Monday, October 30, 2017

The First Week Home From Our Wonderful Vacation

had to battle severe jet lag for the first three or four days upon returning to Camarillo, something that I have not had to do nearly as much on past trips across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west.

First up on the agenda was picking up more donated gear for EuroBall teams in Spain and Italy.

A big THANK YOU to Debi Murphy for letting me borrow her truck in order to make the pick up of the donations much easier.

 The first school donating gear
was Malibu H.S.

The Sharks donated a ton
of shoulder pads . . .

. . . and so did Camarillo H.S.

I can not say thank you enough to Malibu H.S. Head Coach Terry Shorten and Camarillo H.S. Head Coach Jack Willard for helping the game to grow overseas!

Next on the agenda was interviewing Jason Klein, the Head Coach at Newbury Park H.S., and Ryan Huisenga, the Head Coach at Moorpark H.S. about the Friday night Ventura County Star's Game-of-the-Week.

I would once again be doing the color commentary for the podcast. 

Hey, I was just in Italy

And I may be going back again soon.

Game Time

Moorpark Musketeers (7-1) 
Ranked #5 in C.I.F. Division V
Newbury Park Panthers (4-4)
Unranked in C.I.F. Division III

Moorpark was big, physical and really good, the Panthers would have to play a great game in order to win.

Moorpark's Noah Cronquist #14
took this pass to the house!

Moorpark's Alec Powell #30
dives in for SIX!

Newbury Park's QB
Cameron Rising #7 avoiding the rush

Fundamentally, the better team won the game comfortably as the Moorpark Musketeers improved to 8-1 on the season with a convincing 41-28 victory.

The Newbury Park Panthers dropped to 4-5 on the campaign.

On Saturday it was Game Day for the mighty Ninja Sharks, their last Game Day of the year sadly.

 Jacob was ready

One of the parents gave each boy a blue headband for the game.


Mary was there to root on
the Ninja Sharks

Coach Mike with some
last minute strategy

He would have to have his Ninja Sharks playing at peak levels against a group of . . .

 . . . YIKES!

Let the Game Begin!

Jacob marking his man

The Ninja Sharks were mesmerized 
by this All-Stars dance moves

 Then they tried to copy him

Tongue wagging

Mary and the injured
Ninja Shark Joey

Run to the ball!

Ninja Sharks Coaching Staff

One of the Head Coach's
many game time duties

All about the fun

Driving for the goal,
he shoots . . .

. . . HE SCORES!

One happy Ninja Shark!



Death on the Pitch

In the finest European traditions of the game, this All-Star who we all believed to be deceased actually bounced up and played the rest of the game with no noticeable limp.

 Last post-game run-through
tunnel of the season

Fun in the Goal

Mary did not quite
uproot this baseball

On Saturday night we had Jacob for a sleepover.

Jacob checking out
Laurie's many scary pumpkins

No fear of anything
remotely Halloween related

I enjoyed reading the Sunday
comics to Jacob

Monday with Mary

She is so much fun to have in the house twice a week!

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

Another GREAT read
from Peter May!

If you like suspense/mystery novels, then you really need to start reading one of the many tomes by Scottish writer Peter May.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Mad Rush to Come Home

Tuesday, October 24, 2017:

Our time in Italy and France was finally over after two incredible weeks of traveling, sight seeing and memory building with great friends.

Only one thing left to do on the agenda, catch our flights home to Los Angeles.

We did have one small problem, Loren and Sandy were leaving from the gigantic Charles de Gaulle Airport for London's Heathrow Airport via a British Air flight at about 7:30 a.m.

Laurie and I were also heading to Heathrow via British Air but on an 8:05 a.m. flight out of Paris' smaller Orly Airport.

Once at Heathrow, we would once again re-unite for our flight to LAX on a British Air A380 Airbus. We were going to even sit together on in row 27's middle four seats.

It would be a fun way to pass the final ten hours of our European vacation.

But first, we had to find two taxis to get us to our respective airports.

Out the door into the mean streets
of Paris at 4:15 a.m.

I walked Loren and Sandy down to the taxi stand two blocks away from our apartment to make sure that they got a taxi to Charles de Gaulle Airport at a solid price.

This guy snuck up on us just
before we got to the taxi stand

Thankfully, he was not a mugger.

 This is Loren's look at 4:15 a.m.

Mine was no better at this ungodly hour.

They were off in plenty of time to catch their flight.

I felt a little as if I had just sent off our two kids to college for the first time.

Laurie and I were now empty nesters.

I walked back to the apartment to pick up Laurie and return to the same taxi stand to get our ride to Orly Airport about 15 minutes after saying au revoir to the Bruckers.

Laurie led the way

We found our taxi easily enough and were off for the traffic free, 20 minute ride to Orly. Things were going great!

Only two people were in line at check-in at Orly but we did hit a minor bump. It was 5:20 a.m. and the Security Gates did not open until 6:00 a.m.

Only one thing to do . . .


A delicious petit déjeuner

The ads for this movie were
all over Paris . . . interesting

Going through Security was a breeze, whoosh . . .

. . . We were off! 

We did enjoy the flight to Heathrow

 Now it was time for
the flight to LAX

But where were Loren and Sandy who should have arrived at Heathrow at least 40 minutes before us?

You leave the kids alone just for a minute or two . . .

As it turned out, their flight from Paris was delayed due to a tire problem. Thus, they missed our shared flight but did get aboard the 2:00 p.m. flight out of Heathrow to LAX.

A bump in the road to be sure that they were able to overcome like the seasoned travelers that they had become.

 Laurie and I flying our version of
the Missing Man Formation

We spread out to take full advantage of our now half empty row.


A thank you to Koreen FitzGerald is in order for picking us up at LAX where the temperature was 38°C/100°F on October 24th!

Global warming is a myth, right?

Laurie and I can not say MERCI enough to Mark and Susie Johnson for organizing this great trip!

We also had so much fun showing off Lyon, Rome and Paris to Loren and Sandy, our college roommates, who were first time visitors to the Continent.

The highlight of our travels had to be seeing Sandy's face when we toured the small, hilltop village of Mombarruzo, Italy where her grandparents were born.



Finally, here are a few more photos of our trip that came from the cameras of Sandy and Laurie that I thought you might like.

Sandy's Photos from Normandy

With Mark

 The Emotions of Mark's
Dad surviving D-Day at nearby
Omaha Beach got to Mark

At Utah Beach where
Loren's Dad landed on D-Day

Loren and . . .

 . . . Mark pointing to . . .

. . . the wonderful tributes to their
Dads that the owner of the
Le Roosevelt cafe/bar just 100 meters
from Utah Beach insisted that
they leave behind

Laurie's Photos of the Trip

Our Airbnb room in a 700 year
old home in Mombarruzo, Italy

With Sandy's new found
Cousin Luigi in Mombarruzo

St. Catharine in Roma
near Castel Sant'Angelo

 Papal Mass on
St. Peter's Square

Find shade where you can
on a hot Roman Sunday

Waving to Pope Francis
as he enters the Square after
Mass was over

Bernini's Canopy over the Main
Altar in St. Peter's Basilica

Pope Gregory XIII

She took this illegal photo
of Pope John XXIII reposing
in St. Peter's Basilica
 Sandy studying St. Peter's
Basilica's Door

 Swiss Guards on duty
at the Vatican

 The iconic Roman Colosseum

Cobble Stones

Great to set the atmosphere in Rome and Paris but hard on the feet when strolling.

 Da Vinci's masterpiece
The Pieta

Chiara, Thiago and happy
Dad Bart Iaccarino
at our final dinner in Roma

Also at our dinner in Roma

The Paris Metro Map

We referred to these huge maps throughout the City of Lights on more than one occasion.

The iconic Eiffel Tower

 An iconic Parisian Carousel

Two icons together

Notre Dame Cathedral

How many iconic structures does Paris have?


Cherry Beer is right up
Laurie's alley

Cruising the River Seine

Near the Pont Neuf

N is for Napoleon

Looking down the spiral
staircase at our Paris
Airbnb apartment

 We did laundry here twice in
Paris just around the corner
from our apartment

The Arc de Triumph

The French Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier at the
Arc de Triomphe

At the Sacré-Cœur Basilica
in Montmartre

Sandy and Loren were respectful as I sent photos of the day to their families back in California.

Place de la Concorde

 The Eiffel Tower
at dusk . . .

. . . and at night

 More wine in the evening

 The Bastille Metro Stop

Crown at the Louvre

Such detail

 I told Laurie that I would give
her these on our
100th wedding anniversary

The good Lord willing . . .

Winged Victory

Leonardo Da Vinci's
The Virgin of the Rocks

We checked the back of it for any remaining "Da Vinci Code" clues but it had been wiped clean.

The Mona Lisa

Probably Da Vinci's most famous painting.

At the Louvre you will often see
cultured critics like these two at
the lower right in heated discussions
over the relative merits of a 
particular work of art

Vegetable Art
by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

What, more wine?

A steamer trunk can have many
uses in a Parisian apartment

The start of the stairway
in our Paris Apartment

Breakfast discussions with
Dan Spriesterbach were fun

Fireplaces in kitchens 
are a must in Paris

As are cane baby chairs

Mini-Statue of Liberty
in the d'Orsay Museum

After all, the one standing tall and proud in New York's harbor was a gift from the people of France in 1886.

Amazing . . .

. . . truly amazing

I need to wear some grapes
in my hair too





Well isn't he just dandy!

Guardian Angel

The French tricolor dazzling
in the morning sunlight

Sainte-Chapelle Rose Window

Gate in front of . . .

. . . the French Supreme
Court building

Chain, chain, chain . . .

The Galeries Lafayette's
fabulous dome . . .

. . . above its many stories . . .

Looking down into the
Galeries Lafayette

Sometimes this was the best
spot for wifi reception in our
Paris apartment

A lamp

Our room in Paris
had a name

So did Loren and Sandy's


Chandeliers for sale at an
outdoor street market . . .

. . . Indoors too

Susie and Laurie
hard at work on another
bottle of wine


And I even lost 1.5 kilos/3.3 lbs. on this wonderful two week adventure to boot!