Back in the Good Ol’ USA

November 2013 – January 2014 (Houston, Austin, San Diego, Utah, Colorado):

We flew from South Africa back to Houston and spent a wonderful two nights at Patrick and Beau’s house where David caught up on the news and was nearly smothered by Spaniels:

We also got to catch up with some friends and former colleagues from SG before we headed to Austin for Thanksgiving.

We were super excited to see Pancha when we got to my mom’s house near Austin. To be honest, we had been worried. We were gone for 10 weeks and, at her advanced age, that’s a very long time.

Kisses for me

Fortunately, my parents took really great care of her, getting her acupuncture and laser treatments frequently, and she was still trucking.

David’s mom joined us for the holiday and we had some great food.

Would you like some pumpkin cheesecake with your whipped cream?

After lots of turkey, we headed to Shreveport to see the Hansils for the weekend and then drove back across Texas to El Paso. Which took 14 hours. I had not driven across Texas in about 30 years and I’m happy to wait another 30 to do it again.

After filling up on some great Tex-Mex, we headed across New Mexico where the landscape always looked like a watercolor.

We got to San Diego to trade out summer for winter gear at Mark and Julie’s place, and also to do some renovations to Tigger. I changed the loud Suburban propane furnace for the quieter and more efficient Propex HS2800. We also took out the original toilet, capped the black water tank, and installed a composting toilet.

After a quick detour through Los Angeles to see Kathy, Adriano, Elisabeth & Sean, Kalpana & Rory, and the Giffords, we headed for Colorado. We had free passes to ski at Brian’s Head Resort in southern Utah, which is only 12 miles off I-15 on the route from Los Angeles to Colorado, so we stopped off there for our first day of skiing this season.

The drive across Utah was gorgeous.

We spent Christmas in the Aspen-Snowmass area with Brett, Mark and Julie. Super fun times.

Snowmass got some new snow and they opened some new terrain, so David and I headed there. On a steep section near some trees, a hidden stump caught David’s ski and he flew head first into a tree. We were reminded why we wear helmets.
David and I also got to have dinner in Snowmass with the federal judge for whom I clerked after law school and her family, which was a really nice surprise.
From Snowmass, we headed to spend New Year’s with Pete and Erin at Copper Mountain, which had the best snow around.
Pete showed us some of his secret stashes on the mountain and we had some great days of skiing. Pete and David figured out at one point that they hadn’t skied together since 1996. Way too long.
Pancha enjoyed her time at Pete and Erin’s house in Leadville, taking a particular liking to this bean bag that we dubbed the “donut.”
David likes the donut too.

Pancha has been having more and more trouble keeping traction when walking, especially with her back legs. So we got her some shoes which definitely helped.

P also did some yoga with me.

Pete and Erin are awesome people.  All who know Erin will not be surprised to hear that she is a very talented woman. One of those talents, which she didn’t even know she had until now, is cutting hair while drinking wine.

Perhaps amazingly, both of our haircuts turned out great. And only three bottles of wine were emptied during the process.

After another week of more snowfall, David and I headed back to Snowmass to meet Jayashree for more skiing.

Pancha had more trouble navigating the snow than usual but still seemed to enjoy it.

She also enjoyed getting lots of love from all three of us.

And we had an epic day of skiing where it dumped all day long and we had the mountain practically to ourselves. We skied onto every chair – zero lines – and managed to even tire J out. We literally caught the last chair.

After dropping J at the airport, we headed back to Leadville and hoped for more snow.