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Summer Travels

By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50

On a recent flight to Hawaii, my life partner, Greta, and I boarded a Boeing 767-400 and were seated in row 14, seats d and e. We noticed there was a bathroom on both sides of the plane at row 14. At first I thought, how convenient, I only have to walk about two feet to the john. The plane had maybe 250 people and was full.

On the five-hour-plus flight, each toilet was flushed-- I estimate unscientifically--180 times. You could feel the vibration of each flush, so snoozing was out of the question. Not to mention the odor and potential for germs. Don't let an airline stick you in row 14 on a Boeing 767-400 aircraft. But that did not put a damper on our senior romantic travel.

We stayed at a hotel on Waikiki Beach. Hawaii is romantic and a great place to kick back. This old dude even surfed on two different days in front of the Royal Hawaiian for several hours. Every night we walked on the beach enjoying the trade winds and a mai tai or two, and yes, holding hands. Dinner at Duke's on the beach was busy and fun.

Seniors visit USS Arizona memorial

I served in the Navy during the Viet Nam war. I wasn't prepared for the burst of emotion that came over me when we took the USS Arizona memorial tour. After a 25-minute movie explaining the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, we boarded a boat to go to the memorial site. Silent, emotional moments like that draw a couple closer together, it sure did us.

On the return flight, we were seated in row 13, again on a 767, so we almost escaped the toilets. There were three men seated in front of us with passports from Mexico. When we arrived at the gate at LAX, there were several police officers waiting, for whom we didn't know (maybe the engineer who designed the 767-400).

At baggage claim, there were six Spanish television stations waiting, with TV cameras turned on. Turns out the three men in front of us were the Mexican men who were allegedly adrift at sea for nine months, living on rainwater and raw fish. That added a little excitement to our trip.

Three days later, we went to northern California, to vist my mom in Sonoma County, an hour north of San Francisco, four miles east of Santa Rosa. She'll be 96 in November. She lives alone and still has a driver's license, but has curtailed her driving to within her little community.

One night over wine and dinner, she told Greta and me that she felt chemistry and physical attraction is the most important aspect of a relationship for couples--an interesting observation from a person in her mid-90s. Now I know the source of my strong feeling for chemistry in relationships.

Mom said that all of the men who wanted to marry her after she became a widow 40 years ago are deceased. She attributes her longevity to keeping her mind active and eating lots of chocolate. She is a remarkable woman and I'm reminded every day of how blessed our family is.

Yesterday morning, Greta and I flew from Sacramento to Long Beach on JetBlue, a wonderful airline with lots of leg room, leather seats and no toilets across from any row of seats. We had been together almost constantly for two weeks; our travels had strengthened our relationship. Senior romantic travel is great when you have a partner as nice as I have.

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