Stuff and Nonsense: travel

Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts


Road Trip: Cape Fear Botanical Garden

I'd scheduled a stop at Cape Fear Botanical Garden during our drive down to South Carolina mostly because we needed a stop around that point and who doesn't want to visit another botanical garden? Other than The Husband, covered in insect bites as he is?

If you prefer large formal gardens Cape Fear might not be for you. Cape Fear is young for a botanical garden, having only come into existence in 1989, and much of its acreage remains undeveloped. The gardens that have been created are, aside from those nearest the visitors center, very natural-looking. However, if you're looking for hiking trails and spots to engage in quiet contemplation, Cape Fear has those in spades.

We had a very pleasant walk around the gardens, particularly enjoying the swing benches by the banana tree garden and all the butterflies and dragonflies on the butterfly stroll. Overall, a lovely stop on a long road trip.


Road Trip: Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park

In downtown Wilson, North Carolina lies Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, a whimsical two-acre park bursting with color and creativity. The park is named for a North Carolinian artist who repurposed salvaged metal -- everything from roadwork signs to mirrors and bicycles -- to create extravagant wind-driven kinetic sculptures he called windmills. The thirty windmills/whirligigs displayed are all massive, complicated and colorful pieces that move with the lightest puff of air. We were lucky enough to visit on a day with intermittent breezes so we could admire the construction of each piece as well as its function.

In addition to the windmills/whirligigs, the park also contains an amphitheater and shelter. There are plenty of benches to sit at and the lawn would make a great picnic spot. The restrooms, in an air-conditioned portable trailer that is completely handicapped accessible and ostomate-friendly, are probably the nicest public restrooms I have ever used.

While Wilson is in the early steps of downtown revitalization, there are many boarded-up storefronts surrounding the park and, initially, it doesn't look like there's much else to do. However, there is a brewery, 217 Brew Works, next door as well as bakeries and restaurants within walking distance. Also, if you time your visit right, you can attend the Wilson Farmers and Artisan Market and pick up some tasty treats to eat on the lawn.

Even the fire hydrants are fun


Road Trip: Longwood Gardens

On our drive down to South Carolina we stopped for a few hours at Longwood Gardens, long on my list of botanical gardens to visit. While it is autumn now and many of the summer blooms have passed, the Gardens are so large and varied that our eyes did not lack for beauty. We spent a good three hours at Longwood, giving us just enough time to explore the Italian Water Garden, Conservatory, Main Fountain Garden, and Meadow Garden as well as take in a fountain performance.

A small part of the Italian Water Garden

In the Conservatory

Also in the Conservatory

In the Meadow Garden

In the grotto behind the Loggia in the Main Fountain Garden

I would love to go back and see more of the gardens. Really, I would be happy to visit every season if I could as the Christmas lights, orchid extravaganza, and amazing tulip display in the spring all sound delightful.


Last Year We Were In Maine #TBT

Throwback to this time last year when we were in Maine, eating ice cream twice a day and repeatedly forgetting to apply sunscreen.


#WordlessWednesday: Vessel

Vessel, a massive ouroboros of stairs in Hudson Yards, NYC.


#WordlessWednesday: Silent Agitator

"Silent Agitator," clock sculpture by Ruth Ewan located on the High Line near 24th Street.



#WordlessWednesday: Fancy Queen Anne's Lace

Never seen so much red in Queen Anne's Lace. Wonder what variety it is.


Ostomy: Travel Kit & Accidental Poopage

We were on vacation recently and so I thought it'd be a good time to talk a little about what it's like to travel as an ostomate. I don't know about you but, for me, traveling as an ostomate can be a bit nerve-racking. While I actually love flying, I am always slightly terrified I will develop some catastrophic pouch or faceplate failure on the plane and be stuck changing it in the tiny, tiny airplane toilet. During some delightful turbulence, no doubt.

Happily, I've flown many times since my surgery and this nightmare-scenario has yet to happen. It's probably just luck, but I like to pretend these actions help:

  1. Changing my appliance the morning of my flight so it's at maximum freshness and hold
  2. Eating very lightly before and during the flight so there's not a lot of gas or poop to pass
  3. Drinking lots of water (avoiding sticky poo pileup)

I do pack an "ostomy kit" in my carry-on when I travel, as well as an indentical kit in my checked luggage because I'd rather have too many medical supplies than not enough. I've never had a problem getting my kit through the checkpoints, although I've occasionally had to explain the contents. Given a choice, I go through the line for families and travelers with disabilities/medical conditions and I think that makes it a bit easier for everyone.

I do always get my pouch area patted down and my hands checked for explosives, but the screeners have been very fairly discreet and impersonal about it (unlike some of my rubbernecking fellow travelers) and it doesn't bother me. (I'm also quite sure that the smoothness of screening is helped by the fact I'm a completely innocuous-looking and pleasantly-mannered middle-aged white lady and, god help me, I will play that privilege hard to make my travel experience as comfortable and easy as possible).

So what's in my carry-on kit?

  • 4 faceplates
  • 4 pouches
  • 1 tube stomehesive
  • 4 skin cleansing wipes
  • 8 hand wipes
  • 1 pair of blunt-tipped nail scissors

You might think that's a lot of stuff, but it's enough to cover us both supposing we both fail twice during travel ... or our checked luggage is temporarily misplaced. Again, I'd rather too many medical supplies than not enough!

And it's all zipped up into an unattractive transparent plastic storage bag. I keep my work kit in a cute batik cosmetics bag, because it's much more unobtrusive when tucked under my arm and carried across the reference floor, but the travel stuff ... it's just easier to have "out in the open" for when I have to explain it to the screeners, etc.

Incidentally, the worst thing that ever happened to me while traveling happened on this most recent trip. I drank rather heavily one night (I think we can all guess which night that was) and, sunk in a deep sleep, did not waken as my bag reached capacity due to a combination of poop and gas. Indeed, I only woke up after I had rolled over in my sleep and the bag popped right off the faceplate, spreading poop all over me and the beautiful king-sized hotel room bed (but none on The Husband, lucky bastard).

Unsurprisingly, there was some screaming. Then I showered, stripped the bed, rolled everything up into a horrible bedding burrito, and pushed it into a corner. I called housekeeping and asked for a new set of linens, mostly remade the bed, and went back to sleep. In the morning, I left the housekeeper a twenty dollar bill on the burrito along with an extremely apologetic note. (And, of course, I also left a good tip when we checked out. My mother, grandmother, and aunts have worked as hotel chambermaids/housekeepers and I've heard all their horror stories, so I try to be a respectful guest ... but poop happens).


Wordless Wednesday: La Virgen de Guadalupe

Image of the Virgin of Guadalupe carved into a cottonwood tree at
San Felipe de Neri, Albuquerque.


Visiting The Comic Store in Nashua, NH

Up in northern Massachusetts/southern New Hampshire last week on a one-day mini-break in which I hoped to eat some good ice cream, acquire bargain-priced quality flannel shirts, and maybe get some new comics. Unfortunately, I over-planned my day (what can I say? The L.L. Bean outlet was a huge time sink) and only made it to one comic book shop -- The Comic Store in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Happily, it was a good choice. A big shop pretty evenly split between comics and tabletop gaming materials. It has a very large and broad assortment of trades, which thrilled me because I am not a fan of single issues. Also a decent amount of shojo and yuri manga mixed in amongst the usual shonen stuff. Staff person I encountered was super-friendly without being unctuous and left me alone once I made it clear I was having a perfectly fine time browsing.

  • Girl Friends: The Complete Collection, Volume 2 by Milk Morinaga. Absolutely scrummy yuri manga about the continuing adventures of two sweet high school girls in love set against a backdrop of the usual friendship and school dramas.
  • I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young. Promises to be a horrifically and hilariously violent take on the usual "seemingly ordinary child wishes herself to fairyland and has marvelous adventures before returning home."
  • The Ancient Magus' Bride, Volume 1 by Kore Yamazaki. Fantasy shojo manga about an orphaned 15-year-old Japanese girl with strange gifts who sells herself into slavery and comes to be owned by (and affianced to) by an inhuman magician. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic about this manga – the child slavery and the probable May-December pairing worry me a bit.

I could have bought more, but I was feeling a bit guilty about all the graphics I already own and haven’t read! What can I say? I have a terrible book-collecting habit.


Wordless Wednesday: Church Tower

Looking up at the Arlington Street Church (Boston) steeple with its four-faced clock and bells.


Wordless Wednesday: Fire in the Hearth

It's beautiful to look upon, but I prefer central heating ;)


Wordless Wednesday: Fountain

Lincoln Center's iconic Revson Fountain. Of course, I had to take a photo.


Wordless Wednesday: Medieval Manor House

Samlesbury Hall, Preston, built in 1325.

Samlesbury Hall is purported to be one of the most haunted locations in Britain ...


Buying all the Things at Hammergirl Anime

We've been in Rochester this week for work (The Husband) and leisure (me). I definitely got the better deal what with all the nice green spaces, delicious foods, and fun museums I've enjoyed. To keep the Husband from getting too jealous, I've arranged little after work excursions, one of which took us to Hammergirl Anime.

From the outside, sandwiched as it is between a storefront church and an Indian restaurant in yet another strip mall, the store doesn't look like much. But inside ... oh, inside! It is a manga-lovin' girl's paradise. Many of the comic book shops I visit have a token manga shelf or two, but (other than at The Comix Zone in North Syracuse, New York) I've never seen so much manga in one place before. Seriously, so much manga. So. Many. Kinds. And so much anime! And so much related merch with which to decorate your person or home. It was reallyreallyREALLY hard not to just hand over my wallet at the door and ask for one of everything.

I tried to be "good" and picked up only the first volumes of a bunch of new to me series like What Did You Eat Yesterday? (gays + cooking = AWESOMESAUCE), Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries ("a spot of Jane Austen with a dash of Agatha Christie") and Milkyway Hitchhiking (about a cat who travels through time and space). I also bought the standalone Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova, she of the fantastic Dramacon and Nightschool. The Husband bought an individually-wrapped Japanese cheesecake, which was soft as cotton and just melted in our mouths. Yummm.

I can really only hope The Husband has a conference in Rochester next year, too!


Wordless Wednesday: Statue

Spring, one of four pieces installed in the Italian Gardens
at Stanley Park in 2014 to replace stolen statuary.


Wordless Wednesday: Stanley Park

Grecian temple-style bandstand and amphitheatre with Cocker clock tower in the distance.

Swan has no time for wannabes.

More swans. No doubt wondering why we haven't brought them tribute.


Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Snaps

Central Pier and Blackpool Tower

Looking toward Blackpool Tower from North Pier

Looking toward Central Pier