There were definitely some bad days and frightening days…hard days to
get through. It’s really a great feeling of accomplishment making it from one
day to the next. Now you wake up and it’s like, “Gotta go to Home Depot. It’s
kind of boring.”
Quote in Newspaper
We Truly HOPE that You Don’t Find this TOO BORING!
On that day, March 11, 2006, it was hard to believe that we’d been away for almost 4 years. Unlike the wonderful re-union with family and friends in San Diego, our real homecoming ceremony was nearly rained out. It lasted a few wet moments, we hugged and talked and promised to get together soon. Suddenly, we were alone. Not that we’re not used to being alone but it felt lonelier and we couldn’t figure out why. We were both quiet as we pushed toward the Casa Serena Hotel. Shock, they had no rooms? The place is crawling with Seabees, the Construction Battalion Navy guys are here, waiting to ship out to Iraq. Whew, they found a room but we had to wait while the made it up. You may remember that we spent our last night in town back in ‘02’ here. A moment more of family, Daughter Stephanie and her friend, John brought La Imp, our old rusty car, to us. They insisted that we go next door to the Lobster trap and have a celebratory glass of wine. Since we’d never met John, we sipped and talked. He seems like a very nice guy. A Cabinet maker.
First things first, we drove La Imp to the market and got roasted chicken. Another evening spent sitting on the bed eating dinner, will it be our last? A hot shower, a good food and bottle of wine yet the hollow feeling remained? What now? Find a place to rent until the house we bought just 2 weeks before we left is vacated. Talk of this new lifestyle interspersed with memories of places and experiences continued in the darkened Hotel Room. Memories of the road seem to cloud the vision of tomorrow’s new adventure. Our guide has been the road ahead of us these past four years. Now, we have to set a course, choose direction and move forward without a map. We’re used to facing the unknown which was actually one of our favorite parts of the journey, looking forward to the top of the hill ahead or of crossing into the next Country. This new feeling of uncertainty is more foreign to us now than any of the 57 countries we’ve passed through. We think that we feel more trepidation today than on that day when we took the Ferry to Africa.
Keep Those Presses Rollin’
Thanks to friends Curt and Nancy, Tracy at KEYT-TV called. We set an appointment on the beach and taped a fairly in-depth interview. Local news, local views. It aired a few days later and we got lots of e-mails welcoming us back. Todd, the Video Guru for LandRider Bicycles came down for a final hurrah, too. We met him in a nearby park and talked about the trip, the bikes and the strange feeling of being back home. Todd has been great to us and Brian, the owner of LandRider, has agreed to provide us copies of the video work they’ve done these past 4 years.
On day 3 we rented a cute little 1 bedroom furnished Condominium. It felt homey in a temporary sort of way. We have a sunset view of the beautiful Channel Islands Harbor. Opening our storage unit was scary, like Halloween. To begin with, we can’t find the key to the padlock? A thorough search that turned up nothing so, we had to have the lock cut off. Inside, our household goods were covered in a grey, ghostly coat of dust and cobwebs hung everywhere. Adding a few of our things to our new home made us feel a little more at home. It’s strange, driving La Imp and tough to get that big boat into our tight, underground parking space.
Pat, Cat, the Kids & St. Pat’s
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ventura, started by Jim Monahan when he was Mayor, has grown. The Parade seemed to be a fun way to reconnect with our community. We got up early and met Daughter Steph and Grandkids, Timothy, Patrick and Aubrie. They drove La Imp, we cycled the route. Son-in-Law Dave has rigged up a kill switch that shoots fire from the tail pipes. As the parade formed up we took a spot in front of a group of Brownies and Girl Scouts. When Stephanie tested the switch it really scared the girls. The Scout master came to us requesting that they march in front rather than behind the car. We cycled the parade route, Steph and the kids followed in La Imp. Hard to tell which got the most attention? All great fun and we saw lots of old friends and made new acquaintances.
One way to get back in the swing of things and re-unite with friends is to accept their invitations to dinner. They enjoy hearing of our adventures and we love just being back in touch. The food’s great the wine, fine and you can’t beat the price. Al has been a pal and provided Pest Control Service and Mold Remediation for us in the Real Estate sales days. His wife Geri is a school teacher, high school math. Michele is a Realtor, her husband Clint a builder and they along with Teresa not only put on a great feed but challenged Cat to her first Golf Game since returning. Gale worked with us for 8 years selling Real Estate at Patterson & Tintorri. You may remember that Gale and her husband Marvin AKA “Doc” met us in Santiago Chile. We spent thanksgiving with them there in 2004. A real treat for us even though it didn’t include Turkey and the trimmin’s.
A Day at the Races
Catherine’s parents, Earl and Glenys, are really happy that we’re back home. They worried way too much, awe the love of Mom’s and Dad’s. They were there for us on April 12, 2002, the day we set off and were at the Mexican Border the day we crossed back into the US, March 4, 2006. They’ve been members of the Santa Anita Turf club for 45 years. For Earl & Glenys a real Home Coming and Birthday Celebration deserves a day at the races. The real icing on the cake, Russ and Lisa from Minnesota were in town. (Remember them? They hosted a great party on the 4th of July, 2002 in Hastings, MN.) Of course when you’ve been Members of the Turf Club as long as Earl and Glenys have the staff does special things for your 85th . Cat’s Brother Jeff and wife Mikee were there, too. Jay Cohen the Official Santa Anita horn blower came to the table and played Happy Birthday for Glenys.
Close Quarters Condo
Our first and only visitors to the Waterfront Condo were Wayne & Kristine. You remember, the couple we met on the Internet way back in ‘02’. They also met us at the Mexican Border and cycled with us to their home in Laguna. We know you’ll remember Amber, their dog that rides in a trailer behind Wayne’s bicycle. They slept on the living room floor. We had to retrieve a mattress from storage to accommodate them. What a great time we had comparing notes of travels past. They’d just returned from 7 months cycling in South East Asia. Though many say that finding love on the Internet is difficult our love for them was instant and grew as we shared time together. Showing off our favorite places here helped us rekindle our love for Ventura County, too. It really is a wonderful place to live if one has to live a “normal” life. (As we write this Wayne and Kristine are cycling with their 15 year old Grandson in New Zealand.)
Insurance and Drivers License
Lest we forget the more mundane, there are always those irritating little details that seem to fill way too many days. I’ve been driving with an expired License. Didn’t even realize it until I tried to cash a check. We’re sure that the employees at DMV try hard but nothing seems more difficult or exasperating than standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. As fate would have it there was no line, the woman at the window motioned me right in. After initial paper work she had me take a seat. In moments I was taking and failing the eye test. Coming into the darkened office from the bright sunlight was my excuse. To no avail, they rescheduled and insisted that I bring eye glasses next time. Awe geez, more time to worry about taking the test and then, having to wear glasses when driving. So, back a week later and it was the typical pandemonium. Long lines at every window and a 30 minute wait. I got to the window, glasses in hand but asked if they would let me try it without them, first. I passed with flying colors. The lesson, always go to the DMV when the lines are longest.
Oh, and Insurance. One of the best things about aging is that at 65 you’re eligible for Medicare. Why you ask would a fellow wait until they’re 67 to enroll? One of the worst features of the plan is that it’s only affective in the United States. Most Elder Travelers from other countries are covered no matter where they’re injured or may become ill. Not so here? To add confusion, our Government has added a new and very complicated Prescription Drug Plan to the mix. Don’t get me wrong, we’re grateful to have the coverage but it’s a real maze of paperwork to get through and few ever understand it. After flailing around we tried to find our Blue Cross Agent. She is no longer with them and the Company now controls our account. Imagine trying to get answers from those damned automated answering machines? Finally, frustrated completely, we went to a local office, requested that Blue Cross allow them to handle our account and at last, got answers. It only took us 10 days to work through their “no human contact” system and find a real live agent.
Those Knees and Those Doctors
Resolved to continue exercising we began walking for an hour one day then cycling for 2 the next. Walking is as foreign to us now as Africa was back then. Shortly, however, my left knee began to give me a problem. It’s the one that has had Arthroscopic Surgery and the one that has given me occasional trouble over the years. Before long I was back to daily cycling. Cat continued her walk/jog regimen but rode with me every other day.
In April and May I had X-Rays, shots of cortisone and 6 weeks of Physical Therapy. No improvement in fact my right knee began to ache, too. The next attempt at cure was acupuncture for 5 weeks. Still no relief so we made a trip to UCLA Medical Center. More X-Rays no real conclusion. Next, 3 visits per week for 6 weeks with Dr. Wilson, the Chiropractor. He studied the X-Rays and sent me to another Orthopedic Surgeon. Dr. Mazurek decided that I was tough enough to have both knees cleaned out at the same time. He performed the surgeries just a week before Christmas. I was bedridden the first week and on crutches for the next 4. Now 2 ½ months later the knees still hurt but are improving. I’m again cycling and working out, trying to lose some of this baby fat.
Laissez Le Bon Ton Rouler
Acadiana Throws a Party
Acadiana is alive and well though founder Terry Tintorri has gone on to that big dance floor in the sky. In fact they appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show for Mardi Gras last year. Teresa, the Guitar Lady has taken the lead and she insisted on throwing a welcome home Pat & Cat party. What a fun day with old friends and new. Michele, Teresa’s sister and a fellow Realtor out did herself making a huge banner with maps of our journey. The sounds of joy, laughter and Cajun Music filled Pirates Grub ‘n’ Grog. Jim, the artist who sculpted “Tin Knuckles”, in my likeness was there. Our CPA Don rolled in on his Harley. Beth, my Secretary 20 years ago and her husband and an assortment of other friends drifted in and out all afternoon. A real treat, Michael and Jeannie, the couple we met on the Amazon, were there with Michael’s Mom & Dad. Our neighbor and original singer with the band, Michael Irwin, took the microphone and wowed us. We danced, I even took a turn on the rub board. All in all a wonderful day full of family and friends.
The Most Beautiful Country in the World?
Hundreds of times on the road we were asked what our favorite country is. We’d look at each other then say, in unison, “California”. Well it is the 4th largest economy in the world and it does have a lot of beauty and a terrific climate. We hadn’t forgotten but the memory of Ventura County had dimmed. We re-established our love affair with her. In spring she really shines. From strawberry fields to snow capped mountains. You must come visit sometime!
A Quick Trip to Palm Springs
Friends, Al and Geri purchased a home in the desert near Palm Springs while we were away. They invited us to spend 4 days with them. The weather was a balmy 90 degrees when we were there in May. It was mostly a hang around time but Cat and Geri did slip in a game of golf.
Catching up With Grandkids
These guys, Timothy, Patrick and Aubrie were just 10, 8 and 6 when we began our journey. Now Timothy is a teenager, even has a Girl Friend. Patrick’s studies have gone so well that he’s in the GATE Program. (Gifted Students) Aubrie knows things about computers that are beyond our comprehension and she’s already talking about College. We’ve been trying to be with them as much as possible. Taking in a movie, having them over for a bar-b-que, and being there at school events for them. Timothy is now a Sophomore (10th Grade) in High School. He’s very tall and his hair is very long. Patrick participated in a Colonialism program as a fisherman. He also graduated from elementary to Middle school. (6th to 7th grade) Aubrie took part in her school open house program called California Gold. A sort of musical history of California and the 49er’s that came searching for gold and helped found this wonderful State. Also for the first time in 5 years we were here to celebrate each of their birthdays. Guess that’s what family’s all about.
Stephanie has changed jobs, now working with Assisted Living, a firm that provides in-home help for people handicapped by age or health. It’s stressful, assigning Nurses and others then making sure they cover their positions. She likes it and, it pays better than her job in the Doctor’s Office did. Oh, and she’s got a steady boyfriend, John. They’ve been dating for more than 2 years.
Back to Business (But not as Usual!)
No, we won’t be opening another Real Estate Company. Neither of us have the desire to shoulder that kind of responsibility or liability. The first job we signed on for is House Sitting. Our friends, Stuart and Cindi, have a home in Idaho that they love to spend time visiting. They also have 4 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a bird that need loving care and attention while they’re away. They pay us well and we like the ambiance of their wonderful home. Their kids often go with them and 2 are in College so we don’t have teenagers that often. They even took the dogs to Idaho for Christmas. We stayed in “The Villa” for 2 weeks over the holidays. Not bad duty. Stuart and Cindi also have Cat working in their office part time as Project Manager. Cat’s energy is boundless so having the other half of part time, she has associated with Sotheby’s International Realty, too. There she does floor time, that’s what they call covering the office and fielding calls. She has also been doing Open Houses on weekends. Sotheby’s is actually our old office. We sold Patterson & Tintorri Realtors to Joanie and Richard Young and they in turn sold to Sotheby’s. Many of her fellow Associates there were part of our firm. It’s like old home week when ever we go into the office. Stuart and Cindi own properties and had a 5 acre parcel in escrow when we returned. The Escrow was since cancelled. They saw an advantage in having their own Real Estate firm thus I now Broker Damian Vance Realty. We’re a small focused firm marketing their 5 acres, with plans to build an Alzheimer/Assisted Living Facility. So you see, though we aren’t immersed in Real Estate like we once were we are in fact keeping quite busy.
The Joy of Visitors and Old Friends
Soon after we finally were able to move into our house our pals from Mexico, David and Eileen came visiting. You remember them, the couple I met on a bicycle trip in France back in 1986. They found us on the Internet and insisted that we get to their place in Ajijic overlooking Lake Chapala, for Christmas 2005. They’re on the way to Chicago with a layover here. We really enjoyed hosting them, showing them around and enjoying their company. Another interesting aside from our return, the Newspaper article prompted a gal, Melanie, to call. She and I worked together more than 30 years ago. She called another gal, Marion, and arranged for the 6 of us to enjoy an evening and dinner. Plenty of pasta, nostalgia and reminiscing. Another couple, Bill and Norma also called and invited us to meet their son and his family as he was cycled in the AIDS Ride. They worked Real Estate with me for several years starting back in the 1970s. I failed to get their picture but did get a couple of the riders in costume.
Retired, They’re too Young!
Michael and Lelani helped in financing Real Estate as Loan Officers for many years. They worked hard, saved, invested and are now ready to kick back and follow the surf. Way too young to retire to a rocking chair, they are planning on camping the Mexican Coast and catching waves then sailing off into the sunset to who knows where? Dinner at their place, more good food and conversation. Leaving, I stood and waved my arms sending a treasured ornament crashing to the floor. So, we now owe them an ornament and dinner.
A Big Trip, A Wedding, and Family
Our Nephew from Oregon, Jerry, got married at Lake Tahoe. The wedding offered an opportunity to travel as a complete family for 5 days. Dave & Lori followed us. Steph and the kids rode along. Up the coast, we stayed over n Monterey and spent a day at the Aquarium. In Tahoe we rented a house and lived like one big happy family. Brother Bob and his son, Mike were there and of course parents of the Groom, Sister Joan and Bro-in-Law Bill attended. Do you recall that they met us in Reno back in ‘02’? They were all there to meet us in San Diego, too, but here we had more time to spend talking and catching up on family. The wedding of Jerry and Cheri, was simple and sweet. They had their Van decorated with a sign that said, “Just Married, Familymoon”. Jerry has a daughter and Cheri 2 children from previous marriages. The evening after the wedding our niece Chris and her 2 girls, Brother Bob and Mike ate drank and made merry until the wee hours. They all stayed over, sleeping on the floor and scattered around the house. A real family event!
The Line Up, Family Tradition
Our Mom always had to take pictures of the 4 of us in what we called “The Lineup” when we were kids. We continue the tradition whenever we get together. So, in San Diego we lined up with Brother Jerry’s headstone and here in Tahoe just the 3 of us. Sort of an ongoing record of our little family.
On the Road, AGAIN
The family disbursed in varying directions and we went visiting. A leisurely drive around beautiful lake Tahoe then a night in Reno. Neither Cat nor I enjoy gambling so the evening was sort of anti-climactic. The next morning we cross back over Donner Pass and remembered my being dizzy, unable to ride and taking our first pickup truck ride. Down to Rocklyn, we had a re-run visit with Mike and Kat. Back in ’02 we made this same stop as we passed through on the bikes. Mike and Kat were also there when we crossed into the USA and Mike cycled with us into San Diego. It was Mike that introduced us to what he called a family member, Lestor in Ecuador. (Mike’s Nephew is married to Lestor’s sister. Thanks to that connection we spent time with Lestor and family in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He was also very helpful in buying a camera to replace the one lost in our robbery. And he helped arrange our visit to the Galapagos Islands.) We had the bikes on the back of our car so, we 3 took another ride around Rocklyn. More good food and wine. More catching up conversation.
Just a short drive into Sacramento then south and we spent an afternoon and enjoyable evening on Robert and Sharon’s farm. Quasi relatives, Sharon is Cat’s brother’s wife’s sister. (Folks in some parts of the world, like Ecuador, consider this relationship as close family and so do we.) Robert and Sharon also came to see us cross from TJ into San Diego and maintained contact via e-mail for our entire journey. Sharon sort of timed a trip to see her daughter and grandkids to coincide with our arrival when we cycled into Chicago back in ‘02’. Close relatives or not, they’ve always been on our favorite peoples list. Another evening full of stories, food and fun.
Next stop, Sausalito and a 3 day stay with Todd, Cindi and their ever so cute son, Luke. Todd, as you remember, is the cameraman and does editing for the LandRider Bicycle Infomercials. They live in a huge old mansion just off the main street of Sausalito. We walked the streets and rekindled our love for this quaint little town. One morning we cycled up to then across the Golden Gate Bridge. What a gorgeous place, what a beautiful little family.
As fate would have it our dear friends, Franklin & Aura were in Sausalito one evening for a Portuguese Dance. What, you ask, are a Polish guy and Irish gal doing at a Portuguese Dance? Well, the Polish guy is ½ Portuguese. His Mother’s family have very deep roots in the Bay Area. Many are Dairy Farmers and have been for generations. You may also remember our stay with Franklin and Aura and their Irish/Polish Pancakes in ‘02’. They also met us in Portugal too. (Sorry no pictures of that. We lost them when our computers were stolen there.) Awe but what fun we had at the dance. Franklin and Aura are Music Festival Promoters and do they love to dance. While we were away Aura suffered a devastating stroke. Doctors performed brain surgery to relieve the pressure but had problems during the procedure. Aura is now a walking, talking miracle. Fewer than 1% ever recover from the complications she endured.
Just around the corner and up the coast 30 miles or so lies the quaint little village of Stinson Beach and friends, David and Barbara. We first met this couple in Coutonou, Benin. Yes, in Africa. David is Professor of African Studies and has had several books on the subject published. Though we only spent a couple of days with them in Africa we feel a special bond. They’re wonderful, thoughtful people. Barbara is a naturalist. She works in a local bookstore and at the nearby Audubon Center. Though the Park was closed Barbara pulled rank and we were allowed to hike to the top of the hill and enjoy the pines, view of the pacific and of course the Birds. A terrific home made dinner and of course great California Wine topped off the day. We slept on a mattress in front of the stone fireplace they built by hand.
These past 4 years of travel have taught us flexibility. Our plan to go into San Francisco was thwarted by cold, damp fog. So, we set our sites further up coast and inland. We’ll go to Healdsburg and the wine country then back to the Bay. And a very good plan it turned out to be. The coast was a gorgeous, sunny drive and it was actually hot in the wine Sonoma County’s wine region. Seems that many other tourists were flocking to the sunshine, too. We had a bit of a struggle finding a room but ended up in a wonderful B&B. Vineyards are vineyards you say? Well we’ve certainly visited them worldwide but there’s a certain feeling of home connected with these in California. A bike ride up the valley and a musical concert in the park topped off the day. If you haven’t been, we heartily recommend a visit.
The fog has lifted and sun fills the Bay Area. Do you remember Hank & Lucienne the couple we met in Paris, France? Hank had a flat tire and as fate would have it our paths crossed as he pushed back toward home. They live in Berkeley but have a Condo here in Paris. His bad luck became a great stroke of good luck for us. Being Sunday Hank explained that they block the street along the River Seine to traffic. It’s reserved for walking, cycling and roller skating. Hank became our personal tour guide as we cycled the streets of Paris. That night we had dined together fell in love with them! They are so cosmopolitan. He a writer she and educator. She was 45 and he 30 when they married in San Francisco. They still look fantastic, 35 years later. Both cycle, eat healthy and stay fit. Hank arranged a meeting of several of their Oakland cycling friends and we did a little picture and stories presentation for them. Nice people, great fun! Hank gave us another tour, this time driving the streets of Oakland. He has been instrumental in getting many of Oakland’s streets designated as Bicycle Paths. He took us up to the top of the hills and we enjoyed a spectacular view of the entire Bay Area. The next morning he had meetings but Lucienne took us for an invigorating 12 mile bike ride. The terrain is hilly and she cranked up a pace that few 80 year olds could match!
The desire to be in “The City” found us shopping Hotels on Priceline.com. Not cheap but we did find a pretty good price, for San Francisco. We spent a leisurely couple of days just walking the streets and enjoying the sights and sounds. Of course we Also took advantage of the wonderful restaurants and wines, too. One afternoon we visited Franklin and Aura. Franklin was having a Yard Sale. I joined in the fun, talking with customers. The best was watching Franklin. He loves everything and hates to let anything go. Aura was taking it easy so Cat sat bedside and they talked girl talk.
On our travel day we set off early and got to Fresno by noon. We met Kent and Joyce while touring Brazil, at Iguazu Falls. Though we have no pictures with them we do have memories. Sitting next to each other at dinner we discovered that they’re from Fresno. Kent is a Doctor and Joyce a Dietician. Lost at least 3 times they finally talked us into their home via telephone. They have a large, unique, custom home. Their 2 kids are upper teens and good students. Kent had to hustle to the hospital on call. Joyce led us to BJs, a nice restaurant. We talked then finally ordered and were in the midst of sandwiches when Kent finally got there. What nice people, what a nice family!
Pressing onward, southward, we made it to Bakersfield late in the afternoon. Friends Ron & Bev were there to greet us though it took some doing for us to find their house. Remember them? They met us in Rosarito Beach and we spent a couple of day with them before we cycled back into the USA. Ron and I have been friends for 30 years. He was my banker until he moved to AG Edwards and became our Stock Broker. In earlier days he and I traveled with our then spouses to New Zealand one year and Greece the next. He and I even shared a condo during single days. A real life “Odd Couple.” Ron is the Felix type who needs a place for everything and everything in its place. I, like Oscar, don’t mind clutter. We drove each other a little crazy.
Rebuilding an Old Rental House
Funny story this house. We bought it in an exchange just 2 weeks before we cycled away back in ‘02’. Fresh paint and new carpet and it looked good enough to rent. Our tenants weren’t easy on her. The first had dogs that pretty much ruined the carpet. The last group had 3 guys living with them. They said it was 2 sons and a friend but we believe they were probably renting the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms. At any rate it was in pretty sad shape when they finally vacated.
The carpet cleaners did and re-did 3 times. Though it looked bad it did start to smell better. So, we decided to move in and renovate as we could. First step, unload the spooky storage space. Most of what we kept doesn’t fit too well but will have to do, for now. The wicker and knotty pine that looked great at the beach doesn’t seem to fit this neighborhood. After a hard days work we got all the precious junk we’ve been saving moved to the house. That night we sat in candle light and had a pizza while we sipped our vino. Sure doesn’t feel like home but then, what has felt like home for these past 4 years? We’re sort of made for this circumstance.
Lots of elbow Greece and a few of our pictures began to make a difference. I found a wonderful place that enlarges and mounts our photos. They copy them on Water Color Paper and they look almost like paintings. So, with this little progress we decided to do our fist bit of entertaining. Friends, Ron & Bev, Mike & Kat, Curt & Nancy and Mary and Sagee joined us. Thanks goodness for Sagee and his Barbeque prowess, He Q’ed up chicken, beef and sausage. We had a wonderful evening catching up, eating and of course sippin’.
Hangin’ Around The Home Depot
At this printing we continue to re-build and add to the place as we can. Rather than carpet we chose a stone floor in most of the downstairs area. It looks wonderful and should hold up, even if we rent to folks like our former tenants. Still a long way to go but we’re taking it one step at a time. Shopping around for the best materials and furnishing as the best prices. For a time it really did feel like we were living at The Home Depot. It’s starting to shape up nicely. Hope you can stop in and visit sometime!
More Visitors Met While Cycling
In August Mike & Cheri stopped by and spent an afternoon with us. Remember them? We met them on the street in La Paz, Mexico. They have a boat there and have been slowly exploring the coast of Mexico and Central America. They’re headed up the coast to Oregon. They’ll leave their camper in the south, take the train north then cycle back. We urged them to stop on the way back down but they’re headed to Colorado once they get that bit of cycling under their belts. What a fun couple. We’ll definitely see more of them. They live near San Diego, when not sailing or cycling!
Welch Family Reunion
At 87, Earl is the last living of his 9 siblings. He was so excited when the Hastings, Minnesota clan sent word that his niece Helen was getting married and the family would wrap a reunion around the event. Of course we had to go, wouldn’t miss it for the world. We know many of them due to our stop there while cycling. Remember we spent the 4th of July, 2002 poolside with them? A middle of the night departure, a screw up with the Airport Shuttle and it was “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” down the freeways of Los Angeles.
An 87 Year Old Terrorist
The ATF people checked all our luggage and moved it through until they came to Earl & Glenys’. Seems the detected explosives residue? Close to late for the plane, they took their sweet time, talking with him, calling a Supervisor then emptying all contents onto the table. They were thorough, Earl and Glenys were embarrassed. Then the shoe removal. Pretty hard for me, with bad knees, to get down and unlace. For them, we had to drag a chair around and accept the scorn of the Guards for doing so. Damn you, Shoe Bomber.
The flight was bumpy but a safe arrival always helps sooth the nerves. The family went on in a rented van, to Hastings. Cat & I had arranged for Joe, who we met at Lake Titicaca to pick us up. He, wife Rose, Tom and Colet all live here, where the plane landed, in Minneapolis. Joe gave us a wonderful tour of the City with a special stop at the Non-Profit he founded that continues to assist the poor and homeless in finding shelter and work training. A glass of wine with Joe and Rose when she got home from work then we met Tom & Colet at a wonderful local restaurant. A lot of talk about the great day we spent exploring the Floating Islands of Titicaca over more nice wine and good food.
Sorry, I can’t find the photo of the 6 of us taken there? We do have this one of us together at the Lake.
We spent the night with Joe and Rose then he drove us the 30 miles to Hastings. What a great guy, this former Catholic Priest now a very liberal thinking lay-person.
The Reunion was just that, a huge Family Reunion. It was great fun and brought back memories of our trip here in ‘02’. They’re a terrific family and we feel good knowing that it was our visit that touched off a closeness that had been missing for quite a few years among the Welches. Five days of getting to know them and exploring Earl’s childhood home. We even found a little town named for the original settlers, Welch, Minnesota. Relatives?
A Wondrous Wedding
Cat’s cousin, Helen and Les were High School Sweethearts of at least friends then drifted on in life, married others and had kids. After many family years the both found themselves widowed and both drifted back to Hastings and memories. A happenchance meeting led to a whirlwind romance and now a merging of their families. Everyone, her kids and his and the rest of the family, fully support their lives together. The wedding was a Lutheran affair, the dinner and reception were home grown Minnesotan. A huge hall on the River for dinner then a bar full of well wishers and a real party. One of the best things of the whole affair, we spent time with Cat’s Brother and Sister-in-Law, Jeff and Mikee. Though we’ve been together almost 15 years, Cat & I have not been able to be with them. We all hope to continue this new found closeness.
Dave’s 40th Birthday Party
Another great reason to party? Son-in-Law Dave’s 40th Birthday. Lori is a party planner and she wanted a 60s costume party. She hired one of Dave’s favorite Lounge Singers, Phil Shane. Of course it was a surprise, sort of. A friend of Dave’s spirited him away early, we arrived and helped set up. Lori insisted that we had to come in costume and drove us to a local shop. So, Cat became a 60s Hippy and I, a Rasta Man.
Dave came in and was almost overwhelmed by the 40+ friends who’d gathered in his honor. Everyone got into the costume action and loved the music. We acted as photographers but definitely had a good time. Even on bad knees, The Cat and I did a turn or two around the dance floor.
Patrick’s 12th Birthday
So our Patrick took another step into the aging process. He got to choose his dinner. For some reason he still likes The Olive Garden Restaurant. Not one of our favorites but we did have a good time. Even had Uncle Howard joined us. We haven’t seen each other in years. From that little party we have re-struck a new level of friendship. His wife passed away a couple of months ago and he is looking for ways to spend time and enjoy himself after the loss.
Thanksgiving With the Welch Clan
Earl and Glenys’ home is a wonderful place for family gatherings. They have lived there for more than 40 years. It has been the gathering place for holidays for all those years. This, our first Thanksgiving together in 5 years was especially special for us. We spent the night with them then helped with setting up, cooking and clean up. Cat’s Brother and Sis-in-Law have 3 kids. All are married. The 2 elders, Wendy and Brian have 2 boys, Trevor and Riley. Their son, David and wife Christine have 2, Dylan and Nicole. Holly and Greg are newly wed. We missed the wedding. Aren’t we a handsome lot?
Christmas at the Villa
Our friends, Stuart and Cindi wanted snow for Christmas. They took the kids and headed for Idaho. We moved into the Villa for the Holidays. The place is gorgeous complete with pool, spa and vineyard. Our immediate family and then some gathered there and celebrated together. The gift giving, a traditional meal and of course a nice bottle of California wine added ambience to the occasion. Even Stephanie’s Mom, Judy, stopped by. Our first Family Christmas in 5 years. Yes, we spent 4 Christmas’s on the road.
Celeste & Santa Anita
I’m sure that we’ve mentioned our Adopted Mom, Celeste at various times in our journals. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona but was able to visit us between Christmas and New years. Celeste, in all her 93 years, has never seen a horse race. Earl and Glenys put out the invitation and we enjoyed a beautiful year end day at Santa Anita. Uncle Howard was a handicapper in his day so we asked him to tag along. As always, going to the Horse Races with Earl and Glenys is much more than just horses and betting. It’s an afternoon wrapped around a nice lunch and wine with horses and betting almost as an aside. Crowds at Santa Anita have thinned over the years, especially since they started off track betting. It’s like a step back 40 years, being there. Earl and Glenys know all the regulars. Lots of socializing and sharing wagering ideas. Very relaxing and retro.
Randy and Nancy of Colorado began cycling south from Invunik, Northwest Territories in Canada last year. They found our web-site and sent an e-mail taking us up on our offer of food and shelter for cyclists passing by our area. We waited anxiously then drove out and met them as they rode into Ventura. What a fun couple. They are anxious to talk with us about our experiences south of the border. They plan to go all the way to Ushuiai, the southern tip of South America, a reverse of our journey. We just love to hear stories of cycle touring. Leading them into town, we stopped at a favorite restaurant for a sandwich. While eating we saw another couple, Morgan and Gwen riding up Main Street. Randy and Nancy ran out and hailed them down. They had met them somewhere up north and were surprised that their paths were now crossing, again. That stroke of luck led to us having a full house. Both couples spent the night at our place. (We were house sitting The Villa so had plenty of room at our house.) Once they had settled in we went to the Villa and Cat prepared a meal fit for Road Warriors. I drove back and delivered them to The Villa. We enjoyed a great evening of “Tails of the Trail”.
You can find stories of Nancy & Randy’s trip on their web-site at
www.HoboBiker.com . They’re in Mexico as we write this entry. As for Morgan and Gwen, they’re both from Canada. Met while cycling and joined forces. They work at spending no money as they travel. Always sleeping out, working in shelters and Food Share Programs and being paid in food, even dumpster diving. Last we heard, Gwen had a slight encounter with a car in Mexico. Randy and Nancy e-mailed that she was considering going back home then we heard from them later that the kids were still out there, cruising Mexico.
Scott is another brave young Canadian cycling south who caught us on the web and e-mailed. Though not as dedicated to cycling every kilometer or for us US folks, mile, he’s heading for Central America then lay take a Tall Ship back up the East Coast. After an evening of stories of his adventure and some brain picking of us, he spent the night then a friend that lives nearby came by and picked him up. He and his friend, Bentley, were volunteer crew on a Tall Ship last year. They sailed down the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. Bentley came by in his pickup and picked Scott and bike up. They’re going to meet the crew of a Tall Ship that just pulled into our Channel Islands harbor. He’ll spend a day or 2 with Bentley then cycle southward to Central America. There he hopes to hop a Tall Ship that is sailing back to New York. What a life, ‘eh’, as they say in Canada?
One True Delight in Being Back Home is Having Visitors
Marcin The Traveling Polish Guy
We first met Marcin in Greenland on a tragic day. The nice lady who met us, Dorothe, told us that we would share the hostel with one other, a young guy who’s Father had died. We pulled into a Hostel on the Island of Narsaq, settled in then went to the bar. We asked about the young guy and the Bartender told us that is was his girl friend that had died. In fact she was killed just this morning as they attempted to cross a rain swollen creek. When he, Ruud, came in it was pretty difficult. He went right to his room then re-immerged when another young guy, Marcin from Poland, came to get him. When they returned Marcin had to leave to catch a plane. Poor Ruud had his girlfriend Sonja’s back pack and soaked clothing. It was very emotional, watching and helping him hang he wet things out on the line. We adopted him, made him eat and tried to comfort him as he awaited Sonja’s Father and dealt with the local authorities. We would meet, even stay with him later in Holland. That was a year late ad he was still struggling with the loss. He’s now married and has a little girl. The 3 of us, Ruud, Marcin, Cat and I have always maintained contact. We met Marcin and his soon to be wife, Magda, while we were in Posnan, Poland in 2003.
Marcin is a Professor of Linguistics in Poland. He came to California to present a paper on, of all things, the Algonquin Language. You know, those East Coast Native Americans. He made his highly praised presentation in Anaheim then took the train up to visit us. After a couple of days with us he bussed to LAX and flew to Hawaii. No not for fun in the sun but to hike the Volcano there. Still an adventurer! He returned in a week and spent another day and a half with us before flying back home to Poland.
Juergen & Helga, The German Connection
Memories of Germany and a cold winter were softened by the warmth of our visit with Juergen and Helga. He is now a retired Real Estate Professional. They followed our web-site and as we approached them, invited us to stay in their Condo. Despite the cold we enjoyed a couple of days getting to know the area and learning of their lives before they came to Ventura. Both were raised in pre-WWII Germany. Juergen’s family still owns and operates a dairy farm that has been owned by the Ohrt’s for 400 years. Helga’s family, too, were farmers on land they’d owned for more than 400 years. As the plot of WWII thickened her families land became a part of Poland. Unfortunately, they have lost it forever? Politics! They were there at our old office waiting in the rain as we cycled back in. I saw an article bout Senior Citizens health with Helga’s picture which inspired us to call. Juergen has invited us to speak at his Lion’s Club in May. They came to see our first ever public presentation that we’ll discuss later.
The Danish Family’s Youngest Son
Way back in 1989 I came upon a Danish Family traveling the world in a Van. That was on the border of Pakistan and China. Hjalte, the baby of the family was just 3 years old then. I have pictures but they’re still buried in storage so you’ll have to take my word for it. The family stopped here in 1993 on their next big around the world trip. They took a year to drive south to Ushuaia then back. We visited them in Denmark in 2001 then stayed with them when we drove Lil’ Scotty back to the north in Europe in 2003.
Now Hjalte and his friend, Nielsen, are on their own around the world tour. They have global Airline Tickets and are taking a year to see and the world. What an experience for a couple of 21 year old guys. They spent a week in New York City then flew to visit us. A couple of days here then we loaned them our little car and they drove to San Francisco, over the hills to Lake Tahoe then south to Mammoth Mountain for a few days of snow boarding then Las Vegas. Last stop on the tour, the hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately as they drove back toward us the little car conked out in Needles, California. That’s about as far from nowhere or anywhere as you can get. Towed in, they had to rent a car to get back to us. My Brother Bob and I went up a few days later and towed the car home. The boys were already in Fiji and on a warm beach by then. They are such thoughtful young guys. On the morning they were leaving they told us they had a little business to take care of. When they returned they had a lovely tree. As gift for us to keep in our atrium. You know, it’s hard not to love people like this, right?
What a pleasant surprise, a visit from Cousin Wayne and his wife Janet. Snow Birding down from Idaho to escape the cold they pulled into Ventura County and we spent 4 wonderful days together. A bit of family catching up and local sight seeing. Wayne’s Father was my Dad’s older brother. They lived in Nebraska when we were young so we saw them seldom. My family left northern Idaho when I was only 4 years old. We lived in Spokane, Washington for the next 10 years then moved south to California. When Wayne’s family moved back to Idaho they settled in the South, around the Nampa area. Wayne’s Father, Ivan, began building homes and Wayne followed the family tradition. He says that he built about 200 houses, most one at a time, and doing most of the work himself.
Both our parents have died. His only sibling, Sister Gwen, died a couple of years ago. It’s hard to explain but discussing his loss, my loss of a Brother and Son somehow brought us closer as we talked about family and growing up. It was sort of emotional saying goodbye. We have started planning a Family Re-union in mid April this year. Good to know that we’ll be with them and several other cousins, now that we’re almost the elder generation of our family. We do still have 3 Aunts, all living in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. So, we’ll gather round them and meet Cousin’s children or is that 2nd Cousins? Wayne and Janet pulled out and pulled their trailer across into Arizona and met fellow Snow Birding Cousins, Glenn and wife Beulah. They live in Bonners Ferry and will be back home in time to get together.
Nick, Hooked on Cycling
Nick was our Partner and Leader of the Band Terry’s best friend in High School. We’d met him but didn’t get to know him until we all gathered for Terry’s Funeral. He has an Engineering background and spent his career years designing and building intricate movie sets for the Film Industry. He’s fun to be around and loves to joke around. He helped Terry build what they called the Parade Master 5000. A wagon that had a complete sound system on board, including giant speakers. During, or at the end of a performance, our entire band could leave the stage, convert from the big sound system to the Parade Master and lead the Marti Gras parade. It was a fabulous machine. We were often booked specifically because we could perform the Big Parade while the organizers set the stage for the next act. Nick and Terry, 2 eccentric inventors that brought several unique ideas to fruition. One of Nick’s was the original “Ice Cream Sandwich” pictured below. Two pieces of toast spread with Ice Cream, topped with fresh fruit. Too bad he didn’t get a copyright on it!
We feature Nick here because upon our return we find that he has become a Bike-a-Holic. We feel that we deserve credit but Nick says NO. Well at least we may have been the inspiration that put him out there on 2 wheels? He usually rides with a group here in Ventura County. We will join them for a ride as soon as my knees can handle hills and hold the pace.
La Imp Lives On, In Ogden?
One of the last remaining vestiges of our Real Estate Company was La Imp, a 1961 Imperial. We parked her in highly visual spots and drove her in parades and other attention getting places. She was my pride and joy. We spent plenty, keeping her running and looking good but it was well worth it. However, while we cycled she sat molting. The paint job and chrome we paid so much for both began to rust. To put her back in shape would probably run into the 5 figures, even more if done right. I have no automotive skills and would have to have all the work done by professionals. So another sad, sweet sorrow and emotional parting. With the help of Son-in-Law Dave, we sold her on e-bay. The new owners live in Ogden, Utah and they can do most of the work on her, themselves. So, if you drive through Ogden and see a car that looks something like the pics below, honk and wave at her, okay?
Sharing The Story
Our friend and Public Relations Director of The Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors, Jim Barroca, invited us to speak after one of their weekly Toastmasters Meetings. On March 4th 2007, one year since we re-entered the USA, we performed our first ever public presentation. Photos, slides and stories. What great fun for us, surrounded by so many friends and fellow Realtors. Deciding which pictures to use was tough. We struggled, even argued and cut half of our original choices. It was still too many and the presentation concluded when the battery on the computer finally gave out. The lesson, you can’t possibly cram 4 years into an hour. So, in future presentations we will do a quick overview then concentrate on one area. The following article and pictures will appear in the April issue of the VCCAR REALTOR News.
Lessons of Life, Career and the Road
There are lessons learned from the moment of our first breath and others that require searching far and wide to find answers. Pat Patterson says that many of the lessons learned in his 35 year Real Estate career were easily transposed into other areas of life. “Aim high, dream big dreams, plan your work then work your plan, these lessons are a part of what led to a successful 33 year career and an Around the World Odyssey,” said Pat after he and Catherine returned from their 4 year hiatus that took them through 57 countries.
The Patterson’s owned and operated Patterson & Tintorri Realtors for 10 years before setting off on their life altering journey. They were on the road continuously with the exception of a 10 day period just 2 months after they set off. It was the sad loss of their friend, partner and leader of the band, Terry Tintorri that brought them home to mourn with family and friends. “There in,” says Pat, “another lesson was learned. Life is short, a chain of fleeting moments.” “That old song, Enjoy Yourself, its Later than You Think, kept reverberating around in my mind during those few days back home,” he said.
To some riding a bicycle almost every day for 23,000 miles doesn’t sound much like joy but to Pat & Cat it meant days filled with the bliss of discovery. Oh to be sure it meant blisters at times, too. “But then, isn’t life like a bike ride” asks Pat? “It’s never all down hill and it’s the ups and downs that make it interesting.”
“Seeing places of the world was part of the joy,” said Cat, “but the best was meeting and getting to know people of the world.” “We learned that all people are pretty much the same,” she continued. “It’s Governments that are different.” “Even in places where there was obvious disdain for our Government’s current policies the people always seemed to see us as individuals and treated us kindly.”
So, what’s life like now that the “Riding Realtors” are back home? Catherine has joined Sotheby’s and is re-establishing her Real Estate career. Pat is puttering around the house, slowly writing stories of their journey and cataloging their more than 30,000 photos.
“Our great joys now are hosting visits of friends we met while on the road and sharing our experiences with others,” agree Pat & Cat. “We’ve always held Realtors, that last bastion of true professional freedom, in high esteem. Being here at the Association Office surrounded by so many friends made our first ever public presentation very special for us,” said Pat & Cat.
In conclusion Pat suggested that we extrapolate from “Plan Your Work then Work Your Plan” to “Plan Your Life Then Live Your Plan”! The second verse of that song “Enjoy Yourself” goes “You work and work for years and years you’re always on the go, you never take a minute off too busy making dough. Next year for sure you’ll see the world, you’ll really get around. But, how far can you travel when you’re 6 feet under ground”? The Patterson’s say that, “If you don’t have a dream, get one then LIVE IT”!
Like Susan Sontag, “We haven’t been everywhere but it’s on our list”!
Pat has now visited 93 Countries. His goal is to exceed 100 before he’s 100!
Where will they go next? Will it be on Bicycles?
WE MUST BE CRAZY!!!
A Big Thanks
Sure we’ve said this before but it bears repeating.
Wally Werner, owner of Red Arrow Group, stuck with us through thick and thin.
In fact we had most of his family working to keep our journal pages up and running.
If you are considering having a web-site built, we recommend Wally!
Check him out at www.RedArrowGroup.com .
And of course Base Camp Charlie. Where in the world would we be without him?
When the money got thin he was there to help. Times that credit card companies thought
that, due to our globe trotting, we were experiencing Credit Card fraud, he made the calls
and got them back on track. If you live in Ventura County and want the most trustworthy
person there to help with your income tax preparation, give Charlie Hall a call.