Monday, December 31, 2007

Glancing Backward, Looking Forward

Like so many others on the last day of the year, we look back at 2007 and are quite pleased. We both retired, had a wonderful trip to Japan for one son's wedding in August, saw another son get married later that month, enjoyed the arrival of our first grandson, began anticipating grandson #2/grandchild #3 (due in only 4 more months), rode our tandem through beautiful countryside from Wisconsin to Ithaca NY, and had a terrific 4 months here in Ithaca. We've become quite a part of the family here. In fact, we had quite the Cutter/Nishii reunion at Thanksgiving when Louise's brother Richard and son Brian (and Brian's wife Ardith) came up from NYC, and we took this first shot of two generations of brothers and sisters, and another at icy Taughannock Falls with the whole gang.

It has been quite a bit snowier than we've personally experienced since moving to almost-snowless Seattle, and quite a bit colder (occasionally down to the teens), but the terrific weather we had in the fall more than compensated. The only serious problem is that our buns of steel felt more like muffins of raw meat when we took a 15-mile ride the day after Christmas, when we had a few days of 40-degree weather to melt off the snow enough for biking, our first ride in 6 cold, snowy weeks. "Back in the Saddle Again" will seem a little less tuneful next week.

But with our next bike adventure only a week away, it's time to be positive. This week we're packing like crazy to be sure everything we need on the bike in fact gets on the bike; that what we need in Austin later this month (more about that later) gets sent there; and that what we need to find in May and September when we swing back to Ithaca two more times is packed where we can find it. We're even packing a collection of books and maps for Lisa to mail to us once or twice on the road, as we need them.

Here is the plan as it stands now for January through May. We take Amtrak from Syracuse to West Palm Beach on Monday through Tuesday (34 hours, including 2 hours at Penn Station between trains), in a deluxe sleeper courtesy of our Amtrak Guest Rewards card (sort of an airline miles credit card for train lovers like us). We then spend a week watching the wealthy at play in Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami Beach. Then it's off to Austin TX by plane for 5 days, culminating in the marriage of Jeff's daughter Becky to Sean Knight. It will also be a chance to see Jeff's son Matt for the first time since his wedding, but probably not Akiko since she will be 6 months pregnant at that point and understandably reluctant to take that long a trip.

On return we'll bike down the Florida Keys to Key West, spend a few days there, then go by rental car (our coupled bike partially disassembled in the trunk) up through the Everglades. We'd love to bike it, but the distances between lodging are too large, and we also avoid 100 miles of re-biking the Keys Highway. After a swing up a little of the Gulf Coast we'll explore both central Florida and much of the Atlantic coast up to Savannah GA, where we hope to stop for a week of sightseeing on foot.

In April we have two exciting events. From April 4 to 14, Steve and Janet Sisson will join us with their tandem for a ride from New Bern NC to Norfolk VA up the Outer Banks, including Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk. Two days after they fly back to Seattle, Spokane friends Jim and Nancy Schoepflin will meet us in Williamsburg for five days of sightseeing there and in nearby Jamestown and Yorktown, then we'll all take Amtrak to Richmond for two days and Washington DC for a weekend. After visits with one or two other friends in DC we'll return to Williamsburg, where a friendly B&B owner will be caretaking our tandem, and resume the ride north.

We're very excited about our journey, and look forward to sharing it with you in blog posts along the way, hopefully about once a week.
Happy Trails to all our readers, may 2008 be a great year for each of you as well.