Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A summer reading list

We originally began our blog--Only Planet--because we wanted to chronicle our huge trip, and thought it would be a way to keep in touch with the folks at home, and truthfully, it wasn't a hard sell to get me into the blogosphere. While the idea of reading someone's log, complete with every burp, fart and grunt emitted during their day seemed a self-indulgent bore-fest; some bloggers could be funny, clear thinking and most importantly good writers, and I could only hope to join their ranks. Recently Alternet, which is not a blog, but a newsgroup subscription I receive, had an article about the death of the blog. While I've not noticed a death of blogs, I have noticed a phenomena where many start, only to stall out. Which is kind of a death in the blogosphere. We had our own hiatus, and I can't even begin to count the number of blogs I've visited where the last entry was in 2004.

There are some amusing and useful blogs that I regularly enjoy reading. Not that you've asked, but I'm happy to share. My topics of interest range from appreciating all aspects of cupcake consumption, to the musings of Clinton's former labor secretary, to local politics, to national politics, to a sociological study of white folks, to the little moments observed by my writing instructor, to the political choices involved in my food. I like to think of my blog choices akin to viewing someone's pile of magazine subscriptions. You can tell a lot about a person by the magazines they have laying around--whether it be Outside, Oprah, In Style, The New Yorker, Mother Jones or the Rolling Stone. Are there any blogs that you find compelling and wish to share?

Will I keep blogging, even if it's no longer cool? Probably, since my idea of cool is singing Bohemian Rhapsody at a karaoke bar (which rates a 3 on the cool-meter!), but mostly because I am a writer, and writers write. It's what I have to do, kind of like breathing for some folks. It's especially nice to have an audience to write to, but not necessary, as demonstrated by my hundreds of pages of journal entries I've kept over the years. So, I will continue blogging and reading blogs I find entertaining, or compelling or useful, because more than being a writer, I'm a reader.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

She's Leaving on a Jet Plane

Dylan left this morning for a one week trip to Boston to visit her cousins. She's not alone, her grandparents (Mike and Phyllis) are taking her, but it's the first time she will be away from home without her folks. There are lots of plans during her trip. A charity bike ride, a piano recital, meeting her newest cousin Oliver, a Dad's day BBQ, lots of play time and warm summer weather, which we've sorely lacked here in Portland. We expect it will be a fun-filled visit and that the time will pass more quickly for her, than us. If her trip is anything like my first trip away from my folks--it has the potential to be life-changing.

The year was 1979. Lines at gas stations were blocks long, since people were being told when they could fuel their cars. Gary Sandy & Loni Anderson were starring in the hit TV show WKRP in Cincinnati, and New York City was not hosting family-friendly performances like The Lion King, but reckoning with its reputation as a the kind of place where movies like The Warriors felt like documentaries, rather than matinee entertainment. A family friend invited my parents to send me (age 12) and my two brothers (ages 8 & 9) to visit him for two weeks--the time to be split between his apartment in Manhattan and his summer home in New Jersey. Coming from our pretty provincial town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado to NYC was terrifying, but at the same time also exhilarating, and hooked me on the idea that travel was something I liked to do.

Not only was this our first plane flight, (with the exception of that little trip I took across the Pacific when I was two) but we did it without our parents. Our strongest memory of that flight were the inedible rolls TWA served. My mom's strongest memory was leaving the airport in tears because I had complained about being hungry and while she went looking for food, our plane boarded, the door shut behind us and she missed being able to say a last "goodbye."

The trip was fantastic! Our host was friends with Gary Sandy, and we met him and Loni Anderson while they were out on a night about town. We were allowed to raid the grocery store for whatever food we wanted to eat the whole time we were there--I recall eating a lot of frozen waffles, we had a paint fight, went to a cheesy amusement park and my brother Miles, true to his name, wandered off a great distance and got lost somewhere in the New Jersey woods.

We're sure Dylan will have her own memories and tales to tell. While my trip at the age of 12 ignited a life-long case of wanderlust, there's no telling where this trip will take her mind and heart. In the meantime we plan a night at the coast, watching R rated movies before 9:00 pm and (hopefully) getting lots of little things done--like finding a job! Yes, it's summer!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Where's your stimulus check going?

I'm sure many of us have been watching gas prices creep up. I've seen them jump almost 10 cents per gallon in one afternoon. This Shell is located just a couple miles from our home and it's probably not the most expensive out there. I'm not sure how rising gas prices might be changing your behavior but we seem to be trying to drive less overall. The minivan, which was bought expressly for carpool use, often sits in the driveway since it cost 58 bucks every time we fill it up.

Incredibly, it wasn't even high gas prices that motivated me last fall to help work towards getting a bus service that would transport Dylan and her cohorts back and forth to Arbor every day, but a pleasant side effect will be getting rid of our behemoth of a vehicle. The most environmental thing about the bus is not only will it cart 34 kids back and forth--reducing at least 8 separate car trips--but it's fueled with used vegetable oil, our way of making environmental amends for sending our kid to a school 20 miles away... By the way, if anyone wants to buy a 1996 Nissan Quest with 160,000 miles, it will be available Thursday!

While many have been bemoaning the rise in gas prices, I found this article ,which seems kind of amusing given today's prices. So in 2000 we were freaking out over $1.54 gas? What I wonder is, what will today's article look like eight years from now? Will $4.00 gas seem cheap by comparison?

Much of the conversation about fuel prices in our country seems to be centered around two camps; the "good prices have gone up, we've gotten it too cheap and I can just ride my bike," group and the "this is America, dammit, not Europe, we live in the sticks and it's my god-given right to drive everywhere" gang. Yes, the United States is not Europe. We've been there--a couple of times--and European cities have some of the most excellent mass transit systems in the world. Another charming thing about Europe is that trains run from the major cities to many, if not all, of the smaller towns. My guess is that it wouldn't have been possible to build a town unless it was by a train--how would building materials get there? So in Europe there are alternatives to driving. I remember blogging two years ago about the price of gas in London, and at that time it was reaching $6.50 a gallon. Between that and the surcharge to drive into the city, you'd have to have a fair chunk of change to drive yourself to Picadilly for lunch.

But here's something else about Europe, even before the Euro started trashing the US Dollar. Everything is expensive. Transportation costs, labor costs, taxes, the whole apfel strudel, is reflected in the costs of food and goods. And that is what's happening here. Friends who run restaurants tell me their food prices are getting higher, even food's plastic packaging (created from petroleum) are driving up costs.

I personally don't believe that we'll ever go back to 2000 prices, it was artificially low then and once people are used to paying a price for something, it's becomes the new norm. As avid travelers, we understand that taking the trips we have taken, may move from being upper- middle class luxuries to the old fashioned kind of luxury that the millionaire class could only afford. Remember stories about the Grand Tour? I don't--it wasn't the sort of thing about which the crowd at the Night Owl in Columbia Falls tended to wax poetic, but hopping on planes gets harder to do when there are fewer of them around.

Speaking of driving, tomorrow we head out to Kahneeta, for a camping trip we bought at the Arbor Auction. I'm still struggling to understand the appeal of packing all one's crap into a car, only to drive a long time, unpack it, hang out for a day and then head home. Americans are so crazy!