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Friday, May 27, 2016

California Here We Come!

Dear Family and Friends,

This year we decided to drive the California coast for Matt's vacation.

Our trip started out by first visiting Kylie, our daughter, and Bryce, our grandson in Dublin California.

We flew from the Tri-Cities to Oakland, CA and took the BART to Dublin where Kylie and Bryce picked us up for a fun filled weekend.

We had to change planes in Salt Lake City before going to Oakland.  I took this picture as we were landing in Salt Lake.  It looked like we were landing on another planet.  Very cool landscape.

On Sunday morning, Bryce cooked our breakfast.  He loves to cook and does an excellent job.

After breakfast, we headed to the BART to go into San Francisco.  Kylie had bought tickets for us to go to Alcatraz.

In order to go to visit Alcatraz, you have to go by a dedicated ferry.  Here is Alcatraz as we approached the island.  The prison is the building at the top of the island.

Alcatraz was a federal prison from 1934 until 1963.  It housed some of America's most hardened criminals.

Here is was a typical cell.  One tin cup, toilet paper, a towel and a bed.  No windows, all cells faced the interior.

There were many escape attempts, but only one was successful.  The three men below escaped in 1962.  A movie was made about their escape in 1979, Escape from Alcatraz, and starred Clint Eastwood.

No one knows if they survived the escape.  Some believe they drowned in the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay and others believe that they were able to make it to freedom.

If you would like to know more about the interesting Alcatraz prison you can go to this site:

Matt volunteered to try out one of the cells.  I guess that would make him a "JAIL BYRD."

We spent the rest of the day at Pier 39.  Here is Kylie, Matt and Bryce at the pier. We had a great time together.  It was the perfect way to start our vacation.

Monday morning we picked up our rental car and headed to the coast for our drive to San Diego.

We have so much to share with you about that.  I will post about the coast next time.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Moving On

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are back in Cuenca now.  We were very pleased to find that we had no damage to our condo from the terrible earthquake.  The victims on the coast are continuing to need and receive aid.  This is a great country and we are so proud to be a part of it.

I found it hard to post while we were traveling.  I am now looking at the photos I took and want to share them with you now that we have good internet.  My preference is to post to the blog as we go, but despite my good intentions this does not happen most of the time.

I left Ecuador on March 24th and spent a couple of weeks in Columbus, Georgia. I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law and had time to visit with many of my friends and family members.  I posted about this before the earthquake.  You can review it here:  Boiled Peanuts, Cat Fish and Collard Greens

While I was in Georgia visiting family, Chuck was in Minnesota visiting our daughter and grandchildren.

Chuck and I met up in Seattle.  It was a perfect reunion because his plane and mine landed within minutes of each other.  He was very easy for me to find in baggage claim because he wore his bright green jacket.

We stayed with Chuck's brother, Larry and his wife, Carolyn.  We had a nice time visiting them and other family.  Larry was very generous and provided us with a car to use for the next few weeks.

We were able to spend a nice evening with our oldest granddaughter, Portia.  She is a student at Seattle Pacific University.  We are so proud of her.  Here she is with her proud Poppi.

While in Seattle, Chuck and I went to Pike Place Market, a Seattle icon.  This is a very popular tourist site in Seattle.

I snapped some photos in order to share our experience.

Seafood is plentiful in Seattle and the market is a great place to buy some quality seafood....although I did not see any catfish.  (smile)

Here is a vendor looking over his stock.

We pay $3 to $4 a pound of shrimp at our market in Cuenca.  Much of the time this is the price if it is already peeled. Of course, our shrimp is farmed.  Here is the price of wild caught shrimp at the Seattle market.

Can't get these in Ecuador.

We had a chuckle over what they called their brussel sprouts.

In our past, we would go to Idaho to find morel mushrooms.  Free for the taking. We knew they were special but I gasped when I saw the price they go for now.

Stripped, yellow and orange bell peppers.  Must be pretty rare at $9 a lb.

There is a life size brass pig at the market.  If you look close you will notice it is a huge piggy bank.

We saw many of these trucks around the Seattle area.  Amazon is doing the shopping and delivering groceries in some markets.  We saw this truck backed up to a stall at the market. Amazon is based in Seattle, so if you order from them, you know you are getting quality produce.

We drove east from Seattle, over the mountains, to Richland, WA.  We visited with family and friends there.

Here is our family having a fun time at a local restaurant.

We were fortunate to be there for a jazz competition that our granddaughter, Heidi, was playing in.  Here she is playing her trumpet solo.

Here are a couple of close ups that our son, Michael, shot of the kids while we visiting around the hotel pool.

This is Cannon...such a sweet little man.

and this is Heidi, our trumpet playing cheerleader.  Such a very busy teenager.

While in Richland, we helped Matt pack his suitcase for our two week California trip.  I will share about Matt's vacation in my next post.

It is so good to be back in Cuenca and going through our photos of our trip.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Heavy Hearts

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are in the United States visiting family and friends.  After spending several days in Seattle we traveled to Richland, WA to visit family here.

It has been almost a week since we heard about the tragic earthquake in Ecuador. We have heard (either via facebook or email) from most of our friends.  They all seem to have escaped injury.  We are very thankful for that.

I could be posting some pictures I have taken over the last week or so, but somehow I just don't feel like I want to share them in this post.

There have been some news clips on U.S. television, but not very much.  Thanks to our facebook friends living in Ecuador we have been able the to get a sense of the devestation.  Our hearts are warmed by the out pouring of love of the Ecuadorians living in the other parts of the country, in the form of fresh water, food and much needed supplies that are being transported to the region.

Viva Ecuador...a country we are proud to call our own.

Nancy and Chuck

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Boiled Peanuts, Catfish and Collard Greens....I must be in Georgia

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are in the USA right now.  We come back here every year at this time to pay our taxes, vacation with Matt (our son), and to visit family and friends.

I left Ecuador about two weeks before Chuck so I could have a nice long visit with family in Columbus, Georgia.

Here I am with Aunt Opal.  She and I had lunch three times while I was there. She is doing great and looks as pretty as ever.  Here we are at the Red Lobster.

Going home always involves eating the food I grew up on.

For example:  Fried Catfish...

Or a plate of vegetables...(collard greens, black eye peas, cole slaw, baked sweet potato and corn bread are the veggies I picked this time)

Speaking of southern eating...there was a lady outside of Walmart selling these two items to collect money for a charity.

I stayed with my sister, Mary Anne, and brother-in-law, Larry.  We had a grand time together.

They took me to Pine Mountain, Georgia for breakfast one Sunday.  This is the Country Store, outside of Callaway Gardens.

Here is Mary Anne and Larry eating a good ol' country breakfast.

Since the azaleas were out, we went inside the gardens to enjoy them.

We also visited the butterfly center there.

and we went to Birds of Prey show in the gardens featuring this handsome owl and other birds.

It is not unusual to see cows on the highways in Ecuador, but when I saw this lady on the freeway I dropped my jaw.   So funny.

Every day was full of shopping and meeting with friends and family. Just before I left, I met some of my cousins for dinner.  Some I had not seen in a long time. The older I get the greater the joy connecting with family.

This past Friday I flew to Seattle to join Chuck.  He had spent a couple of days in Minnesota with grandkids on his way to Seattle.

The flowers here in Seattle are beautiful and the weather has been outstanding.

We will be visiting family here before driving across the state to Richland, WA. to visit family and friends there.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cafeyate, Argentina

Dear Family and Friends,

We rented a car in Salta so we could drive to Cafeyate.  Although it was a two lane road, it was very nice with wide shoulders.  The best thing is that the drivers were very respectful and drove safe.

Although the drive is a little under 120 miles, the scenery changes drastically.  It was a most beautiful drive.

We followed this truck hauling a trailer with tobacco.

It wasn't too long and we came to some awesome tobacco fields. The tobacco growing with the mountains in the distance was breathtaking.  We were just getting started, the real beauty lay ahead.

I took this picture from the car.  What else should we expect, after all we were in Argentina.

After awhile, the scenery changed.  The landscape was much more arid.  This old adobe building reminded me of something I would see in an old western movie.

This man was carving flutes out of wood.

Here is a lady selling tortillas by the side of the road.

The scenery changed again.  We drove into the most magnificent display of giant red rock formations.  It reminded me somewhat of Sedona, Arizona.  We stopped multiple times to walk around and admire the beautiful scenery.

Here is my honey enjoying the view.

This stovepipe rock reminded me of one I have seen in western U.S.

This rock formation was called the castles.

Walking into yet another rock formation.

When we got inside it almost took our breath away.

Not too much further and we were in Cafeyate.  We stayed just out of town in a vineyard.  Beautiful scenery here too.

Chuck was impressed with how high these grapes were off the ground.

Here are some pictures inside the small town of Cafeyate.

This picture is of the central plaza.  I love this tree.

The sidewalks around the plaza had a lot of outdoor restaurant seating and the usual tourist vendors.

Chuck bought yet another hat.  Actually he looks mighty fine standing by this old wagon outside the wine museum.  We toured the museum and learned quite a bit about wine making in this part of the world.

This is a fun, funky building across the street from the museum.

Chuck thought he had died and gone to wine heaven.  He had a real hard job deciding which wines to bring back to Ecuador.  We were allowed two bottles each.

The people who live in Argentina can just buy it by the jug.

We had a delightful dinner (steak again...what else?) outside.  The weather was fantastic.

I will end this post with a picture of the church across from the plaza.  It was so beautiful all lit up.

We had a wonderful trip.  We saw more than we even imagined we would.

We arrived back in Cuenca to the task of moving from one condo to another.

As we are starting to get settled in, we are off again.  We are going to the U.S. to hug family.

I hope to be able to post to the blog as we go.