What I did on my almost summer vacation


AGMA goes to France!

I know I promised last week, but it’s just so difficult to distill 15 days worth of sights, sounds, tastes and experiences into just 35 photos.  But honestly…that’s probably the maximum number of pictures of somebody else’s vacation that anybody really wants to view.

I know, right?

The “tile” organization of the pictures kind of distorts them – yuck and sorry…  You can hover over each picture if you want to read the compelling caption on each one.

As promised, “AGMA goes to France” in pictures:







The Chateau de Villandry in the Loire Valley that is world famous for its gardens.
















The back of our car at the end of 2400 miles around France. It’s kind of a good thing our friends luggage never caught up with us, but they were reunited with it in Paris before they flew back to the US.

Speaking of travel, for heavens sake, if you haven’t already, subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights!

We just booked another trip last night for September on British Airways, $290 round trip Atlanta to Paris.


We promptly cancelled it this morning to get a full refund (even non-refundable fares are refundable within the first 24 hours).

AGMA hated to do that!

But we need to let our waistlines and bank accounts recover for a bit before heading out again.

Sometimes being practical sucks.


And the word for the day is…charming


Last week we left our heroine, AGMA, breathless after taking down a purse thief in Barcelona. Well, maybe I didn’t exactly take her down… But I sure showed her you can have good manners even if somebody is so rude to try to steal your purse.

Sophia, my Guardian Angel, was bracing herself for the next 10 days.

After two amazing days in Barcelona, we picked up a rental car in town and headed out on the open road. On the way out of town, we stopped to see the Sagrada Familia Basilica by Gaudi.

Crusty ol’ AGMA was floored. I had only seen pictures of the outside, never of the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever said “Wow!” so many times in my life. To say it was spectacular is an understatement.

We headed east to Provence. Neither one of us had ever been there and we wanted to see if it would live up to it’s hype.

Yup. Believe the hype.

We booked a room through Airb&b in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. It was all that you would want a charming French room in a charming French home in a charming French village to be…

What’s the word? Oh yes – charming.

And Jen, our hostess, greeted us with two glasses of French rose when we arrived. Even more charming. Jen and her husband were absolutely lovely and went ABCD (above and beyond the call of duty) as Airb&b hosts. They treated us like friends.

One evening, after we got home from a full day of sightseeing, they invited us to join them on their patio with a big group of their friends to watch the Euro Cup semi-finals. And drink French rose. Then the next night, they invited us over again to hang out with them and different friends who came over for a BBQ. And drink French rose. After we had had quite a bit of rose at dinner a couple of hours earlier in the charming village of L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

Do you sense a theme here…?

So it all sounds lovely right? It kinda sounds like AGAM’s Guardian Angel, Sophia, could have taken a break.

Nah baby nah.

I went on this trip taking large daily doses of prednisone to treat my “sausage pancreas”. It did all kinds of weird things to me. I was loopy (more than normal), sleep-deprived (more than normal), angry at nothing (more than normal) and had a very, very fuzzy brain (more than normal.)

But the best side effects were yet to come…

When I was in Provence – and AGMA knows this is TMI – I developed a nasty case of inflamed, swollen, bleeding gums. Ouch and gross. And got a cold sore above my upper lip. So attractive. And finally, started developing oral thrush. Yuck.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on SNL, “Mr Fader, you sound like a real delightful guy.”

AGMA was miserable in the middle of some of the most beautiful scenery, best wine and yumblyest food in the world.

Sophia to the rescue!

She sent me to a pharmacy in town. Pharmacies in Europe are quite different from pharmacies in the U.S. The pharmacists in Europe are a bit like our nurse practitioners (without the $$ they charge you.) They can assess your condition and dispense medications. No need to go to a doctor.

It was truly wonderful.

Ten minutes and 27 Euros later, we were on the road to Avignon and AGMA was on the road to recovery.

Thanks Sophia!

But between our delayed luggage, my Barcelona purse snatcher, the crazy drivers in Spain and France, and all that rose wine, I think she was already starting to get tired.

One more post to wrap the trip up.

Stay tuned…

Off again


Cycling: 101th Tour de France / Stage 15 Illustration Illustratie / Peleton Peloton / Lavendel Flowers Field Champs Veld / Landscape Paysage Landschap / Tallard – Nimes (222Km)/ Ronde van Frankrijk TDF Etape Rit (c) Tim De Waele

AGMA’s off again.

Off key, off kilter and off balance. Yes all of that, but off as in so long, farewell, auf weidersehn, goodbye.


Well, it’s a road trip that starts with a plane ride.

Actually it started with a plane ride. Due to the fabulous miracle of technology, I’m scheduling this post to be published after we leave. Right about now we should be ass deep in a lavender field in Provence.

Nice image.

Hubs and I are on one of our most ambitious trips yet. Ambitious not in distance traveled or mountains ascended but ambitious in the variety of experiences we’ve scheduled into less than 2 weeks.

Honestly, it didn’t seem that bad when we were planning it. Now that it’s staring us in the face, I’m sort of wondering what sort of mushroom we ate that night.

Tapas and touring in Barcelona, the markets, wine and gastronomy of Provence, the thrill of the Tour de France in Andorra, the holiness of Lourdes and the Running with the Bulls adrenaline rush in Pamplona. In 12 days.

We’re freakin’ nuts.

But as AGMA has been so clearly and soberly reminded of late, she’s far closer to the end of the race than the beginning. Might as well go for the gusto while she’s still on our feet.

Wasn’t that an old beer commercial?

And did you happen to catch the Tour de France part?


Did I say that too loud?

It’s all part of the not Aging Gracefully schtick. A relatively normal, middle class 60+ American grandmother to 1.5 children chasing up and down mountains in Europe after world class male cyclists in their 20’s & 30’s wearing spandex.

It’s difficult to explain this late in life obsession so I’m not going to even try.

But thank God AGMA has a late in life obsession.

Something to be passionate, enthusiastic and joyful about. Something to look forward to so much that you feel like you can’t contain your excitement. Something to make you feel like you’re 8 years old again on a summer night in June chasing lighting bugs.

I’m pretty sure the lightening bugs weren’t wearing spandex.

I know plenty of folks my age who feel that, for whatever reason, that kind of joy, enthusiasm and passion is meant for those younger, and not them. And I think that’s incredibly sad because it’s absolutely not true.  Like most of what The Donald says.

My amazing younger son is continually rolling his eyes at me. When I became a massage therapist at 57. When I started my blog at 60. When I ran my first marathon at 61. When I put together my first Tour de France fantasy team last year. When I started my little eBay business a few months ago. When I asked him what kind of a tattoo I should get…

My Lucy and Ethel schemes.

He also is very proud of how AGMA is navigating the choppy waters of later life. He told me so a couple of weeks ago. That felt pretty damn good.

And, if the truth be known, he’s responsible for starting me on the cycling obsession AND the marathoning. But that’s another post.

Behind every successful AGMA is an incredibly supportive son who is also a BFF.

Don’t you love it when you can make your own best friend? It’s just that you have to wait 32 years until they blossom…

It was worth the wait.

So while Hubs and I are picking the lavender out of our crevices and enjoying the discount Euro thanks to those wacky Brits and Brexit, throw caution to the wind and do something that will get your pulse racing and give you a devilish gleam in your eyes.


Look for AGMA on the TV coverage of Stage 9 of this years Tour de France this Sunday, July 10th. I’ll be the lady in the tall red and white Cat in the Hat hat with the cowbell (gotta have more…), the yellow TdF shirt and the green, yellow and white leis around my neck.


With the racing pulse and gleam in her eye.

Viva la Tour!