Friday, July 29, 2011

A letter to their friends in Holland

October 20, 1994

Dear Theo and Mieke,

Kay and I have been “on the road” almost continuously since returning home two weeks ago. This is why it has taken so long to send this expression of appreciation for all you did to make our Luttenberg visit such a happy and memorable occasion – from the moment we spotted the American flag atop your pole until you bid us farewell at the cathedral in Raalte.
            We shall all retain the memory of you sitting on your bike like the Pied Piper as you led us on the tour through Luttenberg to the pig farm, Spiyker Hein’s farm, and Betty’s house for the delicious heon, and finally to Raalte.
            We appreciated your opening your lovely house and hearts to use as we sat in your living room enjoying Mieke’s cakes and coffee, the inviting warmth of your fireplace, the American music in the background.
            Fred had mentioned Mieke’s beautiful gardens, and they are truly lovely. I don’t know if Mieke’s example inspired the others to be more creative about their gardens, but I do know Kay had me working very hard yesterday hauling compost to insure that we’ll have pretty gardens next year.
            As you probably have observed from your local newspaper, our town was publicized in response to your request. While in Deventer, I visited the newspaper office and the gentleman with whom I spoke very kindly offered to find us copies of the article. I received these yesterday and enclosed is a copy for your information. I’ll also send one to Fred and Betty as it will interest them. Thanks again for alerting your press to our visit.
            I have requested the group to give me any extra photos taken in Luttenberg and, unless they send directly to you, I’ll send you some in addition to those enclosed from our collection.
            On behalf of the group, I am enclosing a box of 3 compact discs featuring the “Best of the Big Bands.” It is a little gift of our appreciation for making our day with you in Luttenberg such a happy experience. When you listen to this music, we hope it will remind you of your many new American friends who join us in extending warm thanks.
            If you have time when here next year, we would welcome seeing you if your travels take you to Harrisburg or Florida. We will be in Harrisburg until the last week in January when we will be leaving for Venice, Florida where we’ll be until early March.
            Have a wonderful time over the coming holiday season and on your 1995 visit to the U.S.


John & Kay

Spokes Folks Bicycle Tour - 1994 England/Holland

By far, I think... the most detailed-oriented trip with the largest number of passengers. Click on an image to enlarge.

England 1994 - Part 2

September 25: Norwich to Bury St. Edmunds

Off bright and early (8:30) – more dry weather. It is dull, but we’re thrilled. The route is fabulous – flat country roads for 41 miles. We stopped at a lovely small church where we recognized a man in the churchyard from our visit to the Wymondham Abbey. He was in charge of the bell ringing to celebrate his 40 years of marriage. They had six bells – the new ones were from 1790. Six bell ringers using chain bells play a tune. It was magnificent, and we rode off down the road to the sound of the bell ringers. We were in Bury St. Edmunds by 2:30 without a lunch stop. We had lunch in a little tearoom, which had delicious food and fabulous desserts and ice cream. We visited the Abbey Gardens and learned about St. Edmund, who was martyred, shot with arrows and beheaded for announcing he was a Christian around 800. I have a cold. Ugh. Bed at 6 – up at 8 for supper in our room. (Tired).

September 26: Bury St. Edmunds to Colchester (via Lagenham, Kersey, Hadleigh and Harwich)

The “Suffolk hotel” was fine and we left early (8:30) – about 12 miles to Long Melford, a wonderful small antique town with beautiful shops and pubs and tea shops. A pub was recommended for cream tea and we stopped as I couldn’t resist. Then we cycled on to Lavenham & Kiersey, reputedly the prettiest small town in England – not so. It made our trip much longer and we ended up bicycling 51 miles instead of 35. I am a basket case – so tired. Our hotel – “The George” looks like a flop house from the exterior, but it turned out to be OK. I had soup and a salad and fell asleep about 8:30 after a hot soak. Long hard day of cycling.

Long Milford is the nicest town we’ve seen on this trip for quaintness and shopping.

September 27: Colchester to Harwich

Our day in the van and I need the rest. The others have a short cycle day – about 20 miles. We drove to Harwich on B roads and I was in the hedgerows sitting in the left seat. We met Anne at the Tourist Office. She was so nice to John with his difficulty making ferry reservations. Then we got our insurance and assurance of packing materials from the local bike shop. We backtracked and found the chain gang. They’re in good spirits and close to Harwich. Now we are free to visit Flatford Mill, home of John Constable, the artist. We took a guided tour showing his paintings and exactly where he positioned his easel. A lovely English lady gave us the tour and told us her favorite book was “Sufolk Summer” by John Appleby which we had read about. Now were both anxious to find it. The church in Flatford Mill is lovely with many reminders of John Constable. We went on to Dedham. St. Mary’s Church is also lovely. We’ve seen so many gorgeous churches – so old – monuments to the dead of WWI & WWII. The antiquity is being preserved by the National Trust here in England. They buy land and buildings related to their interests whenever possible.

We arrived at the ferry about 6 o’clock and are waiting for the cyclists to take their panniers. Boarded at 9 and the ferry sailed at 9:30. After seeing it leave the dock, we went to the cafeteria style restaurant for a light supper. It was very bad – I had soup and a hot dog. It was gorelash soup and that was the best part. Our stateroom is minute with a private john about 4x4. I took the top bunk and had a pretty good night’s sleep. Awake at 6 to disembark at 7. All going smoothly.

September 28: Hook of Holland to Zwolle and Ommen

We put everyone and bikes on the train at 8:03 and John and I took the van to Ommen. We stopped on the road for breakfast and a very bad pankoken and 2 demi-sized coffees cost 28 Guilders, or $17 dollars. Everything is so expensive! We arrived in Ommen – pronounced “omax” and looked around. Our Hotel Zonn is very nice. We shopped for snacks, and cocktails were in our room. Getting ice from the bar is like panning for gold. They think we are nuts. We went to an Italian Restaurant. It was only OK. The food doesn’t compare to our last trip to Holland. Early to bed.

September 29: Ommen to Luttenberg to Epe

Left our hotel at 8 after conference with newspaper reporter and photographer. Dr. Ibis (Tao) called the paper as he thought our visit newsworthy. We biked about 12 miles to de Hof. Tao (pronounced Theo) and Meeka had coffee and desserts waiting, and the American Flag was flying on the flagpole in their front yard. He is the town physician and has a lovely home – quite large. Office connected and beautiful gardens, including a secret garden. Another thing I loved was a nursery for her grandchildren – 2 darling small cribs and a changing table. So pretty – lovely art, very comfortable home.

After our coffee we visited a pig farm and a dairy farm. It was revealing to me, as the pigs were in a barn – very cleaned and penned. Our row had mothers with litters – another barn had expectant mothers – one barn held infants or small pigs, etc. The dairy farm was quite automated with electric milkers. The farmer had a herd of 60 cows. Then to Fred and Bettys Royal Hunting Lodge. The first small building dating back to 1500 was quite simple and primitive. They use it for guests. The second structure is 3 rooms – gorgeous antique pieces, small kitchen, large living/dining room, and additional sitting bedroom. Very cozy – unusual, lovely garden and tennis courts on 2 acres. Quite a nice escape for four months each year. Just lovely! And so very Holand. We had a beautiful lunch that they prepared for us. Hot Bullion in mugs, sliced hams, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and many different rolls and bread. Delicious raisin bread – solid, with raisins.

Biked from there with Tao’s help to get out of town to a beautiful Catholic Church then on to Epe. Upon arriving we decided to try some Pofryers, a dutch treat: little pancakes with butter and powdered sugar. We had three orders for four of us when John started to feel strange and enquired from the chef as to whether they contained buckeat. His reciple, in fact, was 80% buckwheat. We ran to the drug store to buy anti histamines, but it wasn’t enough. He continued to worsen and the nearest hospital was 20 minutes away. We finally got a wonderful doctor and after much discussion, got a shot. It was a rough night of worry, but by morning he was fine. What a scare! We have several people with allergies and carrying medication, but it all happened so fast.

The hotel was very nice, called Dennenhaustal.

September 30: Epe to Apeldoorn

Another good day!! 25 miles to bike. Nice ride to hotel De Keizerskroon – Holland’s’ Ritz. We arrived early afternoon, as tonight is our big dinner and concert. We toured the Palace Het Loo. This place is immense and the gardens are especially lovely – formal designs, gorgeous fountains. It was the home of Queen Wilhelmina. Our dinner started at 6 o’clock with ham and melon (a parma-like thin, salty ham) then a soup course – clear soup with onion and small bits of beef. Then our entrée. The center of the plate had a tomato stuffed with broccoli and surrounded with 5 different kinds of fish – each more delicious than the last. A poached salmon – a baked salon – Dover sole roll filled with tiny shrimp – white plaice and a tempura shrimp. It was delicious. The dessert was very beautiful – a large white dinner plate with small scoops of sorbet – lemon, raspberry and orange, small dab of whipped cream and blackberries, strawberries, pineapple and a little Melba sauce. Beautifully arranged. We finished in time to walk to Het Loo for a concert – Eliane Rodriguez at the piano. The room was filled to capacity – a large ballroom absolutely gorgeous with an ebony piano raised in the center. It was fabulous. The hotel is very lovely and we are all too tired to stop for champagne being served after the concert. Another 25 miles ahead tomorrow. This was our $450 night.

October 1: Apeldoorn to Arnhem

Rainy – first day of bad weather. Today we ride through the Velume, the largest forest in Europe. Our breakfast was superb and the Keizerkroon is a wonderful hotel. They even had champagne on the buffet – scrambled and hard boiled eggs, ham, sausage, croissants, rolls, ceeal and much, much more. First stop was at the Kroller Muller Museum. Reputedly they have 278 Van Gogh paintings. It was quite wonderful. Stayed at the museum for a lunch of Brie and lettuce on a croissant and an almond pastry. Then we left in a little rain (first so far) for Arnhem, arriving about 3. The guys headed for the museum and the cemetery. We went shopping. It was busy but only a few really nice shops. Fabulous dinner awaits us here in the Groots Warnsborn Hotel. The dining room is gorgeous. Prices here are outrageous, but it was a terrific dinner.

October 2: Arnhem to Hook of Holland by train

This was quite a feat. We bicycled about 3 miles in our regular clothes with my rain suit on top. Upon arriving at the train station I removed the rain suit and put it in the van. We had a couple of hours, so we walked to the John Frost Bridge, as it is now called, and then back to the station. After a nothing lunch we got a train – first stop was Utrecht where we had to change. Getting the bikes on in a place where they don’t get in the way is a job. We were spread all over the train and had to move fast. One change we only had 3 minutes. Fortunately, the track was right across from our disembarkation. The next leg to Rotterdam, we were alone with our 2 bikes and as each platform came into view we had to move the bikes to the opposite side of the entry. Last stop was Hook of Holland and Eric and Judith Micklinghoff were on the platform. They are a darling couple. We took them to dinner at a hotel in town called “American Hotel.” We gave the place its only American atmosphere. Then our ferry ride turned out to be quite easy in spite of their announcing it would be moderate to rough. I was affected by this report enough to loose much of my night’s sleep. Awake at 6 to the news that we were in port due to a medical emergency that precipitated a speedy sail and early arrival.

October 3: Harwick to Gatwick

Disembarking the ferry at 7 a.m. – meeting Barry and our truck driver, putting our bikes in boxes and we are on our way to Gatwick by 10 o’clock. We’re all a little punchy – tired. The Forte Crest at Gatwick Airport is very nice and I could have tucked myself into those comfy beds immediately, but off we took to Royal Turnbridge Wells for more sight seeing. It is a quaint area (The Pastilles) with nice shops but it is raining and we don’t’ stay too long. Dinner at 7:30 – Scott Beihl and his wife Gwen joined us. Great young couple – they have spent the last eight years in Europe. He is with a bank – Morgan Guaranty and they have three children.

October 4: Gatwick – Atlanta – Harrisburg

Up at 6:00 – Breakfast at 7:30 and off to customs at 9. They make us open our bike boxes. The security is very night. Ready to go home – get rid of this cold and get some rest!!! Good flight to Atlanta but too much food. We had breakfast in London, then dinner about noon, then a snack about 5 o’clock London time. We changed our watches, losing 5 hours and it was time to eat again on the flight from Atlanta. I’m very tired. It appears our bicycles are on the plane also, but we’ll probably pick them up tomorrow. We called Susan to hear sad news – John Arnold died and will be buried Thursday.

Our flight stops in Allentown, then Harrisburg. Set down in Harrisburg.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Americans make tour through the provinces

This is an article written about my grandparents and their friends while bicycling in the Netherlands. As translated by them!
The American cyclists - wearing helmets - departing from Hotel de Zon (caption under photo)

Cycling in the Netherlands is "quite a relief"

OMMEN - "What a relief" sighed John Halliwell yesterday morning in the parking area of the Hotel de Zon in Ommen. One of sixteen Americans who are making a bicycle trip through the Netherlands, he was preparing for the next stage. The group from Pennsylvania is full of praise for the cycling conditions in the Netherlands. Safe cycling: smooth roads, geen "vals plat,"* and many bicycle paths. "Very bicycle-friendly," stated the helmeted bicycle enthusiast who with his friends express surprise that the Dutch pedal through cites and the country without helmets. Upon being told that for the Dutch cycling is almost second nature, next to walking, they are a little surprised. The Americans see cycling as more of a sport. They couldn't believe their eyes at the sight of large groups of students racing through the landscape in a sort of formation. some are holding each other by the shoulder. Why? "They are chatting." They find this answer curious.

Common Interest

The group of 60-somethings are friends who are very fond of cycling. After arriving by plane from the U.S., they first cycled for a week in England - "without rain!" as of yesterday, before starting on their trip through Gelderland and Overijssel, they had already completed nearly 500 kilometers. In total the trip will cover over 800 kilometers.

Although there are no war veterans among them, they are using their bike trip to visit monuments of the Second World war, such as "the bridge too far" in Arnhem.

Duty Officer

As of today the group is on their way to Arnhem, Deventer, and Apeldoorn. Yesterday it was Luttenberg and Epe.

The eight couples have everything well organized: every day there is a "duty officer," a kind of sergeant-of-the-week, who has to take care of planning, logistics, and other matters. Also a "sweepvan" has not been forgotten. On Tuesday the enthusiastic cyclists leave for home from the London airport, Gatwick.

*We cannot figure out what this phrase means

England/Europe - 1994

September 19-20: Harrisburg – Atlanta – London

Susan, Emily and Caroline took us to the airport. Emily wants to see the real airplanes. The weather is fabulous – clear, cool and sunny. Arrived in Atlanta on time but left 1 hour late as our plane just came in from Paris and had to be cleaned, etc. An almost full plane took off in gorgeous 75 degree sunshine for a very smooth trip to Gatwick. Sixteen bicyclists ready to have 16 days of fun on wheels – BUT our bicycles went to Frankfort, Germany. John’s worst nightmare on our first day has come true. We are tired and the drive to Norwich is long. Delta is retrieving our bicycles and bringing them to Norwich tonight. We visited Norwich Cathedral – the second highest steeple in Britain (Salsbury is #1). Came back to put our bikes together – we are bleary eyed. Had a supper in the bar at 9 p.m. and went to bed at 10:55 Tuesday which equals 4:55 in Pennsylvania. No sleep since Sunday. Up early in the a.m. for a long biking day!!

Visited “Adam and Eve,” the oldest pub in England – great little (3 tiny rooms) spot.

September 21: Norwich – Thetford

Woke to sunshine!! A gorgeous day; approximately a low of 50 and a high of 65 degrees. These Trust Forte Hotels are excellent so far. We had a fantastic bicycle route – a few miles of fast narrow, dangerous roads, but mostly gorgeous country – flat, sparsely traveled thorofares. We totaled 34.6 miles and weren’t tired as we expect to be, as most are still fighting jet-lag. We stopped at a free house in Effingham for a long lunch break – slow service, but nice lunch. Food is fairly high-priced, but we don’t eat enough to really mind as 5-course meals are usually too much. A minimum lunch runs about $8 and pub dinner with wine and beer can run to $18-20 for two. We visited Wymondham Abbey and ruin – the most beautiful angels on the altar back and hand-carved natural wood ceiling. Arrived in Thetford about 4 p.m. – cocktails at 6 p.m. – dinner at the Bridge Pub. Lots of laughs – tired – home to bed by 10:30. Great day!!

(This is the birthplace of Thomas Paine, Father of the American Revolution, and has the largest area of woodland in the entire country).

September 22: Thetford to Ely

How can this be? Another sunny day in England? We are in shorts. We visited the bowling green across from the Bell Hotel and the gardens are still lovely although it is late in the season. We were surprised to see Southern Magnolia trees and yews trimmed into columns like giant pillars. The bowling green was perfection like green silk. Everything is real – no plastic. I love it. A long day of biking but a pretty nice ride. The traffic is fast and roads are narrow but drivers are very good – most give you lots of room. The trucks scare me. Arrived in Ely bout 4 and went directly to the Cathedral. It is magnificent. I bought more angel Xmas cards. Also, on the road we stopped at a chapel called St. Marys in Santon Downham. Beautiful and small with the needle point kneelers – each one unique. The Cathedral in Ely dates from 1081.

We opted for our room for cocktails and Jim and Jeannie’s friends, Sadie and John Chester from Bury St. Edmonds, joined us. Upon going down and off to dinner, Bernard and Rosemary met us in the lobby. What a happy surprise! Then we all went to dinner at the “Old Fire Engine House” Restaurant and Gallery. They had a room set up for us and all 18 had a great time. Dinner was superb – fine restaurant – not inexpensive ($100 for 4 including wine). Bernard and Rosie stayed in a B&B and we’ll see them again today or tonight, as it works out. We stayed t the “Lamb.” We had nice accommodations, but the others weren’t much and there was a bit of grousing. All in all a good day.

September 23: Ely to Kings Lynn

Another great day – a cooked breakfast and off by 9 to Downham Market; 20 miles along the Ouse River, a lovely road. At Downham Market we met Bernard & Rosie. She took my bicycle for the rest of the trip to Kings Lynn and had a great ride and I went with Bernard to our hotel “The Dukes Head.” It is pink and white stucco with flowing flower boxes in the windows – so pretty. Rooms are also very nice. The Forte Chain is excellent. We bicycled next to the river – lots of barges and power boats. Bernard and I had tea while we waited for the bicycles to arrive. All met in Royers room for cocktails and then across the courtyard to a small restaurant – we killed a bottle of merlot with Bernard and Rosie, and stopped in our hotel lobby for a nightcap. Very interesting – beautifully dressed dowagers enjoying coffee, tea and liquors in many little groupings of sofas and chairs. A lovely way to close the day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reflections from the writer

It's been two months since I started this project. Momentum slowed for a bit while I moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, helped open a yoga studio, and was busy in the turmoil of familial wedding celebrations.

But now I'm back. So far I've transcribed four of 13 trips my Grandma kept records of. I haven't even begun to delve into the hundreds of pages worth of itineraries my Grandfather kept. It's amazing seeing how detailed their trips were - from their itineraries, to their record-keeping of expenses, to the large number of contacts they gathered when meeting strangers, to the letters they wrote to those strangers, and also to the maps and visitors' guides to everywhere they went. Wow.

Sometimes I don't know where to begin with all of the stuff after my Grandma's journals, so I'll keep transcribing her words and I imagine I'll know what to do with the rest when the time comes. I'm so intrigued by my Grandmother's attention to detail in these journals. I find myself laughing out loud to some of her descriptions, while others make me heartsick (For instance, my Grandmother's description of the terrorist attacks in their 2001 trip soon after 9/11).

I hope to someday (very soon) dive into the photo aspect of this project - beginning to collect, gather and coordinate photographs from these trips. I know they exist somewhere!!

In the mean time, we have these trips to look forward to...

  • UK Trip: August 6, 1985 – September 2, 1985
  • Netherlands Trip: April 22, 1991 – May 6, 1991
  • Germany trip: November 1, 1993 – November 17, 1993
  • England/Europe trip: September 19, 1994 – October 4, 1994
  • Washington State, Idaho and Canada trip: September 1, 1995 – September 14, 1995
  • Italy: October 7, 1996 – October 28, 1996
  • Holland/Eastern Caribbean Cruise: March 21, 1998 – March 28, 1998
  • France trip: September 13, 1999 – October 6, 1999
  • Ireland: October 27, 2000 – November 9, 2000

{P.S. You can find this blog on twitter! @lifesabike}

Final entries - Washington trip 1992

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine
August 10 – Manresa Castle

Gorgeous sunny day – cool air, hot sun. John and I have decided to take a day off the bicycles for shopping and general laziness. The view from our room includes Mt. Baker on the left, mount Ranier on the right and gorgeous marina sitting straight ahead – mountain ranges all around. We had a fine buffet breakfast and went to Port Townsend in the van – quick ride down the hill. This is an old Victorian town – first one chartered in Washington and thought to be eventually the capital. The gold rush brought the town to life as the doorway to Alaska. It is very picturesque and a busy tourist haven now. We read that it is a popular retirement town (not for me!)

We picked up a deli lunch and rendezvoused with everyone at Warden State Park, an earlier Coast Artillery Fort during WWII. Cocktails in the rose garden. Dinner at Piccallos – excellent.

August 11 – Manresa Castle [25 miles]

Gorgeous clear sunny day. Off to the 10 o’clock ferry to Whidbey Island. This is my favorite island, the largest (2nd largest in the 48 USA states). It has the same gorgeous views everywhere you look, but is a little more settled. The ride to Langley was like a roller coaster and we were exhausted. We took the van for the last giant hill. Langley is a darling town – pretty shops – interesting merchandise. The Inn at Langley is fabulous. It is all natural woods and colors. Our room is so comfortable and restful. We love the bathroom natural grey slate and white tile walls – Jacuzzi and shower in space about 9x9. Our little deck has benches on each side the size of twin beds and flowers at the front. Room has fireplace and every accouterment you could ask for. Dinner at Langley Café – excellent hot day – 90s.

August 12 – Langley Inn [33 miles]

Another gorgeous morning. We are off to Coupeville on our way back to Anacortes. A roller coaster trip 33 miles. It doesn’t seem as tough as yesterday but vertical hills are exhausting and we were wiped out. The B&B in Coupeville “Inn at Penn Cove” is Victorian and in my estimation – UGLY. The exact opposite of where we were last evening. How I dislike bric a brac! The place is expensive and very casually run. We had trouble finding what room was ours – no one to greet us. Our bikes have been taken to Anacortes and we’re happy for the break. It has been tiring. Dinner is a sandwich we ate in the gazebo in the backyard – no party left in me.

August 13 – Inn at Penn Cove. Whidbey Island, Coupeville, Washington

Another lovely day. We aren’t going to bike as it is 37 miles to Anacortes and we are planning to get to Bellingham to pick up a rental car today. It is just too much, so will go by van and have a longer day on the other end. Successful ride to Anacortes – luggage for 19 + 13 people all at once made us a little apprehensive but all is well that ends well. Took our little Ford Escort from Bellingham to La Conner, the most charming town we’ve been in. We bought some gifts and a wonderful print of the Ferry – a hat for Susan, Whidbey’s Port for Karl and a darling outfit for Emily. They have been watching the house for us.

We got a room in Everett expecting the worst as the price was so good and it turned out to be terrific. The people in Bellinghams’ Hampton Inn own it. Nice looking restaurant called Kates is attached – place is called Nendels.

August 14 – Nendels, Everett, Washington

Another beautiful morning here in Washington, but the weather report in the East looks wet. We fly today at 1 from Seatac. We’ll visit Seattle once more this morning. It has been a good tour. We miss our bikes already.

208 total miles biked.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seattle/Canada - 1992

July 27, 1992 – Harrisburg, PA

Karl drove us to the airport. It is a dull, overcast day – comfortable but very humid. Flight left right on time and after a quick stop in Pittsburgh we had a fairly smooth trip. Upon our arrival at 3:03 p.m. Seattle time, the sky is clear and it is a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. The Cascade Mountains as you approach the airport are impressive – looking as if they were dusted with confectionary sugar – snow in July. The sun on Mt. Rainier’s snow fields is beautiful Our B&B is an old Victorian in the city – old and tired, but clean and interesting. The neighborhood is bohemian – lots of young couples. We went to Pikes Market – great place – much longer than I expected. We are very tired – had dinner at “Kills,” an Irish pub in the Post alley. I had a pastry and John had smoked salmon – lots of Irish bread. Bed early – lovely cool evening.

July 28 – Seattle, Beach Tree Manor

Great breakfast and wonderful company; we always enjoy the variety of guests. Our hostess is most interesting – loves to talk politics and seems knowledgeable. Fabulous day – weather clear, sunny, high 60’s. We walked to the space needle and took the monorail to the Center to visit Eddie Bauer and Nordstrom, in particular. Good shopping – very attractive people; very fashionably dressed. Love Seattle so far. Met Dale at Pam’s office and drove to their boat about 2 miles from downtown Seattle. They live on the boat sometimes and he uses it for an office. Gorgeous boat – 40-foot yacht. We cruised the Lake Union to Lake Washington. The city views from the water are spectacular. We drank champagne and enjoyed the sail and caught up on all their activities. We docked for dinner at the Beach Club – fabulous salmon dinner. The homes on Lake Washington are magnificent and I was particularly surprised by the quaint and colorful little houses that border the lake – boathouses. Three and four deep, each one unique and sporting pretty window bakes and tubs of flowers on their docks. We are tired. It has been a long day.

July 29 – Beach Tree Manor, Seattle

Gorgeous day – no humidity – cool morning, clear, sunny, warm day. Off to Pikes’ Market at 8:30. This is the time of day to visit – so wonderful. We’ve never seen so much fresh fish so beautifully displayed. The Seattle Art Museum is beautiful and the special exhibit of glass by Chihuly was spectacular. We walked to Pioneer Square, which was very European looking and enjoyed lunch in a sidewalk café. The seamy side of life is more evident down in Pioneer Square, which is old Seattle – saw some homeless and some winos, but still feel the balance of beautiful young people outweighs the negative. People are friendly and polite and helpful. It is a super city. Went up in the space needle and had the perfect view of Seattle and surrounding mountains. We saw Mt.Baker on the Canadian border – 200 miles away.

July 30 – Seattle

Another gorgeous day!! Hope they continue. We’re off to Mt. Rainier; it looks so close, but is a 2-½ hour drive – most up the mountain. The views on the way up to Paradise are breathtaking – waterfalls, other peaks and the glorious evergreen conifers. The Douglas firs are immense. It was the clearest day on the mountain all summer but temperatures are usually 70 and today it must be 90. We have no humidity but it is tiring with the heat and altitude. We hiked up quite a way, but not to the snowfields, which I had hoped to do! The lodge is so perfect for the mountain location. Dinner was good – lots of people here. Bed so welcome after a tiring day.

July 31 – Paradise, Mt. Rainier

Another clear, sunny day. The mountain is glorious and the air is like crystal. I hate to leave, but we’re driving to Vancouver – a long way. Arrived at Anacartes Cyclery to check on our bicycles and check out town on our way North. They were happy to see us and told us that some of the bikes needed tires, etc and that some needed helmets. You bet it was ours that needed to be replaced, so we bought two new helmets. That is about the only thing that hadn’t been double-checked. The town looks great; we still have the car-return problem, but John knows how he is going to handle it. We’ll do a little running back and forth to pick each other up and swap car for van. Vancouver is enormous – Vancouver, North Vancouver – each city across the water from each other. Beautiful, natural setting. I’d like to visit Vancouver Island, but will be there later when we go to Victoria.

August 1 – Vancouver, Beachside

Cool, breezy and cloudy – almost like Fall. Great breakfast, good company. This B&B is fine and it overlooks a beautiful cove. However, we must be getting spoiled, as it seems cluttered and tired to us. This coast is lovely. We drove to a little village, Dundarave. It is quiet and quaint with nice little shops. We stopped in downtown Vancouver. It seems like a very clean and attractive city, but we headed on South. Everything is expensive and we felt we needed to get back to U.S.A. to run some errands. Drove there Surrey to Bellingham. This town is very busy; all the Canadians are here to shop. We’re staying in a Hampton Inn and it is excellent.

August 2 – Bellingham, Washington.

Cool morning. We went to mass in an old church – Church of the Assumption. The mass was lovely – guitars and young music. The whole congregation radiated love – small families and young people were the majority. We drove to Anacartes and I drove back to Bellingham – returned the car and waited 3 hours for John to pick me up with the van. I finished my book and read Sundays’ paper cover to cover. Arrived back to greet everyone; it was so good to see them. We all went to Charlie’s for dinner. It was ok. Big day tomorrow, starts at 6:45 breakfast.

August 3 – Anacartes Island Inn [27 miles]

Another fabulous day! Everyone is up to get on those bikes. We had a Dutch breakfast (the lady to runs this Inn is from Amsterdam) and we biked 4 miles to the ferry. No problems – short ride to Lopez where we biked to Lopez Village – about 8 miles. The Idlewild Inn is lovely – new but very Victorian in design. The Innkeeper is married to a movie star (Garret?) Our Inn is at Swifts Bay. We biked about 27 miles and collapsed upon arriving at our Inn. It is a lovely cottage and our room is spacious and very well done. Rahut and Christopher are the Innkeepers and are very interesting. They have thought of everything. They have a hot tub, robes, sandals, etc. Biked to Shark Reef Park to view the sea lions. Beautiful promontory of rocks looked over on San Juan Island.

August 4 – Swifts Bay Inn [17.5 miles]

9:00 am breakfast – cool morning. Very lovely serving – pear muffins, apricot & blueberry preserves. Omelettes of Brie, apple & ham. Juice of pear, banana, peach and pineapple juice – fabulous. We have a short day so went on a bike ride to MacKaye Harbor and Stanley Spit. The views of mountain and ocean are so magnificent everywhere. We changed and caught the 3 o’clock ferry to Orcas Island – van also. John is driving, as it is hilly and narrow roads. We drove to Rosario, a resort on the most exquisite bay. It is impossible to describe the mountain and ocean combination. The water is royal blue. We had dinner at Orcas Hotel (the chef’s mother is from Harrisburg) - food just OK. We have had very mediocre food for too much $$. Ferry back again.

August 5 – Inn at Swifts Bay [23 miles]

6:30 am breakfast – Wow – tired. We are catching the 9:30 ferry to San Juan Island. What weather: cool mornings – sunny, moderate afternoons. Best day yet. Ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Bought lunch at a deli and biked 10 miles of rolling hills to Roche Harbor. It was truly a picture-book spot: two old white wooden hotels sitting on the edge of a royal blue sound filled with yachts. Mountains rise up all around and lovely homes are tucked into the hillsides blending in with the trees. We sat on the dock with our lunches and biked 10 back to the Ferry at Friday Harbor for a beautiful sail back to Swifts Bay on Lopez. We watched the sails flapping around in the water and watched airplanes taking off and landing in this gorgeous place. Cocktails here at 6! Must pack up as we’re off to Sydney and Victoria B.C. tomorrow for 3 days with panniers only. Bay Restaurant for best dinner in Washington – super chef – a friend of Robert and Chris’s.

August 6 – Inn at Swifts Bay [18 miles]

Left in the rain for our trip with panniers. The rain had stopped before arriving in Sydney, but we kept running through showers. We lost our leader and ended up on Rte 17 for a white-knuckle ride to Victoria. We covered about 18 miles, but it took us 4 hours as we had too bad breakdowns. We missed lunch completely. The English Inn is tired – food expensive.

August 7 – English Inn Victoria

We have a shower day – nice, cool temps. We took public transportation to Butchart Gardens – these are truly beautiful. The flowers are massed mostly and there are special gardens – rose garden – Japanese garden – sunken garden. Every imaginable flower arranged tightly in raised beds. We had lunch at the Blue Pagoda – excellent – cafeteria style, but done to perfection. We went to Oaks Bay with the Oakleys and Merrills. It is a lovely suburban village on the water. What a gorgeous location. Dinner at the Sticky Wicket – great pub; music on the roof later – fun, fun day and evening.

Saturday, August 8 – English Inn [18 miles]

Most of our group left early for the ferry to Friday Harbor, but Marion, Don, John and I decided to bike for a later ferry so we could see the Victoria Museum. It was well worth the time, but you could have given it a day. The different vignettes showing life in early Victoria are just great and take you back to 1900.  Victoria is a fabulous city – the cleanest and most beautiful I have ever been in. The Northwest is truly a remarkable area – mountains, ocean, ideal temperatures lows 42, highs 80, no humidity. Our days are in the 60’s – some mornings as low as 50, but the sun is hot and the air cool. We really love this part of the world. Biked about 18 miles to catch the 6 o’clock ferry at Sydney to Friday Harbor. Quick supper at the bistro.

August 9 – Inn at Friday Harbor [37 miles]

Beautiful morning – down hill to breakfast at Front St. Café. This place is still so undeveloped and this is the busiest town in the islands – not too busy by Eastern standards. Took ferry to Anacartes and biked from there to Whidbey Island Ferry to Port Townsend. Long day – lots of steep hills but fabulous temperatures and a very invigorating day of bicycling. We stopped at Captain Whidbey Inn for lunch. The views are unbelievable everywhere you look – such natural beauty. We biked over the bridge that bridges Deception Pass. This giant gorge that separates Whidbey Island from the peninsula is so magnificent it takes your breath away. I could barely look. The bridge must be a mile high from the water below. The Manresa Castle is kind of different – an old seminary turned hotel. Gorgeous view.