May You Build A Ladder to the Stars

I’m feeling nostalgic and, perhaps if I’m being honest, even a little weepy as we begin the new year. Maybe it’s because we’re entering a new decade. Or because we just completed our 25th year in business. Or maybe it’s because our two daughters, who now live and work in career jobs in Portland and Seattle respectively – queue Bob Dylan singing Forever Young – just left after spending more than a week at home with us in Ashland. Sigh. Whatever the reason, I can’t help but look back on where we’ve been in the last 25 years, and wonder where the time went.

Our first trip after opening Travel Essentials took us to Croatia, to see my aunts, uncles and cousins in Dubrovnik, and then for 10 days to Italy. Emily and Sarah were 3 and 1 1/2. Yes indeed. We were that family getting onto the airplane with a 10-hour flight ahead of us, where people were most certainly chanting to themselves “not by me, not by me, please don’t let this family sit by me.” We traveled with a huge Eagle Creek rolling duffel bag, filled with diapers, bottles, many changes of clothes, toys, and who knows what else. Jet lag hit Emily hard on this trip. I remember her crying (screaming?) in my aunt’s home when she desperately needed to go to sleep, and me trying to explain to my aunt in broken Croatian how Emily was just tired, and I’m sure she would be in much better spirits the next day. In Italy, I remember thinking there was no way our girls could stay awake until most Italians ate dinner, as late as 9pm!!! Candy, which up until this trip was not a common treat in our house, was a big part of our daily routine. It kept sleepy girls awake in the late afternoon when we didn’t want them to fall asleep, it worked as bribery in quiet museums, and it just gave two frazzled parents a few minutes of peace.

Our next international trip was when the girls were 8 and 6 and we went to Thailand. Their ages made it much easier for traveling, but Thailand was nothing like Europe, and although everyone was very friendly, it was still very foreign to us, and especially to our girls. And it was hot. Boy was it hot. Swimming pools were extremely important, as were cokes and Pringles potato chips. Every day we’d set out for a destination, perhaps a temple, a hike or another sacred site, with the promise that in the afternoon there would be swimming and treats.

It was very fun in each of these countries to go to the store and search for treats that the girls would enjoy. Italy was where we first learned about Kinder Eggs, hollow chocolate eggs with a tiny toy inside. Those entertained the girls for long lengths of time.

We ate plenty of excellent local food in each of these three places. I remember great seafood in Croatia, delicious pasta in Italy, and Pad Kee Mao with chicken in Thailand. I’d be lying however, if I told you we didn’t also eat some American staples too, because there’s only so much fish and stir fry that most little kids are willing to put up with. I remember pizza in Bangkok, salami and bread in Croatia, and in Italy, hamburgers. When we were back home, a friend asked Emily what her favorite part about our trip to Italy was and her reply was the Happy Meal she got at a McDonald’s in Rome. I’m not ashamed. Well, maybe just a little bit.

Our girls now travel on their own, when we can’t all arrange our schedules and take a family trip together. Last summer, coincidentally, they went back to Croatia with their cousin Sam, to see all the family they hadn’t seen in 22 years. They also spent several days in Mallorca, zooming around the island in a convertible Fiat rental car. They’ve added wine and tapas into their travel diet repertoire, but I hope, for old time’s sake if for nothing else, coke and Pringles are still in the mix.

Turning Pages the Old School Way – Why I Use a Guidebook

I am a book lover. I’m not referring to an e-book or audio book (bite your tongue), but rather an old-fashioned crack-open-the-spine-and-turn-the-paper-pages-with-your-fingers book. I’ll read an electronic book when I’m desperate, but I strongly prefer to check a book out of my local library and hold it in my hands while I’m skimming its pages. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I love travel guidebooks as well. When Bob and I are planning a trip, we’ll have two or three guidebooks sitting on our end tables until a few weeks before we depart, when we realize we’ve got to get cracking and make some plans. Customers always ask for my favorite guidebook series, but I honestly don’t prefer one type over another. Rather, I like to take home several and cross reference them, to make sure I’m getting the most information about where I’m going. Here’s an example.

We’re headed out in a couple of weeks to Southern Italy. We’ll fly into Naples, spend a few days there, then rent a car and head south. I’ve been poring over both the Lonely Planet for Southern Italy, as well as Rick Steves Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I’m a big fan of Rick Steves guidebooks, and always take a copy with me if he’s published one for my destination. But Rick is very opinionated, and if he doesn’t think a place is worthwhile, it likely won’t make it into his guidebook at all, so I always use a second guidebook in my planning.

Even though I might not book lodging based on a guidebook recommendation, I still get a great deal of information from them, and can’t imagine planning a trip without one. Rick Steves offers detailed, self-guided walking tours in all major cities. Most Lonely Planet guides provide excellent information on hikes, like the Walk of the Gods hike on the Amalfi Coast, which is not mentioned at all in Steves book. There are excellent restaurant recommendations, detailed descriptions of the best exhibits to see in museums, and shopping suggestions beyond your typical tourist trinket store, to name just a few. Thanks to a guidebook, we’ve bought pastries from a cloistered convent where we never saw the person selling us the goods, we’ve shopped in a hundred year old pottery store, and we’ve skipping a several hour ticket line for the Sagrada Familia.

Guidebooks also provide invaluable information on public transportation, including discounted options for multiple day local transport tickets, ways to skip long ticket lines at museums and other popular sites, how best to plan an itinerary, detailed street maps of cities and towns, and so much more.

Yes, you can find virtually all of this information on the internet. And you can buy electronic copies of guidebooks, and even, from Lonely Planet, chapters of guidebooks online as well. But I’m a strong believer in having as much information in the most accessible place possible, making it as convenient for me as I possibly can. Let’s be real, I aim for everything in my life to be as convenient as possible. The $40ish dollars I’m going to spend on two guidebooks for a several thousand dollar trip are more than worth it in my book. Pun intended.

Hand Me Down My Walkin’ Shoes – Walking in Paris

Among my favorite offerings in Rick Steves’ city guidebooks are his recommended self-guided walking tours. I love to walk, so right off the bat I’m a fan. But his walks also point out unusual and unadvertised highlights that I would never know about otherwise. I’ll read his tidbits aloud to anyone in my party that is willing to listen, and even to those that aren’t (such as my youngest daughter when she was a teenager). Here’s an example.

On our trip to Paris last winter, Bob and I took several of Steves’ Paris walks. One favorite was the Montmartre Walk. On this stroll, Steves’ offered specific directions on how to find often unmarked historic sites, which included the La Maison Rose Restaurant, made famous by a painting from artist Maurice Utrillo.  We saw Pablo Picasso’s studio, the home of Vincent van Gogh, the Moulin Rouge nightclub, and nearby Pig Alley. All accompanied by interesting facts and histories.

Steves’ Left Bank walk led us through the delightful Luxembourg Gardens, a 60-acre park complete with a palace, beehives dating to 1872, 600 varieties of fruit trees – each with identifying signage, chess tables, ponds and more. The walk included a stroll across the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge, apparently a popular meeting point for lovers, so thanks to Rick I was able to sneak a kiss from my main squeeze (really he’s my only squeeze, unless you count a good book and a soft blanket). And it was fun to stop in the oldest toy store in Paris, Tikibou Jouets, where in addition to unique items for sale, you can browse the collections of antique die cast toys, such as Tintin, Babar, the Little Prince, the Michelin man, and so many more.

And I can’t write about walking tours from Rick Steves’ Paris book without mentioning his Pére Lachaise Cemetery tour. 70,000 people are interred in the cemetery, and Steves’ tour gives specific directions on how to find the tombs of famous artists including Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Édith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Frédéric Chopin, to name a few. The cemetery is stunning in its own right, with beautiful art deco signage, cobbled streets, and narrow walkways.

Steves’ self-guided walking tours tell you exactly how long you should expect to walk, when the best time of day is for each particular tour, and the hours of museums and other spots along the way. He also guides you to nearby places for a snack, coffee or beer, many with their own intriguing histories. The included tour maps are spot on, and Rick’s witty jokes and puns aren’t so bad either. If time permits, Bob and I try and take as many Rick Steves’ self-guided walking tours as we can, for every city that he publishes books. The tours are free (but for the price of the guidebook), you can take them at your own pace, and if you’re lucky, you might just get a kiss from your partner.

Renewing TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

Nancy and I recently renewed our five-year memberships in the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs, because I think we can all agree that navigating airports is a challenge to just about anyone’s serenity. It all adds up to a stressful experience: arranging transportation, arriving early enough (but not too early!), making sure your liquids are properly sized and stored, and having your ID and boarding pass at the ready. Then you immediately begin the scramble of removing said liquids, laptops, phones, belts, shoes, and everything else in your pockets for a precious few moments, only to gather them all up, get them all back where they belong, and move along so the next poor soul can do the same. Even as a frequent traveler, who feels organized and prepared for the security skirmish, I always end up more than just a bit disheveled and disoriented. Truth is, I often start that way, but you get my drift.

So I’m interested in anything that eases that process. Unfortunately the world of private jets, and their nearly non-existent security processes, are far beyond our means. As a fairly frequent flyer, I really like the Global Entry program. For $100 and little bit of your time, Global Entry helps you speed through immigration and customs when re-entering the USA, and includes TSA PreCheck, which helps you speed through TSA security lines at participating US airports.

Initially I found it a bit confusing, but they are in fact two separate but related programs. TSA PreCheck is $85 for five years. But for $100 (an extra $15), you can also get Global Entry. Therefore the only reason to limit yourself to PreCheck is if you are 100% certain you will not leave the country for the five-year duration of your membership. Seems to me that the extra $15 is worth it just in case.

Five years ago, Nancy and I signed up for both programs to see how they worked. With TSA PreCheck, we go to a separate and always much shorter line, and are not required to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or jackets. And for us that makes a big difference. More than 200 US airports and 73 airlines offer PreCheck and only once that I can remember was PreCheck unavailable. And with Global Entry, many, many times we have sped past long customs lines full of tired and understandably irritated fellow travelers to the automated Global Entry kiosks. Turns out we liked both programs a lot. It was an easy decision to renew for another five years.

Like the original application process, renewal was straightforward. Fill out an online questionnaire and schedule an in-person interview. Both times it was the interview scheduling that posed the greatest logistical hurdle, mostly because our little airport in Medford, Oregon does not do the interviews.

Although there are nearly 400 enrollment centers where TSA interviews take place, sometimes booking a time slot can be a little tough. For me, there were no available times on the west coast that met my travel schedule. Eventually, I was able to arrange a time several months out during a long layover we had coming up at New York’s JFK airport. A customer recently told us that she had to schedule her interview in Portland one year ahead of time. She also noted that she has received a few emails from the TSA encouraging her to “drop in” to a participating airport’s enrollment center for an interview. Nancy and I tried to do just that at SFO five years ago on our first go ‘round, and we were practically laughed out of the office. But perhaps things have changed in the interim.

The renewal process did pose a curious question, as I was required to interview again but Nancy was not. She was issued her Trusted Traveler Global Entry ID renewal straight away after applying online, while I was required to interview to complete the process. Who knows why? Other than my 2015 trip to India, we’d visited all the same countries during our five years in the program. However, upon review, Nancy believes it is possible she omitted Jordan from the “countries visited” on her renewal form. Nevertheless, after all that, my interview occurred almost exactly at the scheduled hour and lasted less than five minutes. A few weeks later, I received my renewed Trusted Traveler Global Entry ID in the mail and I was good to go for another five years.

For us, the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee is worth it. We average about five round trip flights a year. Over five years that’s 25 trips, and because you go through security both ways, that’s 50 times through security. That’s $2 per TSA encounter. It’s pretty much an official bribe – kind of like slipping someone a couple of bucks to skip to the front of the line. And that’s before factoring in time saved at immigration and customs. I’ll take it.

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’ – Relaxing on the River

Sometimes you just need a quick getaway. A respite from your work, your home and yard work, and even from your city. Bob and I took a long weekend break this summer to the McKenzie River, where I’m embarrassed to say, in 26 years of Oregon living, we’ve never explored. Boy were we impressed.

There are lots of amazing outdoor adventures and beautiful camping opportunities in Oregon, but I’ve decided that at 52, my days of sleeping on the ground and walking to a toilet in the cold, dark night are over. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. So to keep me happy, we instead booked a last minute cabin at the Cedarwood Lodge, a delightful spot in McKenzie Bridge, right on the McKenzie River. With seven cabins to choose from, the Cedarwood is the perfect blend of comfort and rustic all rolled into one, with the emphasis on the comfort. Mike Giorgio has owned the Lodge for 30 years, and he is incredibly welcoming and friendly. The grounds are superbly well kept, as are the cabins. Our one bedroom cabin, which was $145 a night, had a deck that looked directly at the river. We sat on it every morning and drank our coffee, and every evening with our cocktails, watching rafts and boats float by. With a fully equipped kitchen, it was easy to prepare delicious meals and concoct yummy drinks too.

There’s great hiking all along the McKenzie River, and we took full advantage of the fact that we could drive a short way to many different trail heads. A few of our favorites were the Waterfall Loop Trail, about 3 miles, the Tamolitch Blue Pool (4 miles), and the McKenzie River Trail itself, which we hiked on for about 5 miles. The River is extraordinary, and the trails that run right along it are beautiful. The Blue Pool trail, which is quite popular, was the busiest, but it was never too crowded. Other trails however, were almost completely free of other hikers. It was just us and nature much of the time.

We also golfed, yes, we golfed, at the Tokatee Golf Club in McKenzie Bridge. The golf club is just as beautiful as the rest of the McKenzie River area, with stunning views and vistas. I played nine holes, and didn’t keep my score. I’m certain this goes without saying, but I could give Phil Mickelson a serious run for his money.

We took a drive one afternoon up to the McKenzie Pass and the Dee Wright Observatory. The structure, built with lava stone, is right in the middle of a large lava flow, and it provides excellent viewing of many of Oregon’s biggest mountains. There’s a Lava River National Recreational Trail there, with excellent information about the lava flow and the growth that has somehow managed to sneak its way in to the lava. The difference in landscape between this area and the McKenzie River is unreal, they are like polar opposites, and yet they are just 26 miles apart.

Within walking distance of the Cedarwood Lodge is the McKenzie River General Store and Grill, where on weekend nights, local bands perform in the courtyard. It appears that many locals hang out here, although it’s hard to figure out where all these folks live, as the surrounding area seems rather unpopulated.

We had a great break from our usual life, and now that we know how lovely the McKenzie River area is, I think we’ll be taking a break a little more often.

One Way to Avoid Tight Connections

Bob and I are just back from a trip to Botswana and South Africa, with quick visits to Egypt and Zimbabwe (more on our visit to these countries in our print newsletter, coming out next month!). Our flights to the African continent were long, and we had many stops. But as you’ll find out next month, it was well worth it. It’s not easy though to get many places from our little airport in Medford, Oregon. And when you’re headed all the way to Africa it gets even tougher. There are direct flights to cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Denver, but if you want to travel further afield, you know you’ll have to stop at least one other place before your final destination.

We had booked our tickets for this trip on United miles, and the best option for us was to book two separate mileage tickets for each of us, the first going from Medford to New York (via Denver), and the second from New York to Johannesburg. Now, booking two separate tickets always gives me pause, because if your entire trip is booked on one ticket, and your first flight is delayed long enough that you miss your second flight, the airline is obligated to rebook you on another flight. However, if you have two separate tickets and the same thing happens, sorry Charlie, you’re on your own to purchase another flight. Thus, for this trip, we chose to fly the day before on one ticket to New York, then stay overnight in a hotel, and fly on our second ticket the next day to Johannesburg. We figured it would keep us safe from any delays that might cause us to miss our long flight to South Africa, and indeed that was the case. We did the same thing on the way home, and although it took us a day longer in travels each way, we were also able to sleep fairly soundly for six hours in a hotel bed in New York, and not have to sit for hours and hours in an airport waiting for a long connection either.

The older I get (I feel like I’m saying this a lot lately, but I digress), the more I want to de-stress my life and my travels, and tight connections are a big stress bomb, at least for me. A good night of sleep, in a real bed, is worth a lot to me too.

Visiting the Point Reyes National Seashore – Another National Treasure

When Bob and I want to get away for the weekend, my first inclination is to head to water. I love being near Portland’s Willamette River, or San Francisco Bay, or Seattle’s Elliott Bay. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ve got loved ones in all those places either! So last weekend, when we were visiting friends in Petaluma, California, I was delighted to squeeze in an outing to Point Reyes Station, and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

We started our day at Point Reyes Station, a small, unincorporated town located in Marin County that manages to be both boujee and rustic at the same time. On the one hand, you’ve got shops featuring local artists and locally sourced artisanal and organic foods. On the other hand, you’ve got stores selling saddles, bridles, feed and other products for horses. I loved it. We ate amazing grilled cheese sandwiches at the Cowgirl Creamery, followed up by Buffalo Milk Soft Serve ice cream made by Double 8 Dairy in Petaluma. Then we browsed the art, book and gift stores in the two-block burg.

From Point Reyes Station, we drove just a few minutes to the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center. I must get on my soapbox for a moment and talk up our National Park visitor centers. When in the town of Point Reyes Station, we looked at buying a map of the seashore for $9.95. At the visitor center, we picked up a free map, but what I really loved was the free advice we received at the same time. We asked for suggestions on the best places to hike with the time we had allotted, and our friendly and knowledgeable park ranger offered several options. She asked if we wanted beach, trees or animals, then gave us her recommendations. Every time I visit a national park visitor center, I’m reminded of what a great resource these places are for travelers, and why some folks say our National Park system is America’s best idea.

Stepping off my soapbox and back to my story, we chose to hike the Tomales Point trail, starting from historic Pierce Point Ranch. A 14-mile drive from the visitor center, Pierce Point Ranch was a butter producing ranch founded in the late 1800s and in operation until 1973. Today, the restored ranch showcases a variety of buildings along with their history and functions. These include a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, dairy houses, and more. From Pierce Point Ranch, one can hike four-and-a-half miles along the Tomales Point Trail, beside the Pacific Ocean, to Tomales Bluff. The trail passes through the Tule Elk Reserve, and although we didn’t see any elk rutting, as our National Park ranger suggested we might, we did see many elk off in the distance, relaxing in the grass, enjoying the cool breeze and salty air, and participating in scintillating conversation with each other.

It was a beautifully clear day at the National Seashore, although it was quite windy on the bluff. But, of course, our astute National Park ranger had prepared us for that too.

Travel Vaccinations – Just a Shot Away

Bob and I are off to several countries on the African continent next month, including Botswana and South Africa. It was recommended for our Botswana travels that we consider several vaccinations, including typhoid and malaria. We were happy to learn that we could receive all our vaccinations, as well as a consultation, at the Jackson County Public Health Immunization Clinic. Jackson County Public Health offers a terrific service for travelers, as a visit includes a consultation with a registered nurse who specializes in travel medicine and who will make vaccination recommendations for your destination. The consultation fee was $46 for both of us together, and the vaccination prices differ depending on what you choose to get.

No appointment is necessary, and when Bob and I arrived at the Public Health Clinic just after they opened at 8am on a Friday morning, there was no line. After completing a short medical screening form that included questions on our vaccination histories, our upcoming travels, and our general health, we were taken right in. We were given the shots we needed right then and there, and the registered nurse also provided us with the oral typhoid vaccination right there at the clinic, and for a reasonable cost. He also wrote us prescriptions for our malaria vaccine and provided us with a coupon for it!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website offers vaccination requirements by country, if you’d like to plan ahead and know which vaccines you’ll need. They also offer excellent information on health precautions that you should take when traveling in foreign countries.

The Jackson County Public Health office provides many excellent services for Jackson County residents, including family planning, mental health, and more, and their travel health services both prepared us and gave us peace of mind for our upcoming adventure. Sure, our total vaccination cost was just over $200, but the cost of getting malaria or typhoid would certainly be more expensive, not to mention not so fun.

Guanajuato’s Museum of Mummies—Or Are They Just Dead Bodies?

by Nancy Bestor

The beautiful city of Guanajuato, Mexico boasts many outstanding sites. This includes the Teatro Juarez—a beautiful 100+ year old performing arts theater – several stunning churches, and a great market (Mercado Hidalgo, pictured below) in an old train depot, to name just a few. But one of Guanajuato’s most popular tourist stops leaves me with mixed feelings. The Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato—Museum of the Mummies—is exactly what its name describes, a museum filled with more than 100 mummies. The mummies were residents of Guanajuato who lived from the 1850s to the 1950s. Apparently, if a family member couldn’t afford an annual fee for their beloved’s remains to stay in the cemetery, the body was dug up to make room for someone whose family could afford it. It’s these exhumed folks that were eventually put on display.

I’m not a squeamish person. But there was something a little disturbing about being in a museum filled with nothing but dead bodies. The mummies ranged from babies to the elderly, some with clothing still preserved, and others wearing very little. Most faces seemed permanently etched with a look of distress. I’ve seen mummies in other museums and crypts, but seeing so many together in a museum whose sole purpose is to display mummies was an unusual experience, and one I’m not sure I would recommend to everyone. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, so proceed with caution.The cost is about $5 per person, and the museum is at the top of a hill, a fairly easy walk from the town center.

A Young Lad Learns A New Game

by Robert Bestor

Way, way back. Back when it was hard to find out what was going on on the other side of town, let alone the other side of the world. Back before cable TV even, on our first day of 4th grade, my good buddy Kevin Afonso announced, “My dad taught me a great game over the summer. It’s called soccer.” And after a quick explanation of the rules (which were pretty simple then, and are still simple now), our group of football and baseball mad hellions played soccer at every recess, every day, for the next three years of grade school. 

For several of us this led to youth teams and high school teams. It turned me into a lifelong player, which included a long stint playing in a Sunday morning pick-up game with players from all over the world. The small handful of us who were not from far off lands referred to them as “contingents.” There was the German Contingent, the African Contingent, the British Contingent, the Middle Eastern Contingent, the Hungarian Contingent, and more. The origins of this pick-up game are unknown to me, but it was sustained by carloads of Contingents who showed up every Sunday to play. 

It was a remarkable weekly meeting that, along with other sporting experiences and endeavors, certainly piqued my interest in the world outside of Hayward, California. I distinctly recall watching a marathon, likely on Wide World of Sports, that featured a runner who the announcers referred to as “the mystery man from Djibouti.” What!? Where the heck is Djibouti? Your typical sports fan must score better than average on a geography test.

Soccer also gave me an extra cultural experience to seek out when traveling. Going to a professional game when abroad is always a goal on any trip, and I’m always checking schedules for games that might fit our itinerary. Most recently, Nancy and I attended an English Premier League game at London’s newly remodeled Wembley Stadium.

And my how things have changed. Back in 1984, I attended my first match at a dilapidated old firetrap called Highbury, that was home to Arsenal Football Club. Its seats were sized for Lilliputians and its stairways and concourses were cramped and rickety. Unfortunately the new Wembley has gone a little too far in the other direction and feels a little too new, a little too clean and a little mundane. 

It’s a similar comparison a baseball fan might make between Boston’s Fenway Park (dilapidated firetrap) and Oracle Park in San Francisco (more than a little too precious). You may have guessed my positions on Arsenal, the Red Sox and the Giants. Guilty. Nevertheless sports fans, I stand by my portrayals.

We headed for Wembley because “our” team, Tottenham Hotspur, were using it as a home base while having their own stadium rebuilt. And to be sure, despite my nitpicking over the venue, we had a really great time. It was big fun. 

Tickets are a little tricky to get, as they are held back from sale to the general public in an effort to allow “club members” first crack. I kept my eye on the Tottenham website though, and about two weeks prior to the game, scored seats on the halfway line for about $75 each. 

The trip to the stadium via the Tube was a snap, and soon we were in the stadium tipping a pregame pint and eating a savory pregame pie. And both, to the American sports fan, were shockingly affordable. Our two beers and and two pies cost about $20 total. In comparison, on a recent visit to the Oakland Coliseum Arena (never will I say Oracle), I purchased a single beer that set me back $13. Ouch!

Now I am among the first to admit, soccer can be a boring sport to watch. The lack of scoring, players who roll around on the ground as though they’ve suffered a fatal injury, time-wasting tactics, and conservative strategies, too often combine for disappointingly dull matches. But I can’t help it. I’m hooked. Poor Nancy.

Fortunately, unlike our recent experience in Mexico City (poor Nancy), this game had none of that, and entertained us with goals, a saved penalty kick, friendly fellow fans, and an all around excellent sporting experience. The good guys (Tottenham) won 3-1, and all was right with the world. 

Way, way back, we thought the best thing about Kevin’s dad was that he had once taken a leak beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But of course there is more. He was born in Portugal, immigrated to the USA, and from 1966 to 1983, served as Chief of the OB/GYN department at Hayward’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. And there, about 19 years before I met her, Dr. Jose Afonso was the attending physician at the birth of one Nancy Bestor. That puts him at the origins of two of my life’s greatest passions. Thank you Doc Fons.