Traveling is so odd. You go, you see places that you will probably never see again, and you walk in strange places. A completely different experience of the world becomes a part of your experience, your worldview, your frame of mind.
And then you come back, and it’s as if you never left, and what happened a week ago floats somewhere between the distant past and a dream.
But it’s all still there, in your head, in your life.
We’re back, but we don’t stay still. We returned Monday night, the 13-year old went back to school on Tuesday, the 10-year old did a bit of school, had his homeschool boxing session, then they both had server practice for the Triduum in the afternoon. Wednesday, the 10-year old and I took a walk on a trail that’s not too far from my house but, I’m ashamed to say, I’d never even heard of before this week: The Irondale Furnace trail.
There’s a bit of a ruin along the trail, the ruin of an iron..processing? furnace, which was a part of a 2,000 acre mining and processing property that was burned up by the Yankees in 1863, rebuilt after the Civil War and used for about 15 years. And now it’s a wall, a trail along a creek surrounded by a lot of high-end homes.
Talk about the distant past and dreams….
Today, we went up 59 towards Gadsden to Tigers for Tomorrow. It’s a refuge for rescued animals, mostly cats, but also a few bears, wolves, and even some cavy. I’d heard about it, and had been meaning to go for ages, but they are generally only open to the general public on weekends. But when Michael, still on Europe time, popped up awake super early, I decided we needed to go somewhere. I looked this up and saw that they were doing some special Spring Break tours during weekdays, and for a reduced price, so we jumped in the car and drove up.
It was quite educational for both of us, and offered food for thought on issues related not only to endangered animals, but also animals in captivity and the relationship between animals and human beings.
(The animals come mostly from zoos, other refuges that close, and from people who had attempted to keep wild animals as pets. Always a grand idea.)
We went to Mass on two Sundays in Spain. Both had congregations of about thirty in attendance, minimal music, fairly perfunctory ritual and (I just happened to notice) in both the Apostles’ Creed, not the Nicene was prayed.
Speaking of churches and such….check out this post from the New Liturgical Movement on veiling statues during Passiontide…two Birmingham churches are in the mix.
I did something new on this trip: I rented our apartment through AirBNB, and I was very pleased with the experience.
In previous trips both to Europe and in the US, I’ve rented via VRBO and just independently through owners and managers. I’ve never had a bad experience with any stay – except that one time in Sicily, but that wasn’t an apartment, it was a B & B, sort of, and I violated by policy of not renting when there were no reviews, so it was pretty much my own fault, and in retrospect…the whole thing was pretty wacky.
With the apartments, everything has been fine, but I’ll say that the Airbnb process strikes me as a level above what I’ve previously experienced. The owner/ manager has a full profile and reviews – and the profile is more substantive than the minimal VRBO profile. If he or she has used Airbnb as a traveler, the reviews of those places are posted as well. You, as a renter have to provide enough information to prove that you do, indeed, exist as well, and the owner is given an opportunity to review you as well, sort of like Uber.
I understand there are issues with the growing business of vacation rentals. I’ve read of people essentially buying out entire apartment buildings and transforming them into Airbnb properties, which isn’t right, because you’re then running a hotel without having to abide by appropriate regulations and taxation requirements. If I lived somewhere and my neighborhood was slowly but surely turning into party central because of vacation rentals, I’d be upset.
But. All I’m saying is that the process of renting through Airbnb gave me an added sense of security above what I’d experienced with VRBO or independently, and I will definitely use them again!
(One of my older sons had used Airbnb the week before our trip, and had similar observations about the process. He was pleased.)
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