weblog - 2005

Dec 31, Lake Tahoe

Tahoe_2005_0014.JPG (97744 bytes)Tahoe_2005_0016.JPG (79339 bytes)Tahoe_2005_0009.JPG (73863 bytes)An expected blizzard turned into a rain storm which caused major flooding in the area.  Monica and Mike returned to Milwaukee this morning and had to drive to Carson City because all the normal routes to Reno were closed by high water or mudslides.  High winds churned up the lake.  Katie and Johnny had to model their skiwear indoors.

Dec 28, Lake Tahoe

John_ski.jpg (74376 bytes)John_Val_ski.jpg (99803 bytes)Kate_ski.jpg (68679 bytes)We're back at the Lake for our annual family get together.  Margaret is here with Johnny and Katie. Mike, Monica and Andy are here as usual, and Margaret's parents, Valerie and John Tilelli are with us for the first time.  We haven't had as much snow as in recent years, but several of our group, including Johnny and Katie have managed to hit the slopes.

Dec 19, Houston

XmasParty_2005_0014.JPG (148036 bytes)XmasParty_2005_0010.JPG (166048 bytes)In prior years, we've hosted Christmas parties for our neighbors on the 10th floor.  This year Pat had the idea of having a vertical open house.  We invited only people who lived in 02 units on floors 1 through 12.  It seems hard to believe, but we didn't know any of these people until last night.  The party was scheduled for 6:00 to 8:00, but some of the guests didn't leave until 9:30, so I would say the party was a success.

Dec 18, Houston

robopet.jpg (63851 bytes)Ross and Kelly have always felt that we were deprived because we didn't own a pet.  They finally found one which doesn't need to be walked or have an objectionable odor.  Introducing Robopet.  He walks, he talks, he rolls over, he scratched imaginary fleas, and he even breaks wind.  Everything real owners love about their pets.

Dec 17, Houston

Our friend Margie Beegle tried to visit this website by going to www.lewandpat.com.  The result was, well, pretty scary.

Nov 24, Austin

Thnksgvng2005_0012.JPG (84732 bytes)Thnksgvng2005_0044.JPG (77108 bytes)Thnksgvng2005_0020.JPG (64689 bytes)Once again the family gathered at Jann and Dick Brown's home for Thanksgiving dinner.  This year there were 22 adults and 8 kids.  The turkey was outstanding.  One of the day's highlights was a serenade by Dick.  Everyone hammed it up for the camera.  Above right are Jann and Deanna.

Nov 21, Denver

Congratulations to Pat who had a successful week in Denver at the American Contract Bridge League national tournament.  She finished 6th overall in the Women's Team championship and 8th overall in the Women's Pairs championship.  Pat and her partner were the halfway leaders in the Pairs event, which featured the best women bridge players in the world.

Nov 14, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

pvroom.JPG (84980 bytes)pvpool.jpg (109122 bytes)We give high marks to Puerto Vallarta.  The weather was great - high 70's with a nice gentle breeze every day - and the town is a lot less touristy than Cancun or Acapulco.  The Fiesta American Hotel was excellent.  The view from our room is on the left and the view from the pool is on the right.  The bridge was fun also.  We had a team of four that finished near the top in every event.  All in all a  very enjoyable week.

Nov 8, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

sailfish.JPG (53386 bytes)Pat played bridge and with her partner  won the opening night open pairs event.  I went fishing and helped land a 120 pound sailfish.  This picture isn't the best, but for some reason the captain wouldn't lift the fish up for a picture.  I think he was miffed because I didn't want to spend $800 to get it mounted.  On the return to port, the ship broke down and covered the last 12 miles in four hours.

Nov 5, Houston

Grandkids in Houston 20050014.JPG (76863 bytes)Grandkids in Houston 20050015.JPG (55311 bytes)Grandkids in Houston 20050011.JPG (80739 bytes)Katie and Johnny stopped in for a couple of days to visit.  We took them to the Houston Children's Museum.  There they learned about shopping,  milking a cow, and building an arch.

 

Nov 2, Houston

QM2-49.jpg (45122 bytes)QM2-2.JPG (50830 bytes)We are back from our trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary 2.  This was our first experience cruising from Point A to Point B with no intermediate stops.  It was quite different from our previous cruises.  The QM2 is so big that there is something entertaining for all tastes.  We spent a lot of time attending a series of lectures by a group of professors from Oxford University.  We got to spend a bit of time with the lecturers who were all very accessible and friendly.  Food and drink were top drawer.  The QM2 sports thirteen bars ranging from a British pub to a modern jazz lounge.  We did our best to frequent them all.  Three formal nights allowed me to reduce the per usage cost of the tuxedo I bought last year.  The hallway on our deck was over 1,000 feet long, more than the length of three football fields end to end.  We get to spend four days in Houston before heading to Puerto Vallarta on Monday.

Oct 29, Houston

Hats off to the Chicago White Sox.  They outplayed the Astros and deserved to win.  Last year the Astros won their first playoff series, this year their first league championship, and next year - maybe the World Series.  At least we were spared having to see the last two games.

Oct 25, Houston

The Astros are down 2-0 to the White Sox in the World Series.  They are resilient but they're going to have to forge a comeback without us as we are leaving tonight for London.  Check in next week for a critique of the world's largest luxury liner.

Oct 20, Houston

There is joy in Mudville today.  The sun is shining, the temperature is balmy, and everyone in Houston is smiling.  The Astros are on their way to Chicago to play in the World Series for the first time in franchise history.  The only experience we can relate to this is being in Brazil during the World Cup finals.

Oct 18, Houston

astrosprayer.jpg (45303 bytes)A pall has descended over the city as the beloved Astros were only one pitch away from winning the National League pennant when St. Louis Cardinal first baseman Luis Pujols rained on their parade.  As you can see from the picture, baseball is pretty serious stuff around here.

 

Oct 13, Houston

We went to the Alley Theater to see a new play named Be My Bay.  The play was entertaining, but by the end of ten minutes it was pretty easy to predict the final scene of the final act.  The real story was the performance of Hal Holbrook who looks and acts nothing like someone who is eighty years old.  His wife, Dixie Carter, also looking good in her mid-sixties, co-stars.

Oct 1, Boston

10-01-05_1000.jpg (55635 bytes)10-01-05_1326.jpg (47307 bytes)10-01-05_1330.jpg (52131 bytes)The AMP reunion is an opportunity to hear some of the school's top thinkers talk about their ideas.  There is a menu to select from, and the choices are difficult.  We always try to catch Rosabeth Moss Cantor who once again did not disappoint.  Note that just as in student days, name placards are a requirement.  In addition to the lectures, there are meals and breaks to meet former classmates.  Incidentally, we forgot our cameras, but the new cell phone came to the rescue.  I could never see any value for having a camera in a cell phone, but I guess I was wrong.

Sep 30, Boston

BostonLatin.jpg (58038 bytes)We are in Boston for the 20 year reunion of Lew's Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program class.  Arriving a day early we opt to walk the Freedom Trail from Boston Common to the Charlestown bridge.  This was a relatively slow process as Pat is unable to pass a historical marker without stopping to read it.  We visited Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, etc.  One of the walk's highlights was this hopscotch mosaic imbedded into the sidewalk at the original site of the famous Boston Latin school.

Sep 28, Buena Park, CA

Ross and Kelly visited the newly-renovated Knott's Berry Farm theme park.  Ross claims to have overcome his fear of roller coasters.  Judge for yourself (click here).

Sep 24 (9:00 AM), Houston

Rita0006.JPG (75710 bytes)Rita0005.JPG (79154 bytes)We lost power overnight so the VCR is blinking 12:00.  Everything else inside the apartment  looks normal.  There is an accumulation of leaves in the swimming pool, but looking out the window there is no evidence of storm damage.  Houston was lucky this time.

Sep 23 (10:00 PM), Houston

A little light rain and wind are here, but nothing serious.  It is beginning to look like Rita may spare Houston.  Nothing more to report at this time.  Tune in tomorrow.

Sep 23 (7:00 PM), Houston

Rita0004.JPG (45621 bytes)Bright sky night, sailors delight, bright sky morning sailors warning.  We had a brilliant sunset tonight, so tomorrow should be a good day for a sail.  Maybe that old proverb doesn't always work.

 

Sep 23 (6:00 PM), Houston

Rita0002.JPG (58805 bytes)The clouds are rolling in but no wind so far.  The north to south movement of the clouds would indicate that the storm is east of here.  If the storm center continues to be east of here, our south-facing apartment should be out of harm's way.  The outer band of the storm should be here soon, but we don't anticipate any really strong winds until midnight or later.

 

Sep 23 (11:00 AM), Houston

Rita0001.JPG (90611 bytes)Walked down the street to the neighborhood market and bought the last remaining manual can opener.  All batteries, water, etc. sold out.  This picture is from our bedroom window and as you can see everything looks normal.

 

Sep 23 (9:00 AM), Houston

An eerie calm has descended over Houston.  Most or businesses have shut down.  The weather looks normal as there is abundant sunshine and the skies are blue.  We have moved everything off the balcony and moved furniture away from the windows to the extent possible.    This must be the calm before the storm.

Sep 22, Houston

With Hurricane Rita due here on Saturday, we decided to get out of town on Thursday.  Turns out that two million other people had the same idea and the highways out of Houston were impassable.  Accepting our fate we went to a pre-Rita party at a friend's house in the neighborhood.  Returning home after the party, we found our building surrounded by seven fire trucks and several other emergency vehicles.  We were told that there was a fire four floors above our unit.  The fire was extinguished but we had to wait for over an hour before we could enter the building.  We found water dripping down from a light fixture in a bathroom but no other damage.

Sep 21, Houston

The temperature hit 100 degrees today, a record high for the date.  Skies are clear and the only indication that things aren't normal is that there are long lines at all the gas stations and the bank ATM's are out of money.

Sep 15, Houston

The Man has been released and has been uniformly panned (see Aug 28).  One critic said they took every funny scene and made it into a trailer.  My hunch was right.  Save your money and watch the trailer at IMDB.

Sep 3, Killeen

Johnny6_0064.JPG (78123 bytes)Johnny6_0009.JPG (143231 bytes)The clan gathered in Killeen to help Johnny celebrate his 6th birthday.  Uncle Mike and Aunt Monica flew down from Wisconsin, and Uncle Andy drove over from Dallas.  Margaret continues to outdo herself with creative birthday parties.  This time the theme was military training with the backyard converted to a training camp complete with a camouflage mess hall tent.  Click Here  to see more pictures. 

Aug 28, Reno

Went to the movies and saw a trailer for a new one called The Man with Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson.  Unless they've put every good scene in the trailer (like they did in Bringing Down the House), this is going to be a riot.

Aug 20, Hollywood

Celebrity.jpg (104540 bytes)Pet care is big, big, big in Hollywood these days.  Guess what company is in demand for celebrity dog parties?  Did you say Kelly's Pet Care?  Good guess. The picture on the left is from Celebrity Living magazine.  Also, our favorite entrepreneurs got a mention in E! on-line.  These fancy canine parties are giving new meaning to the phrase "Doggy do".

 

Aug 19, Houston

Did you ever want to see what a kidney stone looked like?  I didn't think so.  Just in case you did, you can CLICK HERE here to see one removed from yours truly yesterday.  Actually it is quite pretty.  I was going to ask the doc if I could get it mounted on a ring but he had to blast it to smithereens to get it out.  Oh, well.

Aug 18, Houston

More plumbing problems.  One of the main drainpipes is blocked so the plumber in charge is going to blast the plug with a laser and then vacuum out the debris.  Ouch.

Aug 03, Killeen

Harker_aug_05_0005.JPG (23980 bytes)We gave the new car a little workout by driving to Killeen for a couple of days.  So far, so good.  We took Johnny and Katie to their swimming lessons in Belton, a small town between Killeen and Temple.  Looks like Johnny's favorite song is going to be "All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth".

 

Jul 28, Houston

car0002.JPG (96708 bytes)The rains have stopped but the hot weather continues.  We need to do better at leaving Houston in July and August.  Our new car has arrived.  We are having fun driving it around town.  It has lots of hi-tech gizmos which we are trying to figure out how to use.

Jul 22, Houston

The Houston rains continue.  Every afternoon we experience a deluge.  For no particular reason, we have decided to indulge in a new car.  We have ordered a BMW 525i.  Delivery is scheduled for nest Monday.  Watch this spot for a picture.

Jul 15, Houston

In typical Houston fashion, a heavy afternoon rain left a lot of water on the streets.  Undeterred, we drove down to the River Oaks theater, to see a sneak preview of "You, Me, and Everyone We Know" to which we had been invited.  When we arrived we encountered a sign saying that the preview had been cancelled by bad weather.  This may be the only city in America where they can play baseball when it rains, but not show movies.

Jul 9, Wisconsin Dells

Dells0041.JPG (77083 bytes)The week is coming to an end and the weather has been spectacular - no rain and high temperatures in the high 70's to low 80's.  We have been on some nice boat rides on the Wisconsin River and spent a (very) short time in the city of Wisconsin Dells.  The city makes Gatlinburg look high class.  There have been a few forays to the nearby Ho-Chunk casino, where we contributed to the welfare of the region's native Americans.  Mostly we hung around the house, swimming and boating, with a campfire every night.  See more pictures here.

Jul 6, Wisconsin Dells

Dells0127.JPG (82162 bytes)The Dells is famous for water parks, so we had to give it a try.  We went to Noah's Ark, ostensibly the best.  We had a good time on the water slides and enjoyed the cool (relative to Houston) weather.

 

Jul 4, Wisconsin Dells

Dells0008.JPG (122547 bytes)We arrived yesterday at our summer rental in Wisconsin for a week with the family.  On the way we stopped in Mequon to see Mike and Monica's beautiful new home. The house at the Dells is on a small lake across from a youth camp. The camp arranged for a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show in our front yard.

Jun 17, Houston

Harker_06_05_0050.JPG (131216 bytes)Harker_06_05_0040.JPG (131676 bytes)We are back in Houston and it is hot....hot...hot!  After a week in Maine with a temperature range of mid-fifties to mid-seventies we are experiencing mid-nineties to low hundreds.  Went to Killeen for a couple of days to watch the grandkids at their swimming and golf lessons.  Also, got to see Katie with short hair.  If anything it was hotter there than it is here.  Just think - it is still officially spring.

Jun 8, Fox Islands, Maine

MaineBoat1.jpg (30991 bytes)MaineBoat2.jpg (30654 bytes)College pal Al Posnack and his wife Annie picked us up in their powerboat  for an excursion to North Haven and Vinalhaven, the largest of the Fox Islands.  The ocean was as calm as a lake.  We packed sandwiches and beverages and tied up at Pulpit Bay for pleasant repast.  A little while later we disembarked at North Haven for a land tour.  Didn't find much.  Hard to believe more than 300 people live here year round.

Jun 7, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Maine05_0072.jpg (72705 bytes)The good weather returned so we headed south to visit Boothbay Harbor.  While wandering around we stumbled upon a small aquarium which featured  a wolf-fish with a goofy, toothy smile.  Reminds me of someone but I can't remember who.

Jun 6, Rockland, Maine

Maine05_0042.jpg (82227 bytes)Maine05_0049.jpg (67434 bytes)We are staying at a very nice resort called the Samoset Inn.  Yesterday, the high temperature was 51 degrees.  It was also rainy and windy so we didn't venture far.  There is a mile long jetty attached to the resort property with a working lighthouse at the end.  We worked off some excess lobster by walking out to the lighthouse.

Jun 5, Rockland, Maine

Maine05_0011.jpg (34386 bytes)Maine05_0024.JPG (58259 bytes)Maine05_0015.JPG (93047 bytes)It's a beautiful day in Rockland, so we decide to take advantage of the weather and visit Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor.  We drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast.  The views are spectacular with Bar Harbor on one side and Jordan Pond on the other.  

Jun 4, Portland, Maine

The Weather Channel forecast mid 40's to low 60's for the week so we dressed warm and packed all warm clothes.  It is 81 degrees when we land in Maine.

May 21, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona_05_0034.JPG (84012 bytes)Barcelona_05_0076.JPG (104104 bytes)After three days of almost non-stop eating we have become aficionados of tapas.  The trick is to find bars or restaurants that are crowded so the food moves quickly.  Thinly sliced ham, or "jamon", is a must.  Many establishments have "cortadors" who do nothing but slice jamon off the ham bones all day.  A visit to Park Guell was a highlight.  This was a Gaudi designed planned community for the rich.  Three houses were built, but the development flopped.  The city took it over and turned it into a park.  The park's buildings look like precursors to Disneyland. For more pictures from this trip click here .

May 19, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona_05_0008.JPG (119941 bytes)Barcelona_05_0017.JPG (91649 bytes)No doubt about it, this is a great city from which to begin or end a cruise.  The terminal is right in the middle of town, near Las Ramblas.  After dumping our luggage at the hotel, we go to the tourist bureau and get Barcelona Cards which give you free access to all public transport.  The metro system is one of the best and busses fill in the gaps.  Our objective is to see as many Gaudi designed buildings as possible and visit the Sagrada Familia on day one.

May 18, Sète, France

Sete_05_0020.JPG (75696 bytes)Sete_05_0033.JPG (95480 bytes)A representative of the local tourist organization suggested a short hike to Mont St. Clair for some nice views of the city.  The map she gave us made it look easy.  I guess we should have figured out that to get good views it would have to be pretty high and because the distance was short the path would be steep.  It was.  The views were spectacular, but I'm not sure if it was worth the effort.  We had no guilt feelings after the descent when we sat at a quayside bar drinking beer and eating moules et frites.

May 17, Marseilles, France

Mars_05_0024.JPG (101192 bytes)Mars_05_0052.JPG (48665 bytes)The weather has been wonderful all week, but the skies are threatening when we arrive in Marseilles.  We spent the morning on a tour of the old city.  In the afternoon we go on our only only organized shore excursion of the entire cruise, a bus trip and guided walking tour of Aix-en-Provence.  Our tour guide is speaking some amalgam of English and French which is totally unintelligible to speakers of either tongue.  As the tour ends the skies open up ending our idea of touring the city.

May 16, Monte Carlo

MonteCarlo_05_0055.JPG (87946 bytes)MonteCarlo_05_0090.JPG (87614 bytes)MonteCarlo_05_0105.JPG (77152 bytes)In two days, Monte Carlo will host the Formula One Grand Prix.  Bleachers, fences, and signs are being erected all over the city.  We take in the changing of the guard at the palace and then go to the Jacques Cousteau museum and aquarium.  The Voyager's newsletter announced that passports are required to enter the Casino, but we didn't see it.  We are summarily dismissed at the front entrance when we try to buy tickets to get in.  Oh well, probably saved us some money.

May 15, Portofino, Italy

Portofino_05_0005.JPG (115030 bytes)Portofino_05_0046.JPG (98017 bytes)The tourist density in Portofino is even higher than Florence's.  We hike up to the beautiful Splendido Hotel overlooking the village.  We pick up a brochure at the hotel and discover that the cheapest room during the off-season goes for around $700 per night.  We take the ferry to Ravello and Santa Margherita and have have a beer.  These two villages look similar to Portofino, but are a lot less crowded.

May 14, Livorno, Italy

Livorno_05_0007.JPG (116405 bytes) Livorno_05_0009.JPG (84695 bytes)This port is a rude shock after Sorrento.  Livorno is definitely not a tourist town.  We head for the train station and catch a ride to Florence.  It is hard to believe this is May as there are so many tourists in the streets it is difficult to walk.  Hard to imagine what it is like in June of July.  We visit Michelangelo's David and the Ponte Vecchia, but the lines at the Uffizi are too long.

May 13, Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento_05_0011.JPG (74388 bytes)Sorrento_05_0022.JPG (120489 bytes)After our first night on the Radisson Voyager of the Seas we arrive at Sorrento. In addition to Sorrento, we visit Positano and Amalfi.  The drive down the Amalfi Coast is as beautiful as advertised.  Positsano is the most picturesque place on the Coast, but it looks pretty quiet.

May 12, Rome, Italy

Roma_05_0132.JPG (86619 bytes)Roma_05_0110.JPG (91808 bytes)Our final morning in Rome is spent in the Villa Borghese.  The museum in the Villa limits the number visitors but we were lucky enough to get in.  It contains an impressive range of sculptures by Bernini which are themselves worth the trip.  Before heading off to Civitavecchia to join out ship, we take a ride in an observation balloon to get some beautiful views of Rome.

May 11, Rome, Italy

Roma_05_0091.JPG (92473 bytes)Roma_05_0068.JPG (106132 bytes)In an ecumenical spirit we visit the Vatican in the morning and the Jewish ghetto in the afternoon.  We didn't get to see the Pope, but did spend some time in the Sistine Chapel, the site of the recent papal election.  The size of the Vatican Museum is intimidating, but we plow ahead.  Dinner is in a kosher restaurant in the ghetto is better than expected.  No boiled chicken.

May 10, Rome, Italy

Roma_05_0044.JPG (98195 bytes)Roma_05_0050.JPG (112925 bytes)A hop off / hop on tour bus is the first order of business.  We decide not to hop off until the bus has made a complete trip.  Good way to get the lay of the land.  The first stop, which we now see for the second time is the obligatory Spanish Steps / Trevi Fountain visit.  At night we walk to the Rome Opera House to see a production of Turandot.  No English sub-titles were provided.

May 9, Rome, Italy

Roma_05_0005.jpg (118394 bytes)Roma_05_0020.JPG (101682 bytes)This is the first visit to the eternal city for Lew, and the second for Pat.  Our hotel is in the Centro Storico which I assume means historical center.  The entire area looks like a museum.  It is impossible to go very far without seeing something that was constructed 2000 years ago.  The coliseum is a must do as is the Roman Forum.  We do them the first day. 

May 4, Killeen

tball.jpg (125374 bytes)Harker_05_05_0014.jpg (73439 bytes)Harker_05_05_0026.jpg (53039 bytes)Things are a bit hectic as we are preparing for a trip to Europe on Sunday.  We arrived back in Houston on Saturday and drove right from the airport to Killeen to be entertained by Johnny and Katie.  Johnny is playing tee ball and Katie is playing tea party.  On Sunday we all went to the Lake Belton recreation area.  Looks like a nice place for a future weekend outing.

Apr 28, Fort Lauderdale

Our family matriarch, Kay Levy, passed away in her sleep, two weeks after her 90th birthday.  She brought cheer to everyone whose life she touched.  She will be missed.

Mar 31, Hutchinson, Kansas

JOClei.jpg (98488 bytes)On the road again.  We fly to Wichita and then drive through the Kansas wheat fields to Hutchinson, the home of Jim O'Connell, a good friend from our Hawaii days.  Jim's friends have arranged a surprise 60th birthday party for Jim.  It was fun meeting Jim's friends and relatives, and presenting him with a special orchid lei shipped from the islands by some of Jim's Hawaii friends.

Mar 27, Austin

Easter050031.JPG (95654 bytes)Easter050049.JPG (96239 bytes)Easter050013.JPG (51478 bytes)Off to Dick and Jann Brown's for Easter.  This annual family event has grown to 25 adults and 8 children.  As usual, the food was outstanding and I ate too much.  The kids had a great time looking for Easter eggs and shooting pool.

Mar 12, Chihuahua, Mexico

We arrive close to midnight after a five plus hour segment on the train.  When we arrived at the train station, our pre-arranged transportation was not there.  We piled into a subcompact taxi and held our breath until we got to our hotel.  Hey, if everything always went smoothly, we'd never have any good stories.  For more on the Copper Canyon trip click here.

Mar 10, Creel, Mexico

Creel0016.jpg (127249 bytes)Creel0059.jpg (177033 bytes)Once again exiting the train was chaotic.  Someone grabbed our bag and put it in a van heading for the wrong hotel.  I rescued the bag as the van was leaving the station.  Our hotel in Creel was the absolute pits.  There were pigeons and mice sharing the living quarters above our ceiling.  They kept us awake cooing and scratching on the floor.  We snuck out in the morning and found another hotel.  The Creel area is known for having many rocks in odd formations.  Here is one that looks like a frog. Some but not all of us defied death by descending into the canyon in an old vehicle on a very narrow road with no guardrail in order to find some hot springs.  I had decided to grow a beard, but it turned white during this ride so I shaved it off.

Mar 9, Posada Barrancas, Mexico

Posa0062.jpg (97496 bytes)Posa0033.jpg (81669 bytes)On and off the train again to arrive at a hotel which must have the world's most spectacular view.  Every room is built out over the canyon.  We took a hike to see some Tarahumara indians living in a cave.  In the morning we went by bus to see the canyon.  Our English speaking guide Daniel took us to an overlook where he demonstrated "surfing" on an unstable rock which sits on the canyon rim.

Mar 8, Cerocahui, Mexico

Cero0032.jpg (106332 bytes)Cero0080.jpg (97369 bytes)The train ride between El Fuerte and Cerocahui is spectacular, although getting on and off is an adventure.  Although it has been in operation for a number of years they haven't figured out that it would be best if people got out at one end of a car and got in at the other end.  We went for a hike to a waterfall with a guide named Juan whose English was limited to one word - Okay.  I think his Spanish may have been limited to one word also.  Q: Quanto tiempo daqui para las cascadas? A: Okay.  A hair-raising bus ride the next morning gave us our first glimpse of the canyon.

Mar 7, El Fuerte, Mexico

ElFuerte0002.jpg (103195 bytes)ElFuerte0037.jpg (99846 bytes)We hitched a ride to El Fuerte with a tour group.  The tour director wasn't very happy, but he went along so the bus driver could make a few extra pesos.  He made it clear that we had to sit in the back of the bus.  The Posada de Hidalgo Hotel was very nice.  Our bag arrived late in the afternoon, after we returned from a boat ride down the El Fuerte River observing the bird life.

Mar 6, Los Mochis, Mexico

After one week at home, we are off again to Mexico to see the Copper Canyon.  Continental is routing us to Los Mochis via Mexico City, which is a little like going from Houston to Dallas by way of Cleveland.  In any event, our baggage liked it so much in Mexico City it decided to stay.  As there is one flight a day, it is questionable when we will next see our bag.  We rendezvous with friend Jackie and Don Jones from Honolulu.

Feb 27, Houston

Back home in time to watch the Oscars.  No real surprises, but I was a little disappointed by the choice for Best Supporting Actress.  At least two of the other nominees were better.  I must be missing something with Chris Rock.  I keep hearing how funny he is, but I don't get it.  Robin Williams - now there is a funny guy.

Feb 25, Akumal

Akumal_050038.jpg (73533 bytes)Akumal_050053.jpg (75881 bytes)We visit Tulum, home to Mayan ruins which overlook the sea.  On out last visit, twenty years ago, it was deserted.  Today it is overrun with  tourists.  The setting is still spectacular and well worth a visit, but somehow it isn't the same.

 

Feb 24, Akumal

A new experience for Lew - Scuba diving.  After a couple hours of instruction, Lew, friend Jesse, an experienced veteran, and Shaleh, the instructor, head out to the deep water in a small boat.  After a few false starts caused by ear pain, the trio descends to forty feet and swim with the fish for 45 minutes.  The coral is very colorful, and a graceful sting ray is spotted feeding on the bottom.  The world beneath the surface of the water is beautiful and serene, but the ear discomfort is a real negative.

Feb 23, Akumal

Akumal_050030.jpg (64957 bytes)Paradise Found!  Three blocks from the house is a place called Yal-ku.  Here the water is crystal clear, warm and teeming with brightly colored fish.  Pat tries snorkeling for the first time and can't wait to go back and try again.  We will return at least once a day for the remainder of the trip.

Feb 21, Mexico

Akumal_050007.jpg (54657 bytes)Akumal_050008a.jpg (66329 bytes)We don't think we have ever seen an airport quite as crowded as the one in Cancun yesterday.  Evidently, this has become the destination of choice for many Americans following 9/11.  The airport facility is woefully inadequate to handle the crowds on Sundays when most visitors arrive and leave.  We are heading to Akumal, about 100 km south of the airport.  Akumal has had quite a lot of development, but is still uncrowded and very enjoyable.  We are staying with friends at a house right on the Caribbean Sea.

Feb 20, Houston

We're off to Akumal, Mexico, for a week of fun and sun.  We haven't been to the Yucatan in almost twenty years, and are anxious to see how much it has changed.

Feb 14, Houston

Believe it or not, your correspondent was picked for jury duty.  It turned out to be an interesting experience.  The trial was a DWI charge to which the defendant pleaded not guilty.  After two days of testimony, the attorneys for both sides rested and the jury went off to deliberate.  I was elected foreman on the basis of having seen the most Law and Order episodes during the first three seasons.  We returned a verdict of guilty after a two hour debate.  The members of the jury were each paid the princely sum of $12, which works out to be about 75 cents per hour.

Jan 29, Harker Heights

Katie3_2.jpg (55015 bytes)Katie3_1.jpg (44809 bytes)Women don't like to get older so Katie delayed her birthday for a month.  As usual, Margaret made a fantastic cake.  This time it was a ladybug complete with antennae.  In keeping with the ladybug theme, Katie and her grandmother donned ladybug antennae as well.

 

Jan 15, Mequon

playmates.jpg.jpg (99292 bytes)willyhoovermatching.jpg.jpg (74095 bytes)Monica and Mike have a new addition to their family - Hoover.  Although he was a little jealous at first, Willie has decided that having a little brother isn't all that bad.  It looks like Mike is going to have to buy a new pair of slippers.

 

Jan 14, Houston

Scan10004.JPG (38979 bytes)We got this newsletter from the Houston Symphony.  Does the good-looking guy on the cover remind you of somebody?  Meanwhile, Lew's body makeover continues with a lens implant on one eye to be followed in two weeks with one for the other.  Unbeknownst to Pat, the process is being recorded for a possible reality TV series in the fall.

 

Jan 4, Houston

Back to balmy Houston.  It's good to see ground again.  We got back just in time to see the Orange Bowl.  I don't know which was worse - the game or the half-time entertainment.  I must be getting old, but who is Ashlee Simpson and how did she get to be famous?  The girl has no obvious talent and she's not that good-looking.

Jan 1, Lake Tahoe

Tahoe_04_0174.JPG (59256 bytes)Tahoe_04_0173.JPG (67475 bytes)Tahoe_04_0187.JPG (54526 bytes)2005 has arrived and more snow came with it.  The hill behind the condo has been converted to a toboggan run and everyone had a good time even though we were pretty much bound to the house.  In keeping with a long-standing family tradition, the men spent a major portion of the day watching the  Bowl games.

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