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Breathtaking fjiords in Norway

On a boat in glacier bay, Iceland


This charming store was
near the Shorten's house


Life goes on as usual
in the French Quarter


One of the teams heading into
the finish line in Nome

Trying to keep warm in Nome

UPDATE, November 2008:

“Mea Culpa”. I know it’s been a long time since I updated all my travel stories and many friends keep asking me when I am going to do so. Life kind of got in the way but here I am in November of 2008, poised to go to Africa and I realize I must at least, do a quick overview of what’s been happening since the summer of 2007.

With friends Joe and Sylvia Karcher, we went to Norway and Iceland in August of 2007. First to Oslo, then took a train over the mountains to quaint and fascinating Bergen. There we boarded a boat the goes up the coast of Norway stopping at many ports. We went way above the Arctic Circle and were less than 1200 miles from the North Pole at one point. The beauty of Norway is overwhelming and as they were having the hottest summer in 10 years, we often found ourselves wearing tee-shirts at 6AM on some shore excursion way up north! We ended up in Kirkenes and after flying back to Oslo, took a plane to Iceland. Renting a car we spent 5 days in and out of hot bubbling pools, exploring glacier bays, waterfalls. A wonderful visit to a country I dearly love, this my third visit.

In October we went to visit Jim’s sister Shirley and husband Willie Shorten in New Hampshire, and we were there just in time to see the leaves turning red and yellow. We also squeezed in a visit to Vicky Linville, sister of musher Debbie Moderow, in nearby quaint and beautiful Weston, Vermont. I had met Vicky in Anchorage when we were both working the phones for the Iditarod.

I thought it would be fun to celebrate Thanksgiving in New Orleans and since November is also Jim's birthday month, I gave him the gift of a meal at the famous restaurant "Emerils". We did a lot; walked all over the French Quarter, once on our own, another time on a tour with a Park Ranger. We took the paddle wheeler up and down the river, visited the aquarium, tried lots of interesting foods. On Thanksgiving Day we wanted to eat someplace special, but had been turned down the day before by the Court of Two Sisters because they said they were booked. But as we walked by there, we spotted a large group of people entering (turned out they were from Norway) so went to the back of the crowd and enterered with them. Spotting an empty table for two near a window, we sat down and hoped for the best. Had a fabulous buffet, champagne and orange juice, amazing deserts. Wow. Confessed to our wonderful waiter that we had sneaked in and he said he knew!!!!  But had decided to give us a great time.  He got a good tip from Jim.

On our Katrina tour, we spotted this plane which landed in someone's back yard

The signs on the building mean it had been searched and no bodies were found

The most interesting thing we did was to take a Katrina tour, and it was disheartening to see how little had been done, three years afterwards. We both love New Orleans and its people and its food and want to go back.

At Christmas we decided to do something different, as we had spent last year mired down in the snows of Denver. We drove to Baja California, ending up in a charming B&B, sleeping in a Mongolian style “yurt” in picturesque San Ignacio. We also explored nearby Mulege and on our way home, had a lobster in Santa Rosarita Beach. The border crossing back into the States was very slow and tedious and it was about 10 PM by the time we reached Temecula. We were heading for Redlands for a goodbye party for Pastor Sylvia as she had resigned her post at the little Redlands church. We made it over the next morning and spent the rest of the weekend in Redlands. Saw lots of friends.

Our wonderful Yurt outside...
...was just as wonderful inside.

In January and February, we decided to do some exploring in our home turf, the Greystone mansion one weekend, the old movie palaces of downtown Broadway another time. At the end of February I made a quick trip to Anchorage for a long Iditarod weekend to attend the mushers banquet, ceremonial start and restart, respectively in Anchorage and Willow and met lots of race fan friends in dinners around the town.

In April we celebrated our third anniversary in Carlsbad, combining that weekend with good friend Raegan Mathew’s wedding shower held at the same hotel.

In March I went to Nome for two weeks, for the All Alaska Sweepstakes, a sled dog race held only every 20 years or so. It starts and ends in Nome. I worked the night shift at headquarters, answering the phones and doing many other chores. Jim joined me for the last week and helped out working in the dog lot on the night shift.

We got to go to the finisher’s banquet. While we were in Nome we had some great salmon and halibut burgers at Fat Freddies in Nome. And let’s not forget the delicious reindeer sausages and eggs for breakfast.

Weeks family lunch in Las Vegas

Famous underground
rock church in Helsinki

Meeting the family in
Peraseinajoki, Finland

Jim's alter-ego from another era,
in the Immigration Museum

Alva Alto church in
Seinajoki, Finland

Gulfoss waterfall in Iceland

We made a long weekend visit to Las Vegas in April and Jim’s daughter Amanda and son Geoff met us there. It was fun. Then Geoff and 2 year old son J.R.(Jim the proud grandpop) came to visit in June and we went to Griffith Park, the beach and then Legoland and the Animal Park, both near San Diego.

Raegan and Chris’s wedding was in San Diego in July and it took all weekend: BBQ on the beach on Friday night, fantastic wedding at a beautiful club on Saturday and Sunday morning brunch in Mission Bay.

Almost immediately afterwards we flew to Finland, meeting Jim’s daughter Val, her husband Dave Ward and their son Chris in Iceland at the airport. We came through Boston, they through NYC. We flew on together to Finland, and were able to explore Helsinki and the countryside. We went to the town where Jim’s grandfather, Tuamos Vikki, had been born in Peraseinajoki, and met many relatives still living there. It was a fabulous visit with many wonderful people. Cousin Airi arranged for us to visit several buildings by architect Alva Alto, an architect that Jim studied at USC and had always admired. The next day she took us to a Finnish Immigration museum which documented where the Finnish people had immigrated to all over the world. While walking through the museum we discovered this photo that looked just like Jim. A photo probably from 50-60 years ago. And it didn't hurt that he had a red headed woman on his arm.

After leaving Finland, we flew back again to Iceland, so Jim’s family could see all the breathtaking scenery. It was my fourth visit and I’m not tired of it yet. We both want to go back again sometime!

I had now dragged Jim three times to Alaska in the middle of the winter, and he wanted to see it in the summer. So we set out to do just that in late August. We flew to Anchorage, saw a great sled dog show there, drove to Denali National Park, stopping in quaint Talteekna on the way. Explored lots of the National Park, ate some great food. Saw the beautiful mountain in all its snow covered stark beauty as we left to drive south again. We went all the way to the Kenai and to Homer which we loved. On the way back, stayed overnight at a beautiful cabin built and run by musher Paul Gephardt and his wife Evy. Their kennel is next door.

In Palmer we saw the Musk Ox farm and also got to go to the Alaska State Fair, visited the Iditarod booth and said hello to Joanne Potts and saw champion Lance Mackey. We flew home at different times on different planes and Jim still wants to see more of Alaska. We are planning another trip there for next summer.

Magnificent Mt. Denali
shows her stuff

Listening to music at the
Alaska State Fair

September and October were busy with work, friends, movies, visits to Redlands, and a wedding party in Big Sur. Ramblin’ Jack’s daughter Aiyana got married to Dan Partland. It was a really beautiful drive up and back and good weekend. I also produced and moderated a panel on International Distribution for Women In Film.

It’s off to Namibia and Capetown in November…….
Stay tuned.