Year 2000 has been an adventure. I’m not certain how to present it,
since it is a really long saga. We traveled all year, seeing and
doing pretty much what we wanted to, which in itself was quite a change
in lifestyle. I guess a chronological narration is the simplest,
so here goes.
We spent the holidays
in the Bay Area with the family and then enjoyed the first of part of January
visiting with friends and family. A square dance weekend in King
City was our first stop the middle of January. From there we enjoyed
the Gibraltar of the Pacific, Morro Bay, then on to a few days riding our
new bikes on the ocean in Ventura. For Ray's birthday we saw the Palm Springs
Follies–a Ziegfield-like production whose performers are all over fifty
years old, and one high kicking dancer was eighty-two!
home of the "world's largest swap-meet," merited a stop to see what all
the talk was about. Then to Lake Havasu City and the London Bridge
before visiting Ray’s brother and wife near Phoenix where we enjoyed an
Indian Hoop Dancing tournament, a Chocolate Festival and a Senior Fitness
After Phoenix we visited
Ray's mother and sister in Tucson. Then Mesa for square dancing with
lots of old friends. Stopped in Apache Junction towards Tortilla
Flat (sounds like a bad Western novel, doesn't it?) at a ghost town turned
Hoopla about Arizona's
newest state park, Kartchner Caverns, induced a stop where we arose at
6:00 a.m. to get in line to get tickets to visit. The last time I
got up that early to see something was in Australia to go to Ayers Rock.
Before leaving Arizona
we visited Tombstone, home of the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral,
and the Bird Cage theater.
Deming, New Mexico’s
history induced an overnight stay, as did Columbus, the town Pancho Villa
raided in 1916. General “Black Jack” Pershing followed Villa into
the Mexican Desert in the first U.S. cavalry action with mechanized vehicles.
Carlsbad Caverns’ 750 foot descent in a mile did my knees in–ouch;
then in Pecos, Texas a windstorm blew me off the steps of our rig and onto
the ground–another ouch!
We toured Fort Worth,
Dallas and Houston for more Texas history–the USS Texas, the San Jacinto
battlefield and NASA, then Galveston wound up our Texas odyssey.
Louisiana’s Lake Charles,
Lafayette, Avery Island, Baton Rouge and plantations were interesting visits
en route to New Orleans where we enjoyed all its sights, smells,
and tastes including a fascinating cemetery tour.
We spent the month
of April in Florida. We drove down the West coast seeing all the
sights it had to offer, then on to Key West where Ray had a reunion with
old work friends, headed up the East coast and stopped at Epcot.
Think our favorite place was St Augustine.
May found us reveling
in Southern hospitality and history first in Savannah, site of Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil, then Charleston’s Confederate roots and
Columbia’s Confederate flag over the Capitol. The Biltmore Estate
in Asheville, North Carolina confirms the existence of American royalty,
regardless of what we call it.
Great Smoky Mountains
National Park took us on Top of Old Smoky and through the Cherokee Reservation
that was the origination of the Trail of Tears. We visited the nuclear
reactor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky was another descent into cave land. We
had dinner with friends in Ohio and did some genealogical research in Fort
Wayne, Indiana. We did not, however, visit the Dan Quayle Museum
or stop for lunch at the KFC Buffet (only $3.99) for their liver and gizzard
We were back home in
Illinois and had an enjoyable visit with friends in Springfield, then some
more research in Galesburg before stopping at a friend’s outside
Chicago for a leisurely stay that afforded us the time to visit with others
and enjoy our hometown. Bev, Rick and Selina were visiting Chicagoland,
so we spent time with them, too.
A square dance in Milwaukee
was an enjoyable respite, and some Wisconsin family research proved almost
as fruitful as our Indiana findings. At an overnight stop in Minnesota
we parked right on the Mississippi before continuing genealogical research
in South Dakota. Unearthed some first cousins of Ray’s mother with
whom we visited near Aberdeen. The “You Betcha” accents in North
Dakota charmed us before heading into Canada.
was our first Canadian stop, and we continued to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
then Edmonton, Alberta. Visited museums, universities, capitals and
the famous Edmonton Mall. We learned more about Canada than we had
ever known before. The Calgary Stampede was next on our must-do list
and was thoroughly enjoyed.
Banff National Park
is as spectacular as everyone says it is. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake,
the Columbia Icefields were unbelievably gorgeous. Leaving the Rockies,
we entered the Lake Country of British Columbia and relaxed near the Okanagan
enjoying the cool Canadian air of late July.
Spent ten days at a
Resort Park just over the border in Washington before we picked up granddaughter,
Monica, in Vancouver who traveled with us in Canada, and Washington seeing
the sights of Vancouver, Seattle, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the
Columbia River Gorge before departing from Portland.
We visited Ray’s uncle
in Salem, Oregon and went to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland before
entering California and spending a week square dancing in McCloud.
Then it was time to rush back to the Bay Area to retrieve suitcases and
clothes for our European trip.
September and October
We got organized and
put our rolling home into storage, caught our plane and met Ray’s brother,
Rich, and wife, Roswitha, in Frankfurt. We traveled together for
ten days going to Expo 2000 in Hanover, Dachau, Oktoberfest in Munich,
Luxembourg, Trier, and the Passion Play in Oberammergau. After they
left, we continued traveling in Germany to Nuremberg, Leipzig, Dresden,
and Berlin before heading to Aachen to see son, Paul.
After six months in
Aachen, Paul was a knowing host, and we caught up on each others lives
and saw some sights. Nearby Cologne was a day trip and the treasures
of Aachen were right there. Belgium and the Netherlands are just
a few minutes from Aachen, so when leaving we visited Brussels and Bruges
before heading north to The Hague, Amsterdam, and the Zuiderzee.
Returned to Germany
for another trip to Berlin, Wittenberg, and back to Aachen before leaving
Frankfurt to return to the U.S. at the end of October.
We rested a few days
then headed our home to Arizona so Ray could visit his mother before his
hernia surgery in November. Had a leisurely trip stopping in Palm
Springs and Phoenix to recap our trip with brother, Rich and Roswitha.
We visited in Tucson
with Ray’s family then stopped in Palm Springs on the way back to the Bay
Area. Ray’s surgery was in mid-November, and he recovered nicely
by Thanksgiving. The family gathered at Bev and Rick’s for Thanksgiving,
with everyone but Paul making it for dinner. He is back in Michigan
and will be out for Christmas.
We’re enjoying the
holiday parties and festivities with friends and family, doing Christmas
shopping, but no decorating with those tons of decorations held safely
in storage. Sometime later in life, but not right now, thank you.
Ray flew to Phoenix for a pre-holiday visit with his mom.
are the most difficult part of traveling, as we hate not being around more
to share in their growing up. Monica is a teenager now, so she doesn’t
really miss us. Selina was three last May, and she grew so much between
times that we saw her, we feel we missed a lot–seeing her in June helped.
A sibling for Selina will arrive in late January, and Bev and Rick are
preparing for that now. We plan to be here to help out before and
after the big event.
As for the rest of the
family, Lloyd has sold the cleaners and now works more normal hours selling
cell phones and with a barter organization. Mark is director of sales
at a Four Points Sheraton in Los Angeles and still skydiving whenever he
can. Pam is now a full time fifth grade teacher and loving it. Gail
is a pharmaceutical rep keeping busy with her active life and that of her
teenage daughter. Bev and Rick’s active lifestyle and social lives
may slow a bit with the birth of their second child in 2001, but maybe
not. Paul is back in the United States after spending six months
in Germany following his six months in Kansas City.
Have a Happy Holiday
Season, and a great New Year!
Joy and Ray