Friday, August 30, 2013

Circle Tour 13: in San Sebastián

We started our rest day as usual with a group meeting. The student residence where we stayed was only a few blocks away from Jeff's apartment, so he chose that day to carry his heavy book bag and share with us his favorites for learning about the Basque people--their history, culture and how to live and work among them.

We were free to do whatever, go wherever. Most of us were getting together with our Basque friends--the SUSA students, their families and friends.

The Normal, Illinois, group were invited to dinner at a sociedad gastronómica where one of the SUSA parents was a member. The three or four students hosted by Jacob's Well church got together with their friends and families and provided a most amazing meal event. I believe it was on top of one of the hills surrounding Donostia (Basque for San Sebastián) somewhere up by the tower.

Notice the 2016 inscription on the hillside. We read on a sign downtown, that the city has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2016.

DSS (Donostia/San Sebastián) claims to have an incomparable view. I wrote about it after our visit three years ago: El marco incomparable.

As the groups began to disperse, the few of us left went with Jeff to see some of the sights.
First we stopped by his place to drop off the heavy book bag.

We walked the rest of the morning, revisited some of the spots our host Alberto had taken us to on our previous visit (see Donostia) and saw some new ones.

The Beach
Interesting Architecture
The Good Shepherd Church
Notice Eduardo Chillida's Cross of the Peace
Jeff took us to his favorite Italian restaurant for the Menú del Día--great food and conversation.

La Mamma
Our friends from Hondarribia were able to come and spend the evening with us: Amaia and her parents, and good friends Gonzalo, Elena and daughter Zara.

Our girl Amaia
We walked and talked, enjoyed the beautiful weather and views.

At the other end of the beach we got a close-up view of the Peine del Viento, another Chillida sculpture. Can you see the three parts?

At the appropriate time in our wanderings we ended up at a pleasant outdoor restaurant. Surprisingly, or maybe not so unusual, the weather turned chilly quite quickly.

Alberto, Michael, Edurne, Gonzalo, Zara, Elena, Amaia
Alberto and Gonzalo work at the hospital in Donostia. We visited there three years ago. Read about it here:
The Hospital

So that was our wonderful long day in San Sebastián.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 Week 34: Art, and Crisis

 Last week I promised photos of our Circle Tour reunion. This is the only one that was somewhat okay.
That seems to be the pattern of the week, very few good pictures. I've managed to scrape together some representative images to tell the story of Week 34.

Sunday was a busy day but Skye and I managed to squeeze in a shopping trip for more school clothes in the afternoon. He had some designated money to spend.

Another tandem breakfast ride Monday morning. We tried a new destination, Hardee's and rode some 11 miles.

Mike decorated his bicycle with the Basque sheep decal teammate Keith gave us Saturday.
I completed another blog post about our travels in Basque Country.

Tuesday I spent five hours at Sew Biz on their Open Sew day working on Karen's T-shirt quilt. I get so much more done with ample work space, available tools, and absolute focus.

Afterwards I went to the new Marion General Hospital building in the next block to find the sculpture Mike sold them and to see where and how it is displayed. It was after hours so I couldn't enter certain areas. However, I did see a painting by the teacher I took a few lessons from, Margaret Gugel.

Speaking of art, Thursday evening we had an Open House for our friend Stefan Eicher visiting from India. He lives in New Delhi with his wife and three young children. They manage Reflection Art Gallery & Studio and run programs that reach all levels of society. He is the executive director of the Art for Change Foundation.
I realized as the last guest was leaving that I had not taken any pictures and quickly tried to remedy the situation. Friend Rosie is representative of all who came to hear Stefan's fascinating journey as an artist.

The photo was of such poor quality that I added a Light Trails effect. Hmmmm...

Ah! But here you have some professional art. I took the liberty to scan a couple of Stefan's art post cards. (I hope that is allowed.)

The artists visited a tuberculosis center to interact with the patients and paint portraits of the disease.

"According to WHO [World Health Organization] estimates, India has the world's largest tuberculosis epidemic." 

An ancient photo from the family archives was brought to my attention for possible repair. The siblings are looking angry, starved, I don't know...just crazy.

They DO love each other and were deeply concerned for our youngest, Sam, who became very ill Thursday--severe headache and vomiting, could not keep anything down. ER visit Friday and CT scan showed some swelling on the brain.

Saturday I went to offer help wherever needed. Mid afternoon Sam seemed stable, Kristie took the boys to their annual dental checkup. I left for home. Then Sam sent out a Facebook message--could someone take him to emergency ASAP!
I went back to their house immediately and stayed with the boys so Kristie could be with Sam. The doctor was very energetic and thorough, explained much, prescribed stronger meds, and sent him home to see his regular doctor Monday. No answers yet. We wait and pray.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed the grandsons: Malachi and I prepared dinner together. Zion and I walked in the woods. Elijah and I played a game and read a book. And this is how the little one greeted me after his nap, so happy and giggly.

However, bedtime later without Mama was a totally different screaming scenario! But, he fell asleep anyway.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Circle Tour 13: on to San Sebastián

Pressing on, determined to continue blogging about our tour of the Basque Country to the end.
I left off a couple weeks ago with our time in Bayonne and evening outing to Biarritz.

The next morning we enjoyed the abundant hotel breakfast in crowded quarters, each doing their own thing.  Mike sat with German travelers and had a delightful conversation. They highly recommended the Gugenheim Museum in Bilbao. We tucked that away on our wish list for another time.

Dane and his mother sharing a table
 The only gathering place for our team meeting was the gazebo in the park close to where our vans were parked.

As usual, getting organized and on the road was slow.

We, the van riders took a lunch break in Hendaye, still in France, right across the river from the town where our friends live in Hondarribia.

I was feeling antsy, eager to arrive in our favorite town. (Read about a previous visit here.)
Finally we were over the border, a very unimpressive crossing.

The plan was to meet in the old part of town where the original fort has been turned into quite a luxurious hotel. Making our way up narrow winding streets was not easy for the vans.

Nor was the cobble stone climb fun for the cyclists.

However, meeting up with the cyclists in that plaza was a memorable highlight of that beautiful day.
Some went inside for coffee or into the tourist office.
I called our friend Edurne to let her know we were in town. She couldn't meet us and did not think that her neighbor Gonzalo could either. He had so wanted to join the cyclists and show them his favorite route.

  We sang a couple of our favorite songs. A lady sitting nearby thanked us.

Then it was time for the cyclists to walk their bikes back down the cobbled incline and take off for Mt. Jaizkibel. This was a change of plan, all because Gonzalo so highly recommended it. Like how could they miss such a beautiful lookout point. 

What a surprise to find Gonzalo waiting to accompany them! He probably took this picture when they reached the peak. He not only rode with the team, he also took Tate to the top of the top. And then he had to ride all the way back home!

The vans went on to San Sebastián (Donosti) to our accomodation for the next two nights--Olarian, a student residence/hotel where many interesting statues welcomed us.

And several real people as well! We were pleasantly surprised to see Brad, a fellow-Uplander, recently arrived to  check out the place where he will be bringing Taylor University students next January.

Brad Seeman; Idoia and Alazne
What a delight to see one of the Basque girls who had spent a month in our community a few years back, with her younger sister, Alazne, who came to the US last year and also traveled with us on the Circle Tour.

Many began dispersing, heading for the beach within walking distance.

 Few (or was it only me?) were there to welcome the cyclists--Arrival in Donosti (28 seconds).

Later that evening we scattered again. Mike and I walked to a nearby restaurant with a few remaining team members. It was a pleasant evening. We sat outside and learned later that it costs 1.50 euro more per person to sit outside.

Next, a whole day in San Sebastián (Donosti) and, best of all, we will get together with our friends from Hondarribia!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Weeks 32 & 33: Vacation and More

Catching up after a two-week break from routine activities to take a few days away with my one-and-only, and to move the daughter into her new domicile here in town!

Sunday, the 4th, we managed to squeeze in a family time, in between two moves and Stephan's many sand-sculpture travels, to celebrate two birthdays: grandson Skye (16) and DIL Karen.
Actually, on Sunday we focused more on Skye. I had many old photos of him scattered all over our large table. After the party, I saw this happy one placed in the flower centerpiece. 

Monday night dinner at Stephan's, we focused more on Karen, and that was her actual birthday. I dug out a few old photos. This one of before they were married. She was watching her fiance run the Indy mini marathon. Now Karen runs regularly, in fact may be training for a mini herself.

Tuesday Mike and I rode to Cracker Barrel, 7 mile round trip, our first breakfast ride of the season and it is August already! Had to make sure the bike was in order and we could still do this before our annual tandem vacation.

One last summer Red Barn pottery session for Mike on Wednesday. 
Hey, that's Ellie, the young girl who went with us to Basque Country and is training to be one of the cyclists next time around!

Thursday we drove up to northern Michigan, parked the car in Indian River, loaded up the tandem for a four-day camping tour and headed to the first campsite, 20 miles, five of them unexpected gravel roads.
I confess to being scared!
"You'll get used to it," said Captain Mike.
I did. There were many lessons in trust throughout this adventure.

Neighboring campers in Petoskey State Park commented on our 'grand entrance'. No one we saw carries all they need on a bicycle. Also learned lessons on minimalizing (is that a word?).

Friday was our looooooongest ride, 55 miles, necessitating several rest stops on the way.

We stayed two nights in a campsite outside of Mackinaw City.

Saturday we took a ferry to Mackinac Island.

Leaving Mackinaw City

Arriving Mackinac Island
Riding the seven-mile coastal road around the island was a different kind of challenge--crowds of inexperienced riders!

Our view from the second floor Speed 21 Grill gives a glimpse of the crowds stopping to rent bicycles.

For those who may not know, Mackinac does not allow motorized vehicles which makes for a unique tourist experience.

I thought our bike was loaded down.
Horses, the other mode of transport
There is much more to tell about our tourist experience of the island and the same for our tour of Mackinaw City in the afternoon. Another post or two perhaps?

The famous 5-mile bridge we never crossed

The other main character, protected nightly.
Sunday we completed the circle and camped at Burt Lake State Park.

The Last Supper
Monday packing up to ride one mile from the campsite to the parked car.

The biggest lesson for me was to move from 'impending dread' to 'exhilirating expectation' of what lies ahead. I am still on that trust continuum. I should write an article about learning trust while tandeming.

Tuesday, after a good night's sleep in our own bed, we welcomed a young family traveling through. Kristin, was one of the babies on the ship Doulos. We've been friends with her family for over 30 years.
Sam, Kristie and young'uns joined us as well. We ordered Ivanhoes' food and had a delightful visit.

The rest of the afternoon was spent helping Leah make the BIG move from Marion back to Upland--several truck loads and some cleaning of the old place.

Wednesday, Mike took his sister Diane for her long-awaited visit to the State Fair. Kayla went along, one last outing before her busy semester at Ball State.

I stayed back and continued cleaning at Leah's, and again all day Thursday.

This souvenir from Mackinac (Big Turtle) island, only 2 to 3 inches in diameter and very light weight, speaks to me of looking ahead expectantly and always moving forward even if slowly.

Made in Indonesia from some kind of wood.
Friday, son Stephan finished a five-day sand-sculpturing event somewhere in Ohio. I am borrowing from his FB page.

Coral Reef
Today, Saturday, we are looking forward to a reunion of the Circle Tour team at some half-way point between Upland and Normal, IL. (Photos to come later)