Thursday, October 29, 2015


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I could not sleep last night, obviously anticipating the excitement of our departure today.  

It's a perfect time to leave DC as it's a dreary, rainy day.  The bus ride to Dulles in the pre-dawn hour seemed to drag along.  An hour later, we finally arrived at Landmark Aviation, cleared the security check and were ready to board our 757.   
Welcome Aboard!!

The captain and crew greeted us as we climbed the steps into the cabin. 

From the Looks of the chef, the food should be good!!
We have our own chef on board.  After taking a look at the menu, this doesn't appear to be typical airline food.  

When we reached our seats, a bag full of goodies awaited.  

Our own personal down comforter, a pair of Bose Sound Reduction Earphones, National Geographic hats, P.J.'s, slippers and a toiletry kit as well as an assortment of National Geographic magazines.  

We're settled in for our 7.5 hour flight to Lima, Peru, connecting to a charter flight for another hour and a half on to Cusco.  
Here's a track our flight from D.C. to Peru.

Pat and I are settled in and ready to take off!!

The flight was a bit of a disappointment.  For years, I've heard about the National Geographic Trip Around the World by Private Jet.  I guess I was expecting roomier, more comfortable seats.  The chef prepared great meal was excellent, but the service was terrible.  Perhaps things will improve on the next leg of our journey.  

Several episodes of "Blindspot" and a few chapters of the book, I Am Pilgrim, a lecture by one of National Geographic's explorers and a short nap later, we landed in Lima Peru.  One word can describe what I saw of Lima from the airplane, light brown.  Everything was light sand colored brown.  All of the buildings, houses, streets, mountains, ... it all seemed to be the same color.  We didn't get to explore the city as we were just connecting to our Cusco flight.  But it didn't seem to be all that inviting.  Totally brown.

We finally arrived in Cusco this evening after dark, so I couldn't get photos.  But I'll have some tomorrow for sure.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

National Geographic Trip Around the World

October 27, 2015

The Adventure Begins

I've started writing this page at least a dozen times.  I cannot seem to think of a way to write about this trip without sounding over-the-top braggadocios or pretentious.   The fact is, I am truly humbled by the opportunity that awaits me for the next 25 days as I travel the world with National Geographic.  How should one react when  real life exceeds one's wildest dream.  That's how this "kid from Brown Street in Little Rock, Arkansas" feels right now.    If those kids could see me now ... well, let's just suffice to say ...  not even I believe it.   

That being said, hopefully, I've put the kibosh on anybody who might be wishing that I'd break a leg or something, because I'm very excited about this adventure and as I share this journey with you, I hope you share my excitement.  I mean, hey ... this is the trip of a life time.  I'm going around the WORLD!  The whole world!!  We leave Washington DC for our first destination - Peru to see Machu Picchu.  Then on to Easter Island, Samoa, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Angkor Wat Cambodia, China, Tibet, India, Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, Petra Jordan, and Morocco before returning to Washington.  Pretty amazing, huh?   Oh yes, I forgot to mention the coolest part ... we're traveling on National Geographic's private Boeing 757, which has been retrofitted with 78 business class seats.  While in route, we have historians on board telling us all about the places we're getting ready to visit.  My son spent a semester at sea last spring and covered pretty much this same route and it took him 4 months on a ship.  We're visiting ten countries in just over three weeks.    Ok, so now you probably want to break my leg, right?  But please don't.  I hope you'll just share my joy.

Here's our route.  We begin in Washington DC with first stop in Peru
A couple of years ago, my dear friend Stevie suggested that we take this National Geographic trip.   I had no interest in a trip where I had to pack and unpack every other day for a month.   Also, the itinerary had several stops that I had no interest in, such as Egypt and Cambodia.  So instead, we traveled to Australia and New Zealand.  We had an incredible time.  (For those of you who didn't read about that trip, you can scroll back in the archives of this blog and catch up.  Especially if you need something to help you sleep!)   At any rate,  I was in a different place then.  It was shortly after I lost my husband, Jeff and probably nothing could have made me happy.  

When Bruce and Gail suggested that I join them on this trip, after carefully considering it for about 5 seconds, I decided to sign up.  Unfortunately, the trip was sold out and I was put on a waitlist, or I could go at another time.  I opted for the wait list and several weeks later got the call saying all I had to do was send them a pick up truck full of money and I was good to go.

Well,  months later, here I am, in Washington DC where tonight, I'll meet up with the other 75 folks on the trip.    

My hotel is right next door to this place!!

 I arrived last night, and had some free time this morning,  so I decided to explore Washington and take a power walk around the area.  The White House is right next door.  As if the neighborhood wasn't bad enough, now I'm here. 

Washington Monument

Beyond the White House, I found the Washington Monument, which I still find beautiful in it's simplicity, and stunned by it's size.  It's the worlds tallest stone structure and the world's largest obelisk.  How did they get all of that marble 555  feet  up in the air without  cranes??  Mind boggling!!

After passing the Washington Monument, I stumbled across the World War II Memorial.  This Memorial is new to me since my stint in the Washington DC Zone office when I worked for General Motors in the 80's.  

World War II Memorial
It was built in 2004 and is such a wonderful commemoration of the men and women who served our country during the war.  Each state of the union shows recognition here with an individual column. There is no way to repay those folks, but this memorial stands proud to remind us everyday of their sacrifice.   I found a quote on a pillar saying, "Americans fought not to conquer  but to restore freedom and end tyranny."   Thank you.

Lincoln Memorial

After my visit to the World War II Memorial, I walked along the reflection pond leading to the Lincoln Memorial.  The Lincoln Memorial takes my breath away every time I visit.  Can't explain why.  Unfortunately, it was crawling with tourists, so I didn't stay long.  

I found Macy's.  Since I didn't pack any jewelry, Macy's was the perfect spot to pick up an inexpensive watch and a couple pairs of earrings.  Now I'm ready to go on my trip.  Earrings are an essential part of anyone's wardrobe and an absolute must!  The watch may come in handy, too.

I returned to the Hay Adams Hotel to check in with NatGeo for my credentials.  Shortly afterwards, my friend from Tampa, Pat, arrived followed by Bruce and Gail.  We had a great lunch at Equinox, described to us by the concierge as a "modern American restaurant."   The food was adequate and after catching up on what's happening in their worlds, it was time to visit National Geographic Headquarters and meet our guides for the trip.  

National Geographic Magazine Hall of Fame Display of covers.
Just inside headquarters visitors mingle in a foyer under a high rotund ceiling with star lights that replicate the actual location of the stars the night the founders of National Geographic met to form the foundation.  Huge photos taken by National Geographic Photographers line the walls.  The original table used by the founding members still stands in a meeting room surrounded by more photos of explorers like Jacques Cousteau and Thomas Abercrombie.  It was like taking a step back in time, seeing all of those faces that I grew up with.

We met our guides and heard a bit about their backgrounds.  We have historians, lecturers, scientists and my favorite, a NatGeo Photographer who has promised to teach us how to take amazing photos along the way.

View from the hotel's 9th floor.
I'm back in my room now, after a wonderful dinner on the top floor of the Hay Adams Hotel overlooking the White House.  

Time to get my large bag outside the door to be picked up tonight.  My smaller "wheelie" goes with me tomorrow morning at 5:00 a.m.  They forgot to mention the early morning call in the brochure.  We have a long day of travel tomorrow to Peru.  I'll check in again tomorrow.  Until then.