What’s on Your Bucket List?
By Donna (Boots) Schoenfeldt
As I sit enjoying the sounds, a faint whistle of a ship is in the background calling its workers to work. The smells of the sea and the scenery of a busy harbor play out before the tourists awake in the Grand Canal of Venice, Italy. I am wrapped in my thoughts of a trip that has come to an end with wonderful women, all who have the same passion for two wheels, who are about to board a plane and head back to the USA.
Let’s go back to high school in the 60s, to a young girl trying to fit in with the cool group with her “come on” blonde hair and gangly legs. And she knew how to play the accordion too (really not my choice). That will make you popular? I found my way into the Thunderbolts Drum and Bugle Corp, not as an accordion player, but on the Color Guard with white marching boots. The camaraderie of drum corps gave me a unique feeling of fitting in and belonging to a group with the same passion for marching and working together. During one of our many trips, I came across a group of girls who marched in red boots, and thus began my fascination with red boots.
Life went on. With high school over, I had marriage in my sights and a trip to Europe with my Army soldier husband. I was opening my eyes to adventure in another country, Germany, to be exact. I was about to experience the charms of Europe giving me a better appreciation of life on the other side of the pond. A good experience for a 20-year-old anxious to get out and discover the world and what it had to offer. After a nine-month stint in Nuremburg, Germany, with many travels to Paris, France and Krimml, Austria, for a ski adventure, President Nixon said it was time to go home, right before my plans to visit Italy and Michelangelo’s wonders.
Back to the USA and American life, I was raising our children and putting them before my notions of travel. Through numerous moves, empty nest syndrome and a motorcycle coming into my life, it was time to put me back into my life and concentrate on my bucket list. I did not know at that time that Women On Wheels® was part of my bucket list, but red boots and Italy were, with the camaraderie and a sense of adventure. After a Ride-In™, I met Cathy Davies, whose nickname is “Red Boots.” Was that a coincidence, or was that my bucket list screaming at me? Cathy asked if I was interested in international travel. Later an email came regarding a trip to Italy, “Bucket list.” I signed up and a year later found myself on a plane with other WOW members on my way to Italy. We joined ladies who helped me scratch off some items on my bucket list, riding scooter no less.
The first leg of my Italian journey started in Milwaukee, with six WOW members meeting for our flight to Philadelphia to catch up with four more WOW members for the rest of the trip to Rome. Wisconsin made quite a statement with all of us dressed in our Wisconsin WOW Ride-In™ red shirts. We arrived in Rome early Friday morning anxious to get to the hotel and start the adventure. A bus picked us up and we were on our way, the sound of cameras clicking as we passed the first sight of the ancient city. At our Best Western Hotel we met a few more WOW members, and without much persuasion we were off with the guidance of June Reeves heading for a hop-on hop-off bus tour. The laughter and chatter filled the air as we observed the many scooters buzzing around us as we made our way through Rome. How soon before we would end up on scooters? We hoped the traffic was not as crazy as Rome. The adventure took us to Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps for many photos.
Did I mention we enjoyed lunch among the exclusive designer shops? After another great meal, we all retired to our rooms for a much needed night’s rest, having left Milwaukee on Thursday and it was now Friday evening.
Saturday morning we were up for breakfast, ready to meet our guide Constantine. We carried our rain gear and discovered we would have to deal with rain during most of our trip, but this group shrugged it off and pushed through the days. We were off to Vatican City for an extensive tour with a Roman guide who shared his passion for the Roman culture and history. While in the Vatican Museums, we saw the art of Henri Matisse and a robe he designed for one of the Popes, plus the work of Salvador Dali. From there, we entered the Sistine Chapel where a hushed, peaceful atmosphere is maintained. We finally entered St. Peters Basilica to view the Pieta by Michelangelo. Constantine left us exhausted, yet anticipating his return on Sunday.
See page 12 for the complete story…