2011 was a busy year, two trips abroad, one US vacation, putting the house up for sale and much, much more.
We started with a brand-new granddaughter in January (a big welcome to Avery Lynn), a trip to Florence, Italy (March 10-21) and fell just in love with everything. Besides spending lots of time walking, eating, drinking wine, visiting museums – oh so much fun – we also checked out a few neighborhoods that we might like to live in. We found the perfect place to have our morning capuchino and cornetto for around $6, and went there daily.
MARCH: FLORENCE | During our stay we toured the Uffizi Gallery that is just up a side alley from the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace – former Medici Palace before they moved into the larger one on the other side of the Arno River). We saw Michaelangelo’s “Deposition” (“The Florentine Pieta”) which is generally regarded as a self-portrait and his tomb in the Sante Croce Church, toured the Boboli Gardens (lots and lots of cats), and Alan braved the 463 steps to the top of The Duomo – Basilica di Santa Marie del Fiore (Basilica of St. Mary of the Flowers) [the main basilica in each city is called the Duomo] and the return trip while I sat outside and enjoyed un caffe (an espresso) and took photos of the outside of the building. We rode a train to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, although just getting the tickets from the man at the train station who didn’t speak English was quite an adventure in itself! One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the “Gates of Paradise” in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Cathedral Museum) [the doors on the Baptistry outside are a reproduction, the original is in the museum – well worth the price of admission]. We studied art history and graduated together in 2009 and this was one of the pieces that was own our art “bucket list.” As with any great vacation it was over way too soon.
MAY: SEA WORLD | In May, Tracy and her sister, Tammy, spent a weekend in Loma Linda, CA, visiting Danielle, Joe, Lorelei and Lillian (who was still in the hospital at the time). They had the opportunity to kidnap Lorelei for a trip to Sea World. Such a great time. Tammy and Lorelei were so funny, arguing and laughing – Lorelei really LOVES her Aunt Tammy! See them in action: Tammy and Lorelei at Sea World
JUNE: LORELEI | In June, we had our granddaughter, Lorelei stay with us for a week. She loved the idea of having her own bedroom and bathroom and made sure that we knew that the dog was not welcome on the bed. That didn’t stop Kiara from jumping up on the bed to cuddle, though. Even though Kiara is only two pounds having a platform bed that is only eight inches off the ground makes it possible for her to levitate right up and into the middle of things. Eventually, Lorelei and Kiara worked out a system that worked. Kiara could be on the bed while Lorelei played in her bubble bath, but after that she had to go and Lorelei kept the door closed to ensure that no sneakiness happened when she wasn’t looking. Nonni was working all week, but Grandpa had lots of free time for fun things, movies, Reno’s new Discovery Museum, lunch with friends, hot chocolate at Starbucks. Our little angel is so much fun to spend time with.
JULY: VACATION WITH FAMILY | In early July, we went to Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Debbie and Gerry’s place in Wyoming (an amazing log cabin on a beautiful piece of property not too far from Cody). While in Yellowstone saw bears, elk and bison – lots and lots of bison – in fact we ended up on the wrong side of a pasture change and had to wait while a herd of approx. 300 crossed the road right in front of us, an amazing site even if a little scary (Alan was hanging out of the car window taking pictures and a couple of times had to duck in quickly due to oncoming bison horns). There was water on the Terraces for the first time in a long time – very nice! Great time spent with family, Mom, Trina, Glen, Etta-Kimiyo, and Braeden were there too. That’s Braeden’s photo on the Year in Review page taking on a lot of water (Alan captured this photo with a disposable, waterproof camera – he’s good!) while we were on a rafting trip on the Shoshone River, not white water but still a lot of fun. All in all, a great family trip.
JULY: HOME | Mid July saw Alan beginning the week-long process of cleaning out the garage, thankfully Tracy had to work (bummer – so sorry to have missed that!). After two 6-yard and one 14-yard dumpsters, the garage was finally cleaned out as well as the house and by August the house was on the market in hopes of selling it before we retire and move abroad.
JULY: HOMECOMING | Our daughter, Dallas, safely returned from Afghanistan in late July, which had us on the road again to welcome her home. Fort Carson in Colorado Springs did a very nice welcome back ceremony, not that it mattered, everyone was so excited to have their daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers home and that was all that truly mattered. We got to meet some of Dallas friends and had an extra couple of days for some side trips to the Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge and a skyline drive to see fossil dinosaur footprints, a ride on a mini train to see the Gorge from a different perspective. Oh, and a trip to the Coach store for an early anniversary gift for Tracy.
AUGUST: WEDDING | Mid August we were celebrating with the family at Lyssa’s wedding to Chris Mumme. They held the wedding at Lavender Ridge in Reno near the Truckee River. Uncle Gerry, with a one-day license, did the ceremony — he was fabulous. Lyssa was in tears when Tracy showed her the surprise we had brought with us to the wedding — her cousin, Dallas, on leave for a couple of weeks. The wedding was beautiful and so was the bride. Lyssa had a gorgeous dress by Alfred Angelo and looked just lovely.
FALL SEMESTER: RENO | August through mid-December was right back into the fall semester and then we left Christmas morning for two weeks in Rome.
DECEMBER: ROME | Rome at Christmastime was amazing! Piazza Navona hosts a Christmas fair that is not to be missed, including a photo op with LaBefana (the lovely Christmas Witch that leaves gifts for children on Epiphany – what’s not to love about that!). We toured the Colosseum and Roman Forum with a talented and lovely guide in a huge tour group of four =) which included private entry to the top tier of the Colosseum, from where amazing photos can be taken, we walked through the Jewish Ghetto and ate deep-fried artichoke (tastes a little like cardboard), had an audience with the Pope, went to Epiphany Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, toured through the Vatican Museum, walked on the Appian Way, went through the catacombs at St. Sebastian Church, rode the metro, took buses, got to see the Ara Pacas (Altar of Peace) in person [this was another art piece on the “bucket list”], and knelt on the Scala Sancta (Sacred Steps) [according to the Christian tradition, the steps that led up to the home of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial], visited all four major basilicas.
Of course our luggage was slightly delayed (two days) however, we found that the hotel concierge, Nikko, was a magician because once he found out we were without luggage, it seemed to magically appear a few hours later. Had a wonderful time, met some very nice people, drank good wine and ate great food and as always found ourselves on the return flight way too soon.
What a great year.