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

No comments: