Thursday, October 13, 2016

Denver, San Diego, the Bay Area, Stockton,

It was a busy summer indeed. Looming in the background was making a decision to sell our house in San Diego. We made a deal with our current tenant and he will be the new happy owner. It took us 7 years of living abroad to realize that we might not be coming back to live in the USA in the foreseeable future. All of our belongings were packed in the garage and every summer we'd get rid of more stuff. What was left of our stuff we put into Ana's old bedroom at her parents house. Whew.

Our big wait and see plan is to buy something-hopefully in Spain. But that depends on if we leave Egypt anytime soon. The idea is to never have a mortgage again. At the time of writing this, the house is sitting in escrow. We hope to close soon and be done with that chapter in our life. 

As I stated, it was indeed a busy summer...and most of the time it was a time of disconnect from the internet, minimal posting of stuff on FB/Instagram, no writing... It was a time to connect with friends and there wasn't much documentation to prove this, sort of like the old days.   
A former co-worker in Ethiopia met us at the Botanical Gardens in Denver. Two years in a row now, might become an annual event.
Longtime friend Ben invited us to his son's b-day party at Casa Bonita. Yes, it was worth spending an hour in line to watch a sad magic show, cliff divers...and the sopapillas.
Somehow Ana though it was appropriate to "borrow" the neighbor's scooter and bring it inside for a photo shoot with Ximena. I think the neighbors got hip and stopped leaving the scooter around. 
Stockton was in the mix too... time to visit with Chris, Lori, and Sam. That is always a lot of fun that usually results in having your stomach pumped from items scored at Big Lots.
Nelson, Teff, and Rita in Alameda is always a night to usually involves good food (being they are foodies) and local beers.
Ana and I celebrated our 9th anniversary over fish tacos.
Patrick is always a blast to see, who else would drive down from LA to see us and go back the same day. We played kickball at Balboa Park in a sculpture garden over a glass of beer followed by watching a Mexican Beatles cover band.
Rich and Patty stated putting out books. They came down to San Diego for an event.
Compadre Rudy trying to make X go blind.
A family event in Denver was in the mix too. I'm a great uncle to these hooligans.
The Keleher's were also great to see a couple of times.
Chris only ate blue that day.
When X crawls away from us, we expect this sort of stuff.
Sam and X 4 eva.
Yes that is Chris wearing a shirt of himself at Lucas Studios in Frisco.
Patty is working on the new Star Wars film so she invited us to check out the joint. You don't say no to an invitation like that.

Many of the props form Lucas films are scattered throughout the building. This is from the movie Cocoon.
Two items that for sure go in the same room together.
Phone home.
We saw a lot of pilgrims lurking around the compound looking for Yoda.
Oi Oi Oi Chad, haven't seen this guy in 20 plus years. Miss the bloke.
When cousins Lou and Lynda put the ribs on the grill,  you tend to drop what you're doing and head to Whittier.
Party hard with the Lugos in the park.
Symptoms of eating snacks from Big Lots. 
Sonny and I Interviewed Jason Heller for Denvoid part 2, Jason's crib has the best view. Speaking of Denvoid, I made a last minute flight to Denver to met with Megan of History Colorado and we agreed to have our book release there in 2018.  
Nelson captured this moment of X discovering herself in the mirror.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Orval, Belgium and other beer adventures.

On the way home back to the states Ana thought we should spend a couple of days in Belgium to sample the beer to make confirm that it is still tasty. Good news was that is was just as tasty as last time. We rented a car and drove towards Rochefort to be withing reaching distance or the Orval Abbey. We had to investigate rumors of the fresh beer they served there. The plan was made and executed. 
We camped out in this nice little cottage operated by a nice older couple who made sure there was plenty of beer in the fridge. They also cooked up regional meals for us so that we had an authentic experience.
Chateau Jemeppe was right across the street.
Ximena trying to sneak in. 

The Orval Abbey.
Inside the gates of Orval Abbey. There are rooms for people to stay
More of the same.
Sculpture garden.
Cistercian Ruins.
So Ana and I had a discussion, a grand plan of leaving Ximena to be raised by the Monks and Nuns that way they will teach here the skills of making both cheese and beer. And when she turns 18 we'll come back to pick her up and start our own brewery called Orvalita.
There there was an afternoon spent in Luxembourg.
Phone booth in Luxembourg.

On The way to Gent we stopped by Delirium Brewery.
I can get down with this sort of trophy case.
Hanging out with the head brew master.
Then there was Gent to see our good friend who are well documented on our past posts about Gent.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lisbon, Portugal with students

The pressing question of any senior class at Schutz is, "Where do we go for our class trip?" With some suggestions and nudging on my end and with a presentation by one of the students, Lisbon, Portugal received the most votes.    

Planning such an outing is always a challenge. We had to think about where to stay and what to do on an official level that jives with the school's learning outcomes. The rest is of the planning was devoted to how much consumerism and sleep the kids needed to keep the trip afloat. It is a delicate balance. In the end; we came, we saw, and we shopped. Hopefully horizons were broadened and new skills were acquired over a period of 3.5 days.  

My wife Ana and I have known this group of students for seven years. It is a bittersweet feeling that they will be graduating in two weeks and "break-up" as they move off to college in the fall. They have all grown up with each other and been through thick and thin. As our school mission statement declares: Schutz is Family...and like real families it can be dysfunctional at times. Being with this group has been the best of times and the worst of times. But what can I say, I love them all and wish them the best in the future.
Minutes after landing, we found ourselves at the Fados Museum located in the historic Alfama neighborhood. Detail of José Malhoa's O Fado painted in 1910.
Former math teacher, Mr. Ropke surprised the kids by showing up to dinner. Photo by Ms. Salli.
A trip to Lisbon isn't complete without an Fados show. However I would strongly suggest NOT attending a three hour Fados show/dinner after traveling nearly 20 hours.
A moon can be your friend.
Teenage selfies are always in fashion every 200 meters.
A view of Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII.

Pena National Palace.
No trip to Lisbon is complete without a trip to Pena National Palace in Sintra.
A walk from Pena National Palace to Castle of the Moors weeds out a student or two.
Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra
Belém Tower.
Lisbon Oceanarium has penguin. A plus in my book.
Taking pictures of people taking pictures.
Makes you want to jump right in.
A jelly fish fan I am, unless I rub up against one.
Lisbon Oceanarium is billed as one of the best in the world.
Somehow a zoo or an aquarium is always on the itinerary for a senior trip.
  Free hugs.
Never seen one of these.
Lisbon Oceanarium hosts a 360 tank with many side exhibits.
Called "The Sexiest WC on Earth" this bathroom located in Praça do Comércio alongside the river and arch. Yes, you have many colors of toilet paper to choose from...and won't stain so they say.
And not to mention the fine art which decorates the walls. The company which owns the colorful toilets is Renova, the largest paper company in Portugal. At least that is what the attendant told me. Sadly the kids missed out on this landmark.
Praça do Comércio
  More important then helmets are head lice condoms. Segways are also an important ingredient of a senior trip.
Mirrored off the design of the Golden Gate Bridge, The 25th of April Bridge is equally as stunning.
No seats on the train to Cascias? no problemo!
Tell boys they can swim in the cold Atlantic and off they go.
Boca de Inferno in Cascais.
Parque Marechal Carmona in Cascais is the home to many peacocks, but we only saw one. However the roosters have taken over the joint.
Castle of the Moors
Ana and had missed Quinta da Regaleira in the past. It was one of the best sites of the trip. The caves, waterfall, towers, and well were amazing. Put this on your list when visiting Sintra. I have been to Salvador Dali's home in Spain, but this place was much stranger and more mysterious on a different level. 
Inside Quinta da Regaleira.

The staircase inside the The Masonic Initiation Well in Quinta da Regaleira. Most of the kids were pooped and sat on the benches at the entrance. They totally missed out. The adventurous were treated to quite an experience.
Looking up the well.
My partner in crime-Ms. Salli filling in for our beloved Ms. Kelly who is recovering nicely from her brain hemorrhage/surgery/coma. A true miracle that Ms. Kelly is still with us, not only that, but the fact she can talk/see/move with the prospect of near full recovery. Ms. Kelly, if you or your Massimo reads this, he owes you a trip to Lisbon.   
An outside view.
The outcome of wearing kids (and Adults) out on my monster walks. In the words of my and Chris Shary's band Robot Enemy: The process of weeding out is for real. 
So Salli and I were kidnapped (not really) by an old man taxi who had his own agenda on where we should go. We finally begged him to left us out in Alfama, but not after taking us to see other parts of Lisbon with stunning views of the city. He spoke to me in Portuguese and I communicated with him in broken Spanish. What should have been a 10 minute ride turned into a 30 minute adventure. Well worth every Euro.