An unexpected turn

June 9th, 2019

 

Gorgeous eagle posing for me

We boarded the Liseron Sunday afternoon, May 19th – an old minesweeper with 20 passengers. The passengers and crew were fantastic, and everything had an outdoorsy, warm, luxurious feel to it. We were free to wander about the boat, hang out with the captain as he navigated, partake of drink/snacks throughout the day in the cozy salon. We had gourmet meals served around a big table on the back of the boat. Lovely! All as the Boat Company had advertised, and then some.

The Liseron is to the left of the huge cruise ship

The first full day we went to the Endicott passage to see the Dawes glacier – beautiful!

At the glacier

Calving

The second day, John went on a skiff to go halibut fishing while I went kayaking with another group.

Along the way we saw whales, sea otters, sea lions, seals, and eagles! Click to see all of my photos.

Fat loud sea lions

The third day I joined a group to go hiking – skiffs dropped us off on a little island, and no sooner had we started than I had a misstep and broke my tibia. They had to bring over a backboard from the Liseron to carry me out…they splinted my leg with life jackets and tied me to the side of the skiff (the one thing I really wish I had a picture of!) – I have some memory of the crew being waist-deep in the cold water to get me on the skiff, bless them.  An old man with a golden retriever let us use his dock – I laid there an hour or so until a tiny seaplane came to get me, John, and our luggage – I have no idea how I got into it since it wasn’t fitted for a medi-vac and I had to be sitting in the seat. They extricated me from the plane at the Sitka airport (where I got a blessed shot of morphine!), and we made our way to the emergency room there, where they realized the seriousness of the break. So onward to Seattle via medi-vac (alone – John had to follow on Alaska Air the next morning).

Long story short (somewhat), I was in the hospital with eternal rods and pins in my leg for a week while we waited for the swelling to go down. Then another surgery to remove that and put in plates. I was lucky to be at a great trauma center for the Pacific Northwest with a wonderful team of surgeons and hospital staff.

I was finally released from the hospital on June 3rd, and John and I stayed at the Westin for the week before flying home yesterday. That was a bit of an ordeal since I can’t bend my leg…I had three seats to myself so I could extend it. We finally made it back to the apartment – yay! It’s good to be home, and especially to see Flavia.

Thanks to family and friends for the calls, notes, flowers, and good wishes! I’m also especially appreciative to my great bosses and RCO colleagues who have picked up my work and allowed me to focus on healing.

 

North to Alaska

May 19th, 2019

Alaska from the air

The long trip to get to Juneau was worth it – John and I left DC Friday afternoon, overnighted in Seattle (via Chicago), and arrived in Alaska yesterday morning! Juneau is lovely – small, hip, with a good vibe. We walked around a bit, ate an early lunch at the Rookery, napped, then went for dinner down on the water at the Hangar where we sat outside and watched the cruise ships and floatplanes. We struck it very lucky on the weather – just cool enough for a light jacket and lots of sunshine!

This morning we went on a floatplane flight to see the glaciers – just amazing. The blue ice is incredible. It was a little bumpy (you know I don’t like heights), but completely worth the white knuckles to see the amazing mountains, spruce (fir?) trees, and ice.

Aerial view of glacier

Click to see the first of my photos!

Love the old buildings around Juneau

From the floatplane

View of the Queen Elizabeth through beauty shop window

 

 

I heart Iceland

May 12th, 2019

Foal

I had a great week at the embassy in Reykjavik – my friend Donna is the chief there, so it was fun to get to work with her and her staff. The embassy is downtown, so it was easy for us to get out for lunch every day (including my favorite, Artic Char at Messinn). It also makes it convenient to do some shopping after work. Donna and I ended the day Thursday with a glass of wine to wrap up our week. Unlike December when I was there when it was only daylight from around 10AM to 4PM, it was light from around 4AM to 10PM (or later – I was asleep).

I took a vacation day on Friday and did a day tour with a small company. We went to the western peninsula of Snaefellsnes, which was just beautiful. We went to a gorgeous black beach, a lovely fishing village where we walked along the cliffs, stopped for a great lunch (fresh cod), drove through lava fields (well, the whole country is basically one big lava field anyway), saw some crazy basalt, a gorgeous mountain, lots of waterfalls, and ended up at a horse farm where we had a great home-cooked meal and got to get into the pasture with the Icelandic horses – including two adorable foals! One was very curious and almost came up to me to let me pet him, but got too shy at the last minute. It was cold at the farm, with some snow flakes falling and windy! Otherwise, the day was sunny but cold – the guide called it “window weather” – where you look out the window and think it looks like wonderful weather, then you go outside and realize it’s cold!

I stayed at a different hotel, the Exeter, which was very hip. They had a good little restaurant downstairs, plus a bakery that had these amazing doughnuts, including one stuffed with salty caramel – yum. Reykjavik in general is very hip – it has a young, cool vibe to it.

I flew home on Saturday morning – which meant I got up around 3AM in order to get to the airport for an 8:30AM flight via the bus – the reward was a lovely sunrise over the marina.

Today my friend Carol from Hendrix came for lunch – I don’t know that I’ve seen her since we graduated, but we’ve reconnected via social media – John made us a delicious meal and we talked for hours until she had to leave to catch her flight – so enjoyable!

With Carol

Casa Crippen

I love the scale of this (some glare from car window)

Cool bird

Water everywhere

Furry face

Babies

Reykjavik, good char dinner one night

Water everywhere

Cool bird

Downtown Reykjavik

At the horse farm

Happy horse

Icelandic horses with snowflakes

Return to Reykjavik

May 5th, 2019

Whale fluke

I left DC yesterday for Iceland and arrived here this morning (four hours ahead of DC). It’s a beautiful day here – I walked over to the municipal hot pools, but it was so crowded that I left. My hotel is near the marina, and as I was walking back, I noticed a whale watching boat about to leave, so I jumped on. We saw two humpbacks and followed them for a while – it was great to be out in the fresh (cold!) air after flying all night.

We had dinner at Ris Friday night with Rick and Claire – lots of fun and good food.

John and I attended a two-day class at FSI this week, a seminar to help plan for retirement. Some good information, plus we saw several old friends.

Fishing

Cool building

Shore view

Iceland

Last trip to Suriname

April 28th, 2019

Door, Suriname

It’s hard to believe my two years as a regional consular officer are coming to a close – what a great job! I flew last Monday to Suriname – Lordy, it’s hard to get there. Twenty-four hours in total, even though it’s not really that far away (nine hours was spent on a layover in Trinidad). I always enjoy my visits there, though – super-nice staff, ambassador, and deputy chief of mission. The small consular staff took me out to dinner Thursday night, then Friday we went to a little outdoor market for lunch.  The embassy is beautiful and new – lots of light and great art throughout. The hotel has a decent little gym and the staff is wonderful – so all in all, a good trip! I got lucky coming home and shaved four hours off the return by catching some earlier flights – only 20 hours coming home instead of 24, but I’ll take what I can get.

Wedding party at the hotel

Friday’s lunch menu

With my consular peeps