We are really sorry for the long gap in our blogs, and there are several reasons for that, so this is our attempt to bring you up to date on what we have been doing since we last posted in April.

Bonnie flew back to Santa Fe from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at the end of April because we had a change of tenants in our house to accomodate; Dave stayed in Sayulita until the end of the first week of May and then spent five days driving from Puerto Vallarta back to Santa Fe. We spent a couple of more weeks there getting the house ready, seeing friends and readjusting to life in the States. Then we set out in Dan for what has become a rather routine drive over the years from Santa Fe to San Francisco and where we had routine exams with several of our doctors, saw our daughter Susanne and her family, and spent some time with friends in the Bay Area.

Sus and fam

Susanne and her girls

After about a week we headed north up the California coast enjoying several wonderful campgrounds on the way and then on to Portland to see a nephew and his young son, and then to Olympia, Washington where Dave’s brother Don and his wife Carol live.  He had recently had heart surgery and wasn’t quite himself, but we did get a chance to see several of his children and grandchildren before turning east.

We then drove east, spending one night at one of the Olympia Laws’ favorite camping sites, Chelan Lake

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and another equally delightful campground in eastern Washington

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before crossing over the Cascade Mountains and into Idaho in a snow covered pass.

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Our next stop was Sandpoint, Idaho where we spent a couple of days with our friends from San Miguel, Patti and Denis at their summer home there.  Then we had a couple of days to explore the Bitterroot, Sawtooth and Beartooth mountains of Idaho and Montana and absolutely fell in love with the gorgeous country.

Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and Montana

Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho and Montana

Later in our trip we followed the story of the horrible forest fire that ripped through there a month or so ago.  We don’t know the extent of the damage, but hope it was minimal as we are convinced it is among the most beautiful places in the entire U.S. We had a great day in Ketchum, Idaho which turned out to be a delightful place.  It was here that Ernest Hemingway spent most of the last years of his life and where he is buried today on the edge of town.

Hemingway's Gravesite in Ketchum, Idaho

Hemingway’s Gravesite in Ketchum, Idaho

From there we headed for the Tetons and Yellowstone with just a couple of days to revisit these gems before making the long drive across the plains from Cody, Wyoming and the amazing Buffalo Bill Museum.

The Elkhorn Arch in Jackson, Wyoming

The Elkhorn Arch in Jackson, Wyoming

Leaving Cody we headed east and stopped for a morning in Deadwood, South Dakota since we were maniacs for the television series and had to see how it had changed since the days of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

Deadwood's Main Street today

Deadwood’s Main Street today

Wild Bill and Calamity Jane together at last

Wild Bill and Calamity Jane together at last

We then made the long flat trip across the plains through South Dakota, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin stopping only for an ice cream at Wall Drugs and a look at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.  The facade of this huge building is redone every year and is completely covered with corn husks of every color imaginable.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

We then continued on to the Mississippi River and finally on to Madison, Wisconsin where Bonnie’s brother Bruce and grandfather had gone to college.  We are both fans of college towns, but Madison is an absolutely superb place–the university and its surroundings really lovely and the Friday night we were there a concert going on outside the Union right on the shore of the lake with perhaps a thousand people drinking beer, eating brats and enjoying all.

Wisconsin Union Friday night bash at lakeside

Wisconsin Union Friday night bash at lakeside

The trip from Madison to Detroit and suburban Grosse Pointe was mostly a quick loop around and through the Chicago area, then a sprint across Michigan.  Grosse Pointe is where both of us grew up and where Bonnie’s mother was still living at 91 years old.  But our real destination was Higgins Lake, a beautiful inland lake in the heart of Michigan’s lower peninsula where the Carleton family has had a summer cottage since the 1920’s.  Each summer members of Bonnie’s family meet there over the 4th of July weekend, and this year son Kayvon and his family, Bruce and his family, Bonnie’s mother ‘Nonnie’ and the two of us were in attendance and had a wonderful time being together and enjoying each other once again. Tennis, games in the gym-like lodge, shuffleboard, two Seadoos and a pontoon boat all contributed to the fun.

Bonnie's mom Nonnie with her great grandchildren Maya and Cam

Bonnie’s mom Nonnie with her great grandchildren

The nightly gathering on the deck before dinner

The nightly gathering on the deck before dinner

After a couple of days back in Grosse Pointe we set out for the East, intending to spend considerable time exploring New England where neither of us had ever been.  We headed for daughter Leila’s house in Ridgewood, NJ, passing through Pennsylvania on the way.  Remembering that our friends the Merediths used to live there, we decided to spend a day or two in Bucks County and loved it.  Everywhere we turned were homes and buildings dating from the 1700’s, including the house in which John Marshall lived in the early 19th century.  He became considerably more famous when he discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848.

John Marshall House in Lambertville, NJ on the Deleware River

John Marshall House in Lambertville, NJ on the Deleware River

While heading out to try to find the house the Merediths used to live in we stumbled on to a wonderful auto show on the lawns of the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown.  There were over two hundred cars on display of every vintage, and the pottery itself was a beautiful building dating from 1912.

Our favorite at the Auto Show

Our favorite at the Auto Show

The courtyard of the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

The courtyard of the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

Karen Stalba and her Dragster

Karen Stalba and her Dragster

The profuse greenery of the area came as a real suprise–dense forests which seem to have no justification or reason to be there except they always have been. The worn down mountains in the area, dating from millions of years ago when they were new and ragged are now rounded and smooth, the only trace of their rugged past in the cuts where the highway has been blasted through and the rock strata roll in waves across the exposed slab.  We took our bikes and rode the tow paths on the Delaware River on both the New Hope and Lambertville sides, and could easily have spent a week or two exploring the neighborhood further.

Towpath on the canal paralleling the Delaware River

Towpath on the canal paralleling the Delaware River

The canal and towpath crossing over a stream on an aquaduct

The canal and towpath crossing over a stream on an aquaduct

Then it was on to Leila’s house for a delightful time with her husband and boys, and a trip into New York City and the Metropolitan Museum in 101 degree heat, before heading north around the city and into New England.

Leila, Farres and Cyrus eating very gooey food!

Leila and boys eating very gooey food!

We were not there for very long.  We camped a night in a wonderful campgound in northwestern Conneticut and then headed into Vermont for Heath Boyer and his wife Mary’s house.  Heath had been a roommate of Dave’s at Duke and they had not seen eachother for about 50 years, so it was quite a reunion and absolutely delightful for all.  We stayed the night and then headed off to a wonderful bookstore close by, but as we parked the van Bonnie’s cellphone range and it was her brother Bruce with the news that their mother had just passed away.

We spent a some time to take stock of things and get over the shock and grief, then turned Dan west and headed for Grosse Pointe.  With about four hours sleep in a rest stop somewhere in western New York State we made it to Grosse Pointe in just about 22 hours.

Dan the Van had a bit of a milestone on the trip back to Grosse Pointe as well:

Dan turns 200,000 miles

Dan turns 200,000 miles

The next three weeks were focused on Nonnie’s memorial service and sorting out what remained of her life.  We spent most of our time working on her house prior to putting it on the market, and that included a lot of cleaning out of old things people to accumulate over long lives, particularly when spent always in the same town.  It was an emotionally difficult time but we worked our way through it and finally flew out on August 12th for our long planned and ticketed trip to Paris and time with our old sailing friends Annie and Barry on their canal boat in France.  More of that in the next blog.