Oh my gosh, it’s December!! The old adage of “time flies when you’re having fun” has proven true once again. I feel like I’ve plummeted off the blog wagon and tripped over my time machine while waving my hands in the air shouting WEEEEEeeee!!! I’ve left far too many adventures flapping in the wind, so it’s time to catch up. Be prepared for information overload as I try to regale you with some of our most memorable escapades from the past six months.
When I last reported, we’d been enjoying a sojourn in Seattle soaking up some summer sunshine while I was recuperating from knee surgery. At the end of the summer, with a most important due date approaching, it was finally time to go meet the newest member of our tribe. We zipped down I-5 to San Luis Obispo in order to be there for William James Maxhimer’s grand arrival on September 8th!
Smitten, totally smitten. I know every grandparent has experienced this, but for us it was new and unexpected, this power of love and attachment that suddenly takes over when you hold that little bundle of warmth for the first time. William is perfect in every way and we had three weeks of holding, cuddling, and being amazed, along with his beautiful parents, Kyle and Rachael. I’ll try to keep my adoration to an acceptable level but suffice it to say that we are in heaven.
Much too soon it was time to move on down the road and let the rest of the family enjoy some William time, so we packed our bags and gave William one last snuggle. We traveled in the Murph for 6 weeks, visiting new places and once again being amazed at the wealth of beauty and extremes to be found in our National Parks. Starting 282′ below sea level in Death Valley and wandering above 10,000′ in mountain peaks looking over vast canyons; how lucky are we?
We loved hiking through the forests in Sequoia and Kings Canyon, craning our necks to peer into the top branches of trees that have been standing for thousands of years. We clambered in and around hoodoos and piles of colored rocks in Zion and Bryce, down into slot canyons in Antelope Valley and along ancient riverbeds in Utah. Sometimes it felt as if we landed on another planet created by Dr. Seuss!
One day we drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with the anticipation building as we wound in and out of golden aspen forests and open meadows, climbing higher and higher until finally we walked to the edge…of wow. There are times when Mother Earth takes our breath away, when you simply have to stop, listen, and see.
We found many places that we want to explore more, but since the weather had turned very cold, we decided it was time to put the Murph away for the winter and we had some work to do (I know, that’s an unfamiliar concept to these nomads).
We needed to go visit Happy Dance and get her ready to float next spring. We flew to Panama City and drove to San Carlos where we’d planned to stay for two weeks while working on the boat. Well, we learned that there’s a reason we’ve always had the bottom painted by others…it’s hard work! We muddled through, and only cried uncle when nearly done with the worst of it. Bottom sanded, paint applied and only 5 days gone by, hmmm it seems that maybe time flies when NOT having fun too!
Since we had finished our chores early we still had a few weeks to fill before our accommodations were available for Christmas, so says we; why not hop on a plane, fly to Italy, explore for a bit, then hop on a ship to bring us back? Good plan! We flew to Milan, took a train to Florence and enjoyed 5 wonderful days there before heading to Rome for another 4 days.
Italy – the history, the art, the architecture, the food, the people, the language, all are magical. The Agony and the Ecstasy was a book that I loved when I was in high school and I’ve always wanted to visit Michelangelo’s hometown, and Bernini’s Duomo. I can tell you without a doubt that it didn’t disappoint! We spent hours wandering through narrow streets enjoying a gelato here and a glass of chianti there, sitting in outdoor cafes, and climbing 100’s of stairs to the top of the Duomo and Bell Tower. Warm people, and a rich and inviting culture. We loved it.
While Florence felt like a small town, Rome seemed huge! Our AirBnB was in Trastevere, which turned out to be a great central location, with lots of cute plazas, restaurants, and outdoor markets. We walked everywhere and it was a great way to explore the city and find hidden little side streets. Everywhere you look in Rome there’s another church or Roman column, or a trattoria with inviting aromas enticing you to sit for a spell! We did all the big-name attractions, and because it was off season, we had them pretty much all to ourselves. Another wonderful visit!
Pretty soon our Italian sojourn was winding down, and it was time to hop a train to the historic port town of Civitavecchia, where we boarded the Pacific Princess for a 5,500 nm, 17-day cruise back to the US. Along the way we visited Naples, Pompeii, Sicily, Gibraltar, Cadiz, and Tenerife. New places, new foods, new cultures, new friends…new fun!
So now we’re steaming along in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with another 2,000 miles to go before we land in Florida. Our ship is a relatively small one holding only 622 passengers, and the rocking and rolling of the boat is something we didn’t really expect. It’s a riot to watch everyone stagger drunkenly down the hallways as the boat rides up and down the swells. Sitting on our balcony 7 stories above the water, we keep trying to visualize what it would feel like to be on Happy Dance with sails out riding the wind and dancing on the waves. It’s gorgeous, and we’ve experienced the world as a 360-horizon line before, but I have to say that being on Happy Dance in that vast circle of water is a bit different than being on a ship steaming along at 20 knots!
In another few days we’ll land in Florida, hop on a few flights to San Luis Obispo (SLO), and see our wee William and family. Time is on the wing again, and yet we continue to capture moments that will last forever. I’ll always be able to feel the warm breeze on the Atlantic, watch the moonset in front of us, and feel the excitement of what comes next. Yep, time flies, and we’re making more memories!
PS….We made it to SLO after two days of packed airports and bumpy flights, tired but happy. Christmas has come and gone and our first Christmas with kids and grandson William was THE BEST! This grand-parenting stuff is awesome. Now if only I could make time stand still!