|Trip report summaries - click on the pictures OR the titles to see the detailed report.|
Looking for a safe travel option during the Coronavirus pandemic, Sandra found an AirBNB lake house rental for us only 3.5 hours away by car, on the shores of Lake Michigan. This house was well out of town, and close to a state park as well as a large strip of beach that reminded me a lot of the Dominican Republic. It was very quiet and there were very few people around, so social distancing was easy. On one of the days, we headed into a nearby picturesque town, Petoskey, for lunch outdoors and a bit of sightseeing. It was nice to have a peaceful week away.
No, the house in the collage (top left corner) was NOT the house we stayed in. That house was one of many Victorian-style houses in Bay View, a town with an interesting history that we ran across by chance. We didn't know it existed until we drove into it that day, as we explored along the coast of Lake Michigan.
Vancouver in March, a bit too early for nice weather, but we had a nice sunny day among several gray and rainy days. We were there for a purpose, though! Our friend David's retirement party, or actually two(!), celebrating a great career across three countries. We flew into Seattle and drove north to Vancouver, just at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We shared a Kitsilano AirBNB house rental with friends from East Lansing, and it worked out well. Christina and I took our friend Joe out to UBC (University of British Columbia) and visited, among other spots, the dorm I lived in when I was a student at UBC, starting way back in 1978! Christina was pleased to see the place that I've talked about, as she goes through her own dorm experience (now cut short because of the pandemic) at Michigan State University. I was surprised at how cramped and old the building was, though of course it has aged 40 years since I was there.
Heading to the DR to visit Sandra's side of the family for Christmas. My brother-in-law Miky took us on his boat to a great island and a mangrove maze in Monte Cristi, it was a wonderful trip.The dresses in the collage may look out of place here, they were in a museum exhibit that displayed the life of Oscar de La Renta, a famous Dominican fashion designer with a very interesting life that we learned about there.
It had been 15 years since the last Abel family reunion, and five years since we had been back to British Columbia, so this was very overdue. We drove from Michigan because I was having lung issues. It was four days of solid driving each way, and we saw several states that we had never seen before. It was great to be back in BC, I wonder if we'll ever live there again? More and more, I think it would be nice to retire there.
This trip report combines two trips: firstly, a bike tour that I went on, based in Cheboygan, and going to Mackinaw City and Topinabee; and secondly, a return a couple of weeks later with Christina to do a bit of riding, but mostly sight-seeing.
This time, we travelled to a part of the country that we haven't been to before, the southwest, near the border with Haiti. It's not as populated, and the terrain is quite rocky.
We went to Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of the Eagles) with family and friends, and it was very beautiful, probably the most beautiful beach that I've ever been to.
Christina and I headed up to Traverse City so that she could help out as a manager of the boys varsity tennis team. It was an overnight trip and I took my bike along, to get in a scenic ride along the lake in beautiful Traverse City.
A trip to the D.R.!
This was a short trip of just a couple of nights. Since the last time we had been here, the city had opened up The Bloomingdale Trail, a converted, elevated rail trail above the city. Together with the Southern half of the North Branch Trail, and a lot of connecting bike-lane streets, I put together a 50-mile bike ride. I'm sure it would have been easier on a road bike, but using my mountain bike allowed me to try a few urban stunts along the way. We also checked out the awesome new outdoor climbing wall and the fantastic kid's playground at Maggie Daley Park.
We headed back to Disney World after six years - this will probably be the last trip here for Christina while she's still a kid. I'm glad we were able to bring her here a couple of times, it's an experience that everybody should have when they're young.
It was so hot, in the mid 90's every day, but luckily thunderstorms rolled through and cooled things down on a couple of the days. The heat didn't stop us from enjoying everything we saw, though!
My second annual trip out to Milwaukee to ride this indoor mountain bike park, and hopefully I'll be able to go every year for many more years. This place is like Disneyland for mountain bikers that like to ride stunts, and it's a chance for me to see things that might inspire me or give me ideas for my own builds.
This is a great experience that all mountain bikers should make sure that they do at least once.
Despite the cold weather on this trip, the still-in-progress Maggie Daley Park, near Millennium Park, was partially open. The Skating Ribbon was seeing a lot of use, and the Play Garden was open. They still have a lot of work to do to finish it, but it was great to have so much of it open so far ahead of time. This should be a very popular attraction in the city - I expect that it will be crammed in the summertime, and I'm eager to see all the people on the world's largest outdoor climbing wall!
This trip was really a lot of fun - Christina and I discovered indoor rock-climbing (by accident), and we were able to climb on three different occasions. We drove through the Canadian Rocky Mountains and hiked to the teahouse at beautiful Lake Louise, Alberta.
Coupled with a few days in the islands on both sides of the border, it was a fantastic trip.
Not really a trip to Milwaukee, just a drive up there to ride at Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park. This was a lot of fun and I would definitely like to go back next year, or perhaps to the Cleveland location for something a bit different.
They have been sending emails that they are building new lines, so I'll definitely want to go back here this Winter.
We headed back to my birthplace, British Columbia, for the first time in five years, to visit friends and family and to do some sight-seeing. With only two weeks and eight separate destinations, it felt very rushed, with only one or two nights spent before having to move on. What a beautiful province!
It was great to see family members again after not having seen anybody in my family for five years. Hopefully the next time we return will be much sooner.
Another winter trip to Chicago, but with lots of bike riding because of the lack of snow.
A winter trip to Chicago, with lots of blue ice along the lake shore. Construction continues on the Northeast corner of Grant Park, a three-year project to create the new Maggie Daley Park.
A Christmas trip to the Dominican Republic, escaping the start of the snow and cold weather in Michigan. I was fortunate to discover that my brother-in-law Miky is a mountain biker, too! He set me up with a friend's bike, and we rode three times through terrain completely different than what I'm used to. Our friend Sammy came along for one of the rides and took us to some beautiful spots along the North Coast.
To the shore of Lake Michigan for a week, relaxing and riding the Kal-Haven bike trail.
Over to Chicago for the July 4th long weekend, and more heat records, this time reaching 103 degrees! Despite the heat, there were thousands of people on the beach. I rode for close to three hours on this and another hot day, and it was fine, though I really felt the need for water.
Another trip to Chicago, with the highlight being the "Bike The Drive" bicycling event - over 20,000 bicycles on a closed 15-mile stretch of Lakeshore Drive! Christina and I did the North route for a total of 15 miles. I was impressed at how well she did at this distance - far longer than she's ever ridden before. We had a really great time and hope to do it again next year. It reached 97 degrees later in the day, another global warming record?
I also found Buckingham Fountain working for the first time. It was quite pretty with the water running.
Another trip to Chicago, with record temperatures in the mid-70's - incredible for mid-March! Only one year ago in February they had a blizzard here that stranded 900 cars on Lakeshore Drive! Global warming? I hope it's not going to be 125 degrees later this summer!
We visited the Field Museum for the first time, biking to it along the Lakeshore Trail, which very conveniently goes past it, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. They had a lot of animals on display, including very large bears and moose, as well as ones we'd never seen before.
We travelled to Chicago more than once this year, and this trip report combines the different trips, including the last one of 2011, when we were there for New Year's Eve.
I started taking my mountain bike along (and Christina's too) and exploring
the Lakeshore Trail. It has 18 miles of paved trail alongside Lake Michigan, and is fun to
ride. There are a lot of bikers using this trail, not very many on mountain bikes, and
some of those road bikes really zoomed past me.
We travelled with Christina's friend Audrey to spend a few days here. We had been here before, but only on day trips. This time, we stayed in the amazing Grand Hotel, up on the hill behind the town, making bicycle trips downtown just a matter of coasting! We took our own bikes with us.
The old-world design in the Grand Hotel is over the top - strong lime greens with orange, strong yellows, and wild floral wallpaper. I wouldn't have it in my own house, but it's pretty cool here!
|Sandra had to work, but Christina and I were able to wander the free museums of
Washington DC's National Mall. There is so much to see that we will have to go back again.|
The collage to the left is not representative of the whole trip, just of the Air and Space Museum, which I was eager to see. When I was a kid in the 60s, I had a scrapbook of moon landing newspaper clippings and a book about rocket scientist Robert Goddard. Of course I wanted to be an astronaut, like so many kids did at that time.
|Two weeks in the sunny Dominican Republic, away from the snow!
New York and the East Coast had a huge snowfall while we were gone, though Michigan wasn't
affected by it.
People were stranded in airports and on airplanes, but we were lucky to have left before the storm and to have returned after it.|
It was nice to visit our Dominican family again, they always take very good care of us!
|This was a quick weekend trip to Chicago. We took Christina's friend Audrey with us, the first
time that we had ever taken any of her friends on a trip. It was a lot of fun, and the girls
really had a great time, especially in Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Shedd Aquarium.
They also enjoyed the pool at our hotel and wandering around on the Magnificent Mile. The Hershey store was a highlight, and the Grand Lux restaurant had really great food and decor, as always.
|We took Sandra's parents and her nieces to Crystal Mountain for a ski vacation. This was the first time that they
have seen snow, since they live in the Dominican Republic. In their city, Santiago, it never goes below 70 degrees,
so being in 10-20 degree weather must have been quite a strange experience.
Sandra and the girls took snowboarding and skiing lessons, while I just played photographer. Sandra's parents enjoyed the rental townhouse and the cute cottages. These cottages had names and nameplates (Firefly, Snowshoe, Moonbeam, etc.)
|Reid, Sandra, and Christina flew to Vancouver, then drove around British Columbia sight-seeing, visiting relatives, and going down Memory Lane for 22 days. Beautiful weather pretty much the whole time, cool by Michigan standards, but just the way I like it!
Victoria would be a great place to retire, hopefully the real estate market will crash there sometime in the next decade. Tofino is beautiful but the many visible tsunami evacuation signs are worrying.
|Reid and Christina met Alex, Mary Rose, Kathleen, and Anneliese at Greenfield
Village, which is close to The Henry Ford Museum in
Dearborn, Michigan. We had a fun time and got to ride in an old Ford car from the 30's.
There were a lot of old buildings, including ones that had been disassembled and brought in from other countries. Some of the most interesting exhibits taught us about the period of slavery in the United States.
|Reid and Christina tagged along with Sandra, who was visiting a teacher as part of one of her education projects. We stayed about 7 days and enjoyed it, despite Christina having strep throat and passing it on to Reid! We met a nice doctor there and still managed to enjoy the trip and the scenery a lot. This was in April 2009, and it was below freezing at night, but the snow melted heavily during the day, We had waterfalls gushing off the hotel roof for the first five days before it was finally gone. We were impressed by the red rocks but not by the real estate prices.|
|This was our first (and last?) family camping trip. Our friends Brian and Marisol arranged for us to rent a teepee at this park. One look up and I knew it was going to be a problem when the predicted thunderstorms came overnight. Sure enough, we discovered that there's nowhere to hide in a teepee when the rain comes down the support sticks and the top and bottom bunks had puddles in them! Not that we didn't enjoy ourselves before the rain hit, but we didn't stay for the second night. Thankfully, there was a 24-hour McDonald's two blocks away! Roughing it!|
|Animal Kingdom was my favorite part of Disney World, and that was a big surprise to me because I thought it was just going to be like a big zoo. Of course, Disney knows how to make things entertaining, and this was way better than a zoo. We especially liked the river raft ride (the signs were right - you WILL get wet - you MAY get soaked) and the safari. It was pretty difficult to take pictures from the safari truck while it bounced around, but it really did feel like being on a safari in Africa (not that I would know, but that's my guess!). The ambience of the place was fantastic.|
|Most of these pictures were taken around Sosua Beach on the Northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Sandra is from the largest city in the North, Santiago, which is a couple of hours South of the Northern coast. Sosua Beach is beautiful and we were able to rent an apartment that we had rented before. It is within walking distance of the beach and has great views. Christina loves playing in the water and the sand, so the sun is a problem. She ended up getting burned on her scalp where her hair was parted! We didn't even know that could happen.|
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is apparently hated by many residents, but
I love it. I've never seen anything like it - it has literally hundreds of artist
booths full of a wide variety of art. I started out looking for glass paperweights,
but I have taken pictures (after asking permission of course) of many different
types of artwork.
I'm starting to branch out with my purchases, and in July 2009 I purchased one of the metal shield-like sculptures made by Chris Seeman. I came close to buying a painting by Cady Watson, but ended up not quite doing it. Maybe next year!
British Columbia is where I grew up, went to University, and met my wife Sandra,
so it is special to me even though we are living in Michigan. We really enjoy our
trips back there and maybe someday we'll live there again.
The University of British Columbia is where I did my B.Sc. and Sandra did her Master's and Ph.D. Not only that, but it's where we first met. I worked there for several years and it's just a great University with a wonderful surrounding area. We lived near the University Village for a few years and enjoyed the trails and atmosphere a lot. We'd love to live out there again.