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This story is well worth sharing with all of our readers. Written for University of Travel News.

The Daffodil PrincipleThis week’s newsletter is a little different.

This is a story that we have sent out in previous years and thought that it is the time to have those who have never read to read and for those who have read before it is the time to read again. Please enjoy.

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come and see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. Going and coming took most of a day – and I honestly did not have a free day until the following week.

“I will come next Tuesday,” I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove the length of Route 91, continued on I-215, and finally turned onto Route 18 and began to drive up the mountain highway. The tops of the mountains were sheathed in clouds, and I had gone only a few miles when the road was completely covered with a wet, gray blanket of fog. I slowed to a crawl, my heart pounding. The road becomes narrow and winding toward the top of the mountain.

As I executed the hazardous turns at a snail’s pace, I was praying to reach the turnoff at Blue Jay that would signify I had arrived. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these darling children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!”

My daughter smiled calmly, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.”

“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears – and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car. The mechanic just called, and they’ve finished repairing the engine,” she answered.

“How far will we have to drive?” I asked cautiously.

“Just a few blocks, “Carolyn said cheerfully.

So we buckled up the children and went out to my car. “I’ll drive,” Carolyn offered. “I’m used to this.” We got into the car, and she began driving.

In a few minutes I was aware that we were back on the Rim-of-the-World Road heading over the top of the mountain. “Where are we going?” I exclaimed, distressed to be back on the mountain road in the fog. “This isn’t the way to the garage!”

“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”

“Carolyn, I said sternly, trying to sound as if I was still the mother and in charge of the situation, “please turn around. There is nothing in the world that I want to see enough to drive on this road in this weather.”

“It’s all right, Mother,” She replied with a knowing grin. “I know what I’m doing. I promise, you will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

And so my sweet, darling daughter who had never given me a minute of difficulty in her whole life was suddenly in charge – and she was kidnapping me! I couldn’t believe it. Like it or not, I was on the way to see some ridiculous daffodils – driving through the thick, gray silence of the mist-wrapped mountaintop at what I thought was risk to life and limb.

I muttered all the way. After about twenty minutes we turned onto a small gravel road that branched down into an oak-filled hollow on the side of the mountain. The fog had lifted a little, but the sky was lowering, gray and heavy with clouds.

We parked in a small parking lot adjoining a little stone church. From our vantage point at the top of the mountain we could see beyond us, in the mist, the crests of the San Bernardino range like the dark, humped backs of a herd of elephants. Far below us the fog-shrouded valleys, hills, and flatlands stretched away to the desert.

On the far side of the church I saw a pine-needle-covered path, with towering evergreens and manzanita bushes and an inconspicuous, lettered sign “Daffodil Garden.”

We each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path as it wound through the trees. The mountain sloped away from the side of the path in irregular dips, folds, and valleys, like a deeply creased skirt.

Live oaks, mountain laurel, shrubs, and bushes clustered in the folds, and in the gray, drizzling air, the green foliage looked dark and monochromatic. I shivered. Then we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight, unexpectedly and completely splendid. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes where it had run into every crevice and over every rise. Even in the mist-filled air, the mountainside was radiant, clothed in massive drifts and waterfalls of daffodils. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow.

Each different-colored variety (I learned later that there were more than thirty-five varieties of daffodils in the vast display) was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

In the center of this incredible and dazzling display of gold, a great cascade of purple grape hyacinth flowed down like a waterfall of blossoms framed in its own rock-lined basin, weaving through the brilliant daffodils. A charming path wound throughout the garden. There were several resting stations, paved with stone and furnished with Victorian wooden benches and great tubs of coral and carmine tulips. As though this were not magnificent enough, Mother Nature had to add her own grace note – above the daffodils, a bevy of western bluebirds flitted and darted, flashing their brilliance. These charming little birds are the color of sapphires with breasts of magenta red. As they dance in the air, their colors are truly like jewels above the blowing, glowing daffodils. The effect was spectacular.

It did not matter that the sun was not shining. The brilliance of the daffodils was like the glow of the brightest sunlit day. Words, wonderful as they are, simply cannot describe the incredible beauty of that flower-bedecked mountain top.

Five acres of flowers! (This too I discovered later when some of my questions were answered.) “But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. I was overflowing with gratitude that she brought me – even against my will. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Who?” I asked again, almost speechless with wonder, “And how, and why, and when?”

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house, my mind buzzing with questions. On the patio we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman, two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

There it was. The Daffodil Principle.

For me that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun – one bulb at a time – to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. One bulb at a time.

There was no other way to do it. One bulb at a time. No shortcuts – simply loving the slow process of planting. Loving the work as it unfolded.

Loving an achievement that grew so slowly and that bloomed for only three weeks of each year. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world.

This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principle of celebration: learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time – often just one baby-step at a time – learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

“Carolyn,” I said that morning on the top of the mountain as we left the haven of daffodils, our minds and hearts still bathed and bemused by the splendors we had seen, “it’s as though that remarkable woman has needle-pointed the earth! Decorated it. Just think of it, she planted every single bulb for more than thirty years. One bulb at a time! And that’s the only way this garden could be created. Every individual bulb had to be planted. There was no way of short-circuiting that process. Five acres of blooms. That magnificent cascade of hyacinth! All, just one bulb at a time.”

The thought of it filled my mind. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the implications of what I had seen. “It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”

My wise daughter put the car into gear and summed up the message of the day in her direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said with the same knowing smile she had worn for most of the morning. Oh, profound wisdom!

It is pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson a celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use tomorrow?”

Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards
“Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference.”

Nolan Bushnell

Get ready “rats”, the cheese is moving again in air travel! More and more negative things are about to impact your flight experience “brother rat”. You are already frazzled and barely can give your last flight experience higher than a C- rating and now they are thinking about adding to that hassle by ratcheting up the pressure on your experience and your pocketbook!! And yes, that grade even includes the first class traveler too! (Today’s first class domestic experience is like coach used to be 15 years ago).
Adding insult to injury, soon the ala carte service costs associated with air travel will amount to a total cost equal to or more than that of the actual ticket price. Hoot man….maybe the train is the solution! Services your favorite airlines are thinking of charging for are: to board early, pay to have better seating, pay to have a pillow, pay to have a blanket, pay for peanuts, water and yes, maybe even a comfort package which will allow you…well, you know what I mean! And this “brother rat” is on top of all of the other fees they charge right now. Add this new layer to the hassle of just making it through security with your dignity in tact, wow watch for the fireworks! By the time anyone gets through this maze and seated on the aircraft, they will need a vacation to compose themselves before they reach their destination.
Let us be your “sedan car” and help make your experience one that is shared and the air travel maze not such a daunting experience!. http://travelagentonline.com/Who-Are-We.html
PS: Stockholders just approved the merger of Southwest and Air Trans Airways. Let’s hope this merger is a melding of what is best with both carriers making the customer the winner.

Please take a look at this .  Know that goodness still prevails throughout all of human kind.  It just doesn’t usually make the news… because IT’S TOO GOOD.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/42231949/ns/today-today_pets_and_animals/

Tell us how this makes you feel when you see this!  We personally loved it!

 

YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN when you book travel direct or online.  Who do you call when disaster strikes and you are far away from home?   With today’s swiftly changing global landscape, a good agent http://travelagentonline.com/Meet-Our-Travel-Agents.html proactively works on your behalf to ensure you, their client(s), that you get  to your destination and back home safe and sound!  In other words, a good agent “watches your back” from inception of your vacation idea until you return home.  Isn’t it comforting to know you have a relationship with a professional travel agent and can pick up your phone and speak directly to a human being who cares and can help you with whatever the difficulty might be? Now that’s real vacation peace of mind!

When were you last in a travel crisis and needed an agent but didn’t have one?

Allegiant Airlines, although not a recommended airline by our agents for various reason, muddies the air fare waters and signals all airlines, who are looking desperately for any other revenue stream from you the passenger, to follow suit.  They are asking the DOT to allow the sale of  plane tickets and then change the price before takeoff!  If this is allowed, it will be the wild west in airfares!  None of your plans will have the purchase ticket price guarantee  without an inevitable surprise at the airport when you check in for your flight and you are faced with an additional collection.  When one airline succeeds in a new ruling like this one  and  succeeds, it is like their firing a salvo notice to all of the other airlines to follow suit.  Let’s hope this doesn’t happen!  If it does, the result, no travel budget can be set for a trip without a wildcard specter of changing airfare! Perhaps even changing both ways too!!!!!

This is an Italian dish that is very good as an appetizer.

4 dozen Mussels, cleaned

6 cloves of garlic peeled smashed and chopped

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup EV olive oil

1 cup fresh chopped mixed herbs-parsley, basil & oregano

1 tsp salt and 1 tbspn freshly ground black pepper

Crusty french bread

Put the olive in a large pot over med-high heat and saute the garlic for 30 secs.

Pour in the wine, herbs, salt & pepper-stir to combine

Add cleaned mussels, cover pot tightly and steam until  the mussels just open(discard any that don’t)

Ladle the mussels with the juices  in bowls with the french bread for dipping

Serves 4

I first had steamed dumplings in Hong Kong.  They are served with many other tasty little snacks.

1/2 pound ground pork

6 scallions finely chopped

2 cloves garlic finely minced

1 tsp fresh ginger finely minced

1 tsp corn starch

1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

1 tsp oyster sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 small pkg wonton wrappers

Mix everything together in a bowl.  Place about  1 tbsp mixture in a wonton wrapper and scrunch up to make something like a purse with the top open and pat bottom flat.  Place in a chinese steamer lined with wax paper and put over steaming water until done(only about 6-8 mins.) 

Serve with dipping sauce made of equal parts soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.  Yield about 20

We could not have expressed this better……and just today, another huge winter storm is heading through Atlanta and then the North East. Delta has already cancelled 1400 flight just today 1-10-11!  Please read this short article…..tell us about your experiences.

While the worst of the Christmas blizzard here in New York is behind us, there are plenty of travelers all over the country who are going to have memories of that storm for a   lifetime—either good or bad, depending on whether or not they chose to use a travel advisor.

For instance, I followed the travails of a coworker over the holiday break online as she trekked from Phoenix to Chicago to Boston—no, scratch that, make it Washington, D.C. — on her journey home to New York. In true “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” fashion, there were cancellations, rescheduled departures, surly customer service reps and even a night spent on a cot in a makeshift airport dormitory. Suffice it to say, she had not enlisted the services of a travel agent. (You can read all about Jena Fox’s recent travel adventures here.)

So while travel agents were getting great press everywhere from The New York Times to USA Today  (not to mention Travel Agent), I also heard from a friend of mine who was taking a long-awaited trip to Costa Rica right smack dab in the middle of all this travel turmoil. This was a dream trip for her and her husband, and as the snows fell and the airports closed, it had all the earmarks of an impending nightmare. But as she wrote me on Facebook, “this week would have been a total disaster for us if we hadn’t worked with a travel planner.” Yes, there were rearranged flights and schedules but the final result was the realization of that dream trip—unlike poor Jena’s two-day trip to nowhere.

So for my first column of 2011, there is no lofty message, no lessons for agents to take away—just a well-deserved tip of the hat for a job well done and finally getting some recognition in the mainstream media. The year is off to a good start for travel agents!  This article is thanks to  Michael Browne written for Travel Agent Central. Jan. 6, 2011

Let’s Travel and travelagentonline.com are proud to announce the addition of small group trips though our Institute of Culture worldwide.  Our decision to create The Institute of Culture was prompted by individual client requests for small groups wishing to travel together with others who share a common interest.  Therefore we have created each itinerary will a focus on a learning experiences to enrich each traveler.  All trips, designated by our logo, “The Institute of Culture” will be led by experts in their fields.  One of our first trip this fall will be to Paris,  led by one of America’s leading renaissance art scholars, Arthur Blumenthal, PHD. http://www.lovingart.net/ Watch for the detailed itinerary that will be posted soon under “Our Groups”! Why not become a member of the Institute of Culture and be the first to know about future trips and the perks that the members only will receive. The membership is free. E-mail us at instituteofculture@travelagentonline.com or Call 407 425-5387 EST)

Magic occurred in Central Florida on 1-4-11 with the arrival of the new ship DISNEY DREAM. Here’s a glimpse of the welcoming fireworks and festivities at Port Canaveral yesterday. The other video is of the finishing touches to the interior features….of  the DISNEY DREAM . Now let’s cruise! Look and see!