All posts by Cheryl

The Cars of Cuba!


The cars of Cuba are one of the most fascinating sights for visitors from America–150,000 US “yank tanks” were sold in Cuba in the 1950s, and about 60,000 of them are still on the roads.  It feels like a time warp!

Why visit Cuba now?  Things are changing–but there is no way to tell if that change will initially be a good thing.  Or what it will mean to the experience of going to Cuba.  Right now, due to the coincidence of events in history, Cuba is a place unique in all the world.  If Cuba holds interest for you, I would encourage you to consider going soon.  If the cars are a particular interest, I would urge you go experience it!

These are photos from our trip there last November.  If you are interested in joining us on our next trip, Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures departing February 7, 2015, contact me for information through this website.  Some space is still available, but there is a limit of just 20 participants!  For a short video and more information on the trip opportunity, see








Echidna in Australia

These are pictures of Echidna from my last visit to Australia.  The first one is in the wild, and you can see his beak to the upper left.  The others are taken in the Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney–a great place!  I’ve always thought they were cute and have seen them several times in New South Wales.DSC_4489 DSC_6341 DSC_6345 DSC_6351

Join us for a cultural-exchange experience in Cuba!

You will fall in love with Cuba–the music and movement, the make-it-work determination, the time-travel experience of the old American cars.  It’s an experience that stays with you, and one that gives you a new understanding of the life of the Cuban people.  This trip in particular is designed to provide interactions with people in an intentional and meaningful way–a very unique opportunity at this moment in time.

Our trip dates are being confirmed as February 7-18, 2015.  Please contact me for details on joining this licensed, People-to-People journey–space is available for only a few more travelers.  Highlights will include stays in 2 Havana locations, as well as nights in Cien Fuegos and Trinidad, providing a broader experience of the country.  Also included is a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s home, Finca Vigia.

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The world in a blink — had to share this!

Check this out!!! Awesome!!!

Two minute time lapse photos.
Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a video production. He chose history as a theme and tucked it all into two minutes. Took pictures from the Internet, added the sound track MindHeist by Zack Hemsey (from the movie Interception) and then you get something like this. It’s an intense ride, fasten your seat belt.  Joe Bush surely got a A for effort
Full screen—Volume on

Hang on to your seat, and don’t blink


Step back to 1960–in Cuba!

Cuba is a place unique in the world.  Because of the timing and circumstances of history, there is no place like it.  And when you realize how close it is to the United States, the experience of Cuba is even more striking.

Our tour to Cuba departs just about 12 months from now, February 10, 2015.  Please take a look at the short video about this trip, through the link below:

I do believe now is the time to go to Cuba.  Change is coming, and to see what we have all heard about–the 1950s American cars everywhere, the music, and the cultural strength of the Cuban people–now is the time to go.  This People-to-People opportunity provides a depth of experience that will be unforgettable.

This is a small group experience–a maximum of 20 people.  It will fill quickly–contact me soon to hold your space with a deposit of $500.  All deposits are fully refundable until 65 days prior to the trip–so it is no-risk to hold your space.






First Announcement! Visit Cuba in February, 2015!


There is a mystery surrounding Cuba for Americans.  It’s an unknown, and inaccessible destination for us–until recently.  Now, through specially licensed People-to People programs, it is possible to experience Cuba for a rich and meaningful cultural exchange.  John & I had the opportunity to sample this experience recently, and are excited to make it available in February 2015.  It was one of the most interesting and fun trips I have ever taken!

Havana is just 90 miles from Miami–but a world away.  To visit Cuba now is to step back to the 1950s.  It is a place on the cusp of major change, in yet-unknown ways.  The chance to go to Cuba now is the opportunity to go to a place unique in the world.  The cars, the music and art, the people–all part of the authentic view of Cuban life today in this rare journey.

This tour will be limited to 18, and there is no doubt that it will fill very quickly.  Registration will be open soon.  If you are interested, I would encourage making a deposit as soon as possible to reserve your space.  Contact me for more information.



 DSC_9385Havana 2013

Essence of the Elbe: Berlin to Prague in October, 2014

Berlin and Prague are two of the most vibrant cities in the world, with rich history and important roles today. We will be visting them, and several other fascinating destinations next October 19-31, 2014 with Grand Circle Travel’s Essence of the Elbe–and space is still available.  Sponsored by Portland, Oregon First United Methodist Church Travelers, this tour includes our favorite way to travel:  7 nights cruising on the Elbe River.  There is also the opportunity to extend the trip to Warsaw & Krakow, Poland, or a pre-trip to Hamburg, Germany.  Take a look at the video below for a preview of the tour!
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Come join the First Church Travelers Elbe River Cuise

A limited number of cabins are still available, and I can provide booking information.  Our Grand Circle Travel code for this trip is G4-24499 to be included with our group. Flights from your nearest airport can be arranged.

The Islands of New England in September, 2013—a few spaces still available!




New England’s miles of sandy beaches, majestic coasts, and rolling surf invite relaxation. The Islands of New England tour spends nine days exploring New England’s charms, from the cobblestone streets of Nantucket to a traditional cranberry bog. Step back in time at Plimoth Plantation. Enjoy a lobster feast and a gourmet meal on the Cape Cod Dinner Train. Visit Boston and Providence, the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, the lively artist colony of Provincetown and the beautiful islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  Staying in just 2 hotels, this tour will give you a chance to see classic sights of America and not feel rushed! We have actually added a day to the tour, to allow travel time and a day of leisure prior to the beginning of the brochure itinerary.

Departing September 12, 2013, and returning on September 20th, this tour is sponsored by First Church Travelers of First United Methodist Church, Portland, OR.  All travelers are welcome, and flight arrangements can be coordinated from your preferred airport.  The tour is provided through Collette Vacations, one of the original US tour companies, founded in 1918. You will find that this tour will provide an outstanding experience for a very reasonable cost. Just $2479 including air (and the extra day) out of Portland, OR, rates are available for arrangements from your airport–and may even be less!

A few spaces are still available on this great tour!  Contact me for information.

A most memorable moment on my 2007 river cruise in Russia was during our visit to Uglich.  When we left the ship for our tour, several elderly women were near the dock hoping to sell flowers to the passengers.  One of them struck me as the classic image of a Russian “babushka”–grandmother.  With her traditionally-patterned headscarf, and the character in her weathered face, I knew I wanted her picture.

I motioned a question:  “May I take your picture?”  A quick shake of her head told me no.  But I persisted, and she finally agreed to a solemn photo.  Then she began to tell me, with no common language, that the reason she didn’t want her photo taken was because she had no teeth.  I learned that the cost for her to get teeth was very expensive, and she would never be able to do that.  As we “conversed”, I tried to tell her that I thought she had a such beautiful face, and that she was lovely.  I hoped she knew what I was trying to communicate.

When I returned from touring Uglich, I decided I wanted to buy a bouquet of Lily-of-the-Valley from her, and found her sitting at a bench near where we had met.  She did remember me, and handed me the flowers.  But when I tried to pay her for them, she refused to take the money.  She gave me more than the gift of the flowers that day!






Alexandra,  2007


When the opportunity to return to Russia with a Grand Circle river cruise in May 2012, I decided to take a couple of prints of the photo with me.  Just hoping that I would have the chance to give them to my friend in Uglich, but knowing the odds were slim.  I’d shared my story and the photo with another passenger, and during our walking tour in Uglich she was excited to tell me she’d seen “my lady”.  But I knew from her photo that it wasn’t “my” lady.  After finishing our tour and souvenir shopping, John & I headed back toward the Tikki Don.

And there she was–I knew her immediately.  I knew she wouldn’t recognize me, but her pleasure in receiving the photo was obvious!  We tried to communicate, but the language barrier made it so difficult.  Again, she gave me a bouquet of flowers and refused to let me pay.  As we walked away, she hurried to show another “flower lady” her photo!

At John’s suggestion, I rushed to the ship to see if a staff person could come help with translation, and Anastassia, the Cruise Director, agreed to come for a moment.  And we found that my friend’s name is Alexandra.

Alexandra’s first reaction to learning that the photo was taken 5 years earlier was “And I am still here.”  Alexandra is now 87 years old.  The main thing she had been trying to say to us was that she wanted to invite us to come and stay at her home.  And what could she give us?  She had preserves and other things she’d like to give us.  What could she give us?

Anastassia was near tears.  She was reminded so much of her own grandmother, and what a hard life the older people had in Russia.  They have barely enough to get by, and medical care is very hard to get.  But Anastassia knew that Alexandra would not accept money from us, and if she did it would likely be given to others.  I gave Alexandra my card, and she said that her granddaughter could help her write to me–and what could she send me??  I finally agreed that it would be lovely to have a scarf like she was wearing, and I would look forward to hearing from her.  I so hope that I will hear from her, and be able to write back–maybe with a little gift!

One of the most striking things we learned, though, was that Alexandra had been ill.  This was the first day she had been out selling flowers.

The thing about traveling the world is that some of the most memorable and meaningful moments come in the unexpected connection with a person.  Your understanding of life in that place deepens, and your memory of that place will always carry their image.  How amazing that Alexandra has touched my life twice.  I hope I have the opportunity to let her know how much she means to me.

Fall 2012 trip to the French Riviera now taking reservations!

You may have received a brochure describing a terrific little tour I am making available next fall—based in Nice, France.  I would like to invite those in the area to attend a slide presentation next Monday, March 19 at 11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church, Portland, OR to learn more about this opportunity. If you are not in Portland, however, you are still invited to join in the tour!

This trip has been specially priced for us by Collette Vacations, at just $2,899–including round-trip air from Portland!  (Departures and pricing from other cities are available upon request.)

Staying in just one hotel, and exploring the area from there will be a wonderful, relaxing pre-holiday experience–and a lovely trip to do with friends!

I hope to see you Monday!  For additional information, please drop me a note!


Discover the French Riviera

Featuring an unpack-once seven night stay in Nice

A 9-day tour, November 1-9, 2012

A Slide presentation will be held at 1st United Methodist

1838 SW Jefferson, Portland, OR  in the Fireside Room: 

Monday, March 19th, at 11:00 AM

  •  Enjoy a leisurely stay in the French Riviera, in the Mediterranean city of Nice.  Called Nice la Bella, meaning Nice the Beautiful, it has been a resort destination for hundreds of years.
  •  Along with time to explore Nice on your own, we will venture out to:
    •  San Remo, the luxurious capital of the Italian Riviera.
    •  St. Jean-Cap-Ferrat, and tour the Rothschild Villa and Gardens.
    •  The ancient port town and Provencal Market of Antibes.
    •  St. Paul De Vence, a medieval hilltop town, the inspiration of artists.
    •  Explore the fairy-tale principality of Monaco…and more!
  •  You will appreciate the benefits of Whisper Headsets, designed for better communication between you and your guides throughout the tour.
  •  Enjoy regional wine with each of the 4 included dinners.
  •  See artisans create perfume at the Fragonard Parfumerie in Grasse.
  •  There will be time to visit galleries, find fabulous restaurants and shops, or just enjoy simply relaxing!
  •  You may decide to extend your stay with an optional 4-day post tour stay in Paris!
Brochures and additional information available at your request.  If you are interested in an on-line presentation of the slide show, please contact me.