Happy New Year

Charles and Helen's Year End Letter


2019 Holiday Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Hi All!

WoW! What a year for travel! There were trips during 9 of the 12 months this year.

  • March: Milan, Italy; Helen also went to Charlotte, NC
  • April: Bandera, TX, New Mexico & Arizona (3-week travel trailer trip)
  • June: Vancouver, Canada
  • July: Washington, Oregon & Northern California (3-week travel trailer trip)
  • August: Cincinnati, OH & Montreal, Canada)
  • October: Charlotte, Tryon & Asheville, NC
  • November: Munich & Bochum, Germany
  • December: Maui, HI

Megan's Cheerleading Competition

At the very start of the year, we were invited to cheerleading competition. Our very good friends, Dee Dee and Jeff's granddaughter, Megan, was in the competition. We were overwhelmed by the talent all of these girls had. Megan's team came in second place and they moved on to the state championships.

Megan's team won second place!

Megan's cheerleading competition

The Our Neighborhood

The neighborhood we live in. It is looking West toward San Francisco Bay. Our house is past the palm trees.

Milan, Italy

Milan was a fun place to visit. We took a day trip to cruise on Lake Como and visited the hill town of Belagio before heading back to Milan.

While in Milan we visited a travelling DaVinci exhibit and explored the Duomo di Milano (a cathedral). We had a wonderful two weeks in Milan.

Lake Como

Mark, Janice, Helen and Charles at the Milan Science Museum

A crane model from ancient times

Walking Art

Amazingly, this artwork can move using compressed air.

This artwork moves by being pulled.


Charles building a DaVinci bridge which has no fasteners.

The bridge is getting larger.

The full size of the bridge.

Charles had a little help from a couple of English girls.

The Milan Duomo is a very old and large cathedral.

Construction started in 1386 and is continuing today.

Inside the Milan Duomo looking toward the alter.

Inside the Milan Duomo looking toward the main entrance.

On the roof of the Milan Duomo

On the Roof of the Milan Duomo

Helen's Visit to Charlotte, North Carolina

Helen visted with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in March. A lot of time was spent on their property which had recently been purchased. Helen helped in clearing trees for a future driveway to the house they are planning to build.

Granddaughter Helena with her Dad

Helena was helping to clear trees...

Peter Visiting San Francisco

Peter had a business trip to Boise, Idaho. On the way home, he popped down to San Francisco for a weekend visit.

Peter, Helen and Charles at Fisherman's Wharf

Three Week Camping Trip to Bandera, Texas and Return

Good use was made of our trailer this year by spending over 40 nights in it. We had two trips, each three weeks long.

The first was to Bandera, TX for the annual Casita rally and to meet up with Charles' brother Wayne. Then we meandered our way home stopping by Fredericksburg, TX, to visit the National Museum of the Pacific War. A wonderful museum.

Then it was on to the LBJ Ranch National Historical Park. From there we visited Fort Davis National Historic Site and the McDonald Observatory.

Then it was off to see the cliff dwellings at the Montezuma Castle National Monument. From there we visited the Painted Desert National Historic Site and the Petrified Forest National Park. After all this, it was time to head home.

Driving by San Luis reservoir in California.

It takes a really LONG 18-wheeler to haul a wind turbine propeller.

We saw hundreds of wind turbines all over the Western USA.

At one of our rest stops, this propeller was waiting to continue it's journey.

Casita Rally in Bandera, Texas

Our travel trailer at the rally.

Charles and brother Wayne at the rally. Wayne's Casita travel trailer is in the background.

In 2016, Helen sold her 1969 Trails West travel trailer. This year, we met up with the woman who bought the trailer. Helen was excited to see it again. See our 2016 newsletter for a picture of the trailer before it was fixed up.

Stonehenge II

My brother, Wayne, took us to see Stonehenge II in Ingram, Texas.

Stonehenge II is an homage to the original Stonehenge monument and is located in the Texas Hill Country. Stonehenge II was conceived by Al Shepperd and built with the help of his friend and neighbor, Doug Hill. (Credit: Wikipedia)

Next to Stonehenge II, is a replica of an Easter Island Moai head. It was made by the same person that made Stonehenge II.

Click on the above photo to read the history of Stonehenge II and the Moai head.

LBJ Ranch National Historical Park

"The Texas Whitehouse" when President Lyndon Johnson was in office

Camping in Fredricksburg, TX.

Descendents of President Johnson's prized Hereford breed cattle

President Johnson's home.

A very famous area where President Johnson hosted many barbecues to entertain heads of state.

The Pedernales river is in the background.

Historic Fort Davis, Texas

Click on the picture to read the history of Fort Davis.

The highest point in the Texas Highway System.

Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park

Click to read what makes wood petrified.

Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Camp Verde, Arizona

This settlement was enhabited from 1100 to 1425.

Tap's Burial at Sea

Tap was a very good friend. He was one of Charles' sailing buddies, both on San Francisco Bay and on many sailing trips in the Caribbean.

Tap always had trouble with his name. To get around how unusual it was, he would put his fist on his head and would say "Tap, as in 'beer on tap' ".

Tap grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and loved sailing on the Bay. His wish was to have his ashes scattered on the Bay. He is greatly missed by all who knew him.

Left to right: Helen, Charles, sailing buddy Eileen, Tap's daughter Janice, Tap's wife Anna, a friend of Janice, and two co-owners of their sail boat Steve and his wife.

Vancouver, Canada

Logging is very active in the area.

Walking through Stanley Park.

Totem poles in Stanley Park.

Three Week Camping Trip to NorthWest

Our second trailer trip was to visit Helen's cousin Cecil and his wife Patty in Port Townsend, WA. We had a great time visiting with Cecil & Patty. They showed us Fort Worden Historical State Park, Fort Worden beach, the city of Port Townsend and an estate sale.

One of Cecil's favorite games is to watch for ferries. The first person to see one, yells "FERRY!". The person with the most sightings wins bragging rights!

Cecil, Patty and Charles getting ready to enjoy a fabulous meal!

Charles, Helen, Patty and Cecil on Fort Worden beach.

Day trip to Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands

A car ferry was taken over to Whidbey Island for a day of exploring both islands.

Mount Saint Helens

Then we headed South, visiting Mount St Helen's.

Camping near Mount St Helens

Spirit Lake

The fog rolled in obscuring Mount St Helens

Mount St Helens is behind Charles' head.

When Helen was here in 1997, this log mat was much larger. This mat was made from trees blown into Spirit lake by the eruption of the mountain.

We climbed to a high vantage point.

Mount St Helens is in the distance.

Portland, Oregon

We visited with Charles' college buddy Ron and his wife Sandy. Helen and Charles enjoyed the visit very much as it has been several years since we have had a chance to catch up.

Ron and Sandy suggested we drive along the Columbia River Gourge and stop at the many waterfalls along the way.

Good friends, Ron and Sandy. Ron was a college buddy of mine and we have remained friends for the past 47 years.

Multnomah falls are the largest ones in the gourge.

Charles hiked to the top of the upper falls and enjoyed a wonderful view from the top.

Whew! Made it to the top!

A small waterfall at the top before the big plunge.

The water starting it's big plunge to the bottom.

View from the top of Multnomah falls.

Crater Lake National Park

From Portland, we went to Crater Lake National Park and then on to Mount Shasta, California and the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Then it was time to head home for a "vacation" from our trip ;-)

Wizard Island within Crater Lake

Lassen Volcanic National Park. This chart shows all the eruptions in the Cascade Range.

Cincinnati, Ohio

We had a GREAT time visiting with Cousin Joan and boyfriend Don. Among other things, we visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH. It is the world's largest military aviation museum.

Don also showed us his huge and elaborate train layout which takes up 3,000 square feet of his basement. The details of the layout make it look very realistic.

Geocaching in Cincinnati.

Charles and Helen posing with 'Mr. Red', the mascot of the Cincinnati Reds.

Don and Joan.

Montreal, Canada

We had a great time visiting Montreal. We climbed to the top of Mount Royal for some magnificent views of the city. Then we went to the Notre-Dame for a tour of the Cathedral.

Charles' First Couch

Charles' first couch, purchased used in 1974. It served him well. Rest in peace.

Funny story: No one picked up the couch, even though we had it on the curb over a weekend. Charles then went to post it as a free item on a local neighborhood website. To his surprise, he found there were hundreds of couches being given away! We ended up having the local trash service haul it away :-(

Charlotte and Tryon, North Carolina

During Sept-Oct we flew to NC to see Helen’s son Dave, wife Karen and their daughter Helena (what a sweetheart!).

While in Charlotte, we stayed with cousins John and Ginger. They have a lovely home in Charlotte and are always so welcoming when we visit. Thank you John and Ginger!

Dave's new truck 'Becky'

Dave and his new trucking business.

Tryon, North Carolina

Helen’s brothers Harold and Robert joined us and we also stayed at Robert’s 2nd home in Tryon, NC. It was fun exploring the old town of Tryon, seeing Mark Holland’s artwork (Robert’s brother-in-law) and visiting some peaceful waterfalls.

Morris the wooden horse.

A large wooden toy horse honors Tryon, where the wooden-horse-on-wheels toy was first made in 1916. Various versions of the big horse have stood in town since 1928 -- the latest was unveiled in 2012 -- but they've all been made of wood. (Credit: RoadsideAmerica.com)

Pearson's Falls and Glen

Asheville, North Carolina

In Asheville, we had dinner at Robert's son's (Helen's nephew) restaurant, The Greenhouse, for a very upscale dinner. Yum! At the time, Jack was the Chef du Cusine at the restaurant. At the end of December, he will be the head chef as the current head chef will take a medical leave of absence.

Jack and his Dad, Robert.

Menu from the Greenhouse restaurant. Notice Jack's name at the bottom of the menu.

Helen with her two brothers, Harold (left) and Robert (right).

Jack giving us a behind the scenes tour of the restaurant.

Back in Charlotte, North Carolina for Dave's Surprise Birthday Party

Karen spent a year planning a surprise 40th birthday party for Dave and invited many of their high school friends as well as cousins, uncles & friends… so many memories revisited! Such a well planned and executed surprise party! Way to go, Karen!!

Most of the places Dave has lived

Left to right: Ginger, Robert, Harold and John

Helena, the party girl!

Helena and 'Papa Scott'

Lovebirds, Karen and Dave

Munich, Germany

Our trip to Munich, Germany was wonderful! We spent a week wandering around the city. The highlight was visiting the BMW factory. We spent 2 half-days there and even had a tour of the assembly line where 1,200 robots were hard at work.

Englischer Garten in Munich

Surf-boarding in Englischer Garten.

Surfers come from all over the world to tackle this continuous man-made wave.

Dining room at The Residenz which is the old Royal residence for the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria.

A view of the dining room from the opposite end.

A huge fireplace in the dining room.

Apple Strudel, a favorite of the royals ;-)

Helen's next car, a BMW i8 Roadster ;-)

Click on the above picture to check out the price 175,000 euros

How often do you see Charles drinking beer? But it goes so well with Sauerbraten!

Charles' favorite desert in Munich, Apple Strudel.

Charles believes their sauerbraten is the best in Munich.

A closeup of the restaurant name 'Schneider Weisse Bräuhaus'. It is very close to the Eastern end of Marienplatz across the street from the McDonald's restaurant.

Bochum, Germany

We spent a weekend in Bochum and as usual, had a wonderful visit with Peter, his family and friends. Thank you for such a wonderful visit!

Ancient Roman City of Colonia Ulpia Traiana

Peter showed us an old Roman town dating from 110 AD which was located within the current German city of Xanten. This is one of the largest archaeological open air museums in the world, built at the site of the Roman settlements, Colonia Ulpia Traiana. It was one ofthe Northern most Roman city and was a bustling port within the Roman Empire. Of particular interest were the huge Roman bathhouse, the coliseum and the Harbor Temple.

Charles pretending to be a fearsome Roman Soldier.

Coliseum - the center of Roman entertainment.

Kitchen in a Roman travel lodge.

Ancient Roman sheep ;-)

A map of the ancient city.

Roman Bathhouse

Roman Bathhouse

Roman Bathhouse

Roman Bathhouse

Model of the Roman Bathhouse

Party Time in Bochum

Peter's brother Albert and girlfriend Uta stopped by for a party, along with friends Charles, Kurt and his wife, also named Uta. A good time was had by all.

During the party, we had a chance to chat with Peter and Beatrix's daughter, Benita and her friend, Frederike, about their upcoming visit to the USA. They will be staying with us as they complete their University course requirement of spending 3 months in an English speaking country. Many sightseeing trips will be taken while they are visiting.

Helen and Kurt's wife Uta and Albert's girlfriend Uta.

Frederike and Benita

Kurt and Charles

We had fun taking this model apart and putting him back together at Beatrix's Doctor's office.

Our first German Christmas Market

Peter and Beatrix took us to our first Christmas Market. It was fun, huge and exciting to walk through looking at all the gift shops, food stands and beer pubs in the market. We enjoyed snacking on hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies.

Peter and Beatrix

Charles, Helen and Beatrix in front of Charly the reindeer.

Enjoying a hot chocolate on a cold day.

Charles and Helen with their gingerbread cookies.

A shop selling gingerbread cookies

Peter and Beatrix, a beautiful couple.

A shop selling freshly baked bread baked in a woodfired oven. We had to wait 10 minutes before the bread was ready to take out of the oven.

Maui, Hawaii

The December JEDEC meeting was in Maui, Hawaii. We'll be coming back here for at least the next 3 December JEDEC meetings.

Staying at the Grand Wailea Resort

The meeting was held at the fabulous Grand Wailea Resort. Not only do they have big conference rooms, which Charles was in all day long, everyday, they also have multiple huge swimming pools, all connected together with slides and a lazy river. They even have a pool with a sandy beach. Helen was able to enjoy these while Charles worked! Fortunately, the meetings ended a day early so he did have a chance to go swimming.

Waterfall at the entrance to the Grand Wailea.

View from our balcony on the 4th floor.

View from a high spot at the hotel.

Sand sculpting in the lobby of the hotel. The artists are Riki Inzano and her friend. Her company is "Art by Riki"

Sunset on the beach.

A pretty flower.

There are bronze sculptures scattered all over the grounds of the hotel.

Kihei Akahi Condominiums

After checking out of the Grand Wailea, we moved into a condominium across the street from the ocean. We had the same condo we were in last year and Charles has been staying at this complex for the past 20 years.

View from our balcony

View out our front door

Day Trip to Lahaina

Helen sitting on Forrest Gump's bench waiting for a bus.

History of the Banyan Tree in Lahina

Banyan Tree

La Perouse Bay

Haleakala in the distance

Pacific Whale Center

I always thought this was a pretty clever way to raise/catch fish. This is a graphic explaining how a traditional Hawaiian fish pond was used.

And in conclusion...

We wish you a merry holiday season and a happy New Year!


Charles & Helen