A Travellerspoint blog

Back in the U.S. of A.

Happy New Year!

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Where does the time go? We left Cambodia and Thailand in January 2008 and flew via LA to Arizona. So it’s been nearly a year since we were traveling. In some ways it doesn’t seem so long ago but mostly it feels like it’s been ages. And it’s astonishing how completely ordinary life just swallows us up.

It was relatively easy to report on Laos because we were there only about ten days and didn’t have thousands of photos to sort through. Cambodia should not have been very difficult either as we had just a week there.

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But after leaving Siem Reap in Cambodia we flew to Bangkok and immediately boarded our plane for LA. Then began life in America and we were hard put to muster the time and the will to prepare blog entries and photo albums.

In Arizona we visited Diane’s parents

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for over six weeks, readjusting and getting spoiled by her dad’s cooking. Spending time with them mattered deeply to Diane before whatever we did next. Her brother John and his wife Cathy Jo also live in the area so we enjoyed visiting with them and getting reacquainted with their two young girls Emily and MaryAnn.

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We also got to help a little with the building he was putting together for his woodworking business.

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And our beautiful Sheltie, Ruby, who was staying with Diane’s parents, began to get to know us again.

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Then in March we flew to Atlanta. Sara and Guillermo are our dear friends of many years and it was a special joy to see them again and stay with them.

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Their daughter Emily took to us as though we hadn’t left and we met and loved their newest daughter Claire.

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We stayed with Sara and Guillermo two and a half weeks and got to see all our old friends from UPS. We had wonderful evenings with Benny and her kids Sara and Matthew,

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Alex and Heather and their daughter Zinnia,

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Kip and Pancho and their girls Nyah and Bela.

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Kim and Jeff treated us to a stay in their mountain cabin.

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We had left a lot of boxes stored with Sara and Guillermo but we were too daunted to do much about sorting through it. It was more a time for enjoying people than dealing with stuff. We flew to California and were glad to see Bay Area friends again. Eroca and Kevin are great friends and an inspiring support for our travel.

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We stayed with our friends Sherry and Cathleen, relishing their company and enjoying dog walks together.

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We are grateful to Sherry and Dave’s daughter Laurel for handling our logistics during the months we were away. The trip would not have been possible without them. Laurel recently did her first stint of dog sitting for a friend.

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We enjoyed seeing Dave’s son Jeremy and his mother Norma. It’s been great to be with family again.

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A special treat was to see that all of the Pennington family – Gretchen, Terry, Kaylin, Katrina and Ella – are thriving.

It made us happy to see Gail, Sara and Catherine Brashear in their new home in Sonoma surrounded by garden.

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To go to our home in Clearlake, three hours away up past Sonoma and Napa counties in Lake County, we rented a PT Cruiser. After looking at a lot of old sedans, vans and pickups, we eventually bought a 1987 Dodge Falcon camper van.

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In June we drove the Falcon to Arizona so Dave could stay at the house with the animals while Diane joined her parents for a trip to Iowa and Connecticut. This was just after Iowa had suffered severe flooding and the guitar-making shop of Diane’s brother Dave was destroyed. Fortunately he was able to rescue his work in progress. Christina was a rock in working with FEMA and the kids Daniel and Grace were troupers and a joy to be with.

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Diane’s parents flew to Connecticut while Diane drove with her daughter Jenn and grandson Max.

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They were all there for the wedding of our niece Brooke to Allan.

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It’s wonderful to see Brooke’s parents, Paul and Megan, so well and blessed.

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Then after returning to Iowa it was time for the wedding of our nephew Josh to Marin.

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Diane loved working with her brothers and sisters. She didn’t get a good picture of Colleen and is looking forward to more pictures from Mackenzie’s wedding.

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Mary is having so much fun being a grandmother and Angela and Blayne are doing great.

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Dave encouraged Diane to go and to take the pictures that he would like to see. Diane carried him behind the camera eye and everyone thanked Dave for the great husband and friend he is for her. And it is true.

It was great to see all the Hanischs while getting the house ready for new owners and at the wedding.

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Back in Clearlake we now had an addition to the animal clan – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that Diane’s sister Beth gave to us as she made changes in her life. Her name is CJ (for Calamity Jane) and she's been a joy.

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And we continued the work Diane had done upgrading the place. She had put in copious amounts of insulation and we had double-pane windows installed and the walls done with drywall instead of old paneling so the interior doesn’t look like a mobile home or heat and cool like one. Though it remains only 12’ wide. Picking flooring was fun and satisfying as it gave us a personal space we enjoy living in. What with the rains and two animals, we’re glad we had the whole place done in vinyl.

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It’s fun to be homemaking together after spending so many months traveling.

There is a wonderful celebration with families and friends gathering this week in Des Moines, Iowa that we were loathe to miss. We send our congratulations and good wishes for the marriage of our niece Mackenzie and her partner Kevin. We imagine the dear Careys making and having a fabulous time.

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Now as we go into the holiday season we remember with great fondness our last Christmas and New Year’s in Chiang Mai. Christmas was with our friends Tim and Thong at their Garden Café where we had a feast that included turkey and steamed pudding.

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Our New Year celebration was at Pachkit House, where we stayed for three months. We had a wonderful time sharing the festivities with Meeme and other staff and guests, and Nam and her family.

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We are also remembering others from Chiang Mai – Natalie, the sweet English girl from Barcelona who stayed in the neighboring room,

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Umphaporn, Noi and all the other wonderful people at Pachkit , John and Boon at the Brick Road Café,

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Sasi at her travel agency.

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Also all the wonderful friends we made on the road – from England, Germany, France, China, Taiwan, Sweden, as well as the countries we visited. Special fond regards to Fred and Nicole.

For the time being we’re conserving our funds and postponing international travel. If we travel again in the future it will be hard to decide whether to go to new places – we have a hankering for long stays in Greece and Scotland – or revisit some of the places we loved so well.

Eventually we will catch up on posts for Thailand and Cambodia. For now, have a wonderful holiday season and a great new year! We’re enjoying a local Christmas this year.

This is us warming up for a sing-a-long at our local historical museum in Lower Lake.

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We even had some snow around here -- it didn't stick to the ground but did leave a little dusting on nearby hills.

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Let us hear from you if you have a moment, even a line or two. We love remembering you all and cherish our connections. Write a comment in the blog or send email (diane [at] dianeanddave.net or dave [at] dianeanddave.net).

Posted by dave-diane 14:14 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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