Wednesday, May 23, 2007

5/23/07 Haven't had time to write anything here since returning to the USA because we have been so busy fixing up our vacant rental in Santa Clara. Hooray, we got it back, cleaned it up and re-rented it all within one week! Now we are on our way north because we have to be at our summer campground host job by tomorrow, so we can get ready to start work on Friday. Since that is the start of the Memorial Day weekend, and the campground is likely to be packed, this should be quite a "trial by fire" right off the bat.
Currently we are parked in the driveway of Lee & Susie Blattner's son's house in Vancouver, WA. We have been here 2 nights and have been enjoying visiting with Lee & Susie since they are parked here too. Troy & Janelle have allowed us to use their FAX and other infrastructure to complete some business and now we are ready to leave this morning for Lake Kachess. We should be there by mid-afternoon. Remember, we will be here all summer and are hoping that we will have lots of you people visiting us. Contact us ahead of time so we can save you a spot on our loop.
I have finally downloaded a few pictures from our trip and will put a few on this blog so you can have some idea of our activities. The first picture is of our table of friends on the cruise ship. Maddie & George, Joe & Carla, Mike & Marilyn, Elaine and I all managed to EAT our way across the Atlantic!! If we hadn't been walking 5-6 miles a day and working out in the gym on the ship, we would have been gigantic by the time the 13 day cruise ended. The second picture is Mary, Jerry & Lori (Elaine’s nephew & his wife) with Don Quixote in Seville. The next picture is Mary and Elaine with one of the 22 baby goats that we saw when we visited our friends Tom & Pat Bryant on their farm near Canyonville, OR on our way up here. They provided us with a delicious dinner and we had a great time reconnecting with them again. The last picture is of their farm, taken from the patio of their lovely home.
I would love to write more at this time, and especially tell you about a few of the incidents that happened on our trip back, but I don’t have time right now. More later.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

5/10/07 We are still at Moron Air Force Base south of Seville, visiting Jerry & Lori Traughber. But we have had a few interesting experiences so I thought I would write this. Tuesday we all went in to Seville and did some exploring. We had been there last year with Lee & Susie too, and seen some of the highlights such as the Plaza de Espana. This is a very beautiful and different building which was built for the international exposition in 1929. This time we saw more buildings from that event and they were obvious because they had the country name across the front of them in tile, such as Guatemala, or Mexico. The Plaza de Toros, or bull fight ring, was near the parking garage but we only saw the outside. It is right in the middle of the old downtown part and there are buildings all around it, which surprises us because we are used to arenas where there are parking lots all around them. Elaine and I visited the cathedral and the attached Giralda Bell Tower. Not only is this the world's third largest cathedral, after St Peter's at the Vatican and St. Paul's in London, but it is so old that it was first built as a mosque when the Moors were here. It is also the world's largest Gothic cathedral. It was started in 1181. In 1218 it was changed to a cathedral. Entering the cathedral we experienced one of the only advantages of getting this old - a break in the entry fee from 7 Euros to 2. Hooray! The interior was quite ornate and had interesting and complex carved choir stalls, altars, etc. but lots of them looked like they needed to be dusted! There is a section called the Treasury, where objects made of silver, gold and other precious metals and gems are displayed. The workmanship is incredible. The attached bell tower is 98 meters tall, and climbing it is fairly easy because there are no steps, just inclined ramps and you circle around and around in a square pattern. The view of Seville from the top was fantastic and we had a beautifully clear day for taking a few pictures. We decided to leave just in time because a school group was coming up there so there was going to be hundreds of noisy kids in a small area. Jerry likes the Irish pub nearby, called Flaherty's so we had lunch there. Very good beer (Murphy's) and excellent food, plus a nice place to sit outside. After a walk through Maria Luiza Park, a huge wonderfully green area full of trees and flowers and right in the middle of the old town, we headed back to the air base.
Yesterday there was an exciting event here at the base. The Airbus A380 flew in for a few days because they are testing it here. This is one of the few places in Europe that have a big enough runway for it. The runway here is large enough that they can land the space shuttle here and every time there is a launch, this place has to be in readiness. So we went over to the flight line to see it and it is HUGE. It can hold over 500 passengers, although none were on it this time. They are now doing lots of approaches, landings, touch-downs, etc. so we are seeing it in the sky a lot. It is amazingly quiet for such a huge plane. The Spanish fighter jets that fly in and out of this base are about 10 times as loud.
Today Lori is driving us to Jerez. We will try to see some places such as the Spanish Riding School and one of the sherry bodegas for which Jerez is famous. Then she will drop us off at the airport for our flight to Madrid. The next post will be from back in the good old USA!

Monday, May 07, 2007

5/7/07 I don't know if this message will be in English or Spanish when it gets posted because I am typing it on a computer in Spain and all the text on this website is in Spanish. Hope you can read this!
As you know, we have been on a 13 day cruise between Galveston and Barcelona, which is why there have been no new updates for a while. The cruise ended yesterday morning, and we made our way to the train station in Barcelona, took a train to the airport, and flew to Seville. Elaine's nephew, Jerry Traughber, picked up there and we will be staying at their home at Maron Air Force Base until Thursday. His wife Lori, and their two children, Mitch and Maddie, have made us feel very welcome and we are enjoying our visit. The daytime temps are in the low 80's, so this is a good time to be here. Tomorrow we will go exploring in Seville.
The cruise was quite enjoyable because we were with two other RV couples: Joe & Carla Calwell, and Mike and Marilyn Harrison. Additionally, friends of Joe & Carla's, Madelyn and George, were also at our table. So every late afternoon there was a cocktail party at someone's room, then we went to the live entertainment, then had a delicious dinner. Since we had the late dinner seating, often we didn't finish until after 10 PM. Not wanting to go to bed on a full stomach, we often continued with more entertainment or dancing in one of the lounges. Most nights we were staying up until 1 or 2 AM!! The fact that we were having to advance our clocks an hour forward about every other day also affected our bedtimes. Then we wouldn't get up until 10:30 or 11 AM. This was a very unusal lifestyle for us, as we usually hit the sack by 10 PM and are up by 7 AM. So this cruise timeline was a real departure from our usual habits, to say the least. We did make a real effort to continue our walking and exercise program, which was a good thing or we would have been blimps by the end of the trip, the way we were eating...
The only ports we stopped at were Key West, Punta Delgada in the Azores, and Cadiz, Spain. We have been to all of these before so our adventures in those places were pretty low key. Luckily, we had pretty good weather the entire 2 weeks and only slightly rough seas one night.
Friday we fly back to San Francisco, Monday I have to have another surgery on the same skin cancer spot on my shoulder, and then we will be moving our RV up to Santa Clara to work on our vacant rental house there. It looks like we will have to put the pedal to the metal to get up to our camp hosting summer job in Washington state by May 25. Thank goodness Elaine's daughter, Tarra, can finish things up for us with the house and install a new renter once we have cleaned the place up.
I am happy to report that both Elaine and I are well and enjoying this vacation. Jerry, Lori, Mitch and Maddie are also doing great and hopefully, are enjoying our visit, even though they are also getting ready to be moved back to the USA in 37 days. We will be posting some pictures from this trip as soon as we get back to our own computer and download them from our camera. Adios Amigos.