San Francisco February 12-16

For Valentine's weekend, we took newlyweds Paul and Jacky to San Francisco. We enjoyed the hop-on, hop-off bus tour, the tour of Alcatraz and a dinner and dance boat trip in San Francisco harbor. As always, the Argonaut hotel was terrific and we especially enjoyed their happy hours. Photos are here

Syracuse, NY February 7-8

Mark was in the play In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play so of course we had to go and see him. The Genesee Grande Hotel was quite nice, but Syracuse itself was terribly depressing. It was snowing, gray and dark early.

NYC January 24-26

We had a lovely dinner Saturday evening with Evan, Peiling, Steve and Linda and enjoyed the New York City ballet's Sunday matinee. After forecasts of "historic" snow I skedaddled back to Minneapolis. While the snow wasn't nearly as bad as predicted, John didn't make it home until Wednesday.

Carefree, Sedona and Scottsdale AZ, December 26-January 3

We usually travel outside the country after Christmas, but kids had lots of other things to do, so it made more sense to stay in the US. Unfortunately, we encountered significant snow in Sedona, with six of us at one resort, and seven at another, and unable to get together for New Year's Eve! The red rock mountains were gorgeous in the snow, however. See pictures of Sedona here and our visit to the Grand Canyon with Mark, here.

Trains to NYC October 15-16, 2014

There were actually two trains. The first was the Empire Builder, which runs between Seattle and Chicago. The second was the Lakeshore Limited, which runs between Chicago and Boston/New York. We were about two hours late leaving Minneapolis on Wednesday morning and arrived a little after 6 pm in Chicago. That was fine, however, as the train leaving Chicago didn't go until 9:30. It was lovely sleeping on the train and we arrived in NYC about 6:30 Thursday evening. I took 686 photos! Most were really lousy, but the better ones are here.

Luxembourg and London September 7-12, 2014

Another one of those terrific John Works, Kathy Plays weeks, we visited Luxembourg City and London in September. With only one afternoon and evening in Luxembourg, my pictures are pretty sparse, but are here.

Luxembourg City Train Station

Luxembourg City Train Station

With a little more time in London, I explored the Thames. Did you know that it has a twice-daily tide of up to 8 meters? That's an amazing 25 feet! The days I was there were their highest tides of the year. If you check out the photos, note how many boats appear to be aground, but will be afloat in a few hours. I took boats on two different days, first to Greenwich toward the ocean, then to Kew. I also visited Kew Gardens, the London Eye, and Tower Bridge. Here are the pictures.

Tower of London

Tower of London


Peru and Ecuador August 16-31, 2014

Smithsonian Journeys does a fabulous trip! This was a very small group, just 19 of us, including our ornithologist guide, Pepper Trail. Billed as Machu Picchu and the Galapagos, there was more to the trip than just those two places. First stop was Lima, on the coast of Peru. We asked whether the gray sky was fog and would burn off, but were told it was generally permanent. We certainly never saw the sun! The Sunday we spent there was a special feast day, with groups of young people in costume competing as dancers in the street.  Pictures are here. We also visited interesting museums, an old house, and and an incredible, private collection, the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum. Dinner at La Rosa Nautica was very special and included our first pisco sours.

Lima street dancers

Lima street dancers

Next was the day-long trek to Machu Picchu. First was the flight from Lima to Cuzco, then the bus to where we caught the train, then the train for an hour and a half to Aguas Calientes, then the half-hour bus ride up switchbacks to Machu Picchu. The bus was terrifying! Machu Picchu was pretty scary, too! It's much steeper everywhere than pictures suggest.

Another guide, Jaime, joined us for the remainder of the Peru portion. He was thoroughly versed on the history of the Incas and the more recent settlers in the area.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Smithsonian had arranged for us to stay at the Sanctuary resort at Machu Picchu, a stunning place with just 22 rooms and a gourmet dining room. Especially amazing since everything, even the buses, had to have been transported by that train.  Photos are here

We stayed in the Sacred Valley for two nights, visiting a charming fabric-making shop and more Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. We also visited a charming market with people selling nearly everything you can think of.  

Girls and women demonstrating weaving. Note the guinea pigs in the background.

Girls and women demonstrating weaving. Note the guinea pigs in the background.

More pictures are here.

We finally made our way back to Cuzco, staying at the fabulous Monasterio Hotel, just behind the main square. We did our usual hop-on hop-off tour, except there was no hopping off this time, but we were again driven past the staggering Sacsayhuaman Inca structure. Cuzco has quite a charming main square and, like most South American cities, churches filled with lots and lots of gold. The last supper painting there depicts Jesus dining on guinea pig!

Sacsayhuaman, near Cuzco

Sacsayhuaman, near Cuzco

We had not been looking forward to having lunch with a local family, believing that it would be just the two of us, but our guide split our group of 19 into three groups, so we had lunch with several people we already had gotten to know as well as the family. John bravely tried cuy (guinea pig) and I bravely ate everything but, even though it was heavily seasoned with cilantro, not a favorite. 

Sadly, we bade farewell to our delightful Peruvian guide, Sheila, and boarded the flight to Quito, where we were met by Isabel, who stayed with us during our Ecuadorian journey. After carefully repacking our luggage to bring only a small bag with us to the Galapagos, we arose very early to catch our flight there. We expected to be on a small propeller plane, but it was an Airbus 320 that was nearly full. Again, for the day we took a bus to the plane, then a bus off the plane to a small ferry to cross from Baltra to Santa Cruz islands, then another bus to where we would board our cruise boat. Before boarding, we had a tour of the Charles Darwin Center to see the giant tortoises and land iguanas. 

Aboard the Coral II, our room was quite spartan, just two bunks, nothing more. The food was fine and our two Galapagos naturalists were very knowledgeable and helpful. The hardest part of the trip was getting on and off the Zodiac boats that we used to visit the islands as there are no docks most places. We spent three nights aboard the Coral II and enjoyed hiking the islands and doing some snorkeling. We were delighted with the blue-footed boobies, Sally Lightfoot crabs, frigate birds, marine iguanas, sea lions and mating albatross. 

John with a blue footed boobie. The favorite local tee shirt says "I heart boobies"

John with a blue footed boobie. The favorite local tee shirt says "I heart boobies"

They really have no fear of humans, amazing!

NJ/NYC August 8-11, 2014

We had a lovely quick trip to the new house, where Mark is staying and cooked all our meals, and enjoyed a visit from John's sister, her husband and daughter. Then it was into NYC Sunday afternoon, highlighted by a delightful dinner with Evan and Peiling. John's work on Monday was in midtown; I visited the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to see the Xu Bing exhibit of two giant phoenix birds suspended from the ceiling. It was quite spectacular!

Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Venice June 23 - July 5, 2014

What a fabulous trip! Sarajevo still suffers from the wounds inflicted during the 1991-1994 war over the breakup of Yugoslavia (who knew? I was busy dealing with baby Peter) In spite of the damage, it remains a lovely and historic city. Photos are here

Those hills above the city were perfect positions for snipers!

Those hills above the city were perfect positions for snipers!

Sarajevo is in the Bosnian portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina country. We next visited the city of Mostar, in the Herzegovina section. It remains even more damaged, but complete repairs have been made to the stunning bridge. Photos are here. 

Next was one of the most interesting cities on our trip: Dubrovnik. The old city is on a peninsula in modern Croatia and it is splendid! Here John and I met up at the Hilton and boarded Corinthian, our ship for most of the rest of our vacation. 

I went on a bus trip to the outskirts of Dubrovnik while John and the main group had their tour of Dubrovnik. We had a lovely tour of the town where everyone goes to avoid the tourists as well as a remarkable view from a mountaintop. Pictures are here. 

Next was a brief visit to the town of Kotor, in Montenegro. At the end of a deep bay, it spreads up the hills as walls were constructed for its protection. Delightfully lit at night, we were able to see it after dark as Corinthian sailed after dusk. 

Lighted walls extend up the mountain

Lighted walls extend up the mountain

Back in Croatia, we spent the next day in Korcula, on one of Croatia's many islands in the Adriatic. Another outstanding medieval town, we especially enjoyed a trip to a local winery and tastings of their wine and grappa. Photos are here. 


While John and the main group visited Mostar, we extension folks were sent to Ston and Mali Ston. We started with wine tasting at 9 am and continued into a lovely fish meal (they use hair dryers to fan the flames!) Pictures are here.

Hvar, another island town, enchanted us next. 

Split was our next town, back on the mainland of Croatia. We spent a fair amount of time visiting the home/gallery of the sculptor Mestrovic, who eventually lived and worked in the United States. We quite enjoyed his art and many of his works.I photographed here. The city was a fascinating combination of old and new and we greatly enjoyed our time there.

Game of Thrones was filmed in many Croatian sites. We thought we recognized this modern sculpture

Game of Thrones was filmed in many Croatian sites. We thought we recognized this modern sculpture

Our last stop in Croatia was in the charming island town of Rab, dedicated to St. Someone, patron saint of those threatened or afflicted with the plague.  Photos are here.

Last, but certainly not least, Corinthian sailed into Venice. During breakfast, we passed San Marco and the Grand Canal and docked for our disembarkation. John and I had opted for the post-extension tour, which was terrific, and included a water taxi to the airport on our departure date. What a glorious city!

We spent a lovely afternoon finding, and enjoying, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. My pictures of Venice are here. 


Boston May 30 - June 1, 2014

John had work in Boston, so Kathy went along for the ride. Lunched with Peter and Kallista Friday at the Barking Crab. Saturday brought a whale watching trip with lots of whales. Brunched near the Long Wharf with all four kids on Sunday before our flight home. A perfect weekend!

NYC Visit May 12-15, 2014

I had a second opportunity to visit NYC in May of this year, a second chance to see Mark in his play, and an umpteenth chance to see NYC as a tourist. 

The photo above was taken from our hotel room at the Millennium Hilton, overlooking Ground Zero, but most of my pictures were from a bus. While John worked, I spent most of my time on hop-on, hop-off buses, seeing New York as a tourist. What a treat! I learned so much (most of which I've forgotten already!) and ventured into parts of the city that weren't safe 30 years ago. Mark, of course, was splendid in his play and I better understood on a second visit what the playwright, director and actors were communicating in Family Play. We were also able to see Mark's roommate and Juilliard classmate, Gayle Rankin, in Cabaret, she's at the far left in this photo, a play of cheerful songs and very unhappy endings. She was awesome, of course. 

Duluth May 8, 2014

It was cold, windy, with severe weather watches, but I decided to drive to Duluth anyway. It was my last opportunity to see Bethany's self-portrait exhibit at UMD Duluth, so I went.

Duluth harbor, looking southeast

Duluth harbor, looking southeast

Yes, there really was still ice on Lake Superior in the Duluth harbor!