A Journal, with Pictures

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.

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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.

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Hangzhou

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

Hangzhou was the capital of China during the Song dynasty which was a time of explosive innovation in the sciences and arts. It retains this special feeling with the city surrounding beautiful West Lake, where our hotel, the Four Seasons, was located. We start our first day learning about taichi, from a master, we then take a private gondola ride on the lake, while being serenaded by Guzheng (ancient Chines instrument)  player in another boat.

We toured a tea plantation and learned about tea growing and making. We toured the gardens of a wealthy Chines industrialist now a public tourist destination. We visited a Buddhist temple and saw a limestone rock face decorated with more than 3000 Buddhist effigies.

The Chinese have become the largest group of tourist on earth, both with China and abroad. In China they have shared bikes, millions of  bikes that you pay a initial fee ($15), then with your smart phone you locate the nearest bike, scan the code on the bike and use the bike and check out by smart phone and pay a small fee for use leaving the bike for the next user.

Finally, we were treated to a private lesson on the “Five Disciplines”, tea, incense, flower arrangement, music and calligraphy, those things a Hangzhou gentlemen were expected to excel in.

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Shanghai

by on Jun.30, 2017, under Happenings

We arrive in Shanghai by high speed train to a ultra modern terminal and drive into the city to the Peninsula Hotel, is right on the Bund part of the historic British concession granted after the second Opium war (1860). Shanghai is a amazing city of 25 million stretching for 75 miles and was and is a very important port city. We are treated to a traveling lecture tour of the historic colonial buildings, starting with the British concession then the tree lined streets of the former French Concession. As we have seen throughout China, the infrastructure is modern with free ways and ring roads, high rises, including the second tallest building in the world (125 stories), and of course high rise apartment houses and an ultramodern international airport. We tour the historic area with a unique enclosed structure of gated entrances, to alleys lined with small court yards called the Lane district. This was the early gated community providing security for the residents of each neighborhood.  We also see where the first organizing meeting for the communist took place in 1921 and examples of how it pays to be in “the party”.

One of the reminders of the history leading to the communist victory is a monument on the Bund in the spot where a sign read “no dogs or Chinese allowed” (in the British Concession). and then the huge monument to those lost in the “Long March”.

We attend a Acrobatic Show one evening, which was mind blowing, the Urban Planning Museum which displays the 25 year plan for the city, the Shanghai Museum which covers a range of subjects from costumes from the over 50 “minority” groups, to historical painting, ceramics and bronze as well as imperial furniture. We also toured a renovated high end shopping district that connects the Yu Gardens one of the best examples of traditional Chinese garden design.

Shanghai was a great last stop, blending examples of the great history with the explosive modernization of China. We arrived by Bullet Train, had great tours, High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel, saw the sites day and night including the fabulous Pudong Skyline and bustling Huangpu River right from our hotel room, and of course one last incredible Chinese dinner with our new adopted grand daughter, Lotus Qi,  who made our three weeks in China effortless and a wonderful experience.

 

 

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COPA Mexico Adventure 2017

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

Joyce and I took off early on February 17 on our way to meet 43 other  members participating in the annual COPA Mexico Adventure. Since we had to cross the country we planned to stop in Houston and visit our friends Clark and Julie Blackman and Christine Romsdahl. We made a fuel stop in Fair Hope, Alabama then dodged some storms to arrive at KCXO, Lone Star Executive airport. We had a great visit and dinner and launched for El Paso where we spent the night before leaving for our first Mexico stop Ciudad Obregon. We cleared customs, refueled, then flew the last 25 minutes to Alamos where the 22 COPA Cirrus aircraft gathered. We stayed at a incredibly charming resort and spa, Hacienda de Los Santos. The village was clean and safe as well as charming. Alamos was the northern most silver city and generated enormous wealth. The resort is made up of four of the former silver barons mansions put together to create a unique place. The second day some flew over the Copper Canyon in the morning and others explored the resort and village. The founder of the resort,Jim Swickard still acts as host at times since he is a pilot and caters to flying groups. He also owns the airport and was kind enough to give us a personal tour of the village. The gathering was great as people arrived they congregated for lunch and then in the tequila bar, where there were old friends met and new friends introduced. Over the two days of our stay there was lots of time to socialize, explore this beautiful place and soak up the unique history. The hospitality, food and drink were excellent and the only regret was we couldn’t stay longer.

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Manzanillo, Mexico

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Tuesday February 23 we left Alamos to fly to Manzanillo with the COPA group. We had decided to fly in loose formation with Charles and Debbie Langdon down the Copper Canyon on our way. We got a great view flying down in the canyon, which is Mexico’s Grand Canyon. We stopped in Mazatlan for fuel, then continued to Manzanillo, flying along the beautiful coast and over Puerto Vallarta on the way. When we landed we had 22 Cirrus that had to get fuel at a self service pump, which turned into a social event as we all pitched in to push planes in place. We stayed at the Grand Isla Navidad, which isn’t in Manzanillo, but in Barra Navidad, about 20 minutes from the airport. The hotel turned out to be great, with fabulous grounds including a golf course and a little village a short boat ride away to explore. We had lots of time to socialize with fellow COPA pilots, and ended our stay with a grand cocktail party and dinner on a terrace overlooking the bay.

The Cocktails and Dinner on the final evening of the COPA event was particularly jolly. Lots of sharing of experiences, new friends made and old friends enjoyed. It was a perfect warm Mexican evening to celebrate the end of a great get adventure together.

Tomorrow, Friday, we all fly out to another Mexico destinations or on to home.

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Cabo San Lucas and Homeward Bound

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Friday , Feb. 24 we flew the three hour flight from Manzanillo to Cabo San Lucas arriving in time for lunch. We flew in loose formation with Charles and Debbie Langdon and spent the next few days doing fun stuff. We landed at the General Aviation airport, MMSL and were treated royally, including cheap hangar fee and “free”  Cervazas and tequila. We checked into our Hotel, the Casa Dorado, which looking out at the cape and is where the action is. Great room, and a perfect place to get some sun and relax. Breakfast was at “the office” on the beach, which was a jumping place to start you day with a bloody Mary or Mimosa then brunch. We found some good restaurants, explored and generally had a great time.

On Monday Joyce and I started our journey home. We flew up the Baja Peninsula and crossed back to Ciudad Obregon about a hour and forty five minutes, cleared customs then flew to El Paso to clear US customs. We overnight-ed in El Paso and then left early to get ahead of a front causing very high winds. The flight was less than three hours to San Marcos, Texas where visited our friends Lou and Lynne Earle. The next day we again left early to beat the winds and flew direct to Fair Hope, Alabama again another three hour flight. We celebrated Joyce’s birthday at a great resort on Mobile Bay. On Thursday, March 2nd. we flew the final two hours and forty five minutes back to Hilton Head. We had tail winds all across the country, had to make a couple of instrument approaches and had gusty winds on landing at every stop, good practice. One day short of two weeks, 37 hours in the cockpit, 15 legs and over 5000 miles added up to a fun flying trip. We visited with friends, we saw lots of interesting sights, we made new friends and managed to learned a few things. GREAT TRIP!

 

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February Florida Visit

by on Feb.05, 2017, under Happenings

Joyce and I made a February swing to visit family and friends to Florida. We stopped in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday to see Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra for an afternoon and evening. Life continues at warp speed there with Alexandra growing up fast. We then flew to Sarasota on Thursday to visit some of our former NCR colleagues and friends. Elton and Gordy White hosted us for lunch and we stayed in the beautiful apartment overlooking the bay. We were joined for cocktails, by Chuck and Carol Exley, Joe and Nora Stephan, Rex and Pat Fleet. We had a great time catching up and everyone is ageing gracefully and most of all haven’t lost their sense of humor. We then had a great dinner at the Field Club, continuing the frivolity.

On Friday we flew to Naples to visit Rich and Linda Miller. They are doing fine as full time Florida residence and we again enjoyed catching up. Rich and Linda treated us royally, at their great club Grey Oaks. We then flew back to Hilton Head on Saturday, a quick but very enjoyable trip, reminding us of how lucky we have been to have met and works with such great people.

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Christmas 2016

by on Dec.28, 2016, under Family

Joyce and I flew to Ft. Lauderdale to spend Christmas with Jen, Mike and Alexandra. We left a day early due to weather, arriving on Thursday. We enjoyed Thursday afternoon and Friday in the Montgomery construction zone as Jen and Mike are in the middle of a renovation project and the progress is impressive, with more to come. Some shopping, Mike and Gil visited the Wings over Miami aviation museum Friday, but mostly relaxing and enjoying family. Oh did I mention eating, yes eating is our strong suit, lots of food all the time, with a great Christmas eve dinner, then another feast on Christmas day. Back on the diet next week. Christmas morning was great with everyone enjoying the gift exchange and of course Alexandra was the epicenter of the gift giving storm. She loved it in a very mature and Christian way.  We talked on the phone with Heidi who was with the Prado branch of the family in Myrtle Beach this year, and all was well.

Joyce and I flew back to Hilton Head on Monday to prepare for the New Year. It was a great Christmas, we are so blessed as a family.

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2016 a great family Thanksgiving

by on Nov.27, 2016, under Family

This was the first Thanksgiving celebrated at the Chechessee cottage by our family and it was a great one. Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra arrived late afternoon on Wednesday and Heidi, Gary, Brenn, Caitlin and Kinsey on Thursday morning. Gary and Brenn launched their boat and caught a bunch of sea trout, the rest played games, watched football and enjoyed each others company. Joyce, Jen and Heidi were at work in the kitchen preparing the dinner. We all sat down and gave thanks for our many blessings then enjoyed an incredible feast. After dinner more games and football plus pumpkin pie to top off a wonderful day.

Friday was filled with activities for everyone, more fishing for Gary and Brenn, then they joined Alexandra and Caitlin in a fishing tournament. At the same time Heidi and Kinsey participated in a 5K fun run. Gil worked out and played photographer, then after lunch watched football, Ohio State vs Michigan, what a game. There was a young persons fun night at Spring Island and the adults had dinner a Chechessee Creek Club. Saturday there were more activities at Spring Island with the owners market, various kids activities such as face painting, barbecue lunch, a presentation of raptors by a visiting naturalist, as well as a dog show. Alexandra’s dog, Autumn’s brother was in the show so he got lots of cheers from us.  Again, it was a perfect fall day and everyone had a great time.

Jennifer, Mike and Alexandra left for Fort Lauderdale Saturday evening to beat the traffic and the rest of us enjoyed a  fresh caught sea trout fish fry at the cottage then watched a little more football. Sunday morning we watched another great sunrise over the Chechessee river, had breakfast then reluctantly left to go home. This was truly one of the best Thanksgiving ever at a very special place for our family.

 

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