Chester, England

Some of you have already noticed, but I uploaded a whole lot of photos yesterday.  About 250 actually were in the batch.  It includes the rest of the photos from Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France.  I did not upload any photos from Scotland or England.  They will have to wait for the next chance I get.

We are now staying with the Byrom family in Runcorn, England.  Today we went to Chester and walked the walls.  We went through the cathedral and went down the main shopping streets.  It was a beautiful day for what we were doing.  We quite enjoyed ourselves.  We each had a pasty and a vanilla finger.  She liked it but it was too much.

We stopped by Ellesmere Port on the way home at a outlet mall.  We picked out a couple of suits and bought them.  However, we were not convinced we had the best deal so we took them back.  For as much money as we were paying, I didn’t absolutely love the suits.  With our buyers remorse, we took them back.  Interestingly, on the way out, we stumbled upon another store.  I found better quality suits that were on sale for almost half of the cost for the other two suits.  Hands down, Amanda and I both liked the second store over the first.  Now I have some new suits, one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Europe.

We had dinner this evening, some amazing lasagna.  Rose has always made great lasagna.  Afterward, Rose, Amanda, and I went to visit an older lady I taught on the mission.  She was such a sweet soul and she proved to be the same.  We have all aged, but the sociality has not diminished or changed with time.  I think Amanda quite enjoyed Jane Young and her quaint little home in the English countryside.

Yesterday, we had dinner with Jack and Brenda Millington from Howe Bridge.  Jack used to cook us as missionaries some wonderful homemade pot pies.  Visiting with him on Sunday, he offered to make me and Amanda one.  We agreed and met with them yesterday.  The pot pie was as wonderful as ever, boiled cabbage, and homemade trifle.  We really had some good laughs.  Jack even sent us off with a couple of parting gifts.

There are so many people that nearly 10 years have changed nothing.  We don’t always remember each other’s names, but the feelings are still the same.  Memories seem to come back quickly, surprisingly.  What will heaven be like?

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Lausanne, Geneva, and Paris

We did not have internet in Paris, so there has been a long silence.  Perhaps that is a good thing.

As a note, I did upload some photos on the blog.  They were the ones from Dresden.  Well, a few.  I hit my limit for the month for how many photos I can upload.  As soon as July 1st hits, I will start uploading again.  Sorry.  There are some great pictures from Dresden and Meissen.

We left Bern and started making our way to Paris.  We were planning on hitting the temple in Bern but after trying to figure out the buses, taxis, or trains with attendant costs, backpacks, and traveling all day in our church clothes, we threw in the towel.  We just started out for Paris.

We made stops in Lausanne and Geneva.  Lausanne was beautiful.  The view coming in over Lake Geneva was amazing.  Some of the Alps between Bern and Lausanne were breathtaking, much like the Alps we passed through in Northern Italy.  We were supposed to catch a train directly from Lausanne to Paris, but it was fully booked.  We were able to book a train from Geneva so we knew our time in Lausanne was limited.  We decided to hike up to the Lausanne Notre-Dame.  We stopped at some church on the way, St. Michaels or whatever.  We heard an Oomp Pah Pah (who knows what they are really called) in a park near the cathedral.  It was so hot, the sun was killing us, and we were wearing our backpacks climbing an asphalt mountain made for a welcome arrival at the top.  We enjoyed the hike back down to the station to head off for Geneva.

We had limited time at Geneva as well.  We walked over and saw the famous Jet d’Eau and enjoyed what little comfort the breeze brought to us from it.  It just made us want to jump into the water for some salvation from the heat.  We walked through the park to see the flower clock, which all these watch-makers got together to show their prowess.  This massive clock set in a flower bed.  However, it was more than 6 hours off, not one of the hands was on the right time.  Watch making prowess must have been a think of the past.  We then walked up to Saint Peter’s Cathedral where we toured where John Calvin taught.  The University of Geneva is right next door.  It was all very fascinating.  We then had to make our way back down to the train station so we could head off to Paris.

The ride to Paris could have been better.  We ended up in an assigned seat going backwards.  Plus this train was going much faster than the other trains we have been riding on it and it swayed back and forth.  I got sea sick on a train!  Boy was I glad when we got to land.  I wasn’t feeling well.

The next few days in Paris were a blur.  It was miserably hot, again, for the first two days.  We walked loads and both of us ended up with blisters on our feet.  Probably more from the swelling of our feet rubbing.  I was fortunate enough to get blisters between my big and index toes on both feet.  Amanda got them on top from her flip flops.  But it was quite the couple of days in Paris.  We hit all the big sites, except the Pantheon.  Arc de Triumphe, Place de la Concorde, Place de la Bastille, Champs-Elysees, Montmarte, L’Opera, Saint Denis Cathedral, Basilique du Sacre-Coeur, Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Invalides, Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame de Paris, and Palais Versailles.  I am sure that is not even a full list.  But we saw them, and much of Paris in between.

Since it is late here, only a few highlights.  Amanda got to see the sun set from the top of the Eiffel Tower on the longest day of the year.  I was there too.  How romantic is that?  We had a fancy, full french meal before ascending the Eiffel’s nearly 700 steps to the second state.  Mine included deep fried turkey and marinated (basically pickled) red peppers.  I probably could have done without the peppers.  My baklava was amazing!

We climbed more than 1000 steps between Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower in one day.  On other days we climbed mont marte and a whole list of other stairs.  Add to that the oppressive heat, and some days we were about as good as dead when we got back to our hotel room.  Our hotel had no air conditioning!

We enjoyed French pastries every morning and every time Amanda would let us.

We did see the Venis d’ Milo and Mona Lisa, along with scores too many of other artworks.

The Metro of Paris is wonderful.  We could get to nearly anywhere in relative comfort.  However, some of them were hot and the air hung with a motor oil smell and greasiness.

We are glad to be back Oostrozebeke, Belgium for a day of laundry and relaxing.  Thursday we fly out for Glasgow.  Britain, here we come!

Bern, Switzerland

Hallo from Bern, Switzerland.  It has been a verz long daz working our waz through Northern Italz up here to Swityerland.  Zes, we are back to a German kezboard+  About the onlz thing reallz noteworthz todaz is that we made a stop over in Milano, oh and Zurich.  We will be seasoned train travelers the waz we are going.  I cannot forget to mention the endless tunnels as we worked our waz through the breathtaking Alps.

We left the Mediterranean humid heat to come to the Alpine drz heat of Bern.  Aren`t we luckz?

I know I onlz made passing mention of Venice in our verz short time on the internet there.  It was an interesting citz.  We enjozed our different Italian meals and some of the sights.  However, it was hot and sultrz.  We both ended up with blisters on our feet and enough swass for the rest of our lives.  It is the worst laid out citz on the planet.  Between the canals and small allezs, we never knew if we were coming or going.  There were manz wonderful things there, but neither of us think we will go back.

Bern has to be our favorite citz so far.  Dresden is definitelz a match, but unfortunatelz war removed most of its everz daz walk of life.  Bern was fortunate to maintain and hold most of its medieval roots.

We are learning a new currencz here.  We were feeling rich knowing the dollar was worth more than the Swiss Franc, but we are feeling poor watching how much higher everzthing is priced.

Tomorrow we hit the temple and start the long, long, long, long, long train ride to Paris.

Dutch Sabbath

Nothing too much to report this day.  We went to Antwerp for Stake Conference.  It was a live broadcast from Salt Lake City.  Yep, we came all the way to attend church in Belgium broadcast to us in English!  We did get to hear a blessing in Dutch, but that was about it.  For those non-English speakers, it was translated for them in the main chapel.

We enjoyed the rest of the day with the Cazier’s.  We enjoyed some sandwiches for lunch, some shrimp/pasta/zucchini dish for dinner.  Both were very good.  They have been good to us.  Letting us use their laundry, spare room, and dining room.  They drove us to Vianden, Luxembourg, and Antwerp.  I do not know how we will ever repay them.  We certainly appreciate their hospitality and friendship.

We are planning on heading out for Paris tomorrow.  Although that plan may very well change as we hear of a strike with the French railways.  We may reverse our trip and head to The Hague tomorrow instead.

Victor in Vianden

We have just returned from a trip to Luxembourg.  I really am exhausted and don’t want to take the time to tell a whole lot.  So you are only going to get an abbreviated version.

Yesterday we went to visit the Catholic church in Harelbeke, Belgium.  We then went to Kortrijk, Belgium and of course Amanda had to go to the chocolate shop for Belgium chocolate.  We did some window shopping, being tempted by some of the goods in the stores.  The suits were out of my range, as is about everything with the exchange rate with the Euro/Dollar.  We did snap a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Afterward, we made our way back to Oostrozebeke and prepared for the trip to Vianden.  We drove through the beautiful Ardennes on the way and into Germany.  There was a storm the entire way so everything was highly misted and especially green.  We drove past Brussels, Liege, and stayed at the Grand Hotel de Vianden.  It was very pretty.  Amanda and I went for a late night walk through the city for some photographs.  The bars were full but we enjoyed the sights.  Victor Hugo lived in Vianden for a spell.  We saw the house he lived in and the bridge with his name and bust.

Today we arose and went for a tour of the Vianden Castle/Chateau.  It was beautiful.  Originally there was a fort on the site in the time of Julius Caesar.  The current castle was built during the 13-14th centuries.  It fell into ruin but was restored in the 1970’s – 1980’s.  Vianden was the last town to be liberated in Luxembourg in 1945.

Afterward, we drove through the beautiful mountains to Luxembourg and went on a tour of many of the cities sights.  We saw the Notre Dame there.  It was gorgeous with a huge, high wall.  Who would ever have thought?  We ate lunch at Pizza Hut of all places.  Talk about going for the local cuisine.  I did have toasted bread with goat cheese on them (At Pizza Hut!)  Did you know Luxembourg had a 1,000 year celebration?  963 to 1963.  How is that for old?  The downtown market area reminded me much of London or Manchester, but the architecture is different.

We finished our trip to Luxembourg and came back to Oostrozebeke, Belgium.  We will visit Antwerp and Brugge in the next couple of days before we make our way to Paris.

Anyhow, I have uploaded more pictures in the European Trip Album from the last two days for your viewing pleasure.

Europe Trip – June 4-5

We have arrived in Belgium!  What a relief.  I cannot tell you.

We flew out from Boise airport.  We were fortunate to catch a non-stop flight, from LA!!  Boy, if there is anything near torture, try flying through the night in a very cramped space.  After 9.5 hours on the plane, we landed at London Heathrow.  We found our way through the Underground to Kings Cross Station.  Amanda went and found Platform 9 & 3/4 of Harry Potter fame and took a few pictures.  We waited, checked in for Eurorail at St. Pancras Station, and enjoyed a Cornish Pasty.  A first for Amanda, a beloved memory for me.

We climbed aboard the Eurorail which treated us to a trip through the Chunnel.  France proved to have beautiful scenery.  We got off at Lille, France and switched trains.  We rode to Kortrijk, Belgium.  James met us at the station and now we are in our digs at Oostrozebeke, Belgium.

Funny thing, we knew we needed to get to Kortrijk but we forgot to bring James & Catherine’s phone number and address.  Meaning, when we arrived, we were totally at their mercy.  We couldn’t catch a taxi to their home, and we could not call them.  It is sure a good thing James showed up with his little Toyota.

We find ourselves babysitting while J & C are off to branch council.  We put the kids to bed in 15 minutes, take a shower, and crash ourselves!  We are exhausted

Be sure to check our joint Blog.  Amanda will include some pictures there with some commentary.  I will also upload to a new European Album all our photos we deem of sufficient quality to share with the world.

Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

Boy, am I glad June is here!  My wife has joined me after our long separation from job and school.  What a relief.  I don’t have to worry about her stressing herself out or being picked up by a much more dashing, intelligent, catch of a man.

We leave this week for what may be the trip of a lifetime.  How many times in a lifetime, if ever, does one get to go to Europe for 6 weeks?  We will be starting with friends in Belgium, working our way to Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Scotland, and who knows where else we may stumble.  We really cannot afford it, but why not live with some reckless abandon for a little while?  There are so many friends who do so every day of their life and seem to make it through their whole lives.  Granted, their quality may be diminished some.  But what is lost by worry seems it might be made up by the large home and toys that the self-proclaimed responsible typically don’t get to enjoy.  We leave on the 4th to return on the 16th of July.

We signed a purchase contract for a home this month.  Somewhere around the 22nd of June we will be closing on a humble home in Oklahoma City.  Who would ever have thought my first home purchase would be in Oklahoma City?  Did I ever think I would move or live in Oklahoma City.  Most certainly not.

Amanda and I just hit all three of the Idaho temples this past week.  Amanda had never been to any of them.  We have now hit all three Idaho and 11 Utah temples.  Before year end, we will have three more in that geography alone to hit to make it complete once again.  I am very sad I will be in Oklahoma City when the dedication of the Twin Falls Temple takes place.  Being so close to home, and wanting a temple closer for so long, now we get one and I cannot attend.  Amanda and I will be helping with the open house in July.  I guess that is some solace for missing the dedication.  I believe Idaho Falls and Manti are still my favorite temples.  The Rexburg Temple has so many gorgeous rooms.  However, for some reason I still prefer the sessions that are split up into all their sections.  Manti and Idaho Falls Temples both have you moving between all the rooms.  Manti has the pioneer value and beauty with a live session, but the simplicity of Idaho Falls with its rooms and movement make it a favorite.  Salt Lake certainly has the beauty but the place seems more like a zoo than a temple, especially in the summer with all the sealings.

This past week Amanda spent a day with me at work doing bench testing.  It was a beautiful day and we spent nearly all of it in Minidoka.  The Minidoka Longhorn Cafe and Whitesides Dairy was enjoyable for me.  The wastewater we play with is less than beautiful but it is part of life.  Whether we like it or not, we all have waste and somebody has to deal with it.  I thought Amanda was going to throw up at one point when we were doing some filteration.  She kept it down, luckily.  The day turned out well.  Except for the fact Amanda picked up a tick somewhere.  Not only did she pick him up, the tick dug in and started to sup near the middle of her calf.  She was not a happy camper when she discovered him.  A little polish remover and she backed right out.  Hope she got plenty to eat for the long stay in the septic tank.

For the first time in what must be at least 8 years since Grandma Ross passed away, all my siblings were back together.  Becky was coming through Southern Idaho so Scott organized a BBQ.  All five of us where there.  It was really quite a bit of fun and I enjoyed myself.  Even though we were never really close, I am glad we are still cordial and can enjoy ourselves when we get together.  Vicki, Dad’s first wife, was even there.  Dad and Jan were there as well.  Andra brought Brian and Daniel and little Daniel was certainly a favorite.

I know I have not been writing as much.  Despite more people reading the blog than ever before, I just don’t feel like I have much to write.  A couple of people want me to write more relevant things that would pertain to them, but how does one write interesting things for everyone?  Then, how does anyone write for someone else and keep their voice and soul into it?