January was pretty quiet for us, enjoyed being home. Late in the month we took the exchange students on the annual Leadville Ski Trip. This is a great trip for the students. This year we rented out the entire Leadville Hostel, drove up Friday evening skied Saturday and Sunday. Since I hadn’t been skiing much, Saturday made me sore and I opted to not buy a ticket for Sunday and worked instead. Mike ended up teaching on Sunday, because we had enlisted volunteer instructors to teach the kids this weekend, but Sunday they were short. Nai was happy that he had previously learned to get down the hill and so wasn’t required to take a lesson, and met up with another Thai boy about his level and had a blast all over the mountain for the two days.
The next week I took off for New York where I had 3 days of corporate training, before heading off to London. I’ve spent so little time in New York City in my life… Only once before have I stayed the night there, and never two nights, I spent as much time out and about as I could spare.
I was staying in a hotel half way between Central park and Times
Square, and walking from there to the IBM building, even closer to Central Park. The class kept us pretty busy, and the city was recovering from the huge snow storm that had shut everything down for about 3 days, but it was still wonderful to be there. I walked to the Rockefeller Center and went to the “Top of the Rock” and viewed the city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t out and about any daylight hours, but I did walk over to Times Square late at night, and that was crowded as day time and bright as day too. Those were the touristy things I did. I did eat some pizza, and have a hot dog too ;-).
I did happen to see Donald Trump as the IBM building is on the other end of the block from the Trump Tower. The last morning I was walking to work and the sidewalk was all shut down.. I was a bit annoyed as I had to cross the street to the other side to get by, when I realized there were about 4 black limos and a bunch of security guys running around. Then the guy next to me yelled “Hello, Donald” and I looked up and he was getting out of his car and going in… He looked and waved…. NOW, I have seen New York!
So people have asked why I didn’t stay another day in New York to visit, but I was heading from New York to London and chose to have the extra day there rather than here. I left Friday evening from New York and 6 hours later at 10 am arrived in London. My hotel and the IBM office are very close to the airport so quickly stopped by to check in and grab a nap then took the 1 hour ride into London on the Underground. That day I didn’t have too much time, getting to town about 4pm, but my main desire was to ride the Eye, the large ferris wheel prominent on the London skyline. I got into the capsule just at dusk and got to watch the lights of town come up during the hour ride. The Eye is new since I have been to London, but that just made me count back and realize the last time I was in London was 1981 (I was there when Charles and Di were married)… I was kind of shocked by that fact, and then most of my students interjected that was before they were born!
|Foreground : Westminster Cathedral – Middleground : Big Ben – Background : London Eye
Kings Cross Station
We were in England to hold our quarterly “Application Developer” class, teaching IBM professionals how to configure TRIRIGA. This was the second time I taught this class, and this time, largely do to the energy of the students, but also because I’ve learned to control expectations a little better, the class went very well. Since we were so far out of the city I didn’t get out many nights, but I did go to see a show one evening and enjoyed “The Book of Mormon”. I also did a little geocaching as I discovered there was a geocache 450 feet from the room we were training in…. I would be negligent not to pick that one up! I tried to look up a square dance and emailed a few people that were supposed to be contacts for the clubs in the area, but never got any response… Oh well, I had enough exercise, and activities. Also one evening we got the group together and went out to a “carvery”, a restaurant where they had Turkey, Ham and Roast beef, but the slice with lots of sides in a buffet. Left there feeling like I’d just eaten Thanksgiving Dinner!
The middle weekend I had anticipated renting a car and driving to Dover to see the cliffs, the castle and the “chunnel”. But so many British thought that was a horrible idea, that I had to rethink. Late in the week a couple of the girls (Annie from Singapore, and Vivian, my fellow instructor from Las Vegas) started planning a weekend trip to Edinburgh (Ed-in-burra for you Americans), I decided to tag along.. Besides nurturing relationships with colleagues, it was an opportunity to pick up a geocache in a new country ;-). We took the train Friday evening from King’s Cross in London, arriving in Edinburgh at about 11:30 that evening. Saturday we walked… All day. After our breakfast which included Haggis and Black (blood) pudding, I introduced the girls to Geocaching, we went to the castle, walked the royal mile at least 1/2 way (it’s much longer than a mile) shopping for souvenirs.
|The Coffee Shop that
Harry Potter was written in.
We rushed back to the hotel for afternoon tea (for dinner) and exhausted went to bed. Sunday was rainy, and we were still tired from our Saturday running, so we opted for a couple bus tours of town and then toured the Holyrood Palace at the other end of the royal mile, the Queen’s summer residence. Very interesting. We took a mid-afternoon train back to London so we could see the countryside to the West and the North Sea to the East, instead of our after dark train going North. The trip in its entirety was very fun! It was Rugby weekend in Scotland and so the town was packed with Rugby fans and lots of things going on, lots of bag pipes, and lots of people (tourists and vendors alike) dressed in their kilts. I was actually quite surprised.
|Proper English town with row houses, cathedrals, and of course a castle!
Again with all of the running around with the “young” girls (Annie is 24… younger than my eldest, Kelsey), I was tired and sore back at work Monday and “feeling my age”. I have been struggling with my knee for the past year or so, and lately have not really been approved to ski. I am supposed to strengthen with exercise daily, wear my orthotics, tape the knee when doing activities like square dancing or skiing…. aargh. But when I over exert I can still feel it in my right knee. I did get x-ray and luckily they show that my knee is in good shape, just needs conditioning… and I need to keep up on that. Again, a wake-up call due to age. With all the stairs in London and New York, and all the activity I was feeling the knee. I however did not want to look like an old crippled woman walking down the stairs. Although I felt like stepping down then bringing the other foot next to it, and on to the next step.. I decided to buck up and go down like a non-injured person one foot then the other. But Wednesday evening walking down the stairs I caught a heel and tumbled down the last four stairs on the flight. I landed on my back, smacked my head, bruised a rib, hip, and left knee/shin. After a break I hobbled back to the hotel. I was and am fine, but stiff and sore the rest of the trip… and sleeping a lot, due to my body recovery. All of the above earmark the trip with a theme of feeling old! I am going to have to address that!
But not to keep an “old dog” down (Ha!). Friday we finished up class at noon and had a pizza party with the class. Then Vivian and I jumped on a train for Windsor to tour the Castle there (The Queen’s Winter Residence.
My final weekend in London found me taking a City Cruise Tour down the Thames to Greenwich to the Royal Observatory to stand with one foot in the Eastern Hemisphere and one on the Western Hemisphere. Through geocaching (of course there is a geocache at longitude 00.000) I learned that due to crude methods of measurement (and the fact the the world is not exactly round, and local gravities) that the Prime Meridian line and the Royal Observatory is about 100 meters east of where it should be. So I walked over there to where it was actually longitude 00.000 and took a photo.. although there was nothing there.
Sunday I went into town early to catch the Chinese New Year parade and Celebration at Trafalgar Square, the largest celebration outside of China. The parade was nice, but the square afterward was so crowded you could hardly move. I opted to walk to Covent Garden and the Market there, where, surprise! I found a few more things to buy. Back to the hotel early to pack up and leave to come home the next morning. I felt like I had accomplished enough on the trip and was anxious to get home.
Meanwhile at home, Mike has been skiing 3-4 days a week. Rarely though is it just free skiing on his own. Most of it has been work. He signed up to teach 2 days a week, but due to overflow and need they are calling him in for more. He is loving it and they are loving him. He has many repeat students (which pays him a bit more) and has had a few tell him that they hated past ski class experiences, but loved skiing now that they skied with him. He has also been required to go for a few days to take workshops and testing to get certified with his Level 1 instructor certification. He is off today to Beaver Creek to take his final exam on that. I am jealous as his skills are improving so rapidly and I can hardly get out! I have caught a couple mornings with him though… still love living here.
Nai has been (since November) totally occupied with Basketball. The JV team has only won one game, but they are having fun and he is learning a lot… and playing a lot because there are so few players, they can’t afford to let anyone sit out, a benefit of being at such a small school. Most of his friends at larger schools have been cut from the teams. But his last game is this week, then I think he will be stir crazy! He has decided though to try out Baseball, so hopefully that will start soon.
That is all the news around here! My calendar is filling up fast… so I’m sure you will hear from me again shortly! Hope everyone is having as much fun as we are!! Until next time.. Cheerio!