2009 Trips

Last year was a busy one, though the travel schedule was a little lighter than usual.

A great surprise came my way when I received notification that I had been nominated for a Grammy! It was in the Best Historical Album category, and the CD was Polk Miller & his Old South Quartet. I attended the Grammy celebrations with fellow nominee Ken Flaherty, and my daughter Kristi. Needless to say, we all had a smokin' good time. The picture on the left is Ken and I on the red carpet; that would be the Bug and I on the right.

 

In September, I attended the Starr-Gennett Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony in Richmond, Indiana. What a lot of fun! I got to spend time with the Stoneman Sisters (Patsy, Roni & Donna), whose parents, Ernest & Harriet Stoneman, were among the inductees.

I also got to meet cowboy singer Don Edwards (on the right) and his agent, Scott O'Malley. Both of these men are 78 collectors and long-time customers; it's always nice to attach a face to a customer ID!

But I have to admit that the best trip of the year had to be Costa Rica. Kristi, my sister Samantha and I spent the week before Christmas as eco-tourists in this fabulous country.

Here's just one of a zillion pictures I took of the mountainous rain forests we traversed during our stay. Wow. Just wow.

Though we followed all the advice proffered by the State Department and carried the requisite first-aid gear, snake bite kit, bug spray, sun block and goofer dust, I thought I was a goner when attacked by this voracious Santa Elena Cloud Forest man-eating tree. Thank goodness Aunt Sam remembered to bring her chainsaw!

Here's a great picture of Aunt Samarillo and the Kristi-bug underneath some fern-looking tree thingy.

International mischief-makers that we are, the Bug and I couldn't resist sneaking into Nicaragua for this shot. Can you say, "illegal aliens?"

Speaking of aliens, look what just stepped out of the jungle!

Poetry in motion.

What's a trip to Costa Rica without zip-lining through the forest canopy? Here I am coming in across a valley, 500 ft above the forest floor. (Not that you could even see the forest floor, mind you.)

That tiny little dot about half a mile down the zip line is either Kristi, Sam or a speck of dust on my camera lens.

Los tres caballeros.

In Monteverde, Kristi received her first proposal from our very handsome waiter. (Who obviously has very good taste.) Kristi declined, albeit most reluctantly.

OK, everyone, let's do our best gorilla-frog imitation! Sam really has it down.

This charming picture was taken on our trip from Monteverde to La Fortuna. That's Naomi, an 8th grade student, with her dad the driver. This adventurous 3 hour ride through the mountains was made even more so when we stopped at Naomi's home to collect a pickle bucket full of tools. It turns out that the brakes had been giving some trouble, and dad wanted to be sure he had his tools on hand. Screwdrivers come in real handy when you're trying to pry open a door after tumbling 300 feet down the side of a mountain.

Here's a cool picture of Arenal Lake, taken on our drive to La Fortuna.

Arenal Volcano is active, and we were able to see it spit out a few boulders while we were there. That's not always possible, as it is often shrouded by mist and clouds. Here is the view from our hotel.

Those tourists unfortunate enough not to see Arenal do its thing will have to settle for this landscaped replica, conveniently located just yards away from our cottage.

This picture of a little girl with one of her puppies was just too cute to leave out of our travelogue. I swear, there are more dogs in Costa Rica than there are mosquitoes in Houston, and brother, that's saying something!

There are flowers everywhere, and these were particularly interesting. I brought some seeds for this plant back home with me, only to have them confiscated by customs. Rats.

Here's a picture of all three of us at the end of a very long day. Look closely and you may be able to spot a couple of other tourists as well.

One of the neatest things we saw was this covey/herd/gaggle/flock of resting bats on a tree overlooking the Rio Frio. When spooked, they rise up and do the wave, so as to resemble a moving snake. When they aren't spooked, they look like a line of early buyers at the Wayne phonograph show.

You've seen a double-yolker egg, right? Here is Kristi exhibiting a double banana. Though we wanted to keep it, we eventually got hungry and shared a banana split.

One of our days was spent white-water rafting down the Rio Pacuare. We paddled 20-30 miles downstream through the rainforest while Blue Morpho butterflies flitted about. Unbelievable.

Also unbelievable was the fact that none of our raft mates fell out of the boat. (A claim that can't be made by some of the other rafters in our armada!) Here you see me in front, Kristi in the middle and Sam behind her. Our river guide through this particular stretch was a trainee. Can you tell?

And this is our little crew in happier times. The monkey on the left was the trainee's trainer.

Of course, we didn't just see mountains, rivers and rain forests! The Bug and I spent some time at Jaco Beach, which is located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Gotta say, it's a far cry from Galveston.

We had, in every respect, a fabulous time. (Especially since we didn't see a single phonograph record!) We expected to wind down on our Christmas Eve flight back to the states, but such was not to be. It turns out that Kristi and I were the ONLY passengers on Continental Flight 1447!

I would tell you what happened on that flight, but I don't wish to get Captain Jay and the crew into trouble. (What happened on Flight 1447 stays on Flight 1447.) Suffice it to say that a GOOD TIME was had by all. Here we are with Flight Manager Gloria upon our arrival at Houston Intercontinental Airport.

As the sun pulls away from the shore and our boat sinks slowly in the west, we end this travelogue with Kristi waving goodbye in the surf at Jaco Breach.

Thank you, God, for a wonderful year. May 2010 be even more spectacular!

That's the end of the travelogue; here's a nice picture of a Pathé rooster that some collectors have asked to see!