2011 has been a year of traveling times for me. In February, I went to Omaha, where my brother Mark and sister-in-law Judy live, to visit while my mother stayed at their home. The cold weather and snow didn't bother me too much, but they did make me happy to live in Houston, where really cold days are rare and snow even rarer. We spent most of our time in quilt-talk and quiltwork, since Mother, Judy, and I are all quilters. And we spent time with extended family, too, including the energetic young sons of my niece Jenny.
In May, Michael and I traveled to Brooklyn to spent a long weekend with our son, Nick. We had the pleasure of meeting his special friend, Kate and revisiting a college friend of mine, Greg. Our days were filled with simple, but satisfying activities. We spent a morning at the Cloisters, a place I've wanted to visit sine the first time it figured in a novel I read. We walked across Central Park and to the MET, then cabbed our way to Times Square for a meet-up that couldn't have been more surprising - my niece Leslie, from Wisconsin and her husband were also visiting New York City that weekend. What are the odds? We also saw the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Bridge, and spent lots of time walking the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Discoveries there were primarily culinary and delicious, most notably The Chocolate Room. I had the best dark chocolate sorbet there imaginable.
Two weeks later, we jetted off to Huntington Beach, CA for Luisa and Derek's wedding. The wedding itself was a delightful harbor cruise and dance party that lasted for hours, thank you L&D, but the weekend offered ample activities for quiet old folks like us. Beach walks, exploring Huntington Beach, drinks and meals with other wedding guests, and a spectacular dinner at Rockin Baja Coastal Cantina in Newport Beach. They served the best seafood dinner I have ever eaten in a tin bucket and, when the food finally ran out, I wanted to put my head in the bucket and lick the sides!
In July, we drove to Grapevine, Texas for the Mayborn Literary Non-Fiction Conference, an annual event that feeds the body and the intellect. We listened to good writers and great writers talk about their craft and bought book after book, providing ourselves with lots of wonderful fall reading material. Most recently, I finished The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman. Excellent!!
In October, I flew to Helena, Montana by myself to visit my Mother and the large contingent of extended family I have there. Mother and I had a lovely time, mostly visiting with each other and being entertained by the great-grandchildren who seemed to be everywhere. We took a side trip to the Archie Bray Foundation where extraordinary potters pursue their passion and the gardens are littered with pottery "libraries." We also drove to Bozeman for another family visit. Altogether, I have eight adult relatives in Helena and eleven child relatives, making it the single most populous locale for descendants of my parents!
Two days after I returned from Helena, Michael and I left again, for Portland, this time to see son MG, daughter-in-law Shannon, and grand kids Olivia and Mackenzie. We're staying at the fabulous, funky Kennedy School Hotel. It has a heated, outdoor, salt water soaking pool that we braved this morning despite chilly weather. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous! Steamy clouds drifted overhead as we sank into the warm embrace of the pool. We wondered if anyone else would try the pool out and discovered that it is popular meet-up spot for hotel guests and neighbor folk, too. If my bathing suit weren't still wet and cold, I'd go back now. Exploring the neighborhood this afternoon, we found the best gyros either of us has ever eaten, and we have eaten gyros in a lot of different cities, at a restaurant call The Blue Olive. Retail explorations took us to Monograph Bookwerks, a fine art books and objects store, where we found a lovely book on Wabi-Sabi, and to Six Days Art Co-op, where we saw many intriguing and beautiful art pieces, although we bought only two items (for gifts, so sshhhhh!).
Tonight the Portland Devereuxs join us for dinner and together we plot the rest of our weekend. Can't wait! And it is also hard to wait for the BIG trip in December, when we go to Costa Rica to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Like I said, 2011 has been travelin' times for me. I wonder how 2012 can possibly compete!