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Jordan, Spain, Greece, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Alberta, Pennsylvania and Florida

Baby Elephants Napping
We just walked down the hill from our hotel, Jabal Amman, and then up the hill on the left, and we saw the Temple of Hercules in the Citadel on a hill about a mile away. Up close, the remains of these structures from Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times were very impressive. It is difficult to imagine how these huge heavy rocks were lifted and pieced together so well that they are still standing there today.

Jordan, August 2021

We walked through the incredible cliffs of Petra – and sometimes we were the only people there. We were told that before Covid, there were sometimes 100,000 visitors there on any given day. This route through the mountains was used by the caravans of traders going from Egypt to Turkey with camels.

Jordan, August 2021

We went to Jerash, which is an hour drive north of Amman, and saw the temple of the Greek God, Zeus. The current structure, built on the ruins on of an earlier sacred site, was erected in 162 AD.

Jordan, August 2021

Solar Borehole
Moses saw The Promised Land from the top of MT Nebo. It was hot and very hazy the day that I (Marilyn) visited this site, while John was in isolation back in our hotel room. I didn’t think The Holy Land looked very promising – and I’m really glad that we were not wandering around out there in this barren land in the heat with Moses for 40 years.

Jordan, August 2021

Lake Louise
We flew to Calgary for our annual trek to Alberta. Then we went to Canmore for a few days, and to Lake Louise, in Banff National Park. We love this beautiful place in the Canadian Rockies in the winter when it’s frozen and covered with fresh snow.

Alberta, December 2019

Marilyn's Siblings
Marilyn’s father arrived in Canada in 1929, and now there are 71 members in his family. Marilyn has five siblings, 13 nephews and three nieces, and 12 grand nieces and 14 grand nephews, and one great grand nephew.

Alberta, December 2019

Lake Louise
One of our traditions when we visit Marilyn’s home in Alberta is to go to the cemeteries where her parents, grandparents and great grandparents are buried. It is a time to remember all that they did for their families.

Alberta, December 2019

Court of the Lions
We found the “Court of the Lions” book in the Sayen supermarket in Meru - and then we visited the court of the lions in the Alhambra in Granada. Originally the twelve lions took turns spouting water – a different one for each hour. But, since the sultan was forced to leave at the end of the 15th century, no one has been able to convince them to do it.

Granada Sepember 2019

Roman Ruins
In Barcelona, we travelled by subway, cable car and gondola to the castle (it looked more like a fortress to us) on the highest cliff overlooking the harbor on one side and the city on the other. And we went underground to walk among Roman ruins from thousands of years ago.

Barcelona September 2019

Galatian Dancer
We got lost several times on Santiago de Compostela’s winding, narrow streets and alleys - and everywhere we went was uphill from our three hundred year old hotel. We heard bagpipes one afternoon, and then found ourselves in a crowd of tourists who were all taking photos, with their cell phones, of local dancers in exquisite traditional costumes.

Santiago Sepember 2019

John at the End of the World
Then, for three days, we took taxis each morning to a half-way point, and then walked about 10 mies on the Camino through forests, farmland and small villages to inns, where we enjoyed local wine and a hearty meal. On the fourth day we reached Finisterre, the end of the world as it was known before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Finnisterre September 2019                 

It was too warm when we arrived in Calgary, Alberta, and there was no snow there. But we had a couple of days of great cross-country skiing at Lake Louise in Banff National Park. There’s always a lot of snow up there at nearly 6,000 feet. And there was snow too at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park in British Columbia. We love the Canadian Rockies - when the sun shines and skies are blue, and there’s a foot of fresh powder snow.

Alberta, December 2018

Marilyn has four brothers and a sister in Alberta - and thirteen nephews and three nieces, one of whom is Marilyn’s godchild. We managed, by driving from place to place, to see 43 of the 64 people in her Matthiessen family, as well as some cousins and long time friends. It was good to be back there, where she grew up, and to see so many of her family members, especially two babies born since we visited there a year ago.

Alberta, December 2018

We drove to Pittsburgh for the ASME Annual Conference, and on our way there, we stopped in Sewickley to spend some time with friends. It was good to be with them. They were married four years ago at Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien, and since then they have enjoyed their new life in their new home and their new church with their many new friends there.

Pittsburgh November 2018

Marilyn toured Fallingwater, the Kauffman family weekend home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is constructed of sandstone, quarried on the 5,000 area property, and built on rock above a water fall. The Kauffmanns enjoyed communing with nature in this idyllic home from 1935 to 1963.

Pennsylvania November 2018

The Pantheon
We flew from Nairobi to Dubai, and then on to Athens, where we stayed for five days in a small hotel just a couple of blocks from the entrance to the Acropolis. We walked to the top to see The Pantheon, which was built in the 6th century BC, and is now a huge reconstruction project.

Athens August 2018

You are not Welcome Here
Then we flew to Santorini, an island in the Aegean Sea, which was formed by a volcano eruption four hundred years ago. Today thousands of people go there on holiday in the summer months to see the spectacular cliffs, the white washed buildings and the beautiful sunsets.

Santorini August 2018

Summertime - All the Time
We enjoyed a couple of days in Canmore, Alberta, and some cross country skiing at Lake Louise, in Banff National Park. There was lots of fresh snow and sunshine, and the mild temperature was wonderful. Lake Louise is one of our favorite places in the Canadian Rockies.

Lake Louise, December 2017

Family Gatherings
There are now 62 members in Marilyn’s family. She is the eldest, the matriarch, and the youngest is just two months old. Her five siblings and 16 nieces and nephews and their families live in seven locations, so we travelled from place to place to visit 44 of them.

Alberta, December 2017

Summertime - All the Time
Marilyn and four of her University of Alberta classmates have a tradition of getting together for brunch in Calgary every New Year’s Day. This time only two attended, as one was in bed with a cold and another felt that driving on the icy roads would be too treacherous.

Alberta, December 2017

Dali's Glass House
We were in Tampa, Florida for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Conference - and while John was in meetings, Marilyn toured St. Pete’s, the cultural capital of Florida with its 32 museums. The Dale Chihuly Collection was stunning.

Florida, November 2017

Summertime - All the Time
After the ASME meeting, we visited a friend in Sarasota and got caught up on what’s happened in our lives during the ten years since we last spent some time together. We walked on the beach - on white sand, like we’ve never seen before - anywhere.

Sarasota, November 2017

Internet Friends Meet
We spent time in Tampa with Al Barrett and his wife Gail. Al is the founder of the Threads of Hope Sewing School in Kenya. We’ve known him since 2005 (our first summer in Kenya), but only through e-mail and phone calls. One of our Masai students just finished the tailoring course at his school, and now she wants to set up her own small sewing business. Her church in Bissil has a space for her to work in - so all she needs to get started is a sewing machine and some supplies and some textiles.

Tampa, November 2017

Old and New
We visited our Maryknoll Missioner friend Russ in Phnom Penh. Maria, another Maryknoll Missioner, teaches history at a university there and she had given her students a treasure hunt as an assignment. We went in a tuk tuk on the same treasure hunt to see the sights. Russ, who set up the St. John Bosco Education Trust, transferred to Cambodia a year ago after being in Kenya for 15 years.

Phnom Penh, September 2017

Twins and Roots
Then we went to Siem Reep and Angkot Wat, a UN Historical Site, where we walked a lot and went up and down lots of stairs and in and out of lots of temples built in the 12th century. One million people lived there then- and 100,000 of them worked to build these stone structures - with the help of 40,000 elephants who moved the huge stones. These temples were lost in the trees, whose roots found their way through crevices in order to survive.

Cambodia, September 2017

View From Our Room
Our next stop was Hanoi, where we stayed in the old section. The young people there drive motorbikes, dress fashionably Western, enjoy coffee at Starbucks and like to practice speaking English. There are many new high-rise buildings next to three or four story tube houses - some from the French era.

Hanoi, September 2017

Sunset on Ha Long Bay
The movie “Indochine” is why we wanted to see the 2000 mountain islands in Ha Long Bay. It is also a UN Historical Site, as well as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We were so blessed, as it was low season and we had our “Indochine Sails” boat (the Valentine) all to ourselves.

Vietnam, September 2017