Dwight Peck's personal website

Recent events

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

Most Recent Events

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2023. A fine summer not very unlike the others. The annual trek from Virginia to the Wisconsin Northwoods got underway in late May with a brief visit with sister Susan in Ohio, followed by a long hike up the length of Michigan, punctuated by a visit to ‘Little Bavaria’ – Frankenmuth near Saginaw, a small city with an insistent colorful theme of recreating the German culture of its 19th century settlers – and over the Mackinac Bridge to proceed across the Upper Peninsula (UP). There ensued 3½ more or less relaxing months of reading out on the lawn, daily hydrobiking on the lake with Cousin Rob (and pedalboarding with Stephanie), exploring a bit of the Keweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior, and chasing Melvin and Choupette all about for a overflowing basket of cute cat pix. The rich extended pageant of mostly fine weather, infrequent minor adventures, and a few convivial social events were, however, saddened by news of the passing of our great friends Joe Pirri in Switzerland and Marbeth in California. Finally: back down the Interstates to Virginia to pack up for another sojourn in Italy, to Castel Gandolfo and Naples, in October.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2022-2023. The long-postponed return to Italy, and other stuff. Following a 5-day trek back from Wisconsin to home, including dinner in Bombshell Burgers in the Bare Arms Indoor Range & Gun Shop near Huntingdon WV, a rush of routine obligations in Virginia in October, & a 3-day hike back to Chicago to drop off the wonderful cats, we finally got to return to Italy after 3½  years of US covid-evading. Two weeks of nostalgically plodding all round Rome with friends Joe & Teny in November, then another two weeks in Ascoli Piceno & nearby villages on the Adriatic side with Oscar & Cathy, capped by the frescoes of Subiaco & a visit in Fregene -- then airborne back to Chicago & (with cats) to Virginia. Amongst all the routine mini-events round home, we got to visit the National Gallery of Art and the Nat'l Museum of the American Indian with daughter Alison in January, the Natural Bridge near Roanoke, and with daughter Marlowe's entourage from Ottawa, Jefferson's Monticello and the Luray Caverns in April. The icing on the cake: Frankenmuth, MI ('Little Bavaria') on the road back to Wisconsin in late May.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2022. Hydrobikes, amusing cats, & some State Parks. The spring months were devoted to the usual succession of forest walks, but in May we played host to Marlowe, Dmitri, & William from Ottawa before setting out for the Wisconsin Northwoods. Along the way, a short pause near Morgantown WV for some hikes in the Coopers Rock State Forest. After a brief stop in Ashland OH with sister Susan, nephew Adrian, & his son Scott, we caught the famous Badger carferry across Lake Michigan & then sped onward to the lake. The sacred daily hydrobiking with Cousin Rob (and often Oscar, too) commenced at once, & the cats resumed their summer mischiefs, followed by our brief explorations of Duluth MN (not bad at all), with a side trip to the Gooseberry Falls State Park. The traditional sojourn at the family’s cottage on Lake Superior was enlivened by a good hike to the Canyon River Falls in the Michigan UP, & once back on the lake we got a welcome visit from Dan & Katie of Maine, our old friends from Switzerland days. Then the long drive home, with an alcohol-free dinner in a gun shop.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2021-2022. About as eventful as anything’s likely to be these days -- but there were a few amusing moments along the way. Roadtripping back from summer in northern Wisconsin, we stopped with Emily in Chicago & memorized everything on display at the Art Institute, then spent a few days in low-key hiking around the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. Once home, we proceeded to some architectural walks all round historic Staunton and frequent modest hikes in all seasons along the Sherando Lake ‘cliff trail’, the Augusta Springs ‘uplands trail’, and the Montgomery Hall jungly paths. A ‘get acquainted with Virginia’ sojourn took us for a few days in Culpeper and nearby historic towns, then a flying visit with Alison, newly installed in Alexandria, VA, and the National Science Foundation. A week’s investigation of the Outer Banks of North Carolina ensued in early March, based in Corolla, with good walks on local swampy trails and monumental sand dunes, and a day’s outing on Roanoke Island with Monteo and ‘Fort Raleigh’. That’s about all. Winter 2020-2021

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2021. National disasters but good fun locally. The summer began in early May with a road trip visiting old friends in South and North Carolina, followed by Alison’s visit & some hikes in the Blue Ridge area. Then off for Wisconsin, via a few days’ hiking at the Natural Bridge in Kentucky and a visit with Emily’s gang in Chicago. Three-plus fairly blissful months ensued of water-related frolics on the lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods, with visits to the cottage on Lake Superior photographing amusing driftwood all over the beach. On the lake we got regular viewings of loons, ducks, eagles, turtles, cats of course, and a snake, with lots of mushroom- and invasive-weed-hunting. At the seasonal end of all which, in early October we paused to accompany Emily to the Art Institute of Chicago, before scurrying on for three days of scenic walks at the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. In sum, we refused to be too despondent about the self-flushing political situation in the USA, and continued to seek out wholesome fun wherever we could find it.

dotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2020-2021. Basically, the Nothing Year. How could we have got through it without the Trump jokes from the Late Night comic monologues? As the Trump administration of dodgy dimwits' covid death toll kept rising, we transitioned from an encouraging defeat of the Orange Freak in November to, two months later, the first armed attack on the nation's capital since 1814, and the realization by normal people that a sizable portion of the American population is distinctly abnormal. With all that tumbling in upon us, it's not easy to recall anything in our personal lives worth noting -- for us, a few rewarding hikes in the region, a few political demonstrations (masked), a few visits to nearby scenic destinations, some impromptu photos of Melvin the Doge and little Choupette, but not the postponed trip to Sicily. Things may improve soon, in the interim before the catastrophic effects of Climate Change, left too long for much mitigation now, come to stay forever. Winter 2020-2021

Summer fundotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2020. The summer of Trump's Virus. So little to report, or to recall fondly later, in the summer of 2020, in which our national leaders raised ferocious incompetence to a high art, and left all of our citizens with an IQ over 78 masked and nearly quarantined throughout the season. In one sense, it was a write-off season, but in another, it was often great fun – hydrobikes got pedaled all round the Northwoods lake nearly every afternoon, 44 books got themselves read out on the lakeshore lawn, and, with careful precautions, we didn’t fall victim to Trump's Virus despite all his regime’s lack of efforts on our behalf. We’re heartily grateful that (at this age) we’re no longer dependent on the weekly pay packet, and we’re heartily filled with sorrow for those Americans who are. Anyway, lots of cute cat antics here, and predatory eagles.

Local beautiesdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2019-2020. Still ‘settling in’. In the absence of any Italian or French cities near to hand for exploring, we’ve had to fall back on visits to such well known and worthy destinations as Boone, NC; Wytheville, Lexington, and Harrisonburg, VA; and of course our home base, Staunton, VA. Getting to know the territory; in other words, still settling in. We’ve escorted visitors to the local Frontier Culture Museum on several occasions, and adopted Sherando Lake and the Augusta Springs Wetland as attractive venues for casual walks, with one proper hike to Ragged Mountain with Alison and Mark. In March, however, the Trump Virus locked us down, and thereafter it’s been all reading and TV, masked afternoon walks in the suburbs, and a weekly dawn raid on the Kroger.

Giraffes and Wizardsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2019. A New Chapter, for better or for worse. After some brisk snowshoeing in the Jura mountains in February, and a short trip over to the Canavese region in Italy, in early March we finally leapt into The Future, or into the abyss, as it might be. The big move to the USA, after all these years, to Staunton, Virginia, in fact, a grueling experience in itself, and a 5-week wait until the household stuff arrived – all of the usual headaches getting insurance, driving licenses, a bank account, a 'credit rating' so-called, etc. But we were able to begin settling in, scoping out the pleasant environment here, acquiring the devilish Choupette the Burmese kitten as a playmate for Melvin the Doge, visiting Mark and Nancy in South Carolina, before in June sprinting off on the annual pilgrimage to the lake in northern Wisconsin, where Marlowe, Dmitri, and Billy were able to find us for some fun. Following all which we road-tripped back to Staunton in time for the ‘Mischief and Magic’ festival, in celebration of Harry Potter, in late September.

Sacred blasts from the pastdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2018-2019. Emilia-Romagna; Piemonte; Liguria; Canavese; Virginia. With generally good weather in Italy in October, we got to visit Bobbio in the Trebbia Valley, along with Piacenza, with friends Teny and Joe, and then moved on to the southern Piedmont region, based in Mondoví with day trips to Cuneo, Albenga on the Ligurian shores, medieval Zuccarello in the coastal mountains, and Acqui Terme near Alessandria. After some interesting snowshoeing in the blustery Jura mountains in midwinter, with all our Worldly Stuff packed up and off towards the New World, we wedged in a brief journey to the Canavese area of the northern Piemonte, with a visit to the Borgo e Rocca Medievale and the Palazzo Madama art gallery in Torino, and then took off in early March for a sobering new chapter in life's comic book, viz., the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Draining the swampdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Summer 2018. The Langhe region in northern Italy, then Virginia, then Wisconsin. The summer began with a ten-day sightseeing visit in mid-May to the beautiful Langhe area of the Italian region of Piemonte, with stops in Alba, Saluzzo, Savigliano, Fossano, and Asti, along with a large number of castles. Then the seasonal journey back to the USA, this time with a five-day stop-off on the Delmarva Peninsula with old friends and another five days househunting in Charlottesville and Staunton. Back to the Wisconsin Northwoods in late June for the now-annual frolicking on the lake, and finally a last stop in Staunton, Virginia, to purchase a condo, before coming home in mid-September.

Ups and Downsdotmulti.gif (1653 bytes)Winter 2017-2018. In the awful Year of Trump (hopefully the last one). Autumn got off to a good start in early October, for Alison's and Mark's visit from Hawaii, with some hiking around the 19th century alpine hotel of Rosenlaui, in the region of the Eiger north wall. Later in the month, we wedged in a visit to Lisbon, Portugal, and the nearby attractions. In mid-December we devoted a few weeks to San Marino [photo left] and other scenic wonders in the Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy, including Ferrara, Rimini, Cesena, and finally Vogogna on the road home. After some good snowshoeing in mid-winter, in February we visited various spots in Lombardy, based in Lodi with side trips to the Brera in Milan, Crema, and Como. Some more good spring snowshoeing, and finally a good start for the summer with a mid-May trip to the Langhe area southeast of Torino, with its beautiful hills mostly topped by castles.

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 trips 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 depthsdotmulti.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 Cousin 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 d'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 websites 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 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 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 & 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. 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; most recently revised 6 November 2023.

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