November 2004 Archives

Awake 7:18 am Temp downtown 29 Cloudy 9 hrs 17 min of daylight

Call my cousin Florentz in Pennsylvania. He is convalescing after slipping
& falling down the stairs landing on the bottom step &
racking(3)ribs...while he was carrying one of his granddaughters. She was
thrown clear & no injuries. Florentz knows that(3) ribs were cracked
because he checked them with his dousing rods.

Try to call my brother Don in answer. I think he & Josie
are traveling.

We call Gene & Jeri in Florida. Since my call was cut short on Wednesday,
I thought it would be nice to chat with them again. Besides, we are
finding more things they left behind. For example: A good looking bottle
of red wine, a real estate book, an unopened BIG bottle of Passport Scotch
& a half used bottle of the same, & a book on Alaska, series II. I am
grateful they had a small suitcase. Already Gene & Jeri are missing

Call Nick in Seattle. We talk for an hr. He's doing fine & loves his new
Kathy calls her good friend Jodi in Memphis...they have a nice update chat.

We attend 5:00 pm mass @ St. Pat's. Then I take Kathy out on the town for
something different: Pizza & beer @ Mooses Tooth. It's a great hangout for
a couple of young people like us. Back home @ 8:45 pm.

Start watching VCR library movie: "House of games." Only watch 1/2
because somebody kept falling asleep. I am anxious to see the rest.

Lights out: 11:04 pm

Awake 6:47 am Temp downtown 24 Some sun 9 hrs 23 min of daylight

Casual morning for us. About 12:30, I drop Kathy off @ the library & I
drive downtown to renew our Suzuki tow car registration. This time, I
register for "Seasonal outside use waver." The cost is the same & the
difference is I cannot operate this vehicle in Anchorage from October thru
March without an IM test. Perfect! I don't ever plan on bringing the
Suzuki up to Alaska during winter or summer. Return to pick up Kathy then
back home @ 1:30 pm.

Remainder of the afternoon, I continue going thru our mail.

6:45 Dinner: Fresh Ahi Tuna steak with mixed rice & fresh salad.

9:00 DVD movie on our surprise gift from Gene & Jeri..."Sophie's Choice."
Fascinating & a well made flick.
Lights out: 11:30 pm.

Awake 7:22 am Temp downtown 39 Cloudy 9 hrs 29 min of daylight

Melissa calls mid morning to find out if we are planning a visit with them
today. We are not sure because we are expecting a call from our potential
home buyers today sometime. Shortly after the phone is hung up, Woody
calls. They can't meet with their lender at the bank until tomorrow.

Alright! So we take this opportunity to visit with Melissa & Matthew,
being careful to fit into his awake schedule. We haven't seen them since
August 11. Melissa is looking good & little Matthew has grown. He is doing
a lot more interacting with people than before. For example, he has a fake
cough & will use it on que, plus he now crawls @ high speed & stands up
easily. He is well cared for by Melissa & Kevin.

Speaking of Kevin, he is enjoying his full time computer position @ the
University of Alaska plus having some flexible hrs. During our time away,
he tiled the kitchen floor & fit in a new larger refrigerator. He does
teriffic work. It was a nice update visit with the Footes.

We do some casual shopping next door @ the new Fred Meyer store...then
back to our house @ 3:00 pm.

We continue going thru our bundle of mail for the remainder of the
afternoon & most of the evening. A lot of junk mail!
Lights out: 11:00 pm

Awake 9:02 am Temp downtown 34 Partly cloudy Overnight Anchorage, Ak.
9 hrs 34 min of daylight

If feels good to be back in Alaska. We both slept very well. After
breakfast we talk with Melissa about a possible plan to visit with her,
Kevin, & Matthew today. We have grocery shopping to do & Kathy has a
haircut scheduled with Robin for 4:30. To fit all that in between
Matthew's naps is too difficult, so we'll shoot for a visit on Thursday.

Leave the house @ 11:35 for shopping @ Fred Meyers then Costco & back home
@ 3:30. Kathy leaves shortly afterward to get her haircut & do a little
more shopping.

Meanwhile I call Woody @ his home answer. Then I call his
wife. She is driving & will have Woody call later.
When Woody calls, he wants to come over & talk with us about real estate.
Before I say OK, I call Kathy to confirm that she will be home so we can
talk with Woody & his wife together around 5:30--6:00 pm.

Meanwhile Gene calls from Florida. I thank him & Jerri for keeping our
house so clean & organized + the new VCR & DVD player they left in our
den.....we were not finished talking when Woody & his wife Chong rang our
doorbell. I let them in to walk around the house while I continue to talk
with Gene about the damage to their home from the recent hurricanes in
Florida. "We were lucky" he says. "A few water leaks, a tree blown down &
some siding messed up but otherwise, not too bad."

Woody wants to see our equipment room again and eventually we find our way
down there. As I am explaining some of the features of our commercial
heating system, Kathy arrives & joins us. We walk thru a few more rooms
before settling down to the kitchen table to start the FSBO process. It's
new to us & new to them so it's like the blind leading the blind. Kathy
leads the process by following our FSBO manual. Wood & Chong make us an
offer of &&&& but we are asking $$$$$. Kathy & I look at each other
knowing that's too low, & they look at each other & seem to know it's too
low. Finally Kathy breaks the silence & verbalizes what we are thinking.
"What will you take asks one of them?" Kathy takes her time while we look
at each other again. Then with a strong direction & good eye contact, she
mentions a price slightly lower than our asking. Woody & Chong look at
each other & tell us they have qualified at their bank for the amount
$$$$. We say nothing. Then after a little time passes, one of them
mentions that they will need to talk with their bank tomorrow & let us
know. "OK" we say & after a little more casual conversation, we walk them
to the door & say, goodnight. This was our 2nd serious offer in the 5
weeks we've had our house on the market.

While Kathy is cooking dinner, the news televises the Red Sox's winning
the American League Pennant over the New York Yankees.

8:50 pm Dinner: Pork chops, broccoli, fried apple & fresh salad.
Lights out: 11:08 pm

Awake 4:54 am Temp 64 Partly cloudy Overnight @ Sun City, AZ

@ 10:30 am our coach is ready to re-position on the North side of Al's big
shop in the shade. If Al & Wilma do drive their motorhome East during Nov
& Dec, then Al will park our bus in his shop under cover.

Al has never driven a Newell so I invite him to do the driving &
re-positioning for familiarization. He does just fine. We say our goodbyes
& thank you's to Al & Wilma who have been quite busy with commitments
during our short stay. Then we continue to organize & get ready for our
Super Shuttle pickup scheduled for 1:25 pm. The shuttle arrives 5 min stop in Glendale for another passenger (that makes five) & 45
min later we are at the Phoenix airport.

We fly Alaska Airlines PHX to PDX = 2 hrs. Rough flight with turbulence en
route. Kathy does pretty well considering her sensitivity.

During our layover in PDX, we eat a bowl of chicken salad Kathy had put
together this morning...then walk around the terminal for exercise. When
passing an active bar & grill, we notice the baseball series between the
Sox and Yankees being televised. Boston is leading when player Rodriguez,
running to first base, litterly swats the ball out of the glove of pitcher
Arroyo while trying to avoid being tagged. The stadium crowd went wild. We
had to get back to our gate for departure & couldn't hang around to see
how it was handled.

On board the aircraft, we found out that Rodriguez was called out, the run
that scored was reversed & the Sox won the game....another thriller!

We boarded the aircraft @ 8:30 but didn't take off until 9:30 due to some
clearing of mechanical paperwork performed earlier on the aircraft. We
both take naps off & on en route to Anchorage. PDX to ANC = 4 hrs 5 min.

Take a taxi home @ 1:30 am. Our home is very clean & organized. Every room
vacuumed. Gene and Jerri, our friends and house sitters, have done a great
job taking care of our home in our absence.

Lights out: 2:30 am

Awake 5:29 am Temp 63 Clear sky Overnight @ Sun City, AZ

We both do some suitcase packing first thing this morning.

After our coffee, we walk the neighborhood(1 hr) for exercise. Then I
visit Al who is tinkering on his motorhome in his huge shop. He's getting
it ready to travel Eastward in November.
After lunch we both visit Al & he introduces us to his folding bikes
hidden away in a corner....and invites us to take a ride. So we spend
another hr touring the area on his "Made in Taiwan by Dahmon" bikes. They
are in good shape & ride well.

Late afternoon, we sit outside on our camping chairs & enjoy this 79
degree weather & have wine before dinner. We will miss this comfortable
warm weather that's for sure.

6:15 Dinner: Leftovers...stuffed pepper fillingr, spaghetti & broccoli.

Again tonight, we are spellbound when watching the series baseball game
between the Sox's & Yankees. They go extra innings(14) & the Sox's win

Call Mark in Anchorage. They are flying to Medford, OR to begin their 6
week RV trip thru Utah, Arizona, & California before returning to Alaska.

High temp today = 82 Some late bedroom reading. Lights out: 10:38 pm

Awake 5:21 am Temp 71 Some clouds Overnight Sun City, AZ

Kathy makes one of my favorite breakfasts....Sourdough pancakes with bacon
& toast.
We get the loose photos from the Joey bed in the basement. Then Kathy
spends the rest of the morning & most of the afternoon looking at &
organizing these photos into their proper year time frame, a big job....I
help a little.

Meanwhile I take the plexiglass cover off the rear coach's camera. It was
very dirty so I clean & re-install it.

7:15 Dinner: Stuffed peppers with fresh salad.

Watch TV show: "Desperate Housewifes" then watch baseball game: New York
Yankees vs Boston Red Socks. A real sit on the edge of your seat finish.
(12 innings). Sox's win.
High temp today = 82 Lights out: 11:11 pm

Awake 5:50 am Temp 65 High whispy clouds Overnight Sun City, AZ

Call my friend Gary on his cell phone..they just sold their home in
Pahrump, NV & are living in their trailer in a campground until
March/April time frame, then they are heading East to Pennsylvania to
build a new home.

Call my buddy Gary in Landenburg, PA. They are making preparations as we
speak to attend the Newell rally @ Hilton Head, South Carolina. Gary says
he is designing our Nicktown home for us & will send drawing & pictures. I
tell him I am designing the ultimate plan for his retirement....and I will
send nothing. It's too complex to write out & must be carefully discussed
in person.

Call our friends Bill & Betsy in Las Vegas, NV. They are selling their Key
West lot in Florida, Hilton head lot, Table Rock Lake lot(Oak Grove,
Arkansas)& the Newport, Oregon lot.....and his Marathon Motorhome. A mild
shock to us. They bought a condo in Las Vegas, NV.

We drive into Phoenix, about 45 min , to have Italian Beef Sandwiches(One
of our favorites). They are difficult to find ....

Stop @ Katz & buy some corned beef for Al & Wilma...then attend 4:00 pm
Mass @ St. Joachim & St Anne, a mere 5 min away from the ranch.

Evening time: Watch TV movie "Brokedown Palace." Quite good & the popcorn
& fried Parmesan cheese with sun dried tomatoes for snacking was quite
good also.

High temp today =91 Lights out: 1030 pm

Awake 6:03 am Temp 63 A few wispy clouds overnight @ Sun City, Arizona

Casual morning here at the ranch. Al has 12 acres close to many commercial
outlets so it's like where we live in in the country but
close to the city.

Mid morning, I try calling Frank, the guy whose son let us store our
motorhome in the BIG onion storage facility in Washington State for 3
months while we returned to Alaska to get our home ready for selling. No
answer on Frank's cell phone so I leave a message.

After lunch we grocery shop @ Trader Joe's.....then return to the coach.
Just before dinner, a call comes thru & some lady calls me Floyd..."I'm
not Floyd and who are you?" She says she is returning the call from
someone that tried to call them. Turns out to be Kate, Frank's wife is
talking & Frank is driving near Royal City, Washington. We were hoping
they had driven their Newell to Arizona & we could rendezvous with them
this weekend. They won't be coming to Arizona until the last week of
October. That's unfortunate because we were looking forward to spending
some time together before we return to Alaska. So much for the visit with
Frank & Kate.

7:15 Dinner: Ginger chicken with broccoli & sweet peppers, brown & wild
rice & spinach apple salad.

Evening time: read some motorhome magazines. Lights out: 11:07 pm

Awake 5:55 am Temp 41 Clear sky Overnight Holbrook, Arizona

Leave the OK RV campground in Holbrook @ 10:13 am. Should be an easy
driving day today. Some 200 miles to go so we take our time getting

Just down the road from Holbrook, we stop for fuel @ a Flying "J" in
Winslow, Arizona. We still have plenty of fuel but this place is
convenient plus I like to have a reasonably full tank when leaving the
motorhome sit for awhile during winter storage.

Descending the steep grades from Flagstaff into the Phoenix basin is
sometimes a handful for me. Our coach is heavy & likes to roll downhill,
but these downgrades frequently have sharp flat curves at the bottom that
must be respected. So I have to not only use my jake brake on max, but
also downshift the transmission to 3rd gear(from 6th)to hold the machine
from gathering too much speed.

Arrive @ our destination for this year @ Al & Wilma's place @ 3:00 pm.
Todays travel: 4 hrs 10 min 232.1 miles 24.38 gallons used 9.52 mpg
56.4 avg speed.

So the total distance from Nicktown to Sun City, Arizona = 2,027 miles in
(5) travel days.
We chat with Al & Wilma for a while then park our coach, open the slides &
settle down for the day. Al allows us to use his fax line for phone calls
& computer use after business hrs....we like that.

7:30 pm Dinner: Leftover Italian sausage with peppers & onions & some
leftover spaghetti.
Lights out: 10:57 pm

Awake 6:36 am Temp 49 Clear sky Overnight Amarillo, Texas

The wind is from the Northwest today. We leave the campground @ 9:12 am.
Texas roads in the panhandle on I-40 & New Mexico roads have been 90%
smooth & a lot newly paved. Then entering Arizona on I-40, these roads so
far also have been great.

East of Albuquerque, a heavy downpour with rain off & on for over an hr.
Again, Kathy moves into the driver's seat @ 50 mph so I can take a pause
for the cause...after the rain ceased.

So today also was a non-stop leg: 9 hrs 23 min 517 miles 60.12 mpg .....
8.16 mph 55.2 avg speed.

Arrive @ the OK RV Park in Holbrook, Arizona @ 5:35 pm local time. We
stayed overnight at this campground February 14, 2004 during our trip
heading East to Pennsylvania. It's BIG rig friendly, easy off, easy on to
I-40 & a quiet place to hang out.

We watch the 3rd & final presidential debate. Bush did a better job of
keeping up with Kerry's offense this time around.

8:30 Dinner: Pork chops with mixed rice, leftover Singapore chicken &
fresh salad.

Return my buddy Ray's phone call from Washington State. He called while en
route & our coverage on cell phone was zilch.

While watching the late news, Albuquerque reported I-40 was closed for
some time today because of heavy snow in the Mountains just East of the
We barely missed getting involved with that delay on I-40. The heavy rain
we experienced appeared to have a snow mixture at the time we went through
that pass.

Later evening: Watch movie on cable: "The mirror has two faces."

Lights out: 12:38 am

Awake 5:50 am Temp 52 Light rain overnight @ Newell campground

Leave the Newell campground @ 9:05am. Rolling down the highway, our bus is
a lot quieter than before. Interesting how one can get accustomed to
something like a noise & not realize that noise gets just a little louder
each day.

Route 69 South to Interstate 40 is smooth but slow & not the best way to
be heading West because it sort of zig-zags down to I-40 & there are small
towns with traffic, stoplights, etc. I probably will avoid this route in
the future.

Then I-40 to Oklahoma City is rough...beyond that, there is a combination
of newly paved roads, single lane roads with construction, then more
stretches of rough road. From the Texas border to Amarillo, we have very
smooth interstate.

Arrive @ the Amarillo RV Ranch @ 6:20 pm.

9 hrs 21 min(non stop). Kathy switched seats once while we were moving so
I could take a pause for the cause.
488 miles 61.5 gallons 7.94 mph 52.9 avg speed

We are not doing any sightseeing along the way on this trip. We are
strickly driving to get there & want to have some visiting time in
Arizona before going back to Alaska.

8:30 Dinner: Italian sausage with peppers & onions, whole wheat tortilla
wrap & fresh salad.

Watch movie on cable: "Jack." Kinda good.
Lights out: 12:08 pm

Awake 5:10 am Temp 56 Light rain Overnight @ the Newell campground

This morning when daylight appears, I see no vacant parking sites
available & some of these new arrivals have simply parked around the large
circular drive. Later I am told, many of these arriving motorhomes today
are NASCAR drivers bringing in their boss's motorhome for service before
the next race, which is scheduled this coming weekend in Kansas.

After breakfast, I trek over to the service desk of manager Tommy. We chat
a little about how thing are going. Over the 2.5 yrs of driving this
Newell, Tommy & I have discussed the systems on the bus & other related
technical issues quite a few times. He's very good. I bring up our concern
of extra wind noise from our windshield. To my surprise, he thinks he can
get our coach into one of the service bays for a closer check before noon

Sure enough, our coach was driven in @ 9:30 & technician Claude spent 3.8
hrs completely removing both windshields, cleaning the cap where the seal
overlaps, re-setting both windshields & using black Sikafles between the
seal and cap. Claude says our windshield seal was slowly working its way
out perhaps from driving too fast.....just kidding. The real cause of
those windshield seals moving is much too technical to discuss at this

Kathy spends some of her time talking with Mary & Hal of St. Louis, MO who
also have property in Anchor Point, Alaska. They drive their Newell up to
Alaska each summer. Not a bad getaway. Kathy also spent some time on the
computer, checking e-mail and the kids' journals.

7:30 Dinner: Stuffed Peppers with broccoli, Asparagus & slice of bread.

Late evening we watch the movie "La Bamba" on cable.
Lights out: 10:35 pm

Awake 5:15 am Temp 63 Light rain Overnight @ Newell campground

When the rain began @ 8:30 am as a drizzle, I retracted all of our slides.
Then the heaven's opened up, all day & thru the night, rain & wind. I
believe it to be the remnants of tropical storms Matthew & Nicole.

Naturally, we spend our time in the bus today...Kathy working on photo
albums & watching cable TV in the bedroom, me doing more expense receipts
from our European travels & some magazine reading.

Later, I make a trip to Wal-Mart for milk, yogurt, red peppers & that was it.

Throughout the afternoon, evening & late evening, the Newell motorhomes
were arriving & parking in any site they could find open. We think most of
these arrivals are scheduled for factory service.
Lights out: 11:12 pm

Awake 5:26 am Temp 63 light rain Overnight East St. Louis, Illinois

While getting the outside duties finished for our departure, I meet Barb &
Terry from Michigan who know our friend Wild Bill. Small world isn't it?

Leave the Casino Queen campground @ 9:05. I-44 to Joplin, Missouri has
many different road surfaces. There is concrete(of different colors &
types of surface) asphalt(also of different colors & surface), some
smooth, some rough & a lot of truck traffic. We make a fuel stop @ Joplin,
MO. On this tank of fuel, we've traveled 1,197 miles.

Yesterday & again today, as we travel the interstate we notice an extra
wind noise coming from both our front windshields. At first we think it's
just a little extra headwind, but wait a minute...the trees & bushes are
not moving. We'll mention it to the guys @ Newell and we know we'll have
to stick around until Monday to do that.

Arrive at the Newell factory campground @ 3:30 pm. Our stats today: 5 hrs
55 min 314 miles traveled 9.05 mpg 54.1 avg speed.

After parking, we walk the preowned motorhome lot area, checking to see if
we know any of the coaches traded in for a newer model. Then attend 5:00
pm mass @ Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Back to the campground & we
go inside the service bays to look over the newer coaches being serviced.
The problem with this Newell company as I see it, they keep making nice
improvements in their product & when you do visit the factory, it's a
constant struggle to avoid the thought of buying the latest & greatest.

8:00 pm Dinner: Leftover pizza from the Palace Hotel on Wednesday night &
fresh salad. Later, we watch a Turner Classic Movie "Some Like It Hot" on
cable. On this Saturday night, there are only 2 other motorhomes staying
in the Newell campground. Lights out: 11:28 pm

Awake 5:11 am Temp 50 Some fog Overnight Milton, West Virginia

I watch(4)deer lazily graze just outside our kitchen window shortly after
I awake. It's so peaceful around here in the morning.

8:32 am departure. I-64 very smooth.....we like smooth.

We've been keeping our cell phone plugged in along our route...for a
change. I ask Kathy to call the Newell Motorhome office & confirm that
it's OK for us to park in their campground en route. Sam says: "No
problem! Come on down."
Newell now has over 20 parking sites on a 1st come, 1st served basis for
us patrons who are just camping for the night or parking for service @ the

Both of our boys call us @ different times as we are zooming along on
I-64. Kathy talks with Nick about his flight & times to Chicago for Zack's
Graduation & Zack talks to let Kathy know that he purchased a ticket
ORD-SEA-ANC same flt as us for after the graduation. For quite some time
now, we've been remiss at not keeping our cell phone on & available for
when our kids try to get in touch. Along the Interstates, cell phone
coverage is usually pretty good.

Arrive @ the Casino Queen Campground @ 5:12 pm. Nice place, BIG rig
friendly & right alongside the mighty Mississippi river with a view of
Downtown St. Louis that is right out of the magazine covers.

Today's travel to East St. Louis, Illinois: Time=8 hrs 45 min. 474.5 miles.
Fuel used=55.5 gal. Miles per gallon=8.55 Avg speed=54.8

Late Dinner: Kathy's special meat loaf with leftover spaghetti & fresh
salad. Lights out: 11:30 pm

Awake 5:25 am Temp 41 Clear sky Overnight in Nicktown

Drive to 8:00 am mass...afterward, rendezvous with cousin Florentz &
return his "T" handle. It worked very well for winterizing our well. We
say our thanks for the use & help of his equipment during our stay & the
fun visit we had at their place last Thursday, then say our goodbyes for
now. Next we join the coffee crowd for an hr ...then say our goodbyes to
all of them for now.

Leave our Nicktown campground property @ 11:15 am. Drive rural route 553
to 219 South, Interstate I-68 to I-64 to Milton, West Virginia. Today we
had good roads, little wind & not much traffic until Charleston, West

We select the Foxfire Resort Campground in Milton to spend the night. The
sharp turn onto the road leading to the campground was too sharp...we
couldn't make it around & there's no backing up when pulling a tow car.
Soooo, we had to get out of the motorhome, disconnect our tow car, then
Kathy had to halt the oncoming traffic so I could back up & maneuver onto
that campground road. After that little nuisance deal, the remainder of
this campground was big rig friendly.

8:00 pm Dinner: Pork chops, mixed rice, cauliflower, broccoli & olives.

Lights out: 11:32 pm

Awake 5:00 am Temp 35 Frost on the grass Overnight in Nicktown

After coffee & breakfast, Kathy drives uptown to meet with the coffee krew
for the 8:30 chit-chat. I stay in our motorhome & organize some of our
Then about 9:20, I walk to the 9:30 mass(the children's mass) & meet with
Kathy. Florentz & Anna are also at mass & he passes that "T" handle over
for me to try out on our well now that it's been modified.

Late morning, with Kathy's assistance, we clean our primary & secondary
well filters, turn off the well pump, then the circuit breakers, drain the
pressure tank...and using that modified "T" handle, lift the water pump up
out of the well water to drain, than lower it back into it's slot
connection until our next visit here, whenever that may be. That's how we
winterize our well.

Early afternoon, we ready our coach for travel with all slides retracted &
our campsite facility wrapped & winterized. In the morning, before we
drive away, I only need to disconnect the phone line & electrical power.

Drive across town & visit Joe & Mary Lou. He is 78 now, has back pain, a
weak heart & diabetes but...has a strong mind. For some 50 + years, Joe
owned & operated the IGA food market here in Nicktown. Just this year,
he's had to give it up. We spend an hr talking with them. Back to our bus
@ 6:00.

Phone message from my buddy Barry: He & his wife Bonnie would like to go
out for dinner tonight. We pick them up @ 6:50, drive 10 min to the Palace
Hotel in North-Northern Cambria & have some beer & pizza. It was good.
Florentz's son Cyrus is the new owner of this hotel & restaurant. Barry &
I always have a lot to talk about. Back to our bus @ 10:30. Lights out:
11:28 pm

Awake 6:00 am Temp 36 Clear sky Overnight in Nicktown

Drive to 8:00 am mass, then meet with my sister Corinne @ the Keystone
Truck Stop off Route 22 for breakfast. Corinne is keeping herself very
busy...we were lucky to have this time together. She is doing good things.
Back to our bus @ 10:30.

Drive over to Carol's business & talk with assistant. She says
that Dave, Carol's husband will be up shortly to assist me in getting
our(2) cars out of storage & drive them around. About 10 min later, Dave
arrives. He turns on the big air compressor, we pump up both front tires
on the Lexus and a jump start using the Suzuki battery gets the engine
running. I drive the Lexus around the local area for 20 min to warm the
engine sufficiently then park it behind our motorhome. Walk back to
Carol's business, uncover the Riviera & start the BIG BLOCK 401 cubic
engine & drive that around for 30 min. Both cars run fine. With Kathy's
help, we park them back in storage, remove the batteries, and here they
sit for another 6 months or longer. This whole process takes about 3
hrs...that includes talking with Jean, Dave, & Steve, a neighbor in town.

Next, I drive the Suzuki down to Al's Tire Service & have (4) new Cooper
tires mounted & balanced. The guy working on our Suzuki is Mike. He is the
son of Eileen & Walter of Nicktown. Eileen is my 2nd cousin & I had
talked with her & Walter on Friday & they mentioned that their son was
working for Al. Mike was just a youngster when I had left Nicktown for
college. Now he's a BIG guy. Anyway, I am comfortable having good rubber
on our Suzuki tow car again. Back to the bus @ 4:20.

Meanwhile Kathy has secured airline tickets for our travel to Zack's
graduation. Price is not good but we did wait a little too long to make
the purchase.

Call my sister Mary Jo in Lodi, CA. She reports that all is well. Brian
who (4) weeks ago, severed a tendon on his pinky finger, has not returned
to work yet...but Matt is now working @ Loew's Hardware.

6:00 pm Dinner: Leftover Italian sausage with spaghetti & meat sauce +
salad. We watch the vice presidential debate. Both guys, Cheney & Edwards
are very effective speakers. Lights out: 11:30 pm

Awake 5:46 am Temp 41 Clear sky Overnight in Nicktown

We walk to 8:00 am mass & join the coffee clan afterward.
Then Kathy literally spends hours on line trying to find a reasonably
priced air fare for us to attend Zack's graduation this Dec. 19th. In
between she does(3)laundry loads.

I drive over to Krumenacker's Hardware store here in town & purchase one
PVC 3" elbow & 2 drain clean out plugs for our In ground septic system.
Then visit Carol @ her business & ask if it's possible to drive both cars
we have in storage...she indicates, tomorrow will work.

Drive to (North-Northern Cambria)Barnesboro(10 min) to Al's tire shop &
arrange for(4)new tires for the Suzuki, our tow car. The tires have some
tread left but better to be safe since we'll be heading Southwest in a few
days. Mileage on our tow car 41,000. I think towing wears more on tires
than normal driving, especially the front ones.

Call my cousin Sue in Ebensburg...ask if this afternoon would work for a
visit..."yes, come on up" she says. En route to Sue's place we stop at
Delores's house just for a quick stop & question: Does she have our tax
address for our Nicktown property as Nicktown or Alaska? She's pretty sure
she's changed it to Alaska & looks it up in her BIG book to verify. I was
just curious.

On to Ebensburg where we make another quick stop @ Wal-Mart to pick up
developed pictures taken in Switzerland...then to visit my cousin Sue &
her sister Virginia. We talk for over an hr while sipping a highball &
snacking on popcorn & corn chips.

By the time we return to our home on wheels, we're not that hungry so our
dinner is simply more snacks...fried Parmesan cheese with sun dried
tomatoes, a variety of other cheeses, and mixed nuts...while we watch some

We do call Jeri & Gene close to midnight, our house sitters in Anchorage.
All is well & they have been enjoying staying in our home.
Lights out: 12:35

Awake 5:51 am Temp 40 Clear sky Overnight in Nicktown

We are hanging around our phone this morning until 9:30 am. If no further
messages from Gary, then we'll drive to Indiana & meet them @ the airport.

Gary calls @ 9:00 am. He reports Indiana airport fogged in. This is
surprising to me. I recommend he check the Ebensburg airport. About 2 hrs
later, Gary calls: "the Eagle has landed!" 15 min later we pick them up &
bring them to our property in Nicktown. We spend maybe 45 min walking
around our 7 acres ...pointing out our well, septic system, the creek,
when we build where the house & motorhome garage & driveway will be
located, etc. Gary has some good ideas about building...he's done quite a
bit of it.

Kathy prepares a super good Dinner @ 3:30 pm. Italian Sausage, spaghetti
with extra meat sauce, fresh salad & toast. We've known Gary & Grace for
nearly 2 yrs & try to rendezvous when we can. We cover a lot of territory
with our 5 hrs of talk time.

5:15 pm we take G & G back to the airport where their 1986 Cessna 177
Cardinal is waiting. We thank them for their short visit & they're off.
Gary estimates the time to Landenberg, PA 1 hr 30 min.

On our return trip to Nicktown, we stop in & visit my Aunt Clarissa who is
96 yrs young. She is doing well for her age. She admits her legs are
complaining more all the time, but she sure is sharp & lively otherwise.

Back to our home on wheels, we find Gary's phone message. Smooth trip,
daylight all the way & 1 hr 30 min of flight time. A nice way & day to

Lights out: 11:06

Awake 7:15 am Temp 59 Cloudy Overnight in Nicktown

Kathy makes eggs, bacon & toast for breakfast. This morning I return the
hydraulic jacks & the 4x4's to Florentz's workshop. I sure appreciated
the.... "one stop" borrowing program. Next we stop @ Gillo's meat market
in Alverda & stock up on some lean hamburger & pork chops. Take these
things back to our refrigerator & freezer in our coach...then drive to
Scalp Ave in Johnstown(25 min) & stock up on Italian sausage, cheese,
olives, bread, etc. Then just down the street we continue our shopping @
the Market Basket store for veggies, fruit, yogurt, etc. We return to our
motorhome just before the rain begins.

Call Nick in Seattle. We update each other on our lives since we last
talked September 6th. He just finished a weekend fasting program (his
third in as many years) to cleanse his body.

The rain ceased just in time for us to walk to 6:00 pm mass. When we
return, Gary's phone recording indicates he & Grace will fly into the
Jimmy Stewart airport in Indiana (25 min) @ 10:30 am Sunday. Wonderful!

7:30 Dinner: Local Pork chops from Gillo's market, broccoli & brown/wild
Late evening magazine reading. Lights out: 11:05 pm

Awake 6:15 am Temp 44 Clear sky Overnight in Nicktown

Attend 9:30 am mass. Father Larry from Prince of Peace(Nearby church, 7
min away) was presider.

After breakfast I get right after that #2 slide seal problem. Yesterday I
was able to get the seal untwisted & most of what pulled away from it's
groove..back into it's groove. Only a small section remains to maneuver
back into it's trough. Just as I begin working on this, Florentz & Anna
pull into our circular drive. He wanted to check on our slide seal
progress & the "T" handle length. I bring him up-to-date on both projects.
He takes the "T" handle with him to make modifications so we can both use
it for winterizing our respective wells. I spend another 30 min working
the small seal section into it's groove...then ask Kathy to run the #2
slide in & out for a good check. The seal stays in far, so

Our closest neighbor Chuck, rides over on his Quad-runner to offer Kathy a
ride on the trails. She takes a warm day check. "Too cool today" she says.

7:00 pm Dinner: Whole wheat noodles for tuna & noodle sprinkled with
cheese, cauliflower, & a fresh salad.

Call Gary & Grace on his cell phone in Landenberg, PA. Invite them for a
Sunday visit to Nicktown. He'll let us know.

We watch "Crossfire" on the Plasma TV. Lights out: 11:40 pm

Awake 7:00 am Temp 54 Clouds changing to sun Overnight Nicktown

Attend 8:00 am mass...then join the coffee gang for a catch up session on
"what's been happening?" Kathy brings some Swiss chocolate along that
Myrta & Rene gave us. It was well received.

Back to our coach for breakfast. Then the phone rings & we are invited to
visit my cousin Florentz & his wife Anna later this morning. They just
finished installing a new rug in their basement. A BIG job for a couple of
seniors...moving all those appliances & the furniture outside...then back
inside. It really does look good tho.

I mentioned to Florentz about how the Swiss people have been spoiling us
with wine @ lunch time, dinner time & evening time. It wasn't meant to be
a hint but maybe he took it that way...because out comes a big jug of
homemade wine that his youngest son Curtis made.....followed by cheese,
crackers & slices of cold meatloaf. Now...this is more like it! Let the
party begin.

Later, Florentz asks me if I would like to see the "T" handle pipe he made
for winterizing his well & our well. "Well....yes" I replied! It looks
quite professional...he encourages me to take it along & try it this
afternoon...then let him know if it needs any modification. Good
I load it into the Suzuki.

Next I expose my slide seal dilemma....& the equipment needed to do the job.
...and by golly, he has (2) hydraulic jacks & (2) 4x4's just the right
length that should I drive the Suzuki around to his shop & load
those items into the car. Florentz is one of my favorite cousins & we do
spend a lot of time together when we can. He has one fantastic workshop &
a lot of mechanical knowledge & talent to do just about anything.

Back on our property now, I check the "T" handle on our well & find out
it's about 8" too Florentz will have to make an extension.
Then I set up the hydraulic jacks with the 4x4's & lift our #2 slide about
an inch...enough space for me to use the plastic pancake turner &
straighten out the seal. This took over an hour. Now I'll need to press
the seal down into the channel....but time is short today to do any more.

Next we drive 15 min to the town of Ebensburg...a little shopping @ West
End Market, Wal-Mart, & Radio Shack...then we meet with my brother & his
wife Josie @ the restaurant, Amici's, for dinner. Don looks good. He had
prostrate surgery September 8th & all tests afterward showed no more
cancer so he's feeling fine & is now back to working 3-4 days a week @ his
office. We are all thankful for his healthy recovery. We update each other
on "what's been happening" during our meal. Kathy & I split an eggplant
dinner with NO wine this time. We had plenty with Florentz & Anna for

Back to our coach @ 9:00 pm...we watch the 1st debate between Pres Bush &
Kerry. It appears that Kerry was more prepared & had Bush on the defense.

Some late reading in bed.... Lights out: 12:02 am

Awake 6:11 am Temp 54 Cloudy Overnight in Nicktown, PA

A good rest for both of us.

I check our motorhome for mice upstairs & in the basement area. None
found! This is good, and it's good to be back in Nicktown again.

We casually unpack our suitcases & sort thru our expense receipts.
Afternoon time, I turn on the well water pump...hook up the portable water
filtering system & Kathy does 3 laundry loads.

Later I check all compartments for water leaks....not bad...only a few
damp spots considering all the rain that must have fallen from those 4
hurricanes during our 21 days away.

Then I begin opening the remaining # 2 & # 4 slides. Upon opening # 2, I
hear some extra noise not heard before. I should have stopped the
extension but didn't. I went outside to visually see what happened: The #
2 slide rubber seal has pulled out of it trough. This seal is like a bike
inner tube. It deflates when retracting or extending the slide, then the
seal expands with 20 lbs of air pressure to keep the slide inside sealed
from dust, wind, rain, noise, etc. I was pretty disappointed. I have heard
of this happening to others but never thought it would happen to us.
Because of the heavy rains during our absence, that seal probably became,
in a way, glued to the slide itself and when it was extended, pulled a
section of it along with it. I'll be talking with the Newell experts in
Oklahoma soon.

Call my brother Don in Ebensburg, we agree to meet for dinner @ Amici's
restaurant tomorrow.

Call Newell, talk with Tommy. He tells me I can reset that seal if I
have...( 2 ) hydraulic jacks, ( 2 ) 4 X 4 pieces of wood & a plastic
pancake turner to aid in maneuvering the seal back into it's slot. Ok...I
hope I can find the equipment to work with.
Dinner: Guess what? I don't remember.

Late evening...we talk with Melissa. They are doing great & Matthew is
growing & keeping them busy.
Call my Sister Corinne...we are trying to figure out when we can
Call Zack: Leave message.
Call friends Gary & Grace...they would like to visit us this coming
weekend for a day only.
We watch a little late TV... Lights out: 11:55 pm

Awake 7:00 am Overnight between Florence, Italy & Zurich, Switzerland

My overnight sleep was sporadic but acceptable. Kathy was up & down a few
times but she says she was alright. The young people in our sleeper car
were very quiet & respectful to us seniors. We arrived @ the main station
Zurich @ 8:51 am & changed trains for the 7 min ride to Zurich Kloton
airport terminal. We hustled up to our ticket counter thinking we are
running late.....only to discover a l-o-n-g line of people before us. When
Kathy called in to list us on this Delta flt to Atlanta last week, they
were 19 we were a little concerned that we'd be spending
the night inside the terminal...perhaps like the movie.

Then we find out: The forth Hurricane to strike Florida, Jeanne, had
recently passed thru Atlanta & now the Atlanta to Zurich flt is delayed by
2 hrs. We have plenty of time...and along with that, a number of
passengers scheduled on that flight had to rebook on other flights
otherwise they would miss their connections in Atlanta. Now that opens
more seats for stand-bys like us. Then we find out....we are upgraded to
Business Elite. Wow! Are we lucky or what! I feel sorry about those 4
hurricanes striking Florida but in another way, they helped us out in both
of our Atlantic crossings. We depart Zurich 3 hrs later than our original

Appetizer: Smoked breast of chicken, salad & balsamic pecans.
Dinner: Ziti with pesto cream sauce, roma tomatoes, yellow squash & feta
Dessert: All natural vanilla ice cream sunday with hot fudge, chopped nuts
& whipped cream.

The Atlantic crossing was smooth. We each had our own personal tv screen
so I did some hangman games, listened to classical music & read a few
magazines.....and chatted with Kathy.

Clearing customs in Atlanta went quickly + Delta had a ticket counter
after we we were re-assigned a flight to Pittsburgh within 20
min. We hustled to that domestic gate, hand carrying our bags to save time
& make the flight. Again the air was relatively smooth. Hurricane Genne
obviously had enough time to be far northeast of Pittsburgh & didn't show
any signs of turbulence.

Arrived PIT around 9:00 pm. Shuttle to the Wyndham Hotel where we have our
Suzuki auto on the park & fly program & start driving. A quick stop for
groceries @ the Giant Eagle in Monroeville...and we arrive Nicktown @
11:45 pm.

So early this morning, the 28th of September, we left Florence,
Italy...traveled by sleeper train car overnight to Zurich, crossed the
Atlantic to Atlanta, flew to Pittsburgh, drove to Nicktown & to our
motorhome all the same day. We are very grateful this whole trip has gone
so smoothly. It was filled with great people, adventure, travel, food,
wine & with some close bonding thrown in along the way. It truly was
another great trip abroad. The Rendezvous with our daughter Katrina was a
special treat for us as well.
Lights out: 12:30 am

Awake: 7:00 am Sunny & cooler overnight @ Hotel Monica..Florence

A good sleep for us. The Hotel Monica is part of the same building that
houses the apartment that Katrina & her roomies share. The hotel is on the
2nd & 3rd floor, the girls apt is on the 4th. In reviewing my notes, I
think I had them on the 3rd floor...they are on the 4th.

Katrina has classes today @ 1:15 pm so she takes us on a walking tour
around the city & the 4 bldgs that comprise her college, "Lorenzo de
Medici" before her classes start. This college has no campus...the 4
bldgs(with some classroomes) are scattered throughout different locations
within the city center. The furthest distance to a class for her is a 15
min walk. We visit a few of her classrooms: history, art, language....and
meet one of her art teachers who had very complimentary things to say
about Katrina.

Next we shop for groceries at her favorite downtown market which is huge.
Most foods displayed, fruits, meats, veggies, breads, cheese, etc., are
made fresh daily. Katrina buys food for dinner tonight to eat @ the apt. I
buy a loaf of olive/nut bread & a hunk of cheese for our lunch today.

Then we seek out a bank nearby to exchange greenbacks for euros. We lose
25% from every dollar plus a service fee of 7% because of our weak
currency over here in Europe....not good!

It's time for Katrina to leave us & attend her we have a
chance to tour on our own & take a city sightseeing bus tour of Florence.
The bus is a London-style double-decker with hostesses who give each of
the passengers an audio guide (in 7 avaiable languages) to plug into seat
jacks. The bus makes 15 stops where we could get off & on and look
around, then wait for the next bus to continue on. We didn't do that
because of time
constraints. There are 2 lines: red & green. The red line concentrates on
downtown line expands into the suburbs. We actually did
the red line twice because we couldn't grasp everything we saw the first
time around. Each circuit takes 50 min. After that second round on the red
line, I had the streets pretty well figured out & many of the historic
spots, famous bldgs, piazzas, churches, homes, museums, etc. Too many
things to list of course & besides, we didn't get off the bus to explore
in more detail. Pay toilets are common, so while waiting for the green
line, we visit a McDonald's across the street for a free pause for the

Next we do the green line tour which among other places, took us up into
the hills of Fiesole with a terrific view of the Arno valley & the city of
Florence. In this town of about 15,000 people, there is a well-preserved
Roman theater(c.80 B.C.); the ruins of Roman baths, a Franciscan church &
convent , etc. We would have liked to get off the bus here & spend more
time but again, our touring time was limited for the other things we want
to do this afternoon. As the day gets shorter & ole sol fades away, the
temp drops drastically & reminds us that this upper outside bus deck is a
cool place to be. The green line round trip time was 1 hr & 5 min.

Ok, so now we're off the bus walking around the town....and what do we do
to warm up: Have some Italian Ice Cream of course. It is famous & sooo

It's dark by the time we return to the girls' apt....Katrina returns from
classes about 8:30 pm. Kistinn(Katrina's jewelry making classmate from
Grand Junction, CO) visits for awhile then leaves before dinner. While
Katrina cooks dinner, we re-pack our suitcases, change clothes, then eat
dinner with all the roomies, Marie, Jen, & Jenny.

We enjoyed meeting Katrina's roomies & girlfriends. They do well together
& have a wonderful hangout.

Kathy & I say our thanks & goodbyes to Katrina & her roomies around 10:00
pm then walk over to the train station. We had some confusion finding our
track listing because it was not labeled Zurich on the main departure
board but labeled Basil. Our sleeper car this time had 4 young people...3
guys & 1 girl also going to Zurich. These sleeper cars are Ok but a little
tight for 6 travelers with baggage. These kids however, were very
considerate & friendly. Our departure time was @ 11:10 pm. After getting
ourselves organized & into our night clothes, we talk a little with the
young people & then...and then....the ZZZZZZZZ's come quickly. We are on
our way back to America & to our motorhome in Pennsylvania.
Lights out: 12:20 am

Awake 7:00 am Sunny & comfortable temp

Kathy & I sleep good upstairs...but Katrina was chilly downstairs. After
getting out of bed she discovered she didn't crawl under her bed sheets
last night. The good news is: We did good finding this place for the night
& we have no injuries or sore limbs from our trekking yesterday.
I decide to shower. The water started out lukewarm then went cold & never
recovered. I told the girls my shower was great but the smarties were
suspicious & didn't even nibble.

We leave our cozy place & walk down past the square we danced in last
night to a small outdoor restaurant & have coffee & a sandwich for
breakfast. After breakfast, we explore the old convent & small church on a
nearby hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea. I don't know the ages of
these structures, but both are still in use today. There is some
literature that dated the original inhabitants of Monterosso around AD
643. The church although small, had 4 confessionals inside. Outside we
tour the mausoleum dating way back into earlier times. More recently,
1900's, they are using pictures of the deceased.

We amble around town a little more before heading slowly toward the train
station. Kathy & Katrina take a short walk on the small public beach
nearby & dip their feet into the Mediterranean sea. Before we board the
train for Florence, we buy some healthy snacks to take with us. Our return
trip seemed to go quickly. All things considered, the Cinque Terre
experience was the best for our weekend rendezvous. We had plenty of time
to talk, get some good bonding time & enjoy the outdoors with exercise.
Katrina did an outstanding job of being not only our interpreter but also
our tour guide throughout the Cinque Terre villages.

Arriving back in Florence, we get our suitcases from Katrina's apt & check
into the Hotel Monica 2 floors below. Then we 3 go out into the city,
where Katrina takes us on a brief walking much to see. She
points out some of the buildings of Lorenzo de Medici where she has

We see the street vendors who display their wears on blankets or mats on
the streets. However, they are not "supposed" to sell in this fashion and
we witness them quickly wrapping up their goods as if they were going to
move on when the police car rides by. As soon as the police are gone, the
vendors have their goods set back up and are ready for business. We hear a
rumbling noise made by wheels going over the cobble stone streets and
learn about the daytime vendors who sell their goods from portable kiosks.
They must, by law, close up their large carts at dusk and push them to a
central storage area for the night. There are dozens of these carts being
pushed down several streets.

We walk to the center of town and see the famous and stunning Duomo (Santa
Maria del Fiore Cathedral), with its marble facade glowing in the
nighttime lighting. Many people are milling about, sitting on the stairs,
watching street entertainers.

Continuing our walk we find ourselves at the River Arno, which cuts thru
the center of old Florence. The city lights are playing beautifully on the
water. We cross the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge, the only bridge in
the city to have survived WWII. Its most striking feature is the multitude
of shops (mostly jewelry) built on it.

Katrina points to a church on a hill above the city that she had painted.
On the hill, about 3 1/2 miles from downtown Florence, lies Fiesole, an
old, Etruscan city.

We see the Uffizi Art Gallery and walk the outside exhibit. In the gallery
are numerous works by Botticelli, Michaelangelo, Leonardo daVinci, and
many others. We also see the Academia building, where Michaelangelo's
David is housed.
We stroll thru the streets of Florence where the many fine and fancy
stores are located. We pass more street entertainers and find a
restaurant(Osteria Dell'Agnoco)where we have dinner with wine. Kathy & I
split a steak, Katrina has pork. The bill was not near as gentle with us
as the La Tavern. It was another great day....and we are tired.

Lights out: 12:15 am

Awake 7:00 am Clear sky

I slept well on my upper bunk but Kathy & Katrina were cold during the
night. Perhaps it was 1 or 2 degrees cooler down by the lower bunks. Our
breakfast which was included with our room, coffee, juice, rolls & jelly,
was kinda skimpy but we'll eat more later somewhere.

We pack our backpacks, pay our fee of 20 euros each & walk further up this
mountain road thru the village of Biassa. They have a fantastic view from
up here. Our bus that will take us back into town is arriving soon so we
say goodbye to the daughter of the grandmother who's friend rented us the
room for the night. Her daughter speaks some English & owns a tobacco shop
where we are catching the bus.

Back into the town of Riomaggiore again, we buy some healthy snacks &
water for our hike to the next village of Manarola...a mere 20 min away.
Before we enter thru the arch however, there is a fee of 3 euros each, and
they tell us there will be an agent checking along the way for our pass.
This path is affectionally called: Lovers Lane & it is absolutely
beautiful. There are cozy little benches along the way for couples to sit
& whisper sweet nothings, short tunnels with paintings on the walls,
fantastic views of the Mediterranean Sea with it's bright blue waters &
the path itself is wide & easy walking.

Manarola is built right on a cliff with a view to die for. It's a small
village so we spend little time walking thru town...but Katrina did buy us
each a banana to munch on. The trail to the next village of Corniglia is
not nearly as crowed as Lovers Lane & now it gains & loses altitude along
the way. Instead of being close to the sea, we are hiking more inland &
alongside vineyards on the terraces & olive trees. These people survive on
their vast wine & olive sales throughout the region and have done so for
many, many yrs. However, since these 5 villages with a hiking trail
connection have been discovered, there are tourists flooding into town
during the summer season from near & far. This is why we might have
difficulity again finding another room for the night at our 5th village.

We reach Corniglia in 1.5 hrs. Here Kathy & I have focaccia(Italian flat
bread) pizza and Katrina has focaccia pizza with fresh tomatoes...for our
lunch. We eat in a small alcove along a very busy & narrow street.

The next hike to the village of Vernazza is much more difficult. The
climbs and descents are much steeper, the trail is narrower, & Kathy with
her injured knee is hiking slower. Both Katrina & I end up helping her on
just about every climb & descent. Our time to Vernazza is just under 2

Vernazza seems to be a much busier village. A lot of people milling about
on the main street. We keep seeing ice cream cones being licked on &
contented smiles from the we sit & sip our bland water from
our bottles. How much more pressure can 3 warm & somewhat hungry hikers more. We each buy a double scoop & find a better people
watching spot so we too, can tantalize those street walkers.

At this point in our day's hiking plan, Katrina & I are both feeling
somewhat uncomfortable with Kathy's hiking strength. It took no persuasion
whatsoever to have Kathy board the train & meet us @ the destination
village of Monterosso.

It was a good choice. This next trail was even more challenging & narrow
then the previous. It takes us about 1.6 hrs to reach Monterosso with
breaks. The village of Monterosso appears to be the bigger of the 5
villages we visited. We agreed to meet Kathy @ the train station & gave
ourselves 1.7 hrs. As we are decending into the village, we spot Kathy
walking leasurely thru the town square. What a nice rendezvous. She
reported the short train ride being overly crowded with no seats available
even for a young & good looking chick like herself.

First things first: We begin searching for a room...after 2 room finding
services in town turn us down & offer no encouragement, we try finding
something on our own by walking thru the village streets. Casually Kathy
notices people entering what appears to be a church alongside of what is
obviously a church. " let's go see if it's Catholic " I say. Sure is, so
we attend the service which is entirely in Italian. As I sit & ponder &
pray, my mind wanders a little on how to find a room for the night. Time
now about 6:30 pm local & darkness is near.

I think I'll try this idea: Ask the older people about a room for the
night as they are leaving the church. Once again, Katrina's language
talent comes into play. The 3rd person I ask tells us to wait right where
we are next to the church. She has a cousin who might have a room
available tonight. It takes about 20 min & then we see this middle age
woman riding a bicycle toward's her cousin Rosie & she speaks some
English. We follow her to her rental place less than 3 min away. Rosie
apologizes that the beds are not made up & she needs an hr to do so. We
ask for her recommendations for a good restaurant.... so we check out one
of her favorite places called La Tavern. Rosie was right! It was great &
we needed some good food, wine & desert after our long day. Then the bill
arrived. Something is wrong! All that wine, food & desert and only this
much cost? WOW! I would like to do this again soon.

While walking back to our place for the night we hear loud music playing
around the corner in the town square. There are a lot of people dancing in
the square & a lot of people just watching a lot of people dancing in the
square. Good D J music to dance to. Kathy & I do a few numbers, then
Katrina & I do the hip-hop stuff & then....and then...I am wearing down.
There were some very elequent ball room dancers who stood out among the
group of average street dancers. It was a joy to watch them. We could have
stayed longer just being casual observers...but the D J & his music system
had a power failure & everything stopped ...then we too began to have a
power failure. So back to our room for the night we go before we stop.

It was truly a great day. Lights out: 11:40 pm

Awake 5:30 am Cloudy Florence, Italy

A bag with 2 rolls, napkin, plastic spoon along with a cup of hot coffee
arrived @ 6:30 am from the conductor. We freshen up in the car's bathroom
before arriving in Florence. The overnight sleeper car experience
was...not too shabby....I'd do it again to be efficient for travel time.

We arrive @ the Florence station @ 7:07 am. Call Katrina on her cell phone
and 20 min later, she's bouncing thru the main terminal to greet us. She
leads us on foot to her rental apt a mere 7 min away....a great location.
We briefly meet some of her roomies: Jen from Westchester, N.Y., Susan
from Sweden visiting her sister Marie & Christian from Florence. We'll
meet more of her roomies later. The apt is on the 3rd floor just above the
Hotel Monica.

We eat another small breakfast of cereal & yogurt before we head back to
the train station for our weekend adventure with katrina as our tour

And we are on our way to the Cinque Terre region of Italy where there are
5 small villages built into the mountains along the Mediterranean sea that
are famous for their wine, olives & their hiking paths connecting the
villages together. It is our goal to hike to all 5 villages this weekend.

Train time to the 1st village of Riomaggiore is approx 3.0 hrs but during
our change of train time in Pissa, we pause & walk about 30 min to check &
make sure the leaning tower of Pissa is still leaning. Amazing structure,
over 1000 yrs old & still leaning. We did casually notice some reinforcing
methods & scaffolding in place applied to the leaning side however. We
take a few pictures & have coffee outside at a nearby cafe, then we hustle
to back to catch the next train to Riomaggiore.

Aboard the train, the conductor fines us for not having our tickets
authenticated @ the Pissa stop(5 euros each)....that's close to $20.00
total. We won't let that happen again.

Arrive @ Rigmaggiore @ 4:00 pm. We begin searching for rooms for the
night....we find nothing reasonable. Then the dark clouds overhead open up
& the heavy rains, lightening & thunder chase us into a nearby stairway
for shelter. Minutes later, a grandmother & her 2 grandchildren shared our
retreat. As best I can, using hand signals, I ask her where we might find
a room for the night...and this is where our Katrina began to show her
hidden language talent. She brought her Italian dictionary along & began
conversing with the grandmother & the children. After many pages were
turned & some confusion corrected, we followed this grandmother, boarded a
bus & went further up the mountain to another small village by name of
Biassa. Grandmother has a friend who has a nice apt with bunk beds for us
for the night....& the price was right. We remove our backpacks, look the
place over & walk 5 min to a nearby restaurant for an 8:30 Dinner of:
Pizza & wine. A good start on some new adventures with our Katrina.

Lights out: 10:50 pm

Awake 7:05 am Windy & cloudy with rain throughout the day

We eat a light breakfast this morning. Oskar has invited us to a what he
calls: A typical Swiss lunch @ the farm house....thus, the small
breakfast. Kathy & I spend a lot of the morning packing our suitcases for
travel tonight.

Lunch @ 12:30 pm Mashed potatoes, beef gravy, beef bits, string beans &
lettuce all served with white wine first, then red wine.....& cookies
afterward. All of this food was from the Oskar farm & a neighbor's farm
with the exception of the cookie mix & wine. Oskar was the cook & his
cooking has much improved since I first met him in 1990.

Oskar then gets out a USA map & wants me to find Nicktown & the best way
to get there from Winnipeg, Canada. I remind him that only a good map will
have my small hometown on it....& his was not a good map. He took no

I ride Rene's bike back to the apt in drizzling rain...Kathy & Rene go by
auto. Myrta stays longer to help Oskar clean up from lunch, remake our
beds with clean sheets from last Friday's sleepover, clean bathrooms &
more cleaning throughout the house....then she rides her bike back to the the drizzling rain.

@ 6:30 pm Oskar arrives for the evening & to have a light dinner. Again
we have white wine & social time...followed by red wine during the meal.
Thomas arrives with more bread so for dinner: we have 3 different breads,
many different cheeses, asparagus & yogurt. We sip & snack until it's
nearly time for our train to arrive from Sheffhousen.

@ 8:30 pm Thomas takes our luggage in his car, Oscar drives his car &
Rene, Myrta, Kathy & I walk to the train station in light rain using
We say our goodbyes & thank them profusely for all the good times, meals,
touring, bonding & for such a wonderful experience all around. Our train
to Winterthur arrives so quietly it snuck up on us without warning. What a
nice send off, these people are really something special.

We change trains at Winterthur...arrive in Zurich @ the main station, then
change to a overnight sleeper train to Florence, Italy. We have 4 other
girls both young & middle age with us in our sleeper car. The younger ones
are going shopping for shoes in Florence, the middle age ladies...I wasn't
able to get a good answer from them. We are on the bottom bunks which it
turns out was the best place to be as the girls complained later that the
middle & top bunks were too warm. The ZZZZ's came easy for me. Lights
out: 1:30 am

Continuation of our 20 hr round trip to & from St. Moritz via the
Julier pass

Ok...somebody hit the wrong button & sent only the beginning of this
adventurous day.

Now that the VW Gulf tire is repaired, the touring begins. We drive over
to the town of Pontresina(15 min) where Ruth points out her future
apartment. She has made arrangements to move sometime next spring & is
looking forward to having more space.
Then we drive further South(I think...20 min) & park. Ruth has arranged
for us to take a cable tram up to about 9,000 ft to the ski lodge
Diavolezza & have lunch. The nearby mountains continue climbing up to
10,000 ft + & it's truly beautiful from our restaurant window. Then we
have the traditional white wine with an appetizer followed by red wine
with the main lunch course. Wow, I can feel the wine at this altitude. We
take our time with lunch & enjoy the view from inside....outside it's very
windy & cool. Many glaciers are at our same altitude....and they are not

Back down to the valley now, we drive west to the town of Moloja where we
walk thru a very old section of town to a partially built castle called:
Torre Belvedere built by a fellow by name of Giovanni Segantini. We climb
the somewhat finished portion & enjoy looking up at the mountains & ski
areas instead of looking down on them. There is a lot of history here
about this old partially built castle but I don't know it well enough to
pass it around. It was one of the earliest structures built in this
Engadin valley near St. Moritz.

We return back to the Ruth apartment where her sister Esther also is
living but one floor below. Esther worked today so she had just returned
from her job. She talks us into staying for dinner. It was quite
entertaining watching Esther preparing this meal in her very small kitchen
with all 5 of us sitting at the table. She was organized & had a place for
everything & everything was in it's place....amazing.
7:30 pm Dinner: Knodels, Chicory salad with bananas & oranges. Green salad
with radishes & tomatoes, cheese & dried meat. It was all very good but I
was a little embarrassed & apologetic that my appetite was spent. The
lunch was huge & I was just not that hungry.

Rene & I have little wine since we both wanted to be in shape for driving
back to Andelfingen tonight. We thank the Spani girls & agree to keep in
touch with them as best we can. Then Rene starts driving @ 8:45 pm &
drives fast. He really is an excellent man behind the wheel....but Myrta &
Kathy are both beginning to feel sick during the switchback curves that
Rene is making good time on. This Julier pass is no road for
speeders...well maybe only Rene when everyone is sleeping...and now, no
one is sleeping. With the newly married Mrs Zuercher & Kathy's
persistence, Rene reluctantly slows down a lot & the girls slowly recover
& are comfortable again.

We make a quick stop @ Vollerau(Rolf's town) to pick up Katrina's jean
jacket that she left at the hotel & restaurant Berggasthaus Herrenboden on
the wedding dinner night. We will take it with us to give it to Katrina
Friday morning in Florence, Italy.

We arrive @ the Andelfingen apartment @ 11:50 pm. A great trip thru the
Swiss Alps to visit the Spani Girls. It was wonderful spending time with
them again. Lights out: 12:35 am

Awake 4:15 am

I sleep well & automatically awaken..soon the others are up & at em also.
Kathy & I have the Jura coffee maker brew us a quick cup while Myrta &
Rene are getting ready.

Rene asks me to drive & I gladly @ 5:30, we are on our way to
St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps. It's approximately 175 miles to our
destination and should take at least 3.0 hrs. After 1.5 hrs, we make a
breakfast stop in Maienfield at the restaurant Movenpick Gastro. This town
is close to Barnard & Monica's home...&..the 800 yr ole Castle we visited
in 1996. Some good memories from that trip. Bernard is the winemaster for
the Castle's notable vineyard. By the way, all the red wine served at the
wedding dinner of Myrta & Rene, was donated by Bernard & the Maienfield
vineyards. hangover from the good wines.

As we approach the Swiss Alps & the many sharp switchback curves it
requires, the back seat ladies are happy I am the driver. This other guy I
am in the car with would undoubtly be getting scolded about now.

We arrive into the beautiful Engadin Valley around 9:05 am. Rene calls
Ruth Spani on his built in microphone & cell phone. Ruth has lived here in
St Moritz for over 25 yrs. She was born & raised near the village of
Sattel, where the airship landed in the parking lot, dropped off Myrta &
Rene & they climbed onto that flatbed trailer & the reconditioned
snowmachine. Rene & Myrta are long time ski buddies with Ruth & her sister
Ester. Ruth is expecting our cell phone call. We park @ her tiny
appartment, go upstairs & visit briefly. She has our day planned out...but
as we are ready to leave for the next adventure, Rene spots a metal object
inbedded in the right rear tire on the VW. It looks like a screw.Hmmmm, a
sudden change of plans. We find a garage to repair the tire & we all walk
about an hour around the Lake St Moritz. When we return to the garage,
they have done nothing..but Rene gets them into action and within 20 min,
the tire is fixed with proper air pressure. They used the rubber worm
repair & charged nothing.

Awake 7:00 am Cloudy

I found my notes on what we had for dinner last night @ Brigitta &
Gabriel's place.

We had two different salads: Apple/banana chicory Salad & an egg salad.
Then cooked rhubarb with fried potatoes & cooked fresh carrots....along
with veal baked in cream & white wine sauce. For desert: A delicious black
forest cake. I know why I misplaced those notes: I blame the white wine,
red wine, Ice wine...and the grappa.

Ok, now this morning, we have breakfast with Myrta & Rene. After
breakfast, Rene thoroughly washes, vacuums & cleans the VW Golf. Last
night before we turned out the lights, the girls took some laundry
downstairs to the washing machine. About mid morning, they move it to the

Around noon time, Myrta introduces Kathy & I to an exercise trail in the
nearby forest " Isenberg " here in Andelfingen. Rene has a bad knee so he
doesn't like this trail, but his bad knee allows him to ski. So we do the
walk & all the workout stations along the way. It takes about an hour.
Kathy & I shower afterward.

Then we start our touring for the day in the super clean VW Golf. Drive to
Winterthur where Rene & I revisit the Habler & Company tool store which I
visited 3 yrs ago. We don't give ourselves enough time to see everything.
I like this place.

The girls went across the street & agreed to meet us at the car in 30 we are patiently waiting..&...waiting. Finally we decide to walk
over to the store they are in to see what's happening? They they are
...tasting we join them. After a few selections, Myrta finds a
wine she likes & Rene buys a case.

Next we stop at the factory outlet of Kuhn Rikon where they make quality
kitchenware & they serve free beer, wine & pretzel bread while you shop. I
like this style of shopping. Kathy buys a few things that I can't mention
because they are Christmas presents.

Next we stop @ the Bonjour/Schlossberg fabric making outlet store. Kathy
buys 2 pairs of socks for our grandson Matthew. This store also has drinks
& snacks for the patrons to munch on while they shop but Myrta warned us
NOT to snack anymore because she was making a good dinner for tonight.

7:30 pm Dinner: Two long dough strips. One filled with many fruits, the
other filled with a mixture of meats. Very good & very Swiss. Of course,
the meal is served with the traditional wines.

Evening time, Rene serves us his version of Ice wine called
Sauterne....Gabriel complained he was never served this Ice wine when
visiting Rene. It's special & now we feel special for having sampled it.
Then we watch 1st the Swiss news on TV, then CNN news.

Later Kathy & I check our e-mail on Rene's computer...then pack our tummy
belts for early traveling tomorrow morning. Lights out: 10:40 pm

Awake 7:00 am Foggy

Myrta & Rene sleep longer. Both Saturday & Sunday were very busy days for
them. We eat breakfast together...The Swiss menu.

Rene asks me if I would drive the VW Golf today...I gladly accept. First
thing on our list is for us to visit the local train station & arrange
travel from Andelfingen to Florence, Italy(sleeper car), then back to
mainstation(sleeper car), then to Kloten airport station. We pay by credit
card. This will be our trip to visit with Katrina for 4 days begining
Thursday evening.

Then we start touring with the new Mr & Mrs Zuercher. WOW! Are we lucky or
what? Only a few miles away from Andelfingen, we turn off the main highway
& drive slowly by the Schloss Golden Berg Castle, Vineyard & Golf course.
It's a beautiful layout. We don't stop because there are other places to
see & things to do. Then I am instructed to follow the backroads to the
Kloten Airport area. Myrta shows us the Jet Aviation building where she
has been working for about 12 yrs now..then we park & enter the terminal
building. Since Myrta works at Jet Aviation, she is able get us thru
security & into the newly opened terminal wing with all the new duty free
shops. As we stroll along, there is a Sprungli candy shop. I offer to buy
a box(Rene's favorite) for the newly weds...and they accept. Next we stop
at a Lindt Candy Store(my favorite)and they are offering free samples...we
linger in this store for quite awhile...& I do buy 4 of my dark chocolate
70% cocoa bars. This new terminal at the Kloten airport is very modern,
well lit, strongly built with comfortable seating & Internet access ports.
Big Euros.

From the Kloten airport, with Rene at the wheel now in rush hr traffic, we
drive maybe 40 min to visit Briggitte or GiGi(Myrta's sister) & her
husband Gabriel & kids David & Nicole. Gigi married well. Gabriel is a
nice guy, a good father with a keen sense of humor & a fine wine
connoisseur. He neither advertises nor shows people his coveted wine
cellar...but with Rene's influence, he makes an exception. We were amazed.
My guess is over 3000 bottles of some very collectable wines. Many still
in their shipping crates.

First white wine with an appetizer, then red with dinner. What a
was Swiss & delicious. The evening goes by quickly so it was another great
visit with some great people. Lights out: 1:00 am

Awake 9:00 am

Waking up was hard to do....but if we want some breakfast, we gotta move.
Our room was either very quiet or we were zonked out for sure. Neither of
us have any sort of a headache/hangover...and the Swiss people have
reminded us a number of times that---if you do get a hangover from
drinking wine, you're not drinking good wine.

By the time we arrive downstairs, there was little food left to eat. We
did manage to scrape up a little cereal, yogurt, bread, fruit & coffee.
Enough to get by on. The cooks warned us last evening, get downstairs
before 10:00 for breakfast.

Saying " goodbye " to the crowd(a few at a time) took quite awhile. It
seemed rather obvious that nearly everyone was moving a little slower. We
sure had a wonderful time. This whole experience was truly " THE BEST
WEDDING I'VE EVER ATTENDED." Well, besides my oldest daughter Melissa
getting married of course.

Katrina gets a ride to the nearest train station of Arth Goldau with Rene,
Oskar & Myrta. This will shorten her travel time by 2 hrs in returning
back to Florence.

Again, Thomas has Kathy, Sylvia & me as passengers. After Descending from
the Hochstuckli area & driving through Sattel, we took a different &
shorter route back to Andelfingen. Sylvia gets delivered to her place in
Bulock & we are back to the Oskar farm by 2:00 pm. Shortly after we
arrive, it rains.

Kathy & I change clothes, repack our suitcases & talk with Oskar when he
arrives about an hour later. Then Thomas give us a ride over to the Myrta
& Rene place on his way to attend another concert for the evening.

Oskar joins us at the newlywed's place for a dinner of: Spaghetti & Tuna.
We talk alot about this wedding day & how smoothly every plan worked out &
how nice the many people are who attended this celebration. We are tired.

Lights out: 11:00 pm


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