Four Journeys - 2011

A Family Odyssey To Remember -- Four Months in 2011

Prologue: When the year 2011 began, I didn’t have a clear vision of what remote corner of the world I would wander to next…Borneo, Madagascar, the Five Stans? All were on my bucket list. It turned out I didn’t have to worry about it! My four kids had planned my 2011 travel for me! But each had their own agenda, which at first I thought I’d never be able to survive. It started with my daughter Emily and snowballed from Steve to David to Doug. ---Emily wanted me to fly to Denver in July to celebrate her birthday with her. ---Doug asked me to join him England in September so he and Kelly could drive me to the Scottish isles. ---David asked me to join him at a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he could hang out and fish. and ---Steve invited me to join him and Christina on the beautiful island of Maui to celebrate my birthday with them. …which were to take place over a period of less than two short months following my July trip to Denver. A killing schedule, my friends warned me! But how could I turn down any of these offers! So---despite my fear of total exhaustion after flitting from place to place, these four vacations with my family proved to be the most relaxed and fun-filled I have ever enjoyed. Here are photos of some highlights—and a few comments thrown in as explanation.

Emily’s Birthday Celebration
Two Weeks in July
Kevin, Kyle, Sarah, Lindsay, Ted, Kelsey ---kids and grandkids enjoy a Denver reunion

Lindsay and her friend Ted.

Kyle and Sarah, his friend, join us in Lakewood.

Emily with Lindsay.

Kelsey looks glamorous.

Our great dinner for Emily at a fabulous French Provincial restaurant.

The desserts were to die for.

Still celebrating. 

Lunch at the Boulder Tea House. A friend of mine years ago had created the plan for the city of Boulder to ship this magnificent structure in pieces from Dushanbe, Tajikistan and restore it in Boulder.   Not only tea!

Em and I after our visit to the chocolate bakery.

Doug and Kelly
Off to England and Bonnie Scotland
Two Weeks in September

The poet Wordsworth called the area “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.” I agree. Lance, the lab and favorite family member, knows how to be included in every outing.

On a cold blustery day, we visited the nearby seacoast.

Each day Kelly planned another outing for me, over narrow country roads to beautiful lakes, interesting village auctions, and plenty of pubs.

We had a boat ride to remember on Lake Ennerdale!

Kelly, Lance and I had a great ride on the Ravenglass &
Eskdale Steam Railway. The “cute” little narrow gauge steam railroad chugged along through the charming English countryside. We wandered over to the Brook House Inn for lunch and then strolled back to the train for the ride home.

A picnic at an obscure lake in “fresh” weather.

We stopped at historic Loch Lomond, Scotland, on our way to the Inner Hebrides and stood on the “bonnie bonnie banks” as avid tourists do.

In Oban, Scotland where we spent a great three days, the distillery tour ended with generous free samples of Oban’s famous peaty malt! The Victorian B&B in Oban had a panoramic view of the town and harbor--and fabulous breakfasts!

Oban is the departure point for car ferries to the Hebrides. We made an advance reservation for a picturesque two-hour ride to the Isle of Mull.

On beautiful Mull, the second largest island of the Hebrides, we hiked, picnicked and took the scenic drive over narrow switchback roads around the island.

 The fishing port of Tobermory was a visual treasure.

On Mull we paused frequently for herds of sheep and menacing bulls and just to enjoy exquisite vistas of the fjords, beaches, and pastoral settings.

A photo of me at the famous Castle of Duart was mandatory. I promised I’d share it with my friend Travel Jean. Her ancestral family had their own castle nearby.

A welcome brew while we awaited the ferry returning to Oban.
Doug’s birthday was the real reason for my visit to England! He made his own “famous” pizza dough for dinner.

My special GIFT to him was cutting his huge (overgrown) lawn.

Coconut cheesecake by Kelly—with fireworks---ended Doug’s birthday dinner with a bang!

Fishing on the Outer Banks
Two Weeks in October

Because of the destruction of Hurricane Irene in North Carolina, the only way we could get to our beach house on the Outer Banks was by taking two ferries. Before taking the first, we came across a colorful Victorian hotel in Belle Haven. The interior was dark and eerie, with creaking doors and complete with original Victorian furnishings. Grandson Will, son David and I were the only occupants there; we named the mysterious place the “ghost house,” suitable for a murder mystery weekend.

Our beach house overlooking the ocean at Hatteras was big enough for our entire family!

Will, my grandson, and Em & Kevin from Denver joined us. Fishing, food, beach walks and more than a few happy hours entertained us! David did all the dirty work—shopping for food, cooking gourmet meals of fresh seafood and fish, doing the dishes and even carrying chairs to the beach.

I lounged at the pool and watched the “mad fisherman” patiently checking his three rods in the sand. The ultimate triumph--- he caught a grand total of 76, count them, magnificent fish (never mind the size).

We consumed nine. Fishing, sunning and swimming, enjoying fabulous sunsets— what’s not to restore your tranquility on the Outer Banks.

The only interruption happened with the one-day drama of a huge tropical storm. It blew a chair into our pool!

The ultimate high each day---watching for the next spectacular sunset from the top deck.

Steve & Christina
Magical Maui and Two Birthdays
Ten Days in November

A fabulous condo balcony overlooking the Napili Resort lagoon, watching an armada of giant turtles and snorkelers poke their heads above water, what more could we ask for! Every scene from the balcony was enchanting--palm trees, blue waters, snorkelers and giant turtles, unbelievable sunsets.

Each day brought snorkeling, picnicking at another scenic spot, exploring interior valleys and mountains of the island—and special dining experiences! Christina’s gourmet dinners and Steve’s smoothies of fresh pineapple, banana, strawberry, coconut ice cream (and vodka) ended each perfect day in the sun.
One day Steve and Christina hiked down to an ocean blowhole. I watched.

Christina’s birthday featured a fabulous all-day catamaran cruise to snorkel in the reef off the islands of Molakini and Lanai. They were expert snorkelers. I held my own with the novices.
In Lahaina, the site of the earliest missionary settlement, we visited historic buildings—and shopped! In shady banyan tree square, a magnificent enormous 23-trunk tree planted in 1873 fills the entire block.

We got up at 5 a.m. to make the 2 ½ hour, 38-mile drive up a winding road to the Haleakala volcano, passing through purple jacaranda blossoms, fragrant eucalyptus forests and firs before reaching the crater itself. We hiked in freezing 40 degree cold and howling winds up the path to the volcano summit, 10,023 ft. above sea level. Rain and sleet pounded our backs. It seemed as though we had landed on the moon.

At the summit, the piece de resistance of the climb was discovering the rare silversword plant. It only grows at the highest slopes of the volcano and flowers only once in a lifetime. Unfortunately, this was not the day.

The highlight of the day came just below the crater slopes. Unexpectedly, we came across the Kula Botanical Gardens, a paradise of exotic tropical flowers at an elevation of 3300 feet. We wandered through amazing rock formations, acres of fantastic plant beds, pools, waterfalls, a koi pond and aviary, and a carved tiki exhibit.

Magnificent proteas, orchids, bromeliads and other exotic plant, macadamia nuts at our feet, golden and silver koi fish swimming in the pond…we couldn’t stop taking photos at this extraordinary tropical paradise.

 On Nov. 5 Christina & Steve reserved a table at a famous restaurant--Mama’s Fish House-- for my birthday celebration.

A personal greeting card, fabulous array of appetizers, entrees too complicated to describe—and the pieces de resistance, my free birthday dessert and Christina’s extraordinary” black pearl” ball in a coconut shell crust tell you how unbelievable a dining experience this was.

Mama’s Fish House didn’t ignore the tropical ambiance—a cool palm shaded beach, rocky tide pools, the drama of expert surfers fighting the waves ended a lovely celebration. There were never enough sunsets.

Or rainbows when we least expected them.

Maui was the last of four memorable vacations with four wonderful children. I will appreciate the companionship, company and thoughtfulness of each of my children on this family odyssey always.