This is the highlight of my 2014 travels. Many of you have asked for this, in fact, persuaded me to do this each year. Many of you have not. Wherever you count yourself, I appreciate your readership,, and your comments and suggestions. In my estimation, 2013 was fairly normal, even a little less traveled than many previous years. Only one trip was out of the country, to South America (Colombia and Ecuador), with no trips to Europe, Africa, or Asia. I hoped to make up for it this year (2014). You be the judge!
But above all, I am most fortunate to have been blessed with good health, a loving spouse, and great family and friends. Basically, that is all of you! You are the people that I meet along this great journey. I thank you for being there!
What better way to start the New Year than to attend the 125th Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena. It was made more eventful by our friends, including the former Surgeon General, who are deeply involved with Donate Life, the organization that brings together organ and tissue donation and their recipients. They sponsored a magnificent float that won the award for Best Theme. It was a truly inspiring event.
I am not going to count the number of times that I rode Amtrak down to Fresno, both for reunion planning purposes, and making Italian sausage with my brother. Enough said.
Seattle is always on the radar, especially for birthdays and anniversaries of all sorts. No side trips this time, just focused on the greater Seattle area, and the Belltown areas we enjoy. Seattle is always great for dining, visiting with friends, and some retail therapy. It was the first of four trips to Seattle this year.
What better time than Spring Training baseball and the red rock wonders of Sedona to bring us to Arizona, and the Scottsdale area once again. I saw my Giants play a Spring Training game, visited the Sartorial Superman at Patrick James Men’s Store, and gazed at the wonders of the plastic surgery capital of the entire world. I hate to be so shallow, but when in Scottsdale…….But Sedona is a natural beauty, the red head of redheads with the spiritual red rock vistas and vortexes. And a visit to the famous Café Elote, one of the most unique restaurants in America.
Sometimes, the draw of The Boss is just too great. I flew to Dallas for the NCAA Final Four, which was sandwiched around a free concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I did see a little basketball, why not? And finally visited Dealey Plaza, site of JFK’s Assassination, something I have never been able to do before now. I can’t say that seeing a basketball game in Texas (ATT) Stadium, home of the Cowboys, is the ideal venue for a basketball game!! I also attended the Dallas Symphony’s version of Handel’s Water Music. It was what you might expect from a symphony orchestra (lousy horns) in Texas!
Spring is here. And time to finally visit my 50th state. Do you recall me asking you in previous emails which state is number 50? Well, it is Michigan, so off to Ann Arbor I embarked on the train (Amtrak) from a previous day’s flight to Chicago. It was just an overnight, near campus of the University of Michigan, one of our country’s better higher learning institutions. Then some more time in the great Windy City, Wrigley Field, Garrett’s Popcorn, Second City, and Oak Street. And I got to see an old friend after fifty years! But the Cubs are still losing, despite my cheering for them!
Well, perhaps this will be the pinnacle of my world travels. I took off on May 4 for a three week journey that took me around the world, by air, and by train. I started with a flight to Tokyo, from SFO. After two whirlwind nights in Shinjuku, I headed off from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Valdivostok, Russia, via Seoul, Korea. After a night in the formerly ultra-secret Pacific (Sea of Japan) port, I embarked on the famous Trans Siberian Railway to Moscow, and finally St. Petersburg. I got off twice, once at famous Lake Baikal, near Irkutsk, and then a few days later at Yekaterinburg, where the last of the czar family were murdered. I also hoped to visit some friends and friends of friends along the way. I ened up circling the world (one third by land), by flying home from St. Pete via Frankfurt, and on to SFO. I have wanted to do this trip now for about five years. The time was right, and I am not getting any younger. It was a memorable trip.
Perhaps it is time to rest, perhaps not. But with an Anniversary coming, it is time for another trip to Seattle. This time, no side trips, just Seattle, but wine, dine, shop, and party!!! We got to see many of our friends, including one who is expecting her first child in the fall.
Could I possible stay home the entire month? Not quite. I headed down to Sherwood near Westlake Village, CA to visit dear friends, Ken and Debbie, who spend the summer in SoCal, winters in Vegas. We golfed, played cards, and enjoyed the great Sherwood vibe. After a little boating on Lake Sherwood, we had a barbecue and a champagne and tequila party.
No trips planned yet! But one never knows. We are looking to move our residence, so travel depends on how quickly we find a new home!!! We have made two trips to the Fresno area already, looking for a one story, smaller, retirement type of home. We had to turn down a really nice trip to San Diego with my brother and sister-in-law. But I did get up to the Napa Valley, Sonoma (Gloria Ferrer), and a bicycle ride from Napa to Yountville. I also made a little golfing trip to Lake Tahoe, where I have not been in several years. As someone said to me, you would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful lake anywhere in the world. And I got to attend the last hour or so of the Bruno Mars concert at Harvey’s Outdoor Theater for free!!!!
There were short little trips, to La Cocina in the Mission, San Francisco, and to Domaine Carneros in Napa. But the trips were absolutely superb.
In an effort to “clear the decks” during our open house, we decided to drive up to Truckee, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Again, we have not been up in the mountains in several years. Plus, I enjoy the stop at Ikeda’s fruit stand in Auburn. And we found a great seafood place in Truckee called Morgan’s Lobster Shack, so good we ate there twice! And I rode my bicycle from Truckee to Squaw Valley and back.
On our way to find a new home in the great San Joaquin Valley, we decided to stay for a night at one of our old favorites, the Gosby House Inn, a quaint but nice bed and breakfast in Pacific Grove, near Carmel and Monterey. Then we are headed to Fresno, to start the process of buying a new home in Clovis. Then we went on an evening limo and wine tasting in the area, followed by the big Fresno State vs. Nebraska football game.
Fall is a great time to return to one of our favorite places, Bigfork, Montana, and a visit with one of our favorite people, Megan, and her Candlewycke Inn. We also headed up to Glacier National Park and Waterton National Park for a few days. And I rode in the Huckleberry 100 bicycle race. The first part of our encounters with Canadians (Alberta) was not very friendly. Both the border patrol and the parks staff did not seem overly welcoming to Americans!!!
They say it is twice as nice to visit Seattle in October, and we did just that. First, an early October visit for a birthday celebration, then later in the month for a fabulous farm dinner with James Beard Award winner and Seattle icon, Tom Douglas. Perhaps we can squeeze in a little wine tasting in the central Washington area (Suncadia) with our dear friend, Wendy. On the second trip, after a day here and there in Seattle sandwiched around the Tom Douglas farm visit and dinner in Prosser, we headed up to Vancouver, another favorite city of ours. Many of you know that most people consider Vancouver to have the best Chinese food in the world!
November might be the quietest month of the year. But on Thanksgiving Day, my brother and I drove up to the new Levis Stadium in Santa Clara for the San Francisco Forty Niners football game against the dreaded Seattle Seahawks. Sad results, however.
Time for our annual trip to Las Vegas to honor my Mom, who just loved Vegas, particularly old downtown Vegas. Mostly, she played the slots, and organized our meal times. We also stayed with dear friends, Ken and Debbie in their Vegas (winter) home, with lots of gatherings, and card games. What a great way to start the holiday season. It marks the first time we have driven to Vegas from our new home in Clovis. In fact, we have never driven to Vegas before, from anywhere. We also saw Bay Area friends, Kevin and Patty while there, and enjoyed one of their favorite Vegas buffets. We also stopped for breakfast at the rustic local Blueberry Hill Pancake House.
So, what can I say about travel in 2014? The highlight was my trek on the Trans Siberian Railway, covering about a third of the earth’s surface. It has been of dream trip of mine for a while. It was long, sometimes unpredictable, but always interesting. The other BIG event was completing my travels to all fifty of our United States in April. I feel quite proud of that. I have joined friends, Jim Sims, Carolyn and Bill Barnes, and you?
So, let’s see what 2015 brings. I want to visit more countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Canada. But my main goal is to visit Burma before the thundering herds discover it. Let me know where you’re going in 2015. I enjoy helping friends with their travel plans. Some are headed to Seattle, some to Sedona, and others to Europe.
I am making plans now for 2015!!! Thanks for reading.