As I begin, I think this blog wants to be part travel memoir and part advice column and part suggestion box and I definitely want to hear from the rest of you—those of you living—really living—with chronic medical conditions. I want to share ideas and experiences about traveling with love and two chronic food-related illnesses. I’m personally most interested in the food related challenges that come with travel. I will include menus and recipes from time to time. There may be some restaurant suggestions or travel tips and photos and maybe even some artwork when I can figure out that step.
In 1995 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—a disease that some now consider to be at epidemic proportions. And in 2008 I was found to have a mild form of celiac disease. I have probably been gluten intolerant for most of my life. When I think back on incidents of childhood upset, the symptoms seem very similar. And the back and other joint pain I’ve struggled with since a teenager, just went away when I stopped eating anything with gluten. That was evidence enough for me, and except for a couple of “challenges” (more on that in a later post!) I’ve been happily gluten free for almost two years.
My diabetes stays in pretty good control with diet, exercise, good stress management, regular sleep and some help from pharmaceuticals and supplements. I do not take insulin.
I do not use the word “disease” for what goes on in my body. If it happens to be true that we are what we think, than identifying myself as “a diabetic” or “a celiac” makes it that much harder to just do what I have to do to live a life full of joy and peace—and to travel whenever I can!
When I met my wonderful husband, just over 37 years ago, our first conversation was all about travel. I was, at that moment in time, set for a stint in the Navy. I was in debt ($3500 in student loans—laughable now!) and had no career prospects. So, with a promise—in writing!—of training in photo journalism, I made plans to sail off and see the world. I had already planned my first leave: I would go to Ireland, home of my ancestors and the Book of Kells.
As things turned out, I did not go into the Navy, and married Ed, instead. Ireland was on the itinerary for our tenth wedding anniversary and that story will show up later! Still, we began as we meant to go on. In those early years of only two-weeks of vacation and fairly small paychecks, our travel was pretty close to home—up and down the Pacific Coast. We had friends in Vancouver, Canada, and family in the Bay Area in California. We became enamored of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and saved all year to do a marathon play weekend: six plays in three days, staying in a bed and breakfast a mile or so walk to the theatres, and grabbing meals with the thousands of other tourists and locals in the many restaurants and cafes around town. Those became better and better as time went on, but also more and more expensive. To help out with our budget, we began looking for places to stay with kitchens. We had fun planning simple menus (it was almost always hot weather, so lots of sandwiches and salads) and ate very well indeed.
Travel cooking does not have to be time-consuming or complicated; neither do you have to resort to cans of soup or chili and “ordinary” sandwiches. I have made my own pizza dough; prepared a very elegant meal with two burners and a toaster oven; and enjoyed local fare long before the local fare movement caught hold. Come back for the details!