March 28, 2009
Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Getting ready for a big trip isn’t half the fun. It isn’t even a fourth. BUT it IS interesting and tantalizing. It gets you in the mood and then some. Collecting all the stuff you need, poring over maps, watering the plants, making arrangements for someone else to water them . . . that sort of thing.
And you have to do a lot of thinking. Or, you SHOULD do some thinking. Like what about changing money? Things don’t look good for the dollar right now, so let’s be thinking — let’s not carry some hundreds of dollars around Europe and wait for the Euro to sink us. Aha! Change money right away! Then wait for the dollar to rise and prove us wrong? It’s a gamble, but again — that’s part of the fun. We’re betting the dollar will not soar like an American eagle, but rather will sink like a sick American turtle, and we’ll be glad we changed money.
Suddenly I remember the clarion call of Chinese hucksters breaking the law all over the Middle Kingdom. Saddled with a two-tiered money system for many years, they were forever using us to practice the three English words they knew: HELLO! CHANGE-UH MONEY?
Sometimes we’d change if the price was right and get some “people’s money” for making thrifty purchases.
Sometimes we’d just smile back and I’d make some meaningless remark and all parties would wave and smile uncomprehendingly and we’d continue on our way.
Yeah, travel’s fun. I wanna go! This planning stuff can only take you so far!
Two more days. . .