From Verona, we drove a short 100 kilometers to Modena, Italy to stay a couple days with a friend and her son from Grima’s school days in Chile. It was a treat for Grima to meet Mara after more than 40 years and get to know her son, Dany, who showed us around Modena.   One nice thing about having a car in Italy rather than taking trains or busses, is that we can choose to serendipitously travel and stop in places one normally wouldn’t see. Such was this yellow silo type structure in a field of yellow.   Mara, Dany and Grima on aRead More →

Took a Sunday Drive from Tampa South to see what we could see. Lovely countryside – actually, more like continuous, sparsely populated suburbs and industry. Came to the little community of Auburndale and walked around a bit.   On the corner of Main and W. Park St., is the Baynard House, built in 1894. It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was the home of Ephraim M. Baynard, a prominent real estate developer in the area and owner of one of the first citrus packing plants. It’s beautifully restored. You can imagine the owners sitting out on the porch sunning themselves onRead More →

Still resting up from our Chile trip, and waiting for a Winnebago repair appointment with Camping World of Denton, we took advantage to visit and do things with Andrew and Michelle. It was the last weekend of March with beautiful spring weather. So we headed down to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden on White Rock Creek with Michelle and Canaan (Andrew had to work) to enjoy their opening weekend.   Grima, Mitch and Canaan – Got a wheelchair for Grima as her foot was injured and was hard to walk.     So, more to come. Love to hear what you have to sayRead More →

On New Year’s Day we accompanied Grima’s brother, Victor, and his wife, Silvia, along with Silvia’s mother to place flowers on Silvia’s Father’s grave. Santiago’s general cemetery is located in the community of Independencia, north of downtown and is populated by presidents, generals and other distinguished families of Chile, along with the common population. It is enormous and contains architectural symbols of Chile’s past, and a very interesting way to spend an afternoon wandering the aisles and passageways.     Flower vendor at the West entrance to the cemetery   Siliva with her mother   Victor with his mother-in-law contemplating the past and future  Read More →

After a whirlwind trip we came to the final day in Chile for Michelle, Andrew and Canaan. The flight left close to midnight giving us time to do a little more exploring around Santiago. We took them to the Costanera Center in Providencia, an upscale community of Santiago. It’s the largest shopping mall in South America. From there we went to the Parque Bicentenario just a little ways away in the community of Vitacura. A wonderful way to relax in the summer sun and a beautiful end to their trip to Chile.   When I visited Chile in 2007 I took this picture of theRead More →

Prior to Michelle and Andrew’s departure from Chile. we all got together with family at the house of our nephew, Mauricio. Mauricio and his wife, Nicole, had returned the previous year from a stint in the US while attending Stanford. Mauricio received his doctorate Nicole her Masters.  I remember vividly a previous trip to Chile where I helped Mauro with the application process to get into Stanford. It was very gratifying when he was accepted into the program and came to California, just a short drive from out home in Roseville. This was a chance for most of the family to reconnect with Michelle andRead More →

Temuco is the center of the region known as ‘La Araucania”, the base of the Mapuche indigenous culture in South America. Victor and Silvia have lived there for over 40 years and were they raised their family. We stayed with them in their apartment in Temuco and also in their house in Pucon, at the base of the Villarrica Volcano.   Volcano Villaricca as seen from the tourist town of Pucon, Chile. This is one of the volcanoes that erupted a month after we returned to the US.   The apartment building in Temuco where Victor and Silvia live. We stayed with them for aRead More →

When you go to Huilo Huilo, you can’t miss the Nothofagus Hotel ( One of the most unusual hotels I’ve seen. Outside it seems to merge with the natural environment, a sense that continues inside, especially with the spectacular circular atrium with rooms winding up in a circular path around a large tree taking up the interior space. Almost every square meter of the place makes one feel the outdoors.           Andrew, Michelle and Canaan       In the hotel you’ll see these amazing hand-crafted creatures, reflecting the magical quality of the place. They’re sold branded as “La Magica deRead More →

The Huilo Huilo Natural Reserve covers about 120,000 acres in central Southern Chile in a region known as the Seven Lakes. The reserve, a private ecotourism enterprise, was created in 1999. This was the last location on our day trip from Pucon, Chile, and it was a magical experience. We spent a few hours wandering along the paths around the Nothofagus Hotel, passing amazing waterfalls and through beautiful forests.     Hiking through the woods with Silvia and Victor in front, Canaan and Grima in middle and Andrew and Michelle taking up the rear.   Jon Wilhelmsen   Andrew and Michelle Blackford   Grima Wilhelmsen,Read More →

Grima’s brother, Victor ‘Pitin’ Farías and his wife, Silvia, live in Temuco, Chile, and have a small house in Pucón, Chile. Pucón is a resort town at the base of  Villarrica volcano, which erupted about 3 months after we were there. ( But, it was peaceful while we were there. We spent the night in Temuco and the next morning headed for Pucón where we spent much of the day. Mitch and Andrew with Villarrica Lake and Villarrica Volcano in the background.   Los Pozones is a natural hot springs about 37 km from Pucón towards the Argentine border. There are 7 separate pools andRead More →