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Christmas 2005

Dear Friends,

Again a year has passed so rapidly that we should not feel any older, but unfortunately we do. As we look back on this hectic year we wonder how much longer? I realize that we should consider our selves extremely fortunate and we do but there is a little bit of a dark lining in that bright cloud. We are not moving as fast as we used to and the “senior moments” seem to come more frequently. May be it is all in our mind since the doctors assure us we are healthy. Be it as it may, one thing is sure, we have not forgotten you and want to take this opportunity to wish you joyful holidays and a healthy and successful New Year.

As far as our exploits for this year are concerned they were indeed above average. The snow this winter was spotty so we did not get much skiing done. Thus early in the year we spent some time with our son Eric and Dawn in Albuquerque. What gorgeous scenery from desert to snow capped mountains! Then on to Tucson and Phoenix to visit snowbird friends in the area and enjoy the warm weather and their hospitality in their impressive winter homes. The Saguaro National Park and its cacti were fascinating. We were sorely tempted to stay but tore ourselves away and flew back only to find two feet of snow in our driveway .

But then later on in March we went on our first dream trip of the year. It combined two trip wishes Bill had for many years one was to spent some time on a real sailing ship and secondly to visit Thailand. We flew to Singapore and after a short time there boarded the “Star Flyer” (a 2500 ton barkentine) with 100 other passengers and sailed and cruised the Andaman Sea ending up on Phuket Island in Thailand, which was making a rapid recovery from the tsunami. It was very romantic sitting on deck with a glass of wine in hand looking up into the windfilled sails and watching the sun set or the moon rise. We stopped at deserted islands and beaches and motored through Phangnga Bay with its lime stone stacks and straight- up islands as in James Bond movies. Then on to Bangkok and its temples and palaces, its river and canals and its friendly citizens and unbelievable traffic. From Bangkok north to Chang Mai known for its handicrafts, elephant camps and of course its temples.

The spring and summer just flew by and even though we launched the Omania shortly after Memorial Day we only had a few good sails since our usual summer wind deserted us. But we were able to welcome Joseph and our daughter Leslie and their flour children for a short vacation, too short for us grandparents at the “Summons” in Omena Up-North. Fortunately we were able to enjoy all the grandchildren for a few days at our son Paul's cottage at the Upper Potomac in West Virginia. Also Julien Peuscet the son of our friends in Paris was able to spend a few days with us in Omena and Detroit before he took off for a family vacation in French Polynesia. Our grandchildren, two of whom are now teenagers and in high school, are growing up and with their knowledge of electronic stuff, computers etc, make us feel old and out of touch.

Fall started out with our usual theatre trip to Stratford in Canada where we saw three shows including Shakespeare's “As you like It” and the musical “Hello Dolly”. But then came our” piece de resistance” our “ Grand Tour de France” with our French friends Jacques and Françoise Peuscet who entertained us royally on a tour of some of the most beautiful country in France and allowed us to have an education of French history, culture and wines. We started from Paris by TGV, France's supertrains to the Loire Valley visiting châteaus and consuming superb Breton and Vouvray wines. Then on by train to the Bordeaux area and more specifically the medieval town of St.. Emilion, known also for its vineyards and wines of course. Then by car eastward over the superb roads of France into the “massive central” where we stayed near another medieval town, Cahors, again tasting the delicious local red wine. The area, however is better known for its steep valleys and limestone caves and underground rivers where we boated at 350 feet underground. Then on eastwards to France's Grand Canyon equivalent, the Gorges du Tarn, and the Mediterranean area with its medieval town of Carcassonne and its modern city of Montpellier. From there by train north to our last stop before Paris and return home, the Burgundy area and the town of Beaune and the wines of the Cote de Or. It was a wonderful experience and we are deeply indebted to our friends.

We had a wonderful year but for one sad event. We ended the life of our four legged companion, Freia, who after 13 years was just suffering more than we felt she should be exposed to.

We are looking forward to next year in the hope that that we may be spared the disasters that were visited upon us this year, that our leaders may find common ground instead of trying to tear each other apart, that we can find a way to stop the mass murder of innocent civilians by fanatics and that we can alleviate hunger and disease throughout the world. In the spirit of the joyful and hopeful message of Christmas we want to wish you the best in the coming year.

Your friends,

Bill and Nancy


© 2004 Bernd W. Sandt. All rights reserved.