68 Years Of Great Living: Happy Birthday Terry

Today is a day to celebrate.  Terry Christenberry turns 68.  He lives a wonderful life, filled with travel, family and friends. IMG_4393 France IMG_3516 Great Britain DSC_0861 Cuba IMG_3584 Amsterdam It is, truly, a wonderful life.  Congratulations Mr. T.  You are the best. May your future be joyful and long.  May your family and friends love you as much as you love them.

The Canals of Amsterdam

Nothing reflects the personality of Amsterdam more than the canals in the heart of the historic city.  Built during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century, the canals of Amsterdam are a tourist wonder and a local delight.  The canals are also a constant reminder that in a city that sits below sea level, the sea and the land are intertwined.

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The canals were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List effective 2010.  Neighborhoods surround the canals.  Swans swim on the canals.  House boats on the canals are the homes of some Dutch residents.

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Many of the homes surrounding the canals predate the canals themselves.  This photo reflects the elegance of one Dutch neighborhood.
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The canals extend through Amsterdam’s cultural center.

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They reflect the history of the city for locals and tourists alike.

View from the Window

View from the Window

This is the view from the window of my sister and brother-in-law’s condo in Amsterdam. We picked up the tulips for Thanksgiving from a little flower stand down the street on Beethovenstraat. Love waking up here in the morning!

Jane visits California

We had so much fun while Jane was in town! I made sure she got to see all the important places, well, at least the ones you can fit into a 48-hour visit.

Meg and Jane at Bodega Headlands

We first walked around downtown Petaluma, went in all the antique shops and furniture stores. After lunch at Petaluma Pie Co., we drove out to my favorite spot at the Bodega Headlands.

Meg, Jane and Auntie in front of the mission at Cline Cellars

The next day we went to Della Fattoria for brunch to gear up for the day. We met Auntie and Tio at Cline, where Jane tasted a broad range of wines, and then we toured the grounds while walking her through our wedding day in 2010. After reenacting the big day, we all ventured over to Sonoma for a birthday BBQ, and then finished off the evening with truffle fries from EDK.

Meg and Jane, having a good time!

It was a pretty fabulous 2 days!

Happy Birthday Jane, I hope you’ll come back and visit us again soon:)

California Vistas: SLO County Coastline

California Vistas: SLO County Coastline

There are an endless number of beautiful views in Sonoma County. I tend to gravitate toward the ocean and the coastline, which I’m sure comes as no surprise. This shot was taken from the beach along the Central Coast. We were on our way down to Avila, one of our favorite spots in California, and we came across a beach full of elephant seals. It was sunset, my favorite time to be out on the coast, and the weather was fantastic.

A Day on The Rock

Alcatraz Island - View from the ferry in San Francisco Bay.

Alcatraz Island – View from the ferry.

“Break the rules and you go to prison. Break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz.”

You see this quote posted in several places throughout the tour of The Rock. I don’t recall who said it, but it has an impact as you walk through the 22-acre island. The island was first used as a U.S. Military Base in the 1800s. It wasn’t until 1934 that the island began operating as a federal penitentiary.

Building 64 and the Warden's House on Alcatraz Island - View from the docks.

Building 64 and the Warden’s House on Alcatraz Island – View from the docks.

The first thing you see as the ferry pulls into the dock is Building 64, and then the ruins of the Warden’s House up above. Building 64 was originally constructed for military officers and their families, and was later used to accommodate the families of the guards working at the prison.

Many of the buildings, including Building 64, fell into disrepair over the years. When you visit the island now, many of the buildings are in ruin, or have been destroyed. However, the Cellhouse has remained in decent condition. The tour is self-guided, and includes the use of audio headsets. You can walk through the island at your own pace, taking in the history and scenery.

Here is the view from the Cellhouse of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here is the view from the Cellhouse of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I particularly enjoyed the photographic opportunities on the island. The broken buildings with the beautiful blue of the bay in the background, the view of San Francisco, the sailboats in the water. Even the flowers along the pathways were beautiful. However, I know many people are interested in some of the facts about the prison, so to appease those curious minds, here are a few bits of information I learned along the way:

  • Alcatraz operated as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963.
  • During its operation, Alcatraz had 36 prisoners who attempted to escape. All but 5 of those prisoners were recaptured/accounted for.
  • Alcatraz had 3 cellblocks, B, C and D. B and C blocks were for general population, while D was for those prisoners considered unruly or more dangerous. There were 42 isolation cells on D block, along with 6 “Holes” (the deep, dark rooms for those who behaved really badly while in prison).
  • There was no “death row” or execution facility on the island.
  • After closing as a federal prison, Alcatraz island was later occupied by American Indians from Nov. 1969 to June 1971. The occupation was orchestrated as a protest of the lands taken from the American Indians in the past, and it was effective in shaping Indian policy moving forward.

There are many other fascinating stories about the island, from the perspectives of inmates, guards and others who occupied the island. I highly recommend taking the tour. We’ve been twice now, and it’s more intriguing with each visit.

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Tours are available through Alcatraz Cruises. Go to http://www.alcatrazcruises.com to book your tickets. They sell out quickly though, so I would recommend booking your tickets as soon as you know your travel plans to San Francisco.

We have no affiliation with Alcatraz Cruises. We have simply taken the tour, and we loved it!