Herald and Journal, May 15, 2000

Walk a mile or two in my shoes


Here I am, suffering the effects of jet lag, so that will be my excuse if nothing I write makes sense today.

Last Thursday evening, I arrived back at the Minneapols-St. Paul Airport with my two oldest daughters. I managed to make it to work the next day, but I have been dragging ever since. For some odd reason, I keep waking up at 4:30 in the morning. I don't get up right away, but I can't go back to sleep again either.

You might say it was a whirlwind trip. Sara, Gina, and I spent five days running around Paris, and three days touring the countryside around Amboise.

When I say we spent five days running around Paris, I am not just kidding. Sara and Gina were walking rapidly. I nearly jogged to keep up. My excuse? I have short legs. How can they expect me to keep up when I have to take so many more steps?

Actually, I thought I was doing pretty well. I didn't want to complain. So what if I felt like I was doing a poor imitation of a race-walker?

Finally, I complained that their quest for a new land speed record was the cause of my sore feet.

Sara's reply? "Mom, I usually walk twice that fast!"

I managed the long flight, in spite of the fact that I hate to fly. Of course, the Dramamine kind of took the edge off of things. Oddly, I still couldn't sleep on the plane.

Our flight took off at 7:20. From here it is a six-hour flight to Iceland. Why Iceland, you ask? Because the round trip ticket was only $333 to Paris if you flew via Iceland Air.

Now, six hours to anywhere is just too long to sit. It doesn't matter if it is a plane, a bus, or a car. When we got to Iceland there was a layover of about two hours. We got something to eat and shopped around in the duty free shops.

I hadn't even contemplated the thought that there might be a different kind of plane to take us the remaining two or so hours to Paris. When we were checked through for the flight and headed off for the plane, the door we stepped through led us outside. We went down some steps and then over and across to the metal steps, alongside the considerably smaller plane we were to board for the remaining flight.

My daughters told me later that they were just waiting for me to freak out.

What was I going to do? Run back into the airport and hide? No, if you want to go to Paris, you have to get on the plane. The flight was pretty bumpy in places, but I took it all in stride. What a trooper! (I told myself.)

We had a wonderful time in Paris, even though it rained two days while we were there. I have the pictures to prove it. After all, I took 14 rolls of film, so I should have at least a few pictures that look wet.

It rained the day we took the bus out to Giverny to see Monet's house and gardens. They were fabulous. The pictures can hardly do them justice. We walked the path around the pond where "The Blue Water Lilies" was painted.

The rain cooperated by slowing to sprinkles while we walked through the gardens.

Then we walked through the house. In one large room, the walls had racks and racks of Monet paintings. There was a picture of Monet standing in the same room, with the same furnishings and paintings around him. It was an incredible feeling to think he had stood in the same room, and probably painted there, too.

We did see a lot of art while we were in Paris. We toured the Louvre, and the Musee d'Orsay. I was fascinated by the Mona Lisa. There the painting of the famous lady stood in a glass case, with crowds around it, snapping pictures continuously. Standing there gazing at her face, I felt drawn into the picture.

Our main mode of travel in Paris was walking. Now, I don't want anyone to think I'm a wimp. I had started weight training last October, and was still doing that twice a week. I was also using the bike and treadmill, in addition to the occasional walk out our field road for exercise. I was glad I had built up more strength and stamina before the trip. I needed every bit of it. We actually walked 14 miles one day. I know because I was wearing a pedometer.

The trip hadn't really been planned at all until about a month before it took place. When Gina spotted the cheap air fare on the Internet and clued Sara and I in, we quickly made plans to go.

I consider myself lucky that my daughters are willing to let Mom tag along on these trips. We have a great time together, so I have to thank them for indulging their mother's lack of speed.

Gina needlessly pointed out that I brought the most shoes, and still, didn't manage to bring one pair that was comfortable. Unfortunately, her remark was right on target. I kept switching shoes, but each pair felt too tight. I'm sure my feet were swollen.

Our youngest daughter, Jesy, and her boyfriend, Alex, met us in Paris. They went to the Louvre with us, and then, on the marathon walking tour we took afterward.

Jesy finally offered to switch shoes with me after hearing me complain about my feet. Her tennis shoes sure felt a lot better than the alleged "walking shoes" I was wearing.

If another trip comes up, you can bet the first thing to be packed will be my most comfortable tennies.

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