Monday, September 30, 2013

Lots and lots of Engs!

We have arrived in London, capitol of the land of the Engs and wow there are a lot of Engs here!  We took a plane to Chicago and London, then a train to Paddington and a taxi to Robert's office. Then we went to see the Bishop for lunch.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

On your mark....

We were ready 30 minutes earlier than necessary and we did not need the extra time. Oh, yes we did!  On,no we didn't. Our flight is on Lufthansa Atl-Chicago-London. So we went to the domestic terminal only to be told we needed to be at the international terminal. 35 minutes later we arrived there only to be told we had to go to the domestic terminal. 35 minutes later - and now running late - we arrived back at domestic, checked our bags, raced through the airport. Our flight to Chicago is late!  Now we are going to be tight in Chicago.  Ain't traveling fun?!!

Friday, September 27, 2013


After 2 days of landscapers working in the yard, the house cleaning service having been here today, and the expensive car wash I almost never use being now done with my car, new tires on the Goldwing, 4 new tires and hubs on the sailboat trailer, fall weather, sitting here with Donna - this place looks so great that ... nah!  2 days from now we will be on a Lufthansa jet on the way to London.  OK, it is still weird for an American to go to London in a German airplane.  I hope the RAF is asleep. I'm excited about going to England and Italy and I'm excited about our friends Robert and Dorothy coming here. And I'm excited about Skypeing with "my kids" at Hasty and Canton here in the USA from Woolpit Primary School in Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk, England, perhaps a week from today. Lots happening!

Friday, September 20, 2013


The family Selva.  70 years ago my Dad's first cousin Jimmy Longino (one of 3 James Longinos from my branch of the family who were pilots in WW2) was shot down over Forli Italy. He was rescued and hid by the family Selva - at great risk to the lives of the 11 of them - while the other members of Jimmy's crew were all captured by the Germans. A year ago Daniel Celli of Rimini Italy contacted me for info on Jimmy - he was writing a book about him.  I provided such help as I could so last week I got a 160 page PDF of the book.  Next week we are leaving for England and then Florence - about 30 miles from Forli. On October 19th Celli will take Donna and me to meet the surviving members of those 11 who risked their lives to protect a stranger.  Wow!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Days to go.  The land of the Engs in our sights.  The area of the South Folk, more particularly.  As a Southerner, it seems fitting to go see our South Folk neighbors.  I spec they don et no grits.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Talking about eetna - Alaskan for "rain"

The long overdue rain finally caught up with us during time we would be outside as we reached Talkeetna, our last stop.  I was here in March and May of 2001 - first with my friend Rob and then with my sons James and Rollin.  Now with my fabulous wife Donna.  The photos of us, at the various times from the same spot, are attached.

Now it's time to eat one more meal, pack our bags one more time, then head home. We will be there in 32 hours and then can lay down. 

Then we will start again - leaving for our house swap with Robert and Dorothy - in 3 week.  This has been another great trip with my wonderful wife to states and countries I have already visited. April 14th is coming and we will go places I have not been: Black Sea, Moldova, Ukraine. In between: Florence and Shannon's wedding in Vegas. Here we go...! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Nali

I have been here before - at Denali National Park, home of Mt. McKinley, tallest mountain in North America.  I came here twice in 2003: once with my friend Rob in March (the park was closed) and once with my sons Rollin and James in early June.   In June I saw lots of wildlife but the park was dry, dusty, and inhospitable.  This trip the park is a riot of fall colors - but no wildlife to be seen.  We drove 30 miles in the park (as far as private vehicles can go - the off-season limited tours were packed): 15 miles in, and then back out.  Stunning valley and mountain views but we only saw one bird. No bison, caribou, moose, elk, wolves or even squirrels! 

Sticker Shock

Alaska is many things.  You would expect that in a state ten times the size of Georgia - that same Georgia that is the largest state east of the Mississippi.  So to say Alaska is big is a huge understatement. This is my 5th trip here as I bring Donna to many of the places I have already been before we head out to new-for-both-of-us in April when we cross the Black Sea in a boat headed for Odessa.  

But back to Alaska.  When I was here before, everything was 50% more in cost than in Georgia.  Last night we had no reservation for a hotel - it's after tourist season and there are rooms everywhere available.  But we had to check a dozen hotels and drive 25 miles to find a very plain room in a 20 year old hotel for $135 per night. Other than that, the least expensive was over $200 and most around $250.  Per night.  To sleep!  A simple lunch was $38.  Gas was $4.58 a gallon for 86 octane.  Fortunately, we board our flight tomorrow and will be home Thursday morning. 

On the other side, our weather has been amazing.  Today we might get rain. Maybe. Yesterday we were in transit and it rained almost all day. But otherwise, it has only rained late at night and been clear - you have seen the pictures - when we have been out; in what is normally the rainiest month in one of the rainiest places on earth.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing my Hasty and Canton kids on Friday!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hubbard Glacier

North America's largest tidewater glacier. 72 miles long, it starts on the tallest mountain in Canada, then crosses into Alaska and reaches the ocean here in Disenchantment Bay. It is in places 6,000 feet thick. It is up to 7 miles wide.  The exposed face advances 80 feet a year and is "only" 600 feet thick here: 350 feet above the waterline - and 6 miles wide!  As we sit here next to it, it rumbles and pops as the ice is pushed toward the sea.  The Hubbard Glacier.  If you look carefully at the next to last picture, you will see the last of a big chunk of ice as it fell off the glacier into the sea.  And the last picture is of some sea lions wishing us farewell from Hubbard Glacier. 

Donna's Birthday Spectacular!

Glacier Bay National Park. A particularly spectacular national park in a world of spectacular national parks.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a short novel: