The last picture show

  I'd managed to book us into yet another disappointing accommodation for our last stop on our Wild West adventure. To top it off, I'd booked us in for two days. Two days in a place that when Carol looked up what there was  to do there as we were driving towards it, reported to me, "There's no there there."

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You can't go chrome again

   Nostalgia, when done right, is charming. When we rolled into Williams, AZ prior to our train trip to the Grand Canyon, I felt we had discovered a little town that had gotten nostalgia just right. Carol was still a bit unsettled from seeing our accommodations for the next two nights. Even after I had explained how the guy backing up next to us in his pickup with his personal belongings neatly tied off in hefty bags had made his reservation using Expedia.com, she remained skeptical, suspecting I'd once again booked us into a hotel occupied by characters in a Rob Zombie movie.

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Grand illusion

   I can sum up my initial view of the Grand Canyon this way: totally fake. There is no way a river is responsible for what you see here. The Mississippi River has been depositing Minnesota onto Louisiana for eons, but it still looks like Louisiana, which is to say, an unreclaimed swamp. That's what rivers are supposed to do. They do not paint breathtaking landscapes like they were van Gogh or Monet. Even the little kid standing next to me told his mommy, "it looks fake."

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Road trip

    It was the day Carol looked into the living room and didn't see me on the couch. She called out for me. The thing was, I was sitting on the couch as I'd been for the last whenever. "I'm right here," I said waving to her, a wan smile on my face. When I realized that she could no long discern my outline on the couch from that of the couch itself, I said, "We need a road trip."

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Cosimo

   Upon our return from our last European trip, someone asked me if I'd met any interesting people. Carol stifled a laugh; I thought the question, asked of me, was rhetorical. While I do prefer to travel invisibly, and ask only that humankind for the most part act the same, some personalities strike you in a profound, if unobtrusive way, that you're happy to deactivate your cloaking device and meet them openly on common ground.

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You should go home again

  I believe most tourists to any place on the globe at one time or another, confront the same question: what would it be like to live here full time. A number of these tourists went on to do it and then write about it. I've read several of these well-written memoirs (Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence always comes to mind first). They've all taken me on amazing journeys, but have wound up at the same terminus for me: Don't do it.

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 Picture perfect

Those who knew Carolyn's travel photos and are now viewing Carol’s on my blog may have noted a marked similarity in photographic eye, color and composition. This has come as a bit of a surprise to Carol, as she has seen several of Carolyn’s Shutterfly books.

   “They're so beautiful and professional,” Carol has remarked. “It was her hobby.”

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Spoiler alert  

    I set out almost immediately to spoil Carol once we began our new life together. I had spent five years with Carolyn perfecting the dynamics of spoiling a human being, and I was confident I had command of the basics.

   The first roadblock I ran into was serving Carol’s morning coffee in bed. When word had gotten around I was serving Carolyn her coffee in bed, I was approached by a semi-distraught husband who told me: “Because of you, I'm getting up even earlier now just to keep up."

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A Happy anniversary

   On May 3, 2018, Carol and I met for the first time, following a two-month long "courtship" via email and PM (Instant Messenger). Having been a reader of my blog dealing with widowhood and solo travel, both from a point of view of self-deprecation that could be as withering as it was pinpoint accurate, there was a pretty good chance Carol's initial interest was professional. I believe I can help him, I imagined her thinking. That made Carol different from all the other readers, whom I took for granted believed I was beyond help.   

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English spoken here

 

   We were part of a tourist horde heading for Trevi Fountain, and Carol could sense I was not in a Sammy Cahn frame of mind. It was getting late in the afternoon, and we hadn't had lunch. That put me in the somewhat unromantic mood to just get to the damn fountain, throw the keys from our love lock in the stupid water and be done with it. Not exactly the kind of atmospheric hook Cahn might have been searching for banging out the notes to his famous tune on his piano.

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The seated traveler

  Maybe the reason I gained weight on this Italy trip has to do with what I did in between walking and eating. What I did in that in between time was sit. I did a lot of it, too, as I recall. There was no walking we did (unless it was to a restaurant) where I didn't keep a sharp eye out for a bench, a bench with a good back too.

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A waist is a terrible thing to mind, especially in Italy

 During our month in Italy, we walked 135 miles, according to Carol's misfit. The entire Italian peninsula is 600 miles long. That means in the course of walking to and from train stations and hotels, or to see stuff, or to figure out how we got lost and then on to pizza restaurants, we covered the equivalent of 22.5% of the entire peninsula. Looking at the east-west axis, we darn near walked the the entire 150 mile width of Italy.

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Hat trick

  There was that day in my living room, when I was clipping my toenails, and one of them catapulted into the air and hit me right dead center of the bald spot on top of my head. Prior to that, I had had no idea that the curvature of a toenail (my big toe toenail does resemble the aerodynamics of  a boomerang) could produce such a perfect bend-it-like Beckham trajectory when clipped. (Okay, too much exposition?)

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Mourning becomes memory, part one

If the sixth and final stage of grief is acceptance, then being able to remember a departed loved one in their happiest moments might be a sign you've arrived at that final plateau of sorrow. At the very least, you are remembering that loved one when he or she was happiest, and good memories like these bring their own comfort.

   Carol has gotten used to me asking about Mike, so she might be a bit further along in the process of memory's healing grace.

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