THE "CROSS-MAS" CHRONICLES
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! What a year!!! The greatest news is that we now have our first granddaughter – Mackensie Grace – born May 21, 2015 to Rob and Laura. She's an absolute gem and joins 3 grandsons – Peyton, Andrew and Austin. Within one year, we went from one to four grandchildren!! Besides welcoming our newest grandchild, we did lots more traveling, drove over 32,500 miles (~1-1/3 times the circumference of the earth), added 9 more capitols (we’ve now visited 31 in the last couple years), took thousands of photos and played (and sometimes even won) lots of trivia. Life is good!!!
Oregon in February
Traveling to Oregon in February is not advised unless you like mucking around in the rain, lots of rain. I went to see my mom for a week in rehab after her January hip replacement and host an early 91st birthday party for her with friends and family. (She now is home with her cat and can now get around without assistance, but since she has fallen a couple times, she’s much more conscientious about using her cane and walker.) Back to the rain. It rained torrentially the whole week and even flooded. Ironically, my rent car was, of course, a Mustang convertible!
Pennsylvania and Massachusetts in March
In March, we made a road trip to Kennett Square, PA for the baptism of the twins, Andrew and Austin, and to Massachusetts to attend the memorial service for my MIT thesis advisor. On the way to Kennett Square, we were caught in a snow storm just north of Chattanooga and had to stop for a “snow day.” (It was fun playing in the snow and, for pictures, we borrowed a snow shovel – a tool not in our Houston inventory.) En route to Massachusetts, we visited a few capitols and associated state museums in Hartford, Providence, Albany, and, of course, Boston. Along the way, we also took in the Rhode Island School of Design and Mark Twain’s house. The memorial service for my thesis advisor, John Waugh, though bittersweet, included a memory-filled reunion of many of our colleagues from over the years. We stayed in Cambridge and had a great time with friends in and around the Boston area. In late March, the remnants of Boston's “snow-mageddon” were still apparent with frigid temperatures and piles of snow (read that “major parking challenge”). It also snowed on the first day of spring – and so beautiful, but the Bostonians were definitely not as thrilled as I was.
Returning to Iceland in July
John and I especially like to leave Houston when it heats up in the summer. What cooler place than Iceland? After two quick trips to Alpharetta to see grandkids, New Orleans to see friends, and Oregon for a wedding, we set out in July for a month-long self-drive trip around Iceland. After a few days in Reykjavik, we started our counterclockwise island circumnavigation. By the way, “Iceland” is a misnomer, as it is really mostly green and “Greenland” is really mostly ice. We found volcanic Iceland to be a scenic wonderland with gigantic and magnificent waterfalls at most every turn, plentiful geothermal features – geysers and steam vents, and phenomenal bird life – lots of puffins, arctic terns, razorbill auks, etc. If you don’t like crowds, Iceland’s your place with only about 330,000 people. However, there are about 800,000 sheep and quite a few cattle that you must most cautiously avoid when driving. If you hit a critter, the driver is always at fault and you must pay the farmer (after you find the farmer, and good luck with that!). On the plus side, you really can’t get lost in Iceland. If you are driving, there’s only one major road – the “Ring Road” – around the edge of the country, and if you’re lost in one of the rare forests, all you have to do is stand up! Most all of the timber was wiped out long, long ago and the replacements grow at a glacial rate. One more thing abo
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