Friday, December 25, 2009

12/25/09 HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2009

Merry Christmas from the Florida Everglades National Park. This year started with us flying to Florida to catch the Mariner of the Seas, going Around the Horn, and it is ending with us here, having just completed a TransAtlantic cruise back from Barcelona on the Voyager of the Seas. And in this, our 16th year of RVing, there were lots of RV adventures in between. The motivation behind all this travel, as always, is to see and do everything we can while we are still enjoying good health. As the years pass, it seems that more and more of our friends are sidelined by health issues, and our hopes for a rapid recovery go out to all of you currently dealing with these concerns.
Some of you have been keeping up with our doings by periodically checking our blog at, so you may remember some of the events of our year. The Around the Horn cruise between January 3 and February 19 was certainly a highlight. There were many interesting ports of call in the Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico before docking in Los Angeles. The really fun part though was the social scene with all the friends on the ship. There were lots of RV friends who joined us and we made many new cruise friends in the Diamond lounge at Happy Hour. E-Mails and Facebook have allowed us to easily keep in touch with these far-flung friends and it has greatly enhanced our travels this year to visit those who lived along our travel route. Thank you everyone who hosted us and not only fed us delicious meals and showed us around, but shared your lives and stories with us more fully.
After a too-short stay at Park Sierra, our home RV park in late Feb, we dealt with some rental issues and medical stuff in northern California and then headed for Arizona, searching for warmth. Some time in Anza Borrego and also Yuma and Tucson with family and friends soon warmed us up. In early April we started the long trek north, the goal being a summer tour of Newfoundland. Social visits interspersed with sightseeing adventures kept us busy all through Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Of course, we had a great time with my twin in Denver and Elaine’s sisters on the family farm in Illinois. An unexpected treat was a highly successful fishing excursion on a hidden lake in the UP of Michigan with our friend, George, where the fish nearly jumped into the boat. Unfortunately, I can’t mention everyone we visited and all the great times we had because this letter would become a novel, but you know who you are and we greatly enjoyed our time with you all.
Then it was time to cross into Canada and start the long haul to the Newfoundland ferry. After an enjoyable break to visit friends from our Africa trip who live in Ontario, and old friends in Quebec from our very first adventures on the road 16 years ago, we caught the ferry from Nova Scotia to St. John’s, Newfoundland on June 24. A wonderful summer of exploring unique places, meeting friendly people, and learning about the geography and history of this island was ahead of us. One of the best parts was how easy it was to find scenic and free places to stay in our RV. Often we had views of seashores, waterfalls, ponds or mountains. Newfie people are famous for being welcoming, gregarious and generous, something we experienced and enjoyed everywhere we went. At one of our first stops, we parked within 50 feet of the shore not far from a convenience store. The owner not only provided us with free ice, but everyday a newspaper was left outside our door. Another highlight was the Twillingate music festival, where we camped with about 6 rigs of SKP Boomers, and marveled over the many icebergs in Durrell cove, nearby. The west coast of Newfoundland is perhaps the most scenic, with Gros Morne National Park being the most famous and spectacular. Unfortunately, our time there was cut short by rainy and windy weather, something that had been all too prevalent off and on all summer. So we cut our visit short in mid-August and returned to the USA to continue our travels down the East Coast.
Having explored the East coast very infrequently, we decided not to go to India, as we had previously planned, but just spend all our time meandering south as the weather cooled. Happily, once again our explorations were interspersed with social times with friends and family in Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. We revisited Arcadia NP, enjoyed Cape Cod, visited New York City, went to Mystic Seaport, explored Gettysburg, Harper’s Ferry, Monticello, Mt. Vernon, Smokey Mt. NP, Dollywood, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Asheville. There is so much history on the East Coast and we tried to learn a lot of it; now the trick will be to remember some of it!!
Since arriving in Florida in late October, we have been staying off and on at the SKP park near Bushnell, visiting friends on the west coast near N. Ft. Myers, and we have taken a short cruise in the Caribbean out of Miami with friends from the South America cruise. That was the most delightful part of the transatlantic cruise we just finished – so many of the people who were with us on the Around the Horn cruise, were also on the Voyager with us. Prior to that cruise, just Elaine and I took a weeks cruise on the Celebrity Century in the Mediterranean. The ports were Cannes, Genoa, Florence, Rome, and Naples, and we had fairly decent weather considering that it was late November. Our most memorable sightseeing was at Pompeii, outside of Naples. As always, should you want further details about any of our travels or adventures, you can find them on our blog, or e-mail us at with comments or questions.
I am happy to report that all of our families are healthy. Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been the easiest for some of our kids, who are feeling the effects of the economic meltdown and a reduction in their earnings. They are learning some valuable lessons in economizing and doing what they can to try to secure more lucrative employment. We are all hoping for a rapid economic recovery for them, and for all of the people who are suffering both here and the rest of the world.
Thank you to those who have sent us most welcome holiday greetings and letters via e-mail. By choice, this is a very unusual holiday for us; we are by ourselves in a virtually empty campground and enjoying the scenery, solitude and the chance to catch up on some backlogged chores in the rig. On Jan. 4 we will join our Miami friends for another short cruise and be re-immersed in the social scene once again. As this year comes to a close and we all think about a new year and new beginnings, we hope that 2009 has been a good year for you all, and that 2010 brings everyone more health, wealth and happiness than ever before.

Happy New Year
Mary & Elaine

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