© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
Hello fellow bloggers and subscribers! It has been a very long time since I was last officially online. I had more adventures than I would like to share this fall durning my travels to the USA.
I finally got to Minnesota after a year and half of COVID restrictions that limited my travel internationally. I did some kayaking, hiking, and spent some downtime with some close friends.
I also have run out of 13GB of storage space on my blog site and have had to make some hard decisions on the future of this site. Making some hard financial decisions is never easy when I have a limited income and things that seem to suck the money out of my wallet. Don’t fear the my blog changes, as my site will continue to be advertisement free and still be my original content of our adventures.
Look for some of the changes in the coming weeks as I get things cleaned up, add some additional items to increase and help with the cost of running this international site. I would be interested in ideas from my readers (many of you have been blogging longer than I have), please shoot me a private message on my contact page if you have something you would like to see on this blog or an idea on how I can finance this site in the future. For now, I have increased my storage to the WP Business level of 200GB. That should help retain access to my older content.
Now that all the rough stuff is out of the way, how was my vacation? More like a nightmare of a trip!
Flying internationally is not fun at all during these times of COVID and being an American citizen has advantages but still the hassle of travel is just that, a hassle!! I will not be traveling to the USA again until things change in requirements of flying!
Here was a small taste of the travel process.
COVID Vaccination 2x in the Spring of 2021. Second shot placed me in bed with the most horrible headache and body aches for two days. Better than hospital with COVID! Plus, I felt so much better once I was vaccinated with being able to move around without the constant fear of catching the virus, maybe passing it to my Hubby or worse giving it to his elderly mother who suffers from dementia and is in a care facility. It was a relief to finally not have to constantly worry. The additional benefit was I was able to start back at my old volunteer job at the Historische Tuin (Historical Garden) in Aalsmeer.
Close to our scheduled vacation (yes, the Hubby planned on traveling with me to the USA and took three weeks of vacation) the USA still was only allowing US citizens or green card holders into the country (the Hubby is neither). We watched both the travel and airline news. I logged into the State Department site daily for weeks prior to travel in hopes that changes would allow the Hubby to fly with me. I purchased my airline ticket and paid the highest price I have ever paid for travel between The Netherlands and Minnesota ever!
Yes, I most likely could have gotten a cheaper flight but at my age I don’t like hopping from airport to airport for more than 24 hours just to fly cheap. Eight hours of travel is enough! I booked a non-stop to MSP with the hopes that the Hubby would still be able to fly and enter the country. As the time got closer, our hopes of a vacation together disappeared.
Then it was the COVID test time. The first test I had taken since the start if this insanity of a virus decided to ascend on our global lives. The rule here for entering the USA was to be tested 72 hours prior to flight. So on the Friday before my Monday flight I was probed with the long cotton swab into the brain tissue just on the other side of my nasal passage. My only thoughts are “why the heck do people get this done weekly for their jobs without going nuts?” “I hope I don’t have anything that would stop me from traveling! That would suck!”
Cost of the test is paid for through the Dutch government, so it was a free test. For those of you living in the USA please remember this fact as I continue on this journey.
I waited 24 hours and received a link to a QR code. That was my secondary ticket to getting on the plane here in The Netherlands. Maybe that should be third ticket as the vaccination also was needed for flight.
I flew on American Labor Day, 6 September. But, I needed two more pieces of paperwork in order to fly. A declaration of health (paper format) so that US Customs had all of us legally if we lied about COVID prior to getting on the plane. I also had to fill out another piece of paperwork for my quarantine requirement upon return to The Netherlands.
I could quarantine for five days and then take a test if it was negative then I could resume normal life, or I could quarantine upon return for 10 days and not take a test. My option after being violated with the Q-Tip was the 10 day option. I only needed to hold onto the last piece of paper, just in case someone asked for it while I was in transit.
The return flight to Amsterdam was even more crazy due to changing requirements and limited test facilities in Northern Minnesota. The fact that most test facilities were overwhelmed with people with an over 3 hour wait even if you have an appointment. It was soon apparently obvious to me that I would not be able to get a rapid test until I got to the Minneapolis airport. The Minneapolis airport has three test facilities (I didn’t know that at the time of scheduling an appointment to be taken during my 5 hour layover). I paid my $200.00 and got the last appointment available for the Sunday afternoon. If I had known about the other test sites I maybe could have gotten an appointment but it was very unclear if the results would be ready prior to my flight.
On the day of my flight out of Duluth, Delta airlines would not let me fly without my COVID test. I explained that I had one scheduled for my layover in Minneapolis and they still wouldn’t let me fly without talking to customer service.
When Delta customer service agent came on the phone he explained that due to Federal Law they could not allow me to fly but I could buy a separate ticket to Minneapolis and then get my test. I purchased an additional ticket if $340.00 plus a $30.00 suitcase charge. To say I was a bit upset at this point would be a huge understatement. Knowing that my Hubby works for an airline I was even more upset as I know there is always a way around the stupid rules without charging a customer double for a ticket. That day was not the day to fight that issue so I paid the money, got on the plane in Duluth and when I got to Minneapolis I went in search of the COVID test site.
I rented a car in Minneapolis as I knew that the testing site was somewhere in the parking garage of the airport. I drove to the test site and soon after I exited the vehicle I saw a sign that told me that if I had an appointment with a certain company for a rapid test then I was at the wrong location.
Now, I was pissed, tired, and even as tough as I am, darn close to tears. It had already been a vacation riddled with medical issues and travel woes this was nearly the last straw.
I took some deep breaths and refocused my efforts to find the test location. Parking level three. Once I found the location it was crowded with people.
At one point during my wait I was approached by a young lady who was escorting a wheelchair bound lady to Paris and had been bumped from three flights due to testing requirements and time limits running out. Could I help, she asked. I listened and told her that if she didn’t receive results in 1/2 hour to go and ask the desk. At this point I got my results and wondered if once I headed to my flight if this lady in distress would be granted her flight.
Once I got to the Delta desk things went smoothly. I was checked in documents checked and boarding pass issued. I was very happy to have my military ID to go through the fast lane but TSA stopped and searched me because my 4 pounds of wild rice set off the detectors.
So I was once again violated by a body search and complete undoing of my carry on luggage that was neatly packed.
It is no wonder that people have lost their minds on flights over the last year. As a well travelled person that is very flexible when it comes to all the changes I was pushed almost to my breaking point.
I was never so glad to be on a plane and headed back to the Hubby.
Safe and sound back at home with the Hubby.
More blogs to follow on my hiking, kayaking adventures in Minnesota in the weeks to come.
Have you ever had a horrible flight during COVID? Share in our comments section.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
Nope, I am still in shock from what happened last week. Which makes the fact that for two days I have seen the following even more spectacular.
The rainbow can only be seen when conditions are just right. Light, water, angle, and being in the right place at the right time are all elements to being able to witness such a thing.
From a dark sky full of gloom to be suddenly blessed to see all the colors that are contained in each rain drop, a spectrum of color. What a simple joy!
So many only want to see only the dark sky, the rain clouds, the windy conditions that keep them inside (ok, a virus is also keeping many inside), or only see what is binging on their phone. As we all put down our phones, and look at the sky I hope we all see are rainbows in this darkness that has invaded our world in the last year.
My hope is that each of my blog followers will also enjoy a rainbow of any sort in your travels today. Be kind to one another and be safe.
Another rainbow from my walk this morning 12 January 2021.
© The Cedar Journal, 2021, all rights reserved.
There certainly hasn’t been a lack of Hummm this year on the International level. Some of it has made me also consider the hummm or just be totally flabbergasted at how the world has changed due to a virus.
For those of you who may just need to have a reminder of why my hummm file exists, here are links to my past entries. Hummm…2020, Tired Tuesday…Hummm, Hummm…Georgia, Hummm… 2020 Already?, The Hummm File of Scary 2019, Hummm…The file is full!, Things that Make Us Go Hummmm- 2019 First Edition, More things that make me go “Hummmm” in 2018, Strange Things That make Us Go “Hummmm”.
Now that we are nearing the end of the year, it is time to do some file clean up. I found there were several items still in the Hummm file that needed to be released into the world. I didn’t think I had much this year as we spent most of our time locked in our house or when I was out and the strange things I saw or heard I never seemed to have my camera on me. Hummm… a universe conspires to provide me with tons of hummm without a way to document.
My adult children still provide me with plenty of hummm. Last week as I finished up my Christmas online shopping and had the online companies impersonal gifts delivered. I received this message…
Hummm…. after thinking he at least was using part of the gift. I had a zoom call from him where he told me his co-workers gave him crap that his Mom sent him kiddie dishes! Hummm… I am thinking his co-workers are jealous that he has a cool Mom that sends cool environmentally friendly camping gear.
© The Cedar Journal, 2020, all rights reserved.
I read one of my fellow blogger friends blog this morning and my heart goes out to her. She lives in Southern Minnesota in a rural community and they have lost yet another community leader to COVID 19. This flower is for her.
The news, from where I read it here in The Netherlands, looks looks bleak in the United States. Not that the virus has disappeared here, our numbers hover at over 10,000 cases per day, but the heartbreak I have heard and seen coming out of the USA is almost too hard to think about most days. Unemployment, families being evicted from homes, food insecurity are all very depressing. I pour myself into other things. I try not to think about the upcoming election.
There are still good people doing good in the world and we all have to make sure we keep that focus.
There is a section in The Washington Post that highlights personal stories of survival the current crisis. Featured over the weekend was a fellow Minnesotan, a fearless woman who has almost single handed tackled a huge inner city problem of poverty. What she has accomplished in Minneapolis without the funds from the government or the United Way is close to miraculous. Mary Jo Copeland is one of those community heroes who selflessly tackles helping others to get through the difficult days. Years ago she founded Sharing & Caring Hands in Minneapolis. Determined, she started to help all in need even when she knew the task seemed impossible. I am sure it has been heartbreaking work and yet she doesn’t let the virus stop her from continuing her work, her passion. A true community leader, a lady who is determined to change her world one step at a time no matter how many people tell her it is not possible. Everyone could use a friend when they are in need of assistance and Mary Jo has been a friend to many in my home state of Minnesota over the years.
These late fall flowers are for Mary Jo and her endless determination against all the odds and obstacles.
Life inches slowly along.
Today, I got an unexpected video phone call from Frankfurt, Germany. My youngest son is on his way through Europe for his job. He proudly told me that he helped an older German lady. He carried her bag up the four flights of stairs at the airport. My heart warmed that he showed kindness to someone and that he was willing to share it with his mother. I was sad that I was not able to greet him on this side of the ocean as he passed through. Sacrifice is hard.
I heard also this last week my oldest son, he was able to find employment, he had been unemployed since April. I have always been happy that he has his part time government employment to fill gaps but full time employment was welcome news. His wife, my daughter-in-law, is still working crazy long hours at the St Louis Hospital with limited staff to fill in their gaps caused by the crisis.
The friends who I have made over these last few years of blogging and volunteering have continued to be a source of strength. From wonderful food creations, to comments on my blog, to navigating the new world of zoom together through several time zones, I thank each of you for your kindness, help, comments and for continued friendship.
© The Cedar Journal, 2020, all rights reserved.