Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Recent events
semi-annual summaries, for as long as we can keep this up

Cats and fishdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2017. Record-breaking heat waves all over the USA, colder than normal in northern Wisconsin. In mid-May we were happily able to return to the Veneto region, mostly southwest of Venice this time, with sightseeing in Montagnana, Este, Monselice, and Petrarch's retirement home in Arquà, with a trip up to the Monte Grappa war memorial to the north and assorted other castles and palaces -- the first foreign trip for Melvin the Doge (photo). The now-annual trek to northern Wisconsin, July-September, began with the also now-annual wetlands study tour to the Upper Mississippi River Ramsar wetland with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, with a demonstration of river channel dredging, followed by visits to the Northwoods lake from Marlowe, Dmitri, and Bill, and Alison and Mark -- and then, lots of relaxing playing about on the lake and a hasty visit to Dubuque, Iowa, mainly to see the Mississippi again. And then home to Ollon for nearly two weeks of alarmingly warm and sunny weather.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2016-2017. More sightseeing in Italy. After settling up on various autumn obligations, by mid-November we got away for a visit to the Lazio region, based chiefly in Viterbo with side strips to Orvieto, Bracciano, Bolsena, Ostia Antica, Tarquinia, and of course Rome, some of these with our friend Juan Carlos joining us from Mallorca – and with stopovers in Calci near Pisa and in Sarzana driving down and coming home. Some of the usual snowshoeing in the interim, and then in February and March we wedged in a very interesting visit to the northern parts of the Veneto, mostly based in Treviso with side trips to Asolo, Bassano del Grappa, Padua, and Belluno. Back again in May for more of the Veneto, based in a village south of the Euganean Hills with repeated visits to Montagnana and Este as well as stop-ins to Monte del Grappa, Cittadella, and various Euganean destinations.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2016. In the shadow of the embarrassing US election campaigns. Following an invigorating 10 days in the Lago di Garda region, based in Sirmione with daily side trips, in mid-May, we were pleased to squeeze in a brief visit to Colmar in the Alsace region in early June, and then in early July to follow Kristin on to the USA for our annual frolic on the lake in northern Wisconsin. We met friends Mark and Nancy for some sightseeing on the Garden Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and then joined wetland enthusiasts for a study tour of the Madison Aububon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary, with our guides Mark and Sue Martin, and the Horicon Marsh Wildlife Refuge, with conservation management explanations by representatives of the Wisconsin DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. And finally Marlowe and Dmitri escorted Young Bill down for a good long spell of raft-jumping, trampolining, and hydrobiking.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2015-2016. Some Italian travels. After a few scenic autumn walks around home, we've been off for some November sightseeing in the Italian Umbria region, with a stop in Piacenza on the drive down; based in hillside Gubbio, we managed daytrips to Assisi, Urbino, and Perugia, with some walks in the hills as well. In December, we investigated the huge Fort Bard in the Val d'Aosta, with sidetrips to Ivrea and Turin, but Parma in Emilia-Romagna is so stuffed with things to see that we spent our February week in place. After some springtime snowshoeing, we visited the Lago di Garda region, based in Sirmione on the lake, with day trips to Verona, Vicenza, and Mantua, including three Castelli degli Scaligeri, and a look-in on Casale Monferrato on the way home. But we missed a lot more towns and need to go back as soon as possible.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2015. Mainly Western Hemisphere. Lots of Italy, France, etc., over the winter and spring, but now we’ve been spending a little time on the farther side of the earth. In late May and early June we touristed around in Montevideo, Uruguay, and then settled down for two weeks of bureaucratic hijinks in the resort of Punta del Este for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on a consultancy contract, where Kristin got to see lots of sea lions, penguins, and what not. From early July onward, we were sojourning, as usual in recent years, on the lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods, visiting the new Ramsar Site on the Door Peninsula with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, lake-patroling for the invasive weed purple loosestrife on hydrobikes, and being entertained by daughters Alison and Marlowe and their near relations Mark, Dmitri, and Bill. Then home in late September. It was all good.

Sacred symbolsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2014-2015. Catching up on our sight-seeing. What with one thing and another, we haven't been able to romp in the snow very much at all this winter, but we found good uses of our time anyway. After a quick getaway to Aosta and the Valpelline over the Grand St-Bernard Pass in late October, we squeezed in two weeks in November based in Lucca in Tuscany, with day trips to Pistoia, Prato, San Gimignano, and Volterra, and a look-in at Pavia and Turin on the road to and from. The Christmas season was devoted to southern France, based near Montpellier with visits to Aigues-Mortes, Sète, Agde and the Camargue wetlands on the Mediterranean coast, as well as Béziers, Arles and Nîmes, and New Year’s Eve in Meyruis in the Tarn Gorges system. We got in two weeks in February and March based in Arezzo in Tuscany, with day trips to Siena, Cortona, Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno, and the historic Castello di Poppi, with a few days in Pavia in Lombardy on the way down, Cremona on the way back. We’ve got a year’s pass for the Grand St-Bernard tunnel and a comfy carrier for Squirrel, the amenable cat, so northern Italy is very doable these days. Next winter, with luck, we’ll be prancing about on snowshoes again.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2014. Cold and rainy (but that's okay). Settling nicely into our new digs in Ollon and, throughout the spring, scoping out the good walks in the region, in late May we scored a week in wonderful Bologna, with a side trip to Modena, and then joined friends Cathy and Oscar for some hiking around Grindelwald, under the blank stare of the Eiger Nordwand. After a little more local hiking, with Kristin already in the USA, then from mid-July onward a blissful daily routine on the Wisconsin lakeside plowing through massive history books in the mornings, hydrobiking and canoeing all round the lovely lake, and joining Kristin's clan for convivial group dinners nearly every evening. A high point was a study tour with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association of the Penokee Hills watershed and the Bad River Sloughs Ramsar Site in the Chippewa reservation on Lake Superior, which are threatened by a strip mining project assisted by political corruption. Daughters Marlowe and Alison joined us for more lakeside fun, accompanied by their pals Dmitri, William, and Mark. And then a road trip with The Squirrel past Starved Rock in Illinois, a museum in Cincinnati, a look-in at Pittsburgh, some quality time with old friends Mark and Nancy near the Delaware Water Gap, and then a relief to find that we still haven't been mistakenly put on the mysterious No-Fly List at the airport in Washington, D.C. And so to home.

Heights and depths
dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2013-2014. The Big Move. First, some semi-aimless hiking about in the early snow in the Jura, and then in December a few weeks in the Lago di Garda region, in Trento, Bolzano, and Brescia. Then some exceptional snowshoeing in January and February, all the while packing up for our Big Move to Ollon VD, at the farther end of Lake Geneva. And then, in March and April – unpacking and settling in, missing the Jura sorely, but blessed to be back in the Préalps.

Masterful gentlemendotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2013. Gracefully aging. As the semi-retirement regime finally begins to phase over into retirement veritably, we’re not finding any difficulty in spending our newfound leisure time. None at all. Coming off a late spring (with snow in the Jura through to June), we spent some time in Ferrara and Ravenna in May, puttered about unproductively in June, and then took off for the USA for even more relaxation, reading in the sunny afternoons, puttering about on a variety of watercraft, and some plays in Spring Green. Alison and Marlowe visited us in Wisconsin, the latter with Dmitri and Young William, and Lowell and Sheila came for some hiking in the Porcupine Mountains. Following all which, we spent some time with Alison and Mark hiking and sightseeing around Charlottesville, Virginia, and Shenandoah National Park.

Cavortingdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2012-2013. Blessed by snow. We'd got into the semi-retirement habit of traveling touristically whenever, in the Inhofe era of Global Warming, the snow in the Swiss Jura mountains was absent yet again. This year, all the snow came back. And we kept traveling as well anyway. Young William came for a visit in Tourism is funOctober, chaperoned by his mom Marlowe, and we seized the opportunity to introduce him to some of Marlowe’s old favorites, chiefly the Châteaux of Chillon and Gruyères and hiking in Leysin. In November we went down to visit Toledo, Spain, for some days, with a stopover in Madrid for the Prado. The first snows came to the Jura at the first of December, but we were already booked to spend most of the month touring about Sicily, with comfortable stops in Palermo, Agrigento, Ragusa Ibla, Syracuse, and finally Erice and the west, with a good deal of time spent searching out the film sets of the Commissario Montalbano series. Then ensued a blissful two months of wandering all over on snowshoes, with a touristic interlude in Lyon, France, and then another three months exploring the forests and watching resentfully as the snow finally deliquesced, as one day we all will (“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”). Somehow we managed to fit in a ten-day excursion to Ferrara and Ravenna in northern Italy as well. Despite the truly horrible things going on throughout the world in this and recent years, we had a great time.

Patriotic excessesdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2012 in the year of Climate Change. After a long few weeks in Bucharest, Romania at 40ºC in a cubicle in the Palace of the Parliament (a.k.a. the “House of the People”), stepping and fetching for the world’s governments at the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, we slithered off to northern Wisconsin for two months of canoeing, low-key partying, a little Shakespeare as opportunities arose, and restive mornings preparing the published results of . . . the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties.

Adventuresdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2011-2012. Better and better. Waiting for the snow has always been a fretful chore, but these days there’s still less reason to be optimistic. So we transposed ourselves to the Boot of Italy for a few weeks in October with Rob and Elke, with look-ins at Bari, Matera, the Castel del Monte, Altamura, Melfi, Lecce for a while, Galatina, Otranto, and Ostuni (and back to Rome). (It’s Thursday, this must be Galatina.) Still no snow in November –  so we went to the Lago di Orta, poised to visit the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition in Milan and the spooky Sacri Monti on the hilltops. Still no snow, ha ha, so we went to Andalucia for a few weeks before Christmas, chiefly Granada, Alhama, Córdoba, and Sevilla. The snow finally came in January, not a lot of it, but enough to make it worth putting the snowshoes on. In February, we got to spend some time in Genoa and Savona, then back to the snowshoes, then Chartres and Le Mans in France for a week in April, with a couple of side trips to catch up with culture at the Louvre. And now here we are, wrinkling with dread about our huge meeting of the governments in the “Palace of the People” in Bucharest in July. Click here, s.v.p.

Kids at heartdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2011. The younger generation! Always a disappointment, what are young people thinking these days! Walking round half naked, mumbling a lot of hip nonsense, enigmatic stares and inappropriate laughs out loud (though not actually ‘walking round’ yet) – we were all better behaved in my day. As I recall. Anyway, we moved to the village of Féchy (that was an adventure), then spent most of the summer in the Northwoods, entertaining and being entertained by Young William and his handlers Marlowe and Dima, and then entertaining and being vastly entertained by Lowell and Sheila, after too long an absence. Then back to Féchy for the wine festival, and that’s the lot for the summer of 2011.

Dante everywheredotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2010-2011. Our winters are nothing like what they once were . The Gods of Climate Change taunted us with much more snow than we've had in years in early December, and then They just went away. So mostly, we just traveled instead; that's good, too. A comfortably long spell in the Naples subregion in October and November: Ravello, Capri, and a week or so in Naples with side trips to Paestum, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and smelly Solfatara. Followed by some time in Colmar in the Alsace. A ton of snow then, late November and early December, more snow in one night than the Geneva airport has seen since 1982; oh, lovely. Long working hours over December and January, just as well though, with no more snow at all and no Kristin. But in early February Kristin was back and we were down for two weeks in Florence, blissful in the off season, Pisa, and Mantua, and then in early March, some time walking all around Strasbourg's old city. It's been a successful winter for collecting photos of statues of Dante. And the snow never did come back.

Paterfamiliasdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2010. Settling into desuetude. Venice, Bride of the Sea, harbinger of the acqua alta we’ll all be seeing a lot more of everywhere soon – the city’s always been a favorite tourist stopover among our circles, but now, semi-retired, we get to take our time and break out of the Rialto/San Marco axis. A week ambling about the Lido, Chioggia, Torcello, Burano – all worth the time and the bus fare. And with La Donna Partigiana. And a Night at the Opera. MOST of the summer, though, got spent basking at Kristin’s in Wisconsin Northwoods sunlight, when it appeared from time to time, boating about, hiking with Alison and Marlowe and friends in the Lake Superior mountains, checking in for work from the Secretariat that seldom came, chasing down distinguished Wisconsin micro-brews, and stopping in to see Marlowe and Dima in Ottawa on the way back Europeward. Semi-retirement is beginning to agree with us.

moods may varydotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2009-2010. Leisure requires discipline. Or not. This is the year we’ve been yearning towards for the past six decades, give or take. On 1 February, we officially went into retirement after a long, varied, rewarding, undistinguished career. Sort of. Henceforward, we’re on a flexible half-time schedule at the Secretariat, working on documentation, publications, and rapporteuring major meetings. We got the winter season underway with Alison’s and Kristin’s visits in a snowstorm at Tanay in mid-October, and then I and MY WIFE (newly) soared off for our nearly-annual coastal hiking in Cornwall and Devon. Subsequently, MY WIFE came back to spend the Christmas season with some excellent coastal walking in Corsica, and then in February, newly semi-retired, there was another splendid visit to Rome, once again with MY WIFE. Rainy spring hiking and a lot of political blog-reading when I should have been working-from-home ensued, till finally the whole Secretariat took off to Georgia in late April for a big meeting, and MY WIFE came along with us, with a stopover in scenic Istanbul. Next week, MY WIFE’s coming back to get the summer season off to a good start.

Married now, is it?dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2009. Things are looking up again. After a convalescent springtime, we rolled into the summer in the middle of a nasty project at work, migrating Web sites with not much idea of how to, so when Kristin showed up in early June, we downed tools and went off to southwestern France for a couple of exploratory weeks, based in Salers in Auvergne and in Bourdeilles in Périgord, in one of the world’s most wonderful places. Two midsummer months ensued with our nose to the grindstone/keyboard, racing pell-mell, with our poet’s eye in fine frenzy rolling, glancing from DreamWeaver heaven to “content management” earth, from earth to heaven, and not much sleep, to complete the nasty project (more or less) and rush off to go get married in Wisconsin. Well, that went very well. But now we’re back here at the keyboardstone trying to clean up that still nasty project. But Kristin’s coming along next week for some October coastpath hiking in Devon, so that’s the good news, but it's going to make the nasty project seem even nastier in the meantime.

Indomitabledotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2008-2009. The best snow we've had in the Jura in a decade, and we nearly missed it. A great sigh of relief, and some protracted moaning, in early November 2008 as the Highlight of our Triennium, the 10th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, went off swimmingly in Changwon, South Korea. An exhilirating experience, all in all, and we got to learn a little about Korean culture as well, especially the fabulous mall adjacent to the convention centre. Kristin came along in November for a fortnight of castle-hopping in southwestern France, principally near Sarlat and Carcassonne, and discovering the cassoulet! But: then ensued a few medical issues -- fewer adventures in the most copious blanket of snow we've had in Switzerland in many, many years -- which brought Kristin back to Europe to make the chicken soup, with some days on Lago Maggiore in northern Italy for the sun and some walking tentatively about. Alison and Mark visited from their astronomical observatory in Chile for a few days in early April, a treat as always, and for the rest of the snowshoeing season, we were back on the hoof again with increasing vigor and enthusiasm.

Fewer crowdsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2008. One of the best yet (but we always say that). I counted only one day above 30°C (86°F), when we had to put the big fan on in the office and blew all the papers off the desk. This is the year of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, coming up in South Korea in late October, so we're repairing grammar and aligning fonts and margins pretty much nonstop throughout the year, but we've snatched away some wholesome fun nevertheless. Kristin was here in May, and along with a little hiking about and sightseeing we got to spend some more time dashing around Rome (Italy) [Vatican museum, photo left] viewing improving cultural things and eating. Once the July deadlines were got over, Kristin came back in August for some long hikable weekends in the Bernese Oberland, first at the Pension Sonnenberg above Mürren over near the Eiger and Jungfrau and what not, and then at the Rosenlaui berghotel above Meiringen, also not too far from the Eiger, the Jungfrau, and what not. Now, just a little documentary torture for a few months and a kind of catatonic frenzy in Changwon, South Korea, for two weeks, and with any luck we'll be back here scanning the skies for snow by mid-November. And perhaps, with 25 leave days left for this year, some traveling as well. Click here, s.v.p.

Oh, okay, thanks.
Which way to the snow?

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes) Winter 2007-2008. After a bad snow winter last year - a bad snow winter. Just back from visiting Kristin in Boston and hiking all over the coast of Maine in October, we're welcoming Kristin again in late November for an excellent week of hiking all round the beautiful island of Corsica, as well as a look-in at the P'tite Auberge at the Lac de Taney for some exceptional snowshoeing and dinners. Then good snow, and Christmas in Ollon with the Doctors Durham, and some more good snowshoe explorations in early January. Then . . . then, alas. . . Pres. Bush's Global Warming kicked in with a vengeance, in western Switzerland anyway, and the Jura hiking, though beautiful as always, was not snowy. In a month-long break between two big meetings at work, Kristin came in February for a bronchitis revisit to the Lac de Tanay and a long weekend in fascinating Bergamo. Then, finally, and evidently to celebrate Easter, God kindly dumped a ton of snow on us - more fun for the long weekend in late March than you could shake a taser at - but a fortnight later, it melted. Alison, in Europe for meetings, came in from Chile in late April, and Kristin has come back for much of May, with some of that in Rome again, where I'll be joining her tomorrow. Now, loins are being girded for a reluctantly workaholic summer and the giant 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in South Korea in October-November.

Timely Warnings!dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2007. Exceptionally privileged. Northern Europe was all flooded and cold, and Spain and Greece were burnt nearly to a Mediterranean crisp, but in Switzerland there has never been a finer summer, if you're a fan of sunny cool days with a fresh breeze. People who love trickling with sweat lying on beaches were very badly served here, but Anti-heatists basked, with scarcely a few days above 30°C (86°F). Following on from a wandering-about hikey sort of trip to Ireland in April, it was back to work for a while, until from mid-June the Social Whirl became dervishish. Marlowe, newly graduated from college in Canada, forsook her Dima for three weeks so that we could revisit some of her favorite castles from the old days, and then Kristin neatly overlapped with her for a few days in early July -- leading on to a visit to the Lac de Salanfe with Joe and Teny and several days chasing all round Prague. Alison showed up from Chile in mid-September -- Kristin was meant to visit, too, in late September, but by the time we got round to booking the ticket, the best airfare from Boston to Geneva was twice the price from Geneva to Boston, which settled that question. So we got in a rewarding week on the coast of Maine in the USA, hiking on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park, and suffered through the late stages of Boston's horrific heat spell in early October for a week.

Less recent events

Naked albinosWinter 2006-2007. The winter spent waiting around for winter. Highlights: Rome, Italy, Lac de Tanay, Cinque Terre coastline & Sestri Levante, northern Ireland

Marlowe & friends Summer 2006. Great weather, & a marriage in the bargain. Highlights: Marlowe's wedding in Vermont, SW Coast Path in Cornwall, Newfoundland

Marathons for clowns Winter 2005-2006. Let the bon temps rouler. Highlights: Dijon, Besançon, Ramsar COP9 in Uganda, Newport RI, Cornwall

Give me a break! Summer 2005. Stolen moments. Highlights: Vers l'Eglise, Rawilpass, Engstligenalp, National Park of Vanoise in the French Alps

Mar & DadWinter 2004-2005. Highlights: Cornwall, Montreal, Kampala, Marlowe's Christmas visit, Kristin's visits, Lago Maggiore

Kristin on ice Summer 2004. Highlights: Mauvoisin, Iffigenalp, Dungelpass, Olympic National Park in Washington State, Ottawa, Canada

Kristin in forest Winter 2003-2004. Few places in the forests of the Swiss Jura did not get snowshoed in.

Chicago police againSummer 2003. The 'canicule': Global Warming Hell: 107°F (41.5°C), Swiss record. Highlights: Vienna, the Gran Paradiso in Italy, Devon and Cornwall

Dima and MarloweWinter 2002-2003. Highlights: Ramsar's COP8 in Valencia, Spain, Marlowe's and Dima's Christmas visit, USA in April

Colmar sightsSummer 2002. Highlights: Walk into Italy & back, hike up Mont Tendre with the old gang, Marlowe's visit

Carmen's friendsWinter 2001-2002. Highlights: Searching for angels, holes in the forest

MOOSA tourSummer 2001. The year of MOOSA. Highlights: White Mountains, MOOSA cycling tour to Québec, Effelsberg radio telescope, hikes in the Jura

Marlowe and DadWinter 2000-2001. Working 14 hours a day for wetlands and trotting about the Jura mountains on snowshoes snapping wildly away with his little camera Back in the USASummer 2000. Highlights: Hiking in New Hampshire, Millennium Wetland Event in Québec, 2 weeks in Wisconsin Ever upwardSummer 1999. Highlights: the "Swiss Alpine Pass Route" for 8 days, Höhtürli for the 9th day

Worse luck!Summer 1998. Highlights: Dwight and Marlowe in the USA for a month, the Mighty White Mountains of New Hampshire

Mountain goatessesSummer 1997. Highlights: High Route of the Alps, science and culture in New Mexico

Fun in ValaisWinter 1995. Highlights: A week in the Valaisan Alps, Grand St Bernard

Much less recent events
(when we were all young and lissome)

The 1960s Tunisia 1981 Deirdre 1982 Scotland 1983 Marlowe 1984+ Turkey 1987 Skiing 1988
Scotland 1988 Caving 1992 Winter camping '94 Mont Sâla 1995 New Mexico 1997 Trient 1999 Snowshoes 2000

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative,. All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. First posted 1997; revised 21 October 2017.


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