Michael & Danielle’s 2011 Newsletter

We started off 2011 with a ten-day cruise to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. Our close friends, Rita and Jordan, were able to join us, as were our new friends that we met on our last Mexico cruise, Katie and Stewart. The cruise was aboard Holland America's ms Zaandam, which features a working, three-deck high, pipe organ in the ship's atrium! Our ports of call were Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, Guaymas, Topolobompo (all within the Sea of Cortez), and Puerto Vallarta. I had some wonderful photos and an amazing video of dozens of pelicans "dive-bombing" for fish within the small marina at Loreto. Unfortunately someone stole my camera after I left it unattended for a few minutes on a couch in one of the ship's lounges. The camera itself wasn't worth that much - but the pictures of course were irreplaceable. We arrived in Guaymas on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, where the city had installed a large, outdoor ice-skating rink (!) in the main plaza. It was quite entertaining to watch the multi-skater pile-ups :-) With lessons learned from our last trip to Puerto Vallarta we succeeded in catching the water-taxi for the one hour trip to the coastal village of Yelapa where we met our friend Judith Roth who has built a beautiful home / yoga center overlooking the cove.
Click photos to see larger images.

The year was again full of numerous Aikido-related events. Our school, Aikido of Monterey, hosted several events, and Danielle travelled to teach at a number of seminars throughout the year. In February, Danielle flew to Hawaii to attend a special seminar celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Morihei Ueshiba's (founder of Aikido) visit to Hawaii. The special guest instructor was the current head of the art, Moriteru Ueshiba, the grandson of the founder. Over the Memorial Day weekend, we both attended and taught at the annual retreat at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center. On the last evening of the retreat the staff brought out a large cake as we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. In June we hosted a large seminar, Aiki Horizons where Danielle and I were part of a staff of 9 instructors. In August, we drove up to Big Lagoon State Park (near Trinidad, CA) for a weekend seminar with Tom Read, the founder of Aikibojitsu (a wooden staff art). I've studied Aikibojitsu for about 12 years and hold the rank of 2nd degree black belt. I teach a weekly class and several of my students joined us on the trip. In September, Aikido of Monterey hosted its annual Big Sur Weapons Retreat. In celebration of our 20th year we invited Ikuyo Conant as special guest instructor. Ikuyo is the artistic director, teacher, and composer for several Taiko drum groups in the California central coast area. She brought about 20 practice drums and taught us a 'festival' piece. It was great fun as we filled Carmel Valley with the sounds of our exuberant (if not quite skillful) celebration!

Trinidad Head, CA.
Michael, Danielle, Tom Read

Taiko drumming
Big Sur Weapons Retreat