12-31-18 New Years Eve Recap

We ended last year in Paris and will do the same thing again this year. Needless to say, the time in between our two visits to Paris

Chris, David, janeen and Ryan celebrating on the last night in Paris 2018.

has been FILLED with travel, family, joy and some sadness. What has been planned as a “gap year” of travel has continued a second year. Using our son’s home in Springfield VA as our base, we traveled up and down the east coast of the US and Canada, back and forth to Macomb Illinois and across country twice – once by plane and once by car.

The first several months of 2018 were spent caring for Janeen’s dad in Macomb Illinois.

Harold and his great grad daughter

After living in a Senior Independent Living situation for 10 years or so, it was time to move into assisted living care. He spent his 101st birthday

Janeen and her dad on his 101st birthday.

(March 5th) in Wesley Village surrounded by friends.   Janeen got to spend her birthday in Macomb too (March 6th) where we had a celebration at the local Mexican restaurant and a Margarita (no salt, over ice please).

Janeen with her birthday drink!

After celebrating birthdays, we were back in Springfield for a brief visit and a flight to California.

A second birthday dinner for Janeen was held once we were back in Virginia.

We had planned on returning to CA to visit our various doctors and getting checked up to make sure all systems were continuing to operate as designed. While there we visited with close friends, ate great foods and visited the Huntington Gardens.

We returned to Virginia in time for D.C. Cherry Blossom time.

Cherry Blossom time at the Tidal Basin

It seems the day we decided to go to the Tidal Basin was ideal – blossoms floating in the air, nice breeze and a beautiful day. We didn’t stay in VA long as we head back to Macomb to check on Janeen’s dad before turning South towards Savannah Georgia. Stops along the way included Cincinnati Ohio, Maysville Kentucky, Bourbon country, Nashville TN

The Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the “Grand Ole Opry” in Nashville

and Savannah Georgia. Coming back north we stopped in Charleston, and Asheville NC before getting back to Virginia.

After getting our clothes clean, the car washed and helping Jason (our son) do a batch of home brew beer, we packed up again and headed north. This time through Pennsylvania stopping at Longwood Gardens

The Italian fountains at Longwood Gardens

and Bethlehem before continuing on to the Finger Lakes of NY. I admit to not being impressed with the wines we tasted in the Finger Lakes but it was beautiful all the same.

Finger Lake wine tasting

Next stop Niagara Falls.

Boy, that’s a lot of water falling over the edge around Horseshoe Falls!

The Falls

We spent a couple of days on the Canadian side of the Falls and had a enjoyable time. From there a stop in Quebec City (it was hot which seemed to surprise the locals) and then a long drive to Prince Edward Island.This is the local of Anne of Green Gables – we didn’t actually make it to the “spot” but we certainly saw a lot of the countryside and they do raise a LOT of potatoes!

Winding our way south through Saint John New Brunswick and into Portland Maine we stopped in Boxford Mass to visit with friends then

Joel and Wendy, our hosts in Boxford Mass

found our selves back in Virginia in time for Hamilton the Musical at the Kennedy Center. I’m really glad we had listened to the sound track a couple of times as it really helped to hear what was happening on the stage. The soundtrack includes virtually all the songs and dialogue of the entire play so following along wasn’t  difficult as we had heard the songs previously. Some lines made more sense after reading the book, as well.

Business  accomplished in VA, we turned around again and headed to Macomb. We were there for the better part of July leaving the first week of August. We had things to get done in California and needed to be moving along. Traveling along route 66 for most of the way was interesting – sites you see from various commercials and movies would flash by from time to time.

While we overnighted with friends in Chandler AZ, we received word that Janeen’s dad had passed. Yes, it was sad news but not unexpected.

California called us.. When we arrived, the goal was to complete the removal of all our household possessions from the home we had owned for 40 years. We kept only those items that mean something – artwork, pieces of solid wood furniture, kitchen items to set up a working kitchen, a few tools but nothing we couldn’t easily replace.

All our stuff in the moving van ready to go to storage

After  a quick trip to Santa Barbara for the Carnesale wedding,

here we are having an afternoon refreshment in Santa Barbara

we got back in time to meet the movers to have all our stuff placed in storage. The house sold at the end of November – we are OFFICIALLY Houseless.

Jessie and Phil – our good buds in Pasadena.

Our trusty Mercedes Benz (MerCBlu) continued to provide us with our transport as we headed to Northern California and visited with friends of 50 years in the Bay Area prior to pointing it East ;back to Illinois for an October memorial service  for Janeen’s dad. Our entire family was present which was a great comfort.

The Family at Harold’s Memorial

Continuing to Virginia, we once again got all our clothes clean, packed our bags and flew to Paris for the month of December.

Beth joined us for a tour at Mont Saint Michel – France

So this year (2018) started in Paris and will end in Paris. We are here with our entire family to enjoy being in the City of Lights with all that means. As for celebrating the New Year? Who knows. It’s only 3:30 on the 31st as I write this so the plans for this evening are not yet set.

This “gap year” that started so long ago (we started on this adventure in June of 2017) seems to be continuing. We return to Virginia in a week but come back to Southern France in March and have two different river cruises (Holland at TulipTime and The Remarkable Rhine) in April returning back stateside the middle of May.

From us to you – Bonne Année – The Lee Blog Continues in to the new year of 2019.


06-21-18 It’s Been A Year Update 3

It’s been a year since we started this adventure – Update #3:

We flew back from Europe to Virginia moving back into our ‘room’ at Jason’s home. The first part of our return involved spending a good deal of time with our granddaughter

KB with her Unicorn outfit

and submitting paperwork for new drivers licenses, income tax returns and transferring the title of the Prius to Jason.

We had a lovely dinner with Jason, Katie and Terri while in Virginia

We hadn’t been back more than a day or two and we were notified that our car, which we had dropped off in Paris in November, was available for pick up at the dealer. It was nice to have our new wheels back and allowed us to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. This was very fortunate as we got a call that Janeen’s dad had fallen and was on his way to the Hospital. We left the next day for Macomb, Illinois.

It seemed to be winter when were in Macomb in late January.

Fortunately, he didn’t break anything but he did have a case of pneumonia that needed to be addressed. By the time we arrived,

Yup, snow on our car!

Harold had been moved to an assisted living arrangement for more direct attention. While we were there, Harold had a relapse of the pneumonia and went back to the hospital and upon release, went into a different assisted living arrangement that was much better.

While we were there, Jason, Terri and KB came for a visit which was a great boost to Harold’s well being.

Harold with his great granddaughter

After being there about 4 weeks, we drove back to Virginia and made arrangements to fly to California. It had been 8 months since we had been back to our “old homestead” and while the house

Our front yard still looks good!

was rented we have some great friends who allowed us to stay at their place during our visit. The primary reason to return was to check in with our various doctors and have a general check up to make sure we were still good to go on our continued travel plans.

It was great to see our friends,

Kirk and Denise – winemakers from WesMar in Russian River area. They were in town the weekend we returned to California and it was a treat to have dinner with them.

visit some eating establishments we have enjoyed in the past, and of course for Janeen to get to the

Lovely flowers in bloom at the Huntington Gardens while we visited California.

Huntington Gardens. We also got a few things out of our storage in the garage and a couple of cases of wine to bring back when we returned to Virginia. All in all a wonderful 4 weeks in the sun!

When we arrived back in Virginia, the cherry blossoms around the tidal pool were in full bloom!

Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin in DC
The Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

We could not have planned a more beautiful day to visit and see the cherry blossoms and enjoy spring! When we left, in mid March, it was still WINTER – cold, snow and wet. When we got back it was SPRING with trees leafing out, flowers blooming and beautiful sites all around. It was now time to return to Macomb and check on Janeen’s dad and plan our southern loop drive.

Janeen and her dad – he turned 101 in March of this year.
Our beautiful MercBlue in front of a lovely dogwood in Macomb.

We returned to Macomb late April and stayed for a couple of weeks making sure Harold was getting all the assistance he needed.

While in Macomb we say this production put on by the Macomb Community Theatre.

Once we had confirmed that, we packed up our car and started our way south. Our first stop was to Cincinnati. Neither of us had been there and it was a beautiful day to enjoy the sites along the Ohio River.

Friendship Park in Cincinnati

We also took in a visit to the National Underground Railroad Museum.

A huge quilt at the Underground Railroad Museum

This Museum covers all aspects of the anti-slavery efforts and also pays tribute to all efforts to “abolish human enslavement and secure freedom for all people”.

From there we drove to Maysville Kentucky. My father grew up in Maysville

My dad, his brother and parents lived on the second floor of this house.

and Janeen and I visited once while my grandmother was still alive in the early 70’s. We were able to drive by both the house my dad grew up in and the home my grandmother was in when we visited. After driving around the town a bit we headed out to try and find the old family homestead.

It is a fact that Lee’s have been in Maysville since the late 1700’s. General Henry Lee purchased the house and land in the late 1700 and his descendants include my grandfather – my dad’s father.

The major farm building still exists (no longer in the family) and we were able to find it.

Leewood – the original family home in Kentucky.

Referred to as Leewood it is a two-story home with twin chimneys with a balcony between. I also learned that the family graveyard was close to the property and it was my goal to try and find it. Once we found the home, we noticed some folks behind the house working some cattle. I stopped and asked if it would be OK to visit the graveyard and was given permission – fortunately there were no cattle in the field we had to go through to reach the graveyard.

The Lee Family Plot – started in the early 1800’s. My great grandfather is here.

The earliest grave markers date to the early 1800’s and include both direct decendents (Lee’s by name) and the related families. Unfortunately the graveyard is really overgrown and many of the stones are unreadable. It would be an interesting project to come back and clear all the weeds; clean the stones and general refurbish the place. Maybe another time we can come back and do that.

After leaving Maysville, I visited with Cousin Bonnie –

My cousin Bonnie – we connected after our visit to Maysville.

the daughter of my dad’s adopted sister. I don’t recall having meet Bonnie previously, but it could have happened sometime in the past. It is always great to reconnect with family.

Bourbon – Whiskey – stuff made in Kentucky that people drink a lot – that was the mission today. First stop, Jim Beam Distillery

Jim Beam – need I say more?

for a tour and tasting. Located just off interstate 65 south of Louisville is the place where they make a LOT of this bourbon. It was an interesting tour going over the entire process and into their aging barns holding hundreds of barrels and finally into a tasting room where we were able to sample the final product. Being a scotch drinker, bourbon is not my first drink of choice but it was a great tour and we are glad we made the stop. Next stop – Nashville

Music City USA – Nashville the city where a lot of music has been recorded, played and enjoyed. Before we checked into our hotel, and toured downtown Nashville, we stopped at Cheekwood Estate and Garden. Once the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, this extraordinary 1930s estate, with its Georgian mansion and 55 acres of cultivated gardens

Janeen peeking out of a greenhouse at Cheekwood Estate and Garden

and expansive vistas, today serves the public as a botanic garden, woodland sculpture trail, and art museum. We spent the better part of the day touring the gardens (a must for Janeen every so often) and the home of the family. Much of the interior of the house has been restored

The drawing room of the Cheekwood Estate.

to the original condition and a lot of the original furniture has been acquired and placed throughout. Nice visit to a lovely spot.  We also visited the Belle Meade plantation – which was a ‘big’ race horse place for a number of years.  The place has been restored and is a good example of the period.

The plantation, was named “Belle Meade,” French for beautiful meadow, and known as the “Queen of Southern Plantations”
The stable of Belle Meade
A cute little house for play for the girls of the family.
Slave quarters at the Belle Meade Plantation

When you think of Nashville you cannot help but think of the Grande Ole Opry that really put the place on the map.

Bluegrass started right here at the Ryman in Nashville.

The Ryman Auditorium was home to the Opry for many years before a new facility was built.

Here’s the author and his wife at the upper level of the Ryman Auditorium

We did a tour of the place and enjoy the history very much. From there it was off to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sure, I’ve listed to Country Music from time to time but the breath and depth of this museum is beyond comprehension. Spending a few hours going through the building is just the beginning.

Our goal, when we left Macomb on this southern loop, was to get to Savannah, Georgia and connect with Bob and Linda. Bob was my boss when I worked at Lehigh University in the late 70’s. When we left we lost contact but reconnected last June. They have a lovely home in Skidaway Island just south of Savannah and graciously hosted us for several days.

Bob and Linda – they seem to be enjoying retirement living in Savannah

Nothing like catching up after 40 years while visiting an interesting part of the world. Bob gave us a quick motor tour of Savannah and the following day we took the hop-on-hop-off bus to get a more in-depth view of the City.

Stately home on our tour around Savannah

Lots of old homes, great restaurants, city parks, and a lovely city. You know that stuff that hangs from trees called “Spanish moss”? Well, it’s everywhere.

Spanish Moss – lots of it hanging on the trees.

From Savannah we headed to Charleston and stayed at the French Quarter Inn. This was like taking a vacation while on vacation. I had decided we needed a true break and spent the bucks to be able to stay at a really nice place, have some great meals and enjoy the City.

A lovely garden and home we saw during our walking tour of Charlestown.

Fortunately in both Savannah and Charleston we were not overwhelmed by the heat and humidity – both of which can be murderous particularly in the summer.

Leaving Charleston we headed to Asheville, NC and a visit with our friends Gloria and Jerry. Readers of the Blog will remember they were the couple that joined us in Portugal for the River Cruise. It is always a treat to visit with them and see the sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We spent a day visiting the state Arboretum,

Gloria and Jerry taking in the sights

having lunch at a spot along the Blue Ridge Highway and dinner in town. They kept suggesting we could move to Asheville and who knows, it could happen. After Asheville back to Springfield, Virginia for a few weeks to recoup and figure out what’s next.

It’s now been a year. We have travelled a lot, visited old friends and generally had a good time. During this last year Janeen and I have been together virtually the entire time and with very rare exceptions have gotten along well. We continue to learn about what we need to have available to us when we are driving around (how many changes of clothes do you really need; how many shoes can you really wear?) and stayed in a bunch of different hotels (mostly Best Western actually) and had all kinds of weather – sun, rain, snow, everything as far you can imagine. Over the next several weeks we are going to do a Northern Loop – through Pennsylvania, the Finger Lakes of New York, Niagara Falls, drive through some of Canada on our way to Prince Edward Island, visit friends in Boston and return to Springfield. Once we return its go west time, checking in on Janeen’s dad, then all the way to California.

Only time will tell where we end up, but so far the Gap Year Adventure has been fantastic. The Blog will continue!

06-20-18 It’s Been A Year Update 2

It’s been a year since we started this adventure – Update #2:

Over the last dozen years or so we have taken a number of river cruises and had booked one on the Douro River with our friends Gloria and Jerry.

Here we are with Jerry and Gloria in Lisbon having our first glass of wine.

We met them several years ago on a tour of the UK and been able to convinced them to join us several times on various river cruises in Europe. Starting in Lisbon

Belem Tower at the entrance to the harbor in Lisbon.

and moving to Porto with the group was enjoyable. We have been to both areas previously but it was nice to be able to share it with Gloria and Jerry.

Queen Isabel was our ship for the River Cruise on the Douro.

The cruise up the river was relaxing and filled with fun times – we became part of a group of 12 or 13 passengers

Our River Cruise Group had its own private dining room – we were to load in the main lounge.

who all dined together and exchanged experiences.

Once the boat returned to Porto

Porto and the Douro River from the bridge.

we had a chance, for about 10 minutes, to connect with Janeen’s old high school friend Cherlyne

Janeen’s friend, Cherlyne, we were able to catch them for about 10 minutes in Porto! Another one of those small world situations.

and her husband David, who live in Eastern Oregon. They were with a different group and we caught them just before they went to taste Port wine!

Vineyards along the river

From Portugal we flew to Stuttgart Germany. The prior December (remember this is now late September) we had ordered a Mercedes Benz for foreign delivery. It was now time to pick up our new car!

Here’s our new cars first Baby Pictures!

There really is something special about buying a new car and picking it up from the factory. After several days in Stuttgart we packed everything up and headed to Venice stopping in Igls Austria for the evening and continuing through beautiful vistas of the Alps and Northern Italy.

We stopped for a picture as we were heading through the Italian Alps on our way to Venice.

In Venice we picked up Jason and Terri from the airport as they were going to join us for several days in Venice

Venice – oh what a beautiful part of the world.

after their adventure drinking great beers as part of OctoberFest.

After Venice we really didn’t have any plans other than to head south through Italy along the Adriatic side (east) with the intent of trying to get all the way to Sicily.

Here I am with Chef Massimiliano Alajmo – Le Calandre in Rubano Italy  – #29 on list of best restaurants in the World

We stopped along the way and enjoyed the sights of Silea, Padova, Barietta, Campoposto, and Torre di Palme to name just a few places we stopped. We took a tour of a

Barrels with aging Balsamic Vinegar – an interesting process very much like the sherry solera process.

Balsamic producer and learned how long it takes to really make the aged stuff – like 50 years! We toured various gardens learned about the local cultures, ate great meals and drank wonderful wines. Along the way we met any number of interesting people – both fellow travelers and locals.

While on a long trip eventually you want to have clean clothes. We learned a lot about how to do laundry on the road.

As we got further south in Italy, around Bari (just above the “heel” of the ‘boot’) we decided to turn north and head to France. Along the way we stopped at Paestum and walked some Greek Ruins,

Paestum in Italy has fantastic Greek ruins. It was great to explore and learn about the time the Greeks were here.
Of course, the selfie stick was used.

visited Tivoli Gardens near Rome,

The Fountain of the Owl at Tivoli Gardens

Neive in the Piedmont region

We stopped in Neive in the Piedmont region of Italy to say high to the guide we had when we visited several years ago.

and stopped for a few days in Genoa along the Mediterranean.

We stopped for lunch in Genoa next to this beach – difficult to find but great food and the views were wonderful.

On our way to France we passed through an 8-mile long tunnel – half way through it we went from Italy to France.

Our goal in France was the Loire Valley. We found a fantastic VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) in a small village of Rochecorbon. I loved this place – out the door and about 50 yards down the road was a boulangerie where I would walk down and pick up a warm baguette and croissant for breakfast. Fantastic! During our stay we visited several

Fall colors at the entrance to the Chateau
Rigny-Ussé – a privately owned Chateauú open to the public.

Chateau’s and gardens – wonderful time.

Janeen getting her Garden Fix at Villandry.

From there we went to Brittany – northeast France for a few days and then to Bayeux

Bayeux Cathedrial

and the Normandy Beaches plus

The Beaches of Normandy have lots of monuments. We toured several of the landing sites, a museum and the National Cemetery. A very moving experience.

a day trip to St Mont Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel – we spent a lovely day exploring this treasure of a place.

. Then off to Paris, via Rouen, to drop of our car for shipment to the dealer in Virginia.

Next stop London! We went from Paris to London via the Chunnel

Here we are on the EuroRail train going through the Chunnel to London.

taking all of 2 ½ hours or so with average speeds of well over 160 Mph. We had another VRBO apartment this time in Covent Gardens. Over a week, we saw 3 plays,

Three plays while were in London.

shopped in Harrads,

Harrads Department Store – all the windows had wonderful Christmas decorations.

had a fantastic meal

The Chef and crew at Ledbury Restaurant in London. Considered the 27th best restaurant in the world.

and generally appreciated being in a country that speaks English!

A flight to Dublin

Our first pub in Dublin – Ferryman – just down from our hotel. Had a great conversation while drinking Guinness.

to got us set for a 10-day introductory bus tour with CIE Tours around Ireland.

McDaids pub in Dublin – one of the oldest in the city.
Our CIE Tour of Ireland was well worth the time and money. This was our route – duh.

After the tour we spent Thanksgiving in Kilkenny a town south of Dublin .  We had not been to Ireland it was amazing. Stops in Waterford,

Waterford – Fortunately we didn’t buy anything.

County Kerry, Blarney Castle to KISS THE STONE,

Janeen kissing the Blarney Stone!

Galway, Cliffs of Moher,

The Cliffs of Moher were clear but cold. Well worth the hike to get the view.

Giants Causeway,

Giants Causeway – a fascinating place filled with myths and stories.

Belfast and lots of other places.  There is one thing that there are a LOT of in Ireland – Sheep.  We visited a place where we were treated to a sheep guard dog demonstration – really neat.

World class sheep dog moving the sheep around. Really cool.
We did the entire tour of Guinness – well worth it and you get a pint at the end! It does taste better in Ireland!

We will be back to Ireland!

Scotland – Glasgow

WE didn’t stop in at the Tiki Bar in Glasgow

and Edinburgh and LOTS of scotch. It was Christmas Market

The Christmas Market and fun zone in Edinburgh

time and we visited several in both cities along with the historical sites of course.

Chef Mark at his restaurant Mark Greenaway in Edinburgh.

From Edinburgh we flew back to Paris and connected with Ryan and Chris in the apartment I had leased for the month.

Christmas in Paris!

Ryan, Janeen and Chris on a bridge over the Seine River in Paris

Our friend Claudia joined us and we all had a fantastic time touring,

One of several open air markets where we shopped while in Paris.
This music box store, in Paris, was filled with musical treasures.

visiting various places,

Here we are walking along the streets of Paris.

taking in the sites

Ryan and Claudia in the Paris Opera House.

and of course eating and drinking great foods and wines.

Chef Alain Passard at his restaurant, Arpège in Paris – the 12th best restaurant in the world. Our lunch was wonderful and about 12 courses!

New Years Eve was spent at a traditional French Bistro where we expected to be done in a couple of hours,

Here we are celebrating New Years Eve at a traditional French Bistro in Paris. Wonderful evening.

but were there for over 5 hours and rang in the New Year over an extravagant dessert!

I would hope you know what this is…

OK, we have now been in Europe for four months and it is time to fly back to the States. During our time in Europe we had visited 9 countries collecting a number of stamps in our passport. We boarded our flight back to start part 3 of our yearlong adventure.

Having some bubbles on our flight home to Virginia.

06-19-18 It’s Been a Year Update 1

It’s been a year. Yup, a full year since we drove away from our house in Alhambra and started our Gap Year Adventure.

Our home is ready to rent!

Since that time we have traveled through 20 different States of the Union (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) and visited 9 European Countries (Portugal, Germany, Austria, Italy, San Marino, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland). While in the US we have visited with great friends and seen wonderful places and travelled over 8,000 miles before heading across the ‘Pond” to Portugal. In Europe we traveled over 5,500 km (3,417 miles) in our new car prior to dropping it off for shipment to the dealer in Virginia.

A good part of the drive across country was reconnecting with friends and family. When we left our home our first stop was in Morro Bay to visit with our friend Claudia

Claudia – our friend in Morro Bay who joined us in Paris for Christmas and New Years.

at her B&B where we invited her to join us in Paris for Christmas – which she did! We reconnected with a friend, Myrt,

Myrt – a friend from Bethlehem PA where we lived in the mid 70’s and have not seen since then!

from when we lived in Bethlehem PA 40 years ago and she reconnected us with another friend from that time frame living in Savannah who we visited too! The drive through Northern California was beautiful visiting with friends, seeing the sights and relaxing.

Beth, who lives in Sonoma and our host for a couple of days prior to heading further north.

We tried to stay off the interstate and took the local highway as much as possible.

Gary Peter and Jaynese with us for dinner in Berkeley prior to going to a one woman show.

Sure there was roadwork and single lane situations but it was a grand drive.

My sister Georgia, my brother Richard and my other sister Marilynn – all together at the Cousins Reunion in Oregon.

Once out of California we made our way to a Cousins’ reunion – cousins and family we have not seen in years. A week on the beach with good family was wonderful. It didn’t hurt that both of our sons and their family were able to be there too.

Jason and our lovely granddaughter at the Cousins Reunion in Oregon.


Of course Oregon for us means the Willamette Valley and wine.

My family all together at DDO Winery in Oregon.

We were fortunate to have close friends at Stoller Vineyards and were able to stay in one of their cottages on the property for 2 weeks! After leaving the International Pinot Noir Celebration, held each year, we drove to Seattle to celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.

Janeen at the Chihuly Glass exhibit in Seattle

A visit to the Chihuly Glass Exhibit prior to dinner at RN74

Celebrating our 48th wedding anniversary at a nice restaurant in Seattle – RN74.

made the day very special. A visit to Bainbridge Island to visit with some of Janeen’s childhood friends, a tasting of great Champagne at Fat Cork

In Seattle we stopped at Fat Cork to drink some great champagne with Bryan and his wife Abby.

and off we went heading east.

The skyline of Seattle

We had planned to stopping a couple of times going East from Seattle but the smoke from the various forest fires in Canada and Montana made the air unpleasant, so we pushed through to Bozeman, Montana and a visit with Bonny and David.

David and Bonnie during our tour of a history museum

Bonny was matron of honor at our wedding so we have known them a VERY long time…and it was wonderful to reconnect with them and catch up. Sure we exchange Christmas cards and calls, but being in their home was wonderful.

Throughout our trip, thus far, we had not stopped at any of the various National Monuments or Parks. Well, as we were driving along, there was a sign for the Battle of the Little Big Horn

Little Big Horn Battlefield

and it was just off the road! Seemed like the thing to do and we did. Our ranger guide was very knowledgeable and brought the entire battle to life with his discussion.

Sometimes the world becomes incredibly small. We made a snap decision to drive through the Sand Hills area of Wyoming. After cruising along for a couple of hours, it was time for lunch so we stopped at a Subway in Lusk, Wyoming for a sandwich. Nothing special about the place and the sandwich was as good as any other Subway provides. Just as I was about to close the car door and drive away, I noticed two people we actually know! Dale and Roxanne live in Arizona.

Roxanne and Dale – friends met on the road in the middle of no-where!

We first met them in Oregon at IPNC but they haven’t been to the event for several years. Turns out they are on vacation. Roxanne’s mother lives in Nebraska and having completed their visit, they were heading to Mount Rushmore when they too decided a break and a sub would be a good idea. What a treat to find friends literally in the middle of nowhere!

Carhenge – this is a strange place in Alliance, Nebraska. We have been to the original in Salisbury UK

Back on the road through miles and miles and miles of cornfields, we made our way to York, Nebraska where we reconnected with friends from Michigan – John and Lora.

John and Lora – we met these folks in East Lansing Michigan in the early 70’s.

We have not seen these guys since we left Michigan in 1973! Sure Christmas cards exchanged most years kept us in touch but meeting up with them again after all these years was fantastic. It was like we had seen each other only yesterday. Great visit. From Nebraska, through a lot more cornfields, we got to Macomb, Illinois and Janeen’s dad.

Janeen and her dad during our visit in August.

We stayed a couple of weeks visiting and getting everything together for our next hop to Virginia – stopping at Fallingwaters (Frank Lloyd Wright)

Fallingwater – I could live here but the maintenance cost would not be fun to pay!

which was specular and our final stop – Springfield, VA and our son Jason, his wife Terri and most importantly our granddaughter Katie Beth.

Janeen and our little miss on the Potomac River on my birthday.

Our friends Jessie and Phil from Pasadena made it to the East Coast and more particularly to be with us for my birthday!

Terri, Janeen, Jessie, Phil and David at his (David’s) 70th birthday celebration in Alexandria during our pub crawl to start the day.

It was really a treat to have them with us for several days prior to our taking flight to Europe

Two weeks after arrival in Virginia, we boarded a plane

Here we are settling in for our flight to Lisbon.

and flew to Portugal; the beginning of our planned 4 months in Europe. Look for Update #2

This has become on motto.