Back in the day, commuters would pass their transit time toiling over the New York Times business pages or taking the daily crossword puzzle challenge on their subway rides to and from Manhattan and Long Island.
Before minivans, kids would spend hours doing Mad Libs word games and calling out license plates while wedged into overstuffed station wagons. These road trips often felt like cross country trips but were often much shorter in distance and yet allowed time for creative thought and introspection.
There was a time when books were read, shared, and read again. People read the newspaper and passed it along. Short stories or bound novels would keep readers interested for short runs or distracted for hours. Library books sometimes saw late fees not because you "forgot" but simply one was so caught up in the reading.
...Then the smartphones came along. Users now amuse themselves for hours watching funny videos, taking and sharing photos, and not calling but still checking to see if their friends are in fact still their friends and agree and like what they are doing.
My wife and I were daydreaming the other day. Different dreams for a moment but then we pulled them together for a memorable Thanksgiving that hasn’t yet happened.
We were hungry when we started these dreams. Let me explain.
My daydream was a memory of a cold Thanksgiving hike we spent in Utah’s Zion National Park a couple years ago. Her's was a memory of the streets and gardens of Paris.
How did we pull that together?
“…The next morning was as dismal as his mood. A thick fog had appeared during the night, seeping up from the waters on which the city was built, not drifting in from the sea. When he stepped out of his front door, cold, misty tendrils wrapped themselves around his face, slipped beneath his collar. He could see clearly for only a few metres, and then vision grew cloudy; buildings slipped into and out of sight, as though they, and not the fog, shifted and moved.
Apparently a zoo of tourists by day, Carcassonne, France is a fortified medieval walled city and we found it in the dark with no one out but the cats keeping watch. Rick Steves describes La Cite’ (the old city) as a “13th century world of towers, turrets, and cobblestones.” Strategically shouldered against the Pyrenees mountains, Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage site and doesn’t disappoint, if you can get to it...
We almost missed visiting Versailles. Our already full vacation itinerary had so many places cut from the first draft that we’d still be there had we stuck with the original plan. Versailles wasn’t part of it and it was only tacked on to the end of our stay as an afterthought. In talking with other travelers however, we found that visiting Paris without visiting Versailles is like skipping Big Ben in London because you’re already wearing a watch. The Palace of Versailles, the Gardens of Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors and the Grand Trianon, are all magnificently French and very Parisian things to see while in the City of Lights.
Returning from Spain a day early because of the continued uncertainty of the train strike, we wanted closer access to Charles de Gaulle Airport for the final morning of our return flight home. I wasn’t initially sold on the hype of the guidebooks but this single change of plans gave us a bonus day to fall in love with Versailles. I didn’t know any better.