Thursday, December 21, 2017

Another year has passed, and as always, we enjoy receiving the yearly news of family and friends, and try to be brief when sending ours. It seems like every year goes faster than the last one, but it really is a matter of perspective. We are always delighted to report that we are doing well, and are hoping to learn that you are as well.
The year started out in Yuma, at the home of friends Ron & Carol, and enjoyed visits with many other RV friends. After a week, we returned in our RV to Park Sierra and ended the month doing a cruise on the Harmony for Elaine’s birthday. Then we moved to the Freedom for a cruise alone, and then a week with Tarra and Alonzo, a gift for their 40th birthdays. March was spent in the RV at Park Sierra, having medical check- ups, catching up on RV repairs, and getting ready for Spring international travels.
April 3 we boarded the Konigsdam, our first Holland America ship, for a 14 day cruise to Rome. It was one of their newer ships and we found the experience to be outstanding, especially the food and entertainment. The only area Royal Caribbean excels over Holland is in their loyalty program. We arrived in Rome and spent a few days there exploring, then boarded the Vision of the Seas for a cruise to Barcelona, and stayed on board for the next cruise to Amsterdam. Of course, we had many enjoyable experiences in the many ports. Once we docked, we flew to Basel, Switzerland, and enjoyed an Airbnb apartment there for 4 days before embarking on our first river cruise, on the Rhine. River cruises are different from sea cruises and we enjoyed the included shore excursions in the many old European places our ship stopped. The food was good, wine with dinner, and occasionally local entertainers were brought on board. Upon docking in Amsterdam, we stayed overnight in a hotel and then re-boarded the Vision for a 14 day cruise around the British Isles. There were ports in England, Scotland, and Ireland, all places we have visited before in camper vans, although quite a few years ago.
Early June we returned to CA and drove the RV down to San Diego again for another visit with Darran, Marielle, Evie (3) and William (1). My goodness, those kids are growing quickly! After returning to Park Sierra with the RV, we flew to Illinois to have a visit with Elaine’s sisters. Mary Sue arranged for us to stay in an apartment at her living facility right in Rockford. Georgeanne and Dennis joined us for dinner in town and then hosted us at the farm for other family gatherings. We attended the Cannell Family reunion on July 2. And we drove up to Wisconsin to visit Barbara and her daughter, Lisa, in Mayville during the difficult time she was having due to the passing of her husband, Jerry.
The rest of the summer was spent in the RV, driving up the CA coast to Oregon, and then Washington. Had a very nice visit with George and Diana Ruelens in Astoria where they were camp hosting, then drove the WA coast to Port Angeles for a lovely visit with Elaine’s sister, Penny, and her family. We were there for the eclipse, which was 93% totality in that location. The friends at the Escapees park in Chimacum, WA always warmly welcome us, and many of our Park Sierra friends were there as well. After that we parked our RV on the property of Chris Christensen, in Gig Harbor, although she was away. My granddaughter, Paige and her spouse, Allison joined us for lunch one day, which enabled us to catch up on their doings. Then we enjoyed a Pacific coast cruise on the Explorer. This enabled us to have a visit with my son, Thomas, and Elaine’s daughter, Tarra, in San Francisco when the ship stayed there 2 days, and a wonderful day with friends June and Ralph Shortill in Victoria, BC. We then drove quickly back to Park Sierra to leave the RV on our lot and prepare for our Fall trip to Europe.
Oct. 9 we left on the train for SFO, flew to NY, and then on to Rome, and a train to Florence, Italy. On Oct. 12 we were walking down the street, rolling our suitcases to our Airbnb apartment, when Elaine was hit from behind by a motorcycle. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital, stayed there all day having a CT scan of her head, and x-rays of her arms, and chest, got painkillers and IV fluids, told in broken English that she had a broken shoulder, and put in a sling, with a torso wrap to keep it in place, and they sutured her head gash. All of this cost 544 Euros - no charge for the ambulance. We spent 3 days in our apartment where she started her recovery, then took the train to Montecatini to join our Gate 1 tour of Tuscany. Luckily this tour stayed in a 4 star hotel for a week while there were day trips to places like Sienna, Florence, Cinque Terra, San Gimignano, Chianti, Pisa, Lucca, with several excellent wine tastings, lunches, and dinners at other wineries. Elaine managed to participate in most of them! We had a very good tour leader and met many fine new friends. At the end of that week, we took a train to Bologna and another Airbnb place for 2 days, had 3 days in Ferrara in another place, and 1 day in Venice. The Venice Airbnb guy even picked us up from the train station area in his boat and took us to the apartment. It was in Canareggio, a very nice area to stay in, not too
far from the train station or the cruise port, and away from the heavily touristed parts of Venice. Very good restaurants right on the canal banks too.
Oct. 28 we boarded the Rhapsody in Venice, and had a 8 day cruise to Barcelona. A new port for us was Kotor, Montenegro, which we enjoyed very much. In Barcelona we had a lovely Airbnb place near Plaza Espana, on the 9th floor, with a huge patio and great views. Nov. 9 we boarded the Brilliance for a 14 day cruise back to Florida, with stops in Spain, Madeira, and St. Kitts. It was very warm for such a late season crossing. Thanksgiving Day we flew from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale, had 3 days in a hotel, and a super visit and lunch with Sandra and John LaMarche at their condo in Hollywood Beach. After boarding the Allure for 2 weeks, we had warm Caribbean weather, great food in the Coastal Kitchen, and fun times with friends who were on the ship. Dec. 11 we flew back to SFO and spent 2 days with Tarra & Alonzo in Fremont, while dealing with a rental issue in Santa Clara.
Now we are back at Park Sierra, not enjoying the cold weather. We are dealing with getting the RV ready to travel, catching up on mail and backed up issues, and having a few social events here in the park. Last night there was a caroling and wassail with appetizers party. Wednesday we will head down to San Diego to enjoy another Christmas with Darran, Marielle and the little ones. Marielle’s family lives nearby so there are always lots of kids, and chaos - and fun. New Year’s Eve we hope to be celebrating with the Leonard’s, and other RV friends, in Yuma.
Our philosophy is that we want to keep traveling, seeing things, having great visits with people, and enjoying life while we still have our health and can manage our affairs. There has been too many life-changing experiences for friends and family in our age group, and it makes us sad for them and helps us realize that we have to prioritize our bucket list. So in 2018 we have booked a few things, such as a 27 day land trip in SE Asia in March, followed by a 30 day cruise on the Mariner in April from Singapore to Dubai, then on to Barcelona. Hopefully in June we will be staying in the condo of RV friends in Honolulu. And more adventures in Europe with a cruise back to FL are planned for the Fall.
As Christmas approaches, we are sending you our very best wishes for a wonderful time with family and friends, followed by a healthy and happy New Year.
Love, Mary & Elaine

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Letter December 2016

Happy Holidays 2016

Once again it is time to look at the year that has passed and try to remember what the heck happened!  It seems like it went so quickly.  Of course, it seemed like we were constantly on the move;  perhaps we were…..

Many people believe that we spend all our time on a cruise ship.  Not so!  Last January we were in our RV and had a delightful time reconnecting with RV friends, and making some new ones, at the Boomer gathering in Quartzite, AZ,  In Feb. we visited Laughlin and Las Vegas, and then returned to our RV lot at Park Sierra.  March found us doing some medical checkups and also preparing for some international travels due to start in April.  Elaine’s new grandson, William Orion Clemo, was born late in March.  So early in April we flew to San Diego and had a very nice visit with him, and the rest of the family.  Of course, Evie, his older sister, age 2 was the real star of the visit.

In mid-April, we flew to Florida and did a 1 week Caribbean cruise on the Allure.  Then we boarded the Brilliance for a very wonderful transatlantic cruise to Barcelona - one of the best we have ever done, thanks to the awesome crew and wonderful hotel director, Johann.  In Barcelona we transferred to one of Royal Caribbean’s new ships, the Ovation.  We were on this ship for 4 cruises in a  row:  Barcelona to Dubai through the Suez Canal; Dubai to Singapore; a short cruise to Malaysia and back to Singapore; then Singapore to Beijing.  We had many new experiences on this ship, such as doing the iFly, a sky diving simulator, going up in the Northstar, which allowed us to see the ship and surrounds from 90 feet up, and riding in the bumper cars (a flashback from our youth).  After we arrived in Beijing, we joined a Gate 1 tour for 2 weeks of land explorations which included the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors, the Chengdu panda sanctuary, Shanghai, and a 3 day river cruise through the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River.  In the year 2000, we spent 30 days exploring all over China, and it was quite interesting to see the incredible changes that have taken place in 16 years!

We were back in the USA by July 6, just in time for more RV adventures.  First we drove south, to San Diego, for another visit with Darran, Marielle, Evie & William;  we want to bond with them while they are young so they at least know who we are when we visit!!  Then we drove north, to Oregon & Washington.  My oldest granddaughter, Paige, married her girlfriend, Allison in the Lynden, WA area on Aug. 21, and we were happy to be there with some of the other family members.  

Our next big adventure started Sept. 21 when we flew up to Seattle, spent 2 days enjoying it and seeing Paige & Allison, and then we boarded the Explorer of the Seas for 39 days.  There were 2 short cruises up and down the Pacific coast, so we got to see my son Thomas, Elaine’s daughter, Tarra, and her granddaughter, Ari when our ship docked in San Francisco.  Luckily we had great weather most of the time; our first port stop in SF we had 90 degrees F, almost unheard of there.   On Oct. 8 the ship started the 24 day transpacific cruise to Sydney, stopping in Honolulu, Lahaina, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.  Many friends were on board, and it was one of the best cruises we have ever done.  

Nov. 2 we landed in Sydney and Elaine and I flew to Perth, Western Australia.  We had never been there before and we had an enjoyable 2 weeks exploring by rental car, public transport, and Airbnb apartments.  A highlight was visiting the Margaret River wine area.  The best part was reconnecting with friends from former travels and cruises who did so many nice things for us and made our time with them so special.  Thanks again Abby, Tina & Stuart!!!  On Nov. 16 we boarded the Radiance in Fremantle for a 17 day cruise around the southern part of Australia and over to New Zealand.  In Melbourne we again reconnected with a travel friend, Siti, whom we hadn’t seen for 9 years; such fun.  Sadly, there was a big storm in the Tasman Sea which caused us to miss the fjords and all 4 of our ports scheduled for the south island of NZ, a great disappointment.  We had been to New Zealand for a month in 1999 and were anxious to see it again, plus some new areas.  Instead we visited Tauranga, and Auckland, on the north island.

Dec. 3 we flew back to the USA, had a quick visit with Tarra and Alonzo in Fremont, and took the train back to Fresno.  It was tough moving back into our RV because now it was COLD in California!!!  Also, Elaine developed a cold with a bad cough the first day we were back.  A few days ago, now that she is feeling better and we are over jet lag, we left Park Sierra before a huge storm was due to hit.  We are spending about a week at the Jojoba SKP park in southern CA where the weather has been warmer, and we have had fun social times already with Boomer friends who have lots here.  George and Diana Ruelens have already had a very nice Happy Hour gathering for us, and helped us tackle our RV battery situation (we now have new ones, which he installed).  On Dec. 21 we will drive to San Diego to have Christmas with Darran, Marielle and the little ones, plus other members of her family.  New Year’s will find us in Yuma, sharing good times with Ron & Carol Leonard and other RV friends.

 Of course, we have made more travel plans for 2017.  We are glad that we will be spending quite a bit of time in Europe, because it will get us out of here where there seems to be so much acrimoniousness during and after the election.  Hopefully, the warm wishes which everyone extends through Christmas and New Year’s will carry over into people’s everyday lives and the future won’t be as bleak as we fear it might be with the new administration.  

This is the time of year when we hear from many of you, and we greatly enjoy that.  We sincerely hope that this has been a good year for you and your families, and that you will continue to prosper and enjoy life in the year to come.  Please keep in touch; family and friends are the most important parts of life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Love,  Mary & Elaine

New Phone Numbers:
Mary 206-229-7002
Elaine 206-698-8797

Friday, February 05, 2016

This Blog Is Finished

I suspect I am not disappointing anyone, but I have decided to discontinue this blog.  Besides the fact that we often do not have good internet access, I am finding that even when we are in the USA and have internet, I am not inclined to sort through my pictures and write what we have been doing.  Perhaps this is because we have shifted to short posts periodically on Facebook.  This is also the way that we find out about what family and friends have been doing.  Of course, direct e-mails are also still an option.  So if you wish to find out what we have been up to, please feel free to call us at 928-581-3624, e-mail us at, or check us out on Facebook, under the name Mary Lane.
     Thanks for traveling with us.  It has been a good time and we have been fortunate to have been able to see many parts of the world these past years.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Arizona in January

Arizona is going to be the location of our adventures for January.  We drove over to Yuma on Dec. 29 from San Diego, and parked on the property of Ron & Carol Leonard, as usual.  They were visiting Jim & Diane Fisher Baker at Sun City near Phoenix, and they returned on Dec. 31 in the afternoon.  By then, both Elaine and I were down and out with bad colds.  We welcomed them and then returned to our RV so we didn't share our germs with them.  We then spent the next few days resting and avoiding people.  Elaine started to feel better a few days before I did, because she got the cold a few days ahead of me.  The good news is that we started feeling much better a few days ago, and now we are back to seeing people, walking everyday, and trying to exercise.
     Yesterday we drove out to the Escapees park (KOFA) to visit Lee & Susie Blattner.  Susie has Alzheimer's and Lee is now the 100% caretaker.  She smiles and chats a little, laughs a lot, and is still a sweetheart, but Lee has to tell her everything, and she can only handle one thought at a time.  Our Park Sierra neighbors, Dave & Brenda Neil, were at their place too, so we got to see them, and also Monica Rose.  We made a plan to relocate to Quartzite next Monday, and will be staying at the Escapees boon docking area, where the 2 Happy Hours will be held on the 13th and 14th, so we can be with Dave, Brenda, Monica & Hank for a few days.  Then we will move to the Boomers site, just down the road.  Boomerville will be between Jan. 17 and 30 and we will stay for the whole event.
    While we are still here in Yuma, we will be visiting Tom & Judy Tillery, and Eileen & Neil Detloff.    We are also taking care of trying to get new passports, a visa for China, and Global Entry cards so that we can continue to travel all over the world.
     You might be noticing that no pictures have been included in recent blogs.  I am still learning how to manage them on my new MacBook Air.  Also, I have decided that I am simplifying my life, so my blog posts might be few and far between, and might or might not include pictures, depending on how much time I have to do computer work, and how good my internet access is.  It has been very slow and disappointing on recent cruises, which is why I have gotten so far behind in updating this.  Instead of stressing about this, I am just going to slow down.
     We do manage to put a few updates on Facebook periodically, so you can check that.  If you aren't a Facebook friend, just search for us under my name:  Mary Lane, with a profile picture of both of us.  Your other option is to e-mail us at, and I promise to answer you!
     Hope you are having a Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year 2016

     Well, it is pretty obvious that we didn’t manage to get a Christmas letter out this year, so this one will have to suffice.  Until last Saturday, the 19th, we were cruising in Florida, so by the time we flew back, took a train back to Park Sierra, and got our RV ready to travel, we were lucky to arrive here in San Diego in time to celebrate Christmas with Darran, Marielle, Evie, and Marielle’s family.  It has been a wonderful Christmas, and we will stay for a few more days and then head for Yuma, AZ to spend some time with RV friends.
     2015 has been another year full of travel for us, mostly cruising.  We had driven our RV to Florida in August, 2014 and done a number of cruises from there, including several long ones to Europe.  So in January, we were still in Florida, doing some Caribbean cruises.  In late January, we started driving cross country, to Texas, to join our long-time friends, David & Diane Wilson for several cruises out of Galveston.  It was a scary trip, since the weather had turned cold and we had to stop continuously to scrape ice off our windshield.  After those cruises, we drove back to Park Sierra to prepare for our next adventures.
     On March 28 we flew to Sydney, Australia to board the Radiance for a South Pacific cruise.  It was lovely, with great weather, so we did some snorkeling and swimming.  When it ended, we spent 5 days in an Airbnb apartment in Sydney, exploring the city and also the Blue Mountains with Ron & Jenny Neate, some Aussie friends.  On April 17 we boarded the Rhapsody of the Seas for 4 consecutive cruises:  Sydney to Singapore, then to Dubai, then to Istanbul, and then a Mediterranean cruise to the Greek isles and Turkey and back to Istanbul.  We visited many new and interesting ports, including visits with friends Pam & Barry Finn in Brisbane, Darwin, saw the Komodo dragons in Indonesia, explored Sri Lanka, 4 ports in India, went to 2 ports in Oman, then north through the Suez Canal, another 2 days in Israel, and many great stops in the Greek islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini, where we had never been before.  The big event on this ship was making Pinnacle, the highest status on Royal Caribbean.  It was so much fun being onboard for so long with many of our long term cruise friends - we became the 4:30 Drinking Club in the lounge they provided for us.
     Returning to California in mid-June, we dealt with some medical visits and rental issues, and then drove our RV to Star Valley, Wyoming where friends Ken & Carolyn Kimpton, and Dave & Brenda Neil have RV lots.  On the way we stopped in Sparks, NV to have a nice visit with my daughter, Laura, and her husband, Dennis in their new home. We rented an RV lot at Star Valley for a month and enjoyed some cool summer weather, and explored the area with our friends.  After leaving there, we drove to Oregon to spend some time at the lakefront property of Mike & Marilyn Harrison.  Great times with them have been happening for years, both there and also RVing with them in many places.  They allowed us to leave our RV on their property while we did a 2 week cruise from Vancouver up to Alaska and back in August.  On the way north, we had a delightful visit with Terry & Vicky Webb in Brier, and my granddaughter Paige & her partner, Allison, in Seattle.  In Sept. we spent about a month on our lot at Park Sierra, getting ready for our next travel adventure.
     On October 13 we took AmTrak to San Francisco, had dinner with my son Thomas and his partner, Robert, in the city, and stayed overnight at an airport hotel.  The next day we had breakfast with Elaine’s daughter, Tarra, who works at the airport for Virgin America, and then we flew to Quebec City.  For 4 days we had a delightful visit with long time friends, Gaetane and Sylvain who live there, including a special dinner with their 3 grown children and partners - they were ages 3 and 9 when we first met them in Mexico!  Then we boarded the Serenade for a relocation cruise through the St. Lawrence seaway, through the Maritime provinces, along the Atlantic coast, ending in Ft. Lauderdale.  We stayed on the ship for 21 more days, exploring the southern Caribbean islands, and again reconnecting with many friends.  Thanksgiving week we left the ship and enjoyed an outstanding visit with Randy & Vicki Sheppard and family in the Palm Beach area, finishing the week with Joe & Carla Calwell at their lovely new home in Vero Beach.  Our cruise mania found us doing 2 more Caribbean cruises from Tampa, which ended Dec. 19.  We enjoyed the warm weather in Florida and the Caribbean and have missed it since returning to California!
     In a few days we will head for Yuma, and a stay with Ron & Carol Leonard.  We haven’t attended the big Boomer RV gathering in Quartzite the last 2 weeks in January for several years, so that will be on our agenda.  We are hoping many of our long-time RV friends will be there to join the fun.  After that, we are unplanned for a while.  The next long trip will be a cruise from Florida to Barcelona on the Brilliance on April 26, then 4 cruises on the Ovation, going through the Suez Canal, to Dubai, then Singapore, and ending in Beijing.  I am excited about the 17 day land trip we have planned in China, because it will include the panda sanctuary in Chengdu, 3 days in Tibet, and a 3 day cruise on the Yangtze River, ending in Shanghai in July.
     We have been blessed with good health, and continue to work on keeping in shape to prolong that blessing.  Our children and grandchildren are all doing well, and we have had nice visits with all of them this year.  Of course, we are getting older, and so is our “stuff”, such as our car and RV, so perhaps some major decisions will have to be made sometime soon.  In the meantime, we will continue to travel as much as we can.  Visiting family and friends has been the most wonderful part of our travels, and we thank everyone who has either hosted us or shared a social experience with us this year.  We hope to have many more of these visits in 2016.  We hope that 2016 is a wonderful year for all of you, and that you will continue to keep in touch and tell us all about it. 

Sending hugs,  Mary & Elaine

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Florida Staycation

The Serenade cruises (35 days total), have ended, and we are now staying in Palm Beach Gardens, FL at the home of 2 cruise friends, Randy and Vicki Sheppard.  They have a beautiful home, in a very nice area, and we are making maximum use of their infrastructure.  Having done 4 loads of laundry, and ironed a few things, we are ready to repack after our stay here ends.  They have fast internet, and we are catching up on communications and such.  Vicki is helping me learn how to use my MacBook Air, and I have been playing around with the photo program.  I am not sufficiently expert enough to do an entire blog post on our cruises yet, so that will have to wait.  But I will try to attach a few pictures here about our visit with them.
     Here is Elaine, Randy, and Vicki at the lunch which Randy prepared for us yesterday when we arrived:

Today we all went for a long walk along the beach in Jupiter, and stopped at the pier to have someone take our picture together.  You can see that it is windy:

Tonight we are going to a restaurant on the water for dinner.  Thursday we will be having Thanksgiving dinner with Vicki's family.  Friday morning Elaine and I will drive our rental car about an hour north, to Vero Beach, for a 3 day stay with our RV friends, Joe and Carla Calwell.  Then we will drive to Tampa to turn the car in and board the Vision of the Seas for 2 more Caribbean cruises, ending December 19.

We hope all of you are doing well, and we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Serenade of the Seas Cruise

Today is the start of the second cruise we are doing on the Serenade of the Seas.  We left from Ft. Lauderdale a few hours ago, heading for the Southern Caribbean.  Our next port will be in Aruba.  I had plans to write a blog post today about our first Serenade cruise, which was from Quebec City, October 19 to Ft. Lauderdale, but too many things were going on and I didn't have time.  Also, I got a new computer, a MacBook Air, and I am still learning how to handle photos, and haven't yet learned about transferring them from camera and cell phone.  So please be patient, and as soon as possible, I will share our travel adventures with you.  It is also a challenge to post anything because the internet connectivity on the ship is very iffy.
We are both well, having fun times with friends on board with us, and looking forward to more fun times in the Caribbean (warmer temps - hooray!!)