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The Mountains Are Calling Traveling During The Pandemic 2020


View Weekend In New England - Pandemic traveling on littlesam1's travel map.

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I did not think I would be traveling this year. We have been under quarantine for three months. We had cancelled a planned trip to Sweden for June. We had grown content staying at home. No complaints. We had our masks for when we ventured out locally. All was good even in trying times like these. Then fate stepped in. My younger daughter had gone through a period of unemployment. She lived in Atlanta and had been offered a job in Boston. So she ended up moving in April from Atlanta to Boston and was driving all that distance in the midst of the quarantine. My older daughter ended up in the hospital in May for a week. And when she returned home to recuperate she was informed her company was going through a COVID caused reduction in force and she no longer had a job. So I had a lot more on my mind than just a pandemic and no masks could cover my anxiety. I was escaping a lot of this by looking at my photos and at Facebook pages related to Switzerland. Switzerland is one of my favorite travel destinations. The mountains calm me and bring me peace.

The first week in June my oldest daughter Katie received an offer for a contracting job in New Hampshire. She had only been unemployed for two weeks so this was a God send. The company interviewed her over the internet. They liked her and thought she would be a good match for their company but they wanted to meet her in person first. This was completely understandable. So she planned her drive from Baltimore to Lancaster, New Hampshire.

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Lancaster was not only in New Hampshire. But it was high north New Hampshire. This would mean at least an eight or nine hour drive from Baltimore. Not wanting to see her drive all that distance alone I offered to go with her. She happily agreed this would be best. So it wasn't Switzerland, but the mountains were calling and I must go. During our quarantine Katie sent me a few surprise gifts from Amazon to lift my spirits. The cup in the photo at the beginning of this blog was one of those gifts. The cup was imprinted with the words The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go. So it does seem like fate was playing a game with us all and all things were working for the best.

Travel during a pandemic is different. I expected it to be different. I wasn't packing passports, power adapters, or language guides. I was packing masks, rubber gloves and hand sanitizer. Food was also an issue. It was a double problem. Katie was on a restricted diet from her hospital stay. And there was no place open for food other than fast food drive throughs and order in advance carry out. Luckily we were able to stop in Boston to visit my younger daughter Danielle and she prepared lunch for us. She was trying to prepare something for us that would be ready when we arrived so we could eat, visit and then hit the road again. But this was not easy. We had a major hiccup on the road. We were dependent on a maps app that streamed from the phone into the car through blu ray. We stopped at a rest stop where we gloved and masked up for a break. When we restarted the car the phone app for the map started an automatic update and we had no map for a few miles. When we finally had map service again we had missed a major exit making us arrive in Boston two hours later than planned. We had to text Danielle updates on our location so she could make sure not to cook too early or too late. It all worked out. We arrived two hours late and stayed longer than we had planned but it was all good. We would just arrive a little later in New Hampshire.

We also luckily had Mark at home giving us guidance. Mark is a map guru. I hate maps. Mark loves maps and studies them. When he and I travel he will have the trip all worked out in his head from the maps he studies at home. He then hands me the atlas, points me to the page, and asks me to watch for exits. I then get confused, read the map wrong, and end up having no idea where we are located. Mark was texting us helpful directions while we had the phone app updating. He mentioned to watch for the Tappan Zee Bridge near Tarrytown, New York several times. Once again I am useless with directions and maps and now apparently useless looking for bridges also. I never saw the Tappan Zee bridge.

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A while later Mark calls me on the phone and asks if we ever crossed the bridge. I said no. I never saw the bridge. But we were now past Tarrytown, New York and back on our way. He said then you had to have crossed the Tappan Zee River. I said no. There was no sign for the Tappan Zee River or Bridge. But we did cross a beautiful bridge about twenty minutes ago. It was the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. It appears the Cuomo Bridge is the name for the newTappan Zee Bridge. The original bridge has been demolished. Yes once again the map guru was right and I was not. Even when we aren't traveling together we still get into arguments over maps it seems.

Driving through New York State we saw signs of locations that immediately hit me with nostalgic memories. We passed New Rochelle which immediately reminded me of the home of Rob and Laura Petry on the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Then we passed Brewester, New York which gave me my best memory. I said to Katie we should stop in Brewester to dine at Lou Marie's French Restaurant. Katie glanced over at me kind of puzzled wondering where that came from. I told her he was Ann Marie's father. She was still a bit confused. Then I explained it was a reference to That Girl which she knows is one of my favorite 1960's TV shows.

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It was on to Massachusettes to see Danielle and Andrea. We had not been to see them in Atlanta for at least a year so we were excited to see them now in Boston and to have a quick visit.

After spending an extra hour with Danielle we finally left to continue on to Lancaster, New Hampshire. We had originally planned to arrive around eight o"clock but by now we were three hours behind schedule. We arrived at the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa at eleven o'clock that evening. It was very dark on the back roads in New Hampshire with no kind of street lights. Katie mentioned she was glad I was with her on these dark roads. It would not have been fun navigating them alone. We finally found the hotel on a very deserted dark road. The hotel was immense. It is a 300 room resort. The hotel had been closed for eleven weeks due to COVID quarantine rules in New Hampshire. The had just reopened two days before our arrival. There were only two or three other cars in the parking lot when we arrived. We found they belonged to the staff and that we were the two of very few guests actually at the hotel. We had to wear our masks in the hotel lobby while checking in. The lady at the front desk said she thought we might have cancelled due to our late arrival. But she was very pleasant and told us she was glad to be back at work again.

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Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa

While in New Hampshire I spent my time walking and hiking the small roads and trails near the hotel while Katie was interviewing for the job opportunity. I saw signs warning of moose crossing. Although it would have been exciting I did not see any moose. I did see some deer along the road. And some wild turkeys on the farm at the hotel. We were told to watch for moose on the roads at night. It was difficult to see them in the dark. The same for deer. And to our surprise we were told to watch for wild turkeys also. We were told hitting a turkey could total you car as well as a moose or deer. Who knew?

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Masked and ready to travel back home

Our return trip home was not very different from our drive up. We missed one of our exits on the interstate and decided to back track to find the exit rather than continue to drive out of our way. Food was still an issue for us. With Katie's restricted diet and a lack of open restaurants we had to resort to fast food drive throughs again. We drove back through Vermont and stopped at a small gas station with a small store attached. The area reminded us very much of some old country stores we had seen in the southern part of the US. We noted the only difference was the accent. We were tired. It had been a whirlwind road trip. Leaving Baltimore early on Sunday and back home late Tuesday night. But it was a nice break from being house bound in quarantine. As always the mountains spoke spoke to me. I was refreshed but tired. And Katie returned home with a new job which is the best part.

It wasn't Switzerland but the mountains in New Hampshire were beautiful. They called me and I answered. Even if only for a day.

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Posted by littlesam1 14:44 Archived in USA Tagged mountains road_trip new_hampshire massachusetts boston maryland mountain_view_grand_resort_and_ Comments (14)

Switzerland - Déjà vu

Looking back on the inpact of my first visit to Switzerland


View Switzerland - August 2003 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Larry 10,000 feet in the Alps on top of Schilthorn

When I to took my first trip to Europe I was with my ex partner. He and I had not done a lot of traveling in the past other than family vacations with our individual families. He was scheduled to attend a conference for his job in France in the city of Marseilles and he asked if I wanted to join him on the trip. All I needed was my airfare and money to spend. The hotels would all be taken care of with his expense account for the trip. He said it was a three day conference and we could plan a weeks vacation around the convention. I was so excited. I wanted to see Paris. But the conference is in Marseilles he replied to me. Yes, I was aware that it was in Marseilles but Marseilles is in France and Paris is in France. It did not matter to me that they were at different ends of the country. They were in the same country. And I was not going to France or even to Europe and not see Paris. So we went to Paris and then on to Marseilles. For the next seven years we traveled to Europe each spring to attend this big medical conference in different cities and countries each year. These were my first traveling experiences outside of the United States. With each trip I was fascinated with the cities we visited. I learned a lot about the culture and the history of each country we visited. And with each experience I came home with a feeling of having discovered something new and wonderful. Nothing seemed familiar to me. I was a stranger in a strange land drinking up the knowledge and the beauty all around me. I never felt at home. It always felt foreign and fascinating to me. Then I went to Switzerland.

Switzerland was never on my dream list of places I wanted to visit. I never really thought much about Switzerland at all. It was just Switzerland somewhere in the middle of Europe. I was thrilled when his conference sent us to Italy. It was a real fantasy to finally get to see ancient Italy. Likewise with the Netherlands and Amsterdam, Cologne, and Copenhagen. But when he told me the conference was to be in Switzerland I was a bit let down. I was glad to be able to continue to take the annual trip to Europe. But I was not thrilled about visiting Switzerland. The only thing I really wanted to see in Switzerland was Piz Gloria the location where the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed.

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Piz Gloria above the village of Murren

We planned the trip with little excitement. Neither of us were especially thrilled about Switzerland. We made arrangements to stay in Bern the first few days. We planned day trips , Basel, Zurich, and of course Piz Gloria. The conference was in the remote village of Les Diablerets high in the Alps in the western French speaking part of Switzerland. So we knew we would be spending four days there. Then finally we would travel to Geneva for two last days and fly home from there.

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Les Diablerets

The strangest thing happened. The moment we departed our plane in Geneva I was spellbound. Something felt very comforting and very familiar. I could not quite figure out what it was or why I was feeling this way. We boarded the train in Geneva and headed to Bern. I could not stop staring out of the windows watching the villages and mountains go by. Switzerland just captured my spirit and I felt completely at home.

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Bern

The ten days passed way to fast. I wanted more time. I did not want to leave. To this day over ten years later I can still just close my eyes and be instantly transported back to Switzerland. I find it strange. I don't necessarily believe in reincarnation. And I have no ancestors who came from Switzerland. So there is no reason I should have felt so at home there. But who knows. Maybe I did live there in past life. Or perhaps my mother's German ancestors originated in the Swiss area and migrated up to Germany and I felt some connection through them

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Littlesam AKA Larry Sampson standing in front of the Samson fountain in Bern

Perhaps it's because there is a Samson fountain in Bern.

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The beautiful village of Murren

Or maybe I just fell in love with the beauty of the small villages.

I still feel like there is a piece of me left behind in Switzerland. I came home promising myself to return one day soon and spend some more time there. Maybe I will figure out the connection. Or maybe I will be more confused. But I do know there will be a certain satisfaction to be able to return and continue the journey.

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Chateau Aigle

And I know that a glass of wine from the vineyards at Chateau Aigle is waiting for me on my return. And perhaps there, all will be revealed to me. Switzerland deja vu.

(The original trip to Switzerland was in August 2003. I wrote this blog in 2015. Since then I have returned to Switzerland two more times.)

Posted by littlesam1 10:45 Archived in Switzerland Tagged mountains switzerland geneva alps bern basel aigle chateau_aigle piz_gloria les_diablerets Comments (0)

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