100 Points Of Tripe

In June of 2013, I wrote a post called, “What Do You Get A Blog For Its First Birthday?”.  In the same spirit of shameless self-congratulations (proving I haven’t matured in the intervening year), here is a short interlude from our regular programing to celebrate both my second blog birthday and my one hundredth post!   If that doesn’t rank right up there with the signing of the Magna Charta and the Normandy invasion on D-Day for historical significance, I can’t imagine what would.

Dancing hot dogIf you are one of the tiny minority who have not studiously perused every post I have ever written, here are a couple of ways for you to purge your shame and cleanse your conscience.  Trust me, this will constitute some serious penance!  You can go to the “What Did I Miss?” page along the top for a list of all 100 posts or, conversely, you can scan the right rail for a list of categories.  Then by simply reading all one hundred at one sitting, you will be automatically inducted into the Travel By Terry “Hall Of Masochists” of which I am currently the only member.  At this point, the meetings are short, lonely and, as you might expect, painful.  I would love some company.

Wordpress badgesIf you think I am being a little too hard on myself calling this post 100 Points of Tripe, as I pointed out in a previous post, hot dogs (of which I am a fan) are largely tripe and quite tasty!  I take it for granted that you are chomping at the Frankfurter to join the celebration and so I have provided a means for you to do so.  Simply register your opinion in the poll below.

As I enter my terrible twos, I encourage you to come back soon for another tasty . . .  if not necessarily nutritious . . . offering.   With any luck at all you will be entertained, educated and enticed which, coincidentally, happen to be the three pillars of this humble blog.

OK, NOW It’s Funny

James Thurber, the noted author and celebrated wit once said, ““Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.”  If he wasn’t thinking of travel when he penned thoseJames Thurber words, he should have been.

The intrepid traveler is akin to a playwright who painstakingly crafts the perfect dialogue only to have his script handed over to a troupe of actors at the local improv comedy club.

Weeks before you travel, you begin to meticulously plan every detail of your trip.  Yet, it is virtually guaranteed that you will cram too many activities into way too short a span of time with “emotional chaos” being the inevitable outcome.  You will hardly have begun your trip when reality (such an ugly word) will materialize like an uninvited former girlfriend at your wedding nuptials.

In the “OK, NOW it’s funny” category, here are a couple of random episodes from my personal group escorting history.  Neither was remotely amusing at the time.

GYPSY HIJINKS

Picture yourself responsible for one hundred or so choir directors, each more tightly strung than Charlie Daniels’ fiddle.  You are traveling through a tiny Romanian hamlet on two large motorcoaches weaving your way between ox carts, sheep and milling pedestrians.  This was my unfortunate fate a few years back.

Village in Romania

I had a local tour guide on the first coach and I was sitting in the front right seat of the second coach trailing by a couple of hundred yards.  I noticed that the first coach had made an unscheduled stop in the middle of the road.  I could be pretty confident it was not a stop light because there wasn’t one for several hundred miles.

By the time our coach pulled up behind the first . . .  it had to be  less than sixty seconds. . . I could see a gaggle of gypsies gathered around the coach throwing rocks and screaming what I assume were time-worn, traditional obscenities at the occupants.  I can assure you that there are no chapters in the travel escort’s nifty little handbook for mollifying highly agitated gypsies.  It was only after disembarking from my coach that I noticed a young girl lying on the ground being attended to by other gypsies.   My heart sank with the realization that she might have been hit by the coach. (Let me hasten to add, she wasn’t!)

Only after a trip to the police station, a three-hour delay and no doubt a hefty “fine” paid by the tour company (don’t ask, don’t tell) were we again on our way.  The local guide and drivers assured me this was a common gypsy ruse. They have one of their younger members slap the side of the bus, fall to the ground and claim to have been hit all in the hope of extorting a few bucks from their hapless marks.  Welcome to Romania! (Notwithstanding this incident, a stunningly beautiful country.)

THE TOUR GUIDE’S WORST NIGHTMARE

 For several years I took groups to England and used the services of a rather large and established tour company.  At one point, two of the people I was working with left that company and formed their own concern.  They solicited me to follow them and, given that  I was satisfied with the service I had received, I did so.

London Gatwick AirportOur group arrived at London Gatwick airport ready to begin our grand adventure which we all would have gladly done had our coach driver shown up.  Take thirty or so otherwise quite amicable people, put them on an eight-hour overnight flight, trudge them through immigration and customs lines a mile long and then tell them their transportation is missing-in-action and you suddenly have a cast of extras for the next Frankenstein remake requiring angry villagers with torches and pitchforks.

The coach eventually arrived and we headed off to London for the first couple of days of sightseeing.  Fortunately, that portion passed without incident and the tattered sleeve of my Cotswolds villagecredibility if not mended, had at least been largely forgotten.  Off to the Cotswolds with a stop in Oxford.  Nothing like the bracing fresh air of the British countryside to put everyone in a congenial mood.  We pulled up in front of the hotel and I asked the passengers to wait on the bus momentarily while I gathered up room keys from the front desk.

Most of you will have guessed by now that there was a slight problem.  Not a living soul at the hotel, including the Irish Setter napping by the fireplace, would admit to having ever heard of me, my group or my fledgling inbound tour operator.  By some miracle for which I still burn candles and say Hail Marys (and I am not even Catholic), there was a hotel just down the road that had only opened that week that was largely empty.  Even though utter disaster was averted, faced with having that little chat I thought seriously about sneaking out the back of the hotel, catching a train to London, flying back home and buying a fly-fishing lodge in Newfoundland under an assumed name.

I should point out that this happened very early in my travel career and I have ever since only worked with carefully vetted and highly experienced destination management companies.

THE MORAL

The point of my little morality play, if there is one (my poor readers often search these posts in vain for one) is that time has a way of transforming temporary disasters into lifelong anecdotes.   I would not be retelling these incidents were it not for the fact that, in both cases, the trips turned out quite successfully in spite of the hiccups described.

As has been astutely observed, if nothing bad ever happened when you travel, you would have absolutely nothing to say at cocktail parties.  Travel misadventures are like noses, everyone has one.  Some are just funnier than others.  Especially with the passing of time!

 

Diving Into The Denton Gene Pool

My brother Rocky is blessed with literary genes too.  His are just a couple of sizes larger.  That’s the sort of joke you can Rocky Dentononly get away with when poking fun at a sibling.  I am pretty sure he will forgive me because I am about to plug his latest book.  (It is always nice when you can refer to your “latest” book.)  Besides, I know him well enough to know he will gladly trade a little self-respect for freshly minted currency any day.

Any of my readers fortunate enough not to suffer from short, medium and long-term memory loss as I do may recall that the second and third posts I ever wrote for this now world-famous blog were about a book my brother and I co-authored called “Never Say ‘Hi, Jack’ In An Airport”. I refer to Travel Tips With A Twist Of Denton and Travel Tips, Part Deux.

Rocky apparently felt the need to prove he can string two cogent and marginally comprehensible sentences together without leaning on the crutch of his immensely talented younger brother and has gone out and written a book on his own.  Well, sort of.Guy O. Denton  He actually got a tremendous amount of help from our father.  Now when you consider that our dear old Dad has been dead thirty-five years, that’s saying something.  Before you get all weirded out and start accusing us of holding séances around the Thanksgiving dinner table, I should probably explain.

Better yet, since it is his book, I will let him explain.  “Douglas G. “Rocky” Denton was born in Tallahassee, FL literally at the end of WWII, to a P-40 fighter pilot and a South Carolina belle. Before she died, that Southern lady offered to let him read his father’s love letters to her. He was enthralled. He knew his dad was quite the wordsmith, but here, in these carefully preserved epistles, was. . . .”  I have ended his explanation abruptly for two reasons.

1)  Mr. Google does not like extensive content to show up on two sites.  In fact, if you make a habit of that you get relegated to the rankings equivalent of hell’s outermost ring.

2)  You can read the rest for yourself by going here which just happens to be a page on Amazon where . . . you are never going to believe this part . . . you can actually purchase a copy of his book.

Guy O. DentonIt occurs to me that it might be helpful if I shared the title of said book.  It is called Warhawk: Letters From Out of the Blue: A True Story of Love and War, Tragedy  and Triumph”.  If you follow these links that I have spread rather liberally throughout this brief post, you can learn about the love letters, the significance of the “Blue” and so much more.  As Rocky eloquently says (note grudging respect), “From off the yellowed pages leapt romance and adventure, comedy and tragedy, sorrow and triumph.”

If you love history and human pathos, you will be doing yourself an immense favor by ordering a copy of this book . . .  for a mere pittance I might add. You will be doing my brother an immense favor because the more copies he sells Warhawk: Letters From Out of the Bluehe figures the more likely it is that one will fall into the hands of a Hollywood producer who will recognize what great potential the story has to become the next big blockbuster movie.  And finally, you will be doing me an immense favor because if I help him sell a few thousand copies he might forget about that money I owe him.

If I can be serious for just a moment, something I normally avoid like the bubonic plague, this is one incredibly gripping true story.  As Rocky describes it (Mr. Google, avert your eyes), “Anyone who has ever sighed at a love story or cried over the loss of a friend would surely want to read letters which opened a window into another time, another world. A world at war where brave men and women fought and died, waited and sacrificed to keep that world free.”

I normally do not stoop to begging on this blog (although I have done a bit of wheedling and cajoling from time to time) but should you find this remotely interesting, I would like to ask you to share this post through the social media buttons I have provided.  My brother and I would both love to see our Dad’s great legacy of service and sacrifice live on.  And it is a fun read!  You will quickly see from Dad’s letters where we got the humor gene!

Spontaneity, Sydney And The City2Surf Race

If you rummage through the section on this blog called “What Did I Miss?”, you will find a post entitled A Life Lesson Learned In London.  If you imagine for one moment that this was a singular pedagogical event in my travels, you couldn’t be more misguided.  Give the globe a little 180 degree spin and you will find that Sydney, Australia can be every bit as instructive in dispensing life lessons as London ever was.  What I am about to describe falls into the category of “I wouldn’t take a million bucks for the experience and wouldn’t repeat it for twice that!”

Sheraton on the Park Sydney AustraliaTo think it all started innocently enough over a hearty breakfast on the executive floor of the Sheraton On The Park in Sydney, Australia.  For a period of about fifteen years I escorted groups to Australia at least once a year.  On this occasion, I had brought along one my employees, Carey Rector, to assist.  We had just pushed aside the Vegemite in favor of the strawberry jam (I never did acquire a taste for that particular Aussie delicacy although I am pretty sure it would make a great axle grease.)  Carey and I were chatting amicably and gazing out the window at the park some thirty floors below.

“Why are all those people starting to gather and mill about in the park?” I asked the waiter.  “Oh, they are getting ready for the annual City2Surf race,” he replied.  “Can anyone participate?” I asked.  “Anyone with $10.00 Australian,”  he said.  “What time does it start?”  “10:00 am, I believe.”

At that moment we were only halfway through breakfast and it was just shy of 9 o’clock in the morning.  I looked across the table at Carey and asked (only an omniscient God knows why), “Would you like to run in it?”  To which Carey responded, “Sure, we aren’t doing anything else today.”  After reading this post, you can be the judge as to whether this impetuous decision should fairly be labeled inspiring spontaneity or temporary insanity.

City2Surf race in Sydney AustraliaIf you are not familiar, as I was not, the Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac has grown to be the world’s largest run with over 80,000 registered participants each year.  It is actually larger than the London and New York Marathons combined!

It began way back in 1971 with a mere 2,000 entrants.   It draws a combination of locals, affectionately known as Sydneysiders, and participants from all over the world.  Some are elite and others are dweebs like me who obviously could use a full-scale psychiatric analysis for taking such a rash and impetuous action.

I recall showing up in shorts, T-shirt and tennis shoes (not the least designed for running), paying my $10 Australian, pinning a number to my chest and finding a place toward the back of this mass of humanity.  It was only at this point that a rather important question occurred to me, heretofore overlooked.  Before I could even express the question to Carey, it was answered by an announcer on a loud speaker who welcomed us all to the annual City2Surf race where we would be running from Hyde Park in the central business district to Bondi Beach, a distance of 14 kilometers.  My mental acuity must have been heightened by the sudden rush of adrenalin because I was able to instantly calculate that 14 kilometers was 8.3 bleeping miles!

Another feature of the race which would become painfully apparent in just a few moments is that the entire first half of the race is pretty much uphill to the “Heads”, the towering cliffs The Heads, Sydney Harborthat bookend the two-kilometer-wide entrance to the harbor.   The route then mercifully starts the descent to Bondi Beach, which not too surprisingly I suppose, is at sea level.

I am going to spare you an agonizing play by play description of the race partly because it still stirs painful memories long since relegated to the recesses of my mind (and, trust me, my mind has lots of recesses).   When I finally staggered across the finish line . . . I would tell you my elapsed time but I wasn’t carrying a sundial at the moment . . . I was only thinking about limping on to one the motorcoaches provided to carry us back to the city.

One of the most disconcerting moments of my life came when I asked where the coaches were parked and a race official pointed a long, bony index finger to a car park a half-mile away up a steep hill.  We didn’t overuse the term “Really?” in a sardonic fashion back then as we do now but if we had, it would have been extremely appropriate.  What I did say though, what it may have lacked in gentility, was more than made up for in clarity.

2013 In The Rearview Mirror

OK, today is the last day of the year . . . not exactly a breakthrough scientific insight I grant you.  Nonetheless, for me that simple realization sparked another:  To wit, if I plan to cast a backward glance at 2013, at least the blogging portion of it, before 2014 barrels in with a roar, it is pretty much now or never.  For those whose instinctive reaction was to scream “Never”,  I can only say, “If I had wanted your vote, I would have mailed you a ballot!”   (Forgive me.  I love that snarky little rejoinder and this is the first opportunity I have had this year to work it into this blog.)

Not to worry.  This post is going to be to soul of brevity.  All the heavy lifting was done by others as the following sentence reveals.  “The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.”  If you have been pining for a statistical summary of Travel By Terry to the point of clinical obsession, this post is for you!   If you are simply so bored that even the prospect of wading through this data sounds mildly amusing, this post is perfect for you as well.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,700 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

What say we meet back here in 2014 for more rollicking good fun?

Memories Are Made Of This

We have a little adage we share with our customers around our place that goes like this, “Lend us your dreams and we will repay you with memories.”  Undoubtedly, one reason I like the phrase so much is that, in a rare moment of clarity, I penned it.  We are all partial to our own progeny, are we not?

Anyway, it turns out that dreams are fungible.  Most people, if they lend you their dreams are quite happy to be repaid in unforgettable memories. In this regard, my heart beats asgold-coin-wooden-box one with our clients.  When describing the travel business to the uninitiated I often say, “No doubt I will die as poor as a church mouse but I shall pass the autumn of my life, like Midas with his golden coins, running the fingers of my mind through a personal trove of indelible memories.” 

In my more reflective moments, and you must forgive me as I am feeling a little pensive today, I marvel at the all the places I have visited and experiences I have garnered over the past couple of decades.  I am reminded of the words of the brilliant Benjamin Disraeli, the erstwhile British prime minister, “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

There are any number of sound reasons to travel:

to realize our aspirations – “We wander for distraction but we travel for fulfillment.”   Hillaire Belloc

to broaden our perspective – “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”   Henry Miller

to cure our parochialism – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”  Mark Twain

If these aren’t reason enough, my friend Kate over at Trip Logic has written a great post called 100 Reasons To Travel Inspired By Bloggers From Across The Globe not diminished in the least by the fact that one of this humble blogger’s posts somehow slipped into the list!

Train ConductorWhat I am suggesting here is that one of the very best rationales for travel is to make a lifetime of deposits into your memory bank so that you can live off the interest of fond recollections up to the very day the Great Conductor shouts “Last stop!” 

One of these days . . . not today so don’t panic . . . I will perhaps tell you about the gypsy girl who literally threw herself under the tour bus I was guiding (OK, perhaps not under but certainly into) and the near riot that ensued.  Some day I will tell you about flying DFW to Miami to Rio de Janiero to Belo Horizonte, staying for only one night and flying the same route back home not once but twice within a ten-day window!  If you are truly blessed, I will tell you about running in the famous annual Sydney “City To Surf” race with literally ten minutes forethought and zero training or preparation.  That is, if I can do so without instinctively clutching my calves and whimpering like a small puppy.

Travel is a get rich slow scheme, of sorts.  Do as I have done and you won’t have two nickles to rub together but you will have the widest irrepressible grin of any 90-year-old Walmart greeter in the entire chain. 

Movin’ On Down

As our regular readers are aware, this site is, or purports to be at least, a travel blog.  This post, however, doesn’t quite qualify unless you consider a trip of approximately three miles “traveling”.  As a little change of pace, this post is going to subject you to the dubious pleasure of hearing me whine like a spoiled toddler about my past week from hell.

DownsizingI assume there are others out there in cyberville who find themselves in similar circumstances (see description below) and if nothing else this post may serve as a cautionary tale.  These words should resonate with you if you see yourself reflected in this profile:

1) You no longer are quite as young and spry as you once were (note the euphemistic way of saying you are older than dirt).

2)  You live in a large, rambling house whose size, through some combination of death, departure or divorce across the years, has outgrown its usefulness.

3)  You have been bitten by the easily transmitted and highly infectious downsizing bug which leaves you yearning for a smaller, cozier abode.

Now don’t let the innocuous sounding term “downsizing” fool you.  We are not yet at the end of our personal journey as I write these words and to date the main areas of downsizing have been to my wallet, my patience and my sanity (none of which began this process in a robust state of health, I might add).

Downsizing

Step One

First you have to sell the money pit in which you currently abide.  You start with a price which, if only it were realistic, would leave you with enough money to pay off some or your onerous debt.  But reality (always an ugly word in the best of circumstances) sets in and you soon find two forces lurching in opposite directions.  The asking price spirals downward while the cost of “expected updates” (new carpet, granite counter tops, burnished antique brass fixtures and whatever else is in vogue this week) spirals upwards.  When you finally sell your house, those two factors have sped past each other like runaway Japanese bullet trains on parallel tracks careening in opposite directions.   At your closing, you stare at the check they hand you and ponder where it all went so horribly wrong.

Step Two

Since you are downsizing (there is that odious word again) from, in my case, a 3000 square foot home to a 1700 square foot home, you suddenly realize that you have twenty years of accretions and accumulations to Budget Truckshed.  You will find this to be a shame inducing experience.  The phrase “What the ____ was I thinking when I bought that?” often comes to mind.

We had a two-day garage sale, gave away a rental truck full of items to our kids, gave furniture to a co-worker and at the end of two days had someone with an online auction come and haul off everything that was left.  Whether I will ever hear from “Auction Vicky” again is as yet undetermined.  In spite of all that, I loaded belongings into a 16′ pod, completely filled a 16′ truck and carried at least 10Pod pickup and SUV loads to my workplace and a daughter’s garage.  I ended up with more bruises than a WWF wrestler.

Step Three

The next logical step would seem to be collecting all these items from all over kingdom come and moving them into the new house.  But sadly, as I write these words, we have not yet closed on the new house.  I am officially homeless!  Meanwhile, the meter is running on the truck, the pod and a couple of dozen blankets.  I should be hearing the final word today regarding the loan on the new house.  While I certainly have high hopes of being in the new house in a couple of days, you will have no difficulty determining if things went awry by the primal scream emanating from Fort Worth.

I am not saying you shouldn’t give in to the urge to downsize.  I am just suggesting you buy industrial strength BenGay, discard your naive expectations at the curb along with the deer antlers your wife never let you mount in the living room and book a couple of emergency sessions with your therapist.

What Do You Get A Blog For Its First Birthday?

A momentous occasion (to indulge in a little rank hyperbole) would have passed quietly Blog's first birthdaywithout notice today had I not received this congratulatory, albeit terse, note from the folks at WordPress headquarters, (reputed to be located in a bunker buried deep in the Ural mountains).  The message read simply, “Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com.”

It is hard to believe that one year ago today an impoverished world was struggling along without benefit of my accumulated wisdom, wry wit and effervescent charm.  Planet earth must have seemed a very grim and dreary place back then.   Thankfully, one of the seven muses (nine according to some antiquarians . . . nothing is ever straightforward, is it?) arose from a long slumber and showered their inspiration on your humble blogger.  OK, perhaps it was more like a light dusting but let’s not quibble on such an august occasion.

English: United States Postal Service headquar...

United States Postal Service headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am sure, even as I pen these words, burlap bags full of well wishes, congratulatory cards and letters and even a few modest tangible expressions of appreciation are being sorted and loaded by our friends over at the U.S. Postal Service.  The fact that none have as yet arrived must be attributable to the voluminous increase in mail that always surrounds Father’s Day. (That was sarcasm in case it escaped you.)

To be perfectly frank, I have not achieved all the lofty goals I set for this blog one year ago today.  I am not able to report my 10 millionth visitor nor have I been asked to write the travel blog for USA Today.   What I can report is one of the strangest phenomenons associated with blogging.  To date my blog posts have been read by people in 104 different countries around the world.  Seriously!  When you consider that my quirky sense of humor escapes the appreciation of some people in my own family, you have to wonder how comprehensible it could possibly be to people in Malta, Albania, Senegal, Macao and French Polynesia to name just a few.

I have written 61 posts, each a veritable classic it goes without saying.  If you are doing 40 years to life in San Quentin and need a way to make some time pass (granted very slowly), just jump over to my What Did I Miss? page and you will find a complete listing.

I have somehow managed to persuade several otherwise reasonably sane individuals to let me interview them for this blog such as Vicki Freed, Michael Batt and John Heald.

Royal Caribbean's Vicki Freed        Mike Batt         John Heald Carnival Cruise Senior Cruise Director

Since so far I have not been sued in a court of law or made to do a perp walk through the county courthouse, I suppose I will keep plodding along in my inimitable mind numbing way until either the muses abandon me or my frustrated maker cries “Enough already!”  You are invited to register your reaction to this self-congratulatory epistle by taking the poll below.

Shameless Moochers

If honesty is good for the soul, after this post I should be no more than a couple of certified miracles away from sainthood.  I am going to make an admission about the travel industry which, while it is stating the bleeding obvious to travel industry insiders, goes largely unnoticed to the uninitiated.

Korean AirTravel agents, practically without exception, are all shameless moochers.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen an anorexic travel agent?  If you think the term moocher is harsh, I Korean Airactually toyed with the terms parasites, sponges and bloodsuckers before dialing it back a bit.  Without a doubt, one of the great benefits of being in this industry is the endless stream of supplier events.

Take last night as an example since my memory fades rapidly beyond yesterday’s breakfast.  I was invited by Stacey  Montgomery to attend a Korean Air event at a unique, edgy private venue called 7 Senses.  I mention her name because somewhere in the midst of the free-flowing adult beverages, I promised her I would subtly work into this post what an all around fantastic person she is.   Based on the quality of the event, I can fulfill that pledge with a clear conscience.

Korean AirThe purpose of this particular soirée  was to celebrate the increase in flights from DFW to Seoul from five a week to daily.  I gladly rejoice with them in this important announcement but my point is, my fellow attendees and I would have been there had they been celebrating Korean Independence Movement Day.

When you have labored in the travel vineyards as long as I have, you develop an intuition about who is going to sponsor a great event.   My radar did not disappoint last evening.  Given my legendary sweet tooth, it is not surprising that my favorite food station was the one pictured below.  The assortment included Bananas Foster shots, Triple Chocolate Mousse shots, Apple Caramel shots, Cheesecake shots, Tiramisu shots and Strawberry Shortcake shots.  Let’s just say if these were shots of alcohol instead of desserts, this picture would include me lying under the table!

Korean AirPerhaps the evening’s biggest surprise was being handed a very nice parting gift as I left and being told that there was even more food out in the parking lot!  Say what??  As I stepped out into the dusk to retrieve my valeted car, what before my wonderous eyes should appear (not Santa and his reindeer but almost as amazing), a bus with “Gourmet Korean Tacos” blazoned across the back.

Korean BBQLest the overly literal misinterpret this little tounge-in-cheek exposition, travel agents are among the most professional workers I know. They labor long hours orchestrating other people’s joyful experiences often with modest compensation.  Nice events such as the one last night are both productive investments of their time and richly deserved diversions from their daily stress.  I am merely having a little fun at our own expense.

So thank you Stacey Montgomery and Korean Air for a wonderful evening and good luck with your new flights.  It is reassuring knowing that in this turbulent industry where I ply my trade, I may well someday end up homeless but as long as I own a sportscoat, I will never starve!

A Vacation Without Golf? Say It Ain’t So!

Your reaction when you hear the phrase, “Say it ain’t so!” is a barometer of your interests and, perhaps too, your age.  If you are an aficionado of  baseball, you immediately think of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and the famous Black Sox scandal of 1919.  If you are a rocker, on the other hand, you will recognize the phrase as the title of a song written and performed by the American rock band Weezer.  I am appropriating the term, however, with deference to neither but rather simply to register my shock and horror at such a heretical idea.  A vacation without golf?  Please!

Even I am astute enough to recognize that the entire populace does not share this view.  Therefore, this post will attempt the impossible.  (Why squander our time on the merely difficult, right?)  I shall attempt to deconstruct and reprogram the minds of those of you whose opinion of golf tends to parallel a popular quip attributed to Mark Twain, among others. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”  Whoever may have said it first, it succinctly sums up to the opinion of a multitude of non-golfers.

As seems to be the case ever more frequently in my advancing years, in this matter I am convinced my view is the proper one and all those of a contrary opinion are sadly misguided.  Having shed all pretense of modesty, let me begin to marshal my evidence before I lose your attention altogether.   Here are three incontrovertible reasons why golf should be part of every vacation.

1)  Golf Affords The Opportunity For A Fresh Beginning

I have a preacher friend who once told me that he loved preaching in black churches.  When I enquired why, he replied, “In black churches,  you get to start over every week.”  He did not mean this in any derogatory sense.  Quite the opposite.  He admired the black churches’ emphasis on forgiveness and manifold grace.

This may seem a bit of a stretch but golf is like that.  When you stand on the first tee, youQuestro Golf Cabo San Lucas have nary a blemish on your scorecard.  The card in your hand looks positively pristine, not unlike the closely mown grass under your feet.  You may have gouged and hacked your way through the previous round to the utter consternation of the groundskeeper but all those snowmen (8’s for the uninitiated) on your last scorecard are but a wispy vapor of the mind, melting into nothingness in the morning sun.

As you peer down the first fairway, in a moment of sheer delusion, you ask the starter about the course record.  You pretend it is idle curiosity but inwardly you are fantasizing.  You never know, right?  Sometimes that seductive mirage even lasts a hole or two.  I once started a round with two birdies.  If they could only bottle euphoria like that!

2)  Golf Is Played In Idyllic Surroundings

Questro Golf Cabo RealHave you ever walked the grounds of some palatial estate dreaming that some day your ship would come in (personally, mine broke apart on the twin reefs of poor judgment and bad advice several years ago) and when it did,  you too would finally live in such breathtaking environs?  My humble suggestion . . . in the meantime, of course . . . is to just take up golf.  I have strolled the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and I have ambled through London’s Kew Gardens.  I have also played the incomparable Pebble Beach and Maui’s stunning Plantation course and the former pair have nothing on the latter.

Golf by the seaIf you are a lover of nature, if you like beautiful panoramas and grand vistas, if you like endless variety, fresh air and the sound of birds chirping, if you like gently rolling fields and  towering pines . . . you get my drift . . .  may I gently remind you that the game of golf is played in the great outdoors where nature in all its grandeur is, at least  temporarily, your private estate.

3)  There Is No Such Thing As A Bad Round Of Golf.

OK, admittedly this blanket assertion assumes no freak accidents such as golf cart rollovers, lightning strikes or beanings of your fellow golfers.   Let’s dismiss those negative thoughts at the outset.  Barring such rare occurrences, golf reminds me of a comment I once heard about sex.  Even when it’s bad, it’s good.  As long as you go to the golf course with the right attitude, every round can be a pleasure.

I know what you are thinking.  Precisely because golf is played outdoors, isn’t it true that the vicissitudes of nature are always looming to spoil your outing.  Au contraire, mon ami.  As Oscar Wilde famously said, “There is no bad weather . . . only inappropriate clothing.”  That is precisely why they make rain gear!

Golf in bad weather

I once arose at six in the morning keenly anticipating my first round of golf ever in Ireland.  I flipped on the TV to catch the weather only to be told that I should expect rain and gale force winds off the North Sea.  When my friends and I entered the clubhouse, we were met by the club manager who made the sign of the cross muttering, “God bless you, my children” under his breath.  Not even the locals had ventured out.  True to the forecast there was steady rain and forty mile an hour winds all day.  Ever prepared, I was wearing the proper gear for the conditions.  This undoubtedly renders my sanity suspect, as if it took this final bit of evidence, but I have to say that experience is one of my favorite golf memories of all time.