Happy (and safe) Holidays to you! (2020)

December 1st, 2020

From Liz, Dan and Don

Boy, do we all need to celebrate making it through 2020! We felt very fortunate to have skied through mid-March in 2020, including a trip to Japan — before the pandemic lockdowns sent us home for the rest of the year. Like everyone else, we adapted: biking, doing a lot of hiking, and exploring new places to go stand-up paddle boarding. In November, after months of research, we found and purchased a barely-used 2020 Winnebago Revel (Mercedes Benz) campervan! Our plans to visit Dad four hours south fell through due to high coronavirus numbers, but with vaccinations on the horizon, we expect to have plenty of RV adventures to share by this time next year.

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2020 Events and Travels


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Skiing in Hokkaido, Japan

Dan had a dream, to ski the famous bottomless dry powder of northern Japan, known as JaPow! So he signed us up with a company called Savour the Journey, specializing in both skiing and food. Liz dreamed of being able to communicate with the natives, so she immediately started working through the Duolingo Japanese lessons in order to master the basics: Hello, thank you, where are the toilets? English menu please. Truly an excellent adventure for January, and just in time!

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August Road Trip to Hike in Montana

We grew restless after sheltering in place the second half of ski season and all spring at home. When Zephyr Adventures announced a safety-adjusted Beartooth Hiking Adventure in Red Lodge, Montana, we jumped at the chance to plan a camping road trip to and from the location, including two days in Yellowstone National Park. Of course, we followed strict safety protocols for our two weeks among the Sturgis motorcycle rally folks passing through the region.

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Local Recreation in Covid Times

Dan worked successfully from home with only a brief layoff, and solidly retired Liz did Fitbit online workouts, Zoom Yoga classes and local hikes with a pal. We prioritized local weekend adventures outdoors, feeling grateful to live in such an outdoors-friendly climate.

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Home and Hometown

The Wembly habitat is a wonderful place to spend a pandemic shutdown. Don was like the Energizer Bunny over summer, planting a stupendous display of flowers, helping us with the pandemic garden experiment, keeping up with the raking and managing the swimming pool. A few home improvement projects kept us all busy off and on.

COVID Summer Road Trip 2020

August 27th, 2020

Mountain portrait, Dan/Liz

Glacier Lake in the Beartooth Mountains

The natives were restless after spending 6 months in home quarantine against the COVID-19 pandemic. When Zephyr Adventures announced their safety-adjusted Beartooth Hiking Adventure based in Red Lodge, Montana in August, we immediately signed up, and started planning a road trip to and from the location. Dan mapped out outbound and return routes that included two days in Yellowstone National Park and a first-time look at the incredible Leslie Gulch in Oregon. We wore masks around other people for the entire 2 weeks.

We returned to a lightning-struck California on fire amidst a severe heat wave and drought. With smoky skies forcing us to keep indoors and windows tight shut, it seemed like end times had arrived!

Japan Photo Albums 2020

February 15th, 2020

Dan had a dream, to ski the famous bottomless dry powder of northern Japan, known as “JaPow”! So he signed us up with a company called “Savour the Journey,” specializing in both skiing and food.

Liz dreamed of being able to communicate with the natives, so she immediately started working through the Duolingo Japanese lessons in order to master the basics: “Hello, thank you, where are the toilets? English menu please.”

Happy Holidays! (2019)

December 1st, 2019

Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!

From Liz, Dan and Don

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Iceland Photo Albums 2019

August 27th, 2019

Storurdh, eastern Iceland

Storurdh, formed by volcanic activity in eastern Iceland

Dan and Liz spent two weeks in Iceland, the first with Kim and Rich (daughter and son-in-law), and the second week with Zephyr Adventures. The large number of albums below reflects how much gorgeous scenery we saw there! Iceland is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

Happy Holidays 2018!

December 10th, 2018

Happy Holidays to You, Happy Retirement to Us!

From Liz, Dan and Don

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Christmas card 2018

2018 Events and Travels

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Ode to Fall in Danville, CA

November 16th, 2018

Closeup of leaves and mushrooms on a Danville lawn

Art by Nature

As a new retiree, I have time to take long walks with eyes wide open. Here are the word pictures Mother Nature shared with me this Fall:

Neighborhood sycamore trees shamelessly flaunt their Autumn glory like can-can dancers flashing gold and red skirts. A single glorious specimen hosts clusters of yellow, green, orange and magenta leaves, blending into the graduated shades of a Neapolitan popsicle. Later in the season they prolonged the show with an elegant starburst of tenacious orange clingers on near-bare branches.

Two blocks further on,  Japanese Maples convert to a richly saturated, almost blinding crimson, while citrus tree fruit finally ripens from its camouflage green to bright yellow and orange, begging to be snitched. The leafless branches of persimmon and pomegranate adorned with red and orange globes trigger thoughts of both Christmas decorations and holiday recipes. Like holly surrogates, clumps of cardinal-red pyracantha berries drip from dense shrubs in front yards, while street-side ranks of California pepper trees drop a crunchy hot pink carpet on the sidewalks.

Down the frontage road, a long sound wall of newly planted ivy is brilliantly gilded with orange, gold and red, in wedges shaped like an assortment of exotic geisha girl fans.

After the first heavy rains thrashed the trees, washing mountains of leaves onto pavement and gutters, hints of green finally appeared on the slopes of omnipresent Mt. Diablo and surrounding hillsides, signaling at last, the end of brown season and the coming of green season.

These are more than enough hints that it’s time to get well and truly festive for the holiday season!

Photos: 5-week Winter Vacation in Chile

October 13th, 2018

At the time of our August/September 2018 visit to Chile, we were on the verge of retirement. The goal of this trip was to explore living in Santiago for the skiing in the Andes, and get a taste of everyday life in a foreign-language country. Unfortunately, climate change, ski logistics and the language barrier put an end to the future expats plan. As you can see by the list below, many excursions helped us make the most of our visit:

  1. Santiago’s Providencia, El Centro and Bella Vista
  2. Skiing at Valle Nevado in the Andes
  3. Active Lifestyles in Santiago
  4. Vina del Mar, Valparaiso and Casablanca
  5. Santa Cruz Wine Region
  6. Santa Cruz Winery Tour in Valle de Apalta
  7. Atacama: San Pedro de Atacama and Casa Sorbac
  8. Atacama: Valle de la Luna + Laguna Cejar + Ojos del Salar
  9. Atacama: Geiser Tatio + Trekking de Guatín + Termas de Puritama
  10. Atacama: Pucara + Baltinache + Cordillera de Sal + Mirador
  11. Atacama: Laguna Miscanti  + Laguna Chaxa + Toconao
  12. Independence Day Fiestas

Stepping Into Routines

August 24th, 2018

Santiago Gym

our Santiago gym

We have joined a gym, go out daily for long walks and groceries, go up and down the apartment stairwell to warm up, sit with our Kindles in a nearby coffee shop, and still we have too much spare time here. Like real retirement? 😉

Dan and I are sometimes “hermited” in our bedroom. When Julia occasionally hosts a lady friend in the living room, we are looking at our phones, catching up on news, politics and Facebook. That said, she spends most of her time in the guest bedroom, into which she has moved so that we could have the master for ourselves.

We take turns using the miniscule kitchen, and sometimes we three share dinner cooked by Dan. Ella es muy simpatica, pero no habla Ingles. Sometimes we are all at our phones taking Duolingo lessons, Julia included.

The apartment is kept quite chilly. Since we’d read about this trend before leaving home, we are prepared and are always in multiple layers of clothing.

    Dan at ValleNevado

We went skiing last Tuesday. It was pretty much a 12-hour day when you added up the commute times to and from. We had the skiing almost all to ourselves, and the groomed runs were fine. But that was a lot of time and effort for the 5 hours of skiing we got.

We considered a return trip to the same place today to ski the fresh new inches of snow, but this front is extremely cold, and we now know there’s no place on the mountain to shelter, so we decided to wait a couple more days.

Dan wondered last night if it would cost too much to fly home early. He is disappointed by the skiing options. I said let’s stick it out with other activities!! He is now researching excursions to the Atacama desert, a wine tasting day trip package and another one to a coastal city.

Today, we are planning a long walk to a park and museum with large Chilean sculptures as soon as it warms up. I downloaded Google Fit– I will be getting my 10 thousand steps again today!

Reality Check

August 17th, 2018

Looking at rental bikes

We arrived in Santiago, Chile yesterday morning but our skis and luggage didn’t make it due to a tight connection in Dallas. However we were welcomed with open arms by our kind hostess Julia Romero, who is charging us a modest amount to use her spare bedroom for 5 weeks. Now that we’re here, I realize we are using her own master bedroom, which she totally cleared out to accommodate us! This isn’t something she does regularly, but it happened because of a connection involving one of my co-workers’ parents.

Unfortunately, the language barrier is a more  immediate problem then expected, because Julia does not speak English. (Thank goodness for Google Translator!) Day to day communications as we get settled are a daunting prospect for Dan, and even me at my current level. He is feeling a bit down after seeing how difficult the logistics are to go skiing from here, a significant challenge even in a good snow year.

Mountains over Santiago

The Andes are calling

Yesterday was a gorgeous winter day in Santiago. We took the opportunity to stroll the neighborhood, first with Julia and later on our own. We found grocery stores, coffee shops, a dedicated bike path right out the front door, and people going about their daily lives.

The challenge as I see it: Establish a daily routine of exercise and mealtime activities mixed with learning better Spanish and how to live like retired folks. And on the side, of course we can plan excursions.

I have already done a 15-minute workout in the stairwell this morning, going up to the 7th floor and down at various speeds. But with no other clothes to wear, I don’t want to get too sweaty.

After our luggage arrives, our To Do list today includes charging the Bip! metro card, visiting a ski shop and researching the two nearest gyms.