Holly still has a ways to go, but she’s making steady progress.  It’s been a long haul.  Visits by family and friends have helped a lot.  As always, Holly’s spirits are good.






Holly and I had been wanting to travel to Venice and then to cruise down the Adriatic Sea to the Mediterranean for some time.  We’d almost pulled it off in 2018, but an unwelcome “tax deficiency” letter from the IRS spoiled that plan in 2017.  A year later, as we flew from Dulles Airport (Washington DC) to Paris, everything seemed to have finally come together.  But when we landed in Paris, we found ourselves in a vast crowd mulling about in a room packed with travelers while the passport officers engaged in an unofficial strike.  By the time we finally got through that, our onward flight to Venice had already departed.  And to make matters worse, we missed the next flight because its departure was not announced.

When we finally disembarked in the Venice Airport, it was dark and rainy outside.  We nonetheless proceeded to the dock to get a “water taxi,” (known as vaporettos locally).  A modern and nice-looking valparato pulled out just as we arrived, and then a quite shoddy-looking valparato, which looked like a fishing boat, came along.  We were expected to hop on the deck and then descend with our luggage in hand down a rickety ladder into the dark hull.  Holly went ahead of me and fell into the darkness.  It was probably the most awful moment in our lives.  She was in agonizing pain. As we were to find out later, she had fractured her hip.  Fortunately a rescue squad arrived relatively quickly and took us off to the local hospital, which turned out to be a very large and modern one.  The scene however was chaotic and it took quite a long time to get assistance there.  We found out the next morning that x-rays showed that Holly’s hip had indeed been fractured and an operation was quickly arranged with a doctor whom we quickly came to appreciate and respect. Holly’s daughter Lyara flew from California to Venice a few days later, and provided invaluable assistance to both of us; it’s hard to imagine how we would have managed without her.  But it would take two weeks before Holly was released, and then only to be flown out in a wheelchair back home.



Above: Holly with her doctor,, with Lyara, and with a room mate and her mother, who became good friends.

Holly, in Venice hospital, with lovely bouquet from Grace Church back home (thanks, Hal!)

Below: Lyara and Bob got to explore Venice on two late afternoons.




Holly and I had a fabulous time… (click for larger pictures)













In August we took our annual summer trip to longtime friends along the Delaware shore.  We shucked and ate lots of crab, along with other delicious dishes prepared by our hosts.  I (Bob) spent an interesting afternoon exploring the local state park at Holts Landing.  Note: the spider is a “zipper spider” in the bushes outside the house.


We flew down to Mobile in June to see Leona (about two months old) for the first time and to have a wonderful repeat visit with Nic, Alison, and Felix (now two years old)



One day we went to Dragon Boat Races alongside the USS Alabama Battleship.

We stayed at a friend’s house in Mobile and particularly enjoyed the live oaks along the streets.


And playgrounds and breweries…

And a beautiful botanical garden.













Apart from celebrating my sister’s birthday with her son Justin, his wife Katherine, and their sweet son Harvey, we spent a day at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), where Holly had been alerted to a fascinating exhibit about the early 20th century Brazilian artist, Tarsila do Amaral.  A few pictures Holly took of her work are included below:




We also explored artifacts from ancient Egypt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we also enjoyed music, wine and snacks on the balcony, and where Holly checked out some old friends.

Our Home in Saint Lucia: Villa Beach Cottages








We stayed at this lovely place a few miles outside of Castries, the capital city.  The location was stunningly beautiful and the personnel extremely able and helpful.  One can check out its website at  The staff were extremely helpful in arranging private tours anywhere we wanted to visit on the island. The long beach was a friendly place.

Traveling by Boat to the Pitons


Instead of a two-hour drive to the Pitons, our hotel staff helped us hire a boat and a crew to take us there in about 45 minutes.  The crew stayed while Holly enjoyed the beach and I hiked up Gros Piton, seen from the boat in the last picture above.  In the previous pictures, Petit Piton appears higher than Gros Piton, but it is not.  It is, however, considerably more difficult to climb.

Climbing the Gros Piton




In many ways the hike down was much more difficult than the hike up: a wet, rocky trail inviting slips and slides.  The boat ride back to our hotel was mostly in pouring rain with the roof tarp blown off, and we were quite chilled by the time we got there.  In contrast, two days later we returned to the Soufriere area and had lunch at the elegant Ladera Resort, with spectacular vistas, food, and wine.  Quite a contrast!



Botanical Gardens and a Drive-In Volcano Mudbath








One wall of this ancient volcano in Saint Lucia collapsed years ago, making possible the world’s only “Drive-In Volcano.  We tried out the hot mud bath and had a blast.

Pigeon Island and Castries




The British and the French fought over possession of St. Lucia for 140 years between 1674 and 1814, with each exercising dominance for seven times.  Pigeon Island was a critical surveillance and control point, with extensive military fortifications on its two peaks.  We hiked in the morning and then settled down on the lovely beach.

Castries is Saint Lucia’s capital city, and we spent time at the food and craft market, as well as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, with its lovely murals reflecting both African and Caribbean influences.












We had a colorful fall, although a quite dry one.  I planted seeds for a fall vegetable garden at the end of August, and within a month or so was rewarded with plenty of lettuce varieties, arugula, chard, collards, and kale.  Kale and collard quiches became a standard part of our diet for the next two months.

With two local friends, Holly and I spent a weekend in the old railroad town, Clifton Forge, in the Allegheny Highlands, enjoying the C&O railway museum and the German-style Christmas market as well.






















Back home, we celebrated Thanksgiving with Holly’s son John, sister Constance, sister-in-law Lonni, and Tim and Megan.  And assorted dogs… And we skyped with Felix and his parents in Mobile!




Heading South on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mabry Mill



We spent our first night at the Little Switzerland Inn along the Parkway





Click here for more pictures of our trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and on to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then to honky-tonk Gatlinburg in Tennessee

Then on to Mobile Alabama, which impressed us as a very livable and attractive place.  Of course, it was Felix who really stole the show…


Click here for more pictures of our wonderful visit in Mobile with Felix, Nic and Alison, including a tour of Spring Hill College, where Nic is now an Assistant Professor of History

We also found time to take a day trip down to Dauphin Island in the Gulf, where we soaked up the sun and both marine and bird life…and found Pirates for lunch!

Click here for more Dauphin Island pictures

On our way home the next day, we stayed overnight in Athens, Georgia, to visit Holly’s longtime friend Inga at the University of Georgia.  A lovely evening.

We drove the rest of the way home the next day–for a total of about 2200 miles altogether.



Here are a few pictures from the one-night stopover of Felix and his parents.   (Click on picture to see larger image.)







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