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Answer: Floods, tornadoes and natural disasters

June 10, 2008 | Stuff,Traveling,Vacation

Question: What is, what’s happening where we plan to go on vacation, Alex? Because we are cursed. Cursed, Alex, when it comes to vacations.

Posted by Becky @ 10:51 pm | 3 Comments  

Smart ways to travel?

May 27, 2008 | Airlines,Traveling

I read about some tips for traveling this summer, including this:

Package shippers like FedEx Corp. or United Parcel Service Inc. or luggage shippers like Luggage Forward Inc. or Sports Express LLC may now be an attractive alternative. With FedEx, you can ship three bags — two 40-pounders and one 60-pound bag, from Dallas to Boston and back for about $250 if you use the three-business-day service, and the price might be a lot less if you have access to a corporate account with discounts at FedEx. Put the bags in shipping boxes or just use tags that shippers now have for luggage. Package shippers can track the bags, too — something airlines don’t do. On United, those same three bags would cost you $450 round trip if traveling alone.

So … when will the package shippers start putting “people boxes” on their planes? How bad could it be?

(Well, unless you’re Chuck Noland … )

Posted by Becky @ 11:07 pm | 3 Comments  

Amazing travel experiences

March 31, 2008 | Books,Traveling

I can’t post photos, so how about a regular ol’ chat?

(I can’t get my comments in e-mail, and I’ve been running into all kinds of suck with my blog lately. As in, my blog just quit and I lost this entire thing. But … that’s a whole other post.)

Alisa answered my question about most amazing travel experience and then asked what mine was.

Like Alisa, I don’t have just one.

1) My first trip to Norway and seeing the mountains and fjords from the plane. It took my breath away.

2) Making it to the top of a mountain. More than once.

3) Keeping in touch with people I’ve met while traveling, even though maybe the only thing we shared was coffee while waiting for the train.

4) Being pleasantly surprised to find the “reputation that preceded them” wasn’t always the case. French people who spoke English in France. (Shh! I’m not supposed to tell.) New Yorkers who took the time to give directions, some even walking out of their way to help.

5) Italy.

Posted by Becky @ 10:14 pm | 3 Comments  

Call Guinness*! I think we’re about to set a record

February 12, 2008 | Family,Getting sick,Health,Norway,Traveling,Vacation


See that? That’s how much the Kristiansund Hospital in Norway wants for one overnight stay for my daughter in December. That’s NOK 9750,00 (Norwegian kroner) or about $1,780. That brings our running tab for this vacation to almost $14,000. For three weeks — and one day (thanks, Haris) — in Norway. Next time a Norwegian says they have “free” health care? Don’t believe it. I never have. Paying a 50-percent income tax rate when we lived in Norway was enough to make me believe that nothing is free.

So, dear Norwegian Consulate in Houston, can you help a mother out? (Or anyone? Please?) It apparently doesn’t matter that our daughter has dual citizenship, a Norwegian passport and a Norwegian identification number. I know she doesn’t live in Norway, but this was an emergency.

I suppose it wasn’t great timing for the hospital stay, considering all the news about Gro Harlem Brundtland at the time. Norwegians were all up in arms about her use of the Norwegian health-care system. She’s a former Norwegian prime minister. She’s also a physician and former head of the World Health Organization. (Sorta ironic, no?) She’s retired now and lives in France, and Norwegians weren’t about to let her get “free” health care that included a hip operation. Never mind that she probably paid up to half of her lifetime salary in taxes to pay for Norway’s “free” health care. And never mind that she’s one of those people Norway’s system is supposed to care for in its cradle-to-grave “safety net.”

*I meant this Guinness.

But a few of these wouldn’t hurt. (Although, who has money for beer? Sigh.)


P.S. The bill arrived today. I’m afraid to check my mail anymore.

Posted by Becky @ 7:20 pm | 7 Comments  

Oh, hell, my TravHELL was not HELL enough

February 7, 2008 | Blogland games,Traveling


I didn’t win the TravHELL contest. But … go see who DID win. Yeah, there were times during the whole Nightmare in Norway when we said, “It could have been worse … she could have puked at the CHURCH during the FUNERAL … or on the PLANE … or they ALL could have been puking on the PLANE …” So, yeah, while it was our own personal TravHELL, it could have been worse.

Now I’ve got to get back to begging digging for my missing $6,000 … mine is the HELL that keeps on giving.

Posted by Becky @ 6:35 pm | 1 Comment  

Do you think I qualify for TravHell?

January 23, 2008 | Audience participation,Blogland games,Traveling


Well, it’s not like you can go vote for me or anything. The blog-sponsors will do the judging. But, hey, I figured my travel experience sucks as bad as the next person’s. Ya think?

So …and the pursuit of happiness, Hotfessional and Sass Attack are running a contest to see who has the suckiest TravHell stories to tell. They’re even giving away prizes. (Think they can get my $6,000 refund? OK. Probably not. But I bet it’s better’n a bag of airline peanuts.)

Here’s my story. It’s all one trip. It’s just so hellacious that I can’t fit it into one post.

Got a horrifying TravHell experience? You can enter until Feb. 3. Go check it out.

Posted by Becky @ 11:07 pm | 4 Comments  

Nightmare in Norway

January 21, 2008 | Health,Norway,Traveling,Winter

A Visit from St. Pukealot

‘Twas the Nightmare in Norway, and all through the house
Every creature swam in puke, even the mouse;
The stockings hung by the chimney were dry,
Only because projectile vomit couldn’t blow that high.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of anything but food danced in their heads,
After sloshing through soaked towels and sheets 3 feet deep,
We collapsed, exhausted, and hoped for some sleep.

When from the bedroom came the familiar sound,
Of at least one child horking and stumbling around.
With puke bucket and towel I rushed to the door,
To rip off the sheets and clean up the floor.

The moon and the snow … who cares about that?
I was too busy cleaning up stuff that goes splat.
It all started with one little puke in the morning,
By Son No. 2 — we got our first warning.

The Daughter started screaming, we had no idea,
That our days would be filled with puke and diarrhea,
She puked at the restaurant and in the car ride home,
The rest of the day, all night and then some.

To the top of the ceiling, to the top of the wall!
Now puke away puke away puke away all!

To the doctor she went the first and second day,
Then to the hospital two-and-a-half hours away,
She got IV fluids and fell fast asleep,
We slept on the floor in an exhausted heap.

And then, in a rumbling, while I lay on my back
The virus decided it was time to attack.
As I ran for the bathroom, and was turning around,
Up the gullet St. Pukealot came with a bound.

It came in a dash, I didn’t quite get there,
I got to the sink, hell, I didn’t care;
So, great, now we’re ALL locked in isolation,
What a sucky-ass, horrible, nasty vacation.

But, wait, it gets better, for when we got back,
Son No. 2 did nothing but yack, yack, yack, yack.
More puke in the bed, in his hair, on the floor,
Think that’s enough? Oh, no, hon. There’s more.

Son No. 1 joined the chorus of the vomitous pukefest,
He lost too much weight, and we still got no rest,
His face was so gaunt, and his bones stuck out,
Oh, what have we done, I wanted to shout.

Do you think, dear readers, that’s as bad as it got?
Guess what. It got worse, even worse — by a lot.
By the time we recovered, it was time to depart,
Through the Gates of Hell, er, the Oslo Airport.

Ah, I misspoke, we couldn’t leave — not just yet,
We were held hostage and put into more debt,
Because those who run Purgatory, er, “customer service,”
Wouldn’t let us on board; rules are rules, they told us.

So we dished out the dough and got home a day late,
All sick with head colds this time, isn’t that great?
Do you think I’m excited for more holiday cheer?
Bah humbug! We ain’t going nowhere next year.

Posted by Becky @ 11:58 am | 7 Comments  

When it rains, it pours

January 14, 2008 | Traveling,Vacation,Weird things

So I need to call my credit-card company tomorrow and see if someone there will turn on the spigot again. Said someone apparently thinks another someone stole our credit card to buy plane tickets to exactly the destination we so desperately wanted to reach. I guess it’s not completly out of the realm of possibility that some thievin’ Scandihoovian might want to visit Disney World on my tab. But, really. If you were to steal a credit card and buy plane tickets, wouldn’t you pick somewhere like, oh, I don’t know … somewhere other than the same place the person you stole it from lives?

Dammitanyway. I’ve got to figure out what this is all about. Maybe I exceeded my quota of plane tickets.

Update: Oops. I’m an idiot. After a conversation that went something like, “You’re over your credit limit.” “But … but … no, I’m not.” Umm, yes. I am. I apparently missed that the parentheses around the “available credit limit” means the number is, ahem, a negative. Yeah, so I’m the only person alive with such a teeny-tiny credit limit (and only one credit card) that five plane tickets can max it out and break the bank. Sigh. Well, I don’t have TiVo or one of those iPod thingies either. So there.

Posted by Becky @ 12:37 am | Comments  

A day late and a (few thousand) dollar(s) short

January 11, 2008 | Airlines,Blogging,Norway,Traveling,Vacation


But, hey, I’m back! (And, yeah, that’s what it looked like up there. A lot.)

First off, thank you, thank you, thank you to all the incredible guest bloggers for keeping the blogfires burning while I was gone!

I have a ton of photographs to go through, bags to unpack and boxes of Christmas gifts yet to open. I also have massive blog updates to do. In the meantime, here’s an update.

  • The good: The travel to our destination went surprisingly well.
  • The bad: That’s the last thing to go “surprisingly well.”
  • The ugly: Puking (and other unmentionables) started the day after we arrived and ended, oh, about two weeks later after three trips to the on-call doctor and one overnight stay at the hospital for IV fluids and attacking every, single one of us and then some.
  • The travel from our destination? FUBAR.
    • Missed the overseas flight — even though we called ahead to the airline (which rhymes with Rocksuckernental) to tell them our first flight was delayed and sprinted the entire length of the airport — by literally five minutes.
    • The plane was still there. They just wouldn’t let us board. So we watched it leave with 12 empty seats, five of which were ours, paid in full.
    • Haris the Gatekeeper said our only option was to show up the next morning and wait on “standby.” Or we could buy new tickets, even though that wouldn’t guarantee our seats. Or we could check out other options with other airlines. And, oh yeah, if that didn’t work out, he would be “happy” to see us again the next morning. (I didn’t tell him where I would be “happy” to see him … you know, burning and gnashing teeth and all.)
    • We spent the next several hours checking our nonexistent options. I will never go to Vegas. (I may be unlucky, but I’m not brain-dead.) Here’s what happened.
      • New tickets with no guarantees — $6,000
      • Hotel room with one bed, one crib and five bodies — $300
      • Three hot dogs, an order of fries, some yogurt and juice from the airport kiosk — $50 (instead of $175 for five burgers and no drinks at the hotel)
      • Less than an hour on the Internet to check in and print boarding passes (without which I am certain we’d still be wandering the Oslo airport) — $30
      • 1 child with a fever, 3 weeks in Winter Wonderland with no snow and Haris telling us the next morning that we “probably would have been fine on standby” (meaning we gambled away the equivalent of, oh, about two months of his annual salary) and the fact that I let him walk away from me and continue breathing — priceless
  • How long before I do this again? Infinity. As we said from the security of our seats in the air, “Buh-bye, Oslo. See ya NEVER!”
Posted by Becky @ 6:14 pm | 15 Comments  

Pull up a chair and set a spell

December 17, 2007 | Guest blogger,Traveling,Vacation,Weather


I’m going out of town for a while.

As long as the weather doesn’t delay or cancel everything or — worse — kick our butts to a hotel we can’t afford near the airport or — even worse — force us to sleep on the plastic chairs at the airport and lick goldfish-cracker crumbs from the bottom of plastic bags for breakfast, lunch and dinner … we should be good.

A wonderful group of guest-bloggers will keep the blogfires burning while I’m away.

Stay tuned … see you next year!

Posted by Becky @ 2:38 pm | 1 Comment  


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