Our Travel Adventures

Mullin Automobile Museum

On Saturday, February 14, 2015, Valentine’s Day, Abby and Rusty traveled with the Paradise British Car Club down to Oxnard, California, to tour the Mullin Automobile Museum. It is open two Saturdays per month and only available by prior appointment. [http://www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com]. However, this museum is well worth the effort. Peter Mullin is a very wealthy collector who has purchased and restored the world’s best European art deco automobiles. Every few months,the museum offers a new presentation that features a particular manufacturer. We went to see his collection of beautiful Bugattis. The photos that follow reflect their art deco sculpture and automobile design as envisioned by the family Bugatti.





























On the 18th of September, Abby and Rusty flew on a KLM 747 from LAX to Amsterdam, Netherlands. After 11 hours in the air, we transferred to a 737 and made our final two-hour hop down to Barcelona, Spain. Arising early on Saturday the 20th, these two travelers set out to explore this enchanting city. Then, on Sunday afternoon, we boarded Holland America’s youngest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. With California friends Katherine and Steve Anderson, (and an additional 2,000 other pampered passengers) we proceeded to comfortably cruise Europe’s southern coast for the next 24 days, stopping in 13 other picturesque ports. In the following photos, we’ve attempted to give you a tantalizing taste of this magnificent Mediterranean wonderland that Abby and Rusty were blessed to briefly visit.



Overview map: Our 24-day northern Mediterranean cruise aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam.

Italy s Pompeii two survivors

Abby and Rusty enjoy an amazing Mediterranean Autumn.



Barcelona, Spain: We join Katherine and Steve on a double-decker bus
sight-seeing tour. 


Barcelona Spain bull ring 

Barcelona, Spain: The Bull Ring.


Barcelona Spain old balconies

Barcelona, Spain: Old City balconies.


Barcelona Spain urban gardens

Barcelona, Spain: Beautiful urban gardens.


Barcelona Spain park gate

Barcelona, Spain: An artistic park gate.


Barcelona Spain new wild styles

Barcelona, Spain: New City features wild new architectural styles.


Barcelona Spain Hi Tec Bullet Bldg

Barcelona, Spain: The Torre Agbar Tower (aka The Bullet Building)


Barcelona Spain Bullet at night

Barcelona, Spain: The Tower lit at night with changing patterns of 4500 LEDs.

Barcelona Spain China Town

Barcelona, Spain: The International District.


Barcelona Spain Catalunya pride 

Barcelona, Spain: Proud residents showing Catalan province flags.


Barcelona Spain first view Sagrada Familia cathedral

Barcelona, Spain: Our first view of Gaudi’s unfinished Holy Family Church.


13 Barcelona Spain Gaudi spires 2 

Barcelona, Spain: Details of those Gaudi spires.


14 Barcelona Spain Gaudi entrance 1

Barcelona, Spain: One of three church facades.


15 Barcelona Spain Gaudi entrance 2.

Barcelona, Spain: The Passion of Christ entrance.


16 Barcelona Spain Gaudi entrance 3

Barcelona, Spain: Details showing Gaudi’s genius.


17 Gaudi snails

Barcelona, Spain: More details showing Gaudi’s humor.


18 Gaudi house 2

Barcelona, Spain: Closeup of Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.


26 Barcelona Spain Gaudi s Parc Güell 6

Barcelona, Spain: Gaudi’s whimsical 30-acre Güell Park.


27 Barcelona Spain Gaudi s Parc Güell 9

Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s HypoStyle pavilion with four-seasons ceiling.


28 Barcelona Spain Gaudi s Parc Güell 12

Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s Portico.


31 Barcelona Spain vista

Barcelona Spain: Güell Park’s grand view of the city.


42 Barcelona Spain Mount Tibidabo

Barcelona, Spain: Mount Tibidabo’s wild mix of old cathedral and new amusement park.


32 Barcelona Spain Ramblas ramble

Barcelona, Spain: We take a Ramblas ramble.


22 Happy Pills

Barcelona, Spain: Katherine spots an unusual store – but it was only selling specialty candies!


34 Barcelona Spain views from Ramblas 2

Barcelona, Spain: Ramblas museum featured one-person floats used during Catalan festival.


36 Ramblas golden angel 1

Barcelona, Spain: On the Ramblas, Rusty approaches an amazing archangel.


37 Ramblas golden angel 2

Barcelona, Spain: Will Rusty be enchanted by this beautiful being?


35 Barcelona Spain views from Ramblas 5

Barcelona, Spain: On the Ramblas, Abby gets detained by a demonic dragon!


21 Barcelona Spain Gothic Quarter

Barcelona, Spain: Near the Ramblas, we go into the Gothic Quarter.


23 Barcelona Spain Gothic alley

Barcelona, Spain: Near the Ramblas, The Gothic Quarter’s ancient alleyways.


24 Barcelona Spain Gothic gargoyles 1

Barcelona, Spain: Gothic gargoyles.


42 Barcelona Spain Plaza Catalunya bubble man

Barcelona, Spain: Plaza Catalunya’s bubble man.


39 Barcelona Spain Plaza Catalunya performance

Barcelona, Spain: Plaza Catalunya’s folk dance recital.


40 Barcelona Spain Columbus monument at harbor

Barcelona, Spain: The harbor monument to Columbus.


41 Columbus column detail

Barcelona, Spain: Columbus seems to implore us to see more of this world,
so off we go!


43 Barcelona Spain Hasta luego

Hasta luego Barcelona!


44 Barcelona s jumping dolphins 1

As our ship entered the Mediterranean for the first time, these dolphins provided us with a spectacular sendoff.


46 Marseille France old forts at Old Port

Marseille, France: Two old forts flank the Old Port.


49 Marseille France Nouvelle Major cathedral and Old Port

Marseille, France: The New Port and city center.


47 Marseille France fortress church

Marseille, France: Abby and Rusty take their own whirlwind waking tour, starting with this fortress church.


48 Marseille France cat custodian

Marseille, France: The church’s caretaker of the cats.




50 Marseille France fresh fish

Marseille, France: Fisher terminal and the catch of the day.


60 Marseille France fantastic fish

Marseille, France: Ferocious-looking ribbon fish.


51 Marseille France mirrored bus stop 

Marseille, France: Mysterious mirrored bus stop.


52 Marseille France cone head

Marseille, France: Cone head.


54 Marseille France Chamber of Commerce

Marseille, France: We explore the new exhibit
at the Chamber of Commerce building.


58 Marseille France expo poster

Marseille, France: A celebration of the history of France’s primary port.


57 Marseille France  40s cruise ship

Marseille, France: A classic 1940’s cruise ship.


55 Marseille France dive helmet

Marseille, France: Beautiful bronze deep-sea diver’s helmet.


56 Marseille France dive suit

Marseille, France: Abby marvels at this early underwater space suit.


59 Marseille France street market

Marseille, France: We visit the international vendors’ markets.


61 Marseille France pastries

Marseille, France: A tray of tempting pastries.


62 Marseille church stairs

Marseille, France: A hike up the highest hill to the Notre Dame de la Garde.


64 Marseille France Notre Dame de la Garde tower

Marseille, France: A spectacular bell tower.


65 Mar church details

Marseille, France: Wonderful stonework.


66 Marseille France Notre Dame de la Garde interior 1

Marseille, France: Opulent interior.


67 Marseille France Notre Dame de la Garde telescope

Marseille, France: The most artistic telescope we’d ever seen
(designed by Jules Verne?!).


68 Marseille France Notre Dame de la Garde street details

Marseille, France: It provided a terrific view of the red-tile rooftops…


69 Marseille France Notre Dame de la Garde view of soccer stadium

Marseille, France: As well as the Marseille ultramodern soccer stadium.


71 Livorno Italy Venezia Quarter

Livorno, Italy: Only a few hours to visit the Venezia Quarter.


72 Livorno Italy New Fortress 1

Livorno, Italy: The “New” Fortress built in 1590.


73 Livorno Italy New Fortress 2

Livorno, Italy: A boat in the moat.


74 Livorno Italy Goldoni Theatre

Livorno, Italy: Abby gets her bearings on the steps of the theater.


75 Livorno Italy Abby and statue

Livorno, Italy: Abby strikes a statuesque pose.


70 Livorno Italy beautiful bicycle

Livorno, Italy: Go green – get a bicycle!

76 Livorno statue 4 Moors

Livorno, Italy: This statue is known as the ‘Four Moors’ and honors Livornos’ defeat of pirates.


77 Livorno four Moors detail

Livorno, Italy: Incredible detail of captive North African pirate.


80 4 before M s Palace 2

Rome, Italy: Our guide, Pete, snaps the four explorers at the Palace of Mussolini (also known as the Wedding Cake).


78 Rome Italy Mussolini s Palace 1

Rome, Italy: Mussolini wanted a palace more magnificent than previous emperors, but he never got to live here.


81 Rome Italy walking wet streets

Rome, Italy: The only rain showers on our entire trip
dampen these Roman streets.


82 Rome Italy Romulus  Remus

Rome, Italy: The she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.


84 Rome Italy ancient Roman layers 2

Rome, Italy: Like a giant cake, Rome was constructed one layer on top of another as it was repeatedly ruined and then rebuilt.



83 Rome Italy Roman Forum

Rome, Italy: Ruins of the Roman Forum where matters of state were discussed.


85 Rome Italy ancient Rome model

Rome, Italy: Our guide, Pete, shows us a model depicting the layout
of ancient Rome.


86 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 1

Rome, Italy: The remains of the Flavian Amphitheater,
commonly known as the Colosseum.


87 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 2

Rome, Italy: Drawing of the completed amphitheater and the colossal statue of the emperor that gave its nickname.


89 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 4

Rome, Italy: Ancient advertising.


88 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 3

Rome, Italy: The retractable rain awning once available to Roman spectators.


90 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 5

Rome, Italy: Gladiators’ gateway.


91 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 6

Rome, Italy: the floor of the Colosseum had trap doors with elevators to raise fighters and animals from below.


92 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 7

Rome, Italy: This sports complex had multilevel entry and exit corridors,
just like ones today.


93 Rome Italy Roman Colosseum 8

Rome, Italy: Detail drawing of Colosseum access design.




95 Rome Italy Roman Pantheon 1

Rome, Italy: The Pantheon, Rome’s titanic temple honoring all its Olympic gods.


96 Rome Italy Roman Pantheon 2

Rome, Italy: Crowds moving through the Pantheon’s massive bronze doors.


97 Rome Italy Roman Pantheon 3

Rome, Italy: The dome of the Pantheon, built in 126 A.D., is still the world’s largest coffered concrete dome. It forms a perfect half sphere with a height
and width of 142 feet.


94 Rome Italy Arch of Constantine

Rome, Italy: Emperor Constantine’s Arch dedicated to
the first “Christian” emperor.


99 Vatican City Swiss Guard 

Vatican City: The Swiss Guards.


100 Vatican City Pope s balcony

Vatican City: The balcony where the Pope greets Catholic crowds
in St. Peter’s Square.


98 Vatican City St Peter s Square

Vatican City: St. Peter’s Square. No Pope Francis to greet us today.


101 Vatican City Egyptian lion

Vatican City: The Crusaders collected ancient art and treasure from the middle east and took them back to the Pope. This lion is one of several Egyptian monuments surrounding the plaza. 


102 Vatican City Death Star

Vatican City: Modern art pieces are also regularly purchased and placed here – remind you of the Death Star?


103 Vatican City St Peter s Basilica 1

Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica – The Pope’s private church.


104 Vatican City St Peter s Basilica 2

Vatican City: Just a little place for the Pope to pray.


105 Vatican City St Peter s Basilica 3

Vatican City: A sculptural detail – so this is an angel?


106 Vatican City St Peter s Basilica 4

Vatican City: One of Michelangelo’s most lifelike sculptures:
Mary with the Body of Jesus.



107 Naples Italy New Castle  Royal Palace of Capodimonte

Naples, Italy: New Castle and the Royal Palace of Capodimonte up the hill.


108 Italy s Amalfi Coast 1

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: The scenic winding road to Sorrento.


115 Sorrento Italy 1

Sorrento, Italy


116 Sorrento Italy center statue

Sorrento, Italy: A holy traffic cop.


117 Sorrento Italy church

Sorrento, Italy: Sunny church facade.


109 Italy s Amalfi Coast 2 

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: The end of the road.


110 Italy s Amalfi Coast inlay shop 3

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: We visit a master wood-inlay artist and meet his cat.


111 Italy s Amalfi Coast shopping stop 1

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Our great Italian guide, Claudia (CBM tours), at another roadside attraction.


112 Italy s Amalfi Coast Mary of Amalfi

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Mary of Amalfi prays for our safety from Italian drivers.


113 Italy s Amalfi Coast shopping stop 2

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Incognito lemon.


114 Italy s Amalfi Coast shopping stop 2  1

Italy’s Amalfi Coast: Festive farmer’s market tempts the adventurous eater.


118 Italy s Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius 1

The remains of Mount Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii.


119 Italy s Pompeii Basilica of Justice 2

Pompeii: Once a wealthy resort and seaport.


121 Italy s Pompeii fish  produce shops

Pompeii: Shops for craftsmen and international merchants.


122 Italy s Pompeii fast food cafe

Pompeii: An early fast-food restaurant with thermos-like soup pots serving passing shoppers.


123 Italy s Pompeii paved street with stepping stones

Pompeii: Elevated crosswalk with spaces for chariot wheels and kept clean by daily wash down with diverted river water.


124 Italy s Pompeii column detail

Pompeii: Details of elaborate cast column decorations.


125 Italy s Pompeii residential details 2

Pompeii: The volcanic ash preserved this home’s colorful frescos.


126 Italy s Pompeii residential details 4 

Pompeii: Details of the wall art.


127 Italy s Pompeii residential details 5

Pompeii: Images from long ago preserved in plaster.


128 Italy s Pompeii residential details 6

Pompeii: A portrait of the owner?


129 Italy s Pompeii body cast 1

Pompeii: One of the body casts of buried victims of the volcano.


130 Italy s Pompeii House of the Poet 1

Pompeii: Many houses featured an entry with sky-lit pool.


132 Italy s Pompeii House of the Poet 3

Pompeii: Some of the vaulted ceilings survived the ash but the heat and gasses killed any occupants.


133 Italy s Pompeii House of the Poet 4

Pompeii: Ceiling details.


134 Italy s Pompeii singing fountain

Pompeii: A whimsical fountain. Homes had running water and sewage disposal.


120 Italy s Pompeii 5000 seat theater

Pompeii: This theater featured performances and government meetings and offered outstanding acoustics.


141 Corfu Greece hard times

Corfu, Greece: Corfu and all of Greece have fallen on hard times with high unemployment and civil unrest.


137 Corfu Greece lighthouse

Corfu, Greece: Abby climbs up to see the view from the lighthouse.


138 Corfu fort

Corfu, Greece: Rusty enters another old fortress built to ward of Moorish pirates.


139 Corfu Greece wall detail

Corfu, Greece: This symbol of St. Mark means that the Venetian empire once controlled this port.


140 Corfu Greece Abby s first expresso and baklava

Corfu, Greece: Abby enjoys her snack of baklava and sweet Greek coffee.


142 Nieuw Amsterdam anchors at Kotor

Kotor, Montenegro: Nieuw Amsterdam anchors in the deep waters of this Mediterranean fjord.


143 Granite mountains of Kotor 1

Kotor, Montenegro: The sun is just rising high enough to illuminate the granite cliffs above this magical medieval town.


144 Granite mountains of Kotor 3

Kotor, Montenegro: Notice the stone walls rising along the ridge built to keep out southbound barbarians.


145 Lion of Saint Mark

Kotor, Montenegro: Another stone plaque indicating one-time control by the Venetian navy.


146 Village of Kotor

Kotor, Montenegro: View from the town square with more mountain fortresses in the distance.


148 Black plague warning

Kotor, Montenegro: This symbol was said to represent the decimation from the Black Plague.


150 Sail fish sign

Kotor, Montenegro: An attractive swordfish sign for a merchant selling nautical antiques.


151 Kotor alley

Kotor, Montenegro: These narrow alleys were built to confuse invaders and allow deadly defense from above.


152 Kotor artist

Kotor, Montenegro: Around a corner, we found this artist working in the soft morning light.


153 Kotor stairway

Kotor, Montenegro: Ancient stone steps worn down by generations of fleet feet.


154 Kotor antiques

Kotor, Montenegro: One of the village’s dozens of antique shops.


155 Kotor window

Kotor, Montenegro: Perhaps for protection from rats, the town loves its cats.


155 Kotor cat

Kotor, Montenegro: One of many Kotor cats.


156 National Archaeological Museum Athens building

Athens, Greece: Due to windy weather, our ship docks early in Athens, so Abby and Rusty taxi to the National Archeological Museum to see their extensive chronologically arranged collection of ancient art.


164 Abby with abstract statue

Athens, Greece: 5000-year-old Cycladic figures now look very modern.


165 the harpest 

Athens, Greece: This little figure is called “The Harpist.”


157 Greek onto vase 

Athens, Greece: Minoan vase. 


158 Arch museum dogs fresco

Athens, Greece: Partial fresco with hunting dogs and wild boar.


159 giant vase

Athens, Greece: How could an early potter throw something this massive?


161 Pretty pitchers

Athens, Greece: When form follows function, beauty results.


160 gold goblet

Athens, Greece: Gold provided a malleable medium for early artists.


162 golden gull

Athens, Greece: The bull was sacred to early Greeks.


163 golden bear

Athens, Greece: Golden lion? 


166 Poseidon

Athens, Greece: If he’s throwing a trident it’s Poseidon, a lightning bolt it’s Zeus.


167 Apollo

Athens, Greece: The young athlete god, Apollo.


168 Greek citizen

Athens, Greece: Amazingly accurate 3-D portrait of a Greek VIP.


169 bearded bust

Athens, Greece: More mastery of facial details.

174 perfect hand

 Athens, Greece: A highly defined hand.

170 horse and jockey

Athens, Greece: This dynamic sculpture is known as “The Jockey.”


171 tomb image of child with lamb

Athens, Greece: We paused in this section that featured cemetery memorial artwork.


172 tomb image of dog

Athens, Greece: A faithful companion.


175 The Acropolis

Athens, Greece: The hilltop fortress of the Acropolis.


176 Abby on Acropolis

Athens, Greece: Abby takes in the view from the top, remembering when she lived here summer ’69.


177 Athens from Acropolis

Athens, Greece: One of the world’s oldest cities, Greece’s capital now has a population of over 3 million.


178 Temple of Zeus

Athens, Greece: The Agora (ancient meeting hall and center for commerce) still has its original roof intact.


179 DSCF4117

Athens, Greece: The 5000-seat Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a musical performance center, is still used today. 


182 Parthenon couple

Athens, Greece: We start our tour of the Acropolis temples — The Parthenon, The Erechtheion, and The Temple of Athena Nike.


181 DSCF4104

Athens, Greece: This is the most famous temple, The Parthenon, dedicated to Athena, goddess of Athens. It was nearly totally destroyed in a battle when Venetian artillery blew up the Ottoman powder magazine hidden inside.


183 DSCF4106 

Athens, Greece: Details of the Parthenon’s left facade.


184 DSCF4105

Athens, Greece: Details of the Parthenon’s right facade — Note the horse heads peeking out from under the roof.


186 DSCF4113

Athens, Greece: We next walk to the marvelous new Acropolis Museum.


187 DSCF4120

Athens, Greece: Below the museum’s entrance is a newly excavated archeological site.


192 DSCF4140

Athens, Greece: This scale model of the Parthenon shows its architectural perfection.

193 DSCF4136

Athens, Greece: Scale model of the Parthenon’s front roof triangle sculptures.


194 Parthenon gods details

Athens, Greece: Detail of the front roof triangle sculptures that honor Athena.

195 Parthenon horse details

Athens, Greece: Details showing how the horse heads would have looked.


197 DSCF4142

Athens, Greece: Abby explores the Plaka, the old neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis, where she lived in 1969. She was disappointed to see how dirty and graffiti-covered it had become.


198 DSCF4147

Athens, Greece: While not the same house where Abby once lived, this one is very similar.


201 DSCF4158

Istanbul, Turkey: The Galata Tower, built in 1308, dominates the skyline of the city’s European side.


202 DSCF4160

Istanbul, Turkey: Abby and Rusty join the crowds crossing and fishing from the Galata Bridge. It spans a bay called the Golden Horn. Shops and restaurants line the bottom layer.


204 DSCF4162

Istanbul, Turkey: We walk as far as the Sirkeci Train Station, fabled terminus to the Paris-to-Istanbul Orient Express.


206 DSCF4179

Istanbul, Turkey: Next morning, our SRM guide, Senem Kotooglu, leads us to an electric tram headed to the heart of Istanbul.


207 DSCF4180

Istanbul, Turkey: With only one day to see this sprawling city that spans the Bosphorus Strait from Europe to Asia, Senem conducts a four-hour walk that takes in the major attractions within Istanbul’s historic Old Town.


205 DSCF4166

Istanbul, Turkey: On our ride, we pass this striking stairway.


209 DSCF4153

Istanbul, Turkey: Our first stop is the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, but better known as The Blue Mosque.


210 DSCF4185 

Istanbul, Turkey: One of the Blue Mosque’s six minarets.


211 DSCF4182

Istanbul, Turkey: Entrance is free but lines can be long. Everyone must take off their shoes and women cover heads with scarves.


212 DSCN1880

Istanbul, Turkey: Muslim men wash at this fountain before entering the mosque. Some tourist women wear full burkas.


213 DSCF4188 

Istanbul, Turkey: This mosque features a series of blue domes and golden pinnacles.


215 DSCF4190

Istanbul, Turkey: The mosque’s golden light floods in through dozens of stained-glass windows.


216 Blue Mosque interior

Istanbul, Turkey: Pillars, walls and ceiling are covered in repeating mosaic patterns.


217 DSCF4204

Istanbul, Turkey: As we walk to our next sight, we pass a vendor displaying Turkish pastries.


218 DSCF4203

Istanbul, Turkey: This stack contains giant sesame pretzels.


220 DSCF4205

Istanbul, Turkey: Katherine declared the pretzels delicious.


219 DSCF4200

Istanbul, Turkey: Next stop is the Hagia Sophia museum. It was first the Constantinople Orthodox Christian Church’s version of the Vatican. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted into a mosque. Its original Christian mosaics and iconography have been restored and it now serves as an historic museum.


221 DSCF4216 

Istanbul, Turkey: View up into the museum’s massive dome.

223 Blue mosque crazy angel

Istanbul, Turkey: A very odd-looking angel.


224 DSCF4219

Istanbul, Turkey: Some of the Turkish treasures on display – an emerald-encrusted dagger.


225 DSCF4220

Istanbul, Turkey: A golden tea service.


226 DSCF4221

Istanbul, Turkey: Items from Ottoman royalty.


227 DSCF4240 

Istanbul, Turkey: Below the Old City, we descend into this series of ancient cisterns for storing water.


228 DSCF4243

Istanbul, Turkey: Senem next introduces us to one of her favorite restaurants for Turkish coffee and dessert.


229 entrance to Grand Bazaar

Istanbul, Turkey: Our final destination is the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.


230 DSCF4250

Istanbul, Turkey: This magnificent indoor mall attracts locals and tourists alike to its colorful collection of storefronts.


231 DSCF4252

Istanbul, Turkey: Gold and jewelry merchants claim dramatic discounts.


232 DSCF4254

Istanbul, Turkey: Aladdin would love all these magical lamps.


234 DSCF4258

Istanbul, Turkey: Some shops feature both old and new brass and copper kitchen equipment.


235 DSCF4259

Istanbul, Turkey: This fine fellow sold Turkish Meerschaum pipes.


236 DSCF4261

Istanbul, Turkey: Here are extraordinary varieties of bobbles, bangles and beads.


237 DSCF4264

Istanbul, Turkey: Belly dancing paraphernalia are on prominent display.


238 DSCF4265

Istanbul, Turkey: Fancy footwear can also be found here.


239 DSCF4268

Istanbul, Turkey: Want to satisfy a sweet tooth? Look no farther than Turkish Delight!


240 DSCF4271

Istanbul, Turkey: The sights and smells of the Spice Market overwhelm our senses.


241 DSCF4272

Istanbul, Turkey: exotic oils line the shelves.


242 Lesbos street scene

Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: A chaotic mixing of East and West, old and new in this street scene from this island city.


243 Lesbos statue and dog

Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: Solemn statue of fisherman’s waiting family contrasts with a happy harbor dog.


244 DSCF4280

Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: The Old Fortress guards
the fishing harbor from pirates.


245 DSCF4289

Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: Abby and Rusty explore the Old Fortress.


246 DSCF4304

Mytilini, Lesbos Island, Greece: View of the city’s commercial port.


247 DSCF4307

Kusadasi, Turkey: Another harbor protected from pirates by a formidable fortress.


248 DSCF4310

Ephesus, Turkey: Our tour guide, Ilker with SRM Tours, takes us by van to Ephesus, trading center of the ancient world. Our first stop is in the hills above to see the house where Mary, mother of Jesus, is believed to have lived after her son’s death. 


249 Mary s house detail

Ephesus, Turkey: This hillside sanctuary is surrounded by peaceful gardens.


251 DSCF4378

Ephesus, Turkey: A major trade center of the ancient world. Abby walks along the ruins of Harbor Road towards the now silted over bay.


250 DSCF4322

Ephesus, Turkey: Excavation of this once major metropolis (500 B.C.) has only just begun.


255 DSCF4335

Ephesus, Turkey: This carving topped a temple gate and represents the goddess Nike presenting a wreath to the victor.


259 DSCF4353

Ephesus, Turkey: This gate is protected from behind by the evil image of Medusa.


260 DSCF4367

Ephesus, Turkey: Visitors marvel at the Library of Celsus, third largest library of the ancient world.


261 Ephesus library up view

Ephesus, Turkey: The site’s most spectacular ruins, the library once held over 12,000 volumes. The four statues represented Intelligence, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Valor.


253 DSCN1909  Version 2

Ephesus, Turkey: Just a sample of the hundreds of cats that make the ruins of Ephesus their home.


252 DSCF4338

Ephesus, Turkey: Feline royalty.


254 DSCN1915

Ephesus, Turkey: Another sun worshiper.


258 DSCF4347

Ephesus, Turkey: This mosaic floor resembles a Turkish carpet.


264 DSCF4363

Ephesus, Turkey: Pomegranates now adorn this ancient gateway.


265 DSCF4398

Kusadasi, Turkey: We make a lunch stop at a family business that specializes in weaving and selling stunning Turkish rugs.


266 DSCF4386

Kusadasi, Turkey: Here we see a demonstration of the unique double-knotting technique used in Turkish carpets.


267 DSCF4396

Kusadasi, Turkey: While our guide, Ilker watches, Steve and Abby test the texture of finely woven wool with their bare feet.


268 DSCN1934

Kusadasi, Turkey: Rusty marvels at the lustrous density of woven silk, and also at its breath-taking price.


269 DSCF4406

Santorini Island, Greece: The Nieuw Amsterdam anchors in the bay and tenders take us to the port town of Fira.


270 DSCF4418

Santorini Island, Greece: This is all that remains of an exploded volcano — only the caldera’s rim now rises above the sea. And that isn’t snow, it’s the whitewashed buildings of villages that perch along the crater’s perimeter.


272 DSCF4403

Santorini Island, Greece: From Fira’s harbor, Abby and Rusty hire a boat to take them to island’s north shore.


273 DSCF4424

Santorini Island, Greece: A closer view of our destination, the photogenic village of Oia.


274 DSCF4425

Santorini Island, Greece: An early morning look back from Oia towards Fira.


275 DSCF4427

Santorini Island, Greece: Inside one of the many art galleries that provide the principal income for Oia.


276 DSCF4429

Santorini Island, Greece: Restaurants are the other major business here.


277 DSCN1953

Santorini Island, Greece: Oia residents love their dogs.


278 DSCN1959

Santorini Island, Greece: They all seem to be patient, well behaved, and well cared for.


280 DSCF4440

Santorini Island, Greece: Oia residents have promoted the use of whitewash for walls and blue for church domes.


283 DSCF4451

Santorini Island, Greece: However, a few pastels have worked their way into the classic cliff-hugging architecture.


285 DSCF4454

Santorini Island, Greece: Once, windmills helped power the pumps and millstones, now they’re just decorative.


286 DSCF4444

Santorini Island, Greece: Fine Greek cuisine carefully combines fresh seafood with slowly simmered sauces.


287 DSCF4456

Santorini Island, Greece: Abby and Rusty lunch in Fira on a patio with a Mediterranean view.


289 DSCF4460

Santorini Island, Greece: While Rusty and Abby walk the 700 steps from the village of Fira down to its waterfront, some visitors elect to ride these donkeys instead.  


290 DSCF4462

Argostoli, Greece: On this island off the west coast of Greece, we taxi to Lassi Beach and finally get to swim in the Ionian Sea!


291 DSCF3951

Venice, Italy: Our ship actually visits here twice during our Mediterranean cruise, near the middle and at the end. So we’ve combined all of our Venice photos for viewing convenience. 


292 DSCF3955

Venice, Italy: Plazza San Morco, the political and religious center with its Campanile (bell tower), the city’s tallest structure.


293 DSCF3962

Venice, Italy: This Piazetta, or little square, has the Doge’s Palace on the left, the library on the right, and the two columns looted from Constantinople — the 2,000-year-old winged lion of St. Mark and St.Theodore vs. a croc.


296 DSCF4599

Venice, Italy: The Correr Museum displays models of the war ships used to establish and maintain the Venetian empire.


297 DSCF4759

Venice, Italy: Interesting trivia — this early gondola features a louvered shutter for the privacy of its passengers. Now you know the origin of our modern Venetian blinds! 


299 DSCF3957

Venice, Italy: The Doge’s Palace’s first floor was home of the Venetian empire’s ruler and his family; upper floors contained ornate governmental halls and meeting rooms.


300 DSCF4705

Venice, Italy: Just one of many immense and extravagant palatial halls.


Doges mother with child

Venice, Italy: Memorable sculpture of a mother and child.


301 DSCF3950

Venice, Italy: Prisoners tried and found guilty in the Palace’s Hall of Justice (left) had to cross this “Bridge of Sighs” and enter their terrible internment within the Venetian prison (right).


303 DSCF4709

Venice, Italy: Abby and Rusty follow the passageway to the Bridge of Sighs.


302 DSCF4711

Venice, Italy: The last view of the outside world most prisoners got to see.


305 DSCF4723

Venice, Italy: View into the depths of the prison.

306 DSCF4715 

Venice, Italy: Abby can’t wait to get her freedom!


307 DSCF3959

Venice, Italy: Details of St. Mark’s Basilica, built in the 11th century with treasures captured by Venetian war ships. St. Mark’s bones are buried here.


308 DSCF4555

Venice, Italy: This gigantic church glows in the golden light of its bejeweled mosaic interior.


310 DSCF4642

Venice, Italy: This winged lion of St. Mark represents the pride and power of the Republic of Venice.


311 DSCF4531

Venice, Italy: Rusty and Abby spend a morning walking across Venice sightseeing and getting lost in its maze of alleys and canals.
 Travel options in this floating city are limited to either walking or riding a boat — no wheeled motor vehicles are allowed beyond the bus and train stations. 


312 DSCF4756

Venice, Italy: With dozens of holidays and costumed celebrations, Venice is perpetually partying.


313 Rusty with costumed display

Venice, Italy: The tradition of the masked ball probably originated here.


 316 DSCF4750

Venice, Italy: The city is bisected by the Grand Canal and most boat traffic must use it, so it can get very crowded.


321 DSCF4748

Venice, Italy: We use the slower water buses, known as vaporetti, but those in a hurry hire an expensive speedboat taxi.


314 DSCF4637

Venice, Italy: Romantics with 100 Euros hire one of these classic Venetian gondolas to glide them around for an hour.


315 DSCF4636

Venice, Italy: Once painted in bright colors, current Venetian law requires that gondolas all be black. Each must be hand made from 280 pieces with 8 types of wood. The front ornament serves as a counterweight to the gondolier.


319 Venice yellow poles and building

Venice, Italy: Boats tie up to these brightly painted poles and passengers can disembark directly into their residences.


324 DSCF4746

Venice, Italy: Hundreds of these classic wooden speedboats travel up and down the canals.


325 DSCF4761

Venice, Italy: Secondary canals can be very narrow.


322 DSCF4468

Venice, Italy: Hundreds of footbridges criss-cross these side canals, making transport of goods and luggage difficult.


326 DSCF4754

Venice, Italy: For a hefty fee, these brightly painted barges will move the bigger merchandise to stores and homes.


327 DSCF4520

Murano Island, Italy: To avoid fires in Venice, glass factories were all moved to this island a few miles across the lagoon.


328 DSCF4518

Murano Island, Italy: We watch as craftsmen create magical glass animals similar to these.


329 DSCF4523

Burano Island, Italy: On this neighboring island with its leaning bell tower, lace makers live.


330 DSCF4526

Burano Island, Italy: Artisan women create intricate knotted designs passed down through the generations.


331 DSCF4537

Burano Island, Italy: Details of their intricate needlework.


332 DSCF4528

Burano Island, Italy: Examples of the handicrafts they are able to create.


333 DSCF4534

Burano Island, Italy: Homes here are famous for their fanciful color schemes.


334 DSCF4542

Burano Island, Italy: Legend has it that drunken fishermen needed their own specially colored cottages to ensure that they’d have no excuse for slipping into bed with the wrong wife. 


338 DSCF4547

Venice, Italy: As our tour boat returns us to Venice, a glorious sunset illuminates its spectacular skyline.


339 Venice evening shot

Venice Italy: We now understand why Venice is called the City of Islands and Queen of the Adriatic.

335 DSCF3971

Venice, Italy: On our last day in Venice, Abby returns to the Rialto Bridge and a special jewelry shop she’d found there.


336 DSCF4762

Venice, Italy: In the Le Perle, she purchases special Murano glass earrings.


Nieuw Amsterdam plus tenders

Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam with lifeboat tenders. Our ship carries 2000 passengers, 900 crew on 12 decks.



While we usually tie up to a port dock, in smaller locations a tender transfers passengers to shore and back.


Rusty on deck

Rusty photographing from the Promenade deck.


Nieuw Amsterdam aft pool

The aft swimming pool favored by Abby is for adults only.


Nieuw Amsterdam NYC chandilier

The New York Skyline chandelier that hangs in the three-story Atrium. 


Nieuw Amsterdam staff farewell

The final farewell from representatives of the ship’s outstanding staff.

Abby’s Mediterranean Cruise Ramblings
Our 24-day cruise on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam departed from Barcelona on September 21 and finished in Venice on October 15. We spent two extra nights both in Barcelona prior to the cruise and in Venice at its end.

What we enjoyed most about cruising:
– Twenty-four days in one comfortable cabin with all clothes and other needs stowed only once in closets and drawers.
– A comfortable king-sized bed with the waves gently rocking us to sleep
each night.
– The helpful, kind, fun staff (most were Indonesian or Filipino): room stewards Dika and Rosa, Cruise Director Mario, and location expert Tom.
– The amazing variety and quantities of food (both healthy and not so).
– Meeting other people from around the world
(including Swedes, many Aussies, and a few Brits).
– Walking the Promenade Deck many mornings — three times around
equals one mile.
– Entertainment, especially the B.B. King Blues Club band with its man and woman singers who knew all the old soul and rhythm and blues classics.
– Rick Steve’s ‘Mediterranean Cruise Ports’ book was immensely helpful as we planned our brief visits to each port.
– We decided that the second half of this cruise was best since we had
more time to explore the destinations of Venice, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and then back to Venice.
– Abby loved reading books recommended by friends that focused on places from our cruise:
   >  Shadow of the Wind (eerie novel set in Barcelona)
   >  The Drifters by James Michener that starts in 1969 in Torremolinos, Spain, with college-age vagabonds.
   >  The Four Seasons: historical novel about Vivaldi and sisters raised in a nunnery in Venice.
   >  The City of Fallen Angels: a nonfiction description of Venice and its characters by an American journalist who lived there during the time of the Fenice Opera House fire.
   >  The Island: historical novel about the leper colony and Crete, Greece.
   >  And No Bird Sang: Farley Mowat’s memoir about his WW II army service in Sicily and Italy.
   >  The Prince of Medicine: nonfiction about Ephesus.

Problems and reservations about cruising:
– Illness: Despite our due diligence, as well as the cruise staff’s efforts at germ protection, on our ninth day of cruising, Rusty got a sore throat and high fever. The next morning, he went to the ship’s clinic but passed out while waiting to see a doctor. What a way to go to the front of the line! That night, Abby also started feeling ill. She was achey, couldn’t keep keep food down, and just wanted to sleep for a couple of days. Her virus then went into her chest resulting in lots of coughing. In a day or two, our California friends also got this bug. In all the ship’s public spaces, we were hearing that same familiar cough. Previously, Abby had gotten a flu shot although Rusty had not. Once home, we did Internet research and learned that Australia (coming out of winter) had a large number of H1N1 flu cases that year. The symptoms sure fit what we’d experienced. Both of us lost two-plus days of activities due to this vicious virus. The good news was that Abby did not gain weight on the cruise, which she would have done otherwise.
– Weather: The captain chose to cancel visits to three ports due to high winds endangering tendering of passengers to shore and back (Monte Carlo in Monaco, Taormina in Italy, and Katakolon in Greece).
– Liquor: Prices were way too high. Happy Hour helped. At least we didn’t drink too much!

So, will we take a cruise again? We are still undecided but look forward to learning more from other’s experiences. 


Because our daughter, Jodee Adams-Moore, had been invited to participate in the Red Hot 55K trail race in Moab, Utah on February 15, 2014, Abby and Rusty decided to drive out there to join her and cheer her on.

We set off on Monday, February 10 with a plan to visit as many national and state parks as we could while driving out and back, planning to return home on February 20.

Here is our photographic travelog of that wonderful meandering road trip to Moab:

Joshua Tree 1

At California’s Mohave National Monument, the ranger told us that this valley has the greatest concentration of Joshua trees.

Joshua Tree  Abby

Joshua Tree  Moon

Valley of Fire sign

Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest state park in Nevada, dedicated in 1935. You’ll find it 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas via Interstate 15 at exit 75.


And these fiery red rocks are the reason for its dramatic name.



This formation is known as “The Beehive.”

Valley of Fire Rusty

Valley of Fire  sitting Abby


Valley of Fire petroglyphs

Valley of Fire petroglyphs 3


Zion Snowy ridge

After entering Utah, we headed to Zion National Park, providing time for both afternoon and morning drives & hiking.


Zion canyon with road 1

We hiked to a viewpoint that gave us this panorama of Zion’s canyon and the Virgin River.

Zion canyon with road 2

We took this road that winds up to the cliffs and then pierces through them with a two-and-a-half-mile tunnel.

Zion canyon with Abby


Zion bighorn sheep

We had to make a sudden stop when this big-horned sheep dashed across the road.

Zion mule deer 1

Fearless mule deer grazed along the trails. This buck was larger than our California white-tailed deer.

Zion Virgin River hike

The Virgin River is given credit for cutting this colorful canyon.


Abby was able to capture a portrait of this pair of Common Merganser ducks.

Zion Rock tower

Zion canyon ridges

For early February, the weather was surprisingly mild and sunny.

Zion wall with Ruby


Bryce overview

Our next stop was up onto the high plateau that is dissolving into Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Steller s Jay

This Steller’s jay kept a careful eye on us as we surveyed the scenic overview.

Bryce Raven 1

Big, beautiful ravens frequented the trailheads, hoping for handouts.

Bryce Raven with Abby 2

Abby loved her close approach to this fearless fellow.

Bryce hoodoo vista

One of the highest parks we visited, Bryce still showed its recent dusting of snow. But temps were now in the mid 50s.

Bryce Rainbow Point Raven

Bryce canyon wide view


Bryce hoodoos  Abby

These human-scaled hoodoos are why we loved exploring the muddy trails through the Queen’s Gardens.

Bryce The Queen s Gardens

Bryce The Queen s Gardens  Abby


Bryce colorful hoodoos

Bryce Tree Monster with Abby

But watch out for this tourist-eating octo-tree!

Kodachrome Basin pinnacle with Abby and Ruby

The next morning we drove to Kodachrome Basin State Park where we were the only visitors!


Although we encountered wet trails of sticky red clay, we hiked up to see into this beautifully bizarre basin.

Kodachrome Basin arch 2

Kodachrome Basin hoodoo 1

Kodachrome Basin hoodoo 3

Kodachrome Basin sandcastle

Kodachrome Basin cliff face

Kodachrome Basin landscape


Kodachrome Basin tower

Kodachrome Basin cabin

Escalante vista

Although too big to explore this trip, we passed through the edge of Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument.



In the tiny town of Boulder, Utah, this place caught Abby’s attention.


Another huge national park that we only caught an edge of was Capitol Reef. We did check out its Goosenecks Point trail.


Capitol Reef


The Fluted Wall Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef vista

Capitol Reef school house 2

Abby imagined the lessons taught at this historic, one-room Mormon school house in Fruita.


Alien-looking petroglyphs on a Capitol Reef cliff.


At Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park, we just had to see what those goblins looked like. Was this the goblin king’s castle?

Goblin Valley 3

The road past the Goblins’ Castle took us through these sculpted landscapes to…

Goblin Valley 5

Goblin Valley 2

Goblin Valley ridge view

Goblin Valley 1


Goblin Valley details

the Valley of the Goblins! Goblins here, goblins there, goblins, goblins everywhere!

Goblin Valley goblin  Abby

Is this the Queen of the Goblins?

A  R in Goblin Valley


Little Wild Horse Canyon  R

Here’s our special and surreal slot-canyon discovery: Little Wild Horse Canyon State Park.

Little Wild Horse Canyon


Little Wild Horse Canyon  Abby climbing

Could we climb out quickly if a flash flood came? Luckily, no rain in the forecast.


Little Wild Horse Canyon Abby  holey walls

Little Wild Horse Canyon R 2

Little Wild Horse tight slot


Little Wild Horse tight slot

Little Wild Horse Canyon end

Cold Moab morning race start

Saturday, February 15, dawned cloudy and cold. But in Moab, Utah, world-class runners were arriving for their race. Jodee had flown from Seattle to Salt Lake City, then driven south in a rental car.


At 7 a.m., Rusty drove Jodee to the race’s starting area where she went out for a warm-up run.


At 7:59 a.m., hundreds of trail runners from around the country lined up to start this 55-kilometer (34-mile) race. Some of the men wondered what this petite woman was doing up with the big guys.



Jodee told us she expected her race to last more than four hours, so Abby and Rusty went for a hike in nearby Arches.


The Windows Trail at Arches National Park, just north of Moab, Utah.

Arches 2

Arches 3

Moab race finish with Jodee

We returned at 11:45 a.m. to wait for the first 55K runners to descend from the red-rock canyons; at 12:31 came Jodee!


Moab race finish with Jodee 3

Moab race with Jodee s smile



After a leg massage and hot shower, Jodee returned for the awards ceremony.


Moab Race with R J and A

Moab Race Results

Only a few men ran faster. Jodee was the first woman across the finish line.

Arches Landscape Arch

The next day, a rested Jodee joined us in a hike to Landscape Arch back within Arches National Park.






Arches balancing rock


Arches J  A daydreams

Dreaming in the crevices…


Arches Navajo Arch w J  A

Arches Abby on ridge


Arches primitive trail

Moab Sky

Back at Moab, we said our goodbyes to Jodee, who was headed back north to Salt Lake City’s airport to fly home.

Dead Horse Point Colorado R

At sunset, we drove to Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park that overlooks the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park.

Dead Horse Point Solar

We think these silver areas are a solar power site.

Dead Horse Point Colorado R

Natural Bridges

The next morning, southbound on Scenic Byway 95, we came to Natural Bridges National Park and set out on another hike.

Abby s Rusty  lightning sign

Natural Bridges pueblo ruins

These ancient Pueblo ruins are tucked deep within a rock cleft.

Natural Bridges pueblo ruins 2

Natural Bridges 2

Natural Bridges sky bridge 1


Natural Bridges sky bridge 4

Muley Point Overlook 1

Crossing the mesa of the Grand Gulch Primitive Area, we stopped to take in the magnificent Muley Point Overlook.

Moki Dugway switchbacks

Descending from this mesa involved slowly driving down these 3 miles of switchbacks, known as the Moki Dugway.

Goosenecks State Park 1

Again on the plateau, we rested and marveled at the San Juan River’s sinuous curves from Goosenecks State Park.

Goosenecks State Park 2

Valley of the Gods

Ahead stretched the Valley of the Gods.

Valley of the Gods 1

Valley of the Gods 2

Mexican Hat

And Mexican Hat, Utah, named after this fantastic rock formation.


That afternoon, we pulled into Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation, just in time for sunset exploring.


Monument Valley sunset 1


Monument Valley sunset 3

Goulding s Lodge stage coach with R  A

We spent the night at the historic Goulding’s Lodge, where John Ford’s many classic western movies were shot.

Goulding s Lodge The Duke and Abby




Sunrise was also exquisite!

Navajo National Monument 1

Continuing south, we crossed into Arizona and explored Navajo National Monument. Due to the snow, only one trail was open.

Navajo National Monument 2


Navajo National Monument pueblo ruins closeup

Devil Dog Road sign

On our way to Flagstaff, we passed Devil Dog Road, where one of our favorite local wines, Devil Dog Red, got its name. After a sleep-over in that fun little city, we went onward into California’s deserts.

Cholla cactus gardens

We made a brief stop in Joshua Tree National Park and toured the Cholla Cactus Gardens.

Cholla cactus attacks Abby

Abby learned a painful lesson: never bump a Cholla Cactus—those barbed spines held on tight!

Cholla cactus skeleton

Remember: the only safe Cholla is a dead Cholla!

Our last evening we visited with Bellevue, WA friend, Kathy Judkins in Indio, CA. We loved our visit to the red rock country at this time of year, with so few folks on the trails. We were lucky with the weather, as with the off-season rates that we got at many hotels. The disadvantage was that many of the recommended restaurants were closed for the winter season. Nevertheless, we ate well and found some delightful local beer —when in Utah, be sure to try the Polygamy Porter!

On Saturday, June 29, 2013, our Africa Adventures began. That morning, we drove our car to the Santa Maria Airport and parked it in the free long-term parking lot. We next caught the Central Coast Shuttle van and rode it south for four hours to the LAX Radison Hotel. There, we relaxed and slept before our Sunday 3:30 a.m. international-flight check in with United Airlines. Joined there by Abby’s sister Alice Addison, we took off for the 5-hour flight to Washington D.C. Dulles Airport at about 6:45 a.m. That afternoon, we boarded a South African Airways plane and began our 8-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic to Dakar, Senegal.


While United Airlines wanted to charge us for everything from snacks to video entertainment, South African Airways offered us free meals with wine and a wide selection of current and classic movies to enjoy on our seatback monitors. Unfortunately, our U.S. carriers have a lot to learn about customer service.

After a short stop in Dakar to drop off and pick up passengers, we began our last leg of the journey: eight more hours to Johannesburg, South Africa.

After clearing customs and immigration, we were met at the Jo’burg airport by our safari guide, Phillip Steffny.
This young and enthusiastic South African’s appearance reminded Rusty of a lot of his red-headed brother, Ron.


Phillip Steffney, our first-class safari guide! (And world-class wildlife photographer:   http://www.phillsteffnysafaris.com/)

He quickly rounded up our tour group’s thirteen members and got us aboard our bus to the magnificent Michelangelo Hotel on the Nelson Mandela Square.

We visited a local restaurant for dinner,
then got to know some of our traveling companions.

DSCF0889               DSCF0886

On Tuesday, 02 July, our group gathered after breakfast for our first outing.

We set off for a half-day tour of Soweto township with visits to Desmond
Tutu’s home, the Nelson Mandela home and museum, and the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum, dedicated to the Soweto student killed in the segregated schools uprising in 1976 that helped bring down the Apartheid government.

Our Soweto guide, Ngugi, had been an associate of Mandela and was instrumental in turning the home into a museum.


Our knowledgeable Soweto guide, Ngugi.


Our visit to the South Africa Human Rights Center.


The unusual structure that housed the South Africa Human Rights Memorial.


The Circle of Human Rights and eternal flame (temporarily out of order).

The South Africa Bill of Rights (We wished everyone on earth was guaranteed these rights!)

You cannot be discriminated against.
Everyone is equal before the law and may not be discriminated against.

Your dignity must be respected and protected.
Everyone has a basic human dignity which must be respected.

You have the right to life
Everyone has the right to life.

You cannot be detained without trial, tortured or punished poorly. Domestic violence is not allowed.
You may not be physically detained without trial or abused in any way.

Slavery and forced labour are not allowed.
You may never be subjected to slavery or forced labour.

You cannot be searched or have your home or possession searched.
Your right to privacy includes your body, home and possessions.

You can believe and think whatever you want and can follow the religion of your choice.
You have the right to think, believe and worship however you may choose.

All people (including the press) can say whatever they want.
You have the right to say, read and study whatever you choose but hate speech is not allowed.

You can hold a demonstration, picket and present a petition. But you must do this peacefully.
You have the right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and protest.

You can associate with whomever you want to.
You have the right to associate with anyone.

You can support the political party of your choice. If you are citizen and at least 18-years old, you can vote.
You may form a political party, run for office, and vote for any party in free and fair elections.

Your citizenship cannot be taken away from you.
No citizen may be deprived of citizenship.

You can go and live anywhere in the Republic of South Africa
You have the right to enter and leave the Republic at will.

You can do whatever work you choose.
You have the right to choose any legal trade or occupation freely.

You may join trade unions and go on strike
Every worker and employer has the right to organise and negotiate to further their aims.

You have the right to a healthy environment
You have the right to live in a protected, healthy environment.

Your property can only be taken away from you if the proper rules are followed.
No one may be deprived of property, except in terms of law of general application.

The Government must make sure that people get proper access to housing.
You have the right to access adequate housing.

The Government must make sure you have access to food and water, Health care, and social security.
You have the right to health care, adequate food and water, and social security.

Children under the age of 18 have special rights, like the right not to be abused.
Every child has the right to a name, nationality, and protection from abuse and exploitation.

You have the right to basic education, including adult basic education, in your own language (if this is possible).
You have the right to a basic education in the official language of your choice.

You can use the language you want to, and follow the culture that you choose.
You have the right to use the language of your choice and practise your own culture.

Communities can enjoy their own culture; practice their own religion; and use their own language.
You have the right to form, join and maintain cultural, linguistic and religious grouping of your own choice.

You have the right to any information which the government has.
You may access any information held by the state for the protection of your rights.

Actions by the government must be fair.
You have the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and fair.

You can have a legal problem decided by a court, or a similar structure.
You have the right to resolve legal disputes in a court or another impartial tribunal.

This right protects people who are arrested, imprisoned or accused.
When arrested, you have the right to remain silent, to be brought before a court within 48 hours and the right to legal representation.



The former home of Nelson Mandela and now his museum and memorial library.




A street view of surprisingly modern Soweto.



Desmond Tutu’s home.


Monument to Hector and the student uprising.


Hector carried by another youth during the police shootings of unarmed students.

Phill took us next to the nearby Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
We bought our lunches in their restaurant, then went out in 4x4s to see what game we could spot.


The team refueled before our first game drive.


We soon spotted a kudu.



These antelope are oryx, also known as Gemsbok.


Rusty’s spirit animal, the giraffe.


Its beautiful puzzle-piece coat.


These towering twins watched us as we passed.


A pretty profile.


All rhinos are the same color, but white rhinos, like this one, are grazers of grass, so have square faces.


This black rhino is a browser of leaves, so has a more triangular face.


Another rare black rhino.


These are tracked by armed guards and protected from poachers 24/7.

From our 2 days in Jo’burg, we’d found it to be so very modern
and much like the best U.S. cities.

On Day 4, Wednesday, 03 July, our tour group returned to the Jo’burg airport
to catch a short flight up to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
From there, we bussed out to the luxurious Stanley and Livingstone Lodge.
This beautiful group of colonial-style buildings was situated within
a Saudi-owned private game reserve where all their animals were well cared for
and protected from poachers by electric fences and armed guards.







The lodge was just a 10-minute drive from the world-famous Victoria Falls.
Phill arranged a van to take us all over there in the late afternoon to catch the rainbows as sunset approached.


A park ranger showed us the extent of Africa’s fourth-longest river.


He then pointed out the size and shape of the gigantic crustal fracture that the river falls into.


The statue to David Livingstone, first European to view the falls in 1855.


Our first sight of the “Smoke That Thunders” and its 300-foot-deep gorge.






Abby and Alice were soon dripping with wind-blown mist.


The sinking sun shown golden through the clouds of spray.

Day 5, the Fourth of July in Victoria Falls, featured an elephant-back safari through the Victoria Falls Private Game Reserve.


Orphaned African elephants were trained to give rides to visitors.


Our little elephant with trainer.


Our boarding platform.


(Photo by Alice Addison)

Africa July 2013 51
As we approached the ending of this gentle ride, our elephant purred with pleasure, knowing the peanuts were next.
After the ride, waiting for peanut treats.

Africa July 2013 54

These big feet gave a smooth ride.

Africa July 2013 52

A smiling goodbye wave.

Africa July 2013 53

Lavishly long eyelashes.

In late afternoon, the group traveled a few kilometers up river to take a “Sundowner Cruise” on the Zambezi River.

We enjoyed a sunset dinner aboard our floating restaurant.

Africa July 2013 57

Hippos popped up to inspect a pontoon boat like the one we were on.

Africa July 2013 59

Sunset provided us with Fourth of July fireworks over the mighty Zambezi River.

On Day 6, 05 July, Abby and I used our morning’s free time to return to
Victoria Falls to experience this wondrous sight under early eastern lighting.

Near the park entrance, we spotted a family of baboons.

Africa July 2013 61

The big male checked out the bags of trash.

Africa July 2013 62

The mother and youngsters watched us from a nearby tree.

Africa July 2013 63

The morning sun didn’t create rainbows, but caused the clouds of mist to shimmer and glow.

Africa July 2013 65

This postcard shot showed the aerial view we witnessed a few days later when our chartered plane’s pilot banked over the falls.

Africa July 2013 38

Back at the lodge,we spent the afternoon roaming around in a Toyota 4×4 safari truck looking for big game.

Here’s what we spotted:

Africa July 2013 40

A gorgeous giraffe.

Africa July 2013 55

A pair of eland.

Africa July 2013 56

A waterbuck

Africa July 2013 106

And hundreds of impala, like this beautiful male.

Africa July 2013 132

And glowing females.

Late that afternoon, our tour group relaxed around the lodge’s elevated deck
and watched as various groups of animals approached the water holes in the fields below us.

Africa July 2013 66

First, a big tribe of baboons with many youngsters crossed before us.

Africa July 2013 67

Then a small herd of Burchell’s zebras approached the pond.

Africa July 2013 68

Africa July 2013 69

Africa July 2013 70

At breakfast the next morning, Saturday, 06 July, our tour group compared our various adventure stories.

Africa July 2013 71

Phillip next took our team to visit a local Victoria Falls elementary school where the student dance team performed.

That afternoon, we traveled west two hours by motor coach, crossed into Botswana, and entered Chobe National Park.

Africa July 2013 110

Our new riverfront resort was the Chobe Marina Lodge.

Africa July 2013 115

That afternoon, our team set off on another sundowner cruise.

Africa July 2013 73

This big guy walked the shore but kept an eye on us.

Africa July 2013 74

An African fish eagle scanned the river for fish.

Africa July 2013 77

Large monitor lizards hunted insects and small animals.

Africa July 2013 78

Africa July 2013 80

Dozens of Nile crocodiles basked in the sun.

Africa July 2013 79

Or patrolled the water’s edge.

Africa July 2013 81

This big croc looked positively primordial.

Africa July 2013 82

Details of its awesome armor plating.

Africa July 2013 83

Along the river grazed giraffes and strolling groups of female elephants with their young.

Africa July 2013 84

Africa July 2013 85

This extended family decided to cross the river right in front of us.

Africa July 2013 86

With snorkel trunks held high, they swam across the deeper channel.

Africa July 2013 87

Mother and baby climbed slowly onto the island.

Africa July 2013 88

Once ashore, the herd enjoyed the lush grasses growing there.

Africa July 2013 90

Great egrets and an African jacana surround this hippo herd.

Africa July 2013 91

This big boy had quite a yawn!

Africa July 2013 93

Sunset over elephant island.  These images will forever be in our dreams.

Africa July 2013 92

Boating back to the lodge.

Africa July 2013 95

This traditional dance group greeted us on our return.

Africa July 2013 96

Jim and Linda Laponis enjoyed twilight on the Chobe together.

At the corner of four African countries
(Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia),
Chobe National Park covers over 7,000 square miles and provides habitat
for the world’s largest elephant herd with over 70,000 protected pachyderms.

Africa July 2013 127

On Sunday, 07 July, we set out early on another game drive.

Africa July 2013 130

As we got underway, we asked Phillip to find us some big cats.

Africa July 2013 99

We didn’t have to wait long before he’d spotted these three big female lions.

Africa July 2013 100

One had been up to her belly in mud.

Africa July 2013 97

Bringing up the rear was this handsome black-maned male.

Africa July 2013 98

His chest-rumbling growl let us all know that he didn’t appreciate being followed.

Africa July 2013 101

This lovely lead lioness simply ignored the several trucks escorting her.

Africa July 2013 102

However, her companions headed into the brush.

Africa July 2013 103

A black-jacketed jackal kept a safe distance and watched us warily.

Africa July 2013 104

On returning to our lodge, we discovered more local wildlife that made the grounds their playground.

Africa July 2013 108

These playful vervet monkeys scampered down from the trees looking for food to steal.

Africa July 2013 109

Africa July 2013 111

This beautiful red-billed bird was searching trees for termites.

Africa July 2013 114

A troop of banded mongooses took over the back lawn and frolicked in the grass.

Africa July 2013 112

Africa July 2013 113

Their good-natured play made us wonder if they’d make good pets.

On Day 9, Monday 08 July, we joined Philip as he led us aboard a ferry to cross the Chobe river to the neighboring country of Namibia to visit an isolated island village there.

Africa July 2013 116

We filed into a border checkpoint to get our passports stamped  for leaving Zimbabwe and entering Namibia.

Africa July 2013 117

In the center of this village, we discovered the biggest baobab tree we’d ever seen.

IMG 6982

(Photo by Phillip Steffny)

IMG 6905

(Photo by Phillip Steffny)

Africa July 2013 118

Fresh-water fish drying in the sun.

Africa July 2013 119

Chobe river catch of the day.

Africa July 2013 120

Living close to the earth and building with natural materials.

Africa July 2013 121

Old meets new: note the solar panel in the lower right.

Africa July 2013 123

Africa July 2013 124

Africa July 2013 125

A solitary woman’s shoe sat abandoned in the sand.

Africa July 2013 126

Day 10, Tuesday, 09 July, we took a bus out to the Livingstone, Zambia, Airport.
Here we caught these two chartered aircraft and flew an hour across the border to Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park.

We landed at the private airstrip serving the Royal Zambezi Lodge. This park is Zambia’s newest reserve (founded in 1983) and the least developed,
having been the former private sanctuary of Zambia’s president. Located in a rich river valley on the northern banks of the Zambezi River,
it offers one of the last stretches of pristine riverine wilderness in all of Africa.

Africa July 2013 128

We were greeted at the lodge’s front door by Swat,
a lone male Kalahari elephant that has free access to the grounds.

Africa July 2013 129

The lodge’s elegant suites were the fanciest tents that we’d ever enjoyed.
At night we heard wild animals all around us and we were told to call for an armed guard if we wanted to leave our tent.

During the next two days and nights, we would drive, walk, motorboat, and canoe the lands and waters here.

IMG 6828

Bouncing around the roadless terrain became an adventure in itself. (Photo by Phill)

IMG 6818

Chilly 5:30 a.m. game drives offered opportunities to catch animals in the golden morning light. (Photo by Phill)

Africa July 2013 143

Great grumpy cape buffalos lounged about.

Africa July 2013 145

But these nasty-tempered bulls were not to be messed with!

Africa July 2013 139

We found a family of sable.

Africa July 2013 58

Solitary and small groups of elephants would carefully cross the river, watching for crocs.

IMG 7386

Phill captured a group of us spotting birds.


And what amazing birds they were, such as:  A lovely lilac-breasted roller.


This helmeted guineafowl prowled the underbrush.


A wooly-necked stork watched patiently for prey.


Yellow-billed storks stood like statues.

IMG 6748

Phillip captured this dramatic shot of a pair of black skimmers.


Local fishers worked in dugout canoes along the elephant grass.


Dozens of hippos stood on the bottom and watched us warily before slipping below the surface.

IMG 7461

On a night drive, we came close to three lions.
Phillip took this amazing shot of them illuminated only by headlights.
Our guides later found their tracks crossing through the grounds of our lodge.

On another day, we were fortunate indeed to see a leopard cub.

Africa July 2013 133

Our sharp-eyed driver spotted this one feasting on a rib cage provided by its mother.

Africa July 2013 134

It didn’t seem to mind our close proximity, but the nearby mother was invisible in the underbrush.

IMG 6458

Our fun safari group: Don, Jim, Kay, Claude, Rusty, Abby, Linda, Phill, Mary Jo, Mary Ann, Julie, Elaine, Pat and Alice.

We said farewell to them at the Lusaka, Zambia, airport as they headed off to Jo’burg, South Africa, and we met Jonathan to begin our Tanzania travels.

On Friday, July 12, Jonathan and Andrew, another Peace Corps volunteer, greeted us in the Lusaka, Zambia, airport.
Having recently taken vacation time to see the Zambian side of Victoria Falls,
Jonathan and Andrew were there to safely guide us back to their Ruvuma area of southwestern Tanzania.

Through a hired driver arranged for by our last lodge owners,
we learned that driving 200km north to the train station in Kapiri
and then taking the Tazara train to Tanzania was just too far
and too unpredictable to even consider trying that day.
Instead, our party of four boarded the first of many harrowing and horrible
long-distance buses, traveling all through the night and most of the next day
to reach Mbeya, Tanzania.


The buses were filled not only with people, but also chickens (in both these photos)
and sometimes goats tied to the top.


Having not seen Jonathan for two years, we spent the bumpy hours catching-up. We’d never seen him with such long hair!

For the next three weeks on our bus rides, we were the only white people on board.
And we were huge, hairy white people who spoke a foreign language,
causing non-stop stares and laughter to the petite, lovely Africans.


Every few hours we’d reach a major bus stop where locals sold drinks, nuts, and fresh fruits.


We finally reached Mbeya and stayed two nights in this special “guestie” B&B.



The Peace of Mind Guest House was decorated withTanzania arts and crafts.
Every morning the kitchen served a breakfast of fruit, juice, coffee, eggs, sausage, toast, steamed pumpkin, and potatoes.


Now in Tanzania, Abby needed to wear a kitinge (fabric wrapped as a skirt) over her slacks. The fabrics had vibrant designs.


Jonathan helped us choose fruits for our next bus trip.
His Swahili was magnificent.


He took us on an early morning hike up a steep hill that looked over the valley.

We enjoyed two lunches at an Indian restaurant at the Mbeya Hotel.
After our two nights resting at Peace of Mind, we boarded another series of buses
to the town of Songea, where we spent the night, then caught another bus to Mbinga, the last large town before the dirt roads rose into the mountains towards his village.
In Mbinga, he gathered painting supplies for his library project.
The local education department supplied him with a car and driver
to deliver the supplies and us to his village, Matekala.


His brick house was built by the village.


Jonathan has added furniture, and decorations to make it quite comfortable
even though there was no electricity nor running water.
He brought buckets of water from a spigot a block away.


Jonathan cooked on a charcoal stove inside and a wood stove out in his courtyard.
So for coffee in the morning, we’d need 45 minutes of prep time.


He gave us his bed, with mosquito netting.
A hen roosted in a perch right outside our window, clucking away every morning.


Some neighborhood children stopped by so Abby read them some children books she’d brought.


On our first morning in his house, Jonathan went to assist the Samweli family
in slaughtering a goat for a welcome gift.
Around 12:30 Jonathan returned with Mamma Sharifu and the goat meat that she cooked for us at Jonathan’s wood stove in his courtyard.

Soon, the Samweli family arrived to join us in the goat feast.

As villagers learned Jon’s parents were visiting, many came to welcome us.
They all so respected Jonathan.
We were called Mamma and Babba Jony—mother and father of Jonathan.


Babba Samweli (center right) has a big extended family with two (or more?) wives
and many children and grandchildren.


We ate the saucy goat with ugali, a soft doughy starch (Play-dough consistency) that is held in the right hand, instead of a fork, to eat the meat stews, tomato salads, and cooked greens.
Before and after eating, Jonathan brought a pitcher of water and basin for all to wash their hands.
All restaurants also either provided a sink in the dining room
or brought a pitcher and basin to the table for hand washing.


The beautiful mountains of Matekela, with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, coffee bushes and cassava.


Here grown in a waffle-like pattern to retain rainfall.
The cassava tuber is the base of ugali and is also served boiled,
sometimes for breakfast.

Jon’s village is at 6000 feet, quite chilly in early morning and night.
Being in the southern hemisphere, this was the winter dry season in southern and central Africa.
We wore our down jackets to bed.
Mid afternoons, though, were sunny and spring-like.


One morning, Jonathan took us on another long hike, eventually arriving at this wheat field.


The wife of a village elder, at Jonathan’s request, had showed him how to plant the wheat. He will harvest it in another month, pulling up each stalk by hand.

Another of his surprising skills was making and baking delicious whole-wheat bread on his charcoal stove.
Every day we were continually amazed at all he has learned and done since arriving in Africa.


The medical clinic was near his house. Jonathan works here most mornings.


Once a month women with young babies come to have the babies checked and their growth charted.
They proudly posed for this shot with their beautiful children.
Note the lovely kitenges that not only serve as skirts, but also as baby slings.

Jonathan has helped deliver babies.
He also makes home visits to teenage mothers who do not have husbands,
to make sure they have nutritious food and take the vitamins the clinic provides.

The village of Matekela spreads across a wide valley.
Although many local men own and use Chinese-made motorcycles,
the Peace Corps forbids its members from riding them.

So Jonathan walked everywhere, sometimes for several hours.
We tried our best to keep up as he led us around the valley.


A few of the more well-to-do homes in this valley.


Dusty, rutted, red-dirt roads ran everywhere.


Mr. John, an English teacher, and Jon’s project counterpart and good friend came by the house to say hello.


The next day, Mr. Sam invited us to visit his prosperous home and farm on the other side of Matekela.


Some of the many cute and curious children in the family examined
a family photo album.


Mama Sharifu and another of Sam’s wives (or daughters?).


Mr. Sam requested that Rusty take several formal pictures of his family that included Jon and our family.


We never learned who all of these other fellows were,
but assume they are the sons or sons-in-law.


One of Sam’s sons had this young puppy that Abby enjoyed cuddling.


Each wife had her own kitchen.
Here Abby and Jon joined Mama Sharifu in this dark smoke-filled room as she prepared lunch.


Exterior view of Mr. Sam’s family compound.
The size of his home and family indicated that he was a relatively wealthy villager.


He took us on a tour of his farm that included banana trees and this catfish pond.


Up the road, one of Sam’s sons was building his own home.


Here, he showed us how he packed the red clay into a brick mold,
then popped out each one to dry in the sun before firing.


Another villager had his own business of making and selling bricks.

Buildings often included their date of construction.


We loved the fancy tuxedo vest that the local crows all wore.


Another of Jon’s friends that came by to visit was Mr. Kevin.
Here he showed Jon his Obama cap (though miss-spelled)…


and bright Obama shirt.
Abby had printed a set of Obama family photos, and Kevin proudly holds his here.


After one of Jon’s great pancake breakfasts,
we headed off across hill and dale to see the Mimbua elementary school.


Its respected director was Madame Komba who spoke very good English.
She proudly showed us her school and introduced the students.
Jonathan had taught English classes there before undertaking the library construction project.


The school’s classrooms surrounded this garden courtyard.
Her students were as interested in seeing their rare caucasian visitors as we were in seeing them.

Although not given notice by Jonathan that we were coming,
Madame Komba served us an excellent lunch in her home.
Abby then had the opportunity to join teacher Eric,
Mama Lupogo’s son, in teaching an advanced English lesson.


The director’s humble office with very limited written materials.
Rusty gave the school three new soccer balls.


We watched as the youngest classes lined up for their lunch of beans, served by older students.


Some of these students took double helpings
to share with those children who didn’t have their own bowls.


For our farewell, we were then treated to an impromptu parade.
Jon later told us that they sang a song praising him!


On our long hike back home, Jon took us up into the hills
to see some of the coffee crops with their bright red berries.


The new plants are kept out of direct sun
by shading them under straw awnings like these.


While resting on one of the hills’ many granite boulders,
Rusty spotted this little chameleon.


It was the fist Jon had seen that season.


Jon showed us one of his favorite spots to rest and relax:
a boulder-strewn steam out of sight of the village.


Not long after returning to Jon’s house, Mr. Sam and some of his children
checked in on us again and invited our family to see the harvest festival’s
women’s dance competition.


In the village square just across from Jon’s home,
colorful dance troupes performed with their male drummers.


These young women watched as each women’s social club
did their own enthusiastic version of the dance.


Abby joined Mama Lupogo on the sidelines,
but soon got caught up in the drummers’ contagious rhythms.


In no time, she got pulled into the line of dancers by one of Mr. Sam’s wives.
She really got down with it!


Village women will long tell the story of how Mama Jony joined in their dancing and strutted her stuff.


Here, Mama Sharifu performs in Jon’s Mariners cap,
proudly wearing the Boeing whistle that Rusty gave her.

While Abby sat in a seat of honor and spent the afternoon
watching the other dance teams perform,
Jonathan took Rusty on another long hike across the valley
to see the new library building he was supervising.


Here he saw for the first time the partially completed paint scheme
for the building’s exterior.


Thanks to the donations of our friends and family in conjunction with village labor,
this will be the first library for the village.


The inside had been painted a lovely light blue and white.


The hand-made shelving stood waiting the hundreds of new Swahili books
stored in the neighboring school’s office.


The new government-appointed librarian will start organizing things soon.
And the official grand opening was scheduled for later in August.


Our shadows pointed to the elementary school compound
that now includes the new library on the right.
This library is a community library, not a school library,
containing books to help all villagers.


This is Jon’s little hen that clucked us awake each morning,
patrolled his courtyard during the day, and roosted outside our bedroom window each night.


Mama Lupogo (the clinic director) holds the picture of the Obama family given to her by Abby. And Abby holds the kitinge fabric given to her.


We visited another special friend, Moyo,
a skilled carpenter who built most of Jon’s furniture. He displayed a cabinet he hoped to sell soon.


This humble man nearly lost his life to an infection,
but is now back supporting his big family.


On another day, Jon led us on a three-hour hike up and over a line of distant hills
westward toward lake Nyasa to visit his closest Peace Corps friend and chess partner, Jerome.


We toured his remote secondary school with its own girls’ boarding barracks.
He later served us dinner in his spacious school-provided house.

It was time for Abby and Rusty to say goodbye to Jon’s village and start making their long way back to Lusaka, Zambia, and their flight back to the States.

Since one of our departure routes away from Matekela and back towards Songea and Mbeya would take us close to Lake Nyasa,
Jon suggested that we spend a couple of days down at Mbamba Bay.
He’d enjoyed a relaxing getaway there back in December with Kaiti,
his girlfriend, when she’d come to visit him, so wanted to show it to us.

Up before the sun, we caught a series of buses and taxis,
sometimes waiting up to five hours in-between.
Late that afternoon, we finally arrived at the lakeside resort on Mbamba Bay.
Since it was the off season, we had most of this lovely complex all to ourselves.
Although still under construction, staff provided us with everything we needed to relax and rest.


Our bedroom was inside this cozy brick cottage. It had a bathroom with a real toilet and hot shower.


Jon slept in this tent shelter closer to the beach.


Our afternoon meal was set for us beside Lake Nyasa’s Mbamba Bay.
Malawi was six-hours by boat west across the lake.


Next morning, the winds were calm enough and the water warm enough for us to take a swim.


Men used dugout canoes to set their nets for the night.


But all they were catching that time of year were tiny,
boney fish we didn’t want to eat.


This beautiful building would soon be the restaurant and bar.
It had once served as Jon and Kaiti’s bedroom.


The steep and narrow beach dropped directly down into the depths of the lake.
We tried walking towards the south end, but soon gave up.


Our last dinner on the lake was served in this lovely open room.


While sitting around a big beach fire, we watched the sun set over Malawi’s distant mountains. Soon the full moon glowed above us.

After another long day of crazy, crowded bus rides,
we finally reached the town of Mbeya and had another great Indian dinner at the Mbeya Hotel.

We spent the night back in our favorite room at the lovely Peace of Mind B&B.

Jonathan went off to run some errands in town.
He asked us to meet him at the Mbeya Hotel for another tasty curry lunch.


He surprised his delighted mother by coming back sporting freshly cut hair.


Now that Jonathan again loved Indian cuisine,
we ordered some of their best dishes to share for lunch.

Later that morning, Jonathan arranged for us to visit the Utengule Coffee Lodge,
a high-end hillside resort with an outstanding cafe serving Tanzania’s best coffee
to visiting tourists and business people.

In Mbeya, we met a special group of friends of Jonathan who were American expats who worked in coffee exporting.
We so appreciated that they were helping local farmers receive the best prices, with fewer middle men.
Brandon, a Peace Corps volunteer, turned his PC assignment into advocating for coffee farmer cooperatives.


The patio of their restaurant was a perfect place to take in the sweeping views
of the Mbeya valley, 20 km away.


The interior of the comfortable coffee bar.


Abby and Jon braved the chilly swimming pool.


Both Abby and Jonathan read B. Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible while on this journey and often discussed her provocative insights.
Jon enjoyed a chance to relax, read, write letters, and not worry about the welfare of his parents and villagers.


The following day, we packed our bags with the plan for Jonathan to put us on the train back to Lusaka.


After purchasing our tickets, we had one final lunch at the Mbeya Hotel,
meeting more of Jonathan’s Peace Corps cadre there. Delightful folks!


We were so excited to have a two-day train journey instead of long bus rides.
Our guide books indicated that the Tazara train schedule was unpredictable.
Not only the schedule, but the booking process was unpredictable. As we finally boarded at dusk, we learned that the first class cabin we’d reserved a week previously was not available.


Luckily, we were able to get a second-class cabin all to ourselves.
Soon we were rocking and rolling along the tracks from Tanzania and over the border into Zambia.
The custom officials came cabin to cabin, stamping our passports and making this the easiest border crossing of our entire trip.
Our down jackets again proved their worth during the chilly nights and mornings.



After two days and nights on the train, with time for reading, eating in the dining car,
and private healing time for Rusty’s bad cold, our helpful porter, Leslie, informed us that the train was stuck at our present station in Mpika, Zambia, eight hours from Lusaka.
Apparently there had been a freight train tanker car derailment that blocked the tracks west of Mpika.
Passengers were told to disembark and find their own way to Lusaka.
Oh no!  Stuck somewhere in Zambia without our trusty guides, Phillip or Jonathan!

The good news is that we learned a thing or two from our nine-month travels in South America.


Soon, with the help of some locals,
we found a family driving to Lusaka who welcomed paying passengers.
Ignatius drove us safely in his Toyota while singing along to CDs of Celine Dion and lively African music.


Abby shared the back seat with his beautiful wife
and happy nine month old baby boy.


Our final African hotel was the Zamcom Lodge, near central Lusaka.
At 8:00 p.m., we checked in, just in time for the final dinner call.


We found it funny that, within the logde’s fenced grounds, this big tom turkey had made its home.

With two days to spare before our August first flight home, we explored busy, modern Lusaka.

Missing seeing more wildlife, we journeyed on our second day
to an animal rescue reserve just outside the city.


We marveled at these inquisitive ostriches.


They wanted to get up very close and personal.


This type of fluffy feather is often found in women’s fashions.


A powerful clawed foot reminded us of their dinosaur ancestry!


These female waterbucks reminded us of Roosevelt elk.


We found that warthogs often roamed through African towns and villages, as common as stray dogs.


No one knows for sure why zebras developed stripes.


However, each of their perfectly spaced patterns is as distinctive as our fingerprints.


We visited Levy Mall, a modern shopping mecca near our hotel. Truly  a new world from rural Tanzania!


There we enjoyed many yummy meals, both at the food court and at another special Indian restaurant.
Who would have thought that Indian meals would be some of our most remembered meals in Africa?


Thursday, August first, we left Lusaka on our 24-hour journey home—halfway around the world!

Reflecting on our time with Jonathan in Tanzania, this quote from Nelson Mandela kept coming to mind:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.
It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

We’ve been back in the States one year after completing our tour of South America.

Where has the time gone?

Since then, we bought a comfortable cottage in the Central California town of Arroyo Grande and are enjoying the good life in this sunny beach community.

01 1161MapleAG frnt805s

Now, we are about to embark on another adventure to that other southern continent: Africa.

Our son, Jonathan, is completing his Peace Corps assignment in Tanzania, so we have been invited by him to visit his remote village and see the new library he has helped to create and to meet the community members who have welcomed and worked with him for the last two years.

Before Tanzania, we will join a wildlife safari tour that will start in Johannesburg, South Africa and then take us to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Chobe National Park in Botswana, and Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.

We won’t have internet access until we return home, so stay tuned for future posts where we’ll recount our African adventures and share favorite photographs.

Until then, “Asante!”

Last night, as we walked once again along Copacabana Beach, we agreed that we’ve been blessed by the many people who have helped us along the way during our travels.

Another such individual came to my aid in the grocery store in Ipanema. I had chosen a package of sliced meat and was asking Rusty if he thought it was ham, since I could not decipher the Portuguese words on the package. “Might I help you?” said a young, beautiful, tall, blond woman in near-perfect English.  She informed us when asked that I had chosen sliced turkey and not ham. She then proceeded to take me to the butcher to get sliced ham at a much better price than the packaged meat I had chosen. We asked where she’d learned to speak such excellent English, and she told us that, after studying business management in Saudi Arabia, she’d lived in Kentucky for a few years and worked at Churchill Downs, the famous horse track there. Now she was the administrator of the Jockey Club race track in Rio. She invited us to come to see the free horse races, including having a tour of its thoroughbreads-care area and stables. So we took Myra up on her offer and went to the Friday night races, as you’ll see in the following photos. 

IMG 3552
Myra joined us in the stands as we observed  horse racing at the Jockey Club.
IMG 3565
We watched as this woman jockey won the next race
and was featured on their big-screen display.
IMG 3557
Then we toured the stables and the track’s horse-care areas. Myra introduced us to the head veterinarian—also a woman.
After each race, the horses were hosed-down.
IMG 3554
This one loved its cold shower.
IMG 3559
Several cats lived at the stables. Myra tried to show us how this, her favorite cat, would jump through her arms…but, not today. 

Another support to us were Neomia and her 20-year-old daughter, Nianuy. We booked one night in their Rio B&B as we transitioned from our air flight from Bonito to the bus ride to Buzios. They lived in the Santa Teresa district, a hilly low-rent neighborhood popular with artists and musicians near the central district and the regional airport. After our taxi finally found the place that evening, we were warmly welcomed by Nianuy and shown to our bedroom. Once we’d gotten our bags put away, Nianuy gave us walking directions to a local buffet restaurant that was a real bargain. When we returned from dinner, we got to meet Neomia, who invited us to join her with a beer as she watched a soccer match on TV. We learned that Neomia was a teacher of African dance and enjoyed writing poetry. To help make ends meet, she rented-out rooms in her huge old home. As with our other lodging in the downtown area, we decided that we weren’t as confident with the safety of this transitional neighborhood and preferred our stays in Ipanema and Copacabana. Nevertheless, we so enjoyed the evening conversations (as they both spoke English with a lovely Afro-Caribbean accent) as well as our breakfast with them the next morning. We sent our best wishes with Nianuy in her aspirations to enter a university and become a wildlife biologist.

IMG 3789
At Neomia’s house with Neomia (next to Abby) and her daughter, Nianuy.

My mother loved Brazilian gemstones. In the 1950s, she and Dad enjoyed going to cocktail parties in Washington, DC or any place that she could wear her showy aquamarine, topaz, and amethyst rings and bracelets. So it was quite a treat to go to the Amsterdam Sauer Gem Museum in Rio. Their small museum included a realistic replica of a gem mine, as well as an amazing exhibit of huge raw gemstone clusters from the store owner’s personal collection. While I am so lucky to still have my mother’s jewelry, I found a new form of gem art that I’d love to have one day—bird sculptures skillfully crafted by Amsterdam Sauer artists out of colorful semi-precious stones.

IMG 3544

We marveled at this gorgeous three-foot-high, 110-pound raw turmaline cluster at the Amsterdam Sauer Gem Museum.

IMG 3545

Aren’t the tri-colored crystals amazing!

IMG 3542

One day, I just might trade some of my mother’s rings for a crystal sculpture like this.

One day during Johnny and Jing’s visit with us in Rio, they decided to head off on their own and cross the city in order to explore a distant neighborhood they’d learned of that featured several blocks of discount clothing and shoe shops. Having had years of experience using New York City’s subway system, they didn’t hesitate to try Rio’s Metro. They returned with a new pair of sandals for Jing and high praise for the Metro’s convenience, design, and well-maintained equipment and facilities.

So when Abby and I decided to spend a Sunday afternoon exploring Rio’s Central Business District and seeing the Portinari paintings at the Museum of Fine Art, we too took the safe and inexpensive subway.

DSCF6772  Version 2

On this corner near our apartment, we spotted the Portinari Design Hotel.


These colorful tile murals lined the walls of our local Metro station.


 All of their underground stations were as spotless and safe as this one.


We found the system easy and affordable to use, and the modern trains arrived and departed every few minutes from stations across the city. 

We’ve combined our Sunday afternoon photos of downtown with a second day when we went on a self-guided walking tour, ending the day with dinner and music in one of Rio’s samba clubs.

IMG 3576

In the business district, a few old buildings and plazas intermingle with the modern world.


The restored Municipal Theater.

DSCF6818  Version 3

On the central plaza, across from the theater, was a photo display about South America and our world.

Besides this world map, there were amazing photos by Yannart Husburtrand. 


This is Husburtrands’ aerial photo from Corcovado to Rio and Sugarloaf. 


Here he captured Copacabana Beach on a hot summer day.
This would be the best reason NOT to visit Rio in their summer!

IMG 3578

The walking tour continued into the Lapa neighborhood…

IMG 3581

And through the downtown shopping bazaar.

IMG 3593

It took us past a playground…

IMG 3585

To this lovely park where we noticed dozens of little critters in the grass.

IMG 3584

We were amazed and delighted to see kittens and agoutis living together here.

IMG 3583

There were also a few funny-looking geese.

As we found in Buenos Aires, the wild world had found a few places to be free in the city.

IMG 3589

 As the sun set, we made our way to Rio Scenarium, a classic samba club.

IMG 3597

This huge old dance hall was decorated eclectically.

IMG 3596

Each of its three stories had its own unusual antiques.

IMG 3594

Huge carnival dolls hung above the dance floor.

IMG 3598

Since it was still relatively early, only a few were dancing, but boy, could these couples samba!

After our week at the beach in Buzios, we returned to Rio for our last five days. Using Airbnb once again, we found another apartment rental, this time one block from the beach at Copacabana. Besides more swimming and walking along the beach, we filled our days with a bicycle trip to the Botanical Gardens, a half-day tour that included going to see the famous Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado, and the modern Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro. What we didn’t realize until we tried booking our apartment was that a major international ecology gathering was in Rio during our last days. The Rio+20 Conference brought 50,000 participants, including protestors,  to the city. Rates for renting both hotels and apartments doubled. What follows are our photos of our final five days in Rio.IMG 3849

The entrance to our second Rio apartment and the one-block walk to Copacabana beach.

IMG 3832

Rusty enjoyed an early morning exercise on one of the many workout stations that lined Copacabana’s walkway.
IMG 3833In Rio’s Botanical Gardens, Rusty examined the strange fruit of this towering tropical tree.

IMG 3836The Fountain of the Muses marked the center of the gardens.

IMG 3837Abby walked the park’s avenue of the palms.

IMG 3845Abby spotted this brown capuchin monkey resting on a bench.

IMG 3839These giant lilly pads, the size of hula hoops, filled this pond (they come from the lakes of the northern Pantanal).

IMG 3840We spotted this white heron patiently waiting for a fish dinner.

IMG 3850This electric-powered cog train climbed the backside of Corcovado taking visitors to see the statue of Christo Redemptor.

DSCF7156Even on a mostly sunny day in Rio, the top of 2300-foot-high Corcovado was  shrouded in clouds.

IMG 3853Fortunately, during our hour at the summit, we managed to catch a few brief glimpses of this twelve-story-high, art deco masterpiece.


IMG 3863But most of that time, we waited with hundreds of others in the chilly fog for the statue to reappear.

IMG 3864Some visitors resorted to taking photos of the poster of the statue.

IMG 3591The exterior of the modern Cathedral of Rio reminded us of Mayan temples.


IMG 3889  Version 2From within the entrance, this statue of St. Francis of Assisi was silhouetted against a skyscraper reflecting the cathedral.

DSCF7164Looking up, we were astounded by the majesty of the structure.

IMG 3891Another art deco masterpiece of Mary and baby Jesus.

IMG 3892And Joseph (?) and Jesus.

IMG 3898Due to the Rio +20 Conference, police and military were out in force.

IMG 3907Saturday evening, protestors marched along the waterfront.

IMG 3908A new stadium had been built almost overnight as a stage for the conference (above the point where Johnny bodysurfed).

IMG 3902Despite the activity due to the conference, there was still magic in the sunset on our last evening.

We’ve learned during our time there that Brazil has much in common with the USA. Both countries have a sordid, horrific history of slavery. Now both embrace their African culture and the multiculturalism that ensued. Of all the countries we visited in South America, Brazil was the most modern, with practices and prices much like the USA. I now realize why my father wanted to stay and raise a family in Brazil instead of moving to Washington, DC.  

On June 19, 2012, we flew back to the USA after almost nine months of travel. Thank you for accompanying us on our journey.





By now, our readers know that I love beaches. Brazil’s beaches, especially at its more remote resorts and during this time of year with winter approaching, are ideal—and even more especially Mondays through Fridays when kids are in school and the crowds in the big cities are still there working away. So after our wildlife adventures in the Pantanal and Bonito, we chose Buzios as our beach destination for this next week.

Located just three hours north by bus from Rio, Buzios sits on a pretty little peninsula that has 17 beaches surrounding its central port. Made famous in the 1960s when French actress, Brigitte Bardot, frequented there with her Brazilian boyfriend, it has transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a popular resort destination with gourmet restaurants, art studios, condos, and boutiques. With its many Mediterranean-style homes and blue-green waters, Buzios has earned its nickname of the St. Tropez of South America.

Arriving on Saturday, June 8, during a three-day holiday weekend for Brazil, we found the central-beach area bustling with visitors. But by Monday afternoon, many folks had left. For the next few days, we were the only guests at the Alegravila Hostel, the local Hostels International affiliate. The staff were very kind to us throughout our stay. Michael, the night attendant, helped us find what we needed as I cooked a few light dinners in the kitchen. He asked our advice about his upcoming plans to study English. 

Another special encounter with a local took place one evening at a seafood restaurant. Our fifty-year old waiter, who hardly spoke English, asked where we were from. When we answered, Seattle, he said, “Grunge!”, then proceeded to name Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Not skipping a beat, he next proclaimed that his favorite U.S. band was the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I said that our son, Jonathan, would totally agree with him on that one. Brazilians love their music—and not just samba and bossa nova!

Our days were spent resting, reading, catching up on our blog, exploring the town and beaches, and planning our final few days in Rio before our return to the USA on June 19. We invite you to experience this lovely beach interlude via our photos.


IMG 3829

The entrance to our two-room suite in the HI hostel. Who says hostels are just for kids?

IMG 3791

An artist had fun with this sailfish relief above our bed.

IMG 3794

Central Buzios was a fifteen-minute walk from our hostel. Restaurants featuring international cuisines, like this Thai one, as well as designer shops lined the cobblestone streets. Another restaurant named “Salsa” that we frequented for lunch featured a gourmet buffet and charged by the kilogram. What a smart way to control one’s eating, especially if on a budget. Better yet, weights of their desserts are charged at a much higher rate than the main dishes.

IMG 3793  Version 3

Near the center of Buzios. 

IMG 3796

Brigitte and I talked about the 60s.
Artist, Christina Motta, has this and other life-like sculptures around town.


Here is her realistic rendering of Pescadores (The Fishermen).

IMG 3802

Nearby were some real fisher folks.

IMG 3800  Version 2

Rusty shared a “high-five” with Presidente Kubitschek,
a popular leader in the 1950s, who had a home in Buzios.

IMG 3807  Version 2My favorite sculpture was of children of the summer
(one reading, one playing at the beach, and the dog waiting for action).

DSCF7140  Version 2

A map of the peninsula shows the 17 beaches.
Each day we set off walking and by week’s end we’d visited nine of them.

IMG 3809Wow!

DSCF7121  Version 2The water was so inviting.
This north side of the peninsula was sheltered from the waves.

DSCF7127  Version 2There was no food on this beach,
but Rusty couldn’t resist this juice and liquor bar with its powerful caipirinhas!

DSCF7133  Version 2We should have ordered a fruit salad instead!

DSCF7132Watching the ships roll in…and I watched them roll away again.

IMG 3812  Version 2Another day, another beach.

IMG 3815  Version 2This day, Rusty wore his new Brazilian swimsuit—not bad for a 63-year old!

IMG 3816  Version 2The beach vendors sold stylish beach cover-ups.
Just as well that we didn’t bring much money along.

IMG 3818I admired the flowers along the road back to our hostel.

IMG 3823  Version 2At Praia do Tartaruga (Turtle Beach), we explored the rock formations.

IMG 3822At low tide, we found quartz pebbles tumbled smooth in these pools.

IMG 3824  Version 2We ordered this fresh grilled fish lunch.

IMG 3828And shared succulent pieces with this lucky cat who looked like Jodee’s cat, Tigre;
now we know where she’d disappeared to!

IMG 3817  Version 2As the sun set on our last day,
we waved goodbye to visitors touring the beaches on this old schooner.

Tag Cloud