Tag Archives: travel

The Compact Traveller

I have always been a minimalist when it comes to packing. This began when I was a backpacker and whatever I needed was carried on my back. I am a tallish, thin woman, not Charles Atlas and did not want to tote around 35 pounds of gear, it leeched my stamina and left me at the end of the day with a headache. My solution was to learn ultralight backpacking and when I gave up that activity after my sons grew beyond scouting age and our Old Farts group disbanded, the practices I learned spilled over to suitcase packing. For the three years that Jim and I commuted across the state to see each other every few weeks, the travel to visit and help out with one of our kids, our annual ski trips and most recently, our cruise and then the trip to Mexico have been in one carry-on suitcase. My preference is a small hard side suitcase except when skiing where I carry a two compartment case that holds my boots, two changes of quick dry ski wear from skin out, ski pants, gloves and helmet. Incidentals on those trips go into another case shared with Jim.

As the process has evolved, there are items that live permanently in the case, a small stuff sac with a USB charger port that holds 4 cables for phones, tablet and camera; a travel clock, book light/flashlight combo, a hand wash clothesline. Also there is a quart zip bag with a bar of my handmade soap that is used for body and hair, a Toob brush that is a toothbrush with a small tube for toothpaste or toothpowder inside, a widetooth comb for my long hair, and a deodorant stick, none of this needs to be removed for TSA checks.  There is a pair of folding ballet flats for slippers and a fleece that rolls compactly. When I am ready to pack, the climate is considered. If laundry facilities are in question or will cost, quick dry layers are packed that can be hand washed and hung overnight to dry. Rarely are there more than 3 under layers and shirts packed, one change of pants, a skirt if dress up is needed and a sweater.

With this bag I carry a leather tote with my tablet, phone, wallet, a shawl or scarf to be used as a pillow, blanket or shoulder cover on a train or plane, or as a shoulder cover in a restaurant,  a solid lotion bar, my knitting project and my camera.

When the northern Virginia trips are scheduled, half my case is packed in doubled insulated grocery bags of frozen chickens and venison for their freezer.

My minimal packing allows for the packing of these supplies for their family and I returrn home with a lighter case.


The Sitter


Several times each academic year,  she travels 4 hours northeast to have quality time with the eldest grandson. He is an active 8 year old, she has two score and 18 on him, but young at heart. Her primary purpose is to provide daycare on his non school days when his parents both have school and/or work. She supervises his homework and guitar practice on those days and gets to enjoy one on one time as well.

Often, an outting or two is planned, weather permitting, the winter being the most difficult to find things to do. His house is less than a mile from the Metro train into Washington, but the temperature is too cold to endure the walk and finding parking there is nearly impossible as it is a terminal commuter station. She seeks alternative activities. 

Today he went roller skating with his School Age Child Care Program, thus giving  her half a day of solo time. Time spent helping out the family with some household chores, buying a few groceries to have the rest of the ingredients for chicken enchiladas for dinner, utilizing some of the meat that her son helped put in the freezer last spring or fall.

Tomorrow, they will either brave the cold, though somewhat warmer and visit one of the Smithsonian museums on the mall or brave the traffic and visit the Space Museum near Dulles.

Family time will be enjoyed Saturday and she will return to her hubby and the farm life on Sunday.

Weather misfire

The snow was nearly melted from Saturday’s unexpected coating. Sunday had dawned with an expected warm up which occurred as the weather prognosticators had predicted. By the end of the day, the field looked like tan leopards with white spots and for the first time in weeks the faucets in the utility room did not have to be left dripping. The dogs were disappointed that the snow was nearly gone.

Monday’s high was at 6 a.m. and there was a 41°f drop during the course of the day, but no precipitation was expected for several days. Tuesday was frigid, never climbing above the mid teens with strong and gusty winds and snow flurries. The east coast was bracing for a major snowstorm that was to go east of the mountains. This was good, as she was to catch a train the following morning north to go babysit for a few days. The train station 109 miles away and the train departing at 7:38 a.m.

As evening fell, the snow started, again unexpected and several inches suddenly predicted. What to do, already they were to leave home by 5 a.m. to make the train and with dogs that couldn’t be left for more than a few hours, making the drive that night wasn’t an option. Instead alarms were set an hour earlier in hopes that the roads would have been treated overnight. The mountain descent was snow covered and a bit slick, but the highways in most places were fine.

The schedule was met and this is the morning view.




The world is again white, the sky clear and the sun is shining. The dogs again have snow in in which to play and the chickens won’t come out until it melts from their straw. Today and tonight are frigid, then it warms to normal winter weather, until the ice storm on Monday. She better get home in her car by the weekend. He drives home alone to the company of the dogs and becomes caretaker for the chickens today and for a few to come.

All Good Things Must End

The holidays are over and with it, the travel time. These past couple of months have been quite atypical for us. We travel little, other than my jaunts to Northern Virginia to babysit for a few days, we generally take a weeklong ski trip, boarding the pups and a week long visit to our daughter’s family with the dogs.

This fall we left on a two week adventure after boarding the pups. One week of that was a Bahamas cruise with our youngest son and his family, then spent an additional week with them in their home. The dogs like the boarding kennel we use, but were glad to be home.

That was followed with Thanksgiving at home with eldest son and his family visiting, then a week later, boarding the beasties again for our week long trip to Zihuatenajo Mexico.

Back home from that the second week of December in time to decorate and finish shopping for Christmas, we had a couple of weeks to recover.

Christmas brought eldest son and grandson back for a few days to celebrate together and Christmas noon, they left in my car headed north to home and we loaded up gifts, luggage, and dogs in Hubby’s SUV to drive south for 4 days with daughter’s family.

The visit was fun. The kids love the dogs, with our two plus their golden, it was a houseful of fur. Our pups stoically tolerate the 13 to 14 hours each way driving.

It has been great, but we are tired and ready to be home for the winter. My neighbor has gotten more of my eggs this fall than have we and the freezer is full of our produce we haven’t been home to eat.

All of this was on top of last February’s week trip skiing in Colorado, a 3 day ski trip in West Virginia, and the 3 day August trip for the family gathering. That has put us away from home in the past year for 42 days. We have exhausted our travel quota til our energy and budget recover.