So Much For The Bucket List

From Jenni Murray:

“Do you remember how exciting it used to be to arrive at the airport, stand in a queue for just a few minutes to check in, whizz through passport control, have a stroll around Duty Free, wander down to the boarding gate, find your seat on the plane where there’d be plenty of knee room and, full of anticipation, you were up, up and away?”

I think she’s talking about the 1960s.  Personally, I would feel pretty much the same as she does, because even before the Wuhan virus flying had become a post-9/11 nightmare.  As she puts it:

Hours of checking in and security.  Anxiety about whether any cosmetics might be confiscated if they were more than 100 ml.  The humiliation of removing shoes…[etc]

So my bucket list loses Peru, San Francisco, the Maldives, Japan, Australia and gorillas in Sub- Saharan Africa. I shall never fulfill my longing to dig my own opal from the mines at Coober Pedy, north of Adelaide, or delight in the cherry blossom in Okinawa.  And my trip around Kolkata, Calcutta as my parents knew it, is off.

In terms of travel, my bucket list is not the same (San Francisco?  Kolkata?  LOL), but in terms of places I still want to visit (for the first time), it’s essentially European:  Budapest, Prague, Dubrovnic, Milan, to name but some);  and I also want to revisit some of my favorite countries:  Britain, France, Austria, Holland…  All seem so far away now, so out of reach because of all the travel restrictions and other nonsense.

We won’t even talk about Australia, where I have cousins and a step-family via New Wife’s elder son, with grandchildren I’ve never met.  (She’s off to South Africa next month to visit younger son and his wife and baby — grandmothers will not be denied.)

Don’t even talk to me about local travel.  Certainly, New Wife hasn’t been to any of the major U.S. cities except to fly through, but answer me this:  if you were in my position, are there any U.S. cities you’d want to take your wife to these days?  We’ll probably end up going up to New England again in the fall, and maybe a trip up to Glacier National Park before the heavy snows, and she’d probably love that:

But compared to Amsterdam, Vienna, Lake Como and Villefranche-sur-Mer?  Well, that’s a little more to consider, isn’t it?




Part of me wants to say, “Ah, what the hell”, and let it slip.  Then there’s the other part of me that says, “Hell no — I am going to see all those places, both where I’ve never been and where I’ve been before.”

And all that despite the TSA bullshit, the crowded planes and airports…

I’m not like Jenni Murray.


  1. Not really a city, but the battlefield at Gettysburg. Especially with a good guide (I was lucky enough to walk it with two, both PhD military history instructors at the Army War College.)

    It is without a doubt the best preserved of the battlefields of the Civil War, restored mostly to the condition it would have been during the battle (with the exception of a road, and the dozens of unit monuments put there by veterans of the battle.)

  2. Lol…to quote a WWII combat vet who was a neighbor when I was a kid….”they should bulldoze all of Europe and make it a hunting preserve.”

  3. Why on earth would someone fly from England to France. Assuming London, the distance to drive is less than what I do to go to the doctor. I don’t know how much hassle the Chunnel is for drivers or where in France she was going but there is always the train. Euros have a really weird sense of distance.

    1. Driving 100 miles in Europe can take more time than driving 400 miles in the USA…

      Distances are less, but speeds are way lower too on average over a trip.

      For example, I live 35km from the outskirts of Amsterdam, but to get there (to the outskirts, the business district, for work) costs me on average over an hour, in extreme cases it can take 4 hours.
      Train takes 40 minutes, but is during rush hour so crowded (even while running 5 times an hour) that you more often than not can’t get in and have to wait for the next one.

      Chunnel is similar.
      It can take hours to get to the embarkation point, then hours more waiting for the train to depart, then several hours for that train to reach France, then disembark, drive for hours more to Paris.
      If you’re on foot and don’t need to get to the ferry terminals on the channel coast it’s a bit easier as you can embark in London and disembark in Paris, but the waiting times are still there, it still takes hours and hours.
      Flying, even with the security theater, is just faster. And more often than not cheaper as well as the airlines have competition from each other, the rail link has a monopoly and can basically charge whatever they want as long as it doesn’t drive everyone away (their main money maker are trucks carrying goods between France and the UK anyway, and there their only competition are the ferries which are even slower).

      1. You have more knowledge of the Chunnel than me (not hard) but I know more about traffic in the US. Amsterdam has a metro population of about 2.5M, placing it midway between Denver and Las Vegas, two cities in which I have driven a lot. I can assure you that the commute times you cite are comparable in the US. No rail option from the suburbs here other than limited light rail in Denver but there are busses which suck even more than your trains.

        Driving across Montana is indeed faster than you driving to Prague (about the same distance) but this is hardly a commute.

  4. My “go” list used to have three “I” countries at the top … Ireland, Iceland, and Italy. Not wishing to be treated like cattle, which the wuflu has only made worse, means that I have become resigned to not going to any of those places. What’s left on the list?
    Pretty much the only thing left on the list is somewhere arctic to see (and hear) the aurora in person. I used to be set on Barrow, Alaska. Now I find it’s not even Barrow anymore, but a place called “Utqiagvik”, for cryin’ out loud. Can’t they leave anything alone?
    Tromsø, Norway might be the place. There are some CME’s on the way right now that should light up the place pretty well. I might be tempted to fly one last time. I wonder what a one-way ticket costs.

    1. I have seen an aurora as far south as Denver (no, not the neighboring city) and a really good one in N. Michigan. Also seen a really good one at Moosonee, Ontario which you can take the train to.

  5. I vicariously enjoy these exotic places through you, Kim, and I have for years.

    My passport is, more or less, the type you see among Bass Pro Shop customers (like myself), which is not much.

    I travel all over the US, but I’ve never been across either pond.

    My wife certainly has, though.

    I’m contemplating travel right this minute as I watch F1 qualifying at Monaco.

  6. I will wait for travel to settle down, as I will not go someplace to be treated like a leper and quarantine for any length of time.Actually, lepers are probably treated better than the rest of us anyway. You get the whole row to yourself on the plane.

    Haven’t made it to Deutschland or Austria or Hungary or Poland yet. I would enjoy going back to Fraaaance, bien sur, as well as Ireland and Italy again. A return to Australia ,yes, absolutely when things settle down.

    I can wait, there’s a lot to see in the good old USA that I haven’t seen yet.

  7. Like you I’m a fan of history. Beautiful scenery, classical architecture, and to indulge in local food and drink. Europe and Britain have all of that, hence why I love vacationing Over There.

    But since we don’t have much of that stuff here, I want make the most of what we do have. Boston’s Freedom Trail, the majesty of driving my Jeep through the breathtaking scenery in Colorado and Utah, and the wonderful small towns in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Washington, staying far away from the commie rat infested cities. Wild camping on BLM land–the real BLM, not the terrorist organization–or in a national park. And maybe someday a drive up to Alaska, or even better, take the Jeep on the trip of a lifetime up the Dempster Highway to the top of the world in Tuk. And even in Texas, there’s the BBQ trail that is calling me starting with Aaron Franklin’s in Austin, then Lockhart, Luling, and so on, until I start seeing vegans exploding by the dozen.

    Yes, Switzerland’s Berner Oberland is breathtakingly beautiful; the Lauterbrunnen Valley, up to Gimmelwald, Mürren, and so on are to die for, as is Zermatt. But so are Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride in Colorado. Ireland makes my heart melt with its people and natural beauty, especially the west coast including the Cliffs of Mohr and the Dingle Peninsula, but they don’t have the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone.

    Prague is stunningly beautiful, but its Soviet past very visible in terms of both people and building construction and its street crime and corruption are legendary. St. Petersburg, Russia is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my entire life and I could spend months there without venturing outside the Hermitage and the Catherine Palace–and there is quite frankly nothing in any of the Americas that can touch anything in that city.

    I won’t fly anywhere if I’m forced to wear a mask so all of those European destinations are off the table for now. If you want a pleasant airport experience, at least on the U.S. side, get Global Entry and buy a business class ticket. It’s as close to a 1960s “Jet Age” level of travel that you can find–only better. No shoe-taking-off BS, and if your toiletries are in a plastic TSA-approved case that you can buy in any pharmacy it’s easy. Then hit the lounge until 15 minutes before boarding. Turn left once you get onboard and be waited on hand and foot. If you compare a business class ticket today to a First Class ticket from the 60s, they’re roughly the same based on adjusted buying power. I fly Premium Economy across the Atlantic 95% of the time and it’s as good as yesteryear’s coach experience.

  8. I have just concluded my fourth re-booking of flights from yyc to fco and back in October. The airlines have been removing, adding back and changing flights a lot lately and the constant re-books are a pain.

    Even so, worth it, because I’m going no matter what. Also fares keep going up because of pent up travel demand. As long as I rebook I get the same fare I got over a year ago on the first booking. I even managed to talk the airline into a bit of a bonus. We were going from Rome to Florence anyway and the airline had to re-route us to Paris. Direct flights from Canada into Italy were banned, we being so pestilentially infected up here, but Canadians coming in from Paris, that’s OK, no doubt a 4 hour layover at cdg would cure our covid.

    The bonus was that they are flying me from Paris to Florence and they knocked $100.00 off the fare.

    So take heart and book. Airbnb and similar private accommodations are at rock bottom low prices.

    If you do Budapest please post a photo of you standing next to the Ronald Reagan statue at Szabadság tér. There’s also a full sized Stalin statue in one of the museums where some of the older folk come to glare and sometimes spit on it, or worse.

  9. I haven’t flown in years, not even domestically, due to the security theater, massive hassle, and higher costs compared to driving. Going coast to coast? Drive. It’s cheaper and easier, even if it does take 4 days instead of one. I don’t have to disarm to board my car, either.
    As for international travel, that’s right out. Even domestically, so long as I follow the song and dance, I can still theoretically pack my pistol (in checked luggage) and carry it at my destination within the US (excepting Hawaii and NJ, but I repeat myself on “within the US”). Foreign travel? Forgeddaboutit. Were I to visit the ancestral lands of Scotland or Germany, I would be prohibited so much as even a pocketknife of any actual function, much less a firearm. No thanks – especially in today’s European culture of diversity. I prefer not to run the risk of adding to American blood fertilizing their soil without possibility of reply.
    And there isn’t really any other place I would WANT to go, save maybe visit CZ HQ in the Czech Republic. And that isn’t worth the airfare on its own.

    1. Carrying by an out-of-stater is also right out in California, Oregon, Washington, Washington DC, New York, and Maryland.

      1. More likely to get caught doing it on a plane though.
        Driving? Don’t provide an excuse for them to pull me over. (Hence the “never Jersey” policy – they’ve been known to treat out of state plates as probable cause)

      2. Easy to get a non-resident permit in WA and possible in OR. I have both. Plus WA has reciprocity with some states.

    2. You don’t need a handgun in Scotland. A stout walking stick is more than sufficient to make any NED think twice.

  10. I’ve always wanted to see the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. If time and money allowed, I wouldn’t let the hassle and inconvenience of flying stop me. I think we forget just how much easier it is to get around the globe today than it was throughout the rest of human history. Despite all the crap going on in the world these days, when my adult children ask me what time I would most like to live in, I say “right now.”

  11. I fully expect the Covid Karens to stop me from travelling internationally ever again.
    No vaccine passport for me; I’d have to get the “vaccine”.

    Pity, because I had been planning a trip to Vienna and Tuscany before Covid hit.

    I’m sitting on a huge stash of frequent flier miles, too.

    1. Make an appointment with a provider to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Not because you actually want it, but because you can accomplish full accreditation in a “one step” process.

      Have a thousand in cash on you, and when the nurse or tech comes to give you the jab, discretely show the cash, lean in and quietly offer it to them if they’ll just plonk the syringe into the used sharps container, and sign off on your Good Citizen Paper. Small price to pay for the resultant freedom for travel and from persecution.

      Me, I haven’t had to resort to such, having survived a middleweight bout with Covid, itself. I’m now my own best vaccine, what with a bloodstream awash in antibodies and bourbon. But mostly, bourbon.

      Sunk New Dawn
      Galveston, TX

  12. Kim, you just need to fly business class. That’s rest-of-the-world business class, not what Americans call business class and everyone else calls premium economy. It’s seriously spendy, of course, and you absolutely need to avoid any whiff of an American airline.

    I’m too tall to fly cattle class long distance so I only manage it every few years. My next such trip will be 2024.

  13. I’m not sure if any of the places I would suggest count as cities and not towns.

    Annapolis is nice. Not worth what you have to go through to get there, but if you are taking your yacht up the coast I would recommend it.

  14. It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have suggested Portland, Oregon. Great restaurants (Jake’s Famous Crawfish was always a must-visit whenever I went), lots of little independent shops here and there, and of course Powell’s Bookstore. And then there’s all that wonderful scenery within an hour’s drive.

    Now? Ha ha ha ha no.

    1. > It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have suggested Portland, Oregon

      They also have the Oregon Brewers Festival on the waterfront, every last full weekend in July. I still have a stash of tokens I’d picked up dirt cheap (think I paid 10 cents each for 500; they normally sell for a dollar each). With Antifa and Burn/Loot/Murder running rampant, though, Portlandia’s just too risky. (Last time I was there, it was bad enough just dodging bums in the street on the way from the light-rail stop to the hotel…with a slight detour to Voodoo Doughnut for a bacon maple bar. 🙂 )

  15. Things to see in New England:

    Boston -walk the Freedom Trail. You see various sites throughout the city, Boston Common, Public Gardens, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (of the movie Glory) Monument, the current state house where liberty goes to die, various historic churches, burying ground, Omni Parker House where Ho Chi Minh once worked as a dishwasher or some other job, old city hall, South meeting House, and takes you on to Charlestown Navy Yard home to the USS Constitution and also brings you to Charlestown where the Battle of Bunker Hill occurred. We worth doing once. the Hancock Tower in Copley Square used to have a great diorhama of Boston and the Battles of Lexington and Concord but that closed after 9/11. On the freedom trail is the Union Oyster House which is Boston’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. Daniel Webster used to dine there at the historic raw bar and down copious amounts of bourbon and oysters. Fanueil Hall is interesting for its history. The back bay has pretty houses from Beacon Hill on towards the Fenway.

    As an aside, the Public Gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, is very pretty in the summer. They have pontoon pedal boats that you can ride and feed the ducks. It’s relaxing, silly and fun to do. Not far is Copley Square which has some of Boston’s nicest architecture from the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, another Church and the modern glass John Hancock tower.

    The subway system in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority MBTA and abbreviated to the T is very easy to navigate. Park in the ‘burbs and take the T.

    Follow Mass Ave out of Boston and follow through Arlington, Lexington and Concord and visit the Revolutionary War sites in Lexington Green and Concord.

    South Boston has Castle Island which during Revolutionary War times was an island and was further fortified prior to the Civil War. The bay was filled in so that Castle Island became connected to the mainland.

    The Museum of Fine Art in Boston is a world renowned art museum and the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is nearby. The Steward Gardner museum was the site of a famous art heist in the 1990s and the terms of the will state that the museum cannot be changed from the owner’s layout and such so the frames of the stolen art remain empty.

    Harvard Square in Cambridge also has some used book and record stores. Harvard Square is like a circus now a days with its freak show and unfortunately, free range hippies and commies.

    Mystic Seaport, Mystic CT, worth seeing the old whaling ships that played an important role in the economy through the 1800s.

    Peabody Essex museum in Salem, MA. This museum focuses on international trade between New England and the rest of the world. Skip the witches. They traded in their brooms for Land Rovers.

    Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA, south of Boston is interesting to see if you’re into Naval ships.

    If your bladder or colon are full, the Kennedy Library is located in South Boston area.

    Rockport is interesting for a brief stop. There is a famous scene of the harbor that has been painted numerous times. I think it’s called Motif #1 or #2 or something. If you miss it, no big deal.

    Portsmouth NH has the Strawberry Banke museum that is interesting to visit with its history of urban development until post WW2. downtown Portsmouth is a short walk around for shops. Sig Academy in Exeter, NH isn’t that far away and there are some good breweries in the area.

    Springfield, MA is home to Springfield Armory and that’s worth a visit and tour for its story of arms manufacture and industrialization. It’s amazing that the federal armory produced such iconic firearms as the 1861 musket for the civil war, Krag Jorgenson rifle, Springfield Trap Door, 1903 Springfield, M1 Garand, possibly the M14 and then it was shut down by McNamara I believe.

    Worcester, MA used to have the Higgins Armory, the largest collection of armor in the Western Hemisphere. Unfortunately it closed and its collection sold off. The Worcester Art Musuem has some on display. The original Higgins Armory museum used concrete blocks cast to look like stone so the museum had a medieval feel to it.

    Sturbridge, MA has Old sturbridge village which is a village modeled on 1840s New England so you see the blend away from an agragarian culture towards an industrialized one.

    Rome NY has Fort Stanwyks which was seiged briefly during the Revolutionary war

    Old Rhinebeck Aerodome in Old rhinebeck NY in the Hudson River valley is worth visiting if you’re interested in pre ww2 aircraft. New England Air and Space museum is interesting near Hartford CT. They have some military and civilian aircraft and a few helicopters. CT is home to Sikorsky and several aerospace companies. I think Hamilton Sunstrand is in CT too. The F4 Corsair was completely built in Connecticut and there is one on display there.

    Also in and around Concord, MA are the homes of various authors include Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Henry David Thoreau (Walden) a recreation of is cabin is present but Walden Pond gets crowded in the summer with swimmers, hikers etc, Ralph Waldo Emerson etc. quite a few authors in the area, some are actually good.

    Vermont sites -Shelburne Museum south of Burlington has a nice collection of historic buildings and art from the west. A couple who lived in VT or upstate NY had their own train car and would go out west to hunt so the museum has two lodges, one for their trophies that they hunted and another lodge for the art that they collected, Frederick Remington type stuff.

    Also worth seeing in VT is the Billings Museum and Farm. Near there is Calvin Coolidge’s homestead. Interesting to see and pretty to walk around.

    Let me know if there is anything in particular that you are interested in that might be in New England.


  16. I’ve been to Glacier just before everything closes in late September and in July. Both times we stayed on the east side of the park. In spite of the crowds July is IMHO better.

    In late September things start to close and what you might have scheduled yesterday isn’t available today. There’s warning, but you have to be careful.

    September also brings the worry to us Texans that there is a real possibility of having to do serious mountain driving in SNOW!!! The picture you show of Glacier is about a third of the way down Going to the Sun Highway from the pass. You can see a little of the highway in the top left of the picture. Now imagine you’re coming down the mountain in an unexpected, sudden, intense snow flurry. Not only is that beautiful view obscured but the silence of nature is soiled by shrieks of terror from both you and New Wife; it certainly would be for the Old Wife and me😁

  17. I always wanted to do the EU F-1 tour, but that will never happen unless someone gives me a Gulfstream, and the budget to use it.
    Perhaps as a last gasp, I’ll load the MV into the van, and take it to the Salt Flats this year for a final pass. A friend I haven’t seen for several years is doing that too, might be a good time to catch up. Drove by it two years ago getting some construction material in SLC for the new place in NV, but I’ve never set foot on the salt itself.

  18. My girlfriend and I used to do a fair amount of traveling, both foreign and domestic. There are places I still want to go, and I’d really like to get back to Japan again, but I don’t want to put up with masks and all the other hassles of air travel these days. Also, she passed away last year, and it wouldn’t be the same without her.

  19. International travel has become, of late, severely overrated, with rare exception. I thought I broke the code a couple of years ago when I managed to secure a summer home in Wales with my SIL, using that as a base for travel to points in the British Isles and The Continent. COVID ruined that for me.

    I thought I had a US free haven locked down when I bought a small farm in Southern Arizona 18 years ago, but the destruction of border security has rendered it near worthless. I sold it this past March for less than I paid for it in 2008.

    So now I sit in Northern Virginia, and there is nothing within a day’s drive worth going to. I can get to Maine in two days, Middle Tennessee in about the same, all without getting on a plane. My dream is to get the kids out of college and move to the Texas Gulf Coast before I auger in.

    I spent 37 years in the Navy and have seen all I want to see. Would love to return to New Zealand, Croatia, Senegal, Maldives, Australia (especially Tasmania), but will settle for the Clinch River in TN and trout fishing in Northern New Mexico. Truth be told, a small home in the Ozarks is all this hillbilly needs.

  20. I’d love to visit the USA again for a tour of national parks (will likely take 2-3 visits to hit all the ones I’d like to (re)visit.
    But between DHS, TSA, BLM, Antifa, and the rest of Bidenistan I doubt that’s going to happen any time soon.

    Also on my list are the Falkland Islands and the Galapagos Islands, northern Japan, and Israel.
    Of all those the Falklands are pretty much impossible to get to at the best of times, Galapagos has been entirely closed to all visitors except scientific expeditions for some years now, Israel is too risky because of Bidenistan’s support for Hamas, and I don’t speak a word of Japanese and the parts of Japan I’d want to see are those where hardly anyone speaks English…

  21. If you’re serious about Japan, try contacting IACE Travel in NYC. They have tours, and we always used them to get cheap tickets when we went. (No tours for us, Mrs D is Japanese.) We probably won’t be back, getting too old to do the trip again and her parents are gone. Both of us would, if playing tourists, actually want to see Hokkaido.

    The problem with going back to familiar places is that they’ve changed, too.

    1. yeah, I know all about familiar places changing.
      Even the town I grew up in has changed almost beyond recognition.

  22. If you’re serious about Japan, try contacting IACE Travel in NYC. They have tours, and we always used them to get cheap tickets when we went. (No tours for us, Mrs D is Japanese.) We probably won’t be back, getting too old to do the trip again and her parents are gone. Both of us would, if playing tourists, actually want to see Hokkaido.

    The problem with going back to familiar places is that they’ve changed, too.

  23. Lake Louise along the Ice Fields Parkway, Alberta Canada.
    The Rocky Mountains are simply magnificent!

  24. I would like to fly to visit the UK and Ireland. Probably Australia as the wife wants to visit there again. Will have to wait until Covid restrictions calm down, though.

    Referring to your question/comment about Amsterdam, Vienna, etc., compared to New England leaves or Glacier Park? I view cities as merely where they put the airports so you can get to the interesting places like leaves and Glacier Park. Not that there’s much of a city near Glacier Park, but, the idea is there.

  25. I hear the DFW area is nice, if you wanna trust the Uber drivers….

    I hate to fly, always did, so when i lived overseas i sucked it up because, necessity. Then came back home, got a job 30 miles from where I was before becoming a Travlin’ Man, and said to myself, “Self,” I said, “you get that travel itch scratched? We gonna stay put like a good Texican should?” And Self said “Yep.”

    Then I went and married a damn Furrner what talks funny and has too many consonants in her name, and wants to see family ever so often.


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