This is an online version of our annual Christmas Letter. If you want to see the photos from any of our trips, click on the appropriate link. The links are in bold to help you find them.
Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2010
We hope that you survived 2009 and are looking forward to good things in 2010! We entered 2009 in a unique way- on a plane to Australia. We were never sure, what with International Date Lines and all, exactly when we got to the New Year, but we skipped New Year’s Day entirely as we sipped champagne on the plane. The day before we spent with our Africa tour friends Vickie and Marijan who showed us the construction of their town’s Rose Parade float and drove us down the main drag where people were already preparing to camp out overnight to get a great parade viewing spot.
In Australia we visited Sydney where we toured the Opera House and walked the Harbor Bridge. We walked all over the city, seeing Featherstone Animal Park, trees full of chattering bats, historic buildings and markets. Then it was on to Cairns where we cruised out to an island and snorkeled over the Barrier Reef, marveling at the coral which outshone the fish for variety and color. We finished our trip in Melbourne where we toured the city and did a walkabout and saw kangaroos, wallabies, emus, and koalas in the treetops. We also went to the Penguin Parade, a spectacle where hundreds of Little Blue Penguins come out of the sea at sundown and scurry to their burrows on land.
Then it was on to New Zealand where we spent several days seeing the sights of Christchurch. At the Antarctic Center we experienced a recreated Antarctic blizzard. South Pole explorers train and leave from there and many artifacts from early exploration were in the museum. We traveled from there to Milford Sound where we went on a fiord cruise and saw lots of waterfalls- a bonus for having to put up with the rain earlier that day. Queenstown is the adventure center of New Zealand’s South Island and we watched bungee jumpers and saw the super fast speedboats that thunder their way through steep walled river canyons. The old gold mining town of Arrowtown was very interesting and Sandy had to once more try her hand at panning for gold, and once again come up empty. We finished our trip in Auckland where we went to the Maori museum and saw a Maori music and dance performance. Because we had spent time in Auckland on a previous trip we spent our last day on Waiheke, an island off the coast where we wandered around beaches and had a lovely day.
Back in North Carolina we continued tutoring at the local elementary school, walking beaches and generally had a laid back time. We got the opportunity to take a house full of almost new carpet out of a house that was being adapted to accommodate a woman in a wheelchair, so within three weeks or so, we had ripped up all the old dusty pink carpet in the house and replaced it with lovely carpeting. We also built another storage building on the lot to hold tools and overflow from the house. Dick did many birdwatching activities, especially with the Cape Fear Audubon Society which he became treasure of. Bob Cole and Wanda, our neighbor, each made trips down to stay with us for a week and it’s always fun to show people around.
Sandy came back north in March for the very exciting arrival on March 23rd of her first grandchild, Liam Robert Burrows, a 9 pound + healthy little boy who took his time arriving, but has been a joy ever since. She’s as gooney as she thought she’d be over this beautiful blond good natured child! So are Christy and John!
At the end of April Dick’s son Rick and his family joined us once more at a beach house on Sunset Beach and we had a great time, including a dolphin cruise and a trip to Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.
In May we went back to Hawaii and spent a lovely week exploring Maui, snorkeling and enjoying the lovely What a Wonderful World Bed and Breakfast we’d booked over the internet. En route to visit my sister Chris, we spent a great day with my nephew Rob’s family, Andrea, Bailey, Kelcie and Kai, on Oahu, eating delicious Thai food and excellent shave ice, snorkeling, and enjoying seeing them all again. Rob was, unfortunately in Missouri attending classes. The week at Chris and Bill’s was spent sightseeing, snorkeling, and enjoying revisiting restaurants and areas we visited in past trips. Kauai is certainly close to paradise! On the way back, we stopped off with Cindy and Chris and enjoyed hiking in the hills, attending a New England Lobster Roast in sunny California, and walking through their charming town of Half Moon Bay.
The summer passed by quickly and coolly. We drove to Kennebunk once a week to babysit with Liam while Christy got back into her counseling practice. She’s working three days a week now, not enjoying being away from the baby, but financial realities plus available grandparents allows her to work without many worries about Liam.
In September we flew to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. The thermal activity in the area is unbelievable and we saw Old Faithful erupt each of the four days we spent in the park. The different park areas are amazing, from the Yellowstone Grand Canyon to Mammoth Hot Springs. The animal life (buffalo, elk, coyote, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep) was everywhere and it was wonderful to see them all in their natural habitat. We enjoyed several days in Jackson and in Cody where the Buffalo Bill Museum was outstanding.
This fall we enjoyed the beaches, birding, kayaking, and pecan gathering once more. We gave a talk on New Zealand at the Museum of Coastal Carolina with another couple who house sat there for almost a year. Then, as is our custom, we headed back north for the holidays, hosting Thanksgiving and looking forward to Christmas.
Christy and John are kept busy running after Liam and working.
Rob is just finishing up his semester at UNH majoring in Geology, working very hard and doing very well, with three classes than have labs as well. He had a bout with swine flu, as did Christy and Liam, but all cases were mild. But Rob’s did put him in a position to feel like he has to sprint to the finish line now.
Cindy still loves her work at Electronic Arts as we can better appreciate after touring their fantastic facilities with her. She and Chris vacationed in Italy this fall.
Rick buys houses at auction, refurbishes them and resells them, which keeps him very busy. Michelle is still teaching and enjoying it. Ricky became a teenager this fall and Randy has recovered from a broken arm which somewhat hampered his fun in NC since he couldn’t go in the water.
Heather is in Nepal, studying Buddhism and Tibetan Language at the university in Katmandu.
We’re sure 2009 will not be remembered in history books as a great year, but we hope it treated you kindly and gently! All our best for the holidays and the coming New Year! Sandy and Dick
Sandy and Dick
PS- Photos of everything and everybody are available at our website-dicksandy.org