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Mavis Denofsky pestered me for months. It was my own fault. We grouches are like that. Sometimes you just poke us until we flail our arms in the air and say yes. I do admire her persistence: A quality to be emulated. It has taken her around the world, to countries other people only dream about.
She wanted me write about her travels. Like Winnie the Pooh, she has gone from here to there and back again — bringing home keepsakes and treasures.
Her first trip was with her mom and her sister, to visit family in Denmark. After that, the travelers’ wanderlust touched something in her. Since then, her wanderings have led her nearly everywhere.
She has been to Europe seven times, Russia, China three times, and Brazil three times. She cruised the coast of South Africa and traveled with an exchange student.
Her African safari was smooth and her Western Mediterranean cruise included a host of great cities. While on this cruise she met a couple from Australia; they invited her to visit them. She did, and spent some time in New Zealand as well.
A tour hostess from Bora Bora, suggested a visit to her island. So she went. She went deep sea fishing for sharks and stingrays, caught a Bonita Tuna and touched a stingray. She exclaimed the stingray was velvety smooth, but rough around the edges. Sounds like some women I’ve met.
She traveled around the world at the spry young age of 80, all alone for 77 days as she visited 12 countries, took 16 flights and rode four trains, and one bus. Wow. I’m tired just thinking about it.
Many of her trips have been with family, her husband Joe, when he was still alive and then with church group tours. The church tour she mostly turned into adventures in helping others.
On a tour in Africa, her group helped put siding on huts in Tanzania. But this siding consisted of manure, termite droppings and water mixed with dried grass. I wonder if they wore gloves?
On a tour down the Danube she visited Luther’s city and home. In Slovakia, the group spent two weeks scraping old paint off of buildings and painting them new.
On her wintertime Russian trip, their flight from Moscow to Leningrad was canceled. But the guide wrangled a train. At the last possible moment, they got to the station and loaded their bags minutes before the train chugged out of the station. She picked up a ruble with Czar Nikolaus imprinted on it, but it was stolen. One good thing about visiting Russia in winter; the lines were never very long. I’ll keep that little notation handy.
While in Viet Nam, she had the pleasure of wrapping a boa constrictor around her neck and drinking snake wine. Really, a pleasure? That boa must not have been hungry.
Her husband was a banker and she was an Intensive Care RN for 34 years in Detroit. They retired and moved to Phoenix, her husband had leukemia and she cared for him for 12 years. When he died, she moved to Payson and began her steady pace of church tours.
A sky diving adventure jumped into her life when she was 76. The tandem dive was so thrilling Denofsky said she wanted to get back on the plane and do it again. Only the cost deterred her.
The three China tours all offered a different experience. The first one was the most trying, as there was much red tape, delays, complications with travel arrangements and waiting, lots of waiting. Her second tour was with family and the third one; well, she had her own driver and tour guide. Nice. On this trip she also went to Tibet and visited a monastery. It was a thousand-step climb to the monastery and back down again.
In 2008, she got in her car and drove to Canada and wound up in Labrador. Then she turned around and came back. She had to turn around, Labrador is as far east as you can go, unless your car is also a boat. The next year she drove up the west coast, crossed the border into Canada, did some sightseeing and drove back.
She has slowed down some. She used to be a volunteer at the Christian Clinic, but a health issue intervened and put an end to that. She is still a volunteer at the Deacon’s Kitchen Food Bank and instructs a Bible study group and makes quilts with her church group.
Denofsky has kept a journal of her travels and a daily diary, a page a day, since 1964. She goes to the pool at the Tonto Apache gym, does water aerobics and is planning her next trip: to Machu Picchu. Did I mention she is thinking of para-sailing?
Her most recent trip was a houseboat tour on Lake Powell. The tour originally belonged to Ed Blair, but he gave the tickets to Mount Cross Church, which auctioned off the tickets. She took her whole family (13 people).
Well Mavis, you can’t pester me anymore. The story is on the editor’s desk and will be hacked into shape so people can read it and enjoy the vicarious pleasure of your company. Winnie the Pooh never had it so good.