The Lewin Family Virtual, Interactive Year-end Letter - 2017 ©
The fruitcake is a moldy-oldie and now, so are we.........Here is The Lewin Family Virtual, Interactive Year-end, Letter for 2017.
It has been a busy year with a little bit of traveling thrown in.
Two of us reached the big milestone in age, it is the BIG 7-ahhhh, sorry I cannot bring myself to say or write it. Suffice it to say it is a BIG number and extremely scary to think about. Eeeeuuuuuuu
Where did we leave you last...it was our last decade (in age) and I was working in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. Was there for three months and did a lot of driving. You can see all the pictures here. I was fortunate to spend some time with my grade school friend, Howard and his wife Ann. , Howard is a retired captain from the United States Navy and was in charge of two ships during his career, the USS Stein and the USS Puget Sound.
Made it home in time to ready the dreaded taxes and a five week trip Down Under. Three weeks in Australia, then two weeks in New Zealand. It was a whirlwind trip with never more than three nights in any of the Australian cities of Hobart and Launceston (Tasmania), Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Douglas and Sydney. We even visited the Outback, Alice Springs, Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park. I tried to see Pine Gap from the highway, but no luck, it is located down (under) in a small valley.
We visited several wonderful and lush gardens, saw very interesting spiders and beautiful views, from the water and from the ground. We even went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef where one member of our party got a bit disoriented and had to be rescued. I am not naming names, but you should be able to figure it out. It is not difficult.
From Sydney and a tour of the Opera House, we flew to Auckland, New Zealand. A wonderful, beautiful, pristine country. Both the North and South Islands. We learned there were no spiders, no snakes and no predators larger than the possum. The South Island has a program to eradicate the possum and they use special traps, as shown by one of our tour guides.
We did it all, from a jet boat ride, bus rides, hiking, shearing sheep, zip-lining, visiting with the Maori and seeing views that were more than just beautiful. The day we left the South Island, we drove west to east through the Southern Alps, through Arthur's Pass. If you have seen the 2017 issue of the movie Murder on the Orient Express, much was filmed in New Zealand and I think it was on the rail line through Arthur's Pass, but in the winter.
In retrospect, one of the highlights was hiking to the furthest vantage point to see the Franz Josef Glacier....in the pouring rain and umbrella inverting wind. We also visited Milford Sound and enjoyed a boat ride out to the Tasmanian Sea, the body of water between New Zealand and Australia. Reminded us so much of our trip to Norway.
Just too many wonderful places to mention, take a look at all the pictures of Australia and New Zealand and travel with us.
For one of my other jobs, I assisted at a communications exercise in Indianapolis.While there, I reconnected with a cousin with the same name. It was a wonderful reunion after almost 45 years.
Not being able to sit still for very long, this past August we left for a motor trip to several national parks, Aspen, Colorado and Durango. We visited and hiked Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon. Pictures here. We even got up before sunrise at Zion, Canyonlands and Grand Canyon to photograph the sun as it rose. So beautiful. All the pictures have been posted.
We spent time with Anthony and Erin in Aspen and took several hikes, as well as a little fishing. Anthony caught two small trout which made dinner that evening extremely tasty. As we were fishing, we experienced the highly touted solar eclipse. If it got any darker at our location, it was difficult to discern, but it did get cooler for about 20 minutes.
From Aspen, we drove to Durango and took the train to Silverton. Take the train with us as you view the pictures.
Grand Canyon, as always, was wonderful with beautiful views from every vantage point. We even enjoyed dinner in the famed El Tovar Hotel.
Interesting story...walking back to our room at the Yavapi Lodge, we met a lady sporting an "I Love NZ" bag. We stopped her to ask if she was from New Zealand. "No," she said, "Scotland." I asked where, she said Isle of Islay. For those who do not know Islay, that is the home of numerous very peaty Scotch distilleries, the best Scotland has to offer. We had a wonderful conversation, her husband joined us and said they were touring the western part of the country. We parted and I realized I had forgot to get their email address. Taking a chance and knowing that Islay is a small island, I wrote a note to Ardbeg Distillery asking if, perhaps, they knew these people, as the only information I had was their last name. Ardbeg did know them and forwarded my email to Mike and his wife Marian. I wrote them a note. Long story short, he quickly replied and told me that he, Marian and two grown children all had their ham radio licenses, too. Mike and I have been corresponding ever since. Ham radio makes the world that much smaller.
Here is a 60 Minutes link to a segment about the Isle of Islay.
On the way back home, we stopped to visit our traveling companion, Dave. Did a bit of touring in Phoenix and the old folk's community where he lives.
October 8 saw a party at our home celebrating our milestone birthdays. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend and few, if any, pictures were taken. Luckily, I was able to find one picture from the morning party. Even Anthony and Erin came to celebrate.
Carol continues her art projects with plants, tiles and glass. She also continues her "wrap" business. She and her friend Maureen took a post-Thanksgiving trip to Europe, quickly visiting Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary. It was billed as a "shopping trip," but she came home nearly empty-handed.
Just before the year-end holidays, Carol again "hit the airways," and flew to visit friends in San Francisco.
For me, I have been "wintering" in Florida since late September. For the first two months, we were working 12 hours a day and seven days a week. I have been working the Hurricane Irma recovery. That work schedule has now been reduced and I am able to do something other than work and sleep. I try to get out and take some pictures and have the following offering. Making friends with the local National Weather Service where ever I work (and as part of my responsibilities), I helped the ham radio event at the NWS office in Melbourne, Florida.
Here is another link from the December 2 event.
Erin is doing fantastic working and growing her business. This year Anthony decided to give back to the Aspen community and enrolled in the program to become a volunteer firefighter with the Aspen Fire Department. Public safety runs in our family.
As with almost every destination I work, I am able to reconnect with grade school classmates and neighbors and this trip was no exception. Enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with Charlie and his wife, then Christmas dinner with Taylor and his family.
2018 should be a great year with several weddings to attend, another major trip and who knows where work will take me.
Oh, when insomnia strikes in the dead of night, take a look at all our pictures. You will fall asleep in no time.
A happy and healthy 2018 from Southern California and Aspen, Colorado, to all of you.
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