Rita and I have just returned from Eastern Europe. The primary purpose of our journey was to visit the homeland of my grandparents – to breathe the air of my ancestors. My fraternal grandparents (Shalton, as Americanized) were from a village near Vilnius, Lithuania, and my maternal grandparents (Lukomski) were from a village near Lviv, Ukraine. They came to the states in 1907 and 1911. They didn’t speak English and had no money or special skills. Just dreamers with a willingness to work hard and become patriotic Americans. They are my heroes.
Long term planning does not always work out. Diana and Larry Brewer have long had Prague on their bucket list and the four of us scheduled a trip for July. Di took ill at the wrong time, and so she and Larry are working through trip cancellation insurance issues. The good news is that Di is on the road to recovery and the four of us plan to attend our fifth consecutive Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day Weekend. This assumes Rita’s ears un-pop by then (those long flights over the ocean).
Rita and I again joined Ralph and Cheryl Waterhouse on an African safari. This was our fifth safari arranged by Ralph, the first being to Kenya in 1989 when he was director of the Kansas City Zoo. Trips to Zambia/Zimbabwe (1994) and Tanzania (1996) followed when Ralph was director of the Fresno Zoo. After retirement, Ralph has continued to lead trips and we joined him in South Africa in 2009 and this year in Zambia. We took a deep breath when the state department issued a travel alert warning of potential incidents arising from the hotly contested presidential race. However, the incumbent loser quickly embraced the victor and Zambia peaceably moved on. In contrast, safari tourism in neighboring Zimbabwe continues to suffer from the policies of President Robert Mugabe
For many years, Rita and I have tried to persuade Woody and Jane to travel outside the United States. Woody argued that they had already done so twice: to Windsor across the border from Detroit and to Tijuana. As Woody’s friends all know, he likes to keep his feet on the ground (even when one has a medical boot), and so flights, cruises and high places are not his favorites. We were thinking he and Jane should cross an ocean, and they took the initial step last year by getting their first passports. Rita and I had been to London and Paris a few times, and we thought these cities would be the best for Woody and Jane to get a taste for international travel. To our pleasant surprise, they agreed to go.
In 1989, Rita and I ventured to Kenya for our first African photo safari. The trip was organized and led by Ralph Waterhouse, then Director of the Kansas City Zoo. We were thrilled with the trip and kept in touch with Ralph after he moved on to become the Director of the Fresno Zoo. This led to additional trips organized by Ralph to Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1994 and Tanzania in 1996. The animal kingdom setting in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania has our vote as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Rita and I condensed several hundred pictures from two digital cameras into this Snapfish album of 92 photos. Some are included in the narrative below.
Petra is located in present day Jordan and may be best known as the place where Indiana Jones (in his “Last Crusade”) and his father (played by Sean Connery) ride horseback through a narrow gorge which opens into a dramatic view of the rose-colored Treasury carved into the mountainside. Our personal interest in the trip came more from several friends who had visited and encouraged us to go.
As most of you know, Rita and I rarely go voluntarily to a cold climate. So the trip to Antarctica was not the norm. However, it turned out to be a memorable adventure and one of our favorite trips. Some photos are in the narrative below, but a bigger set of about 160 is at this link (click on the down arrow below first row of photos to expand).
From January 26 to February 6, 2007, we joined our friends Diana and Larry Brewer for a cruise of the Galapagos Islands.
I tried to reduce our 347 pics on Snapfish to 30 or so, but without success. So, the people getting this are stuck with 74. It is easy to get photos in the Galapagos because the animals have few predators and are unconcerned with any humans walking around. The camera clicks and whines are lost among the whistles and calls of the birds.