Posted tagged ‘bellows air force base’

Pattys Most Excellent Adventure – Part V

June 13, 2012


2010 and I know you probably think that’s about all but it keeps getting better.  I had to cut the tax season short in order to use a birthday gift from Susan last year.  She bought me a ticket to the Elton John-Billy Joel concert in Seattle in February, which worked out great.  I was able to attend this unforgettable concert with Susan in Seattle before leaving to go to Hawaii.   The concert was held at the Key Arena and even though we had seats we hardly used them.  Everyone was standing and singing along and it was super fun.  Then my Hawaiian vacation started in Maui with the usual whale watching and an added bonus; a stargazing cruise.  I am hoping to repeat that one someday, it was very interesting.  Then we went to Oahu and spent two weeks at Bellows Air Force Base.  We like to travel to Hawaii by catching a hop on a military plane, usually out of Travis AFB, California.  We sometimes spend a few days waiting around the airport and we never know what kind of plane we will fly on; sometimes it’s a C-5 or a C-17 or a C-9.  This time we returned to Travis on a tanker KC-135 and we actually refueled a flight of F-15s (I think that’s right) that we met over the Pacific. 


The flights we catch are usually training missions or cargo planes that are flying to Hawaii anyway and the pilots are kind enough to let old military retired people like us go along for the ride.    The planes are not high on comfort but the experience is well worth any discomfort and it is just downright fun for an adventure junky like me.  That reminds me to mention how much I love doing the zip lines in Hawaii.  From the time I took that first step off the platform I was hooked; I enjoyed it so much we put a zip line in our yard for the grandkids.  

But first the highlight of 2010 was my trip to Denmark with Traci, Rene & grandsons.  Rene is a college professor and was asked to teach a class in Copenhagen.  Well, somehow I got invited along and what a treat.  Rene rented a nice apartment from a family that was traveling for the summer and we began to explore Denmark.  A Jazz festival was going on while we were there and I remember sitting by the Nyhavn canal listening to a local group playing  “When The Saints Come Marching In”. Remarkable, I know.  While Rene was busy at school Traci, the boys and I toured around Copenhagen via the Metro and climbed towers; castle towers and church towers.  You would not believe how many towers there are in Denmark.  Then on a weekend we flew to Paris and climbed towers there; the Eiffel tower, the Notre Dame tower, the Arch de Triumph and on and on.  We also went to an amusement park in Paris near ‘The Louvre’ and I went on rides with the boys.  Samuel asked me to go on a particular ride with him and I said sure without checking it out first; not a good idea.  This thing was like a big bubble attached by bungee cords and it just sprang up in the air.  OH MY Gosh!!  We screamed and bounced around till I thought I would wet my pants.  And then it was over and I was scared to death they were going to do it again but maybe they saw my face and decided not to.  Samuel definitely wanted to do it again but I’m a quick learner and said no.  But it is fun and you’ve got to do it if you have the chance.

 Back in Denmark we attended a concert at Tivoli Gardens which is one of the first amusements parks ever.  I did go on some rides with the boys but I checked them out first this time.  One weekend we traveled north by train to see another castle and to climb more towers.  One experience I have to tell you about; I went to the store to buy some groceries and saw this great special on beer – 2 for about $10 so I picked up two six packs.  I was careful to ask the cashier if it was indeed the correct price and he assured me it was.  After he rang it up I realized it was 2 “bottles” for $10 not 2 six packs.  Well, you live and learn; luckily I had enough money to cover my mistake.  The Danish people speak English and are very helpful if you ask the right question but all the signs are written in Danish which is impossible.  On the flight home I had a 5 hour layover in Amsterdam and tried to make the most of it.  I remember seeing a t-shirt that said, “Why drink and drive when you can smoke and fly.”  Very good advice I think.

Actually I had to leave Denmark earlier than my family because I had to attend an AARP training class in Dallas.  I had volunteered to be the AARP State Training Specialist for Oregon which involves organizing a tax workshop for the 80 or so instructors that we have in Oregon each year.  The thing about taxes is that they are always changing and you have to train people every year to do the volunteer work.  The instructors then train about 1200 volunteers statewide to prepare tax returns electronically free of charge.  These are some really dedicated people.  Our training class was held in the American Airlines training facility near Dallas and it was similar to a college dorm with classrooms added but the cafeteria was not like anything I experienced in college.  They had a dessert buffet that was unbelievable.  Anyway, about 5 pounds later I returned home and managed to do some trail work in Crater Lake National Park to work off some of those pounds.

Susan had another treat for me in August, a Chris Isaak concert at the St. Michelle Winery in Woodinville.  It is an outdoor theater and of course they serve wine.  We attended the concert with a hiking buddy of mine, Sandy, and her daughter.  Everyone sang along and we had a thoroughly good time.  And then on to my annual Patos pilgrimage and it was the best fun ever.  Parvin brought her sister-in-law and her niece along for our annual island clean-up and lighthouse birthday bash.  Check out this attachment for a blow by blow description of this great trip…

In Sept Jack and I took a short trip to Hawaii to recharge.  We spent a week at the Hale Koa Hotel, Hale Koa means house of the warrior, and it is the military hotel in Waikiki right next to Hilton Hawaiian Village.  We discovered Happy Hour at the Warrior’s lounge where we could get a 20 oz glass of Longboard Lager (my favorite beer) for 3 bucks and free popcorn.  What a deal!  Beer is a little cheaper in Hawaii than Denmark.  Our trips to Hawaii always involve a lot of walking because when we stay in Waikiki we don’t rent a car but we do ride the bus for one buck apiece.  So we work off the beer by walking.  For instance, we walk to a beach below Diamond Head Lighthouse so I can search for beach glass ostensibly but actually because we just like to walk and it’s about a five mile walk.  We take the bus when we want to go to the Kona Brewing Co. for pepperoni rolls and happy hour because that’s in Hawaii Kai and too far to walk but usually we just walk.  We ended this Hawaiian trip at Hickam AFB and caught a ride on a cargo plane; I think we flew home on a C-5 this time.

Now a fantastic end to 2010; Susan invited us to join her and Kai at the Rally to Restore Sanity with Jon Stewart and Keep the Fear Alive with Steven Colbert in Washington, DC.  We flew to Maryland and took a train to our hotel just outside of DC.  It seems like everyone on the plane and in the hotel was going to the rally.  On the train platform we found a hardhat by the trash so we took it with us and cleaned it up and Sue wrote on it –“please don’t stomp on my head”.  If you were watching any news during that time you know that she was referring to a young girl that got her head stomped on by an over-zealous security guard at a political protest.   It seems like everyone wanted to take Susan’s picture.  Before the Rally we toured the Washington Monument and just had a great time people watching and reading everyone’s signs.  There was over a quarter million people there and it was a real party atmosphere.  It was refreshing to know that we’re not alone in our political views – which means no extremes but mostly democratic (like Jon Stewart).  We headed home refreshed and invigorated.

This is turning into an epic adventure instead of just a story but 2011 gets  better so I can’t stop yet.  Of course we start off the year with a trip to Hawaii.  This time we combined our timeshares with my friend Terry and her new special friend George and managed to stretch our vacation to six weeks.  We started with two weeks at Bellows Air Force Base on Oahu by ourselves and tried something new this time.  Instead of hiking up Diamond Head we decided to hike up Koko Head.  That is a grueling hike that will tax you no matter what shape you’re in.  We almost died but we did make it to the top and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves until a young lady passed us running up and back down while we were still on the way down.  I can’t even remember having that much energy.  Jack said “no more hikes” so we just spent our time on the beach after that, except a trip to North Beach to our favorite pizza place, Pizza Bobs in Haleiwa.  One time we were on the North Shore and they were holding the Eddie Aikau Invitational surfing competition and that was incredible.  The waves were 40 to 50 feet high and we had to walk a couple miles just to get close enough through the crowd to watch the action.  Seeing a surfer on a 40 foot wall of water will make you respect that sport. 

Next we headed to Kauai to meet up with Terry and George.  This time we stayed at Point Poipu instead of Princeville.  Kauai is not our favorite island, we feel we have to spend too much time in the car but we did enjoy ourselves at the Diamond Resort there.  On to Kona on the big island where we can get back to walking; one day we walked about 8 miles to the Kona Brewery and they were out of Longboard Lager!  Can you believe that?  We had to settle for one of their other brews.  After a week or so at Kona we went to Maui which is a favorite island and had a wonderful time.  When we walk to the Maui Brewing Co. we pass a small cove and many times we have seen sea turtles on the beach there and we walk past the most gorgeous poinsettia hedge.  You must realize by now that in order to get Jack to walk we have to end up with beer.  Anyway, when we walk the other direction to Whalers Village we walk on the beach for miles and see whales and sea turtles from shore.  We have even seen eagle rays within 15 feet of the beach.  One day as we were walking along watching a group of eagle rays a young woman was snorkeling and happened to look up just as the tip of a ray’s wing was out of the water.  We knew immediately what she was thinking and just watched as she came flying out of the water thinking she had seen a shark.  It was funny for us but I bet she lost about five years off her life.  Another hike that we enjoy is at the end of the road to Hana on the backside of Haleakula.  From there you can hike to a beautiful waterfall and pool through an amazing giant bamboo forest.  As the wind blows the bamboo together it just makes the neatest clattering sound, just like wind chimes.  Well, all good vacations have to end so we headed back to Oahu for a few days of relaxing at the Hale Koa before returning to Hickam AFB and catching a hop back to the mainland.  I think we flew back on a Globemaster C-17 that time.

In July Susan and I returned to France and included Switzerland this time.  I was really excited about this since I have been to the Southern Alps in New Zealand and the Oregon Alps but not to the real Alps.  The Matterhorn was spectacular and as usual Susan did a great job as tour guide.  We flew into Geneva and took a train to Zermatt which is an incredible little Swiss village that does not allow privately owned cars.  They allow a few taxis and delivery trucks and that’s it.  It is situated at the base of the Matterhorn and is just sooo picturesque.  It took about 3 or 4 different tram and gondola rides from there to get to the top of the Alps; Switzerland on one side and Italy on the other.  Goats are driven though town every day and guys play those horns like in the Ricola commercials and yodel.  And if that wasn’t incredible enough we took the train to Carcassonne in the south of France for Bastille Day.  They had the most spectacular fireworks display ever.  I can’t even begin to relate to you what a fantastic experience that was.  It was a depiction of an assault on the castle and went on for what seemed to be an hour or so.  Susan had found us an apartment at the base of the castle and we sat in the window and watched the whole display, what a view!  After that we went to Sete to watch boat jousting and a concert with the beautiful blue Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop.  We ended this trip with a long stay at Versailles.  This time around it was summer so we were able to tour the gardens with all of its incredible statues and fountains.  I know I have used incredible a lot on this trip but that is exactly what it was.  We did get to Paris one day to meet up with Christelle, a French exchange student that stayed with us 20 years ago.  We enjoyed coffee and delicious cakes at a famous and very expensive restaurant called Laduree that she insisted on treating us to while catching up on her life which is amazingly similar to Susan’s.

Back home again just in time for a trip to Seattle to catch Chris Isaak again at the winery.  This time Traci, Gabriel, and my sister Tammy went with us to the concert.  Later that week we were joined by Rene and Samuel.  We celebrated Rene’s birthday by taking a boat ride out on Lake Washington to watch the annual Blue Angel show.  The boys love to watch the planes do their stunts and they are right overhead when you are on the lake.  We also took Gabriel for a steam engine train ride in Mt. Rainier National Park.  Gabriel loves trains just like my dad.  I guess it’s in his genes.

2011 is also the first time I have been able to meet up with some of my classmates in Scottsburg.  Six of us; Sue, Karla, Vicky, Verna, Sandi and I spent three days together at Sue’s vacation house on the Umpqua River.  It was just like a pajama party and it was such fun catching up with each other after all these years.  We ate, drank wine and went shopping at the cutest little boutiques along the coast.  In fact, we had so much fun we met up again in Arizona for a week at Vicky’s place in Scottsdale.  Vicky gave us a tour of the area including a trip to Sedona for the day but the most memorable time was just sitting on the patio in the evening drinking wine and talking.

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My life has been an incredible adventure and I have been so lucky to be able to share my life with Jack for all these years.  We will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this December in Hawaii with our family.  The whole gang will be there; Traci, Rene, Samuel, Gabriel, Susan, Kai, my sister Tammy, and some friends.  In the meantime I am going to the Britt tonight with Samuel to watch Kai perform with Smidgen, his band from when he was in school here, as the opening act for Primus, a rock band from the 90’s.  Tomorrow I start packing for the first of my three volunteer vacations for this summer; Lopez, Iron Goat and Eagle Cap one more time.  I have new equipment now and I will leave my jeans at home so this trip should be thoroughly enjoyable.  I’ll let you know how it goes when I write an addendum next year.

Here is a list of the countries I have visited:

Panama, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, American Samoa, Samoa, Cook Islands, New Zealand, New Caledonia, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Philappines, Netherlands and England.  Can you believe I have not been to Yellowstone? – That is on my list for next year.  Jack promised we would take a road trip to visit friends across the states and to see Yellowstone.

This past winter I really got involved in my genealogy and that has been an interesting experience.  I discovered things that I wish I had known when I was in school.  I found out I have some famous relatives;  like President John Adams and his brother Samuel Adams and son John Quincy Adams, Eli Whitney, Buffalo Bill Cody, Edward Fuller who crossed on the Mayflower, and even Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys.  All of these guys are my cousins once or twice removed.  Who knew?  I’m still working on that but I did get into Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) which is something I’ve been interested in for a while.

I think I’m done now.  I know I left out a lot of things but it is what it is.  Jack has been asking me to do this for quite some time.  He says it’s a testament as to who I am and what is important to me and it will let my kids and grandchildren know me better.  I don’t know if he expected it to be a five part epic but I’ve really only hit the high points in a life that has been as exciting and fulfilling as I could have hoped.


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