Happy holidays and safe travels to you and yours!

From Liz, Dan and Don

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2011 Liz and Dan adventures

Family update (hover for captions, click to enlarge the two photos)

In loving memory of Laurie and GerryJason's familyDon has become a valued property manager for the Wembly house, with his conscientious care of Whitney and the homestead during our travels. When he's not keeping the pool and garden photogenic, he enjoys exploring the historic places and people of San Francisco. Now that he has a new red-hot fast PC, we are eager to see the video productions yet to come. Meanwhile, thanks to Facebook, it's fun following the busy lives of Don's son Jason, wife Olivia and kids Aidan and Aria.

Proud Grandpa!Dan continues to be a prized guru at Robert Half International. Grandson Dylan graduated from Army Military Intelligence AIT with honors and is now at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey studying Arabic. Besides consistently good grades, second grandson Chase is now a Rubic’s Cube and yo-yo master. Austin’s 105-pound-class football team made it to the championship game where they fell to Cherry Hill.

Liz still teaches Camp Rollerblade for Zephyr Adventures and does technical writing as a contractor, currently working for the Chevron Information Design and Communications group. Perfect fit!

3 Spring Trips

Seattle + Mammoth: Spring started off with a bang! The weekend after Liz ran another successful Camp Rollerblade on Hilton Head island, SC, we were in Seattle staying at a guest cottage owned by Dan's cousin on Lake Washington. Seattle is the home of our favorite store, REI, and we were lucky enough to be in town during their big anniversary sale. The following weekend we took our traditional Memorial Day trip to Mammoth to finish off a great ski season. There was so much snow we ended up skiing 30+ days this year, spread out at Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and Mammoth Lakes.

Pub-crawling in BC, Canada: We headed north again in June to go pub hopping with our longtime pals, Clark and Darlene MacDonald, who had invited us to their condo in Victoria, BC. I dared to straddle a bicycle after 25 years of using only the stationary kind. Thank goodness for Spin class! But indoors spinning did not prepare me for crowded city streets and unpredictable pedestrians and cars, not to mention fast downhills on narrow forest roads with no shoulders. But I survived and I have to admit, I kinda like bicycling now. For fun, I documented my entire spinning progress over the year in my Beginner Spinner blog. See Dan's BC photo album here.

3 Summer Trips

Backpacking in Yosemite: We keep thinking we've done all the best trails in the Sierras, and then Dan comes up with a new backpacking route. Our July 4th weekend was spectacular this year because we hiked the north rim of Yosemite Valley. Despite long miles and tired feet (and getting lost more than once), the views across the valley up there are phenomenal and well worth the work. We had the top of North Dome all to ourselves in the golden light of sunset. See Photos of our July 4 trip with Anna, my proxy "sister." See Dan's Yosemite shots here.

Le Roy, NY class reunion: In mid July we flew east to Dan's class reunion in Le Roy NY, where we stayed at his sister's new home in Caledonia. There we enjoyed more biking in lovely countryside, and of course the traditional Le Roy reunion weekend parade down Main Street, followed by the community turnout to enjoy the foods and crafts at the Oatka Festival. See Liz's photo album here.

Miller camp out: Our August outing was the Shrode family reunion (Liz's mom's side of the family), to which Liz strong-armed every available Miller to crash the party. It was fun tent camping with Don (despite smoke, loud neighbors and frequent bear raids!), visiting John and Carlyn in their new RV (a future goal for us), and getting caught up with Dad and Monte's latest adventures. As I write, Monte Miller, son of brother John, has just started a job as weather observer for Raytheon Polar Services in Antarctica! That pretty much trumps the vacations we've had this year. See Liz's Tahoe Reunion shots here.

3 Weeks in South America

Rather than take our usual week-long backpacking trip in the summer, we signed up for the Zephyr Adventures Chile - Argentina Multi-Sport Wine Tasting Tour. Yes, it's a mouthful to say and was decidedly a mouthful to consume! Each day's fantastic outings, wine tastings and dinners were unbelievably top notch. Twenty plus of us rode up and down the South American wine country in 1) a giant, comfy blue bus, 2) on horseback, 3) on bicycles, and 4) hiking on foot. One day we had to choose zip-line (known as canopy over there) or river rafting, and another day we were surprised by a beer tasting.

After the group tour ended, Dan and I continued our trip further south, hiking in the lake country of northern Patagonia in Argentina, making a leisurely crossing of the Andes into Chile by boat and bus, and exploring volcanic mountains and a Chilean island with a penguin colony and the two oldest surviving Catholic churches in the country (wood). For those who are interested, we have combined our best photographs and favorite moments in the below (password-free) photo albums.

Picasa photo albums Floral photo album Zephyr Day 1 photo album Day 2 Zephyr tour photos Day 3 Zephyr photos Crossing Andes with Zephyr Zephyr horseback vineyard tour photosPhotos of boat and bus crossing of the Andes Zephyr biking photos in Uco ValleyPhotos of Chiloe Island, Chile Recreating with Zephyr pals in the Mendoza River area of the Andes Photos of Gen. San Martin park Hiking in the 7 Lakes Region Photos of Pucon, Chile