Impulse and risky choices have taken me on all kinds of adventures. This story epitomizes who I am.
After graduating from college, I struggled to find illustration jobs. Every month or two, I drew promotional advertisements for an upscale women’s clothing store where I worked selling clothes. The intermittent opportunities paid a meager wage. I made more money selling clothes than drawing them.
Then, I had a brilliant idea. Madison, Wisconsin is only a few hours away from Chicago, so I took the Van Galder Bus to the Merchandise Mart. I hoped to find a few businesses willing to pay me to draw their clothing and accessories.
With an art portfolio held tight in my hand, I knocked on doors all day, but only found one interested company. I showed the owner my drawings and paintings. She picked a purse from a pile on a table and said, “Draw this one.” She handed me a #2 pencil, a piece of typing paper and escorted me to her desk. She and her staff watched as I drew. Perspiration dripped from every pore on my body. Somehow, I managed to finish. She smiled and paid me $10.00. It covered less than half of my bus fare.
I took the elevator down to the lobby and stepped into the chilly spring air. After reorienting myself, I made my way to the bus stop. I thought about my career choice and if it would be worth it to travel to Chicago again.
While I stood shivering on the curb with my back against the Lake Michigan wind, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and a thirty-something, unshaven man in a light jacket and jeans asked, “Are you waiting for the bus back to Madison?” Continue reading
Last week, my breast reconstruction doctor joined my radiologist in giving me the thumb’s up. I had been told I had no restrictions over the phone, but this appointment made it official. I won’t see either of them until next summer. Yeah baby. It’s all good! I just have to take a Tamoxifen pill every day. I felt like celebrating so my husband Danny and I headed up to the mountains.
We left at 5:00 on Valentine’s Day and sailed up I-70. After Idaho Springs, we came to a halt and our progress could be measured in inches. I could have sworn I saw an elderly lady with a walker pass our car. Our two hour trip soon stretched to three. We worried that our 9:00 dinner reservation would be cancelled. Wet snowflakes flew and collected on the road. We suspected an accident had caused the jam. I used two of the hours stuck in traffic to hash out a screenplay I am working on. I figured out three plot lines, worked on casting it, finally decided on Robert Downey Jr., and we still crawled up the mountain highway.
Image from Google+
At 8:30, I started cussing like the truck drivers crawling alongside us. We’d never make our dinner reservation. Approaching a curve in the road, we could see what happened. Idiots with front-wheel drive had spun out in the left lane tying up traffic for miles and miles! They had to be towed. I’ll never understand why Colorado stopped requiring chains for everyone without all-wheel drive. Once we got past the goofballs without chains or a clue, we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel and flew down the mountain to Breckenridge. Continue reading
Although Colorado has only been nicked by the Polar Vortex, it has been a record year for snow in Breckenridge. This has created deep powder conditions. I am under doctor’s orders not to fall, so it’s groomed runs for me. The snow is like soft vanilla ice cream.
Since the beginning of the year, 249 inches of snow has fallen. By my expert calculations, 9 feet of snow fell in January alone. That my friend, is a lot of crazy good champagne powder! Continue reading
While growing up in Wisconsin, I had many opportunities to carve snow caves out of the snowy embankment at the entrance to our driveway. In leaner years, my sister and I built roofless forts to protect us from snowball missiles. Many years later, I watched James Bond’s Die Another Day and fell in love with the Ice Palace.
So when I drove back from skiing and glimpsed unusual lighting on some enormous walls of ice and snow, I had to check it out. Someone built an ice castle in Breckenridge! I had to go.
Each handmade icicle was combined with many others to build extraordinary archways, towers and meandering walls. Continue reading
While walking along La Rambla, my husband Danny and I continued our first day’s adventure in Barcelona. We peeked down the narrow walkways and alleys.
Our daughter Courtney had warned us about pickpockets earlier that night at dinner. I held my bag close to my body. My husband Danny kept our euros in a money belt. I never feared for my safety anywhere in Barcelona, but pickpocketing was rampant. Courtney told us not to help anyone from the ground since they create scenes to distract you while fishing for valuables in your bag. Many locals wore backpacks in front of them. One of her friends found a little girl’s hand in his front pocket. He swatted her away. Her father just demurely said, “Sorry.” Other times they would approach with clipboards asking random questions. As the unsuspecting target signed their name, they would rifle through their bag underneath. If a victim sat at a table with their small purse atop, they would set the board on the bag and snatch both before they knew they’d been hit. She said to hold our bags when in the subway since they use the crowds to hide their prowling. Continue reading
After arriving in Barcelona, Spain it sprinkled, creating a wonderful photo opportunity.
My husband Danny and I took the subway to our daughter Courtney’s dorm in the Gracia District. Continue reading
I made it through the double mastectomy in May knowing I would soon be surrounded by beauty in some of my favorite places while eating delicious food.
My husband Danny and I flew to Barcelona and met our daughter who studied abroad. It had been over five weeks since the surgery and I still had some lifting restrictions. Being without cancer for the first time in years, my energy level soared! We hit the ground running and didn’t stop until the cows came home at O’ dark thirty.
Oh, glorious food! I tried to watch my portions since everything was prepared with simple ingredients and lots of butter. Chocolate croissants melted in my mouth, every morning. Restaurants used seasonal fruits and vegetables. I entered food nirvana.
After driving through France, we took the train to England. What a trip.
The timing rocked. The European adventure took my mind off my health and upcoming breast reconstruction surgery on Wednesday, August 28th. Yep. I have one more step in the breast cancer journey. I am lucky. As the poster child for early detection, I don’t have to go through chemo or radiation. My treatment consists of taking a Tamoxifen pill every morning. How hard is that?
Back to reality. When I arrived home, I weighed myself, but wasn’t too surprised. I didn’t gain any weight. We had walked for hours every day while on vacation and burned off the calories from the rich food.
Two days later, I had an appointment with my reconstructive surgeon. We discussed the swapping of the hard expanders behind my pectoral muscles to the silicone implants. This is not the silicone of the 1990’s. It is the same material used in hip and knee replacements.
I was looking forward to this routine procedure, so I can sleep on my side again without pain. It seems nothing in my life is routine.
He examined my breasts and scowled.
NOTE TO SELF: It is never good when a surgeon scowls while examining your body. Continue reading
The Cascada Fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella, Gaudi’s Parc Guell, and the Sagrada Familia
My husband Danny, daughter Courtney and I survived the Wild European Ride! 3 countries in 17 days. Whew…
Courtney took her final exams in two business classes the day we arrived, then she toured us all over the Barcelona, Spain. I have never been to a place where one artist has made such an impact. Gaudi’s art was everywhere!
This was the first post of the Where in the World Contest. The winner of this leg went to the most specific answer. Jeremy de Laroche used Wikipedia to find the exact location of the Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia. Way to go Jeremy! Continue reading
We had one more country to explore during the last four days of our vacation. After dropping our luggage off on the 6th floor of the flat we rented (huff, puff), we went off on a big explore. We hit the ground running. As usual, we didn’t return until the cows came home.
This is the last post of the contest. Guess where each photo was taken and win a souvenir purchased from the cheesy vendor down the lane.
Mystery Photo #1
Mystery Photo #2
Mystery Photo #3
Mystery Photo #4
Mystery Photo #5
You have until noon on Friday to leave your guesses in the comment section of the last 4 posts. The more specific the better. I will announce the winners on Sunday. Good Luck!
Do you have a travel bucket list?
All photos taken by Susie Lindau with a Sony 3N Digital SLR
Here are three more chances to win!
Where in the World is the Wild Rider?
Where in the World is the Wild Rider Now?
Where in the World am I this Time?
Can you guess? Identify my location and you will win a priceless trinket which will be delivered by armored truck and handed to you by the celebrity of your choice. Okay. You’ll receive a small package in the mail.
Mystery Photo #1
Mystery Photo #2
Mystery Photo #3
Mystery Photo #4
Mystery Photo #5
Pretty easy right? The most specific answers will win the coveted Wild Rider Prize. Maybe it’s not so coveted, but it is free and how many times do you get something in the mail you didn’t pay for?
If there is more than one winner, I will draw a name from a hat. Winners will be announced at the end of the contest.
Do you take a lot of photographs while on vacation?
All photos taken with a Sony Nex-3N Digital SLR by Susie Lindau