Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday

Happy 1st Birthday to my sweet nephew Marshall!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


On Friday, June 22 I took off work early so Jen & I could start our roadtrip. We drove south into the Pyrenees Mountains heading for Andorra. Andorra is a small principality between France & Spain deep in the mountains; it is governed by both countries and they speak Catalan (the Spanish dialect of the Catalunya region). It was a beautiful drive, amazing mountain views. We stopped a number of times to take pictures. At the top of the mountain range we heard a big pop – the potato chip bag burst. There are several small towns and resorts just off the main highway. You could stay at a resort, walk across the road to a ski lift and take in a few runs. The ski resorts are pretty small, but there are several of them along the way. No snow this time of year. We stopped in Andorra la Vella for the night – the capital city deep in a valley – the only place I couldn’t get a cell phone signal. It is know for it’s duty free shopping – lots of perfume, cigarettes and alcohol. We ate at a fondue restaurant. I had a lot of difficulty sleeping that night. So in order not to wake Jen, I took some blankets and a pillow and camped out in the bathtub to read.
Jen couldn’t remember the name of the principality so she called it Genovia – from The Princess Diaries.So, if you ever find yourself on the central French-Spanish border, I highly recommend a drive through Andorra.
Driving from France into Andorra - take note of the far mountians.
Now on top of those mountains looking back.

And now on the other side.

Watch out for cows! These signs are all over - but we only ran into horses in the road.


First, I need to say Happy 8th Anniversary to Sharon & David.

I'm back from my roadtrip - 2 countries, 2 principalities in 5 days. I'll be posting lots over the next few days. Didn't have internet access on the trip. Spain, France, Andorra & Monaco. Will overload this site with pictures & a travelogue as soon as possible. But for now it's back to work.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gas Prices

While gas prices may be high in the US, consider this:

1.32 Euro/liter x 3.75 liter/gallon x 1.35 dollar/Euro = $6.68/gallon

It costs me approximately 40 Euros ($54) to fill up my 8 gallon tank.

Jen & I will use a lot of gas on our roadtrip. Decided to drive to Barcelona, Spain by way of the Pyrenees Mountains going through Andorra (a little country/principality on the French-Spanish border). Then Barcelona to the French Riviera. Should be fun.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Back for a week and settling into life here again. Work is very busy for the next few weeks. Saturday dawned bright & clear. I went downtown to do some shopping. The goal was shoes but I didn’t find any I was dying to pay 60 to 80 Euros for. I did get a few gifts and a shirt for myself. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and drove to Albi. It’s about an hour north east of here. I loved it. It is known as the red city for the color of it’s bricks, seems like most buildings are made from it. Cathedrale Ste-Cecile is a large cathedral that is fairly plain on the outside yet extremely ornate inside – I believe it is baroque style inside. The organist was playing the huge pipe organ. The music filled every corner of the cathedral. A view of the outside from a nearby street.

The view to the altar and organ.

Intricate stone carvings that were everywhere in this cathedral. Notice the painted ceiling.

I walked down and over Pont Vieux on the Tarn River to get a great view. The cathedral is on the left.

I went to Musee Toulouse-Lautrec in the Palias de la Berbie (Archbishop’s Palace). Albi was Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s hometown and his family donated a large number of his paintings for the museum. He has an interesting style that is very distinctive. It was interesting to see an original painting, and then a classic advertisement poster using that same work.

I found tzatziki at the marche. I love a lot about Greek food but tzatziki is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a yogurt & cucumber dip/sauce. I polished off a tub of it over the weekend. I’ve gotten a bit braver with wine, branching out. Didn’t like the French Riesling, so I gave it to a co-worker to finish. The Bordeaux blanc sauvignon and pinot blanc were good. I surprised myself in liking a regular (red) Bordeaux. I have a Cotes-du-Rhone and Bordeaux Blanc to try. And I splurged on champagne. 10 Euros for less than a half-liter. It’s a Rothschild, a brut Grande Reserve, so let’s hope it’s good. I’ll pop the cork when Jen’s here.
As promised, a picture of my car – a Citreon C3. This one doesn’t shift as smoothly as the cute navy one I first had, but it gets me around. The stop-&-go engine can be annoying too, but you can turn that function off.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cute, cute, cute

Marshall's current favorite toys. So big & so cute!!

Playing with Grandpa. See, I told you - cutest boys on the planet!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back in the saddle again

Made it back to France just fine. Every single one of my flights was delayed but not enough to cause me any problems. The layover in Munich got a little long, mainly because I was trying to stay awake. I didn’t get much sleep on that flight – not for wont of trying. But I did watch 3 movies – including Dhoom 2, a Bollywood thief caper complete with song & dance. It stars the girl who Richard Gere got in trouble for kissing on the cheek in public in India back in April. If you’re ever in the mood for total cheese – go Bollywood. Bride & Prejudice can’t help but make you smile – the gospel choir & surfers swaying on the beach may be a little over the top.

It was nice seeing a lot of you last week. The house is doing fine under Michelle’s watch. Unexpectedly got to attend Stephanie’s baby shower. Thanks Phineas Fellowship for the dessert potluck. The scrapbook touched my heart. I got to spend some time with my precious nephews. JT is 2.5 yrs old. He amazes me with all he understands. Aunt Jen’s hardwood floors are perfect for his trains & cars. And Marshall – so laid back & good natured. At 11 months, he’s been walking for a few weeks and the toddling drunken sailor walk cracks me up. His smile is so precious. He was quite talkative after the zoo. Good to spend time with my sisters & parents too.

It was good to be home, sleep in my own bed, see friends & family. But work-wise I was ready to come back here and be in the middle of what’s going on. Felt isolated in Wichita. It’s so weird that this familiar to me. Picked up a Citreon C3 at the airport, silver this time. I’ll get a picture of the car posted soon. They wanted to give me a C5 – a sedan. I’m glad they didn’t – parking is tight in the C3 at times, I don’t want a bigger car.

Ready to get into a work week, get groceries at the marche, get settled in again. I know the next 5 weeks will fly by. Jen arrives on Monday for a 2 week visit. I’m excited to have a girl here to talk to and for the trip we’re taking to Barcelona & Nice.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Home on the range

"Give me the luxuries in life and I will willingly do without the necessities." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Appropriate quote to read while traveling back business class. Got to use the Lufthansa business class lounge in the Frankfurt airport with free snacks and drinks instead of sitting downstairs with the economy masses. I usually only get to use lounges when traveling with my dad who has a cajillion frequent flier miles and access to those types of places. Business class is especially nice when it's not your own money. Wider, reclining seats, great food, free booze and a personal entertainment system. Choice of movies, tv, music videos, video games all available whenever you want. I watched 4 movies in order to stay awake on the 10.5 hour flight from Frankfurt to Denver. Was awake about 24 hours before crashing in my own bed. It was worth it to quickly get on the local time schedule. I haven't had much of a jet lag problem.

When security in France checked my laptop bag, they joked about needing to confiscate the Milka bars stashed in there. Thank goodness the 4 bottles of wine in my checked bag made it with no problem - though I had a note that TSA had looked in my suitcase. I'd be surprised if they hadn't.

It was great to see so many of you this weekend. Can't wait to see my family in the next few days.