Sunday, August 10, 2014

AUGUST 10, 2014, NEWBURY, MA, home of our son, Jay, and his family

We are still roaming around New England, mostly staying with friends and relatives, except for two long RV park stays painted shortly in this narrative.

After our customary catch-up and organizing "lay-by" at son Jay's in early July, we headed north (or Downeast as the natives say) to Mount Desert Island, Maine, Bar Harbor, or Acadia National Park, all rolled into one glorious stopover, crowned by Cadillac Mountain, highest point on the American east coast. We stayed there four days, soaking up one beautiful village, or country road, or harbor, or woodland/lakeside walk after another. All four days exemplified perfect Maine summer weather.

Our KOA Oceanside RV Park was exceptional, indeed on an ocean bay (see pictures.) A surprise feature was Clayton, an old time lobsterman who comes to the site nightly, steams fresh caught lobster and, for $18 you get a complete lobster dinner with cole slaw, corn on the cob and homemade blueberry pie. My earlier blog entry that described RV parks never anticipated such an unusual and delicious bonus. Pictures will show the peak of Cadillac Mountain, views of Jordan Pond, around which we hiked, other mountains called the Bubbles, Peter gorging, bay views including other RVs, and our little RV steed at rest.

Coming off of that island and glorious parkland, we first spent a night with grand Deerfield friend, Nancy Hodermarsky, age 89, actively retired on Deer Isle/Stonington, ME, who seems a central figure in that charming community. Her late husband, Dan, essentially created Deerfield's visual art department in the 1970s; he had the allure and stature of a king who attracted nearly every student and teacher into his world of art.

Next up was a night on Peaks Island, Casco Bay, off Portland's waterfront under Pauline and Woody Halsey's summer roof. Though now residents of Avignon, Woody was the leader of the School Year Abroad program for 25 years under whose auspices I taught a year in France in 1976-77, ran both their Italy and Vietnam schools for two different years in retirement. And we sent our son Jay for a high school SYA year in Barcelona.

On we moved to outer Cape Cod for the next 4 nights in yet another glorious part of the U.S., and stayed at Sweetwater Forest RV Park in Brewster. Though we have always gone toward "the Cape" over the years we forever park ourselves in Wareham, known as "Gateway to Cape Cod," since that is Happy's family's longtime summer home. (See earlier blog.)

This time we were treated to slow, off-the-beaten-track, explorations of legendary towns like Chatham, Eastham, Orleans, Harwich, Wellfleet and Truro; each captivating with charming old homes, large trees, winding roads, stone walls, small boats bobbing at anchor, and while near the ocean or bay, a seductive weatherbeaten aspect to everything. All the while we kept hearing or humming Patty Page's long ago hit, "Old Cape Cod" and so it is. (Can you see the 8 wild turkeys in the two pictures of roadside woods? Good luck.)

The culmination of our successful attempts to stay away from summer crowds, was the early morning we left our park site for usually-packed Provincetown, parked easily in the central pier lot, seemed to have the fishing boats and village streets to ourselves, and then cruised the lovely residential lanes. We left town by 10am for the hour-plus drive back to Brewster before Provincetown girded for its daily crush of global summer tourists.  We had had time and space to understand why Provincetown is so alluring and so often on calendars. Smug we were!

Before leaving Cape Cod, we had some superb lunches and catch-up time with old friends, Lee and Betsy Lindeman, Amherst classmate not seen since graduation 55 years ago, Danny (also Amherst classmate) and Ann Bernstein whom we see more often, joined at their Falmouth home by  another Amherst classmate, Tom Benjamin and wife Mary Jo.  Another non-stop talking  lunch was with Happy's Smith classmate, Lyn McNaught (who also founded the remarkable Horizons program) and husband, Michael; and a whole day with relatively new friends, Judy and Ron Ablow whom we met in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2010, and who live nearly on the Nauset Beach in Eastham.

The last chapter of this blog installment will be quick, although the event is incredibly powerful and almost impossible to describe.  In the Barker family (Happy's) it is called Cousins Week and it now occurs annually in August. There in Wareham at the family summer home, 50 people (and growing) of the three generations following Happy's legendary parents, gather for endless intergenerational fun, chatter, games, distance runs, singing, beaching, cooking, and property maintenance. The Big House and Little House can sleep over half of the crowd, while many tents out toward the bluff, plus us in our RV comprised the scene.

We have just come off that stage, and tomorrow begins our last loop back to Maine, the Adirondack foothills, returning to Maine, and on to Turkey....and then Westward Ho to the new home, almost completed, awaiting us.  Are we having any fun yet?  You betcha!   

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Small Point, Maine. June 23, 2014

As we said a few weeks back, we had by then spent perhaps one half of our nights on the road in RV parks and one half in homes of friends or relatives.  Now, two months later and 12,000 miles of travel, nights in homes of friends/relatives has become about 2/3 and in our rolling home, 1/3. Much of this is due to being in New England where friends and relatives abound. (More on RV parks later on.)

(Now turn back your focus to early June.)  After two splendid weekends of college 55th reunions, Happy at Smith and we both at Amherst, we motored for three days through upstate New York's glorious Adirondack park, staying at lovely forested RV parks in Austerlitz, Indian Lake, and Tupper Lake. Destination was Ontario, Canada, and more specifically the 50-mile-long and thin Loughbourough Lake.  We set out into the lake from the main dock in the tiny town of Battersea, not far from and northeast of Kingston. Our aim was Hull Island, a blissful, small, wooded island, the retreat of Roger Hull's family since 1950. Amherst classmate and California friend, he and his wife, Judy, welcomed us for a few days, and we were joined by Paul Dodyk (also Amherst '59) and his wife Delight, a Smith classmate of Happy's. (Imagine, Happy and Delight on the same small was hard not to call Judy “Joyful”...)

After a Barker (Happy's) family wedding in Wareham, MA, we and our son, Jay, and his family spent the next week on Monhegan Island, 12 miles off the downeast coast of Maine.  It’s another beautiful, small island with 50 winter residents that grows to maybe 300 in summer.  Still small, Monhegan is larger than Hull Island yet equal in rusticity, being without electricity and cars. The center is thick, lush woods; huge rocky headlands face the Atlantic, and a small village collects the human inhabitants.  The main dock is the center of island life. Sadly we never took any pictures on Hull Island, but those adorning these pages are all Monhegan.

Now I write this from Maine's mainland, where we were first visiting our dear old friend, Shirlee Mitchell who spends summers here, seeming to run a boarding house for her vast family and their friends.....Another wonderfully rustic, sprawling retreat in the woods, very near the gorgeous rocky Maine coastline. Shirlee and her then-husband might have been the first people Happy and I told we were engaged in winter 1963; they had sniffed something in the air and put a bottle of champagne in their home's fridge an hour or two before we were due. They could finally raise a glass to us, having hoped for this a long time!

And now our next Maine stopover with friends Louise and Loring Conant in coastal Georgetown.  They basically live in Cambridge, MA but have created this marvelous summer home, and then there is their California house in Greenbrae to which they travel a few times a year to be with their son and family in San Anselmo and near our former home in Sausalito. We enjoy them a lot when they are there...and now here!

(New date: July 1).   Since the above section, from Maine, we headed to Lake Sunapee NH to other old friends, David and Anna Clark; and as with several others on this voyage, not seen for perhaps 30 years.  David was a friend and classmate of mine at Deerfield, last seen at our 25th reunion there. Two more classmates, Mike Mayor and Eric Esselstyn and their wives, joined us for a meal with nonstop unfolding of our past lives .  The reunion was wonderful, as was the beauty of the embracing lake and mountains.

The next coach stop was the western-Mass hilltop home of dear friends, Karen and Werner Gundersheimer.  They look west to the Berkshires and east to Mount Greylock, highest point in Mass.  Spreading at their feet is Williams College. We took all this in with a trip to the top of Greylock, saw our first movie in a year (Ida, a superb Polish film), a day of "vegging" and catching up on paperwork, and reading the WHOLE NYTimes on Sunday....first time holding one in about 6 months! And finally a visit to the just reopened (after a three year renovation) Sterling and Francine Clark Museum of Art that is one of the more stunning museums in our country.

Heading back to the home of our son, Jay, and family in Newbury, MA, we stopped for lunch at the incredible lodge-y lakeside summer home of friends Paul and Delight Dodyk, Monterey, MA.  Though but ten years old, it emanates a perfect feel of the 19thC. Adirondack architecture style in structure, furniture, beams, hardware, all blended with many kinds of wood, new and old. It was difficult to leave this work of art (and also its creators.)

Now, before I close off,  I want to turn to a Herman Melville technique of "side trips" within yet apart from the narrative that amplify readers' knowledge of context history or nomenclature (see Moby Dick) My digression is about RV parks.

I distinguish these from campsites, the ones that accommodate mostly tenting campers; these would be for backpacking hikers or bikers who carry all their food and equipment on their backs. Others are "car-campers,” perhaps less sturdy and challenged who carry all that equipment in their autos.  As a family, we have been car-campers for the 50 years we've been at it. Later our kids did a good bit of backpacking.

RV parks we have visited this trip present predictable amenities like water, electricity, and cable TV lines, or what is called "full hookup" that includes black and gray water "septic drop." There are usually a picnic table, an outdoor cooker, and a firepit.  They all have a restroom building or buildings that, at least for the ones we have encountered, provide toilets, wash basins, and showers, sometimes laundry machines.  Some newer ones are immaculate, up-to-date, even offering complete private bathrooms with all of the above utilities offered in each one.  They are heated, and lights are on all night.  

Some large RV parks present up to 400 separate sites, many with trees and bushes separating you from your neighbor.  Most are smaller. Many have fenced playgrounds for children, others for dogs.  Many have pools.  Many have 7-11-sized mini grocery/supply stores, usually built into the registration area. Naturally, the smaller the park, the fewer are these extras. We like small!

It is critical that the surface for settling your RV is absolutely flat.  We have, as I assume all RVs have, two level gauges inside, one for side-to-side, other for front to back. Particularly if one's site is grass, it often takes a lot of backing and forthing to establish the perfect flat. All that because if not flat, the fridge will not operate. BTW, when we are driving, the fridge is on DC and cooled by the RVs engine; when settled in an RV park, the power is AC coming from the land-line hook-up; and if we are without a landline, deep in the woods for instance, the fridge can be powered by propane.   Thus, there are three sources for fridge power.  Not bad!

When we have stayed at RV parks for one or three nights, we always have breakfast in our cozy space: juice, cereal, and delicious coffee perked in our reliable built-in percolator. Lunches may be constructed by us, picnic style, in or out of the RV.  Mostly all evening meals are at nearby restaurants.

We have searched and found most of the parks themselves by easy googling, or out of the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) directory for the country. We pick a territory, search, go to and explore usually excellent websites, much like we all do with hotels, motels, B&Bs, etc. All but once have we made reservations ahead and all have ranged from satisfactory to excellent. Of course we have, until now, been traveling in low season, but now in the high family travel season, reservations are critical.  We got the last available site at a Bar Harbor park in March for a four-night stay coming up late in July. KOA sites are usually excellent as they establish and keep high standards.  All overnight prices have ranged from $15 to $40, higher priced ones usually have good privacy, and water or mountain views. Surprisingly, we have yet to stay at a state or national park (except at the Grand Canyon where we stayed in a cabin for a couple of nights) mostly because these parks and their amenities and on winter months close-down. And worth noting is that all the RV parks we have frequented have been at most 1/4 full, so we are spoiled with unusual service, very clean bathrooms, no waits, top picks for attractive sites, and no end of helping hands for any question or need. We had been told ahead of the middle-American warmth and outreach of everyone connected with the RV world. True it is.

We are usually the smallest RV around;  we are 20' long. That size and the fact that our basic chassis is a Ford Econoline truck with our living cabin on top (assembled by "Pleasure Way"  in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) designates us as "group B." Some of the behemoths you see on American highways might take up 50 or 60 linear feet. We got to see one's interior, boasting 2 carpeted staterooms, each with full bath, LR, DR, kitchen, and (outrageously) 4 flat-screen TVs. Their costs are upwards of 400-500,000 dollars.  Such owners have usually sold their terra firma homes, chosen to be mobile, often parking for warm months at a scenic southern US park, and heading north for the cooler latitudes in summer months. I don't know the financial arrangements, but some have guaranteed themselves reserved spaces, so they can leave their picket fences and perennial planting, garden sculpture, and sign reading "Hi There...we are Sylvia and Fred Johnson from Wichitaw Falls. Come on in!" in place until they return at the next season change.

Finally a word-glimpse of some of our favorite sites so far.  MARINA DUNES, California, is just north of Monterey:  terraced sites, made private by additional shrubbery, all full hook-ups, beautifully maintained, small, shielded from blowing sands by flexible snow fences, but for proper open trails going through the dunes to the waiting beach. (We shall return once we have resettled back in CA.).   ANZA BORREGA STATE PARK, southern CA desert.  Flat, desert-arid, desert plants, cactuses, attractive, at base of high mountains with hiking trails, nearby village of Borrega Springs with several good Mexican restaurants, authentically inspired from nearby border.  SANTA FE SKIES RV PARK, New Mexico.  Beautifully laid out on hilltop overlooking the city of Santa Fe with surrounding desert communities and distant mountain ranges on virtually all horizons; amazing clear skies day and night when we saw more stars than ever in our lives; over-the-top amenities including an outdoor museum of old farm machinery, some manual some early mechanized, all is remarkable condition. The morning we departed, a light night snow had carpeted the world and we happily drove off with flakes still dropping.....but soon making the roads easily passable as we steered toward the Grand Canyon. ASHEVILLE/SWANNANOA KOA PARK, North Carolina.   Well-treed site; bubbling river running though it;  lots of green grass on which many ducks waddled when not in the river;  many fishermen, -women, -children catching many fish along the river; Smokey Mountain foothills in distance.  STAUNTON, VIRGINIA KOA PARK, along the beautiful route where the Blue Ridge Highway meets the Skyline Drive.  Midsize park in rolling valley with stream and two lakes; we were one of maybe 10 active RVs there;  beautiful sunset and then sunrise with countless ducks and geese silently cruising the lake surfaces but honking at the beautiful evening or morning sun drama.  INDIAN LAKE CAMPGROUND, Adirondacks, NY:  all the beauty we expected with the real distinction of our being the only RV and no accompanying people there. Imagine the attention we received from the owner.  Far from any other civilization and accoutrements, so we opened a can of corned beef hash for dinner, with only birds for company.  THOUSAND ISLANDS KOA PARK, Henderson Park, NY is a large island near the shore of Lake Ontario, once the executive retreat center for General Electric, now a large RV park. A vivid beginning as we were barely on the causeway approach included a great flurry of wings in front of us when a huge male bald eagle rose from the brush, perhaps 10' in front of us, carrying a large fish in his mouth.  He stared down at us with eyes showing fury at being disturbed! The vast lake was broken by a few islands, the sunset was beautiful, yet the campsite's grounds were dotted with the usual droppings that signal the hundreds of snow geese with whom we shared space.  We walked carefully, reluctantly tearing our eyes from the beautiful views!

And so, as with Moby Dick, we will get back to the center lane of the storied trip soon again, maybe in three weeks.  We are in and around the northeast for July and August, off to Turkey for September, and then in early October, we slowly begin our westward trek.  We are told our new home at Spring Lake Village, CA will be ready for our occupancy November 10.   Thanks for reading.  P&H

Son Jay, our blog technician, with his and Susan's two daughters, Athalia (fishing) and Char

Friday, May 16, 2014

New England Catch-up Time --- May 12, 2014

Dear Friends:  Sorry we have a case of Blog Neglect, but we are still up and about.  It is just that our cups runneth over here in the northeast where we lived for 52 years of our lives and still a bit off and on since we moved to San Francisco 25 years ago. Too many old friends, old haunts, and old pathways!

Aside from the surprise inserts from our kids, who have free access to this blog, you have our Easter 2014 message from Wareham that reflects on what this adventure means to us, but the last actual log of our travels and people and sightseeing  stopovers was back in Asheville, NC on April 16.

We did then head up a good part of the Blue Ridge Highway, beginning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Knoxville, up through Asheville on a good part of the 450 mile, two-lane, 45 mph highway through mountains of NC, VA and almost to the outskirts of DC. Our weather was beautiful and views magnificent. There was an irony: the mostly deciduous trees were leafless so we could easily savor the mountains and valleys either side of the ridge top; yet the massive rhododendrons under them most of the way were a few weeks away from blooming. We could only imagine their splendor, but at that time, the trees would be fully leafed out so the expansive distant views might be largely blocked!

The Blue Ridge Parkway joins the Skyline Drive that marks the spine of the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia. That, too, is breathtaking. It pained us to pass near numerous historic sights, mostly Civil War battlefields, but our timing had become restrictive…(we must watch that!)  Soon we were skirting Washington on our way to Chestertown to spend several days in the bucolic countryside of Maryland’s Eastern Shore bordering the Chesapeake Bay and distinguished by its vast low rolling countryside, farms, streams, forests and calm villages.  Central for us in that land was the home of Happy’s sister Peggy and her husband John – relatives yes, but also old and dear friends and frequent traveling companions.

The peaceful respite there was welcome not only for us but also for the delight of our 4-legged Luke, who could romp freely across their fields and woods with their two dogs. Luke had by then become a magnificent traveler, adjusting to being in his RV crate day and night pleased by frequent stops for walks, and happy as long as he could see or sense one of us or both at all times…and, given our tight quarters, that was usually the set-up day and night.

From Chestertown we moved on to Philadelphia where we spent a night with long-time (NYC just after college) friends Jo Walker and Margee Kooistra. And now begins again a listing of the many upcoming friends with whom we had overnights or meals. These connections were, of course, highlights of our travel, likely known to some or many of you. In Swarthmore, PA our cousins Penny and Phil Weinstein, the latter retiring after 40 years teaching there, our nephew Jed Esty ad wife Andrea, both professors at Penn; then (without further bios!) in Princeton, NJ, Meredith and Henry Von Kohorn, Fred and Betty Morefield and Steve & Angela Bileca in Tarrytown, NY.  A return to our old stomping ground, Westport CT, where we lived for 5 years, began with lunch with our former landlords & friends, Debby and Tony Angotti. We stayed with Giselle Wagner & Paul Myerson and were feted by former Greens Farms Academy colleagues, Robbi Hartt and Lynne Laukhuf and a gathering of my past faculty and staff, including Happy’s long time friend and colleague Elizabeth Cleary, and current Head, Janet Hartwell, who guided us through a largely reconfigured and expanded school from my time there in 1998-2003.  We made a poignant stop in New Canaan, CT to see Happy’s 98-year old aunt Lib Ogden. Then it was up to Newbury, MA to stay a few days with our son Jay, his wife Susan and daughters Charlotte and Athalia. Had lunch in Gloucester with David Foster and another in Newburyport with Terry and Wanda Blanchard.

Craving a city fix, in late April we left RV and Luke with Jay & Co. in Newbury and spent three glorious days in Boston, using the exquisite apartment of old friends and Amherst college roommate Jim and Hanna Bartlett, who were in France. The fix was recuperative in many ways. Again we could spread out, catch up with computer and paper work, plan coming weeks of travel, walk, read, eat and go to the extraordinary Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. The greatest of the cultural exposures was the Boston Symphony Orchestra Friday concert, conducted by Charles Dutoit who brought magic to and a 5-minute standing ovation for the brilliant Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique. Yet forever memorable, we were mesmerized by the 24- year old Uzbek pianist, Behzod Abduraimov, who performed Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The rapt audience was on its feet for easily 10 minutes, demanding as many curtain calls. This was truly again one of those sensations of speechlessness over beauty and awe (albeit human art here) such as we experienced looking at the Big Sur coast, The Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns.

 You will find a few pictures of Boston, one day rainy, one day bright, all cell phone photos, all weak and hardly representative of that great city. There is the Mary Baker Eddy mother Church of Christian Scientists, some Commonwealth Avenue street scenes, The Boston Common and Gardens and, we think, a fa├žade of Symphony Hall. As contrast to the Boston Common, but right nearby, our friends Jim Canales and Jim McCann, freshly moved from San Francisco, gave us a fine dinner in their new apartment overlooking dramatic city towers and down on bustling theater and restaurant life.

Onward… From our Boston binge Happy rejoined the Jay Esty family for some Granny duty while Peter took a train to NYC for a two-day board meeting of Global Citizen Year. Always exciting is New York in spring and, as I was staying with Bill Bullard and Bodie Brizendine on Park Avenue, I could repeatedly view the masses of tulips along its center gardens running at least from 96th to 42nd street.  I also had time to have dinner with educator colleague Peter Herzberg, and lunch with Deerfield classmate Adlai Hardin.  Meanwhile, Happy was able to connect by phone with 8 members of our co-ed Sausalito book group who were meeting to discuss two Steinbeck novels. We look forward to rejoining the group when we return to CA.

And, finally, we returned to cool yet budding Massachusetts in the last two weeks. Most time has been spent at Happy’s long-time family place in Wareham, MA on the coast of Buzzards Bay. Here, we have again had time to relax, collect ourselves, do serious planning for the summer weeks soon to begin, and also to do some spring house cleaning, inside and out, to ready this big old house and adjacent cottage for the summer parade of family visitors and renters. A welcome dividend is catching up with Happy’s brother and wife, sisters and brother-in-laws, nieces & nephews as well as other drop-ins. It all spells FAMILY, and it is one of the best and warmest.  Some pictures of this place are scattered here…  We managed a break away last week to spend two nights with Julie & Ridley Rhind, old friends of post college NYC, then east coast, then west coast, partners in global trips over time and now retirees in nearby South Dartmouth, MA. Our old and now nearby friends, Frank & Laura Perrine, joined us for dinner one night while there.

We both have 55th college reunions at Smith and Amherst in the next two weeks, and then our summer loops begin, taking us twice to the Adirondacks, Ontario, Canada, and all New England states a few different times.  Our clock is ticking rapidly!

Love to you all,    Happy & Peter

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Not so "Cool-Hand" Luke...

2130 hours
Sick Bay
Patient: Luke
Diagnosis: Kennel Cough (new strain/patient 0)
Prognosis:  Iffy
Treatment: rest & med's, lay off the "friendly" licking

Happy's First Responder training kicks in:  the 911 call

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Johnny Law, Chesapeake style

Today's "Unfolding Life" submission arrives courtesy of Leila Esty, who provides much home-office support to our dauntless drivers, our saucy saunterers, our... scampering scofflaws?  

Leila's version of the "unfolding" tends most typically toward Hap and Pete's mail, which today included something Peter's been suspiciously mum about ...

By our estimate, our quiet Quixote goosed his racing Rocinante up to a 50% excess of the marked limit.

Good thing Petey's got competent legal representation in Chestertown...

I'm off to view the "full color pictures" at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter, 2014


Hello All:
If you arrived at this blog site, you used the access word "interlude."  That was Happy's invention and such a good one.  The source of an interlude seems to be a brief entertainment between acts of a performance, originally medieval.  It works for us...and likely someday we'll refer to the timing of an experience as BRT or ART (Before or After our Road Trip.)
Significant is that prior to these rolling 9 months, we lived in, rented, or owned homes; now we do not; in November we will again.  We usually owned, drove, and maintained one or two cars; now we own none.  We used to have and use bureaus, closets, desks, drawers, and cupboards; now we have sparse and tiny replicas.  We certainly had, on a daily basis, feelings of roots, routines, personal and professional obligations, doctor appointments, immediate friends to see or call, calendars often full of events, meetings, and other dates.  Our homes and grounds meant attention and maintenance, even with occasional help; we had scads of monthly bills to pay (newspapers, trash collection, real estate taxes, other taxes, gas and electricity, water, cable TV, magazine and subscriptions, etc.)  We would often muse over possible trips and even their timing, or possible upcoming entertainment venues.  We created time for visiting out-of-towners, or planned dinner parties.
Now all of those are on hold until we return and settle in our Sonoma County retirement community late in this 2014 year.  Some, like taxes and utility bills, will never return as such or will be redefined or disguised.
It's funny, in our first weeks on the road, one of us would say "when we get home, we must...." and then we'd laugh and remember we didn't have a home.  All of our "home concept" was behind us, as we drove/sat in front and all our accessible belongings and needed records were rolling along behind us. A mass of belongings, many not necessary, were now in storage. Needless to add, we are living through a great and healthy and daily dose of not taking things for granted.
So, the term "interlude" is apt. We are in a brief performance between life's acts called middle age and old age. It has been and will likely continue to be extraordinarily fun and illuminating. Obviously we cast new lights on ourselves and what we are, what we like, miss, want, and really can do without.
So too we have had new opportunities to see and feel passage of time. For example, as we traversed the southwestern states of CA, AZ, NM, then southern states of TX, MS, AL, FL, GA, TN, NC, KY, and slowly rolled through middle and northeastern states, DC, MD, PA, NJ, NY, CT, and now MA, we have seen marks of history and time -- visual landscapes passing, like multiple stages of springtime... still-dormant trees in the south, now recovering from polar vortexes, then pink-tinged budding trees, then sprightly roadside daffodils, then awakening magnolias and dogwoods in western NC, VA, and PA, and now, somewhat wintery MA, but with a few daffodils.
No pictures this time, yet ahead is the beginning of many visits with family, immediate and otherwise, friends going way back (our 55th Smith and Amherst reunions in late May) and the warmer coming months. In September we travel to Turkey, without RV and dog Luke, and then in October we commence our westward return "home" to Northern California.
Please stay tuned even as you tolerate a few gaps. Warmest wishes.  Happy and Peter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asheville, NC

April 2, 2014...Reflection

Dear Friends and Relatives,

We pause in Asheville, NC for many reasons relating to the beauty of the mountains and far-reaching valleys, pleasures of a fine, small, and beckoning city, the incredible Biltmore Estate, created in the 1890s by George Washington Vanderbilt , and really for us a time to literally pause and reflect on what we have been up to since our February 19 departure from the Bay Area of CA.

We have been gone nearly 7 weeks.  We have driven 7295 miles; have been in 11 states.  We have spent 24 nights in RV parks, and 23 in real beds in real homes of real friends.

Some of these put us up for 1, 2, or 3 nights, some we met only for morning coffee, lunch, or afternoon tea or lemonade. In this reflective pause, may we publicly thank these generous people:

* Amanda Nyce McIntyre, Carpinteria, CA, Smith classmate of Happy, a second day coastal CA stop for afternoon tea.

*  John Ogden (cousin of Happy) and wife Patti in Los Angeles, first to guide us through the LA County Museum, and later in the week to meet and guide us for two days through their favorite Anza Borrega Desert State Park.

*  Former close colleague, Wayne Taylor, CFO of the Branson School (CA) now in Palm Springs where he and his partner, Ron Rodgers, have retired.

*  Cynthia Lang (another Smith classmate) and husband, John Culp, beautifully settled in Tucson and quick to show us their favorite parts of their city.

*  Mary Ellen Thompson, former classmate of Peter in Amherst Junior High School, last seen about 60 years ago.

*  Barbara Colt Kincaid, Tucson, another junior high classmate, perhaps Peter's first real girlfriend, last seen 30 years ago.

*  Eileen Powers, who once again unwrapped for us today's New Orleans, beloved by her, and braced us for the wild partying mobs on St. Patrick's Day.

*  Robin and Bob Bolan, Amelia Island, north of Jacksonville, friends going back to NYC right after college where a large group, still close today, worked and played together.

*  Marilyn and Don (Amherst classmate) Hicks, deeply rooted in Coral Gables, who took us out for a day on Biscayne Bay, on their son's luxurious yacht, cruising among the eastern Keys.

*  Heather White (Happy's former cousin-in-law) and husband Richard Hurwitz, took us to a serious lunch in Delray Beach.... seeing Heather for first time in 40+ years.

* Hoby and Sally Kreitler, Jupiter, FL, friends since our days at Greens Farms Academy (CT) where they were the founders and funders (yet today) and leaders of the summer program Horizons, still a booming success for underserved kids.

*  Jayne and Nat Huggins, Vero Beach, friends for decades, married same day as we, with whom we have celebrated our 1st, 10th,  25th,  40th,  and last year 50th anniversaries.

*  Kay (former sister-in-law) and Jim Donovan, long time Naples residents, who gave us royal tours of their expansive and polished city that I first saw as a small village when I lived in east coast Pompano for many winters in the late 1940s.

*  Maryilou and Georges Krivobok;  a Naples seaside lunch, not having seen them since 1977, when we worked together in Rennes, Brittany, for the School Year Abroad program. What memories, enhanced by delicious food and scores of nosey pelicans.

*  Craig and Mary Jane Schopf;  lunch nearby their beautiful Bonita Springs home.  Craig and Peter were Amherst classmates who will be together again in May for their 55th reunion.

*  And then leaving Florida, on to Atlanta for two nights with Adrianne and Mal Hill (she another old girlfriend of Peter's) and where we saw Atlanta through their eyes....and where we heard them sing together in a glorious concert.

*  And then on to Chattanooga TN for a night with Bruce Stewart and Andra Jurist.  Andra guided us through their neighborhood's small parks, pathways, outdoor art, beautifully tended gardens, all overlooking their stunning city and the grand Tennessee River out of their windows.  Bruce was longtime Head of Sidwell Friends in DC, and preceded Peter as Board Chair of School Year Abroad.

*  The next day, a Kentucky detour to Berea KY for a night with our niece, Lisa Abbott, husband Justin Maxson and young lads Miles and Hollis....all doing good works for the people of Kentucky, especially  Mitch McConnell, who can use a large dose of their vision.

I would love to tell you more about the Biltmore Estate, but you have read enough.  It is so worth visiting someday if you have not.  It is certainly right up there with the Loire chateaux and other European castles, and the hefty admission charge (from millions of tourists) assures it's permanence and meticulous upkeep.  The 4-5 mile drive through a glorious park is the astounding starter.  The home itself, call it mansion, castle, stuns upon first sighting.  You only get to see about 45 of the 250 rooms, and the windows look out on unimaginable gardens and a mere 12,000 acres of distant mountains and rolling countryside. My Blogmaster son, Jay, will scatter pictures here that will give a sense.

We are so well and loving this trip.  Now we will soon be off from the Shenandoah Valley to Chestertown MD, home of Happy's sister Peggy and husband John for a few days before heading up into the familiar northeast for many weeks.

With love and cheer.    Peter and Happy