Mea Culpa…

Today is August 30 and as I look back at this blog I see that I only posted once in July and nothing thereafter until today. What’s up? I have languished this summer away, on the one hand, and yet really did have loads of fun and a wonderful time in California! I did lay low, relaxed much more than in previous years, I hiked less but did get in my daily walks on the beach, I had a little company and my family came by several times for dinner and a BBQ, I missed some opportunities to have more friends visit and involve myself in more activities by choice,  but most unfortunately I have failed to share it with you and for this I apologize. Here are a few pictures of my days:

Charlie

Charlie

A small harvest of veggies

A small harvest of veggies

Breakfast with Sara

Breakfast with Sara

A Quiet Morning Knitting

A Quiet Morning Knitting

Another Beach Sunset

Another Beach Sunset

My Brothers with Wives and My Mom

My Brothers with Wives and My Mom at our BBQ

I can only reason that after our epic trip to India and Nepal I needed to decompress, refresh myself, and experience some introspection, spending most of my time with my thoughts and feelings. As  you can see I didn’t even take many photos. But I promise to do better. We have several trips in the works… some short and sweet (like a visit to Portland and Lake Tahoe) and some major ones (like traveling to the countries of Columbia and Panama) so the blog will pick up momentum as the year progresses. Thanks for your faithfulness to my musings and I want you to know I really do enjoy sharing my life travels in this unique way with you. All the beauty in the world is meaningless without sharing it with the ones you love!

IMG_2320

I am back in Sedona enjoying the last of our ‘Monsoon’ weather, feeling refreshed, and challenge by what lies ahead. In fact I had a new experience just yesterday with my best friend Linda, we went out to a local vineyard owned by another mutual friend and arrived at 6 a.m. to spend 3 hours picking grapes! This harvest of over a ton of grapes will produce their very own label of wine. It was such a pleasure to be part of this annual event!

IMG_0028

IMG_0016

IMG_0014

This is Linda Rachel standing before the harvest of over 50% more grapes (over a ton total) than last year. She and her husband John hope to continue this annual event and produce more beautiful wines! I was thankful to have the experience.IMG_0015

IMG_0027

I hope to reward your patience with more pictures of our further adventures soon! So don’t neglect to check the blog and I promise not neglect to post.

Especially wishing you all as wonderful a summer!

Posted in Home | 3 Comments

California Dream’n

After having mom for a month in Sedona we return her safely back to California and I begin my one month stint as dogsitter for Charlie and my stay in San Clemente. This year the drought is very evident and the garden is minimal. Tove and Jim have done a fine job revamping the yard and putting systems in place to not let any water go to waste. Lots of drought tolerant plants and beautiful succulents planted this year.

IMG_1260

Mike spends this first week with me and we enjoy the beach and the cooler weather. While Sedona has lots of heat, the temperatures here are mild to cool, so far. Lots of overcast mornings perfect for walking and cycling. We take advantage of fresh sushi and evenings out on the patio. And especially enjoy the sunsets on the beach.IMG_1268 IMG_1265 IMG_1263

Mike is back in Sedona for now and Charlie is my true companion. I find her a bit lazy this year and not as anxious to catch lizards or fetch the ball but we are having a great time just the same. More pictures to come as I am certainly too relaxed to post more just yet…

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Summertime!

It finally is summer. After some pretty mild weather in the beginning of June, the heat is ON! We are experiencing heat reaching triple digits and we are making good use of our new outdoor patio. In just a couple of weeks I am off to California to house-sit for my friends and be with my beloved Charlie the dog ! Hope to enjoy the ocean and maybe get some relief from this heat. I really look forward to my time there and this year my husband will join me, some of the time, which will make it more exciting! Looking forward to sharing lots of pictures with you all. More recently my mother has been visiting here in Sedona for about a month and we are having a great time!  We get out walking, having lunch and generally just enjoying the town.   She just celebrated her 89th. birthday and as a belated present we took a trip out to Winslow, AZ. While this was new experience for her and the weather was rainy we had a wonderful time. I highly recommend La Posada Hotel for the lovely ambiance, history and incredibly delicious food at the Turquoise Room. The restored 1929 railroad hotel has a great southwest feel and the extra bonus of some great artwork by the owner’s wife.      Another highlight of her visit was when my sons were here for the week in celebration of Father’s Day and we all participanted in learning to make a traditional Puerto Rican meal of Arroz con gandules, Tostones, and Pasteles. She out did herself and we had the best meal ever!  IMG_2184 Wishing every good dad I know a blessed, well-deserved, love filled Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in Home | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Austin, Texas

After settling in at home for a week we headed out to Texas to visit our oldest son, Michael. It’s my first time in Austin and I found it to be a lively, entertaining place with great food and beautiful scenery.  

    We had a great visit. I walked the river trail and Michael took us to his favorite places. We listened to some great music and walked the local farmers market. We got a good feel for his new city life. Although we realized he’s been there close to a year now! He is loving this great town, we hope to return soon!

Posted in Home | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Last Days in Kathmandu…

IMG_1090

Beautiful and Stunning! Mount Everest from the cockpit of a chartered airplane. My husband Mike and I had the opportunity of viewing the Himalayas and take pictures with a small group of about 25 people. It was a fun ride as this would be the only way I would ever see these mountain peaks!!

Our last day in Kathmandu, we have a flight out at 7 p.m., finds us having breakfast at a favorite restaurant near our guest house.IMG_1233

We then take a taxi to the other side of town to visit Patan and Durbar Square for a last visit of some ancient temples. Our driver leaves us a few blocks for the square as the street is blocked off because it is a festival day. We walk along side many motorbikes and other locals and tourists.

Overview of Square (we were standing just next to the pond at the far left)

Overview of Square
(we were standing just next to the pond at the far left)

After about 10 minutes we arrive at Durbar Square. We stop and take in the view and I tell Mike to wait so I can take a picture of the temple before us:

Durbar Square (Before)

Durbar Square (Before)

We are standing near the open square with buildings on three sides. I snap the shot and then the earth begins to jolt and then ungulate strongly! Mike says, “Get down it’s an earthquake!” We are standing near a pond in the center of the square, he pushes me down and lays over me as we both watch in disbelief as the temple before us implodes! Suddenly we are covered in debris, unable to breath for a few moments, we wait for the quake to stop. As we look up we see this incredible sight and I snap another picture:

After

After

The one temple is destroyed in an instant, people are standing in disbelief, screaming and running, it becomes like a war zone. We look at one another and immediately head back down the street we entered. It takes us some time to traverse the crowds heading in the direction of the temples. We are headed out of the area as quickly as possible, looking for a taxi to return us to our hotel. After several attempts we find a young man and his girl sitting in a taxi, Mike knocks on the window yelling “Kathmandu?” the man says yes and we hop in and off we go! The young man is fearless navigating over sidewalks, rubble, the chaos of people, animals, emergency vehicles, hospital beds with patients being rolled out onto the street and finally after about 30 minutes we are within walking distance of the hotel. We get out and walk, not really knowing if we will find our guest house standing. We pass multiple businesses closing the gates of their shops, we realize to rush home and check on family members. Later we hear the earth quake is a 7.9, a major quake!

We arrive safely back at the hotel to find everyone there out in the parking area. There we will spend the next approximately 6 hours waiting, collecting our possessions, watching our guide working with his superiors to make an exit plan for us. The staff at the hotel responded to all our needs even though there was extensive damage:

After an unsuccessful attempt at making our flight (the airport was closed and all flights out cancelled) we are transported to another hotel outside of the city. We spend the night in the outdoors with our group, all grateful for the efforts of our tour guide Anand and especially Nick Cowie, whom both make us feel safe and cared for. We cannot say enough about their organization and how they help got us through this crisis.

Our overnight camp where Nick and his family welcomed us!

Our overnight camp where Nick and his family welcomed us!

Fran and the girls after our night out...

Fran and the girls after our night out…

IMG_1212

Symbol many homes have at the entrance door.

The next day we head out to the airport, at 9 A.M., once more to attempt the masses of people vying to leave Nepal. Our guide Anand again goes above and beyond his obligations as he makes sure we are all able to obtain our boarding passes and fly safely to our next destinations. While a second earthquake hits (6.7) at the airport and all of us have additional challenges in leaving the country, we do make our flight at 7 P.M. that evening!

While there is much more of the adventure I could share, it would make this post very long indeed. I will just say that I can’t speak for my husband, but will never pass this way again!  I loved the people that shared this adventure with us! Each one touched our lives in a special way and we are so grateful that every single one of them made it home safe and sound. We felt God’s hands upon us, as well as the love and prayers of all our friends and family!

Posted in Home | 8 Comments

More Kathmandu

Another day finds us with a local guide tour one of the oldest districts in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur. Our guide lives in the area and takes us to some of the most prized ancient sites. What attracted me most was the beautiful people I experienced there! IMG_1199 IMG_1226 IMG_1230

IMG_1192

IMG_1194 IMG_1210 IMG_1160

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Journey to Kathmandu

From Chiwan we travel one of the two road to Kathmandu thru rice terraces, flowing rivers and high mountain gorges. The road becomes narrow  and dangerous as we witness a bus down the side of the canyon upturned and flattened. (Later we find out it was a bus load of Indian tourist who mostly all perished as the bus driver lost control.)

We cross over the river five at a time!

IMG_1061 IMG_1071

The villagers, especially the children, seem to enjoy seeing the tourist passing through.

We finally arrive at Kathmandu Guest House, our beautiful hotel. This is a popular destination for it’s architecture and it’s culture.IMG_1943

Filled with shrines, temples and stupas we spend several days visiting various heritage sites.

Prayer Wheels

Prayer Wheels

Maria and Sofia at the Monkey Temple

Maria and Sofia at the Monkey Temple

Maria

Maria

IMG_1179

IMG_1188

I continue to make friends!

IMG_1181 IMG_1182

Posted in Home | Leave a comment

Back at the Royal Park Hotel…

Holi Festival of Colors

Holi Festival of Colors

One day Anand was explaining to the girls something more of his culture and he happened to mention a religious festival called ‘Holi Festival of Colors’ that is celebrated in the Spring each year. There seems to be a whole world movement now having nothing to do with the religious apsects of it but just for fun. The girls were totally on board with this and wanted to create our own experience. Anand was happy to accommodate them. Providing us with costumes and recruiting local help to take pictures. Hmmm…somehow a bottle of Bacardi appeared??

Ours was just a celebration of love and we all had a tremendous time!!IMG_0992 IMG_0996IMG_1024 IMG_1025 IMG_1030

Posted in Home | 1 Comment

Visiting Buddha on the way to Chitwan

Just wanted to share again the beauty of the India women. We are all aware of the Bollywood stereo-type but average women on the streets will take your breath away too. These were all from small villages.

We have now entered Nepal and are at the believed birthplace of Gautama Buddha. People come here for pilgrimage and it’s one of four holy places for them. A beautiful and peaceful place.IMG_1907 (1) IMG_1908 (1) IMG_0878 (1) IMG_0869

We enter Chitwan National Park where we will spend two days. We will do a day safari into the park where we will see rhinos, deer, monkeys and birdlife. It is a very hot day but well worth the effort.

IMG_1966

The children loved seeing us everywhere we went!

But first one of my favorite activities of the trip was a simple bike ride around villages and rice fields. It was a cool morning and just spectacular!IMG_1967 IMG_1968

Our accommodations were lovely and centerally located so we could walk to shops and restaurants and even down to the river.

Royal Park Hotel

Royal Park Hotel

A typical room for two!

We head down river for the beginning of our safari day.IMG_1970 2

On the Rapt River

On the Rapti River

IMG_0915 IMG_0931 IMG_0982

In the park we spend the night along the river and have a great meal with a local family.IMG_0946 IMG_0948 IMG_0940

Our Suite for the evening!

Marilyn Relaxing after a full day.

Our Suite for the evening!

Our Suite for the evening!

Posted in Home | 2 Comments

Lumbini to the Nepalese Border

Our spa day!

Our spa day!

IMG_1934

Before we head to the Nepalese border we decide to have an afternoon of leisure for some TLC. We head to one of the nicer resorts where we can swim in the pool, have a massage, pedicure or as most of us ladies chose to do, put on some henna! It was great fun. The girl was a beautiful artist and it was a first for most of us. After we gathered in the bar for some food and drinks. The youngsters lean heavy on the drinks and around 11 p.m., with my husband in tow, they all go to the local McDonalds for some late-night snacks of burgers! I am snug in bed.

I must say something about transportation in India. As you can see from the picture above they like to use their horns in India. Not just a ‘beep beep’ but a full on BLAST on the horn to warn of passing, demonstrate frustration at slow drivers, caution pedestrians, or just on a whim. Therefore the honking NEVER stops in the city. Also, every square foot of the roads in the city are occupied with either a vechicle, animal or person. Tuk-tuks are in abundance and a risky way to get around. Be warned you take your life in your hands on these motorized rickshaws, especially at night!

As we journey on to the border of Nepal the scenery is beautiful, with less traffic, wide open spaces and from village to village we see a different landscape. Here are some of my favorites:

IMG_1939

Family on a motorbike

Family on a motorbike

IMG_1941

Standard mode of travel in villages by young and old

Standard mode of travel in villages by young and old

Along they way we are stranded for a couple of hours but not to worry help was on the way thanks to Anand!

Broken fan belt!

Broken fan belt!

Posted in Home | Leave a comment