it was sort of cool since I was there last fall and now recognize some of the sites. See