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Except my readers, who will hear about nuisance and delays because it’s an integral part of the meaning of travel for Carol and me. Carol handles nuisance and delay with the peace of a monk and the patience of a pointillist painter. My handling varies, but tends toward an Indiana Jones sense of imminent peril. Between the two of us, we have a travel approach that is a comforting blend of serenity and an urgent sense of gloom.
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.”
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.
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.
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?)
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.
The task this day was Salerno’s botanical garden known as the Garden of Minerva. I say “task,” because that’s what traditional sightseeing is to me. But this wasn’t as stultifying a sightseeing task as, say, a museum, cathedral, castle or Roman ruin. On the other hand, watching flowers grow is only one step removed from watching grass grow, paint dry or sitting through the start of the 2019 Cubs season. Also, taking a bit of the shine off the endeavor, Carol had armed us with a map and a bus route that would deliver us to the foot of the elevator that would then transport us atop the hill where the flowers and bushes were all blooming. (Now I do like the idea of an elevator.)
At some point deep in our trip, Carol suggested we start doing some research on the places we’re heading to. Maybe it was blindly stumbling upon that wonderful marina with all those grand yachts in La Spezia. Or the wonderful view of a far more attractive Naples from atop the Sant’Elmo Castle that Carol had read about in Tripadvisor that we’d have missed entirely based on my itinerary (which had consisted of walking around aimlessly amidst the Neapolitan garbage and graffiti.)
We were getting out of Naples, but not on time. Our first look at the board when we arrived at the train station was that our Frecciabianca was running 45 minutes late. Two days earlier, our train into Naples was reported 10 minutes, then 15 and finally 20 minutes late, before chugging in at 30 minutes retardi. Therefore, I dubbed the 45 minutes I saw on the board in Naples as Italian Train Time (ITT), and I told Carol, “We’ll be lucky if it’s an only an hour late.”