Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interior Painting

I decided I needed to start putting some color on the walls in my house.  I had it painted a base coat white (that is really way too tan) and I've been ignorning it the past 2 years.  I don't really like to paint and I'm not very patient with the whole process.  So why I decided to try this project the week before Christmas, I really don't know....

I wanted to paint this wall in my long hallway so it was a darker blue at the bottom and faded up to a lighter blue at the top.  I spent a bit of time painting swatches and looking at the colors during the day and a night. 
I decided I liked these blues and went a head and bought enough paint to cover the wall.

So I started with the top...

and worked my way down.

Once it dried I wasn't very happy.  The line between the dark and the lighter color was way to distinct.  And I could still see the old paint swatches through the new paint.  I'm sure there are ways to blend these colors so you don't really see a distinct line.  Adding some 'wet edge extender' would have also helped.  Blending the paint along the edge with a sponge would have helped too.

But since I didn't do any of this I just mixed the 3 remaining colors together and put another coat on the whole wall.  It still looks a bit streaky to me, so I may need to have more paint mixed and put on a 3rd coat.  But I'm going to wait until spring to decide about that.

I do have some blue semi gloss, so I'll paint the trim when I get back home next week.

AND, I'm going to hire a painter to re-paint the rest of the house.  Now I just have to decide which color(s) to paint :-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Food Blogs - Sausage & Rice Stuffed Squash

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I've been reading a lot of blogs.  Food blogs to be precise.  The last couple of months, I've really been addicted to food blogs.  As a result, all of the Christmas cookies I made this season have been new recipes.

A few days ago I ran across a food blog recipe for sausage and rice stuffed squash.  It had all sorts of good stuff in it, in fact I think the title was "All good stuff" or "Everything Good" or something like that. Unfortunately I couldn't find it again, so I had to come up with my own recipe to stuff an Acorn squash.

I started out with the squash.  Cut it in half, cleaned out the seeds and put the 2 halves upside down in a baking dish with a bit of water.  350 for 40 min and it's pretty much steam-baked tender.

While the squash was baking I started some brown rice.  One cup of short grained brown rice in 2 cups of chicken broth.  Cover it, bring it to a boil, then turn down to simmer and let it cook for 50 min.

Then I sauteed 1/2 a sweet onion in a little olive oil.  Once the onion was tender I added 1/2 a tube of Jimmy Dean Sage sausage.  I added a bit more sage seasoning, and some fresh ground pepper.  Once the sausage browned (on low heat) I added a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic and almost 2 cups of cut up mushrooms.  A few min of stirring and then the rest of an old bottle of Pinot Noir.  Maybe 1/2 a cup, but I'm sure any wine would due.  Put a cover on the pan and let the mushrooms cook down for 5 or 10 min.  I thought it needed a bit of salt, so I added a tablespoon of chicken bouillon.

All in all, it was a pretty good meal.  Salty, spicy and very filling.  I'd try it again but next time I'd add some chopped up water chestnuts for the crunch.  And I'd like it to be a bit more creamy in texture.  I'll have to think about other changes to make.  Maybe adding some spinach would be nice.

About this time the squash was done so I took it out of the oven and salt and peppered the inside.  Then I added the cooked brown rice to the sausage mixture and stirred.  I mixed some mozzarella cheese in with a couple of scoops of the rice mixture, just to hold it together.  Scooped the rice/sausage mixture into the hollow of the squash and sprinkled some Parmesan and Romano cheese over the whole thing. And 10 more in in the oven to melt all the cheese and it was dinner time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kitchen Pendants

Here is a little project started back in Aug and finally go finished.  Thanks for Don to coming out and finishing the  wiring the lights in for me, they're going to be great this winter when it's dark.

I wanted to add some pendants to hang over the dining table portion of my kitchen island.  Here is where the old monorail used to end.
So in Aug Don came out and wired in the heat pad I put under the metal counter top.  He also go the rail extension added, but then ran out of time.  I was gone Sept and Oct so on Monday he finally got a chance to come out and wire up the pendants.
I finally got the shades on them this morning.  I'm not sure why the bulbs are giving off this red color, but that's OK for now.  Though I'll probably change out the bulbs when I can find some that all white.
Anyway, I like the light they cast on the table, the original spotlights were just too bright.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Living Room Chairs

I've been looking at living room chairs for a while, and I finally found what I wanted (Rebecca Chairs by soho Concept ) .  But as I've watched them over the last 8 months, I can't find them in a color that I like.   I may end up having to buy them in dark grey, but I'd much rather have a blue.  I hate the idea of buying them brand new, and having them re-upholstered before they're even used, but that's also an option.  UGH.
So, for a little fun color until I can get what I really want, I bought 3 bean bag chairs.  They're pretty sturdy, made out of some short of water resistant material.  They should be fun to use the winter.  And once I can replace them, I can relegate these to the bedrooms.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Office Chair - Mid Century Style

I'm looking for an older style office chair to refurbish.  I've mostly looked on e-bay, but the ones I'm finding are pretty expensive.  So I though I'd check and see if any of my friends might have an old chair in storage they'd sell me.  Or maybe you'll run across one in a garage sale.

Anyway, the condition of the seat padding doesn't matter because I'll have it taken off and restored.  But the type of legs/wheels does matter.  And it does need to work.  Hopefully the wheels will still move smoothly.

So, if you come across something like this (note the style of the legs), let me know.
Legs like this.

Or like this.

But not like this.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

France 2011

We spent the 2nd half of our vacation in southern France.  The weather was great, only one day of rain.  And it was cooler than Italy and much drier.  We had a great time and I'm glad the pace of our trip slowed down a bit.

Saturday morning we left Venice early.  Our Easy Jet flight from Venice to Lyon left at 7:55 am but we left the hotel at 5:30 am.  The Marco Polo Airport outside of Venice is very nice and pretty new.  We lucked out, the Easy Jet flight wasn't full and it was a sunny day, so we had good views during the flight.  Lyon is a fairly small airport, 10 or so miles out of town.  It has a brand new fancy train station attached, so all we had to do was pick up our luggage and walk over to catch our train.  We had a couple of hours to kill, but that was OK.  The train south was very crowded, but we had reserved seats, so we got into Avignon on time about 1:30 pm.

The car rental started out as bit of a pain.  We used AutoEurope and they booked us a couple of cars with National/Citer.  Since we'd arrived at the old downtown train station we had to take a taxi out to the airport to pick up our cars.  It turns out that the Avignon airport is a small regional airport and was closed when we arrived.  We found a phone number (boy am I glad my smart phone worked well during our trip) and called their main office.  Then we had to wait about an 1.5 hours for the agent to drive out with our keys.  I really wish we'd been told just to go to the Avignon TGV train station where they have an office that's open all day.  But once we got on the road, things went pretty well.  We followed the instructions, more or less and found our way north to Venesque where we'd rented the 2  connected houses.  ( thanks Elizabeth for all your help).  Boy was the view from up on top amazing.  Here are a couple of pics I took from the parking lot.

We stopped in St. Didier for a few groceries, and a couple of bottles of wine (well a couple of bottles and a 5 liter plastic jug :-).  Once we got settled and unpacked, we had a nice dinner and just relaxed.  The view from up on top of the hill was beautiful, between the 2 houses we had 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 4 bedrooms with their own baths, and 2 more bedrooms that shared a bath.  Lots of room to spread out which was nice.
Sunday morning we tried to get moving early, but it was 9:30 am by the time we got out of town and headed for L'Isle Sur la Sorgue and their Sunday market.  It was pretty packed, so we set up a meeting point and wandered around.  Lots and lots of stuff to look at, but I mostly was interested in stocking up on groceries.  Bread, cheese, olives, fruits and vegis and an assortment of sausage.  Mmmmm...  We had a great lunch (a bit expensive but still great) and then headed home.  A little wine in the garden, then Linda and Mary made us a vegi lasagna for dinner.  It really was a good day.
Monday was a quiet day, we mostly stayed close to home and rested.  I spent a couple of hours sitting in the garden reading, which was really great.  Mon night Linda and I drove into Avignon and picked up Shari and Val.  They arrived on the 11:15 pm train from Venice/Lyon.

Tue we had a late start.  It's a bit hard to get this big of a group all headed in the same direction :-).  But we took both cars and drove through Gordes.  Cute town that has been totally rebuilt.  Then we went to a nearby Abbe and wandered around for a while.  Then we drove over to Rousillion for lunch and to check out the Ocher mine.  The colors of the soil was pretty amazing to see.  It's been used as a pigment for centuries.
The road was a bit stressful.  Lots an lots of switchback, no shoulders and idiots on bikes.
Wed we all went into Avignon and checked out the Place of the Popes.   We spent a couple of hours in one of the museums and then had lunch at a restaurant in the main square.  It was hot, so instead of hiking to a tower across the river, I found an Internet cafe and cleared out old e-mail. We didn't get the wi fi at the house working until Thur evening.

Thur was another mostly quiet day.  Went for a walk around the village in the morning.  The village used to be surrounded by small terraced private gardens.  There are a few being maintained but most are very over grown.  We found a lot of squash and fruit trees that were growing mostly wild.  And a few old ruined houses built under the limestone overhangs.

Then we decided to head toward Mount Ventoux.  We stopped in a small town for a great lunch, but then decided to split up.  Lowry took the folks wanting to go up the mountain and I drove the group going to visit a couple of wineries :-).
Friday almost everyone stayed home, but Mom, Val and I drove down to NimesNimes was a pain, but we made it.  We stopped at the Pont du Gard on our way back to Venesque.

Saturday I stayed home in the morning and did some laundry, etc.  Then we went to lunch over in St. Didier and walked around Le Beaucet looking for Penny and Val.  Le Beaucet is an old medieval village.  The older houses are build under the cliff, very interesting to see.
Sunday I got up early and took Linda and Lowry to the train station in Avignon.  Their train left at 7:12 am for Amsterdam.  It was pouring rain on the way back, so I stopped in Monteaux at a bakery and got breakfast for everyone.  Boy it smelled good with all those goodies fresh out of the oven :-).  I really liked the small bakeries in each of the town, much more fun and better products, than going to a big grocery store.

Late Sunday morning the rain let up and we decided to drive up to Chateauneuf du Pape for lunch.  It was still overcast and we got there late so almost everything was closed.  It was also the first day anyone felt cold.  After lunch we went into Orange to see the Roman Theater (very interesting) and a Roman Arch.  Then it was time to head home and get everything cleaned up and packed.
Monday was sunny, but rather windy.  We got going fairly early and were out on the road by 9:45 AM.  I really didn't want to drive south on the A7 so we took secondary road and headed toward Marseille.  We got there just fine, the MRS airport is a quite a way out of town, which was fine with me.   I didn't want to get stuck in city traffic.  We found a hotel right at the airport, and then drove down to Carry le-Rouet for lunch.  It's a small town right on the water.  We had lunch at restaurant on the harbor.  Good food and a great view.  A nice way to wrap up our trip.  We got back to the airport about 6 pm, and turned in the cars.  That went well so we got a couple of bottles of wine and sat around in the hotels breakfast room, chatting and looking at pictures for a couple of hours.
Tue we were up early.  Mom, me, Penny and Virg left the hotel at 3:45 am.  The shuttle driver didn't start until 5 am so we had to walk, but it really wasn't very far.  Just across a big parking lot.  After checking in we tried to get coffee at the airport, but none of the restaurants or shops opened until 6 am, which was too late.  By then we were boarding.  We flew to Frankfurt, had breakfast there and then caught our Condor flight back to Anchorage.  Once we got on board, we were delayed an hour due to the fog and other late flights.  But it wasn't too bad.  The flight to Anchorage wasn't too crowded, which was nice.  We got into Anchorage only an hour late, and picked up my car and headed home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Last vacation meal....

This morning we had to check out of our houses in Venesque. We were on the road by 9:45 am. We stayed of the A7 and drove south to Marseille on secondary roads. We got checked in to our airport hotel and then drove south 30 Mon to Carry le Rouet for lunch. It is a tiny town on the coast with a small habit full of private boats. Sunny but very windy. We had a great long lunch before driving back to the airport and turning in the rental cars. We plan to meet in the lobby at 4 am
Here was the way I finished my last vacation meal...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Glace..Gelato...Ice Cream in Orange

Glace.....Gelato....Ice Cream in Orange...
We had quite the rain storm last night and this morning. The temp dropped at least 20 degrees. But its been really dry so I guess I'm glad we got the rain.
I got up and took Linda and Lowry to the train station in Avignon this am, we had to leave Venesque at 5:30 am. So after breakfast and a nap we decided to drive over to Orange and look at the old Roman theater. It was great. follow when I get home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lunch in St. Didier

So I'm trying to figure out how to post to my blog through email from my phone. I hope it works. We are having a late lunch and a couple of beers.


I'm sitting here in Venesque France, it's just a wonderful morning.  Not too hot yet, and I'm trying to remember all the things we did in Venice last week.  It seems a long time ago, I guess that means this vacation has done what it was supposed too :-).

We were supposed to take the train from Ravenna to Venice at 11:30 am. But on Monday when I went to double check the train time, I found out that the train crews were going on strike. I've never really understood the scheduled strikes in Italy and France, but there has been at least one each time I've made a trip.
Anyway, the trains were going to be on strike Tue from 9 am to 5 pm, so our only train option was a 6:20 am. YUCK. I did a little searching on line and found a couple of bus transfer companies, but they were pretty expensive.  They really stick it too the cruise ship passengers who rely on these transfers. Then I talked to the front desk at our hotel. The lady working there found us an 8 passenger van that picked us up at 10:00 am and was 1/2 the cost of the other companies.  So keep that in mind when you are traveling.  I love booking things on line but the locals can often find you a better deal at the last minute.

I was a little worried about all our luggage, but it all fit. And the van had a/c and was very comfortable. It was a 2 hour trip from Ravenna to Venice which was a lot shorter than taking the train and changing in Bologna.  Venice was beautiful & sunny when we arrived.  We got dropped off in the bus parking lot and had to carry out luggage over the bridge and down to the train station plaza.  But what a wonderful sight, sunny skies & the Grand Canal.  And it was busy, people & boats every where.  We were a couple of hours early but our rooms were ready so we checked in and went to have lunch.  It was really HOT and a bit muggy so we didn't search too hard.  Ended up at a rather expensive and not so good place, but it worked out.  We did have some better meals later in our trip.

Wed morning we all met in the hotel breakfast room.  It was very small and the coffee was pretty bad, so we ended up going to Restaurant Brek the next few mornings.  Though we liked the location of Hotel Florida and the rooms were just fine.  Anyway, we had a guide set up for Wed morning.  Caterina met us at the hotel a 9:30 am and we wandered through the back streets, over to the Rialto Market.  (we found her using out Rick Steves guide to Venice :-).

We learned a lot about Venice from her, and we ended up at St. Marks.  She took us inside, it was nice to skip the long line and showed us around.  The mosaics inside are really beautiful, all 90,000 sq feet of them.  Mom didn't feel like walking but she and Mary took the Vapparetto over to St. Marks and met us there. 
After St. Marks we walked over to a small square by the hospital and had a nice long lunch.  Then we all split up and went different places. 

Thursday morning we got up and met at Brek for breakfast.  Then we bought Vapparetto passes and all went out to Murano.  I really like all the glass shops and Murano is a lot quieter than Venice.  It was a little overcast but muggy & hot.  We spent the day at Murano and all went back to Venice at different times.  But we met for dinner and had to say good-bye to Sachiko.  She was going back to Seattle early on Friday morning. 

Friday we all did different things.  I ended up going back to Murano with Linda and Lowry.  We got to see 2 glass blowing demonstrations which were very interesting.  Then after lunch I wandered around the between the train station & St. Marks, just looking around.  Linda had a nap, she has a bad cold.  Lowry got over to the art museum and got some amazing pictures.
Saturday morning we had an early flight from Marco Polo to Lyon with Easy Jet.  We ended up having a porter meet us at the hotel at 5:30 am and take us to meet a taxi van on the other side of the train station.  It was a fairly quick but very expensive taxi ride to the airport.  We'd tried to set up a water taxi but couldn't get anyone to commit to picking us up that early so we ended up in the van instead.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Sunday morning we took off for Ravenna.  The train trip across the mountains was great.  We had a nice dinner that night and Mon morning we walked up to the Basilica di San Vitale and the Mausoleo di Galla after breakfast.  Ravenna is known for it's Byzantine mosaics, and the examples we found in these 2 places were totally amazing.  I've always like the frescos, but they're usually really faded out.  But since the mosaics are made out of glass tiles and stone, they can get dirty but the color doesn't seem to fade.  And what amazing colors.  Lots and lots of gold leaf, greens and blues.  Even some great reds.  Some of the floors in the Basilica were re-done in the 1960's.  There wasn't a lot left to go by, but any floor needs new tile occationally :-).  The results were pretty great.
And the mausoleum for Galla Placidia is also amazing.  She was the sister to a Roman Emporer and mother to another.  I think she was actually buried in Rome, but the blues of the ceiling of her mausoleum are breathtaking. 

Then we wandered down to the Domus dei Tapetti di Pietra.  It's a museaum for mosaic'd floors found in Ravenna.  It has some really great things to see.

As you can see, I'm using amazing a lot.  I really liked Ravenna.  I could have spent another couple of days there.  We only went because Shari and Val are taking a week long mosaic course in Ravenna, but I'm really glad we got to wander around a look.

After lunch we did some more walking.  We saw another church and an art exhibit about how mosaics and glass tiles were made.  It was all very colorful and fun to see.  Then we had another nice dinner and packed up so we could depart for Venice in the morning.

Tuscany & Florence Part 2

We've been gone about 10 days and have really seen a lot.  I'm a bit behind with my blog so I'm trying to catch up before we go to France.

Sat Sept 2nd we did a lot of sightseeing in Florence.  We started out a the San Lorenzo market.  Mary & Virg got to spend some time looking at all the leather vendors.  They were looking for wallets and sandals. 

We also found the Medici burial chapel (Opera Medicea Laurenziana).  Wow, there was some amazing marble work inside, though photos weren't allowed.  Then we continued through the San Lorenzo Market and had lunch inside the food market.  What a great lunch, we all ordered a different item and shared.  It was great fun.
Then we went back to the apartment and picked up mom.  She was having a quiet morning at home.  We went over to the Pitti Palace, about 2 blocks from our apartment.  What a huge building.  Unfortunately most of the really old things were gone.  Bonaparte had the whole place remodeled when he conquered Florence.  But there was a lot to see and I really enjoyed the State Apartments.  We also did some walking in the garden but only saw a very small portion of it.
Sunday we got up early and took a couple of taxis to the train station.  We caught a small regional train from Florence to Faenza, instead of the fast train through Bologna.  We went up over the mountains, through some pretty wild area full of chestnut trees.  Down the other side it was all fruit orchards & and very flat.  We had a sandwich lunch in Faenza, waiting for the train to Ravenna.  I was really surprised that there was NO luggage storage.  We had 2 hours and I'd planned to check in our luggage and walk a few blocks into town to look around.  That was a bit of a bummer.

Anyway, we got into Ravenna about 2:30 pm.  It really wasn't too far to our hotel but we took a couple of taxis because we have a lot of luggage :-).  Shari & Val were waiting for us in a little cafe about 1/2 block from the hotel.  So we sat with them for a while and then did some exploring.  Linda & Lowry arrived a few hours later.  They had some trouble finding their hotel, but managed to meet up with us for dinner about 7:30 pm.  That was great fun, and the food was wonderful.  What a great first night in Ravenna. 

Water fountain at Pitti Palace
Our hotel was the Hotel Central Bryon.  Cute old place, but it was clean, had an elevator AND air conditioning.  It was HOT in Ravenna and had been HOT in Florence.  Upper 90's is too much for me these days.  So having A/C in Ravenna was great.  Plus their breakfast (included) was very good.  Quite a nice selection of breads,  rolls, sandwich meat, yogurt, cereal and of course, cappuccino.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Tuscany & Florence

Our trip to Italy and France started out pretty well. All 6 of us got to Florence on schedule. Sachiko's luggage was lost for 2 days but we all lent her a few things and her suitcase came in today.

Wed night we just went out to dinner and had some wine. Then Thur AM, Penny & Sachiko got up early and took a 12 hour tour of the Cinque Terre. What a beautiful tour they had, hiking part of it and taking a boat back.

Meanwhile Mary, Mom, Virg & I had a quick breakfast and walked across the Ponte Vecchio, up to the Piazza dela Signora and then to the Dumo. After looking around the Dumo for a bit we walked up to the Medici Chapels and checked them out. Then we went back to our apartment for lunch.

Mom decided the jet lag was still hanging on and she had a nap, but Mary, Virg and I walked over to Santa Croce and toured there for a couple of hours. A lot of the restoration that was going on in 2006 is done, but the whole front of the Nave is still under restoration. Guess I'll need to come back in 5 or 6 years to see how it comes out.

Then we walked back to the Dumo to see the inside of the Baptistery. I really love the mosaic'd ceiling in there.
Today we got up and had coffee, then met Luca (Hills & Roads) at 9:30 am. He took us out of town and toured around several small towns with medieval roots. We did a very nice wine tasting at Sant Appiane. Their wines were great and they were very nice people. They do rent rooms so a trip to stay in one of their apartments for a week would be great fun.

Then we went to lunch at San Leo. Patrice was great. All the food she served us comes from her 'farm'. She produces her own olive oil and honey, has a huge garden, and raises pigs. She also rents apartments. So many choices and so little time...argh!

Anyway, tomorrow we're off to a market and then to the Pitti Palace after lunch. It's been very hot, tomorrow should be 97 which is a bit much for this mostly Alaska group. But we're having a great time and I'll post some more pictures in a few days.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Steel Support Painting Part 2

Well this project went on way too long.  I know I'm a bit obsessive, so I ended up putting on 4 coats of the rust converter.  I got the first 3 on last R&R, with lots of scraping & sanding in-between each coat.  When I got home and looked at it on Monday, there were a few new rust flecks, so I went a head and scraped it with a scotch brite, and then put on the 4th coat.  It dried over night and actually looked pretty good this morning.  So I went a head and painted with some Rustoleum glossy black for metal.  It went on pretty well and really covered the posts.  I really hope it 'takes' and I don't have to re-do this project for a LONG time.

Wasn't today BEAUTIFUL. Look at all that blue sky (ignore the wild 'yard', I'll do something with it next summer).

Heated Island Counter Top

Boy, today was a day to get a couple of projects finished, which is why it's almost midnight and I'm still not finished packing for my trip to Europe tomorrow.  But that's not the topic of the blog.

Back when we were tossing around design ideas for my house, I came across an article about heating concrete & granite counter tops.  I thought it was a good idea but when I decided to go with the metal top, instead of concrete the whole idea was sort of dropped.  However, after 2 winters with a metal counter top, that can be quite chilly, I decided it was time to revisit the heated idea.  So I did some reading on line.  And then decided to give this product from Thermosoft a try.  It sounded easy to install so I talked to one of the sales guys on line and ordered enough to heat the 'table' half of my kitchen island.

It's basically a felt pad with some heating wires.  They also sent me un-wired pad as filler for the un-heated portions.  Sunday Paul came by and showed me how to get the metal top moved off to expose the wood counter top underneath.  Last night I laid out the padding, and then Don (electrician) came over today and wired it all in.  This required moving an electrical outlet under the counter and installing a thermostat, but it seems to have gone pretty smoothly.

And I have say that I'm going to really like it.  It's not a dramatic change, but it's certainly warmer.  Takes the chill off the metal which will be great this winter.  So I'm happy that this project is done and that I have my island back :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Visa Signature Perks Sweepstakes - Facebook - Amazon Kindle

Well, here it is.  I got my mail all opened up this evening and in one of my boxes was an Amazon Kindle, Wi-Fi only, 6 inch display.  It's really light, only weighs 8.5 ounces.

I looked it up on the Amazon web site.  $114 which isn't bad. It will have some advertising screen savers on it, but that's not a bother.

I actually have a couple of books loaded on my phone and was reading one of them in the airport last night.  It's kind of cool so I'm going to charge this baby up and try to load a couple of books on it.  This means I'll have to get my Wi-Fi router out of the closet and hook it up to my broadband connection tomorrow.  But if it all works I'll download a couple of books and try it out on this trip starting Tue.

Thank you to Visa Signature Perks Match and Win Game, and to Facebook :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trip Planning & Itinerary - Italy & France 2011

The seeds of this trip were planted last year when Shari decided she wanted to go Ravenna and take a Mosaic class.
(Ravenna has great Byzantine mosaics, I'm really looking forward to seeing them.) Mom wanted to go along and see a bit of Italy. So I was going to join them for a week. Then we started talking about it and more & more people wanted to go. We haven't been to Italy since our trip in 2006, so I guess we were due :-).

Anyway, the trip grew from 1 week in Ravenna to a 3 week tour of Italy in Southern France.
Here is our planned itinerary:

Tue: Mom, me, Penny & Virg are flying out of Anchorage together on Tuesday afternoon. We are flying Condor from Anchorage into Frankfurt, then Lufthansa from Frankfurt into Florence. 13.5 hours total trip time, as long as the flights are on time :-). It will actually be Wed evening local time when we get to Florence. The over the North Pole trip is great because it's a lot shorter then going to Seattle or the East Coast first.
Mary & Sachiko are also flying out on the 30th, they'll both get into Florence on the 31st, a few hours before we do.

Wed: The 6 of us have 4 nights in Florence. We rented a 3 bedroom apartment through VRBO. It's located close to the Arno River, only a few blocks from the Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens.

Thurs - Penny & Sachiko are going hiking on the Cinque Terre. The rest of us are going to do some sightseeing in Florence.

Fri - Luca with Hills & Roads is going to pick us up at 9:30 am and take us out into the country for a day of sightseeing in Tuscany. We'll get a winery tour, see a couple of old villages and have lunch at a working farm and tour their olive mill. We used Luca's travel company the last time we were in Italy. Penny, Virg & I had a driver for 2 days and toured Tuscany between Florence & Siena. We really had a great time.

Sat - More sightseeing and a chance to do some shopping. I'm planning to spend most of the afternoon at the Pitti Place & Boboli Gardens.

Sun - we're taking the regional train from Florence to Faenza. This is a little train that goes up through a national park, stopping a little towns along the way. It's about 2.5 hour trip, and should be very scenic. Then we'll spend a couple of hours in Faenza and continue on to Ravenna. There we'll meet up with Shari & Val, who are going to be in class M-F. And Linda & Lowry are flying from London into Bologna and will take the train to Ravenna on Sunday. We should all be able to meet for cocktails & dinner.

Mon - sightseeing in Ravenna

Tue - we'll take the train to Venice, probably late morning. Shari & Val will stay in Ravenna, they'll be in class.

Wed - we have a guided tour set up to see the highlights of Venice. Caterina will meet us at our hotel at 9:30 am. We'll have a 3 hour walking tour, starting at the Rialto market, taking in some of the back streets, and ending up at St. Marks. We can then tour St Marks at our leisure and find a nice place for lunch.

Thur - Day trip to Murano to see the glass shops.

Fri - We have nothing in particular planned. I'm sure there will a lot of shopping & sitting in cafes. Sachiko has to leave for home on Friday, so our party will drop by 1.

Sat - A very early morning. Our Easy Jet flight from the Marco Polo Airport to Lyon France departs at 7:55 am. We'll take a water taxi to the airport which should be fun. Once we get to Lyon we'll take the high speed train to Avignon. That's about 1.5 hour trip. In Avignon we pick up 2 rental cars. We've rented 2 houses that share a courtyard & garden in the town of Venasque. I'm guessing it will be 4 or 5 pm by the time we get checked in. Then it will be time to find a nice dinner and relax after a full day of traveling.;

Sun - I really want to go to the Sunday Market at L'Isle sur la Sorge. This means getting up pretty early and trying to be on the road about 8am. I'm not sure if everyone will go, but it should be a fun morning. We can pick up some fresh food to bring home, and have lunch in a café by the river.

Mon - no plans yet, I'm sure sightseeing will be involved,

Tue - Shari & Val arrive in Avignon Tue night. Once they're done with class in Ravenna they're going to Venice for a few days. They are going to take the train from Venice to Avignon, which is about an 18 hour trip. Lots of great scenery to see along the way though.

Wed - Sat - Lots of sightseeing and few evenings sitting in the garden telling stories & drinking wine. We have 2 cars so we can all go places together or split up. Places & things on my list to see (in no particular order) are:
Arles - I'd like to see the old town and do the Van Gogh self guided walking tour
Avignon - walk through the old city. Find a nice café for lunch. Check out the Pont du Gard
Cotes du Rhone - drive around this area and see the scenery & stop at a few wineries. In fact we might stop at Chateauneuf Du Pape, just because it's probably the most well know winery in the area. A walk through the old town part of Orange could be fun too.
Morning Market in Aix-en-Provence (Tue/Thur/Sat).
Ochre Cliffs of Roussillon
Nice   -
Perfume Factory in Grasse.
And at least part, if not all of our party is going to Monte Carlo for a night.

Sun - Linda & Lowry are leaving for Amsterdam on Sunday morning.

Mon - We need to be check out of the house by 10 am on Monday. We're flying out of Marseille on Tuesday at 6 am. So we'll drive down toward Marseille (the airport is out side of town) and find a hotel. Then do some sightseeing in that area and turn in the rental cars. That way we won't have to mess with the cars early in the morning.

Tue - 6 am flight out of Marseille to Frankfurt, then Condor from Frankfurt back into Anchorage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our new module is in place!

Our new module was moved off the barge and onto it's support pilings yesterday.  The move went smoothly and the weather cooperated.  I guess if you haven't seen it, you might not get it.  But moving that huge, heavy building into it spot within 1/16 of an inch really amazes me.  I would have liked to have been on the island to see it, but I the folks out there kept me up to date and sent a few pictures.
Here is the new module on the barge once the other freight has been unloaded.

Close up of trailers in place.

All trailers in place.

Mod almost to the dock.  See the pilings it will sit on?

Mod just hitting the dock face.