IMG_3202 This is a very fast sailboat!

In fact, it is the fastest production line sailboat ever made in her class!

Many times in our travels we have stumbled into fantastic situations without any planning whatsoever! We believe serendipity occurs when you put yourself in position for magic. That is the beauty of being “home free”; you are simply more apt to be there!

We were walking along Front Street, the iconic main of Lahaina and decided to check out the piers where the fishing and whale watching charters dock with the intention of booking a fishing charter when we spotted this sleek sailboat.IMG_98461  Stephanie, the gal making reservations was charming, that always seems to work, so we took some information with a plan to possibly reserve a sail. On our way back we chatted with her some more and I mentioned that the boat looked very fast.

She replied, “Oh yes, she is fast. In 1982 this boat won the Victoria, BC to Maui yacht race by more than 24 hours”.  That particular race covering over 2300 miles was the last of these races made without any electronic navigation! That hooked me and raised some concerns with Karen as the heeling of a sailboat in high winds gets her pretty uncomfortable, even though she is an excellent swimmer. We decided to book a sunset cruise as the winds are often lower as the sun sets.

We did not know until we boarded that the captain and crew were all female. Also, very pretty and exceptional sailors who really made this boat perform.DSCN1852DSCN1822 DSCN1819

We sailed not only in search of the sunset but also to get up close to the humpback whales that winter in Hawaii each year. We saw dozens of whales, some breaching entirely out of the water. A pair of whales swam right in front of the boat and treated us to a shower from their blowholes as they passed.IMG_2187 The crew advised us to wipe our faces as their spray often has loads of bacteria. In the excitement we did not get pictures of the breaching whales as it happens so fast. Sonoma Susan, another passenger on the trip shared some of her pictures.DSCN1860 Captain Kirsty really put this boat in high performance!

She did not actually let me sail the boat but did allow me to dream!DSCN1829

The photos below are archive examples of these magnificent creatures:maui-whale2whale-Maui We saw many jumps like this but must rely on better photographers for these shots. We have been on many whale watching cruises but never have we seen as grand a performance as these whales gave us this day.

The crew served wine and champagne along with chocolate covered macadamia nuts to celebrate this marvelous cruise.DSCN1870

JANUARY in Maui, The Start of a new Travel Adventure!

IMG_1675One of the most important things to NOT DO prior to embarking  on a five month trip is to stay up after midnight playing cards with your grand daughter (who wins anyway) two nights in a row, and then go to an SMU basketball game (even if they are undefeated)and then go to a friends home for after game cocktails getting to bed at 1:30 prior to a 5 AM wake up call to catch a flight to Maui. But we did it anyway; It was a blast!

Karen does the packing of the suitcases and she has it pretty much down pat.IMG_1678All that we will require until we return stateside in May is in two medium checked bags, two carry on bags, and the document  briefcase. In these bag are all medical needs for six months, clothing for the several climates we will visit and even formal wear for dress up nights.

Our first destination is the Hawaiian Island of Maui where we will spend the first month our journey this year.IMG_1692We are staying this time in another VRBO vacation home on the beach in Kihei about a half hour south of the Maui airport. Kihei is pronounced “Key-Hay. Hawaiian words are similar to Swedish in that you have to try it first and then wait for the locals to burst out laughing as you butcher their languages.

IMG_2172It is equipped with a balcony overlooking the pool and the Pacific Ocean which is perfectly suited for cocktail hour and sunset watching.IMG_3201

One of the top things on our bucket list for Maui was to do the bike ride down Haleakala Volcano. We are avid cyclists and this was a must! There are many different companies from whom you can book this tour wherein they haul you in a van to the top and then one of the guides leads you down while the other guide drives the van and screens cars protecting your rear as you ride the bikes downhill for roughly 6500 feet over 20+ miles. We selected Maui Easy Riders as they were by far the highest rated tour company in Trip Advisor, which we use extensively .DSCN1811Their equipment is first rate, their attention to safety is outstanding, and the owners, Billy and Billy are hilarious.DSCN1810

It tends to be a bit chilly at 10,000 feet so you dress appropriately and peel off layers as you go down the slope. The road is well paved and  with a fairly wide bike lanes in most places.IMG_3200What you will not see here are photos I took while cycling down sometime 30+ MPH; I was holding on. The first two or three hairpin turns were a bit of an adrenaline rush but after you get used to the bikes it flows and goes. If you are an alpine skier, imagine a 25 mile long, well groomed, double diamond slope!

The views from the top of Haleakala are stunning!

IMG_1706 - Copy

IMG_1714Which is why NASA placed their equipment to track all of some 8000 pieces of stuff that mankind has place into orbit above our world. Some of the best things to see are always natural though. This is a beautiful example of a silversword.IMG_1705

The next post will cover a marvelous sailboat ride on the “Scotch Mist II” a superb yacht that won the Victoria to Lahaina race in 1982 by more than 24 hours.IMG_3202


Ernest Hemingway claimed that: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end”

We left 36 East Middle Street in Gettysburg late in August and returned November 30 after an epic journey of 10,737 miles.IMG_0168And; we are still speaking!

That quote from Hemingway is so descriptive of the journey we made.

Driving due North to Kingston, Ontario, West to Sault Ste Marie,  then South through Wisconsin to Chicago for a 30 day stay was the first leg. Then Westward to Davenport, Iowa, West again to Omaha, Nebraska (our only disappointment on this trip), then on to Cheyenne, Wyoming, a stop for dinner with a beautiful niece in Salt Lake City, an overnight in Reno enroute to our temporary home in Bodega Bay, California where we explored Northern California for a month.

Then a visit to Yosemite National park, an abortive visit to Sequoia National Park where the 30 inches of snow forced us back, an overnight in Barstow, California where more freight trains pass each day than any other place in the world, four days at Grand Canyon National Park, a beautiful visit to Sedona, Arizona, a stop at Gallup, New Mexico (only important in the song about Route 66), an overnight in Albuquerque with a grand lunch, an overnight in Childress, Texas where there must be more wind farms than all of Europe and more cotton farms than all of Egypt,  then on to Thanksgiving in Fort Worth with our kids and the beautiful Moenickheim family, and then 3 arduous days of heavy rain back to Gettysburg.

As Jack Nicholson said in “As Good as it Gets”… it wears me out just thinking about it.

Actually, the trip was wonderful!DSCN2131This is a spectacularly beautiful country. Big; actually very big, but remarkably friendly.DSCN2077This is El Capitan, the showpiece of Yosemite National park;DSCN2103a  Ponderosa Pine that graces this lovely park. Fantastic Redwoods and Sequoia as well.

DSCN2040There is a type of moss that grows on the California trees very different than the moss that abounds in the Southeast USA, very delicate and fragile.DSCN1615A not so wild burro that panhandles for carrots came over for a close up request. This was at the bottom of the grand canyon where we were driven down a creek bed by a guide through an indian reservation to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.DSCN2131 It is impossible for photography to do justice to this colossal park.DSCN2202I never realized that in most places at the bottom of the Grand Canyon you cannot see the rim of the canyon as it is funnel shaped and you can only see the inner canyon rim looking upward through the narrow part of the funnel. The canyon stretches for 277 miles and at places 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep.

We stayed in Williams, Arizona  for the 4 days exploring the Canyon. In 1984 when the last section of Interstate 40 was completed, Williams became just another forgotten town along the famous Route 66. The Grand Canyon Railroad was re-opened to excursion traffic to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and resurrected this town.DSCN2166There are still a few stretches of Route 66 that take you back to the time when this road was the “Mother Highway” from Chicago to Los Angeles.DSCN1571

Sedona was another item on our bucket list for this road trip.


Sedona is an upside down Grand Canyon where the beautiful red rock buttes rise up effortlessly from the ground. We stayed here two nights.

DSCN1697We also explored the Petrified Forest National Park
DSCN1747and its companion park,                  The Painted Desert.

DSCN1763DSCN1764We captured a beautiful phenomenon of nature in a spectacular snow storm over the desert.

The journey took us through 20 states and one Canadian Province in just under four months. We met old friends, family and made many new friends. We took our time, enjoying the proverbial roses along the way. DSCN2190 DSCN2188


After traveling to more than 60 countries, this American “voyage” ranks very high on our list of the best!


Bodega Bay, California. Site of Alfred Hitchcock’s Iconic film “The Birds” and our home for 30 days.

DSCN2053 - CopyWe had never explored California.

Both of us have been there briefly on business or a quick weekend trip; never together.  After the urban experience of a month in Chicago we wanted a quieter place in Northern California to taste the wine, eat the food and examine the culture. We chose the one bedroom apartment pictured above because it was literally on the bay, close to the Napa, Sonoma and Russian River wine areas, and about 1 1/2 hours from San Francisco.

The town of Bodega Bay boasts a population of less than 1000 and was the site of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic film “The Birds”. The town really has not changed that much since “Hitch” rolled into town in 1963. Most restaurants and businesses have picture of that Hollywood invasion that show the stars dining and exploring the village.

The building has quite a history, originally built as a creamery to process raw milk for shipping via boat to San Francisco. It became an artist’s studio, a ceramic factory and about 16 years ago, a home and two apartments. Our apartment was the light brown corner on the top floor with a wonderful  deck for just watching the activities on the bay and listening to the sea lions and seals bark.

DSCN2054  DSCN2057


The one bedroom apartment had a very nice kitchen for Eric and a beautiful view of the bay for KarenDSCN1422We spent the month of October in this fishing village exploring and enjoying new experiences.DSCN1341          Crabs are the major harvest of the fishermen but substantial quantities of fish are brought in every day. The catch of the day was most often our evening meal.

We enjoyed walking along the bay,DSCN1337enjoying the flowers of the seasonDSCN1340as well as the rock sculptures that dotted the shoreline constructed perhaps by “wannabe” druids?  Not really sure what these things were meant to be, but I surmise that since you can not build sand castles on Northern California beaches, the weekenders build rock castles.

DSCN1336Without our bicycles, we resorted to hiking almost every day along the fantastic Sonoma coast line often on trails less than a foot wide hundreds of yards above the pounding Pacific surf.DSCN1424This coastline is NOT the Florida that Eric knew growing up in Florida.    

DSCN1435This was one of the more  spectacular ocean view homes overlooking this dramatic coast.

Sebastapol California

IMG_1559We have been in California, Bodega Bay to be exact; for almost a month now. We all know that California is a bit, shall we say…strange? Left coast and all that. Well we discovered Florence Street in Sebastapol.IMG_1545 Yard Art reigns!

A beautiful residential street that has gone a bit mad.

An artful coupleIMG_1555Patrick Amiot  and his wife and fellow artist,  Brigette Laurent have created havoc and art along this erstwhile pedestrian street.IMG_1558 All kinds of “yard art” from baseball players to John Deere tractors adorn this neighborhood.IMG_1549 It is also located next to what has become our favorite place for lunch in Sebastapol, Peter Lowell’s farm to table extravaganza of delightful foods.

IMG_1553 We accidentally encountered this street via a wrong turn and have now been back several times.IMG_1550 The old saying that “One man’s  junk is another man’s treasure” is no more apparent than on this street.IMG_1548 If you ever make it to Sebastapol, this is on the must do list!IMG_1552 And a side benefit of our visit here we got to meet an old friend from Pinetta, Florida, Doris!IMG_1560 Life is good in the slow lanes!IMG_1565

“The Clearest way into the Universe is through a Forest Wilderness”- John Muir

DSCN1370John Muir immigrated to the USA from Scotland and became perhaps the foremost American environmentalist. He was the founder of both the Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society and one of the early advocates for preservation of wilderness in our beautiful country.

Just north of San Francisco is the John Muir National Monument; dedicated to his role as the founder of the American National Park system.DSCN2037

Many people take a tour bus to get to this breath taking park; but if you drive, be prepared for tight turns alongside sheer drops, no guard rails, steep climbs and falls, and California drivers who appear to be oblivious to the danger that flat landers see at every turn. Growing up in Florida where the highest point is where  I-10 is over passed by US-27; I find these drives to be tense to say the least.

The drive is worth it! Although the driver will see nothing except the yellow center and white side line painted on the road ahead; the passenger, in this case Karen; will be constantly  chattering about the fantastic view around each hairpin curve. Views of the Pacific, of the Bay and of the mountains must remain “articles of faith” to the driver; he dare not take eyes off the road.DSCN1381There are several walking and hiking trails through the park the most popular is a three mile loop. Trails for the more active hikers are plentiful. Smooth walking on the  boardwalk is also protective to the park.DSCN2032There areDSCN1374 lots of Kodak moment places to snap a photo or selfie.  DSCN1392DSCN1376Park ranger talks  and informative signage are very well done.

If you drive there expect to walk a mile or so for parking unless you get there early; the park is very popular!

In 1945 the delegates to the San Francisco conference that laid the cornerstone for the United Nations met in this park to honor Franklin Roosevelt.

DSCN1383 There is also what appears to be a “bridge to nowhere”DSCN1386 I call it the Sarah Palin Bridge!

CHICAGO! Hog butcher to the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat! City of the Big Shoulders!

IMG_1284In his most famous poem “Chicago“, Carl Sandburg hung a number of sobriquets on this city. However appropriate they were; we discovered a Chicago that Sandburg did not describe!

Several of our friends and family expressed surprise and even concern that we had opted for a month in Chicago for our “Urban Experience”. We will even admit a bit of trepidation as we made our plans for this adventure.DSCN1290Anxiety heightened when we arrived at what would be our home for the next 30 days. A two bedroom apartment on the second floor over a dentist office on West Division Street in “Old Town” Chicago. A grim exterior, a dark and somewhat dingy stairwell of 25 steps, and a rental agent quite dubious. But when we started to meet the warm and friendly people of Chicago, that was quickly abated.

Our best description of Chicago is a very big city made up of very many small towns. During the month we visited we walked just over 6 miles per day exploring and soaking in the culture of the different towns. Often when you cross a street the change is palpable; not only can one see it, one can almost feel it!IMG_1230 (2)Our little town was Old Town. This place reminded us so much of Amsterdam. The average age was young. Lots of people commuting on bicycles. sidewalk cafes and coffee shops everywhere.DSCN1274 Most of the streets lined with trees.IMG_1299




During the month we saw 7 plays or shows including the famous “Second City Comedy Club” where so many notable comics had their start. Many of these we were able to walk to and upon returning to our apartment we stopped just around the corner at our favorite tavern. IMG_1346This tavern survived through prohibition by selling alcohol for “medicinal purposes only” and is the oldest continuously operating tavern in America owned by the same family. IMG_1344I was intrigued by this door in the tavern which had evidenced numerous hinge and lock changes. At least 5 sets of locks! I feel confident that Elliot Ness and Al Capone walked through this door.IMG_1355We were able to celebrate our 38th anniversary here after dinner at Gibson’s. On one afternoon we spotted an Aston Martin convertible parked outside. But were unable to find James Bond inside. We also celebrated my 69th birthday, one of the best presents was a visit Shelley who flew from Texas to visit old Dad!DSCN1312 (2)IMG_1363

Another famous area in Chicago, actually located in the Near North Town where Rush Street converges with State dotted with renown steak houses and high class bars.

Gibson's Steakhouse
Gibson’s Steakhouse



Carmines and The Tavern on Rush
Carmines and The Tavern on Rush

DSCN1303This area has earned the title of “The Viagra Triangle” for the large number of older businessmen chasing the much younger lightly clad young ladies that decorate the scene with ample cleavage and beautiful legs.

While I was taking the pictures of this area, I caught the perfect example of how friendly the people of Chicago can be. An older gentleman was attempting to cross State Street at Cedar moving slowly with his cane. A lady hurried across traffic to guide him to safety.DSCN1307We found Chicago to be a warm and friendly city.

Chicago is also a city a great architecture. Known for the Handcock and Willis Towers (Sears Tower); the city is abundant with dazzling structures. There is a great architectural tour that offers views of many of the more prominent buildings while cruising the Chicago River. Two of America’s most famous made Chicago their home; George A Fuller the inventor of the skyscraper and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright's first home
Frank Lloyd Wright’s first home

Wright moved to Oak Park and in the area of his personal house, there are more than 30 of his homes in that beautiful part of the cityIMG_1281 IMG_1279

No visit to Chicago can be complete without saying “Hello” to Sue, the star of the fabulous Field Museum of Natural History. One could spend weeks in Chicago’s museumsIMG_1293This was one of the few trips we have made in the states without our bicycles but we rent a pair and take the waterfront ride along Lake Michigan

IMG_1340  IMG_1244


Our last night in Chicago was spent with new friends, Carly and Mike.IMG_1367

When I first read Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” I thought that the poet was making fun of the city but he deeply admired his adopted city. Karen and I also learned to love this city. As hard as we try to complete bucket list items, we keep discovering more places that we want to go back!



We had a fairly simple plan; too simple it turned out!

Following our two month visit to Gettysburg we planned a one month stay in Chicago, renting a two bedroom apartment in “Old Town” Chicago. We made this plan as we wanted to have an urban experience living downtown in a large city to get a feel for metropolitan life.

Timing was such that we had 8 days to spend from the expiration of our Gettysburg apartment and the beginning of our Chicago stay.

Our plan was to drive due north to the Thousands Islands Bridge that crosses the St. Lawrence River from upstate New York to Kingston, Ontario. We wanted to explore Ontario stopping at Kingston, Parry Sound, and Sault Ste. Marie before dropping down to Chicago through Wisconsin. Not the usual trip to Chicago.


Since this was to be a  multi-month trip, we packed our travel kitchen which includes spices, our omelette pan, favorite kitchen tools, and kitchen knives that we would use not only in Chicago but also on the subsequent trip to Bodega Bay, California.

We also decided to stop by our favorite wine store and pick up two cases of our favorite wines.  It seems that we had forgotten that Canada is a foreign country that has some minor issues with their southern neighbors bring in beverages that they have not had the opportunity to tax.

We proudly handed our brand new passports over to the serious looking uniformed young man who immediately told us to remove our sunglasses. Ok, not a real good start but as he ran through the usual questions all was fine. Then he got to Alcohol and Tobacco. No problem with the tobacco but when I told him we had two cases of wine he winced and said “TWO CASES?”. I explained the trip to the wine store and that we really did not think about it. Informing us that we were only allowed 1.5 litres and directing us to the cashiers line, he actually got a bit of a smile on his otherwise stern face. I mean after all, we are Americans! The cashier also gave us a break, when we told her the value in American dollars she said she would give us a break and call it Canadian Dollars.

That savings of 74% still cost us $90 CD. Our favorite wines cost us a bit more than expected.

069The Rosemount B&B was to be our home for the next 3 days as we explored Kingston. Originally the Capital of Upper Canada; meaning it was farther up the river, it grew into a prosperous city, heavily populated by Loyalists after the start of the American Revolution. 098Those loyal to the crown packed up and moved to Canada.

The night time photo shows why this home is on the local ghost tour. I went out to the car one night and found myself the subject of discussion by a group of tourists looking for ghosts

Kingston is a beautiful town, a university city with several notable campus.072071As usual, we found great places to eat and drink.


After the War of 1812, England highly fortified this town as it was the confluence of three major waterways and they expected the Americans to attack here to cut off their expansion into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. The forts pictured here worked, most don’t088 America never invaded, we just stole what we wanted from the indians cutting out dealing with the Brits.082We took a lovely boat tour of the “Thousand Islands” and found several little cottages that would work quite fine..but we did not buy. Not quite ready yet!084We have often looked at places with a view of “Could we live here?” The answer on Kingston, Ontario is yes! If we end up in Florida, which is possible, an escape from the summer heat and humidity in Ontario could be nice.

Our next stop was Parry Sound, Ontario. We stayed at a lovely B&B and had a great dinner but you will find no pictures here. This beautiful piece of the world was shrouded in rain and fog the entire time.

We then drove west to Sault Ste Marie for a three night stay at the Algoma Water Tower Suites; “a suite for the price of a room” is their motto. A lovely place but I actually expected rooms in a water tower but it was just a nice hotel right next to a rather large water tower.  Easy to find the hotel though!

We knew we were in Canada when we went into a sporting goods store..IMG_2730and found hockey helmets instead of baseball caps and bats. We took a very enjoyable train excursion into the wilderness north of “The Soo”IMG_2729Discovering the Ontario version of Bridal veil falls122And got our first look at Lake Superior.100We saw a really interesting hydroelectric plant where to water was funneled through tubes that were visible. 110

Not a big plant, but the tour announced that it supplied one third of the electric supply for Sault Ste. Marie.  Pretty 149133impressive! The train took us through serious wilderness and we saw beautiful rivers
and wonderful flowers. Unfortunately, we did not see a moose;a black bear on the railroad tracks had to suffice.

When we left The Soo, it dawned on us that we would have to take the two cases of wine (less a few bottles) back into the States. Fortunately, the US border folks thought we had already paid too much duty and let us pass.

We drove down through Wisconsin to Chicago but had to stop first in Escanaba, Michigan to have lunch and pose for a cherished friend Howard in front of a candy store.IMG_1227 We will report next from “Old Town” Chicago where we will live for the month of September.

Repair, Maintenance and R&R

Karen and I left the States on April 3 and did not return until June 20 traveling across the Atlantic on a repositioning cruise, a cruise around the western Mediterranean , 8 days in Portugal, a Viking River cruise of the Duro River and 3 weeks in Italy, followed by a fantastic Safari in Tanzania with our daughter and family.

WE NEEDED A BREAK!IMG_2634We returned to the back porch at 36 East Middle Street in Gettysburg for a two month stay. We also used the front porch as well, greeting our neighbors as they went to work each day.


We also needed to do annual visits to doctors, dentists, hairdressers and of course our Gettysburg friends. We have both lived in this town longer than anywhere else so friends are very crucial.

Karen also got a new pair of eyes. Everyone gets cataracts if they live long enough; Karen did and the fine folks at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore fixed her up nicely!IMG_2671This was eye #1 yielding a 20/15 vision to her absolute delight. Number two followed two weeks later purposely set just a little near-sighted so she can now read menus without glasses.IMG_2639

After wearing the same set of clothing for roughly 2 1/2 months we visited our 10 X 10 storage locker and traded clothes so that we will look like different people on our next adventure. I was tempted to burn Karen’s raincoat.

It was also good to get back on our bicycles for the first time since February when we were in Florida.IMG_2714This photo was taken at a toll house along the Chesapeake and Ohio tow path which has been one of our favorite places to ride. This national park is a treasure that follows the Potomac River from Washington to Cumberland Maryland for 183 miles. One of our objectives on this visit was to complete two sections missing from our bicycling “curriculum vitae”. We achieved this and now have a contiguous 135 miles along this beautiful pathway.IMG_2717IMG_2708This is the site of a lime kiln used to produce cement for the construction of the canal and later produced some of the cement for the completion of the Washington Monument. This park owes its existence to the efforts of Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas who fought commercialization of the Maryland side of this scenic river.

We took several trips during our stay here, visiting a sister in Danville, Va and friends in the Philadelphia area. One of the really cool places we visited was the site of a tile factory which is now a state park called Font Hill.IMG_2705In Doylestown PA the founder of the Moravian Pottery and Tile works built this unusual castle to demonstrate the uses of decorative tiles to builders of the era. It was made entirely of concrete covered with thousands of tiles. The owner even set a fire on the roof to prove that concrete homes don’t burn down.

We also enjoyed our favorite walking areas; the Gettysburg National Military ParkIMG_2654

and the Ramble trail in Caledonia State park near Gettysburg.IMG_2663IMG_2664We really enjoyed the two months in Gettysburg and we were ready for our next venture…

Oh Canada!




873We were delighted to discover the beautiful array of birds in Tanzania. We expected lots of animals and startling vistas but never even thought about birds.

The intensity of the colors continued to amaze us. This Von der Decken’s Hornbill  found a grub for lunch.7161262We identified more than 60 species.

We have earlier mentioned flamingos but it was incredible to see hundreds of thousands of them.1049Three large lakes covered with them. They seemed to go forever around the lakes.


Birds of Prey also abounded. This is the Augur Buzzard, much prettier than his name.

986Black shouldered Kite

1374Not all are pretty! This Marabou Stork takes the prize for ugly.

Some are spectacular! These crowned cranes are stunning.2376

This was a pair with two chicks.




1432This secretary bird struts proudly.

The rollers are very colorful; this is the lilac-breasted roller.
567When we returned home we learned that there are 1106 different species of bird in Tanzania. We had barely scraped the surface. No discussion of birds can be complete with an Ostrich. This is a male attempting to attract a girlfriend.