After last year, I don't think we could have imagined this year to be as full as it turned out! In fact, looking back it amazes us that we somehow fit so much in to just 12 months.
Well, in fact, things really didn't get rolling until April. That is when we returned to Belize for another week-long vacation on one of the remote off-shore islands.
This time our destination was Blackbird Caye: a small island in the Turneffe Atoll, about 25 miles offshore.There is a small resort that can accommodate a maximum of 24 guests - and nothing else on the island! The week we were there they had only 9 guests. We spent the time relaxing, scuba diving, and relaxing! Oh, and we also celebrated my 50th birthday! To see more of our pictures click here.
|Danielle's son, Colin has returned to school, Monterey Peninsula College, and is studying acting and film making. On the fun side, he recently bought a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. A 'gang' of us all rode over to Hollister for the big Independence Day rally (estimated attendance over 90,000), including my brother and his girlfriend, several of his friends, Colin, two friends of his, Danielle, her sister Lisa, and I. Altogether we formed a small 'pack' of 8 bikes - roaring down the back roads from Salinas to Hollister :-)
It was great! More Independence Day Rally pictures.
|Sadly, Vincent, our beautiful little Australian Red-chested Grass Parrot, died - just before we left on our trip to Belize. After we returned, Danielle and I talked about getting another grass parrot, but then we started looking around and reading about other types of parrots. Finally decided upon getting a Solomon Island Eclectus female. We located a breeder in Los Angeles, made a reservation on a newly hatched female, and picked her up on our return trip from the Mt. Baldy Aikido retreat at the end of May. The attached picture shows her beautiful colors. Her name is 'Lucy'. The eclectus have a reputation of being easy-going, not loud, and very good talkers (rivaling Amazon Greys). We're still getting used to each other, she doesn't talk in English yet, but she has quite a varied 'vocabulary' of sounds. She also takes a shower with me several times a week!|
|Certainly one of the highlight events of the year was Danielle's demonstration at the "Aiki Expo 2002" in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was probably the largest Aikido-related event ever held in the U.S. About 800 attendees came from all over the United States as well as from overseas. Danielle was among a select group of instructors that were invited to give a short demonstration on the 2 evenings of the Expo. We spent nearly a year working on a very difficult 4-person partner practice that I had developed. So, how did it go? Well... let's say that we left it all out on the mat and that it will always be remembered!|
|In July, I went on the Akibojitsu Wilderness Training - a backpacking trip to Caribou Lake in Northern California's Trinity Alps. This is the same area as last year's training, where we hiked in to Grizzly Lake. Ever since Las Vegas, Danielle has been having more difficulty with her knees, so, though she really wanted to go, in the end we thought it prudent that she stay. Probably a wise choice since, though this was supposed to be easier than the hike to Grizzly Lake, I experienced it as being more difficult! Still, an awesome part of the country, incredibly beautiful, and worth the effort. I wish I could have stayed another couple of days! More pictures...|
|Also among the many activities keeping Danielle very busy this past year was co-coordinating this year's PAWMA retreat (Pacific Association of Women's Martial Artists) which was held at Mt. Madonna Center, near Watsonville, CA. The event brought together 250 women martial artists from a variety of disciplines and from all over the world. She also arranged for one of the participants, Tat Mahuru from New Zealand, a master of traditional Maori Weapons, to stay an extra week and teach as a guest instructor at our annual Big Sur Weapons retreat - which was held the very next weekend. Capping off the year, Danielle was elected as President of the California Aikido Association (CAA), which, with over 90 member dojos, is one of the largest Aikido organizations in the United States. So, after all this intense activity, it was definitely time for another vacation...|
|So, we packed up the Harley and just headed out -- "that-a-way" for 2 weeks! It was a fabulous trip. We were blessed with beautiful weather and good fortune the whole way. Except for the two nights we spent at my Mom's house, the rest of the trip was pretty much free form. We were very lucky to get a room at the Crater Lake Lodge (due to a last minute cancellation). Perhaps the highlight of our trip, this is truly an awe-inspiring place. And then, the very next night we stayed at Timberline Lodge. Wonderful! The ride through northern California and Oregon, away from the crowded cities and highways, was both beautiful and soul-restoring.|
|Here's some more pictures of our motorcycle trip (there's 40 pictures in each link).
Part 1 Days 1 - 6
Part 2 Days 7 - 9
Part 3 Days 10 - 13
|In October, Danielle and I, Rita and Jordan attended the 3rd game of the World Series at PacBell Park in San Francisco. As soon as the Giants qualified, I got online to try to get tickets -- along with several million(!) other people. There were only 7000 tickets available, but as fortune would have it, I somehow got lucky and got through. Within minutes after my order went through, the game was sold out. I could have resold the tickets for 10 times the face value, but this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I'm really glad we went, and Barry Bonds did hit a home run into our section of the bleachers -- too bad the Giants lost the game...|
|I finally have given up on the 5151 airplane project. After not working on it for at least 6 years, I have donated it to a charity and am taking the tax write-off. But... I've decided to start building another one! This time a two-seater. In October, Danielle and I took a trip to the factory which is located near Mexico, Missouri (about 100 miles east of St. Louis). We attended a builder's workshop and successfully completed the rudder for our Zenith Zodiac 601 XL.|