Monday, August 9, 2010


It was great to be back in Italy after twenty years; a gorgeous country with wonderful people. The national party that went on after Milan beat Munich for the European Cup (for the first time in 40 years) was not to be believed; we stayed with it until about 1:30 AM and then finally went to bed. It was also fun to speak that language again; it came back faster than I had imagined it would. Erin's tour was a smashing success, particularly for all of those Bama kids, many of whom had never been out of Bama, a few of whom had never been on a plane. And they performed an extremely difficult repertoire beautifully. Oh, and Patti and Gene Colwitz had a blast--they were the stars of the trip, especially on the bus.
And I was back in Bulgaria for the first time since 1999, but working and earning a few bucks this time at a choral/orchestral workshop. The six conductors worked with two teachers for two weeks on the Mozart Requiem and a Sinfonia Concertante, performing both in a final concert. They had a fine professional orchestra and a beautifully trained Bulgarian choir to work with, and I got to know Danail Rachev, who is the new conductor of the Eugene, OR Symphony. He and I worked together well with the six conductors. While everybody there (especially the young) now seems to speak a bit of English (it wasn't that way in '99), the second language was German in the resort village where we stayed, so I had no problems whatever with my second language, only the boorish tourists who spoke it--Germans have replaced us as the most despised, arrogant tourists around. With good reason. Wilkommen an unser Welt, Freunde. The hotel, food and folk dancing were great, by the way; Eastern Europe is a place all its own, especially around the Black Sea.
Then a month of camping in our 2004 Fleetwood Bayside Elite pop-up camp trailer with hot and cold running water, slide out diner, fold out galley, and heater that came on automatically when the temp went below 50F several times. We picked it up at my buddy's in Costa Mesa and drove to Kings Canyon NP. After that, Patti and Gene then joined us (two full king size beds) in Yosemite NP, Jedediah Smith SP, and Tahoe (Sugar Pine Point SP), where we all camped with Libby, Lee and the Boys, celebrating birthdays of the Boys (late), Lee, Libby, and me (early). It was a fantastic time and the best birthday present imaginable--we all just wished Meg could have been there.

Then to Glacier NP, where these pics were shot (the second entitled 'Man, Dog, Fire.' Grunt). I'd never been there and I'm delighted we went: spectacular beauty, Sam learned to swim in Lake MacDonald, Erin and I did a bit of minor whitewater rafting (nine in the raft, only I got wet), historic, picturesque lodges.

And finally, a week at the 11-acre Colwitz Estate in Wisconsin that is Valhalla to Sam: he rolls in the acres of grass, runs in the oat field with only his tail visible, poops where he wants, swims in The Lake That Gene Dug, and runs free without leash at all times. It was a fitting reward for the superb traveler and camper that he was; he's now a confirmed Western Mountain Dog.

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