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