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ALASKA

Nome Nugget Hotel
Nome Nugget Hotel
with it's mileage signposts

Nome “National Forest”
Nome “National Forest”
in frozen Bering Sea


Enjoying the mushers
finishers banquet



ARKANSAS &
MISSISSIPPI


A beautiful day on the
Arkansas River


Club Ground Zero in
Clarksdale, Mississippi


Enjoying good music
and good food


The wonderful Delta Blues Museum


One of the older contraptions at a former Hot Springs bathhouse

FRANCE


Pyramid outside the Louvre


Red stone village in The Lot


Martell, France where we stayed

NEW YORK


Rosemary and Jim


View of Central Park from
Rosemary's guest room


On Baz's boat on the Hudson River

UPDATE, August 2007:

RECAP, 2006

I went back to Alaska in March 2006 for the Iditarod, to do the night shift job again at the ITC headquarters in Nome, after spending a few days in Anchorage. Jim flew up and joined me in Nome for a long weekend and he was able to get on my schedule; stay up all night and sleep part of the day. He did get to see several mushers arrive at the Burled Arch and we attended the finisher's Banquet together. When we weren’t resting, we had the chance to explore the small but unique town of Nome and discovered we were crazy about salmon and halibut burgers at Fat Freddies. We were able to fly home together to LA, stopping for about eight hours in Anchorage and visiting friend Andy Baker at his guest house.


A team is arriving
The Burled Arch
The Burled Arch, end of the race

In April we flew to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit Redlands friends Jim and D Hester, who had moved there about 6 months earlier. We were happy to discover the charms of that town, and Jim and D showed us the Clinton Presidential Center, drove us all around town and into the countryside and arranged a lunch cruise on a paddle wheeler up and down the Arkansas River. Where we actually saw the “little rock” the town is named after.


Clinton Presidential Center

Jim and D. Hester get
ready to set sail with us

Behind us is the famous “little rock”of Little Rock, Arkansas

Then we all set off in Jim’s hybrid and drove to Memphis and had a great visit to Graceland and marveled at all the Elvis memorabilia as well as the house and grave.

Continuing on to Clarksdale, Mississippi we spent the evening at “Ground Zero,” a blues club owned by the actor Morgan Freeman. We dined on wonderful country-style Southern food while listening to great music. Spent the night in Clarksdale and next morning, visited the Blues Museum in town which was fascinating. We each bought T-shirts from the museum and get a lot of comments from people when we wear them.

We were going to go further south in Mississippi but storm warnings made us change our mind and so we crossed back into Arkansas and headed north, first stopping to visit a truly wonderful railroad museum in Pine Bluff and made it to Hot Springs by the evening. We spent the night at the Velda Rose Hotel, rumored to have a ghost wandering around the lobby at night. (Maybe Velda Rose herself?). The Hesters left us there and went back to Little Rock, promising to come back and get us in a few days.

Hot Springs is a very lively town, with a race track, many restaurants and shops and of course, the hot springs. Only one of the old establishments where people came to take the “cure” is still functioning and another one is a museum. I talked Jim into taking the hot springs “cure,” which lasts about 2 hours and has you going from bubbling water to steam to other contraptions. I have heard that because of the reawakening interest in the hot springs establishments, the other closed ones in the town are also coming back to life. Downtown Hot Springs is a national park.

The Hesters came back to pick us up and on the way back to Little Rock, we stopped at the beautiful Garvan Woodlands Garden, a project of the University of Arkansas. We spent a delightful 2 hours strolling through those vast and varied gardens, with rolling hills, paths through the woods often glimpsing the water that surrounds Garven as it is on a peninsular.

At one of the national parks we were taken to I discovered the most amazing Indian nail files. Made out of some stone I was unfamiliar with. They come in four different colors; blue which is medium (the one I use the most), green for finishing, yellow for pedicures and pink which is gentle. Once you own these, you will never need to buy another emery board in your life. I can't wait to get back to another park that sells them as I want to buy more to use a Christmas gift. We also bought little plush birds; they each come with a tag by the Audubon Society telling you what the bird is and verifying that the bird call it makes when you push it is accurate! We now have 6 different birds in our living room and amuse guests with our symphony of bird sounds.


Wonderful Indian nail files

These birds can sing on demand

Dressing up for Zydeco with beads

New Orleans style parade

Great Cajun music

We drove down to San Diego in May for the Gator by the Bay, a Cajun/Zydeco festival of music and food. We are learning to do the slow Cajun waltz and marvel at dancers of every age, who can do all the lively Zydeco steps. The food is just incredible and we look forward to going back to the South, this time to New Orleans and surrounding areas so we can hear Zydeco in its home.


At the end of May we went to France for 10 days followed by a week in New York City. Jim had never been to France and it was fun to show him “my” Paris, where I had lived for so long, many years ago. We got quite expert using the local buses to visit museums and neighborhoods all over the city. Leaving Paris, we also took a train to the center of France and spent a few days in “The Lot,” a beautiful region of rolling green hills, rivers and heritage classified towns built of stone.


Flea market near our Paris hotel

The Pompidou Center

Back in NYC we stayed with friends Laura and Dennis Minogue, spent two nights with Rosemary Chodorov Gary in her lovely Fifth Avenue apartment facing Central Park and also a night upstate New York with my cousins Baz and Aileen and had a picnic on their boat on the Hudson River. Back in Manhattan, I was able to show Jim the Greenwich Village apartment, which I still own and keep rented.


We did a quick visit to the Palm Springs area in the summer, this time visiting the Living Desert where we were thrilled to encounter live Meerkats, having fallen under the spell of the Animal Planet TV series "Meerkat Manor". But it was really hot in the desert, and we appreciated the water misters stationed around the park. We also made friends with a very handsome goat who posed for us when we pointed the camera in his direction.


Looking for the Meerkats...

...we found them looking
around for their enemies

Photogenic goat


Making a sugar cane drink
in Guatemala


Exploring Tikel, Guatemala


Gary, our wonderful guide


The Mayan ruins were vast

In October we set off for a big Central American adventure with OAT, a company I had previously traveled with to Africa, Peru, Bhutan, India and Thailand. This was “The Route of the Maya,” visiting Mayan ruins and learning about Mayan culture in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. The tour had an interesting group of people and our guide, Gary was really knowledgeable and fun to be with. Two jam-filled weeks of Mayan ruins, towns, big cities, great hotels, and interesting food followed and it was exciting to be able to add 4 new countries to my travel list. It had seemed to me lately that all I was doing was repeating places, though when I now traveled with Jim, it seemed new and exciting because we were discovering places together for the first time.


Our hotel “room” in Belize

Old Antigua, a beautiful town

November, I produced and moderated another WIF panel at the AFM. This one was on Film Festivals and I had programmers from the AFI, Santa Barbara, Sundance, Los Angeles and South by Southwest Film Festivals on the panel. The event was very informative and well received with a standing room only crowd.

At Christmas we went to Denver and had to deal with lots of snow, airport closings, shuttle bus cancellations, etc. But it all worked out in the end and we spent a pleasant few days with Jim's daughter Amanda, Jim's son Geoff and his wife Marissa and fast growing grandson J.R. I think I’d like to go someplace warm next Christmas.

We celebrated New Year’s 2007 in Palm Springs and attended the famous Palm Springs Follies. What a show! All of the singers and dancers were well over sixty years, with most in their seventies and one amazing showgirl who still had great legs…in her eighties! What an inspiration. We also gambled a bit, walked a lot, saw some movies and generally had a relaxing time.



Making friends at the
Laughing Eyes Kennel


Lance at the Yukon Quest
start banquet


Snow and hot springs,
a great combination


My bathroom at Bombay Peggy's,
a former brothel


If this bed could talk!


Feeding a tired Lance in Dawson City, where all the mushers stop for 36 hours


Dawson City and frozen
Yukon River from the air


Casa Grande ruin in Arizona


Posing with the performers
at a Thai spectacular


Feeding one of the elephants
after the show


Relaxing with a beer next to the
Chai Praya River in Bangkok


The “mini” Weeks family reunion

 

 

2007, SO FAR . . .

2006 was a very busy traveling year and 2007 is shaping up to be the same or even busier. Having attended the Iditarod for the past 6 years, I decided to skip it this year and go to the Yukon Quest instead. The YQ is the OTHER long distance sled dog race and the only one that straddles two countries. One year it leaves from Whitehorse in the Yukon, Canada and finishes in Fairbanks, Alaska. And the following year it reverses the route. I flew to Whitehorse and had a hotel room that was literally right on the start line.

Drove out of town to visit Hugh Neff's Laughing Eyes Kennel and was pleased to set old friends Lance and Tonya Mackey, who were staying there. They were all cutting wood and stacking it in the dog trucks, to use at the campsite in Dawson City. Attended the start banquet and had a really good time.


Huskies snug in their dog boxes

Start of the race in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

Colorful Dawson City

Trying to keep warm in -50 degrees

The start of the race was exciting and because it was right in the center of town (and there were not the same crowds as with the Iditarod Ceremonial start), you could stand just a few feet away from the trail leading out of town. Get up close with all the mushers and their dogs. Also visited Takhini hot springs about an hour out of town and it was fun to be in the hot steamy water with snow all around you.

While waiting for the flight to Dawson City at the Whitehorse airport, I made the acquaintance of Karl Scholz a helicopter pilot from Dawson. My Canadian girlfriend Lee and I stayed at Bombay Peggy's, a unique hotel that had been a former brothel. I had the “gold” room with an amazing bathroom. As Dawson City is where the mushers take an obligatory 36 hour break, I was able to take Lance and Tonya Mackey to dinner and Karl took me sightseeing in his truck. The checkpoint was a great place to hang out, good snacks and always something going on with teams coming and going.

On my last day in Dawson City Karl told me to cancel the shuttle bus to the airport and took me up in his helicopter; we flew over the frozen Yukon River, saw the musher's camp on the other side of the river from the town, flew up the YQ trail leading out of town and could also see the Top of the World Highway that is closed in winter, except for snowmobiles. It leads into Alaska. Since he had told me to bring my suitcase with me, I was deposited right at the Dawson City airport in time for my flight back to Whitehorse.

Lance Mackey won the Yukon Quest for the third straight year and then ten days later, entered the Iditarod with many of the same dogs, and won that too! This is the first time any musher has ever won both sled dog races in the same year.

I had only one day back in Los Angeles before we set off by car to Casa Grande, Arizona for a Weeks family reunion. There were 26 relatives for Jim to meet and get to know!!! He had only met a few of them before and it was an amazing two days of food and stories and friendship. The family tree, dating back to the great grandparents in Finland was spread out on a long table and everyone added any updates they could to it. We also had the chance to visit the Casa Grande historical site of the Hohokum Indians, which was inspiring.

On the way home we went through Yuma and drove up one side of the Salton Sea, stopping for a delicious date milkshake, located in wonderful old building in the midst of the date palms.

Everyone knows I love animals so not being allowed to have any live ones in the apartment I live in, I collect stuffed ones, from all the countries I visit. I have a lemur, a bat-eared fox, a road runner, a rattlesnake, a wombat, a penguin, a lama, a yak, a turtle, a killer whale, a buffalo, a panda, a merino sheep, a puffin, a kangaroo, meerkats, a hyena and the one that started the whole collection… a platypus.

But Jim thought I should have some dogs, so he bought me white Scamp (who barks and cuddles, etc because of a computer chip in him), then tan Scruffy whom we found at dog show, followed, I bought Pinky, a “love” dog as a Valentine present for Jim while I was away at the Yukon Quest and Little Husky was from the Iditarod. All these dogs live at the bottom of our bed on the Iditarod blanket. Lately they have been getting into acrobatic stunts on the bed. They surprise me every day.


Scruffy, Scamp, Pinky and Little Husky in front

What those dogs get up to!!!

I wanted to do something special for our second wedding anniversary, so we went to Bangkok. Although Jim had worked in Asia, he had never been to Thailand. First we stayed in a nice hotel right on the Chai Praya river and did some sightseeing of temples, etc. We explored up and down the took the river day-pass and then on another day the sky train day-pass and also attended a marvelous show, which included dinner. Sort of a Thai Cirque du Soleil with hundreds of performers and animals on stage. I got to feed bananas to one of the elephant performers.


A toast at the Oriental Hotel

Visiting the Wat Po, where we
had massages at the school
on the temple grounds

Jim enjoying Thai beer

For our last two days in Bangkok we moved over to the Oriental Hotel, (also on the river) my favorite hotel in the world and a hotel that is usually first or second on many lists of the best hotels in the world. I had told them it was a sort of honeymoon and they very generously gave us wine and chocolates and snacks and put flowers in our room. What a splendid time we had. Pinky did too, as we brought her along on the “honeymoon,” much to the delight of the Oriental Hotel staff. I’m dreaming of going back to Thailand and trying out the newest Oriental Hotel which is in Chiang Mai.

In May we went back to the Gator by the Bay Cajun/Zydeco Festival again. We're getting better with our slow Cajun waltz and really enjoyed the music and the food.

Because Jim’s sister Shirley and her husband Bill couldn't join the Weeks Family Reunion in Arizona, and I heard they were coming to California for a brief visit, I decided to organize a “mini” Weeks family reunion. Jim’s daughter Val flew in from Idaho for the weekend and I was able to get two sets of cousins who live in Southern California to join us for a wonderful lunch.

Jim played golf in the Women In Film tournament in Malibu in July. We also visited Joe and Sylvia Karcher in Hemet. They showed us spectacular new man-made Diamond Lake and it's accompanying museum and scientific center which features many bones of Wooly Mammoths and other pre-historic animals. These skeletons came to light when the lake was being dug.

We’re packing for an August trip to Norway and Iceland with Joe and Sylvia. We'll be traveling by plane, train, ship (up the Norwegian coast) and car.

Stay tuned……..