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
As I write this, I’m preparing for a visit my youngest son who's flying in from the Washington DC area. We’ll celebrate the 4th with some baseball, fireworks, and maybe even a slice of apple pie (sorry I don't drive a Chevrolet for those of you that remember that old ad campaign). I just heard on the early morning news about the latest terrorist attacks and new casualties in Afghanistan. Memorial Day is already a faint memory. I’ll be sure to ask my son if he’s registered
The Liberty Bell did not likely ring on the 4th of July, and in fact spent most of the Revolutionary War hidden below the floor boards of the Zion German Reformed Church. Ironically, the bell was made in England by the same company that made Big Ben. It broke on its initial test ring, and was re-cast twice by local Philadelphia foundry men. It’s cast with the inscription from Leviticus 25:10 “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants”. It was actually no
SIGNS We are on a 15 day tour of the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been thinking about signs. We’ve seen a few on this trip. Want to do a fun exercise? Google “signs”, and you’ll probably find a couple of free online quizzes on signs to test your driving skills, and knowledge of road signs. I plan to give the group my own little quiz this morning. Since we’re in Canada, and talking about signs, I can’t help but ask, does anyone remember that 1970’s song, “S
I spend a bit of time on airplanes. My dad was a pilot and so recently I read a book about some famous aviators including Eddie Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh. I was fascinated by some ties to the Midwest where many of our travelers are from. Eddie Rickenbacker was one the world’s greatest race car drivers and aviators. His dad died when he was 13 so Eddie left school and became a mechanic in the fledgling auto industry. He later became a sales manager, and was sent t
Rhonda and I just got back from a fascinating trip to Morocco. It's like nowhere else I've ever been. Medinas are old walled towns, or sections of Arabic cities. Of course they weren't designed for cars, but they were designed for defense, so the streets are very narrow and maze like so as to elude an enemy who has penetrated the outer wall.
At the souk, or market, these streets are a bustle of activity. They still hold plenty of donkeys, carts, vendors, running children
Let me tell you about the time I climbed Everest. I was surprised how easy it was. It's peak is 29,029 feet. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to reach the peak in 1953. Many have died trying; high winds, exposure, altitude sickness, falls, and avalanches are some of the challenges they face.
About 360 people take out permits to climb each year, but few succeed. The average successful climb costs $350,000 and takes 53 days.
Well let me confess, the picture above is in
I'm thankful for thorough airport security. I have to admit, I really try to focus on that when I'm going through the sometimes frustrating process. When trying to make a connection I've been stressed out over it more then once, and even missed flights because of long lines in security.
Plan to arrive 2 hours before your flight (more if going international). Having extra time in case of traffic, long lines, or getting screened more thoroughly will save you stress. If you