A Journal of chimeras (brief postings that vanish)

Copyright Mel. White, 2011-2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chapter 1 - Packing... and overpacking?

The big day is here, and I think I must have packed (and repacked) all my suitcases at least a dozen times.  I go through periods of outright confidence and periods of total nervousness.  What if I've forgotten something?  What if the suitcases are too heavy?  Have I taken enough security measures?  An additional worry is going through customs with my electronic gear.  Like most geeks, I can't take just one small phone.  I have to have a tablet, two cameras, my cell phone, a wifi hot spot, AND my phone.  Part of my excuse is that I will have to keep up with my classes while I'm abroad, but part of it is that I simply can't stand to be away from my electronics.

The downside to this is that it takes a long time to go through security.  In order to keep them from stopping me, I have to pack the items in clear plastic bags so that I can grab a group of them easily to put in the multiple trays for the x-ray machine.  It takes me five trays and about five minutes do this little dance, and when everything's gone through, it takes another five minutes to put my shoes on and repack everything into the bag.  The clear plastic bags made it easier this time but it's still not quick.

Using plastic ziplock bags was an idea I saw on a travel site, and one that turns out to be a rather brilliant "lifehack."  We packed our clothing in 2 1/2 gallon bags, which means that if they really want to do a number on our checked baggage at Customs, it will be easy to lift out 10 bags of clothing and put them back, rather than tossing everything out of the suitcase in a mad jumble and then trying to reassemble it freehand at a table in the airport.

The ride to the airport is pleasant.  We've hired a driving service so that we can leave our cars at home.  It turned out to be cheaper than paying to keep our cars in long-term storage at the airport.  One other advantage is that when we return, we will not have to drive home after a 10 hour flight.  I did manage to refrain from texting everyone blow-by-blow updates of the trip to the airport; a silly and twitchy impulse driven mostly by nerves.  However, things like "it's 10 minutes till the car comes and I'm checking my mail for the 200th time" begin to look annoyingly spammy.  So I texted that I was headed to the airport and promised myself that I'd Shut Up until after the plane landed.

So what would you take along on a trip?  For me, the first two items are "books" and "electronics."  Luckily, in this age and day, it's easy to bring along a whole library of books plus music on a single kindle or Android tablet.  I have more than enough to read on the flight, but my plan is to take a sleeping pill and a strong analgesic and sleep for most of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A thousand miles up the Nile with Amelia Peabody and Dr. Zahi Hawass

For the adults reading this -- right now, I'm writing for the children that I've invited to follow my adventures.  Deal with it.  :) 

  I'm giving only a few people the link to this blog where I will be posting daily updates about our trip to Germany and to Egypt.  I won't be talking about it or linking these posts until AFTER I come back (October 20th) because my Facebook page reaches a lot of people and it's just good sense to not tell the whole world that there's nobody at your home.  But, if I'm sharing this URL with you, it means that I'm inviting your comments and questions and suggestions.

     I can only take a limited number of pictures (and some places don't allow photos) and I can't write about EVERYthing.  But I'd like to know what you'd like to see more of or hear more about and I will try to include that as I write my daily blogs.  And thanks to the magic of Internet (which I should have all the way), I will be posting on Facebook and other places just as if I was still at home in Dallas.

Trip itinerary

Sept 30 - leave for Frankfurt, Germany! 

October 1 (9 am!)  arrive in Frankfurt, Germany.  We will pick up a car and drive to Gelnhausenthe town where I lived from about 1959 to 1963 (so I spent almost 8 years of my childhood in Germany)  We will have a German lunch and see Frederick Barbarossa's old castle and then drive back to Frankfurt.  
October 2 - an all day bus tour to Neuschwanstein Castle and to the Linderhof Palace.  These are amazing places, and I can't wait to show Bruce!
October 3 - resting in the morning, then at 1 pm we do a dinner cruise of Frankfurt and the Rhine Valley and have a wine tasting as well!

 October 4 - at 3 pm (Frankfurt time, which is about 6 hours ahead of US time) we'll be in the air and lying down to Cairo, Egypt.  We will be on the Archaeological Paths tour.

October 5 - we will go to Saqqara (I'm looking forward to seeing the pyramid of Djoser) and meet Dr. Zahi Hawass, who is probably the most famous living archaeologist.
October 6, we will fly to the town of Luxor and get on board our cruise ship.  The best way to tour Egypt is by boat, just like the ancient Egyptians did.
October 7 - Karnak (I'm probably going to use up half my memory cards here!)
October 8 - Edfu
October 9 - Aswan
October 10 - Abu Simbel
October 11 - Kom Ombo
October 12 - Luxor Temple (with Dr. Zahi Hawass)
October 13 - flying back to Cairo, going to the Pyramid Builders Tombs with Dr. Hawass (this is one that I'm REALLY eager to see!)
October 14 - Giza plateau (sphinx and pyramids) with Dr. Hawass
October 15 - Dashur and Memphis and a lecture with Dr. Hawass
October 16 - tour of Cairo and the famous Egyptian museum (they will not let us take photos inside the museum, however.)
October 17 - Alexandria, the city of Cleopatra!  We'll go by the modern Library of Alexandria and to the site of the famous Lighthouse

October 18 - back to GermanyOctober 19 - exploring Frankfurt and maybe going to Bad Nauheim, where I lived from 1952-1956 or so.October 20 - back to Texas.

...and the day after I get back, I've got to go teach!  

So if you're curious about something or if there's pictures you'd like to see, let me know!  The adventure begins next Wednesday!