A Journal, with Pictures

Author Archive

Back in the good old U.S.A.

by on Mar.15, 2018, under Flying

We arrived back in Brownsville after a four hour flight from Tapachula, to Tampico, Mexico clear customs, refuel then an hour and a half on to Brownsville. Due to late changes made by some of the group, the flight plans for all the other planes got “confused” by Mexican ATC. We spent the first 20 minutes out of Tapachula changing flight plans in the air then changing them back after Rick negotiated with the controllers. This again, re-enforced the lesson learned several times during the trip do the planning before you start the trip or you and your fellow pilots will pay the price. Tampico, was the best foreign airport experience of the trip which was fitting since Brownsville customs was excellent, so we returned to the land of good airport service we enjoy in the U.S.

That evening, those who stayed over, Rick, Connie, David and Elizabeth, Joyce and I had a very jolly evening of cocktails and dinner at a near by Italian restaurant. It was a celebration of great experiences and new friends made. The next morning we were in the air at 8:00am headed back to Hilton Head with a fuel stop in Hammond, LA. Tail winds eighty percent of the way so it was a great way to finish an incredible adventure. 5560 nautical miles and 44 hours of flying over very interesting and beautiful landscape, with visits to fascinating places, with a great group of people, it doesn’t get much better than that.  After a steak grilled on our very own barbecue, a fine bottle of wine and sleep in our own bed, we agreed it was nice to be back in the good old U.S.A.

Comments Off on Back in the good old U.S.A. more...

Christmas 2017

by on Dec.29, 2017, under Family

Christmas weekend started with Caitlin and Kinsey coming to Hilton Head on Thursday, with Heidi having outpatient surgery done Friday. Friday Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra arrived in the evening from Florida. Saturday morning Jennifer organized the traditional gingerbread house baking and construction and there as lots of other holiday baking. Kinsey declared that her gingerbread house was hit by hurricane Mathew, Caitlin’s was sturdy and nice but the prize went to Alexandra for prettiest house (pictured below).  Early Saturday afternoon we all traveled to the Chechessee cottage and to our surprise Heidi was there recovering. Gary and Brenn arrived Christmas eve morning. Christmas eve was spent playing games, watching college football, enjoying each others company, capped off by a fine dinner.

Christmas morning the excitement was high and yes Santa had delivered lots of gifts. There was lots of happines, but the highlight was Brenn shedding tears of joy when he opened his tickets to the Collage Football National Championship game. We all teared up and it capped off a great morning. We then had a big Christmas brunch then everyone enjoyed their gifts and socialized. In the afternoon we watched the San Francisco 49ers pull off an impressive win over the Jaguars who were favored. We then enjoyed a traditional prime rib Christmas dinner. We spent Boxing day doing more family things, with some shopping, working out and playing with new toys, before Gary and Mike arrived with Barbecue dinner. The Prado’s went back to Savannah on Wednesday and Montgomery’s to Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. It was a great family Christmas.

Comments Off on Christmas 2017 more...

Thanksgiving 2017

by on Nov.29, 2017, under Family

Joyce and I flew to Fort Lauderdale the day before Thanksgiving. Great flight and then time for Jen and Joyce to spring into action preparing for tomorrows feast. Dinner out a fun Italian restaurant, eat light so you are ready for turkey? Thanksgiving day was great, with the traditional dinner and quality time with family. Alexandra was in charge of the official picture and did a fine job.

Friday after Thanksgiving we drove into Miami to the Wynwood Walls area to me Dennis and Jill Haber and Dennis’s sister Arlene for lunch. We had a great lunch and a great visit. We then toured the area visiting a neat little car museum and taking in the incredible street art.

We then returned to Jen and Mikes home, and Jen did some shopping (Black Friday) and Mike and Gil went to the shooting range. Dinner at home and Saturday we flew back to Hilton Head another great flight. Another super Thanksgiving with family.

Comments Off on Thanksgiving 2017 more...

Maine 2017

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Flying

Joyce and I flew to Maine for our 2017 lobster fix and a COPA fly-in at Bar Harbor. We delayed our flight by a day and left October 16th for Owls Head, Maine. We flew in perfect weather to Delaware for lunch then over JFK with a great view of N.Y. City then on to Maine. Head winds the whole way so it was a long 8 hours in the air. We stayed at the Inn at Sunrise Point, above Camden, which is one of our favorite places. We toured the area again and soaked in the beautiful Maine fall colors and coastal beauty as well as consumed great New England sea food. Joyce found a great wooden carved mermaid that will be perfect for our cottage and of course they ship.

On Thursday we flew the 20 minute flight to Bar Harbor to join the 40+ other Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) members for a fly-in. We spent a jolly three days in Bar Harbor, dinning together, touring Cadillac Mountain and going out on the water to sail around the Bar Harbor area, see old light houses and learn about the great history of the area. The weather was perfect, the fall colors were on full display and socializing with fellow pilots was the best. Rhonda and Mike did an incredible job of organizing the fly-in of over 20 Cirrus aircraft, THANKS. On Sunday we flew back to Hilton Head and sure enough we had a head wind the whole way. We traversed 12 states and only one had weather in one, our destination, South Carolina. We did an instrument approach into Hilton Head and ended a great week of flying fun on a positive note.

Comments Off on Maine 2017 more...

Weddings in Oregon

by on Aug.03, 2017, under Family

We flew to Oregon for two joyous events, the weddings of Brian Littlefield (nephew) to Lynda Mathews and my brother Mike Williamson to Laticia Stryker. We stayed in Bend, Oregon, where my brother lives, then traveled to Salem the site of the rehearsal dinner and wedding. We stayed in Salem at the beautiful Oregon gardens.

Oregon Gardens


Rehearsal Dinner

The wedding was outdoors in a beautiful setting, followed by dinner.

Brian and Lynda’s wedding

We traveled back to Bend stopping at the Willamette Valley vineyard to taste wine and have lunch with Mike, Laticia and cousin Kayle. We liked the Pinot, and sent a case back to South Carolina.

Oregon Wine Country

On Monday we traveled to Camp Sherman, Oregon for Mike and Laticia’s wedding in a beautiful wooded setting, followed by dinner. Laticia had a fabulous photographer who did not want competition so these images were taken with my spy camera. It was a wonderful wedding enjoyed by the whole family.

Mike and Laticia’s wedding

We returned to Bend with my sister Patty and her husband Lenny and the next day had lunch with Mike and Laticia. During the week end we had the occasion to reunite with our family in Oregon including my three sisters (Suzy, Patty and Tina) and their husbands and children as well as of course Mike. We decided it was time to have a family reunion and include all of the east coast contingent next year. Patty is in charge so we know it will happen. Joyce and I got up very early Wednesday and flew back to South Carolina. It was a great weekend which we will be reminded of as we sip the very nice Oregon, Pinot Nior that is on its way.

 

 

Comments Off on Weddings in Oregon more...

Beijing

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

We embarked to China on May 5th, 2017 for a three week tour of China. The trip was organized by our friend Tony Huffman who employed Imperial Tours of China that turned out to be a great experience. We had a China host, Lotus Qi, who accompanied us for the entire three weeks and in each city a guide and in some cases special guides for a particular area. We stayed at great hotels, and had a private car and driver  in each location. I do not comment in each city about the food, but we ate at the best restaurants, mostly Chinese, but also international cuisine. We laughed at “another light Chinese lunch”, because every meal was a feast, orchestrated by our Chinese Foodie, Lotus. We had the best Pizza we ever had in China (Truffle Pizza) and the best French Toast. We ate our way through China. We also witnessed what has been called the “Chinese Economic Miracle”, which has produced an infrastructure now world class and the largest middle class in the world. I will save my comments of what I have learned about the Chinese system of Governing and the “Economic Miracle” for a separate blog that I will post later and just focus on the sights of China for now.

We arrived in Beijing and were met by Lotus and taken to the Peninsula Hotel. As we were descending into the area the first thing that struck us was the huge  number of high rise apartment buildings and how modern the Airport and other infrastructure was. Beijing is a city of twenty two million covering about one hundred square miles. We had a good flight, but having done this many many times, I concluded I’m getting old, won’t go work out right way. Our first day was spent touring Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City and doing a tour of the Hutong district of Beijing.

Across the street from Tian’anmen Square is the Forbidden City the Imperial Palace of the Emperors of China. This complex served as the home and seat of power for 24 emperors, their courts and harems from 1420 to 1924.

 

Of course we had a lunch of Peking Duck, which was great, but I said I would not obsess about the food but it was special having Peking Duck in Peking. We then did a tour of the Hutong, means alley ways, which was an exclusive neighborhood before the revolution.

On our second day in China, which was a Sunday, we visited The Temple of Heaven. This structure was build in 1420, using no nails, and was where the Emperor would visit twice a year for three days to meditate on the affairs of God and man. On the way to the Temple we visited an exercise park paid for by the Welfare Lottery, that’s right, no entitlements in China. We also witnessed mothers in the park soliciting wives for their sons, since the one child policy has produced a thirty million man surplus. Another example of unintended consequences when governments meddle in the peoples business.

 

After the Temple of Heaven we visited Beijing’s Art District that was created from a Cold War arms factory. This area was very lively and an impressive use of Factory 798.

On our last day in Beijing we visited the Summer Palace and then traveled out to the Great Wall. The Summer Palace was rebuilt in 1888 by the Empress Dowager Cixi and consists of 3000 buildings, gardens and ponds, around the man made Kunning Lake.

The Great Wall was built to protect China from predatory nomads, and is an impressive structure with questionable effectiveness. This again demonstrates that a government project is hard to stop once started. We saw the wall and were surprised to learn that a private luncheon was catered for us, on top of the wall.

 

Comments Off on Beijing more...

Xi’an

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

Xi’an is a modern city  of eight million people including a million students attending fifty universities. It is an agriculture center with both the Yellow and Yangtze  rivers flowing through the area. It is most know for the Terracotta Warriors, the 8,000 man army that Emperor Qin had built to serve him in the after life. The Qin dynasty (259 BC) was pivotal, as he was credited with unifying China into a single nation.  The Tomb and Warriors were discovered in 1976 and now have become a major tourist attraction in China. Xi’an was the place where the Silk Road began and today there remains a significant Muslim population. In addition to the Terracotta Warriors there is Shaanxi History Museum, that features the Tang Dynasty murals. The city itself is interesting in that the four mile wall around the historic central city remains intact.

We had another cultural experience in Xi’an, learning to make dumplings. We love Chinese dumpling, and now know that the Chinese should make the dumplings, but they are yummy. We also toured one of the few City Walls to survive the cultural revolution.

We toured the Muslim market and Mosque, a historic carryover from the trade silk road trade route that terminated in Xi’an.

The Mosque is in the Market area and when we visited there was a Muslim funeral service in progress.

Comments Off on Xi’an more...

Tibet

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

We visited Lhasa in Tibet, which is at twelve thousand feet. Our hotel was the Shangri La in Old Lhasa. New Lhasa has been built by the Chinese since their occupation. As with the rest of China, they have rebuilt the infrastructure around old Tibet and in this case moved in a lot of Chinese. What Tibet is all about is Buddhism with  ninety percent of the population practicing the faith, and they practice it hard.  We mainly visited monasteries, the Dali Lama’s Palaces, with some time spent in the market. Our guide was intent on converting us to Buddhism, but I flunked catechism so there was no hope. Our first visit was to was to the Jokhang Monastery then the Barkhor Sera Monastery and finally the debating gardens, where the monks debate philosophy daily. They seem to enjoy it. For me Tibet was mostly about the interesting images of the pilgrims and monks.

Our lunch on the first day was served on the mountainside overlooking New Lhasa.

Our second day was spent touring the Summer and Winter Palace of the Dali Lama (Currently exiled in India), so it’s for pilgrims and tourist. The Portala Palace (Winter Palace) sits on a hill over looking Old Lhasa, the summer palace is in Old Lhasa. The Buddhist scriptures are are too voluminous to read, so the faithful spin prayer wheels to absorb the meaning. The Temples and Palace are lit by Yak butter candles and there are contributions of money at virtually every stop made by the pilgrims. The summer palace grounds are used for family picnics and we were amused to see one family carrying a case of Budweiser beer of course made in China. The Chinese including the Tibetans are addicted to smart phones and we noted even the monks were head down communicating. The Chinese equivalent to Twitter or Facebook is called Wechat and has nine hundred million users.

 

On our last day in Tibet we visited the Ganden Monastery which was my penalty for flunking the first two day of Buddhism. It is at fourteen thousand four hundred feet above sea level and involved lots of hiking including a hike on a pilgrims trail (What am I doing this for?). On our way back we past through New Lhasa (very modern) and then in old Lhasa visited a typical Tibetan market area.

Comments Off on Tibet more...

Chengdu

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

Chengdu is a modern city although it has been inhabited for over 4000 years. It is the capital of Sichuan Province and is an area of agricultural abundance and wealth inhabited by 14.4 million. Chengdu is famous for the Giant Panda Institute, which we visited while staying at the  beautiful Temple House Hotel. Our first stop was at a Tauist (also known as Dauism) Temple on the way to the hotel. Dauism is a indigenous religion to China and we were treated to an explanation by one of the Monks, who took us into his living quarters, equipped with computer and TV as well as liqueur cabinet. Seemed like a sensible religion to us.

The second day we visited the famous Giant Panda Institute. As our guide said if they weren’t cute they would be long ago extinct. They eat non-nutritious bamboo which means they eat seventeen hours a day. They are not so good at reproduction, one of the problems being very bad eye sight.

 

 

Another is being fertile two to three days a year.  The  Panda Institute has kept them from extinction with 1800 world wide and 400 in captivity. To feed the Panda’s the Chines grow, cut and truck bamboo from the highlands every day. Each Panda consumes 40 to 80 pounds per day. They are cute.

While in Chengdu we visited the Sanxingdu Museum which exhibits the relics from a Bronze age civilization discovered near the city. Sanxingdu means three mounds, where in 1929 farmers discovered artifacts, and was rediscovered in 1986 which led to the excavation.  This advanced culture existed around 12 Century BC and the exhibit displays some remarkable pieces.

Comments Off on Chengdu more...

Guilin

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

Guilin is famous for the beautiful limestone formations that create the topography around the Banyan Tree Resort where we stay during our visit. We are actually outside of Guilin in the country near the village of Yangshou. During our stay we visit a village and learn about Tofu making from a delightful Chinese woman, visiting homes and seeing how the rural people of China live. Grand parents take care of working children’s children, so we got to meet a real China doll. We saw fields being plowed with water buffalo and cottage industry of mat making. The homes were new, constructed by the owners, the people we met were very friendly and welcoming. Despite China’s economic miracle 800 to 900 of the 1.35 billion Chinese still are peasants.

We then enjoyed the incredible scenery surrounding the Li River by rafting on a bamboo raft.

Comments Off on Guilin more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...