Or “The Friends and Family Tour 2015”
Before it becomes a completely distant memory, we need to post our highlights, thank-yous, and pictures from our month long trip to the United States to visit our dear ones. If I only knew how to do cool graphic stuff because I can just see a map of the world with an airplane icon “flying” from Cuenca to Quito to Boston to Seattle to Montana (well, a little car icon now) back to Seattle up to Mt. Vernon down to Portland and back to Seattle, then that little plane icon again flying to Alaska and eventually flying us all the way back home to Cuenca. Can you see it? Close your eyes and try hard.
Okay, that’s enough visualization. You have a blog post to read. First, we apologize that we were not able to see everyone in all the places we visited. Our days were packed. We want to thank everyone who extended their loving hospitality to us by providing a bed and/or a meal and especially visiting time during this trip. In 28 days of travel, we only had to stay in a hotel for five nights! That saved us a bucket load of money as you can imagine. Thank you also to those of you who responded to our email granting us permission to post your photos on this page. For those of you who didn’t respond, well an opportunity for your 15 minutes of fame may have just slipped by!
Cuenca to New York
Usually leaving our apartment for the tiny little Cuenca airport 90 minutes before departure time is more than adequate. But not on Wednesday, April 15. We almost missed our flight due to an afternoon storm that snarled up traffic for hours. Our taxi was more than an half hour late getting to us and then it took more than 40 minutes of hair-raising maneuvering by our taxi driver to get to the airport. Fortunately there was no line at the Tame counter or at the security checkpoint and the flight was slightly delayed. Whew!
But the fun wasn’t over yet! The storm Cuenca was experiencing was also causing havoc for Quito so our flight was diverted to Guayaquil. Fortunately, Cuenca, Quito and Guayaquil are only about 30 minutes flying time away from each other. As soon as we landed in Guayaquil, an announcement was made that the Quito airport was open again and as soon as the plane was refueled we would be on our way. It was and we were, with plenty of time to make our 1:00am flight to New York.
Tame (pronounced Tah-may) is Ecuador’s government airline and is the cheapest way to get from Ecuador to JFK. We slept pretty well for airplane slumber and easily made our connection to Boston.
Our first order of business was to get US sim cards for our phones. ATT was more than happy to help us with that. Next up was lunch and we broke our 7 month fast of decent Chinese food. Honestly, even though it was fast food Chinese, it tasted great to us!
Contrary to the emphasis of the paragraph above, our main purpose for stopping in Boston was to visit Glenn’s mom Fay and sister Shari. We also were so happy that Glenn’s brother and sister-in-law Scott and Ulla drove up from Connecticut to see us and help with some sorting and purging from Fay’s storage shed.
Alaska Airlines graciously provided non-stop transportation from Boston to Seattle and we were happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest again even if it was only for an hour! We immediately rented a car and headed for Eastern Washington and then on to Montana. North of Spokane, we enjoyed visiting with our great friends Brian and Melissa Parker and their daughters on our way to and from Montana.
We had a long but beautiful drive from Washington to Montana. Spring was thinking really hard about showing up and the weather was lovely. If I couldn’t live in Cuenca or Alaska, I would have to make a play for Montana. It is such an awesome state and Dave and Laurie Gano (Glenn’s brother and sister-in-law) are a big part of that. We had a great time at their ranch north of Big Timber.
After two short days on the ranch, we were driving west again. We made a stop at the old Gano family home in Spokane Valley. We are grateful to Sid Johnson for allowing us to see the house and grounds that hold so many memories.
Seattle Area and Mt. Vernon
As we travelled over Snoqualmie Pass on our way back to the Seattle area, we saw our first falling snow in over a year. Can’t say we missed it. We picked up our son Bryan from his apartment in Redmond, Washington where he attends Digipen Institute of Technology. He had just completed a grueling spring semester and had a short break before summer term commenced. We all went up to Mt. Vernon to spend a long weekend with several members of Glenn’s family, including his sister Cynthia who also is an expat. She and her husband John live in France and rendezvoused with us while they, too, were on a trip back to the States.
After a great weekend with family, everyone had to get on with their lives so we took Bryan back to Redmond, helped him with a few tasks and enjoyed a great evening with Kurt and Theresa Lutterman in Bellevue. The next day we said Goodbye to Bryan. We probably won’t see him again for a year except via SKYPE. Thank goodness for SKYPE!
Olympia and Portland
More friends and family to see south of Seattle. We continued to be blessed by generous folks and gorgeous spring weather.
More than two weeks after we left Cuenca we finally reached Anchorage. We were greeted by a green haze on the otherwise bare branches of the deciduous trees which could only mean one thing: we would see spring turn into summer right before our eyes! As much as we love Cuenca, there’s nothing quite like the Alaskan landscape going from the dormancy of a very long winter to the lush verdant spring. Cuenca just doesn’t have that.
Our lovely daughter Kathleen and her boyfriend Chaz met us at the airport. We stayed with Mara’s dad for the duration of our visit. Inta O’Brien, Mara’s sister, was visiting also. We enjoyed our first Sunday together with a cookout hosted by Ventis (Mara’s dad) and attended by many friends.
We spent the rest of our time visiting with friends and family, going to and playing in the praise band of our Anchorage church, shopping, going to dental appointments, eating at favorite restaurants, and visiting our former places of employment. What a cool experience it is to visit your old workplace and then when you’re done, walk right back out without having done a lick of work!
Mara visited Scenic Park on the day of a former colleagues bridal shower. Congratulations Alecia and sorry about spilling the beans! It was also fun to volunteer for the annual mile run.
I’m sure it’s hard to believe but I did not take a picture of everything and everyone. Two things we did not get pictures of was singing with Kathleen at church and the lovely family dinner that Melodee and Mark Risi hosted so that we could get to know Chaz’s family better. Thanks so much!
Back to Cuenca
Four weeks after we started this sojourn, it was time to make the long trip home. Yes, home. Cuenca is home now but we sure did love visiting our favorite places in the US for a month. A lot of folks we saw said they enjoy reading this blog. We’re so glad. Until next time . . .
What we’ve learned: Cuenca has better and cheaper fruits and veggies but it’s easier to drive in the US.
What we need to learn: How to built a transporter so we can visit our loved ones any time and not have to travel for 26 hours.