Feb 12

Israel2015-843
The trip to Israel went from 10-22January. In the aftermath, Betsy and I spent the next 10 days recovering from jet lag, while simultaneously fighting off the crud that grandchildren seem to have given us (or perhaps we gave to them?). This was a trip planned with people from church, and so there were only three people that we did not know on the trip, though they were enjoyable to get to know. This trip was planned to include sites that Betsy and I did not see on our trip with John Delancey. I am not going to do a blow-by-blow account of the travels, since they would be uninteresting, but will mention sites that we did not see previously. There were a considerable number of new places that we went to this time compared to our last trip with John, and the older places had a fresh perspective. Being the down-season, there were far less crowds, especially at the “holy” sites. It added to the ambience to be with people you knew, although the most significant interactions happened when sitting around on the sea of Galilee enjoying cigars and good conversation. John again was a total delight to be with, and a wealth of information. Unfortunately, the stuff I wished most to remember from him I don’t, being somewhat brain-dead from jet lag the first few days. As usual, I took way too few photographs. On this trip, I used my Canon M1 camera. The beauty of the M1 is its lightness. The problems with the M1 are the inability to see the image in bright light and its extreme slowness. So, here are a few photos from this trip.

We saw lots of archeological sites. Unfortunately, they all looked the same!

We saw lots of archeological sites. Unfortunately, they all looked the same!


Flowers in bloom. It was a beautiful time of year to visit.

Flowers in bloom. It was a beautiful time of year to visit.


Valley of David and Goliath, near Gath in the Sephelah

Valley of David and Goliath, near Gath in the Sephelah


Cave at Moresheth, where Micah used to hang out.

Cave at Moresheth, where Micah used to hang out.


Wadi below ancient Be'er Sheba, where Abraham planted his digs.

Wadi below ancient Be’er Sheba, where Abraham planted his digs.


Kamelfahrt

Kamelfahrt


Kamel kopf durch Kamelfahrt

Kamel kopf durch Kamelfahrt


The Judean desert. The green area deep in the valley would be the road from Jericho to Jerusalem

The Judean desert. The green area deep in the valley would be the road from Jericho to Jerusalem


More road to Jerusalem

More road to Jerusalem


Shiloh, where Samuel used to play as a kid.

Shiloh, where Samuel used to play as a kid.


Beth Shean, on the other side of the Jezebel Valley

Beth Shean, on the other side of the Jezebel Valley


Ancient village in the Golan, destroyed by the Romans

Ancient village in the Golan, destroyed by the Romans


Dan at Dan

Dan at Dan


Rob, sitting at the gate in ancient Dan

Rob, sitting at the gate in ancient Dan


The dynamic duo, John and Schlomo, at the altar at Dan

The dynamic duo, John and Schlomo, at the altar at Dan


Rob, fetching baptismal water from the Jordan. Actually, this is the Dan, one of the three sources for the Jordan river, so, Rob might be accused of being Unitarian.

Rob, fetching baptismal water from the Jordan. Actually, this is the Dan, one of the three sources for the Jordan river, so, Rob might be accused of being Unitarian.


Climbing the last scramble to the top of Arbel

Climbing the last scramble to the top of Arbel


The Horns of Hattin from Arbel

The Horns of Hattin from Arbel


The cliffs of Arbel

The cliffs of Arbel


View of Arbel and the Horns of Hattin and the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes

View of Arbel and the Horns of Hattin and the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of the Beatitudes


Heulenmauer. Wir Heult! Wailing at the wall.

Heulenmauer. Wir Heulten! Wailing at the wall.


Last view of Jerusalem. Looking at the south end of the Mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley heading down to the Dead Sea. The mountains in the distance are in Jordan.

Last view of Jerusalem. Looking at the south end of the Mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley heading down to the Dead Sea. The mountains in the distance are in Jordan.


 

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Nov 13

ChinaBlitz2014-582
Who ever heard of going to China for just 2 days? On this trip, Dr. X. Liao and I left from Seattle at 1300 last Friday, and returned home at 1030 this last Monday. It took 3 days for my brain to de-fog to write this blog. The trip was made possible by a generous benefactor Mr. Lu, who covered the entire cost of the trip, loading us with numerous gifts to take home with us. I had provided care to the brother of the person that made this trip possible, the brother having had a very good outcome from with healthcare with Dr. Liao. Thus, he was interested in establishing a stronger American presence in China for healthcare.
The flight each way was 10 hours, but with the crossing of the date line and 10 hour time zone difference, flying Hainan Airline on a direct flight from Seattle to Beijing, and arriving the next day at 1730. Mr. Lu’s oldest son picked us up at the airport, did tea with us at his office and taught me extensively on the proper handling and brewing of Chinese tea (we had pu-er tea, Betsy’s favorite), and then dropped us off at the train station, which  put us on one of the high-speed trains. We rode business class, which gave us reclining seats and shear luxury. These trains are even nicer than the best trains in Europe–they are really nice. In 1.5 hours, we were in the town of Jinan in the Shandong province, located south and east of Beijing, about ⅓ of the way to Shanghai. Jinan is a smaller little village of only 8-10 million people. Mr. Lu picked us up from the train station, took us out to dinner, and then dropped us off at our hotel, a 5 star hotel (that incidentally, the really good rooms cost the equivalent of about $100/night).
The next morning (Sunday), we had breakfast at the hotel, and then hopped in the car for a sight-seeing tour. About 1 hour drive south took us to Qufu, where we were able to see the Confucius temple.  It was a large compound, a little bit like the Forbidden City, though not nearly as large. Most of the buildings were built starting in the early Ming dynasty (about 1300 ad), though it was the site were Confucius was born and lived many hundreds of years ago during the Shang dynasty.  Sitting beside the temple grounds was the Confucius “Mission”, where about 70 or more generations of families lived after Confucius. The Mormons would like to get ahold of that genealogy!

Dr. Liao, Mr. Lu, me at Confucius temple

Dr. Liao, Mr. Lu, me at Confucius temple


Entrance to the temple

Entrance to the temple


Burning incense to Confucius

Burning incense to Confucius


Leaving there, we visited a university of 10,000 students that was built and funded by Mr. Lu. We toured several of the buildings, which he had built after the style of a European mansion, quite luxurious. We were then to meet the doctor in charge of one of the Jinan hospitals that had been talking with Mr. Lu about the development of an American style clinic for cancer patients. There was an hour meeting where Dr. Liao explained his vision, and the 5-6 hospital surgeons and oncologists listened carefully, asking various questions. After that, we had dinner at our hotel with the hospital surgeons and Mr. Lu’s brother, our patient. Somehow, they manage to find very large round tables, and this one had a motor that slowly turned the large central lazy Susan on which multiple dishes sat. One would take small portions of 20 or more different dishes, giving the diner the opportunity to try multiple things. For me, most of the food was quite unrecognizable, but everything tasted very good. The difficulty that I often have with he more exotic Chinese foods is not with the taste so much as with the texture of the food.  In addition, there are flavors that westerners are quite unfamiliar with, such as that of lotus root. I find that my favorite Chinese foods are the cheap foods that are found on the street at inexpensive restaurants. The fancy restaurants are just too exotic, and I don’t care to eat chicken feet or various forms of slime.
University in Jinan

University in Jinan


Inside of the buildings of the university

Inside of the buildings of the university


After breakfast in the hotel the next morning, we did a tour of several other clinic possibilities, including converting a very nice but underused hotel into a large outpatient clinic, and then driving through a very modern and fancy district of Jinan next to the train station for possibilities. Mr. Lu dropped us off at the train station, loaded with massive amounts of gifts, and we hopped the train back to Beijing. In Beijing, a taxi took us to the airport, and a flight home (in which I slept most of the way) left us in Seattle. We left Beijing on Monday at 5 in the evening, and arrived in Seattle at 10:30 on Monday in the morning–it’s like going back in time, and definitely confuses your internal clock. Mr. Lu’s gifts included 12 very expensive discs of pu-er tea, a number of boxes of very expensive finest Tie Guan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) tea, also one of my absolute favorites, a tea server (I can’t even tell you what it is, and a photo won’t work, you just need to see it in action), as well as oodles of Chinese candy. For all of his kindness, I dearly hope that I could have been of help to Mr. Lu’s vision.

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Jun 18

Germany2013-107
Germany with Jonny

My first trip to Germany was in 2003, with Rachel and Diane. Now, I am here with Jonny.  We spent the last few months organizing this trip, intending it at first to be oriented around bicycles. That became logistically challenging, and so I needed to change the trip to focus on what I felt to be important. Our focus was on friends, the Reformation, and music, especially JS Bach.
25MAY-26MAY – the plane left fairly early from Seattle, stopping in Chicago for a five hour lay-over. We arrived in Dùsseldorf at 10 am on 26 MAY. We dropped off our luggage at the Schließfach in the Hauptbahnhof, found our way to the Altstadt and Rhein, had a Döner, picked up our bags, and headed to our hotel. We immediately crashed. Later, we walked back to the Altstadt for dinner. Herbert, unfortunately, had recent doggie problems as well as internet problems, and so we were unable to connect with him.
 
27MAY- Kõln – After having breakfast at the hotel, we wandered down to the train station, and hopped the train to Köln. It was a 1/2 hour ride, with the train leaving us right beside the Köln cathedral (Kölner Dom). After touring the church, we tried to go up into the towers, but that was no longer permitted. We spent much time walking the streets of Köln, going to the Minoritenkirche, where the grave of Johannes Duns Scotus lies. Jonny and I had a bier at the Früh Brauerei, and then walked across the Rhein on the rail and foot bridge, After eating, having a bretzen and Berliner, we headed back to Dūsseldorf. We again went for a walk to the Altstadt, stopping for a bier, and later a Döner. It was a full day!

Kölner Dom

Kölner Dom


 
28MAY-Heidelberg- We arrived at 10 am in Heidelberg. The hotel was immediately next to the train station, so I thought we could try to drop our bags off, since it would be a long walk to the city center. They ended checking us in right then. Jon and I then took off to the city. The main street was about 1.5 km from the train station, and is several km long, lined with touristy shops and restaurants. We visited the Heilig Geist Kirche, where Olivianis and Ursinis preached.  After crossing the Alte Brüche, we ascended a steep winding path called the Schlangen Weg, to come to the Philosophen Weg. We sat there for a bit, watching the clouds all disappear into a gorgeous day, philosophized, appreciated gorgeous views of the city, and then returned. The Heidelberg Castle was next on our list, a short climb from the Altstadt, and noting the moderate number of walls destroyed in the numerous wars that the town had to suffer through. After a bit more beer (Heidelberg beer of course), we retreated back to the hotel for a snooze.
 
Schloss Heidelberg

Schloss Heidelberg


29MAY- Leinach/Würzburg. Today was a busy day. After waking up early and hurrying to the train station, Jonny and I got on the train to Würzburg, transferring in Frankfurt. Hannes picked us up in Retzbach-Zellingen, and took us immediately to Festung Marienburg, the large fortress in Würzburg. Würzburg was uniquely controlled by an archbishop that was also a prince, called an Fürst-Erzbischoff. The fortress was immense and quite spectacular, one of the many homes in the Würzburg area for the archbishop. One of the chambers was a prison cell where the famous artist Reimenschneider was incarcerated for nine months for assisting in the peasants’ war. We returned to Leinach, and moaned over the absence of Herbert.  We then took off to dinner. This was at a hospital in Würzburg started in the 16th century by one of the rulers of Würzburg, the hospital being called Juliusspital. It was an amalgam of part of a medical school, the Röntgen institute (where x-rays were discovered, a hospital, and, to fund the entire venture, a massive (and I really mean massive) winery. After dinner, we toured the winery and then had a long wine-tasting session. The wines were completely superb. Arriving back home, we discovered with great delight that Herbert had arrived and was waiting for us. This ended up being a late night, chatting with Herbert and catching up on matters. The day was quite cold and rainy, and my only regret was that I did not bring my camera for the tour of the Juliusspital. It was like nothing you’d ever find in America, a large winery connected to a famous medical institution. Interestingly, the hospital was largely destroyed in WWII, and so the hospital moved down into the wine cellar until the hospital could be rebuilt. It was a most fascinating day.
 
Festung Marienburg in Würzburg

Festung Marienburg in Würzburg


 
Herbert

Herbert


 
Large Riemenschneider carving

Large Riemenschneider carving


 
Katja, Hannes, Herbert

Katja, Hannes, Herbert


30MAY- Today, we first took Gustav for a walk among the wheat and raps fields out in the countryside. We then took a long drive to Rothenburg, an old medieval city that is still fully operational, though entirely for tourists. On the way to Rothenburg, we stopped in a small church that housed one of the spectacular Riemenschneider carvings. We had dinner at Hannes and Katja’s, and enjoyed the Gemütlichkeit of good friends.
 
Rothenberg

Rothenberg


31MAY- Jonny and I took off early to the train depot, And had a comfortable ride from Retzbach to Würzburg to Fulda and finally to Leipzig. Here we met Carsten at the Bahnhof, checked into our hotel, re-connected for coffee, and then spent several hours at the Bach museum. Finally, we went to Carsten and Annett’s house for a barbecue. It was most wonderful, meeting up with the family again. While waiting for Carsten before coffee, we visited the Thomaskirche, where we were able to see a portion of a practice performance of Wachet Auf.
 
Jonny and I with Carsten

Jonny and I with Carsten


 
Rabea lights the bbq

Rabea lights the bbq


01JUN- Today was very busy with Carsten and Annett. We started out at a museum that documented the DDR years in East Germany. It was well done, and portrayed much of both politics and daily life in the DDR. We then went to Carsten’s parents for lunch and had rabbitt. It was very good. A mad dash to the church allowed us to enjoy a service with the Thomanerchor. They performed Jesu meine Freude, as well as Wachet auf. I got to chat briefly with the cantor Georg Christoph Biller afterwards; he is a very kindly humble man. We visited a large artificial lake outside of Leipzig, and then watched some football (FC Munchen v Stuttgart), and finally took a long walk downtown in the rain. It was hard to say goodby.
 
Thomanerchor in the Thomas Kirche

Thomanerchor in the Thomas Kirche


 
Jonny at the top of the Thomas Kirche

Jonny at the top of the Thomas Kirche


02JUN- Eisenach… Boarding the train early from Leipzig, we headed off to Eisenach. On arrival, we first headed to the church where Luther did many of his first sermons, located right at the city gate. We then headed off to the church where Luther also preached, but where JS Bach was baptized. There was a service going on, so we we unable to go into the church. We dashed off to the Bach Haus, where Bach was probably born. They had turned it into a museum, that had an excellent exhibit of his life and compositions. We then strolled on a forest path up to the Wartburg, where we experienced a tour in English. One of the first stops was the Elizabeth Kaminate, where the Saint Elizabeth from Hungary lived, and who Betsy was named after. It was the most beautiful room of the castle. The last stop on the tour was the Lutherstube where Luther translated the New Testament into the German language. We then headed back the forest path to the train station to Erfurt.
 
Bachhaus Eisenach

Bachhaus Eisenach


 
Festung Wartburg

Festung Wartburg


 
Lutherstube

Lutherstube


03JUN- Erfurt and Weimar. After waking up, we headed into the old town where we crossed the Krämer Brucke, the oldest bridge in recorded history in which shops lined the sides of the bridge. We went to the Augustiner Kloster where Luther became a monk, and saw rooms where he lived and prayed. This was a guided tour, though in German, and a little more extensive than the last time I visited with Herbert and Betsy. We then headed to the Erfurter Dom, a huge church, now Catholic again, on the edge of town. This was the largest church in town, though it only seats a few people. Next to it is the smaller but roomier St. Severus church. After having a Thüringer Bratwurst mit Brötchen, and Budweiser beer (the real Budweiser), we headed back to the train station, and went to Weimar. Weimar was a little more relaxed, with lots of Shiller and Goethe sites, the giant Palace that became the headquarters of the Weimar Republic, and a stroll in the park took us to the house where Liszt lived for a few years. We were ultimately exhausted, and headed back to the hotel, stopping for dinner on the way.
 
Erfurt  - the oldest ever built up bridge over a river

Erfurt – the oldest ever built up bridge over a river


 
Jonny sitting in Luther's spot in church

Jonny sitting in Luther’s spot in church


 
Luther's Schlafzimmer

Luther’s Schlafzimmer


 
Erfurter Dom

Erfurter Dom


 
Jonny enjoys a brat and Budweiser outside the Erfurter Dom

Jonny enjoys a brat and Budweiser outside the Erfurter Dom


 
Liszt Haus in Weimar

Liszt Haus in Weimar


04JUN- Lutherstadt Wittemburg. Today predominated in train travel. We got up early, hopped the train to Leipzig, and then transferred to go to Lutherstadt Wittemburg. A long walk into town gave us a nice glimpse at the historical sights of Wittemburg. Lunch was at a potato restaurant, that was surprisingly good. Our only great disappointment was that the castle church was under heavy reconstruction and thus not open. A long trainride into München put us into town fairly late in the evening. We checked into our hotel, did a quick dash into town, and crashed.
City square in Lutherstadt Wittemburg with Luther Denkmal

City square in Lutherstadt Wittemburg with Luther Denkmal


 
05JUN- Today centered on Schloss Nymphenburg. We walked into town in the morning, saw the Hofbrauhaus and Viktualenmarkt, and then headed on a very long walk to Schloss Nymphenburg. It remained a very impressive palace, after the style of Versailles, incredibly decorated and with massive gardens and elaborate grden houses. There is also a museum in the castle with sleds and carriages, that were stunning in their elaborate detail and artistry.
 
Carraiges in Schloss Nymphenburg

Carraiges in Schloss Nymphenburg


 
Schloss Nymphenburg

Schloss Nymphenburg


 
Grounds surrounding Schloss Nymphenburg

Grounds surrounding Schloss Nymphenburg


 
One of the buildings in the Schloss Nymphenburg estate,  intentionally designed to look like a ruined building

One of the buildings in the Schloss Nymphenburg estate, intentionally designed to look like a ruined building


 
Inside of above

Inside of above


06JUN- Salzburg is not in Germany, but right on the border, and I was able to use the Rail Pass to get us to this city. Going there was problematic in that a small portion of the track was under water, requiring a short interlude on the bus. Salzburg was as awesome as ever, with nice sunny weather. We walked by the Mozart Geburtshaus, but did not go in. We then went to the Festung Salzburg, the large castle that was inhabited by the Fürst-Erzbischoff of Salzburg. This gave incredible views of the city and surrounding mountains. We were back in München by 4 pm, and had dinner at the Hofbrauhaus.
 
Mozart's Geburtshaus

Mozart’s Geburtshaus


 
Salzburg from the castle

Salzburg from the castle


 
Jonny finds a friend

Jonny finds a friend


07JUN- Our last day in Germany was a relatively lazy day, with much walking but little strenuous exercise. Our first destination was the Alte Pinakotec museum, which held paintings of many of the old Dutch painters, including Rembrandt and a large Rubens collections, as well as many German painters, including Cranich and Dürer. The collection was quite awesome, and this museum is well worth a visit. We then went to the Englische Garten for lunch as the Biergarten close to the Chinesische Turm. It was a lazy walk home. That evening, we hopped the city trains to Rob and Jordan Rayburn’s house, and went out to dinner. It was nice seeing these two again, and glad that all is going well, though he is being deployed to Kuwait and she is due to have a baby in September.
 
Rembrandt painting in the Alte Pinakotek

Rembrandt painting in the Alte Pinakotek


08JUN- Home… unfortunately, we have to come home, and I was sorely missing Betsy. She happens to remain my favorite person in life. We had to wake up at 3:30 am, and then catch the S8 train to the airport. We flew first to Frankfurt, and then home, leaving Frankfurt at 10 am and arriving in Seattle at 11 am.
Next trip… hopefully it will be a bicycle ride. We should spend far less time in München, since it is the most expensive city in Germany. I’d like to explore more Southern Germany, the far North (Bremen, Nordsee, Ostsee), and Southeast, including the Schwarzwald, Trier, and areas around there. Hopefully, next time we can connect with the Fuch’s.

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Jun 16

Oklahoma-100
Oklahoma 11-14 APRIL 2013
This is a terribly late posting of a trip we did in April to Oklahoma. Since then, central Oklahoma, where we visited, has gone through some terrible tornadoes. Fortunately, it did not hit our friends. Our main purpose was to visit some old friends, Mark and Penny H. It was a wonderful trip, and always good to see friends that have been gone for a while. The flight was dreadfully long, needing to go through Houston, and thus us not arriving until late Thursday evening, and needing to leave early Sunday morning in order to get home in time for work on Monday. Our time was entirely focused around Mark and Penny. The first day was spent roaming their land, and going to walks.

The dog

The dog


Lindsey in the kitchen

Lindsey in the kitchen


The next day was spent with Mark and Penny downtown. We went out to dinner, and then toured downtown Oklahoma City. It was wonderful, as we did it in a horse and buggy. We even went to where the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. Nothing was left, as they removed the building and turned the square into a large park.
The buggy

The buggy


 
The horse

The horse


 
Place of the Oklahoma City bombing, with memorials to those who died

Place of the Oklahoma City bombing, with memorials to those who died


 
The presence of big oil in the city

The presence of big oil in the city


It was really nice seeing Mark and Penny again, and they will remain dear in our hearts. It’s nice to see their children growing up well, and maturing into young adults. Thank you, Mark and Penny, for the good time.
Oklahoma-103
 

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Aug 02

Iowa Visit 26JUL-01AUG with Ken and Betsy
Iowa was in the midst of a heat wave, and oddly, the one outdoor activity that we really wanted to do, the waterfight, had to be cancelled because of electric storms. We were able to meet little Lily, a very cute baby. We also got to know the town of Sioux Center much better.
I learned that the overwhelming preponderance of Iowa corn is genetically modified. How terrible. Then I realized that everything in Iowa was genetically modified. Here are some examples…

Genetically modified people smoking genetically modified tobacco and drinking genetically modified beer


Genetically modified Fireman


Genetically modified water was used in this watertight by genetically modified firemen


Genetically modified baby. Notice the blue “thing” growing out of her mouth. The eyes and face are too perfect to be a real kid.

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Jun 17

Deutschland JUN01 – JUN15, 2012

The above scene is a panorama shot of the old town of Passau. You see the Donau (Danube) River below and the Inns above, running together. There is a third river, not seen also running into the Donau, the Ilz, and so Passau is often called the Dreiflüssenstadt, or City of Three Rivers. Such a photo represents the overwhelming impressions one gets while visiting Deutschland, and of the nearly 400 photos that I took, I could only show a small fraction of them. Pity.

Our trip started by arrival to Düsseldorf. We were just given notice from Herbert that his plumbing gave out, and so there was no running water in the house. Thus, we stayed in a hotel in Düsseldorf, and dropped in twice to Herbert’s Haus to pick up the bicycle and visit a dear friend. We also must bring Herbert his annual load of Jamaican Jerk sauce.

Herbert’s Haus

Betsy and I then went to München, and met Peter Tate there. The time was spent riding our bicycles, and seeing the city. On our last night, we were able to meet with old friends, Robbie and Jordan Rayburn.

Peter in Marienplatz

05OCT. First bicycle day ride 3:27 riding time.  50 km total riding, ascent 105 meters, 2416 cal, ride around München, Nymphenburg, Olympia stadium, Enflischer Garten,, then SW of city.

Peter in front of Nymphenburg Palace
Olympic Stadium area
Peter pumping up the Olympic Mountain
Overview of the Olympic Park from the top of Olympic Mountain
Bavaria, in the Theresian Weise
06OCT., second riding day in the München area, 4:41 riding time,  74.65 km, 3315 cal, 283 m climb , trip from München to Wolfratshausen and back, mostly on variants of the Isar Radweg.
Quaint house on the Isar
Woods along the Isar
Somehow, we lost our way on return from Wolfratshausen, and ended up on a very muddy mountain bike alternate of the Isar Radweg. Not good.
We then took the train to Würzburg, where we dropped Betsy off with the Wagners, and went on to begin the Main Radweg from Würzburg to Frankfurt.
07 OCT,  first day on the Main Radweg, starting at 12:30, for a total of 3:54 riding time, 77.19 km, 108 m total ascent, 2847 cal burned,  trip from Würzburg to Markt Heidenfeld. TOTAL RAD!
Castle in the Lohr area, close to the REAL sleeping beauty castle
Hotel in Markt Heidenfeld
08OCT 5:48 riding time, 102 6 km, 3425 cal, 181 m ascent.  Trip from Markt Heidenfeld to Aschaffenburg.  Miltenberg was awesome!
Poppies on the way
Numerous castles were seen along the way
Me in Miltenberg
in Miltenberg
Aschaffenburg Castle
09OCT 4:10 riding time, 67.43 km, 2453 cal, 137 m Aschaffenburg to Frankfurt, and then Zellingen to Leinach. We took the train back from Frankfurt to Zellingen, and then rode our bikes up to the Wagners in Leinach. Peter left to Munich the next morning. I went for a walk with Hans-Jurgen and Gustav.
Frankfurt on the horizon
Flowers were everywhere
Der Hund und der Meister
Dorf Leinach ohne Nebel
Back in Leinach, we went for one day to the Fränkisches Freilandmuseum in Bad Windsheim, where many of the old Fachwerk houses were reconstructed into a museum setting.
Nicht die Meisterin mit Gustav
Sheep dog in museum herding sheep the old way
One of the many Fachwerk Houses in the museum
Hannes and Katja and Gustav

Betsy and I then hopped on the train to Passau, and was met by Herbert’s sister Hille. She showed us around Passau, and then let us stay overnight at her place in Rotthalmuster. We got to walk the town the next morning.

Kloster across the Inn River in Passau 

Largest pipe organ (in the world?)
Inn River flowing into the Donau
Downtown Rotthalmünster 

Betsy and Hille
Betsy and Hille
Donald Duck

We then took the train back to Würzburg, and then the next morning to Benningen. There we met some dear old friends from the past, Heinz and Debbie Fuchs. That evening, we got to watch the Europa Meisterschaft, with Deutschland playing Niederland. Deutschland won, of course. The next day, it was off to the Castle in Ludwigsburg.

Betsy at Ludwigsburger Schloss
Flowers at the Schloss
Debbie and Betsy

The castle had a Märchen (Fairy Tale) Garden, where many of the Grimms tales and Max and Moritz were displayed in anamatronics type format.

The big bad wolf from Little Red Riding Hood
Lehrer Lampel from Max and Moritz
Onkel Fritz from Max und Moritz

 

Inner court of Ludwigsburg Palace
Stairwell of Ludwigsburg Palace

Unfortunately, they would not let me take photos on the tour of the Palace. It was stupendous. That evening, we bid Debbie goodbye, and took the train up to Frankfurt, flying back home the next morning.

This trip was fun, rewarding, and inspiring for returning as soon as possible to do Germany ag
ain. This time, I’d like to predominate the bicycle travel, thinking about either some portion of the Donau Radweg, or perhaps the Romantische Straße, which runs through western Bayern.
Betsy and I need to thank everybody who made this trip a pleasure, Sarah at home who got the mail and watched the house, Herbert for advice and inspiration, and attempts to accommodate us, Katja and Hannes for their incredible hospitality, Hille for putting up with us on the fly, Heinz, Debbie and family for their accommodations and willingness to watch my bicycle and use it once in a while, Robbie and Jordan for touching base with us, and helping Peter care for the rental bike, and for Peter for making an awesome cycle partner. 
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Oct 09
We decided to go see the Pope. I also wanted to spend some time bicycling in Germany, but that idea fizzled out. I still needed to spend some time working on my bicycle, and touching base with old friends, so a chaotic adventure was started.
22SEPT2011 – Departure

The flight out to Düsseldorf began at 7 am from SeaTac, putting us through Newark, NJ. This wasn’t a bad option, though the Newark airport required one to depart one secure terminal and then re-check in to another terminal. It wasn’t easy, and the airport had minimal food options. We’ll try to go through Chicago or Frankfurt from now on.
23SEPT – Arrival in Düsseldorf
Customs was easy but in our tiredness we walked right out of the terminal looking for our baggage, only to realize that we might have taken the wrong turn, and could not get back into the baggage area. Fortunately, we were able to force our way back through a “Kein Eintritt” door (no entrance) and immediately located our bags. The smallest cash that I had on hand was 20 euro, and the machine would not take that large of bill, and would not take a credit card. This led to great consternation as to how to pay for the train ride. Eventually solved, we ended up in Krefeld Hbf, only to catch the wrong bus to Onkel Herbert. Arriving in Düsseldorf at 6 am, we finally got to Onkel Herbert at 10:30. Oh well. It was a nice day catching up on things, going shopping with Herbert, and going out to eat at Am Vreed, our currywurst restaurant.
24SEPT- Free day with Herbert
I spent time doing repairs on my bicycle, and actually got it working better than ever before. It was quite nice to have had the bicycle repair class. In the evening, Herbert made a barbeque of pork chops and a type of “bacon” that is well liked in Germany. Herbert introduced us to Federweisse and Zwiebelbrot. These are ususally consumed together, the Federweisse being a sweet wine made from young grapes, that is not available all the time. The Zwiebelbrot is onion bread, that Betsy and I did not really care for.

The bicycle now repaired and working better than ever!


At the Biergarten


Onkel Herbert with his new hat


A very rare plant in Herbert's yard. Name????

25SEPT- Bicycle ride

Unfortunately, I was to spend only one day riding my bicycle. I programmed a route from the internet, and was able to put it on my Garmin. With that, off I went. Without hard maps or a guide book, the Garmin is a touch frustrating since it will not be able to five directions when you are not moving. Also, it can be difficult to read when it is sunny or with polarized sunglasses. I did multiple wrong turns, only to be told to make a U-turn and go back. All in all, it was a great experiment, which showed limited utility for serious route finding, but something nice to have available. I was able to ride a little more than 30 km in 2 hours. Hopefully, I can come back and do some lengthy rides.
Herbert introduced us to a German tradition of Federweisse and Zwiebelbrot (onion bread). The Federweisse is a very sweet wine made from young grapes, and I’ve never seen it available in the US.

A Schrebergarten close to Herberts Haus

26SEPT – Abschied von Herbert

we told Herbert goodbye and hopped on die Bahn to Leipzig, with two train changes.  We arrived in Leipzig and found our hotel without difficulty. Betsy and I were a little bit amazed that it was much nicer than I thought, in fact, probably one of the nicer and more modern hotels that I have ever stayed in. We took a walk through the city, observing the Alte Rathaus, Nicholai Kirche, and Thomas Kirche, the two churches where Bach performed and taught. It was here that I discovered that I had a portion of our journey off by exactly one day, so in a panic had to change plans that set everything right. It was decided that we would go straight from Leipzig to Würzburg. A few phone calls later, and all was in order.

Betsy at the Thomas Kirche


Old Building viewed from our hotel room

27SEPT2011 Würzburg

It was quite easy to catch the train to Würzburg, going through the town of Fulda. We were delayed a half hour in Fulda, but arrived nicely to Hannes and Katja’s house. After a bite to eat, they took us out to a portion of the Main (River) that I would have ridden by bicycle. It was also cruel it was so beautiful. We stopped in several small towns. The most fascinating was Miltenberg, where we walked through the town. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. This means that we must return someday to photograph this area. It would be nice to do the entire Main Radweg from Frankfurt to Bayreuth. That will take about two weeks in order to properly enjoy it, but will be difficult to talk any of my friends into doing this with me, and I don’t think Betsy would bite at the opportunity. Hannes and Katja suggested that earlier summer would be a better time to do it.
 

28SEPT2011 Bamberg

The morning started with walking the dog. Hannes then drove us through back roads to Bamberg. It was a very nice sight. I was surprised to see most of the main roads had associated bicycle paths. Franken is truly a cyclist’s paradise. Bamberg was nice, and we went to see the Bamberger Dom, with the Bamberger Ritter statue. Pope Clement II was also buried there.  It was an absolutely gorgeous and fantastic day while we walked through the town, stopping to have Apfelstreudel at a small restaurant. Ausgezeichnet! Returning home, we stopped at a small restaurant to eat dinner. Betsy and I had the Bratkartoffeln, a regional specialty that was out of this world.

Hannes and Gustav


Wieder Nebel im Dorf


Hannes und Katja


In Bamberg


Senf (Mustard) field


Our room at the Wagners

29SEPT2011 Abschied von Hannes and Katja

We needed to make an early start to get to Rome. The train went through München and then Bologna. Everything went okay until we reached München. There, the train to Bologna was delayed by 45 minutes. This meant that we missed our planned train in Bologna to Rome, but was able to find another train quickly. The trains were packed with Americans, and not having seat reservations, Betsy and were occasionally left sitting a distance apart. That didn’t matter too much. The ride across western Austria and Northeast Italy (Dolomite region) was absolutely stupendous, especially Brenner Pass. We made it to Rome, and was able to quickly find our hotel and prepare for a busy day tomorrow.
30SEPT2011 The Vatican
Getting to the Vatican was easy on the Metro. We arrived a bit early and waited at the museum entrance to go in. The first part of the tour was the museums that historically were able to be accessed only by der Papst, until the Vatican needed money. Then they turned it into a tourist facility. The various museums consisted of either statues and artifacts from ancient Rome, tapestries,  and maps of Italy done up in elaborate fresco style. Following the Papal museums, we entered the Sistine Chapel. Its experience was diminished by the massive crowds. The paintings were truly impressive. We then went to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church building in the world, and, unstated by the tour guide, the indirect cause for the reformation. Peter’s bones are supposedly kept in the crypt here. The oddest display was the body of the recent pope John Paul, when it was noted that five years after his burial, the body had not yet shown signs of decay. This was interpreted as a miracle and thus beatified him.

Fortress Vatican


The School of Athens - quite a large fresco painting


Inside the Vatican Museum


The Pieta in St. Peters


Papst John Paul failing to rot - too much liquor?


Central area of St. Peter's - Peter's bones are below


Looking backwards in St. Peter's


St. Peter's Square


After lunch, we went to see the other three basilicas in Rome. First was St. Pauls outside the gate, which reportedly held the bones of St. Paul.  It was rebuilt several times, but was the second largest church in Christendom. The third basilica was St Johns located in the Laterine palace complex, on the southeast side of then the old walls of Rome. This was where the Popes lived until 1377. Again, it was a truly impressive building. The authenticating relics were splinters from the birth crib of Christ. Across the street was a building that housed the steps which Christ had to climb up to the judgment hall of Pontius Pilate. Pilgrims now come from all over the world to go up these stairs, which is only allowed if you go up on your knees saying three prayers on each step. The stairs were packed. You could go up other stairs to the top to notice the “suffers” achieving the last steps, and thus receiving additional blessing from the church. The last basilica was the smallest, but still a grand structure, St. Maria Magiorre, close to our hotel, and built for the “virgin” Mary.  I don’t remember the relic. The interesting thing is that the bones of Benini the architect are buried here. Supposedly the location of the church was identified when snow was identified on this location on 05AUG. many moons ago. It is the only church that hadn’t undergone some sort of destruction over the years.

St. Paul's Basilica


Chair where the Papst speaks ex cathedra in St. John's


Climbing the stairs Jesus climbed - on knees ONLY!


Picture of Jesus painted by God himself!


Inside Maria Magiorre Basilica


This day gave much to reflect. I could imagine Luther and others coming to Rome to see practices which occurred. Recent conservative evangelicals have apparently gone to Rome and come back with enthusiasm about reuniting the branches of Christianity. I came back scared, wondering that I hadn’t seen yet another version of idolatry, and a complete misconception of the church regarding gaining merit. Their fixation on relics, “sainthood”, practices to gain additional merit, the attention to the Pope and pompous splendor all made me quite happy that I was not a Catholic. Perhaps the pope should spend more time reigning in the sex practices of priests, and perhaps they should identify that practices such as touching certain objects or performing certain rituals does absolutely nothing to ones salvation. We need to remind ourselves how correct the Reformers of the church were.
01OCT – Ancient Rome
Betsy and I did a tour of ancient Rome today. First, I’d like to say something about tours. They are a little bit corny, in that you really feel like a tourist. But, there is also a huge advantage. The blessings of tours are 1. You don’t have to wait in lines, 2. Somebody explains things to you so that you see the things that you would otherwise have missed, and 3. The tour is done is a very systematic fashion which most efficiently, yet slowly covers what you would wish to see. There is usually plenty of time for photos. We walked from our hotel to the coliseum, where we got a fairly good tour from top to bottom. We then went to the Roman forum, seeing the senate house, the various buildings (now in ruin) of the forum area, and ending on the Palatine Hill, the location of the former residences of the emperors. It was described the absolute former beauty of these places, including the coliseum, which had luscious marblework everywhere, the ceilings and walls were painted with beautiful designs, the floors were marble, and everything had a splendid sense to it. After the tour, Betsy and I walked back to the hotel a circumlocuitous route, including Gesu (first Jesuit church), The Pantheon, and the Trevi fountain. We were pooped and the weather was hot. We didn’t do much the rest of the day.

Roman gladiators


Inside the Colosseum


The Senate House of ancient Rome


Ruins in the Forum


Gesu - 1st Jesuit Church - for Dennis


Trevi Fountain

02OCT – Der Papst

Today we saw the Papst. We were picked up from our hotel at 08:15, and got on a bus. Originally they thought that the Pope was going to be in his summer villa outside the city and we stopped by St. Peter’s square to buy relics that could be blessed. We picked up several crosses, some rosary beads, and a calendar, that are now blessed. It was then that it was realized that the Pope would be right here in St. Peters. So, the tour bus changed plans, and took us first to Nuova Plaza, followed by a ride up in the hills west of Rome and overlooking the city. It was a gorgeous site, but the bus did not stop for photos. We finally got back to St. Peters at 11:00 and the Papst comes out right at noon. Next to where we were waiting, a German band group came that set up their music stands and started playing German marching music.  The entire St. Peter’s Square soon filled with thousands of people, many actually taking this serious, and  to a good many, this was the highlight or pinnacle of their entire life. To them, they saw a glimpse of God. Soon, the Papst came to the window, and actually spoke for 15 minutes, first in Latin, then French, English, German, Spanish and some other language that I didn’t catch. After we blessed, we walked back to the hotel, crossing the Tiber River, and walking through the small streets of Rome to get a flavor of Sunday Roman life.

Back to St. Peter's to see der Papst


Der Papst giving us a blessing


Bridge across the Tivere (Tiber)

03OCT – Off to Firenze

This was an uneventful day, save for a few events. I was notified on the train that I MUST have reservations for that particular train Nothing said that the particular train that I was on demanded reservations. So, I had to pay up. Then, after recouping from a little GI upset, all went otherwise well. Firenze is a quaint little town, with lots of shops, and old sites. The Duomo is huge and gorgeous.  Tomorrow is the tour…

The Duomo

04OCT2011 Firenze tour

We met on the Vecchio Bridge, which goes across the Alto River. There are multiple shops on the bridge, at one time declared by the Medicis to be only jewelry shops. We walked by the Uffizi Museum, which used to house the Medici family, followed by the City Hall, where the Michelangelo statue of David used to stand. It was the courtyard in front of this building where Savaronola was burned at the stake. The tour continued to see the Mercantile Square, and the little Pig. We then walked through a number of quaint neighborhoods until we arrived at a small Gelato shop where the gelato is made fresh every day. It tasted awesome! The last stop was the Academia Museum, where we were able to see the statue of David by Michelangelo, a quite spectacular edifice of marble. After retreat to the hotel for a few hours we walked off to the Crucis Church, where Dante, Machiavelli and Michelangelo were buried. The guard would not let us in. We again had a late dinner, Betsy with spaghetti, and me with pizza.

Square outside "City Hall" where Savaronola was burned at the stake


Ponto Vecchi


River through Firenze


The killing of Medusa


Inside the Duomo


Crucis church holding Michaelangelo, Dante and Machiavelli

Thoughts on Italian food. It is far better than French food, but I prefer German food. The pizza is very thin crust, with very little topping. The spaghetti has almost no sauce on it. The flavors are great. Chicago remains my favorite place for pizza. Giordanos or Edwardos offers pizza that Italy cannot compete with. Even still, I could survive quite nicely off of Italian food. French food, I’d worry about what sort of slug or snail or animal head they may be serving me to eat.

Thoughts on the train. On this trip, we learned that the train service is not quite as reliable as we thought, and that if you have many connections, they are not to be counted on if the time between connections is tight. The lesson is to not travel so far in a single day and limit connections. The only difficulty would be in finding a hotel in connecting cities, unless you actually planned for it. This means that the idea of using a Eurail Pass and hopping on a train anywhere, going where you please, is not such a great idea. I’ll need to do a costing analysis, but with all the added fees for reservations, etc., it diminishes the value of the Eurail pass. Also, I haven’t seen extremely added value in first class over second class. It doesn’t make too much sense to me, in that the seats are nearly the same, and the first class cabins are usually a bit harder to find.
05OCT2011 Back to Krefeld

So, we had plans to go from Firenze to Krefeld. The plan was for 3 train transfers assuming everything went well. The first train went from Firenze to Milan okay. The next Italian train went from Milan to Zürich, a very beautiful ride, but for no good reason, the train was about a half hour late. We considered a number of choices, but noting a train leaving soon to Basel, we decided to take our chances and hop it. In Basel, we found a train soon after arrival to Frankfurt, and it was then easy to find a train to Düsseldorf. In Düsseldorf, the train transferred to Krefeld, and in Krefeld, we transferred to a bus to Engerstraße and a short walk to Herbert’s house. We arrived at about 10 pm, about an hour later than we had planned with the fewer transfers.

06OCT2011 Rest day in Krefeld
We were able to relax with Herbert, play with Arras, and pack. I was able to go to the store for Gummibåren, sauerkraut, and Düsseldorfer senf. We were going to go to the Zoo, but the rains began and we decided to do nothing. We did go out to eat that evening, and I was able to spend a last chance with Herbert, talking politics, philosophy, etc.
07OCT2011 Home
What a long flight! Not much more to say. It feels good to have your feet back in familiar territory.
 
 
 

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Aug 14


Alaska 01-07AUG2011
This trip had several objectives. The first was to meet with Dr. Lattin and give a breast cancer update talk at his hospital. The second was to achieve a brief rest and relaxation while meeting friends, including not only the Lattins whom we met in Bangladesh, but also the Bankers, who attended Resurrection Presbyterian church with us in the past. We spent 3 nights in Anchorage, followed by three nights in Soldotna with the Lattins.
The first day in Anchorage was to simply settle in. We drove downtown, and shopped for moose hats and other Alaska paraphernalia. Betsy fell in love with the moose.
The second day, we drove up to Wasilla, and then out towards Tok. The mountains were stupendous. In the evening, we met with Jeff and Ellen Banker, and went out to eat. The seafood was incredible! The beer was quite good also.
The third day was mostly resting. I met with Jeff again, still recovering from hand surgery, and ran up to the top of Flattop Mountain. The most distinctive feature of Flattop Mountain is its flat top.
The fourth day, we checked out of our hotel and headed down to Soldotna. The drive is quite beautiful, with the seashore on one side, and immense mountains on the other side.



The fifth day, I gave my cancer talk. Later, we went out to dinner, and then drove to the beach in Kenai. We were able to see Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt.
The sixth day was a walk for life for Betsy and Anna, and a fishing trip for Jason, Nathan and myself. We drove down to Homer, and took off on a chartered boat out into Cook Inlet.

We spent much time with the kids.

Joshua


Noelle


Esther


I let Nathan run around with the camera for a bit, and noted that he wasn’t taking care to compose his shots. To illustrate the importance of adequate view in a photo, I took a photo of him. Included are photos Nathan took of the parents.

Nathan


Dad according to Nathan


Mom, according to Nathan


It was sad for Betsy and I to leave Alaska. It was more enjoyable than our last visit, and suggested returns, especially with friends. I also noted that the roads typically had quite wide shoulders and thus makes it quite conducive to cycle touring. All we need to worry about are moose and bear.
Special thanks to the Bankers and Lattins for making this trip quite special.

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Mar 12


The Society of Surgical Oncology Meeting in San Antonio, 01-06MARCH2011
Dr. Tate is pictured in the photograph trying to remember the Alamo. We remembered it for several minutes, then paused to enjoy a cigar while sitting on park benches just across from the Alamo. We inquired of the status of PeeWee’s bicycle in the basement of the Alamo, and learned that the Alamo actually has two small basements, large enough to hold a bicycle. You can’t believe everything that you see in the movies. The meetings were long and arduous, but we were able to get 34 CME credits for this venture. The conference literally went from dawn until dusk, and so we did not have a lot of time to spend reflecting on the Alamo, but we did get around a little bit. The conference was at the large conference facility just next to the river walk. We’d go down to the river to eat our lunch.


You can see that we were dressed up to the hilt. This is sort of a snobby conference, as most surgical meetings usually occur in more casual attire. The pathologists were having their meeting next door to us, where I was able to encounter one of the Puyallup pathologists. Notice his more casual attire.

We were able to see the San Antonio imitation of the Seattle Space Needle.

It was one of the better conferences that I’ve gone to as of late. Most notably, it was announced that we must stop doing so many axillary dissections, and that while it would have been malpractice a week before to not complete an axillary dissection when the sentinel lymph node was grossly positive, we are now committing malpractice to do the same. The Surgical Oncology gods have spoken and we must obey. NCCN guidelines will be slow to correct the new change in practice recommendations, but we will be patient. So, I return to Puyallup full of vim and vigor, and will be plagiarizing one of the talks I heard in presenting to the other surgeons and oncology doctors the new revelations from the randomized trials.
p.s. too much academia becomes hard to endure…

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Feb 16

Saturday 05FEB.   Betsy woke up at 2am and I an hour later in order to catch a 6am plane to Houston and then on to Belize. The flight went well, and the only real abuse was in customs in Belize. It was actually the worst we have ever been treated in going through customs, and even Bangladesh and re-entry into the US were never so bad, with them insisting on looking through our bags and then charging us customs on “suspicious” items, as well as taking away several blocks of cheese that we had with us. We ultimately met Dennis and Jonny and drove in darkness to their home.

Sunday 06FEB.   Day of rest, Dennis gave us a tour of the “colony”. It is impressive to see somebody surviving without public electricity or water. There was a relative drought, and so we had to be careful about water usage.

Monday 07FEB. Today, we rode into Belmopan, which is the capitol of Belize, in order for Jonny to renew his visa. We then toured San Ignacio, which is the largest town close to Dennis and Dottie’s house.

Tuesday 08FEB. It rained, and so plans were changed. Betsy went visiting with Dottie to various neighbors and I stayed home. Betsy and I later had coffee with the Schiemanns, a Geman couple living on Dennis’ land.

Wednesday 09FEB. Dottie toom us to 5 Sisters rezort and waterfall. It was south of Dennis and Dottie’s home and on the way to Caracol. The waterfalls demanded a short hike. Afterwards we went to Blancaneux resort, owned by Francis Ford Coppola and had lunch. This was a truly impressive resort… One that Betsy and I wouldn’t mind returning to some day.

Thursday 10FEB. Today, Dennis drove us to Spanish Lookout, an area of Belize owned by the Mennonites and in appearance like Iowa, though with palm trees. The Mennonites, in trying to escape the world, brought the world with them. Dennis needed to stop at a few hardware stores. Ralf Schiemann was with us, and was able to give me instruction in the German language. I enjoyed him.

Friday 11FEB. This day was a leisurely trip back home, with our plane leaving Belize City at 12:30 and arrival back in Seattle at 8 pm.

So, what did we accomplish? These are NOT in order of importance or significance!

1. We were able to get the slide scanner working for Dottie.

2. We had a wonderful time with Jonny.

3. We had a wonderful time with Dennis and Dottie.

4. We learned a lot about Belize culture and land.

5. We had multiple lectures from Dennis regarding “what’s going on” in the world, as well as theology/history lectures on the virtues of British Israelism.

6. Betsy and I had a nice break together.

7. We explored the possibility of buying land in Belize.

8. We got to meet many wonderful Belizeans, both immigrants as well as native Mayans.

We appreciate all that Dennis and Dotie did to make our trip a comfortable success, and recommend considering making Belize a possible vacation destination. When we return, we’d like to explore more of Belize, perhaps staying on the coast for several days to do some scuba diving, and definitely try to see Corazol, the large Mayan temple at the end the road Dennis and Dottie live on, and much farther south.

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