Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friday, August 26 was a sweltering sunny day, with premonitions of Hurricane Irene now traveling up the coast as we headed south from NYC to Washington, D.C.  It hit the city over the weekend and we spent a rainy day on Saturday tucked into our friends Ellyn and Alan's beautiful condo at The Watergate. What a great place (history has so changed in some ways!) and great folks to be marooned with. The city was spared the devastation that occurred elsewhere and by Sunday we were up and out again.
View ferom the 12th floor of the Watergate during
Hurricane Irene

We met the owner of a business that
provides residential and commercial
composting service, taking food
waste from homes & offices, including
the Peace Corps, composting it, and
providing compost to D.C. area
small farmers  
After joining F/friends at our respective meetings on Sunday morning we ventured around the Dupont Circle area, finding a fabulous farmers' market, complete with portable compost service. Carol --- the rabid composter ---- was in 7th heaven! We spent more time with old (not in years, of course!) friends and shared great stories, memories and much laughter.

Leaving Washington on Monday for points south, we stopped by the Peace Corps offices to visit with our contact Angela at the Africa desk.  She will join others on the staff for our staging process in about two weeks in Philadelphia. (Wow!) Botswana is feeling closer all the time....

In front of the Peace Corps office in
Washington, D.C.

With good friends Dick Merritt (P eace Corps
India 1966-1968), Rob MacDougall and Melinda Murray
in Dick's back yard in Alexandria

With friends Alan Blank and Ellyn Sternfield
their son Michael and daughter Stephi at
Mie n Yu's in Georgetown

Washington Friends Meeting
Florida Avenue, NW

Then Hurricane Irene - Georgetown
Washington, D.C.

First the earthquake -
note leaning tower on left, missing
tower on right, at the National Cathedral

Monday, August 29, 2011

No, we didn't take this picture,
but loved Felipe Gallindo's
Manhatitlan exhibit at the Interchurch
Center near Riverside Church
on the Upper West Side

On the drive from Cape Cod to New York City, it dawned on us that we are really on this adventure. The past months have required an immense focus on the details of departure, and now we are actually doing our dream.  Of course we are not in the actual Peace Corps phase, yet this travel around the country, spending time with and saying "goodbye for now" to dear family and friends makes it all feel like it is happening. 
Dean and Cyndy, John and Carol, in front
Karen Rolnik and Doug Munson in back

New York City --- as our friend would say --- is really "something else"!  Coming into the city, we were to meet brother Doug and sister-in-law Karen and Cyndy and Dean Phelps, Annie's in-laws, for an eight o'clock dinner at The Odeon on Manhattan's Lower East Side.  Almost there a few moments before 8, we found ourselves in gridlock --- and thirty minutes in the car (imperfectly) practicing patience.  Hilda, our GPS, didn't know about the Holland Tunnel!  Our wonderful dinner and visit with the Phelps and Rolnik/Munsons more than compensated for the traffic hassle.  And we confess to some envy that Cyndy and Dean will soon be traveling to Oregon to see Nick and Annie.

In the city we spent a day in Brooklyn and a day in Manhattan. Walking, walking, walking, or as we now say, "urban hiking." It was great to spend more time with Doug and Karen and to have dinner with nephew Dayton, who is an awesome young man.  Enjoying Brooklyn's riverfront parks, eating amazing food, (especially ice cream), exploring the Upper West Side, reminiscing about Annie's years spent there at Barnard, deciphering the Metro system once again, seeing a silly movie, soaking in the exhilarating city atmosphere.... whew, maybe it will be more relaxing in Botswana!

Carol at 182 Clinton Street in
Brooklyn Heights

John at Barnard where Annie started
college eight years ago

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mark and Luca climbing on
a block of fabled Vermont granite
Saying goodbyes to our beautiful family in Burlington, we drove through the incredible green hills of Vermont, listening to NPR and ---from time to time --- the National Weather Service warning us of a pending lightning and windshield-shattering hail storm, to stay indoors and away from windows. The storm never neared us and we arrived in Cape Cod unscathed. It did however clobber Megan, Wayne and the boys; when they arrived at family camp the place was a raging sea of mud.

Arriving in Centerville late evening we serendipitously found a nice room in an inn owned by a peace activist and member of Barnstable Friends Meeting.  A morning breakfast and a swim at Craigville Beach began our first day on the Cape.
Beach grass at Cape Cod National Seashore
We decided to drive to Provincetown because of its proximity to Cape Cod National Seashore, and because it is, after all, as far out on the Cape as you can go.  The drive was beautiful, and we stopped to hike along the way.

Provincetown is pretty cool, with summer tourists, interesting and quaint architecture, and a lot of artsy shops. But we are going to Africa, and the last thing we need is more stuff. The hike around Salt Pond was beautiful, and the weather perfect. We drove through the dunes and sea grass to Race Point Beach, where we swam in the ocean (this in the colloquial 'we' which means John swam and Carol watched warmly from the beach!) We relaxed too and read - books, so far not Kindles. In the evening we stayed at a wonderful old inn (1840) pictured here in the charming village of Wellfleet.

Holden Inn, Wellfleet

It was hard to leave the idyllic summer time atmosphere of Cape Cod, but our trek goes on.... to New York City to visit family there and explore the city.   Portland seems a million miles away, and Botswana a long, long way from here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Megan finishing a run at Catamount.  Carol is in the background

          Burlington, Vermont. Life is always full here. We arrived on August 22 and that evening went on the "weekly run" with Megan, Wayne, Mark, Fisher and Luca, and several hundred Catamount regulars. (
          Carol walked the 5K and John, not a runner since his bike accident in March, was nearly last, but the turn through grassland and woods was beautiful. Mark (8) and Fisher (6) were awesome in the 2 K, even after spending the day playing soccer. At 2-1/2 years, Luca shows up with a big smile for all the events!
Mamalatte with the boys - Luca, Mark and Fisher
Luca plays a hard game of catch with Papaccino

Wayne and Luca arriving at the swimming hole

        Thursday night Mark and Fisher mountain biked 5K, some of the same Catamount trails. We also enjoyed a swim at a local water hole and the best pizza afterwards at an outdoor camp-type restaurant. Very Vermont! The weather has been great and this is truly a family "on the go." Much to do and best of all, much love.

           Monday we are on to Cape Cod as we wind our way east and south on this so-far incredible journey.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leaving Portland was much more challenging that we anticipated.  We spent the entire day before our flight on August 11 with movers, house cleaners, family and friends in order to vacate our apartment and pack what we need for Botswana. Thanks to "the village" that helped us, and after many tearful goodbyes, we flew to St. Louis to spend time with our friends Sarah and Larry Berglund.

After wonderful conversation and dinner, and a good night's sleep, Larry and Sarah drove us to a tallgrass prairie restoration site ( ) where they volunteer. If you've never seen it, tallgrass prairie is spectacular. Not just grasses, but amazing wilflowers - more than 120 varieties in this 36-acre tract. It was gold with rubidekia - variety of black-eyed susans, as well as white and purple mallow. Our friends delighted in telling us that the color of the landscape changes often as new blooms appear.

On August 12 we drove to Atchison, Kansas. The closing of the Missouri River bridge at Atchison due to flooding gave us a different and longer trek!  It was a joy to see our son Grayson and his children/our grandchildren, Nico (12) and Isabella (8).  Grayson cooked what may have been his first home cooked meal of us of Kansas style fried chicken and the trimmings, very impressive!

Our time here has been filled with family activities of shopping for fishing gear, swimming at an aquatic park, miniature golf and several good meals out. Spending time with our grandchildren's mother Amy has also been a highlight of the time here. We are staying at a lovely 19th century B and B,
The Tuck U Inn, which despite its amusing name is quite charming and hospitable. Not quite roughing it in the Peace Corps yet.....

We return to St. Louis and the Berglunds tomorrow before the second leg of our journey in Burlington VT.