Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

July 22 – August 17th – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jig! (Denver Leg, August 4th – 17th) Part 2

Frank and his son Bill met me at the airport in Denver. It was close
to 11 PM but we stayed up late talking and sharing our respective
experiences over the past few weeks. Bill had offered his guest room
for us probably not realizing how we can take over a place when we are
back home stocking up and making multiple trips to the various shops
and stores that are not found anywhere else. He was good-natured about
our friendly takeover. That was my only night to just sit around at
Bill's place. The next day, we both hit the ground running and often
going in opposite directions. Most days, Frank golfed and I shopped or
met with friends for breakfast or lunch.
I had a 7:30 medical check up on Friday morning, followed by breakfast
with another high school friend, Christy Lundstead (now "Warren"). As
Fate often intervenes in our lives, Christy and I had gotten linked
via Facebook while our 35th High School reunion was being planned.
Her FB profile states her home is now Parker, Colorado. I couldn't
believe that she lived in the same little community that Frank and I
had moved from. We had unknowingly been neighbors for nearly 3 years,
and yet had not seen one another since 1975. We had a lot of catching
up to do and so our breakfast lasted until mid afternoon. We rather
outstayed our welcome at "The Egg and I", so we moved over to the
Parker Library where I am a former volunteer. I ran into most of my
dear friends for and with whom I'd worked. It was a wonderful double
reunion for me. I returned to Bill's in time to get changed for
dinner with Kati and Dave Topolnicki and Scott and Chris Morlan at
Denver's oldest restaurant, The Buckhorn Exchange. The food there is
so good (they are known for their wild game and melt-in-your-mouth-
steaks), and the place is so popular that the only reservation Kati
could get for us was 5 PM. That is a good thing because by 8:00 I was
ready to fall asleep at the table.
Friday, Frank golfed. I met Molli (Halvorson) for coffee and of
course that turned into hours, then I returned to Bill's where he
prepared the most delectable crab cakes with Cajun lobster sauce that
have ever passed my lips! My taste buds danced the dance of bliss.
Bill is a closet gourmet chef. We never turn down an offering from his
galley. When Frank arrived home we hit the roadway to fight the
battle of I-25 N's Friday afternoon traffic. We were meeting Gail and
Mark Lewis and Pennie and Jim Galt for dinner. We had such fun; we
could hardly eat for the laughing and storytelling with these guys.
Saturday, we had a rare opportunity to see Katie Riley's girls, Quinn
and Taylor who happen to be at home just now. They and Quinn's beau,
Todd, prepared a feasty happy hour for us at their brand new
townhouse. My heart did not want to leave them, but we had dinner
plans with our Goddaughter Naia, and her parents Rick and Nina
Rentschler at Bones in the downtown area. Frank and I arrived with a
large gift bag packed with little puzzles, games, trinkets and
baubles, for Naia, whom we'd not seen in nearly 2 years. Rick didn't
make it, so Frank got to have a night with the girls. At just over 3
½ years old, Naia is one of the brightest and most engaging little
girls I think I've ever met. She had us laughing and eating out of her
hand the entire evening. Frank is completely enchanted and lost to
her charms. We enjoyed an all too short visit with them and promised
not to let so much time pass or Naia will be grown when we next see her.
Sunday, Frank was off again with his buddies and I got to spend the
afternoon and have lunch with my dear friend Jenn Williams. She took
me over to her new townhome in Parker and we just talked and talked.
By now my voice was in the gutter. I'd not talked this much to so
many people for so many hours at a stretch that my throat was on fire
and my vocal chords were fried. She dropped me off at Bill's in time
for me to freshen up for dinner at the home of our favorite super-hero
family, Mac and Pamela Buckland and their two kiddos, Shelby and
Blake. I say this with love and awe. If there is a super hero family
living on this Earth, they have morphed into the Bucklands. They get
our vote for mom and dad of the year and they do it all effortlessly
and naturally in spite of their busy careers. Mac follows our blogs
religiously and often queries us about the details that don't make the
blog. We dragged out the globe and had a little geography lesson with
the kids. We had a great night with the four of them.
Monday, more doctor appointments and check-ups and then afterward,
Frank and I went over to Karen's condo for a visit and Frank, being
the thoughtful father that he is, spotted a few little repair and
maintenance projects that are what we call "blue jobs" (men: blue,
women: pink), he wanted to take care of for Karen. She was overjoyed
that he could do that for her. I remembered how my dad would perform
these same little acts of love in my home when I was living the single
life. It really filled me with joy seeing Frank and Karen in that
role. Then Monday evening we finally got to have dinner with Bill and
Karen over at the home of Dick and Lee Miller. I guess their home is
as close as Frank can get to feeling back home. He and Dick are thick
as thieves and their friendship transcends time and space. Dick and
Lee are family. We love them and nearly cried leaving that night.
Tuesday, Lori Romero picked me up for morning coffee and then she and
I joined Jeri Lyn Martin for lunch and afternoon girl time. Later on,
Jeri Lyn took me back to Bill's, where Frank and I packed overnight
bags and shot over to Jeff and Jeri Lyn's house for a couple of days
with them. We figured Bill needed a little space by this time anyway.
Jeri Lyn cooked and while the boys drank some prized scotch, she and I
busied about.
Wednesday, Frank golfed with Jeff while Jeri Lyn and I shopped and
caught up with old friends, and then treated ourselves to an afternoon
of spa pedicures and manicures. We supped out at a forgettable venue
in the new Southglen area, but with these two it doesn't matter where
we are or what we eat; we just enjoy.
Thursday, Jeri Lyn took me for yet another doc. appt. (love all those
annual check-ups!), and then after soaking up another wonderful day
together she dropped me off at Bill's where we said our goodbyes.
That night we met some of our former tailgate friends, The Daleys and
the Semps over at the Morlan's home for a faux tailgate. The Daley
girls came along – always a pleasure to see them and always surprised
that they want to hang out with us old farts. The meal was a
"tailgate" extravaganza that included Scott's grilled-to-perfection
Tri Tip and a load of freshly picked Peaches and Cream corn that Tim
had brought from Brighton. As the evening wound down, Cara Morlan
arrived and regaled us with stories of her latest D.A. cases including
attending an autopsy! As my eyes drooped and my voice began to give
out we called it a wrap and headed for our little home at Bill's.
Friday, Frank and I took Bill over to The Original Pancake House for
breakfast. They have the best homemade breakfasts of anyplace on
Earth. I can't ever decide which of my favorites to have there, and
each time I go I can't wait to return to have another of my favs.
Frank left us to meet another group of buddies so Bill and I returned
to his place and just had some down time.
Our last evening was with Barb Frank and Larry Hill at De Luxe, one of
our favored dining venues in Denver. We started at De Lite the tapas
bar next-door, scarfing down several platters of Dillon's famous
Oyster Shooters, and after a while we moved over to the restaurant.
Barb has become such a regular patron that she was able to secure the
extra top secret, very private back room which she and Larry
affectionately refer to as The Bat Cave. Nice. We got very personal
treatment in there! Again, we found ourselves feeling quite exhausted
as our evening ran into late night and breezed far beyond our witching
hour. Frank and I decided that we would have to get back to Destiny
for a vacation from our vacation.
Saturday, we slept in late and then set about packing our bags for the
final leg of our stateside trip. We spent our last few hours with
Karen and Bill dining at the Cherry Creek Grill. Yummo! Bill
absolutely swears by their Prime Rib French Dip Sandwich. And now I
swear by it as well. I just don't know how they do it but it is, hands-
down, the best I've ever eaten. We lollygagged as much as we could
before the two of them drove us to the airport for our evening flight
to LAX.
Reading back over these journals of going home and the next part of
our trip in Long Beach and San Diego, I realized nearly all we did
back home was EAT! I also appreciate that we are incredibly blessed
to have so many wonderful friends and family in Texas, Colorado,
Virginia, California, and from other parts of the US who love us and
who made special arrangements to spend time with us while we were back
home. Frank often teases me about the amount of detail I put into my
journals and blogs, but then if I don't do that I won't possibly
remember it all in a few years when the memories fade. Then I
sometimes think I didn't put enough detail into my writings, in case
people are reading these and feel that I left them out or slighted
them somewhat in the story telling. Ah – it is a fine line to walk,
but at least I try. That's what matters most – the effort.
It is said, "It takes a friend to be a friend". I hope Frank and I
can live up to that definition.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

July 22 – August 17th – Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jig! (Houston Leg 7/22 – 8/4/10)

My flight into Houston arrived fairly late, and fortunately, my friends Debra and Sandy Sandoval live not too far from the airport and had prepared a room for me.  I had not seen them since their visit to Destiny while we were in Fiji last June.  We stayed up even later chattering away until none of us could keep our eyes open.  I awoke the next day at noon!  I had no idea how jet lagged I was.  They let me snooze away thinking I must have needed the rest, and they were right.  My body clock was way out of whack.  The entire time I spent in Houston I could not seem to get to sleep before the wee hours. 10 PM in Houston was only 3 in the afternoon Fiji time.  So you can only imagine how loopy I seemed to everyone who saw me.  I just ran around with big black circles under my eyes and feeling like I'd walked into a wall.  But that did not slow me down.   No sir-ee!  My time in Texas was a blur.
On Friday I drove over to my parents' house.  My mom always cries when she see me, so we had a weepy hug and a nice long visit before I got back on the road with all the crazed Houston drivers to negotiate my way the 60+ miles south to Seabrook. Jen was home from work by then and after I got settled into my guest room she gave me a tour of her new home. I can with good conscience say that her home is stunning! Impressive! Spectacularly larger than my starter home.  I am so proud of her I could split myself in two and not be able to hold all the joy I feel for what my little girl has accomplished.  It isn't just about the house; it is about her overcoming enormous obstacles, moving forward with a tenacious determination and working hard for what she wants, in spite of what she has endured in her short life.  She has achieved much but has only begun the journey.  Buying this home speaks volumes. She is my little fighter. And she is a delicate flower at the same time. My one regret is that I am so far away from her and from our precious grandson, Trace. My hearts swells not only with pride for her, but with an ache I cannot quell that whispers "You should be here for her and your grandson, not tens of thousands of miles away".  Yet I realize Jen is most assuredly better off not having me there to meddle and comment, suggest and urge her to do it all the way I would do it or want her to. But I cannot still the pain and guilt in my heart each time I see her and watch my grandson grow a year at a time in the minute that I saw him last.
My dear friend Sharon had flown in from Reno and on Saturday, she and Maureen drove down (from NW Houston) to visit us at Jen's. They toured her salon and her house and then we had a special afternoon and evening with them. 
Because Jen's salon is closed on Sundays and Mondays, we wanted to spend some quality time together and so on Sunday Jen, Trace, Jacob – Jen's fiancé - and I drove up to Mom and Dad's house.  We enjoyed a long visit, all had lunch together and then in late afternoon we stopped by Debra and Sandy's house where Trace was in Seventh Heaven! Debra and Sandy's home is filled with little boy delights.  They have a fully stuffed, standing bear in the office, toys and gadgets, and all sorts of interesting bits and baubles from all of their travels to various parts of the globe, and the piece de resistance is the blow-dart "gun".  Sandy has had this thing since Jennifer was a little girl.  She used to love to go blow darts at Sandy's house, and was so enthralled with it I bought her a smaller version for her birthday when she was around 9 or 10. Sandy's blow tube is nearly 5 feet long Jen's is only about 2.5 feet long. Trace has never seen Jen's set. And so he was hooked!  He loved it so much that Sandy actually sent it home with us.  We ended up staying at their house for hours while Sandy tempted Jacob with taste-testing several of his home brews and various other libations. Finally when I declared that I would be cross-eyed driving all the way back to Seabrook and that Trace was beyond his bedtime by a millennium, we bid the Sandovals good night (or was it morning?).
Monday was my day with my girl we spent nearly the entire day at her salon trying to strip the blue/black/purple/burgundy out of my hair that had been colored in New Zealand.  It was a bit of work, as whatever they'd used to color my hair over there was industrial strength and actually glowed, iridescent in the sunlight.  My poor girl stripped it three times and then tried to re-color it back to a more natural brown.  I think my hair will never be the same, until I just let it go naturally gray.  What is it with the female ego that won't allow us to age gracefully? Or ungracefully – I just wish that it was OK to wrinkle, gray, plump and jiggle without society telling us – "Oh, girl, you've let yourself go!"  I am very close and very tempted.
During the workweek, Trace normally attends summer camp, but I got to steal a couple of days with him – just the two of us. I have to re-introduce myself to him each time we are together because I am the grandma who always goes away.  I'm not altogether sure he understands where I fit into the picture but we give it a go sparring around measuring one another up and test the waters a little at a time.  I got to take him to Space Center Houston, and shopping for shoes and to the bookstore where he go to pick out a basket full of books and things.
I drove back up to the northwest part of Houston again on the 28th not just to see my parents but for a reunion lunch with some of my classmates from 35 years ago.  My high school had held our 35th year reunion in May (during our passage from NZ to Fiji), which I'd missed but being contacted about it had put me back in touch with friends I'd not seen or spoken to in decades. A couple of those friends arranged a lunch for us.  My girlfriends who were able to show were (former names) Karen Kleb, Melanie Angel, Luann Simms and Brenda Parks. We had a hoot catching up and my face hurt at the end of the day from smiling so much.  What a special day that was! Brenda and I actually stayed beyond the "lunch", on into dinnertime long after the others had left us.  I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to reconnect with them after all these years.
Friday was my day with Marianne and dinner with Sally.  And then on Saturday Jen, Trace and I drove up to Seagoville (south of Dallas) for a couple of days with my sister Bev, her husband D and their son Tre.  Trace and Tre were inseparable. Again, my grandson was a very happy boy getting to spend this very special time with his cousin and Uncle D. Bev, Jen and I just drank each others time up, and before we knew it we were getting back into the car Monday morning for the 6-hour drive back to Seabrook. That was a teary goodbye! My little sister is my best friend. We never seem to have enough time with one another.
The rest of my Houston visit was spent with Jen, Jacob and Trace.  On August 3rd I hugged my baby goodbye, drove back up to my folks house to spend my final night with Mom and Dad.  It was much more difficult to say goodbye to my parents than to anyone else.  No matter how old I am, I am still their little girl about whom they worry and fret and spill tears.  I felt that familiar ache in my heart as I got into the car on August 4th to head out.  I made one final stop at Debra and Sandy's house to check on Deb. She had just come home from the hospital after having a hip replacement.  Not surprisingly, she is getting along very well. More hugs and goodbyes and promises to see one another "down the way", and then I was off to return my rental car and board my flight to Denver.

Monday, August 23, 2010

July 19 – 22nd – Exciting Port Denarau, Fiji

We pulled into the marina of the smallest, busiest port in all of Fiji.  This is where tourists who have just landed at Nadi International Airport pour out of the buses and taxis to board the water shuttles that will take them to their island vacation in paradise at one of Fiji's thousands of incredibly beautiful resorts.  It is also where the shuttles return those sunburned yet very well vacationed tourists, laden with Fiji's finest "handicrafts", Bula Shirts, dresses and packets of dried Kava to the depot where they will be whisked off to the airport for their flight back to civilization and the stresses of every day living.  Since our visit to Fiji last year, Port Denarau has grown ten-fold.  The waterfront is now completely built out with restaurants, tour operators' headquarters, souvenir shops, clothing stores, ice cream shops, grocery stores, jewelry stores, and so on.  It is a bustling hub for those who want to eat good food, shop until they drop and even hit the pharmacy on the way in or out.  We loved the energy of Port Denarau.

Here also are yachts of every description and size; 20 ft all the way up to 200 ft in length.  They are anchored in the bay, Med Moored stern-to at the older dock and berthed at the newest pier.  Destiny will be left on the new dock where she will (hopefully) safely spend the next 30 or so days.  She is flanked by two HUGE motor yachts.  We feel very small, yet quite pleased with this arrangement.  We are flying home to the US on the 22nd.  When we arrive in Los Angeles, we will each board another flight to separate destinations for a couple of weeks: I to Houston to see my daughter's new house, visit with my parents, friends and to hopefully see my sis and her family in the Dallas area; Frank will fly to Virginia to visit his mom, sis and my brother and all of their offspring.  He will then jet to Colombia, Missouri to attend the wedding celebration of his very dear friend, Lee Baumann.  We could not both do it all; therefore we had to make choices to maximize the visit home.  Besides, this will be good for us both to have a little space from one another after living within a 50-foot floating condo.

After getting hooked up and secured in our berth, we made reservations with the canvas maker to book in some repairs, order "clears" for the cockpit, and paid a visit to Baobab Marine to see about getting some pumps and an alternator reconditioned.  Then we went over to the Hard Rock Café to meet Jock and Leanne Tucker ("Just In Time"), and their daughter Kelly who is here for a nice long visit.  After a welcome beer at the HRC, we grabbed a quick pizza to fortify us for shopping because the girls had plans! Apparently the boys did as well, and that was to move from bar to bar in an effort to absorb the full flavor of Denarau's hospitality. We suspect it was to avoid being observed by us as we moved from store to store, because we implored them not to just sit and drink all day. Just like kids worrying over getting their hands caught in the cookie jar, they practiced stealthy maneuvers.  We girls loaded our bags with dresses, swimsuits ("togs" in Kiwi), t-shirts and gifts. Then we located the men at Lulu's Bar and Café where we rested for a bit before adjourning to clean up and meet back at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner.

The Tuckers left the next day to take Kelly away for her Fiji vacation and we bid them farewell before getting into a cab for Nadi town where we had some business to take care of before leaving the country.  We will not likely see Jock and Leanne and most of our cruising friends again until Vanuatu in mid-Sept.  The remainder of our time in Denarau was utilized preparing for our trip home and getting everything settled aboard Destiny before leaving her for 4 weeks.

The 22nd arrived all too quickly, and before we knew it we were boarding our Air Pacific flight for LAX. It is a nice 11-hour overnighter, and crossing the International Dateline we will gain a day, putting us into LA at 1:30 in the afternoon on July 22nd

Saturday, August 21, 2010

July 5 – 19, 2010 - Musket Cove, our favorite Home Away From Home in the South Pacific!

It did not take us long to fall right back into step at Musket cove.
There were so many activities for us to participate in that we just
jumped right in and started having fun. Each morning we took a long
hike over the hills of the little island. I got into Aqua Aerobics in
the mornings after our hikes, and playing cards with the girls several
afternoons per week at the café. I learned to play Baja Rummy and

Frank spent a lot of time with the boys mulling over boat repairs and
leaks. This is a very social activity for them. They diagnose, then
have a few beers. Later on or the next day they start on the actual
work and then have a few beers. Then they would plan the next repair
and have a few beers. Because Frank was enjoying his repair time so
much I didn't feel terribly guilty about spending so much time with
the girls exercising and playing cards.

The World Cup (soccer) was being televised at 6:30 AM at the resort,
so Frank would awake early on those days to join Paul and Gloria
("Scallywag"), and the rest of the soccer fans to watch the matches.
Not having grown up with soccer, hence knowing nothing of the game, I
took a pass. However, I have become a fast and furious All Blacks
fan. The Tri-Nations rugby matches were going on during our stay and
so on the evenings of those events I joined the mass of humanity that
crammed into the media room at the resort to watch. Fortunately I had
Leanne and Gloria to explain rules and plays to me during the games.
It was exciting stuff indeed.

Most of our cruiser friends came and went on a daily basis to visit
other islands and would return with the timing of sporting event
telecasts. Then there were the steady-eddies among our friends who
stayed around for general R & R like us. We enjoyed a considerable
number of dinners, games and walks with "Bold Spirit" and "Mokisha",
and met lots and lots of new friends. We partied away most nights at
the Island Bar BBQ, sharing potluck dishes with other cruisers.
Sometimes our group was so large we took over the largest tables and
occasionally several tables. We had dinner and played games on each
others' yachts and watched our $2 "first run" movies that we'd
purchased in the video store at SavuSavu. This was the most social
time we have had since leaving the USA in 2008. Neither of us wanted
it to end. But as times passed, so did friends. "Scallywag", "Just In
Time", "Avant Garde", "Mahurangi" all had visitors and so they set off
island hopping with them.

On the 19th, we hugged and cried a lot as we prepared to leave for
Port Denarau. We knew that we will not see some of our friends again,
or that if we do it will be a long time until then. Some were
planning to sail back home to the US, some back to NZ and others to
who knows where. Once again, we left a piece of our hearts behind.