Sunday, November 25, 2007


Update on Lila

Lila had Thanksgiving with Karen, Tracy, and Mickey (and his son) at their house. She said she really enjoyed it! They are all doing well.

The dialysis is giving her trouble, requiring extra time to get rid of all the fluid. Unfortunately, her vision has gotten so bad she can't read well enough to finish the "memoirs" that we sent her a few weeks ago. She needs a "reader" to help her out!

Dad, Mavis, and Ron were in Bismarck a week ago and took her to Lunch at the Red Lobster Restaurant. She enjoys getting out and about as much as possible.

Cindy just returned from a shopping trip to Minneapolis to buy things for their house--getting it ready for the Christmas Holidays. They celebrated Thanksgiving at home, with Tim as one of the guests!

Dione, Saul and Mollie

Dione, Saul, and Mollie are well settled in their new house, and liking it a lot. They hosted one of Mollie's good friends and her family for Thanksgiving. Dione has finished her student teaching and is really enjoying her job teaching gifted students. She has to take some additional classes to secure her license as a special education teacher for the gifted.

Saul says he is not sure what will happen to Antioch College - expected to close this year because of insufficient students and resources. Fortunately, the Antioch McGregor graduate program where he teaches is doing fine. They have a new building and plenty of students. Saul is a department chair and enjoys the teaching and administration.

Mollie is thriving. She aces nearly all her classes, usually winding up as the number one student. She has lots of extra activities going as well as school.

Maureen and Mat

Maureen and Mat hosted her mother and a long-time friend (originally a summer companion at Big Bull Island in Flathead Lake) for Thanksgiving--with temperatures at 12 degrees with six inches of snow on the ground. Maureen has a meeting in New York this week, so Mat is going along for some fun in the big city. She'll be in Washington, D.C., for more meetings the first week of December. The big excitement is having the University of Montana as conference football champions, and in the playoffs for a national title.

We are in Talahassee, FL, after several days on the gulf coast where the photos below were taken. We spent Thanksgiving on the beach, and had a nice feast to boot! This week we'll be in Georgia visiting the area where Marie grew up, and seeing her only nephew who is a student at Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton.

Thanksgiving on the beach

Sunday, November 18, 2007


We are spending a few days at a beautiful state park on the Gulf of Mexico near Gulf Shores, Alabama. This area was hit by a major hurricane the year before Katrina hit the New Orleans area and the Mississippi coast. Consequently, this state park was badly damage and has since been rebuilt.

Among the huge problems in this whole region is the loss of tree cover. When we were here a few years ago the whole campground was covered with beautiful trees, now largely gone. We read an article in the local newspaper indicating that the loss of trees was a huge economic and environmental problem, and of course, it will take many years for the trees to grow back.

The beach along the gulf is gorgeous, and has largely recovered. We have really enjoyed watching magnificent sunsets over the Gulf for several evenings. It is hard to leave, but tomorrow we'll be heading to Florida where we'll spend a week or so at several beautiful state parks, all visited in previous years.


Bill and Marie

Thursday, November 15, 2007


We are near Gulf Shores, Alabama, after traversing a coastal route from New Orleans. Although we expected to see damage from hurricane Katrina, it was a shock to observe the effects. We drove through New Orleans from west to east, including some upscale areas as well as middle and lower income "wards." The mostly African-American residential areas that we saw were largely unrepaired. White "FEMA" trailers were everywhere in both lower and middle income areas. A great many homes had obviously been abandoned. The streets were absolutely god-awful, shaking our motorhome to the point that the coffee pot fell out of it's holder!

It surprised and dismayed us that little apparent progress has been made in restoring residential parts of the city, the exception being the upscale Garden District--that seems in relatively good shape. Even here, however, some FEMA trailers were still in use by residents who apparently had not yet been able to repair their homes. The downtown area (including the French Quarter) did not suffer as much damage because it was on somewhat higher ground, and has been restored to near normal. The streets seemed strangely quiet for a Monday afternoon, however, because much less business is being done than before the storm.

As we left the city driving east for miles through middle-class residential areas, it was obvious that hundreds of homes had not been repaired, with residents continuing to live in FEMA trailers. Many businesses were clearly not restored. "For Sale" signs were everywhere, presumably because so many people left the area with no intent to return.

The coastal area of Mississippi was completely devastated, and remains so, although much of the trash from destroyed buildings has been cleared and the beach has been largely restored. We had always enjoyed this drive on many previous trips, but now we could only feel somewhat depressed to note that nearly all of the beautiful and historic homes that lined the shore are gone, as are nearly all of the businesses. The only buildings that looked "normal" were the huge casinos in Gulfport and Biloxi! Even here, however, much of the area around the casinos remains a wasteland. "For Sale" signs were everywhere. Many previous full- or part-time residents (and businesses) have chosen not to rebuild--probably in substantial part because they would not be able to buy the insurance required to secure a mortgage. A motel where Marie stayed on her high school class trip many years ago was entirely gone!

New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have always been among our favorite parts of the country. It is truly disheartening to see so much destruction, and to realize that it will never be the same. It was sufficiently disturbing that we had trouble sleeping last night!

Our trip through New Mexico and Texas from Tucson was interesting here and there. We particularly enjoyed a walking tour around town, and lunch at the historic La Posta restaurant, in Mesilla, New Mexico. We are now looking forward to some time along the beautiful coast of Alabama and Florida!


Bill and Marie