Europe 2023

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

This was our first trip abroad since we went on a Gate 1 Tour to Spain in 2018. That year, we also traveled to India, Hawaii, New York/Vermont as well as to our homes away from home in Lund B.C. and Sun Valley Idaho—satisfying our prosperous retiree appetites for extending knowledge, connecting with old and new friends, and enjoying fresh pleasures.

At the beginning of 2019 I felt guilty about the continuing indulgence, but by late Fall of a year with no travel, the yen was back. We signed up for a February 2020 tour of China which included a boat trip up the Yangtze River ending at the city of Wuhan.  In January reports arrived about a coronavirus epidemic that started in a Wuhan market and was spreading through the country.  We cancelled our reservations and decided to use the refund to visit Portugal on our own, studying guidebooks and websites, making hotel reservations, arranging meetings in Lisbon with old friends from Cornwall and with my young co-worker and her boyfriend. But by March the epidemic had spread world wide and we were happy to hunker down at home.

By early 2023, two years later, Covid subsided enough for us to shop for another tour, this time a cruise on the Danube River from Budapest to Vienna that would include a visit with a Hungarian Shakespeare scholar we befriended in Stratford in 2020 and attendance at classical concerts in the home of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms.  Ten days before departure, we both came down with Covid and again were able to secure a refund. Once recovered, we determined to give it another try on short notice during what was becoming a record tourist season. Despite the calamitous heat afflicting southern Europe, we reserved hotel rooms, train, theatre, museum and concert tickets in London, Paris and Amsterdam, hungry for some of the high culture delights we knew those cities could offer. Given our age and the state of the world, it might be the last chance.

In the course of her ongoing genealogical research Jan was exploring leads about my paternal ancestry in the Alsatian area of France and Germany. Googling “Bodersweier,” the tiny village outside the town of Kehl, Germany, and across the Rhine from the hallowed city of Strasbourg, she came across Karl and Hannah Britz, a couple our age living there and engaged in a lifelong quest for information about members of its historic Jewish community, all of whom had fled or been murdered by the Nazis. I knew that as a child before WWI my father had lived in Strasbourg and remembered my grandmother talking about growing up in Bodersweier and Kehl before later moving to Stuttgart. Having in recent years relinquished my aversion to thinking about ancestors since I experienced myself becoming one, I agreed that we should spend a few days between London and Amsterdam exploring that area. A phone conversation with Karl in my broken German produced a warm invitation, followed up by email correspondence revealing that their son Wolfram was mayor of Kehl eager to meet Jan, the present vice-mayor and past mayor of San Luis Obispo.






Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

April 6

Sitting in $300/night room in the Westward Look Resort. Discounted for Jan’s semiannual reunion of her 1965 Stanford-in-Germany Group to $150.  I agreed to accompany her since it coincided with our 55th anniversary the day we arrived and because I remember Tucson as an appealing place from two earlier visits.


Lionel Webb (1947-2020)

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Lionel, I think of you

as an old grizzly bear
all burly and tough
but also a teddy bear
full of cuddly stuff

or as my grandfather,
all seasoned and wise
but also my grandson
full of awe and surprise


Zunoquad 2019: Kayaking Nuchatlitz Archepelago

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Note: for a full collection of photos and slide show, click here

This expedition originated in early March with Bear and Lion (aka Peter Behr and Lionel Webb) tossing around the idea of west coast kayaking. It came into focus in April with the selection of Nuchatlitz location and gradual winnowing of participants to them, Bob Dice, Rick Backman, Andy Greenshaw and Steven Marx and their sons, Eman and Joe. Most are adventure travel companions for thirty years and we span the decades of age: twenties, forties, fifties, sixties and seventies. Bob took on the task of organizing kayak rentals and transport, regaled us with 50 pages of information about the area culled from a book by Heather Harbord, Sea Kayak Nootka and Kyuquot Sounds, along with extensive notes and Google Earth maps assembled by Paul Clements. They helped with preparation and enlivened fantasies for the next couple of months.


I meet Joe in the South Terminal on the Summer Solstice after flight and immigration delays that required rescheduling the trip to Campbell River, where we’re picked up by Bob, taken to Walmart for last minute food purchases and to his house for rendezvous with Peter and a comfortable sleepover before early morning departure. The three hour drive to Zeballos is enriched with Bob’s recollection of places and incidents along the gravel road he managed maintenance and construction for during a fifteen year career there with the BC Forest Service. At the tiny town at the end of the road and the head of Esperanza inlet we buy a case of cold beer and load our gear and two kayaks on the charter boat that takes us to our meeting point on Rosa Island with our four companions who arrived there the day before, travelling from Gold River on the MV UChuck.