Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Here!

I can't believe I'll be on my way... tomorrow. The time has just flown by. This is my first trip out of the country since I was stationed in the Philippines back in the late 60s... not counting the few times Sjanna and I vacationed in Canada. As a globe traveler I'm a total noob.

I finally had my appointment with the ENT specialist last Friday. He confirmed that I had ruptured both eardrums, but they're healing well. He said my symptoms will resolve over time. At the moment my hearing is still a bit strange but getting better and my Eustachian tubes are finally open. Thankfully, it won't be painful to fly.

I've been packing for the past 2 weeks. "What to wear" is something I've never really considered. I usually wear what's comfortable, so planning for mid spring in Switzerland and Italy has been... well... I'm layering. In the middle of the clothes and stuff, I've packed a few slot cars, my entries for the MMM. I'll also be taking my Nikon and laptop so I can keep you all updated.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Gods Conspire?

I was just getting over a moderate head cold I caught two weeks ago when I was hit with after effects... Both ears closed up and I got an infection. I've been dealing with this, the OHSU health system, trying to finalize plans for the trip and study my phrase book, with not much effect. After a blast of two different antibiotics, "real" sudafed (not that pseudo-sudafed you get OTC) spray steroids and NSAIDs I can truthfully state that... yup my ears are still blocked up, though not as bad as they were last week. I'm still waiting for a call back from the otologist (ear guy) on an "urgent" consult my primary doc made last Weds. AM (I guess what I consider "urgent" and what he considers "urgent" is somewhat... divergent". Maybe with almost 2 years in the northwest could I be developing some allergies to the spring stuff here?

Another feature of not hearing well and having your head is stuffy, your brain doesn't like to work either. Needless to say I haven't made much progress on the phrasebook.

I have had a couple meetings with my travel agent and things are coming together for the trip, with where to stay two nights in Milan the only minor hang-up.

You can bet I'm keeping an eagle eye on the volcano in Iceland that's making an ash of itself...

Hey Thor! Could you please cut me a break?

I know... I know... what sort of cheese do I want with this whine... (sigh).

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Laying the Groundwork...

My first trip to Italy is less than a month away... Exciting yes! Scary... A bit. I suppose at 62 I should just suck it up and get on with it.

For those of you who don't know the story, I entered a proxy slot car race last year, the Mini Mille Miglia. It was held in August by a British Ex-pat, Graham Lane. Graham lives in Umbria. He planned the event to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Research Trust in the UK to honor his late mother who died from the disease. One of my favorite authors, Terry Pratchett, is also a victim of Alzheimer's, so It was sympatico that I enter the event to show support and contribute a bit to this worthy cause. I built one car especially for the race and sent another with it. After the race Graham announced that the MMM for 2010 would coincide with the Mille Miglia Historica, a modern day vintage road rally, commemorating one of the greatest road races of all times.

I've always wanted to see the MM Historica (that many significant old cars in one place just staggers the imagination). Having an opportunity to do this, get a little slot racing in and visiting the land of my ancestors was something too good to pass up. I checked with my personal excehquer and discovered I could afford to make the trip. I mentioned on the Slot Car Forum that I was planning to come over. Alan Wakefield Jones, another Brit, living in Zurich said, "why don't you fly to Switzerland and we can drive down to Italy together?" Better and better! I contacted a Travel agent, got Rick Steve's "Italy 2010" and bought "Italian for Dummies" and a Phrase book and got the ball rolling.

Right now the plan is I fly to Zurich, drive down to Umbria with Alan, making stops along the way at the Mille Miglia museum in Brescia and possibly at the Nuvolari Museum in Mantua. The MMM is on the following weekend with a trip to Assisi to watch the cars from the MM Historica drive through. After the MMM I have a week to drive around Umbria and Tuscany before going to the Cinque Terra for a couple of days. I'll take the train to Milano to see some sites and the Alfa Romeo Museum, then take the train again to Venice for a few days of site seeing before flying home.

Exciting... YES! Stay Tuned!