Monday, February 13, 2017

Winter Respite in Florida

Winter in Michigan can be a test of endurance, especially if you are not a fan of skiing or ice skating.  I hibernate like a bear, racing from the warmth of my house to the heated car to the warmth of my office until springs breaks in April.  Not everyone is able to escape to a warm climate in February.  My sister Caroline and I were lucky enough to do just that.  Our friend Carol and her husband Jerry opened their home to us in Naples, Florida for a long weekend of blue skies and 80 degree weather.  Their home was like a five star resort and we were treated like royalty.  Each bedroom in the house opened onto their toasty screened-in pool and we spent all our time outside.  We thank them for their hospitality and friendship.

We enjoyed many restaurants and trips to the beach, as well as relaxing poolside dining and drinks daily.  Our 80 degree weather with blue skies all weekend could not have been more perfect,.  It was a welcome respite from the wind and chill back home.

Full photo album available HERE.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Bucket List

When you get to a certain age, you start thinking about your bucket list.  How much time do I have left to see some of the things I have always dreamt about?  Of course, none of us knows when our time will come, whether in youth or old age.  I am so glad Georg and I were able to enjoy many of those items together before we lost him too soon.  After two difficult years it is time for me to assess what's left on my list.

One thing was a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon.  Georg and I traveled there together and were amazed at the majesty of God's creation.  But we never attempted the hike down and that is definitely beyond my capability now.  I was on my way to Lake Havasu for the annual balloon festival (the second thing on my list).  Since my plane was landing in Las Vegas and I was driving to Arizona, I decided to stay in Vegas first and do the helicopter ride.  My hotel recommended Maverick Aviation Group, for their safety record.  They picked me up from my hotel and we signed up at their office.

I will never forget flying over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the endlessly fascinating colors and rock formations of the desert landscape.  Best of all, landing in the canyon for champagne and a light snack.  The whole journey, from door to door, was about four hours and worth every penny.

Then it was on to my next destination, Lake Havasu City, Arizona, a popular vacation spot and water recreation area.  In particular, it is also famous for the London Bridge, which was dismantled in London in 1967 and relocated in the city by Robert P. McCulloch.  The structure was completed in 1971.  It is the site of the annual balloon festival.

The view from my balcony at The Heat Hotel, overlooking the bridge, afforded the best possible vantage point from which to see the balloons.

What's next on the bucket list?   I want to get back to Hawaii and I've been wanting to see Orca whales up close for a long time.  Hopefully I will be able to fulfill those dreams this year as well.  God willing!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dames at Sea, Day Thirteen: Last Day in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

After almost two weeks underway, we reached the end of our trip of a lifetime. We had been to four countries, experienced Rome and Barcelona and had eaten a lot of amazing food.  My photographs will help me to remember every moment. The world is an amazing place and one thing I have found is that people are the same regardless of which part of the planet they are from.  Everyone responds to a smile and desires appreciation. It is amazing that we had no negative experiences.  No one tried to pickpocket us, despite dire warnings from friends.  Everyone we came in contact with were friendly, kind and helpful and our memories are warm.

Our last day in Barcelona was devoted to Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.  We had purchased timed tickets in advance.  They usually sell out, so it was necessary to get them beforehand. Construction began in 1882 and was only one quarter complete by the time of Gaudi's death in 1926.  The goal is to complete construction by 2026, one hundred years after his death. It has been described as the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.

The church design has eighteen spires, representing the twelve apostles, the Virgin Mary, four Evangelists and, the tallest spire, Jesus Christ.  There are three facades: the Nativity facade faces the east; the Passion to the west and Glory to the south. On the interior, Gaudi designed the columns to mirror trees and branches. Opinions about the church are polarizing.  Some experts have called it "hideous", others "a marvel of technical perfection" and "spirit symbolized in stone".  I personally found it emotionally moving, jubilant and whimsical all at the same time.  It gives glory to God and I have the sense it was built for that purpose, not for the glorification of the architect.

 Inside, soft, heavenly music wafted through as we sat and took it all in.  Special sitting areas were designated for prayer and quiet, no photos allowed.  We were brought to tears.

Saying goodbye to Barcelona was difficult.  Our three days there have only whetted my appetite to return and really get to know the city.  A girl can dream!