Vancouver is amazing! Who knew? Love the city and our accommodations...


View from the comfy chairs in the Member's Lounge at our hotel.

Another view from the private Member's Lounge where we're spending time online.  What a view!
We never expected Vancouver, British Columbia to be such a breathtaking city. Nor did we expect the vacation rental we selected for the six nights to be on the penthouse level with such awe inspiring views. 

Comfortable bedding, bed and pillows invites good night's sleep, only to find us awake between long before sunrise.
The condo unit is much more lovely than we anticipated.  Its actually pristine with the finest of amenities, décor and comfort.  The sheets are at least 1000 pt. Egyptian cotton, the bed a heavenly cloud, the towels, soft and fluffy and the view...ah, the view.

Another view of the condo.
These past two nights, we lay in bed with the drapes open to the sparking lights of the city, relishing in every moment. We only closed them when we knew we'd regret leaving them open when sleep is needed in in the early morning as we make an effort to combat a bit of jet lag.

The living area in our penthouse condo.
Yesterday morning, we dined in the beautiful dining room of the Sheraton complex which includes, at the top is the unique Club Intrawest, a membership facility with any perks we're thoroughly enjoying.  We're so happy we chose this property. 

Although there's no stove, the microwave can be used.  We won't eat in while here since we rarely eat anything that requires reheating other than our homemade leftovers.  We've either dined on the past cruise or eaten in a restaurant over the past 50 days.  In 27 days we'll be able to cook our meals again.
At US $211 per night including free WiFi, (maid service only every three days)we were pleasantly surprised when we've heard that Vancouver has a reputation for being expensive in the tourist areas.  We can't dispute that.  It is expensive.

The living area in our condo.
The buffet was pricey at US $32 each. Tom wasn't thrilled with the selection of cold cereals and muffins but, did enjoy the fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and pancakes.  Pricey.

The shower is actually twice as large as shown.
I absolutely loved my perfect breakfast of a suitable frittata made with organic free range eggs and organic veggies.  I thought I was in heaven with a huge portion and a pile of smoky bacon, a few veggies and cheese on the side.

Dining area in the hotel.  We'll be dining outside the hotel in most instances.
We hardly ate anything on travel day when no food was served on the two flights (unlike flights in other countries) and our appetites were begging to be fulfilled. 


My breakfast in the hotel's restaurant.
We devoured the tiny packs of peanuts the flight attendants served plus almonds and cheese Phyllis had packed for us.  Nothing on the flight's menu of to-be-purchased items worked for me or appealed to Tom.  No big deal.  Missing a few meals didn't hurt either of us.

Décor in the hotel lobby.
As we've relaxed in the private Member's Lounge, we had an opportunity to speak to two very helpful concierges who provided us with maps, directions and lists of "to do" items within walking distance. 

Hotel lobby.

Thirty floors to our condo.  Twenty-nine floors to the Member's Lounge.
Soon, we'll take off on foot borrowing an umbrella from the hotel to find a grocery store for a few items and to check out the local restaurants.  There's a Laundromat within four blocks that we'll visit in a few days as we contemplate packing for the upcoming cruise on Tuesday. 

Upon entering the Member's Lounge where we're provided with fast free WiFi access which we also have in our condo.
As we're sitting in the fat stuffed comfy leather chairs in this beautifully appointed Member's Lounge overlooking downtown Vancouver and the ocean, we're living in the moment, loving "the one you're with," not thinking much further than the nose in front of our faces.

Wood carving in the Member's Lounge.
Years ago, had a six day trip to Vancouver been my "vacation" for the year, I'd have been content.  Pinch me!  I must be dreaming...or as they say, "living a dream."  Whatever it is, we are humbled.  We are grateful.

Keep it coming.

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Photo from one year ago, September 19, 2013:

Instead of steel construction support posts for support in Kenya they use stripped tree branches.  We were amazed by how they improvised with what they had on hand.  For details of this post, please click here.

I forgot to upload this travel day post last night! Written at the airport in Boston when heading to Vancouver...What's the deal with that?

Oh, good grief.  I'm bombarding our readers with posts.  I wrote this at the airport in Boston and was sidetracked when we didn't get  in until late and I was falling asleep in the taxi on the way to our hotel.  So here is the travel day post, minus photos (sorry about that).  Tomorrow morning or at your familiar usual time if outside the US, you'll see a new post with many photos and more each morning thereafter.
Misty cloudy day view over downtown Vancouver.
Yesterday's check in at Logan International Airport in Boston was a breeze.  We had to walk through the "naked scanner" and take off our shoes. I was frisked and Tom wasn't. My solitary large handbag was carefully scrutinized when its weight raised a red flag.

Once again, after all of our efforts to reduce our load, we still had to pay US $100 for 12 pounds in overweight luggage for my large suitcase.  I can't imagine what 12 pounds I'm willing to kiss goodbye.  Every item in that bag has an important purpose.

Before we fly again from Oahu to Maui, Hawaii on October 16th, I'll have figured something out.  Tom says it, "Goes with the territory" and not to worry.  I just don't like throwing money away. 

Otherwise, the curbside check in was painless when we'd already paid US $120 for our two large and two small bags.  Our luggage for this leg was US $220 for a one way flight. So it goes.

With 90 minutes remaining until time to board the plane, we sat at the gate, our iced tea mugs in hand while using the MiFi (handy little gadget).  Since we can't carry heavy books and our phone's batteries seem to die quickly when we're reading for a few hours, our laptops are always the best option for staying entertained when a wait is for an hour or more.

How did we like being back in the US?  We have mixed feelings.  Some things were odd to us, such as the low toilets everywhere.  We've never experienced low toilets anywhere we traveled. Sitting down and getting up was comparable to doing deep lunges.  Our knees cracked. What's the deal with that? 

When we went to the post office a few days ago we felt as if we were from another planet.  How quickly we forget simple procedures that were familiar to us in the long ago past.

The menus in restaurants blew us away.  How fun was it that they were in English. The number of choices and sizes of portions was mind boggling along with the English speaking servers committed to providing great service and expecting 15% to 20% tips.

As we drove to pick up Uncle Bernie and Phyllis on Tuesday, we couldn't believe how many stores and shops lined the boulevards, one after another, every possible store one could imagine.  We gawked in childlike wonder at it all.

People were very kind in Boston and yet we heard people yelling at one another on the street, something we hadn't seen witnessed since Turkey in June, 2013.  What's the deal with that?

In a perpetual state of observation, we are reminded of how much "excess" there is in the US; big, better, safer, nicer, easier.

To our surprise, we never watched TV in our hotel room in Boston. In about half of our vacation homes, there's been TVs with only one or two English speaking news channels, mostly BBC news.  Overall, I suppose we've lost interest in channel surfing, instead watching a few recorded shows on occasion on our own timeline.

Hawaii will be less of a location of "excess" when everything is imported and prices are high.  Other than our 11 nights in Waikiki, Oahu upcoming on October 5th, our vacation rentals are in quieter, less "touristy" areas of Maui, Big Island and Kauai.

The three days in Boston was unquestionably a culture shock for us which is surprising after our relatively short time away. In our old house, we'd remodeled our kitchen in 2004. The placement of the kitchen door had changed.  At the time we had two Australian Terriers, Ben and Willie. 

Willie, the younger of the two, easily adapted to the location of the new door.  But, Ben, the old timer, would stand at the blank exterior outdoor wall exactly where to door used to be, tapping the siding to get us to open the invisible door. 

We howled when this went on for weeks.  We're like Ben, scratching at a blank wall, assuming that everything should be as it was.  Its not.  We change. Things change. Somehow we adapt.  We create new ways of living our lives, regardless of how old we may be or how many habits we have ingrained into our way of life.

What's the deal with that?
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Photo from one year ago, September 18, 2013:

On this date one year ago, while living in Kenya, we had a small dinner party for Hans and Jeri.  We had a wonderful dinner in out outdoor living room.  For details of that date, please click here.

New time zone in Vancouver...posting time changes upcoming...

 

Like Seattle, it rains a lot in Vancouver.  Today is very cloudy.  This is the view from our beautiful condo in downtown Vancouver.  More photos will follow tomorrow. 
In the past 18 days since leaving London, we've had an overall nine hour time change.  I don't care what other seasoned travelers say, a good night's sleep doesn't necessarily fix it.

For most of us, one's biological clock must gradually adjust to the differences.  We've been awakening between 4:00 am and 5:00 am and crashing by 11:00 pm.  Other than the sleeping issues we feel fine. 

It hit me this morning that I usually post before most readers in the US and other countries are awake and there we were, available to read first thing each morning. 

Many have written to us explaining that each morning, they grab their cup of coffee or tea and sit down to read the most recent post.

As we continue to work our way west toward Hawaii, we are going to make adjustments to compensate for these time differences.

Thus, this little blurb is all you'll see today.  However, tomorrow morning a new post about our unbelievably wonderful accommodations in Vancouver will be awaiting you and will continue to be available each morning going forward from this point on.

Happy day to all....

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Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2013:
Hans, the owner of the house we rented in Kenya, took us to the construction site where he's building vacation condos. It was eye opening for life and work in Africa.  For detail of that date, please click here.


A tragic loss of life...Etched in our hearts forever...The journey continues...


My father George was a fine man. He'll remain in our hearts forever.
As revealing and vulnerable as we are in our daily posts, we carefully reserve a certain sense of privacy in our lives.  From time to time, we find ourselves in a quandary asking the question, ''Will revealing a sensitive personal situation benefit or enlighten even one of our worldwide readers?"  

If we have the opportunity to do so, we may choose to be as open as we are today.  We write and post photos here daily to entertain, to inspire and to share some of our research in regard to traveling to a particular location or as in our case, the world.  We, like you, learn as we go, fumbling along the way hoping to share valuable information we've gleaned from our mistakes and from our triumphs carrying the lessons forward into the next phase of our travels.

My 95 year old Uncle Bernie and his girlfriend.
Today's story is not about travel, although we had to travel to Boston for the experience.  Today's story is not intended to inspire, to educate, or to enlighten.  The sorrow of others doesn't entertain.  But, it does bring us closer in touch with our own loss and grief, if only for a moment or a day.

It's a sad story, as are the stories of each and every one of us in dealing with loss of a loved one.  Its a story of a loss so powerful that it has shaped my life and the lives of my two dear sisters...the loss of our father 54 years ago on October 18, 1960.

Uncle Bernie, his girlfriend Chavy and Phyllis.
His name was George.  He was 46 years old when he met a tragic end to his life.  He was manager of a metal casting foundry.  It was his last night on the floor having been promoted to a corporate position starting the following Monday morning.  It was Friday at 1:00 am, October 16, 1960. 

Our phone rang.  My mother, startled by the phone at the late hour, answered frantically.  We heard her scream.  Minutes later, as she pulled on her coat, she hollered to us, "Your father's been injured at work.  I'm going to the hospital.  I'll call when I know."  The door slammed behind her.
My father on the left, brother Red and sister Ida and their mother, my grandmother, Ethyl.  Uncle Bernie was yet to be born.
I was 12 years old.  My sister Susan was 16 and Julie was four.  We were scared but, he'd been injured in the past which was never life threatening.

An explosion occurred.  His clothing caught on fire and he ran. A co-worker dropped him to the floor beating out the flames with his bare hands as my father writhed in excruciating pain.  He had third degree burns over 98% of his body. 
My heart pounded as we walked toward the grave of my father.  As we reached his grave site, the pounding eased and a sense of contentment washed over me.  I felt a sense of peace and of gratitude.
He lay conscious in agonizing pain, blinded, unable to breathe for two full horrifying days, succumbing on the third day. The battle to survive was too enormous even for this fine tower of strength and determination, a man of great character, a man of great will.

As my sisters and I waited in the living room of our home in a small town near Boston, wondering when we'd hear how he was doing. We'd lived in Boston for only two years, having spent the first years of our lives growing up in California to which we returned a few months later.

We had no knowledge of what had happened to him until around 3:00 am when a reporter pounded on our front door asking for a photo, "Of the man who was dying after being severely burned and was "unrecognizable," he said, "Hey, girls, get me a photo of your daddy so we can put it in the newspaper."

My father, George, passed away almost 54 years ago.  Memories of him linger in my heart and mind all of these years later.
We slammed the door in his face.  We fell to our knees on the living room floor , hugging one another, crying hysterically, scared and alone.  It wasn't until daylight when family appeared and we were finally told the truth. 

He passed a few days later.  My mother's screams rang through my ears for many years to come.  He was gone.  Somehow, each of us had to find our way to grieve, to heal and to move on.
Cousin Phyllis lost her daughter Edie and husband Arnie in the last decade.  Her strong spirit and passion for life shines through her loving demeanor. 
Yesterday, my Uncle Bernie (my father's brother), my cousin Phyllis, Tom and I visited his grave site in Boston.  My sisters and I returned to Boston in the 1970's to visit the cemetery and see our grandmother, uncles and other family members.  That was 42 years ago. 

The four of us spent the day together at the cemetery and later reminiscing over a memory filled lunch at a local restaurant sharing stories, laughing and crying.  It was a day I'll always treasure, powerful and meaningful.

It was this reason we'd  chosen the most recent transatlantic cruise.  It ended in Boston.  One more time we could see Uncle Bernie (and of course, Cousin Phyllis), whom along with his brother, Uncle Red (Phyllis's dad, who passed away in 2002) had come to visit us in Minnesota many years ago for a memorable week together.

All the loved ones lost.
Tom hit it off so well with the "uncles" that he too became one of the "boys" linked to the memory of my dad, George.  It was no different today.  Tom and Uncle Bernie each ordered a cocktail toasting to being together once again.  During lunch, Uncle and I often held hands, each in total awe of being together once again, love deeper than ever.

Memories fade, sorrows ease and life goes on.  If my father were able to hear me, all these years later, I'd say, "Daddy, thank you, for being the special man that you were and for loving me and my sisters. Thank you for the role you've played in  shaping my life so that now, in my senior years, I'm happier than I've ever been before.  I'm living life to the fullest, on my terms, fulfilling the dream I never knew I had, with a man that in many ways reminds me of you...strong, loyal, determined and filled with love."

A single flower growing at the cemetery reminded me of how fragile and fleeting life is.
Today, we continue on our year's long journey.  Soon, our flight departs from Boston, Massachusetts to Vancouver, British Columbia where we'll spend six days preparing for the upcoming cruise to Hawaii beginning on September 23rd, ending in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 5th.

We'll stay in close touch each and every day reveling in the wonders surrounding us.  Whether its a waning sun, a smiling face or sudden burst of laughter, it all matters.  Life is short.
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Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2013:
On this date a year ago, we posted our flight information from Mombasa, Kenya to Mpumalanga, South Africa departing on November 30, 2013.  No photos were posted other than the flight information.  Please click here for details.


Day 2 Boston...A thoughtful gesture from the hotel...Tom's new laptop...Mini shopping spree!...Sad memories...

The generous gift sent to our hotel room by management of Four Points by Sheraton Norwood.
We apologize for the lack of photos today.  Many photos will be posted tomorrow.  Yesterday's required shopping left me needing my hands free and thus, no additional photos. 

Yesterday morning, after meeting Kelli Boyer in catering at Four Points by Sheraton Norwood as she hosted morning coffee in the lobby we engaged in a delightful conversation. I felt as if I'd known her for a long time.

Later in the day after returning to our hotel room after a much needed and enjoyed shopping trip with Cousin Phyllis, I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful platter in our room containing fruit and cheese accompanied by a full bottle of Pinot Noir and Pellegrino. 

As a gift from Kelli and the hotel management, we couldn't have felt more appreciative for the kindly gesture.  Its always the little things in life that leave us feeling warm and fuzzy, often the most simple of gestures, with the most heartfelt of intentions.

Yesterday morning at 10 am we arrived at Costco in Dedham, MA, purchased a new membership when the old membership had expired long ago. Immediately, we dashed to the laptop department and were disappointed to find that they didn't carry Acer laptops.

The options were few when Tom wanted to replace his cracked screen laptop with one with one terabyte with a lighted keyboard and Windows 8.1.  With screams of protest by millions of Windows 8 users worldwide, Microsoft has reduced the installations of Windows 8 or 8.1 worldwide on new computers.

With no laptops in stock meeting his criteria, he had no choice but to purchase the HP display model.  Neither of us have ever been motivated to buy a floor model of any product fearing, as most do, it would be inferior in some manner.

In this case, with little time or motivation to shop further, he decided to make the purchase for US $100 less than the already reduced US $599.  After tech support worked on it for awhile to bring it back to its factory settings, we perused the huge store, in awe of everything we saw. 

We felt like kids in a candy store on visual overload.  With no room for additional weight or space in our luggage we only purchased a pack of four much needed battery powered toothbrushes, a shaver and blades package for me that should last a year at US $29.  (We can't believe the cost of razor blades these days).

With women's blades in short supply outside the US, as we moved from location to location I've had no choice but to purchased packages with a new shaver and one extra blade at grocery stores outside the US.  It was impossible to ever find replacement blades for any of the razors I've purchased having to buy new shavers every few months.  Very confusing. 

After the US $585 purchase at Costco, we headed back to our hotel to drop off Tom and our purchases.  He had no interest in shopping with Phyllis and I.  She arrived at noon to pick me up for a shopping trip and lunch. 

The prior evening she had insisted on taking our laundry to her favorite laundress to have it washed, dried and folded.  The bag was so heavy Tom carried it out to her car. 

When she arrived the next morning, the laundry was done at a meager cost of only US $23! We'd spent US $34 washing and drying a mere two loads in London while we sat and waited for almost two hours.  We were grateful Phyllis helped us.  There's simply not enough time in Boston to sit in a Laundromat.

As mentioned earlier I needed to purchase bras at Victoria's Secret, a few lightweight cardigan type sweaters at Phyllis's favorite outlet store and toiletries from a Walgreen's store.  Three new bras later at US $148 (no photos necessary), two cardigans and a shirt later, we headed to lunch. 

By 4:30 we were back at our hotel room where we saw the beautiful fruit, cheese, wine and water tray sent by management as appreciation for our mention and quasi review in yesterday's post.

Never having expectations of any type for posting excellent comments about venues, we were shocked and pleased.  We nibbled on what we could sending Phyllis home with the remainder. 

Last night, exhausted from not enough sleep due to the many time changes over the last week sailing across the ocean, we had a casual mediocre dinner at Outback, returning to our hotel by 9 pm.

Today, we'll pick up Phyllis at her home in Stoughton in time for me to help her with a few computer issues.  Then, we off to pick up Uncle Bernie so we can all head to the cemetery of our beloved family.

Of course, it's raining.  It rained the day was Father was buried in October, 1960.  Regardless of the weather, we're going.  If we stood outside in the rain for 90 minutes in Versailles, France, we can stand in the rain at my Father and other family member's grave sites.

With little time for taking photos in these past almost 48 hours in Boston, we wrap up this short post today.  In less than one hour, we're out the door once more.

Tomorrow, we'll post the story of my Father's tragic death with photos.  It will be an emotional experience for me and for Tom, an experience of information gathering to enter into Ancestry.com. 

Perhaps today, the visit with 95 year old Uncle Bernie may fill in some of the blank in my family history that have been impossible to find.  Oddly, he has more of a passion for family history than I.  Some love family history and others are ambivalent about it.

I guess in generations to come, our family need only read this blog to discover more information than they'd ever want or need.  Ah, would that any of us could read about our Grandparent's life and travels in the 1920's.

See you tomorrow, albeit with red rimed eyes and a lump in my throat as my long ago past is quickly brought into the forefront surely eliciting a sense of sorrow and loss, hopefully ending in a sense of discovery and peace.

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Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2013:

We weren't sure if this was a Monkey or Baboon in the window of the thatched roof of a neighboring house in Kenya, where we lived for three months, one year ago.  For details of that date, please click here.