Archive for May, 2009


European Vacation Photos

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

A few photos from our trip to northern Italy and southern France.

We started in Florence, Italy taking in Brunelleschi’s dome for the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fior. The cathedral complex includes the Baptistry and Giotto’s Campanile.


We also did a lot of walking the streets of Florence and visiting the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world which is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi.

One of my favorite aspects about being in Italy (and France) was eating Gelato every day – OK, maybe twice per day. Gelato stores are readily available with an incredible array of flavors.



From Florence we took the train to Vernazza. On the way, we stopped at the quiet Renaissance town of Lucca, which still has its city walls intact. Much different from the chaos of Florence!

Maybe my favorite time on the whole trip was the two nights in Vernazza and the wonderful Cinque Terra. There’s only one real street in Vernazza where cars and trucks come down in the morning for deliveries. The rest of the day it and the side alleys all over town are pedestrian areas. This is the “road”/alley to our room in Vernazza.


One day we hiked the Cinque Terre trail from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare. Then, we rode the train to the far end of the hike, Riomaggiore and walked back to Vernazza. The trail was easier in some areas than others. The hardest parts were the thin terraced trail from Vernazza to Monterosso and the climb up the 450 steps to the hill town of Corniglia. The views at every turn were fabulous and worth all the effort.




Every day we ate a simple breakfast that we bought ourselves at a local store. We usually ate croissants, another bread item and orange juice. Lunch was often eaten quickly while we were changing trains or hiking. It was usually a hearty bread with meat and cheese. Dinner was always at an outdoor cafe. The weather was always perfect for an outdoor meal.


Cafe in Nimes, France

From Italy we spent a long day traveling to Avignon, France. We took a trip to Nimes to see some Roman ruins including the Colosseum.



In Avignon we visited the Pope’s Palace, the Pont d’Avignon and the city park. The old city is surrounded by a wall such as seen in this photo.


We also visited the laundromat in Avignon, figuring out how to read French directions and use the machines.

Next, we visited Arles, France – just a bit south of Avignon. There were Roman ruins there as well as a Colosseum. We got to enter this Colosseum and see it from the inside as well. The outside is being restored. Look at this picture. Can you tell which side has been restored?!


We headed back to the southern coast and visited Cassis, France. Here’s the view of the harbor from our hotel balcony. The Mediterranean sea is to the right.


Our goal in Cassis was to relax and visit the Calanques. We had planned to hike but our tired feet needed a rest so we took a boat tour instead to visit the calanques.


We set off next for Nice, France. We were derailed by a French train strike. We had to be re-routed and the trip took longer than planned. The main consequence of this was that 1) we didn’t get to go to Monaco and 2) we were getting really tired of train travel.

Nice had a great old town with a wonderful market.


The promenade in Nice is also a great way to walk and view the ocean.

From Nice we took the narrow gauge railroad Chemins de Fer de Provence to the medieval looking town of Entrevaux in the French Alps. We climbed the 500 feet uphill to the old citadel.


Today is our anniversary. Happy 20 years!!!


In this photo we are standing on the bridge over the Var river, which is the access to the town of Entrevaux.


When we exited the back of the citadel, we found a marked trail. We decided to do some hiking and followed the trail about another 500 feet uphill. We had a great view of the Var river and the countryside around it.


We finished our trip by returning to Italy. We spent a day in Milan, shopping for gifts, walking the shopping district and climbing to the top of the gothic Duomo.


We had a great vacation. It was tiring but we saw lots of cool things and ate great food. Our airplane ride home was the most disappointing part of the trip. One piece of Mike’s luggage got left in Italy by the airlines and we had to wait 3 hours in D.C. for a thunderstorm to pass. We got home at 10:30 p.m., very tired. The girls were very happy to see us return. Jennifer would not let go of me when she hugged me at the airport. It is nice to be missed.

These are 21 of the over 400 photographs I saved from the trip. Happy scrapping to come!



Sunday, May 3rd, 2009


Auld Sod Red Magic Merlin CGC CD OA OAJ OAC NJC

November 6, 1993 – May 2, 2009

A wonderful companion for myself and my family for 15 years.

I will always remember the uncontainable excitement and sparkle in his eyes when we played fetch.

I will always remember his willingness (and patience with me) in doing all these strange things (tracking, obedience and agility) that I asked of him.

I will always remember his desire to be with me for a walk or just lounging around the house.

To live on in our hearts and minds forever…

You are deeply missed.


Design Your Life Week #12

Friday, May 1st, 2009

This is the final week of the on-line class. No new information, but lots of encouragement to continue. The assignment from this week is to look at all the layouts that you’ve done for the class and choose your two favorites. Now, that those two layout sketches and do other pages with those same sketches. I have a few that I really enjoyed using – the ones dealing with white space in week #5 were some of my favorites.  I also really liked week #8 when we did layouts with large photographs, especially when it is contrasted with smaller photographs. I love the visual impact.