Oz and Tassie fun

Ready to board the C-17 to leave the Ice

Ready to board the C-17 to leave the Ice

G’day Northerners,

Following a most enjoyable time on the ice with the best roommate I’ve ever had, Lynn and I jetted off to New Zealand for a few days of re-entry into the world of greenery, kids, dogs and fresh vegetables. It was an easy adjustment, and after a few days of warmth we were ready for the beaches and reefs of Australia. Port Douglas is a pleasant town that is close to the Great Barrier Reef, so we did some scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking and beach time there. The local newspaper carried an interesting story of how tourism seems to be down ever since they posted the signs on the beach about crocodiles, even after they assured folks that any crocs over 2.2 meters (7 feet) would be relocated, since a 6 footer could only maim but probably not kill you. They are still working on the details of making that sound plausible.

        Next up was Tasmania, a beautiful island off the southern coast of Australia that has beautiful beaches, over a dozen national parks, and plenty of interesting wildlife. We had some fabulous Airbnb experiences as we drove all over the island for 2 weeks and biked and hiked everyday, rain or shine. We had the best animal viewing one night driving back from a late dinner when the nocturnal creatures pranced around the roads in our headlights, and realized we should have done more night safaris. We ended our tour with a 2 night stay in Sydney, and enjoyed the sights and cuisine of the big city from an apartment overlooking the famed Opera House and Harbor bridge. Cockatoos and parrots squawked above the balcony, and biking over the bridge and back in intermittent rain had us laughing and drying out in the southern sun before a final meal of fresh seafood overlooking the harbor.

    I’m back in the office and Lynn is scoping out work possibilities in town, so we’re staying put for at least a few weeks before the next adventure. Spring snow had me shoveling the driveway yesterday, but I’m hopeful the pickleball courts are dried out by tomorrow for some exercise. Hope your spring is warming up.

Tas tourist Bob

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef- all I'm missing is a gold chain!

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef- all I’m missing is a gold chain!

Sea turtle munching on a delicious jellyfish

Sea turtle munching on a delicious jellyfish

Beautifully colored giant clams adorn the reef

Beautifully colored giant clams adorn the reef

Locals can't figure out why the croc sign has concerned the tourists

Locals can’t figure out why the croc sign has concerned the tourists

Another beautiful sweeping beach on Tasmania

Another beautiful sweeping beach on Tasmania

A large kangaroo rockets across the bike trail on Maria Island

A large kangaroo rockets across the bike trail on Maria Island

A weary looking wombat peeks out of his burrow

A weary looking wombat peeks out of his burrow

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

The painted cliffs on Maria Island were fantastic

A shy, egg laying mammal called an echidna rustles through the leaves

A shy, egg laying mammal called an echidna rustles through the leaves

One of the 3 poisonous Tasmanian snakes makes a run for it

One of the 3 poisonous Tasmanian snakes makes a run for it

A true one lane suspension bridge on a scenic hike

A true one lane suspension bridge on a scenic hike

We walked through the Sydney Botanical Gardens to reach the Opera House

We walked through the Sydney Botanical Gardens to reach the Opera House

 

Temples, Souqs and Marathon Flying

Night life beckons us in Bangkok

Night life beckons us in Bangkok

Bangkok Buddha Ronald McDonald

Bangkok Buddha Ronald McDonald

 

Waterfront and buildings of Bangkok

Waterfront and buildings of Bangkok

 

Cambodia Budda towers at Angkor Thom

Cambodia Budda towers at Angkor Thom

 

Walking among the towers at Angkor Thom

Walking among the towers at Angkor Thom

 

Angkor Thom Buddha towers

Angkor Thom Buddha towers

 

Airport sign- how come no grenades or TNT allowed on the plane?

Airport sign- how come no grenades or TNT allowed on the plane?

 

Giant squid like tree roots at Ta Prohm temple

Giant squid like tree roots at Ta Prohm temple

 

Ta Prohm temple being strangled by trees

Ta Prohm temple being strangled by trees

 

Massive roots at Ta Prohm temple

Massive roots at Ta Prohm temple

Tree overtaking the wall at Ta Phrom

Tree overtaking the wall at Ta Phrom

Pat stirs the pot in cooking class

Pat stirs the pot in cooking class

 

Qatar Islamic museum

Qatar Islamic museum

 

Boats and skyscrapers in Doha, Qatar

Boats and skyscrapers in Doha, Qatar

 

Buildings along the Corniche in Doha, Qatar

Buildings along the Corniche in Doha, Qatar

Greetings walkers,

         I made it out of McMurdo on the right day but one plane behind after getting bumped off the first flight, but that sort of a delay is no biggie. Following 8  hours on a cargo plane it was a welcome relief to dump my cold weather gear in Christchurch, New Zealand, leave a box to be mailed home and have just carry-on bags to check into the downtown hotel the program had reserved for me. After a delicious hot shower I headed off in search of a noodle festival with the symphony in the park that the lady at the hotel desk had recommended, and made a nice evening of that before crashing to bed.

          Next round was a 4:30am ride to the airport for a 4 hour flight to Sydney, Australia and I thankfully missed a 5.7 earthquake by a few hours, which fortunately did little damage to Christchurch which is still rebuilding from the devastating quake 5 years ago. After hanging around Sydney for 12 hours, I boarded the plane for a 9 hour jaunt to Bangkok to meet Pat and start the vacation portion of my post Ice experience. It all went smoothly and I quietly joined her in the hotel room at 2AM. We spent a few days in Bangkok enjoying the sights and friendship of my Denver dental buddy, Ron before flying off to Cambodia to take in the sights, sounds, smells and incredible tastes of a new place for us.

      The temples of Angkor were an amazing mix of 600-1400 year old ruins and towers, and on the final day I decided to see the sights by bike while Pat took a cooking class at a nearby hotel. I pedaled back to her class and when the 4 Chinese chef hopefuls had to leave early I was invited to join in the chopping and dicing that lead up to a sumptuous meal of our labors.

      The next flight was 7 hours to Qatar with a doubling 14 hour layover to run out of the airport and see what oil wealth can buy. I got the lowdown from the flight attendant who lives in the capital city of Doha, and we even did a little currency exchange in the back of the plane since he needed some US dollars for an upcoming trip and I wanted some Qatar Riyals for taxis and food. We paid for visas at passport control and taxied out to the main market called the souq waqif for some shopping and a sumptuous meal at a Syrian restaurant before checking out the gleaming glass and steel buildings on the far side of the corniche, a 3 mile promenade along the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.

       Then came the mind numbing 14 hour flight to Philadelphia where I caught up on the remaining six new release movies I hadn’t seen yet and celebrated with a bagel and hometown Philly cream cheese in the airport. The last 3 hour flight to Florida seemed like a short taxi ride, and in less time than it takes to sort out the message from the Republican candidates we were showered and home in bed. I’ve got a few weeks in Florida to do some windsurfing, biking and play some pickleball before heading back to work in Colorado, and right now it feels good to avoid getting on any more long haul planes. Hope your winter is going well and send some news from home.

Cheers,

       Frequent flier Bob

Antarctic telemedicine meeting and Iceland‏

Tromso, Norway and the Church of the Arctic

Tromso, Norway and the Church of the Arctic

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland

Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland

Inside one of Harpa’s corridors

Inside one of Harpa’s corridors

Reykjavik’s famous concrete church is the tallest building in the city

Reykjavik’s famous concrete church is the tallest building in the city

Pat at Pingvellir National Park, where the Earth’s tectonic plates  are pulling away from each other about 9mm a year

Pat at Pingvellir National Park, where the Earth’s tectonic plates
are pulling away from each other about 9mm a year

Gullfoss staggering waterfall with about a dozen people standing on the rocks in the middle left

Gullfoss staggering waterfall with about a dozen people standing on the rocks in the middle left

Sitting next to a river of glacial melt in a lava pot formed by a bubble in cooling lava 8700 years ago

Sitting next to a river of glacial melt in a lava pot formed by a bubble in cooling lava 8700 years ago

Falls at Skogar with a long trail to hike up and behind the falls

Falls at Skogar with a long trail to hike up and behind the falls

Seals swimming among icebergs from a glacier in Jokulsarlon lagoon

Seals swimming among icebergs from a glacier in Jokulsarlon lagoon

Photo op among the icebergs

Photo op among the icebergs

Boiling an egg for a snack at the geothermal park

Boiling an egg for a snack at the geothermal park

Basalt columns from ancient volcanoes at the beach in Iceland

Basalt columns from ancient volcanoes at the beach in Iceland

Standing by 6 inch thick moss covered lava from the 1783 eruption  that covered over 500 square kilometers

Standing by 6 inch thick moss covered lava from the 1783 eruption
that covered over 500 square kilometers

Hi ice chasers,

       In an effort to combine a few cold weather destinations into one trip, I signed up for a telemedicine meeting of countries that have bases in  Antarctica held in Tromso, Norway, which is 200 miles north of the arctic circle, and continued afterwards to meet Pat, my mom and my brother in Iceland. Tromso turned out to be a beautiful setting at the gateway to the fiords of Norway and I got to meet all sorts of interesting folks from the UK, Australia, China, France, and Japan that deal with medical and dental issues when folks in Antarctica need to communicate with their home countries. My buddy, Jim, who now is head honcho of the medical side of the US program based in Texas flew in a day early to prep for his presentation. He discovered that renting a car with a GPS had limitations when he drove into a long tunnel, but figured he’d pick up the signal on the other end and continue on his merry way. Imagine his surprise when he encountered not one, but two roundabouts inside the tunnel, which resulted in a few misdirected choices and had him reentering the tunnel a couple of times before he got it right. After a few days there, I bid adieu to Jim and flew to Reykjavik, Iceland for the R and R part of my trip.

            Pat, my brother, Larry and my mom had arrived earlier in the day and found the first apartment I had booked on Airbnb, which turned out to be a great way to stay together in apartments and houses in new places for less than half of what a hotel would cost. We had a rental car and spent a week touring Iceland, which is chock full of incredible trails of waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs, volcanoes, and geysers, not to mention restaurants with delicious fish, lobster and lamb choices. We passed on the entrées of whale and puffin but stopped at most of the bakeries along the way to sample cakes and pastries. One of the more interesting snacks was an egg we boiled at the end of a wooden fishing pole in the 200 degree water of a geothermal park in one of the small towns along the road. It was good family time with lots of laughs and minimal discord so that no one had to be restrained and thrown into the volcano.

            Now it’s back to work, and Pat starts a new job tomorrow with Philips that might bring her out to Colorado more often, which would be a bonus. Hope your Labor Day weekend was a long, relaxing one and enjoy what is left of the summer.

Cheers,

      Arctic circling Bob

Jaunt to Japan

 

Pat’s view from the Sky Tree observation tower in Tokyo

Pat’s view from the Sky Tree observation tower in Tokyo

The Tokyo seafood market is touted as the largest in the world

The Tokyo seafood market is touted as the largest in the world

Cinnamon buns on display at a mouth watering bakery in Kyoto

Cinnamon buns on display at a mouth watering bakery in Kyoto

The Tokyo subway is filled with cell phone toting zombies

The Tokyo subway is filled with cell phone toting zombies

The obvious “Women Only” sign that we missed on the subway

The obvious “Women Only” sign that we missed on the subway

Moss lined trail to the temples in Nikko

Moss lined trail to the temples in Nikko

The sleek bullet trains are a model of speed, comfort and efficiency, just like Amtrak!

The sleek bullet trains are a model of speed, comfort and efficiency, just like Amtrak!

The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is covered in gold leaf

The Golden Pavilion in Kyoto is covered in gold leaf

The bamboo grove was like a magic forest

The bamboo grove was like a magic forest

The remains of a building in Hiroshima mark ground zero

The remains of a building in Hiroshima mark ground zero

Hiking up a stream to a waterfall with Randi and Aaron in Okinawa

Hiking up a stream to a waterfall with Randi and Aaron in Okinawa

The mini conveyer brought sushi to the table after you ordered on the screen

The mini conveyer brought sushi to the table after you ordered on the screen

An F-15 ready to land at Kadena AF Base in Okinawa

An F-15 ready to land at Kadena AF Base in Okinawa

Pat’s Marriot points landed us at this beach resort the last 2 days

Pat’s Marriot points landed us at this beach resort the last 2 days

I got to dive one day in Okinawa with this curious clown fish

I got to dive one day in Okinawa with this curious clown fish

Konnichiwa Japan fans,

            Pat flew in a few weeks ago to hang out in Colorado a bit before we hopped a plane across the Pacific to visit Japan. It was originally planned back in 1991, but finally 24 years later we were ready to hit the streets of Tokyo. The city sights and sounds were reminiscent of many places with 10-20 million folks running around, and part of the appeal was visiting Peter and his family, a friend I’ve known since I was a kid in New York, who has lived and worked in Tokyo for over 20 years now. Pat and I took the subway around the city, and one morning Pat noticed that I was the only guy in the train car. Then she remembered that she had read about “Women Only” cars because of men groping the ladies during the packed, rush hour commute, and of course then we noticed the large notice posted on the wall. No one said anything though since it was obvious I was just another clueless male foreigner, so I kept my hands to myself and we slipped off the train without attracting too much attention.

            The bullet train to Kyoto that zips along at 200km/hour was a treat in itself, and we spent a few days there visiting temples and gardens. The bamboo grove in one corner of the city was especially scenic, and we were continually impressed with the clean, efficient and gracious nature of the people in such a crowded environment. It was as if the whole country took customer service lessons from Neiman Marcus or the Ritz Carlton, and it was easy to get used to having everything work and run on time. I also took a side trip to the now thriving city of Hiroshima to try to comprehend the devastation of standing at ground zero of an atomic bomb, and it was a sobering experience.

            The final part of the trip took us on a discount flight on Peach airlines to Okinawa to visit some Air Force friends I had worked with in Antarctica a few years ago, and the beaches, scuba diving and relaxed atmosphere of island living were a nice change. We got the local scoop on some great sushi, shopping, and tasty ice cream along with a hike up a stream to a waterfall. Hanging out one night with a few US F-15 pilots  was interesting too, and we learned that the Chinese and Russian pilots do not buddy up to our guys when they find themselves at an international air show the same way the Europeans or Israelis might share in the brotherhood of elite masters of the skies.

            All in all another good reason to add a pin to the map in the basement and return to work with a new sense of efficiency and purpose. Hope your summer is warming up and you remain somewhere safe between the floods and drought across the country.

Cheers,

Bullet train Bob

Fiji Fantasy

Bula island lovers,

            It was time to depart the frozen landscape of McMurdo, so I flew out on the monstrous C-17 cargo plane and spent a few days in New Zealand enjoying the thrill of going to the grocery store and hanging out in the produce section to inhale the aroma of fresh fruits. I also got to have some wonderful meals with friends before heading north to meet Pat in Fiji, a nation of dozens of islands about 1300 miles north of New Zealand in the emerald waters of the South Pacific. It is known to suffer from the occasional cyclone this time of year and regular military coups every few years, but is currently run by a dictator who goes by the title of Commodore and has promised open elections every year since 2011. Pat promptly flew in the next morning, landing at 6:00 AM on the flight from Los Angeles to multiple “Bulas”from the locals which means hello, and I whisked her away in a taxi to the ferry terminal to buy a boat pass and book an island retreat that sounded suitable for our first few nights. No self respecting Antarctic veteran makes reservations in advance, so Pat went along with that philosophy as long as I assured her that the probability of spending the night camping on the beach was as likely as the US congress working in harmony for the good of the people for the next two years.

Our first place was a beachfront $300/night rustic bure, or hut, with a quiet beach to ourselves and the sweltering heat to convince us to swim or shower every few hours to cool off. We got that out of our system after 2 days, so we hopped the ferry north and booked a place that promised air conditioning in a more lively setting. The Blue Lagoon resort, named after the 1980 Brooke Shields movie that was filmed there, proved to be a paradise of clean, cool dorm rooms for a third of the cost of previous place and spectacular food for all tastes. There was great snorkeling and diving with plenty of beach time in between the meals and naps, so we extending our stay and only left when it was time to prepare to depart for our homeland. Our last night was spent on an island closer to the mainland and the airport, that just happened to have a ping pong table next to the bar. We jetted back to Florida after a day of beach and snorkel time, and I faced the re-entry challenge without too much anxiety. I returned to Colorado the following week, and having worked my usual full time workload this week am ready for a weekend of hiking and biking. Hope spring is around the corner for you and the snow shovel is put away for the season.

Cheers,

     Bure-less Bob

The ice was melting on the Ross sea with the mainland across the open ocean

The ice was melting on the Ross sea with the mainland across the open ocean

Reunited in Fiji with a smile and flower leis

Reunited in Fiji with a smile and flower leis

The Yasawa Flyer ferry makes daily stops at more than a dozen islands

The Yasawa Flyer ferry makes daily stops at more than a dozen islands

Most of the islands in Fiji are ringed with coral and turquoise water

Most of the islands in Fiji are ringed with coral and turquoise water

Our air conditioned paradise at the Blue Lagoon resort

Our air conditioned paradise at the Blue Lagoon resort

The crescent beach and reef was as inviting as it looked

The crescent beach and reef was as inviting as it looked

Some cave snorkeling made for an interesting morning excursion

Some cave snorkeling made for an interesting morning excursion

A butterfly fish and blue starfish

A butterfly fish and blue starfish

A 3 day old hawksbill turtle in a protective pond at our last nights resort

A 3 day old hawksbill turtle in a protective pond at our last nights resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whale shark tales

Captain, crew, film makers and friends on the whale shark charter

Captain, crew, film makers and friends on the whale shark charter

A friendly wave as I get close to a 30 footer

A friendly wave as I get close to a 30 footer

A curious 20 footer keeps an eye on me

A curious 20 footer keeps an eye on me

My brother, Larry decides to put the brakes on as one approaches

My brother, Larry decides to put the brakes on as one approaches

Happy campers after an epic adventure

Happy campers after an epic adventure

August 2014

Greetings fish lovers,

         In response to some of your expressed fears of me being overworked and suffering from dental burnout, I reluctantly decided to take some more vacation time. I started with my Denver buddies in Hood River, Oregon for a few days of windsurfing on the Columbia River and gorging on fresh blackberry pancakes and blueberry cobbler. After some good sessions over a couple of days to satisfy my high speed wind fix, I headed south to meet Pat and my brother, Larry in Cancun, Mexico. We joined up with Beth, an underwater film maker friend of mine who was there with her partner, Tom to film the whale sharks while they migrate through the Gulf of Mexico and stuff their bellies with tons of plankton and fish eggs. We were invited to join them on a charter boat that was heading out daily to find the beasts and spend a few hours in the water to document their feeding, and who could say no to that? Lest you be concerned, whale sharks are 20-50 foot whale sized sharks that filter feed and wouldn’t harm you unless you mistakenly got sucked into their mouth like Jonah, which would be an embarrassing epitaph to say the least. After a dishonest Mexican taxi driver (is that a redundancy or what?) stole my suitcase of clothes I re-supplied myself with a trip to a Mexican Wal-Mart, and we departed the dock at 9 AM the next morning with the Gilligan’s Island theme music playing in the back of my mind. Two hours and 25 miles later we found the feeding grounds of the whale sharks, and we plopped in the water with snorkel gear to get a good look at the monsters as they lazily swam around sucking in mouthfuls of ocean and plankton. Once you got over the fact that they were the size and weight of a Greyhound bus it was an amazing experience, and even Pat jumped in the water with wild abandon.

            We had a great dinner that night and returned the next day to repeat the event, and my Antarctica camera took some great underwater photos to prove how easy it was to get close to the action. The film crew got some good footage, and the other folks on board agreed it was magical to swim with such remarkable creatures. Beth and Tom continued south to film salt water crocodiles, which I decided was a little outside of my comfort zone, so our crew returned to the US to help keep the economy humming along. Hope your summer is going well and write some news from home.

Cheers,

        Whale shark swimming Bob

 

Cape Town downpour

Some sample wines and food helped take the chill out of the excursion

Some sample wines and food helped take the chill out of the excursion

Canopy walkway at the Cape Town Botanical Gardens

Canopy walkway at the Cape Town Botanical Gardens

Cape Point at the tip of Africa has many shipwreck stories

Cape Point at the tip of Africa has many shipwreck stories

A colony of South African or “Jackass” penguins at Boulders Beach

A colony of South African or “Jackass” penguins at Boulders Beach

June 2014

Hi flood fans,
      It’s been raining for almost 36 hours now in Cape Town, so after walking around the botanical gardens, lunching on grilled ostrich,  and checking out the waterfront
yesterday we decided to rent a car and see if the moisture would follow. Armed
with a chatty GPS we headed out of town this morning, only to drive into a
spectacular hail storm that drowned out the GPS voice very effectively.
Undaunted we made it to Betty’s Bay to wander among the penguins in the
downpour, and enjoy the coastal driving as the waves crashed among the rocks.
One striking sight was the marauding baboons along the streets of Gordan’s Bay
who delighted in tearing apart bags of trash laid out for the morning pick-up,
or easily hopped over 6 foot fences to have their way with trash cans in the
driveway.

      Soaked but not deterred, we pressed on to the wine region and found a great lunch spot in Stellenbosch for some sample reds and whites from the vineyard to compliment our chorizo tapas and Persian lamb wrap. Our GPS brought us back to the hotel with nary a wrong turn, and after a brief nap, we are enjoying the  quiet of the hotel while most of our clothes are hung to dry out in the room.
     It may be of interest to inquiring minds that our first night in Cape Town was spent in Bob’s carefully selected no star B & B near the waterfront, but after a fairly heatless night in near freezing temperatures, that selection was vetoed by Pat’s majority opinion. With little fanfare we toured a few upgraded properties and moved to a luxury 4 star hotel even closer to the waterfront that included not only a heated room but a breakfast fit for a sheik and his full entourage. Naturally my protests were squashed like a bug and it looks like we’re here for the duration, but I’m flexible and will keep my complaints to a minimum.
    We’ve got the rental car for another day and hope to drive down to Cape Point to see the tip of the continent tomorrow, so hopefully the forecast of sunshine will prevail. Hope your rainbows are complete and your sunshine is brilliant.
Cheers,
Drip-dry Bob

 

Suave South Africa

Wisely yielding to an elephant in the road

Wisely yielding to an elephant in the road

Open vehicles on safari don’t offer much warmth or protection from the lions!

Open vehicles on safari don’t offer much warmth or protection from the lions!

The rhinos who cooperatively wandered over to our vehicle

The rhinos who cooperatively wandered over to our vehicle

Cheetah brothers out for a stroll at sunset

Cheetah brothers out for a stroll at sunset

“Stubby” the giraffe survived a lion attack with all but his tail

“Stubby” the giraffe survived a lion attack with all but his tail

June 2014

Jambo safari fans,

            Following our Madagascar adventure we flew to South Africa to experience the wealthiest country on the dark continent. We started with a safari for a few days in a tented camp where the sub freezing temps of -4C (25F) in the morning made game viewing a shivering affair, but as we gazed at all the amazing wildlife we thought about how special it would be to have some of the first recorded cases of frostbite in Africa. That was prevented by a roaring fire and plenty of hot tea and coffee when we returned to the camp with stories of elephants, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs and lions feasting on a wildebeest. The rhinos we spotted were quite a distance away from our vehicle which was committed to staying on the designated dirt road, so our driver chanted a sing-song “come come come come come!” as our smirks turned to smiles because the four adults and two babies sauntered over to within 50 feet of us for a great photo session. The rest of our safari time was spent taking lots of pictures, eating wonderfully prepared meals by the staff of the camp and longing for the warmth of a hotel room or restaurant once we returned to civilization.

            Half of our group headed home to the US while Pat and I flew south to Cape Town to hang out with a friend who teaches physics at the University of Cape Town and is the son in law of a patient of mine. Saalih was a great resource and took us out for some delicious meals in the city, as well as sharing sobering stories of growing up labeled as “colored” since he is from a marriage of Indian and Malaysian parents. Cape Town and the surrounding region is a mix of modern highways, schools, restaurants, hotels, malls and shops with the challenge of sprawling slums and ghettos called townships against a backdrop of the Atlantic and Indian ocean on one side and towering Table Mountain on the other. We taxied and walked though a great deal of the city, and then rented a car to drive to see penguins on the beach and gaze out on the rolling waves at the Cape of Good Hope, which technically is not THE most southern tip of the continent but was close enough for those of us that no longer need ADD medications. Both days on our way back to the city we stopped to sample wine and food around the vineyards of Stellenbosh and Constantia, which rivaled any wine region of the world. Now it’s back to work but the next trip is just a plane ride away!

Cheers,

         Bwanna Bob

Pilgrimage in Spain

September, 2013

Hola fellow travelers,

            Jet lag is slowly fading from the latest trip to the hinterlands, this time meeting Pat in Bilbao, Spain to see the sights and test our endurance on a portion of the trek known as the Camino de Santiago. We played tourist in the land of great architecture, history and food and were never disappointed. Bilbao was put on the map with the Guggenheim museum, but the building is far more impressive than the modern art inside, although well worth the admission to see how tons of titanium was fit together to form an image of sails along the river. We then spent a little time in Pamplona, famous for the madness known as the running of the bulls in July,  but we were too late to see any stampedes or goring, so settled on flavorful wine and tapas, known as pintxes in the Basque region.

            Then the real fun began as we hit the trail for the Camino, logging in 50 miles over 5 days, which was child’s play for many of the people we met along the way, but enough to build up some sore muscles and relish in the thought of a hot shower and a nap at the end of each afternoon. Life was simplified to eating, walking and sleeping, with some of the toughest decisions being whether to have a deliciously fresh butter or chocolate croissant at the morning break in some quaint town along the trail. We got an official pilgrim passport which gave us access to the hostels, or Auberges along the way, and shared bunk beds with dozens of new found friends in the communal bedrooms that seemed to encourage competitive snoring all night long. We ended our journey back in Bilbao, refreshed and encouraged to return someday to do more of the 474 mile trail.

            I missed the Colorado floods while I was gone, but am drying out the carpet in the basement bedroom as a reminder of the blessing and curse that rain can deliver to this part of the country. Hope you’re all dry and ready for winter, since the temps are dipping down in the 40’s here at night and it’s only a matter of time before the first snow makes an appearance.

            Cheers,

             Bilbao Bob

The Guggenheim Museum is a tribute to titanium

The Guggenheim Museum is a tribute to titanium

Spider sculpture outside the museum

Spider sculpture outside the museum

Flower dog guarding the museum

Flower dog guarding the museum

 

Bedtime with 100 bunks in an old hospital building on the church grounds

Bedtime with 100 bunks in an old hospital building on the church grounds

The Camino winding its way to the next town

The Camino winding its way to the next town

Mid-morning break for croissants and tea

Mid-morning break for croissants and tea