December 2015

Frohe Weihnachten, Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale

This past year involved travel, travel, and more travel. We took two one week dive trips (Socorro and Bonaire) and a short hop across the pond for five backpacking weeks around Europe, where we took 8,547 photos, walked 1,226,989 steps, and travelled on trains, metros, tubes, boats, and no planes! That left no time for home improvement projects.

Our first foray was to the Revillagigedos Archipelago (a.k.a. Socorro Islands) on the Roccio del Mar, a liveaboard dive boat. This rock is 200 miles (24 hour boat ride) south/west of Cabo San Lucas. The focus of this trip was big critters – think humpback whales, sharks, Pacific Manta Ray, and Dolphins. The highlights of the trip was spending 20 minutes with a friendly pod of dolphins and multiple interactions with the huge Pacific Manta Rays.

Our next little jaunt was a 5 week European excursion. Our last visit to this part of the world was our 5th anniversary as diving here is scarce. The impetus for this trip was Mike’s parent’s 50th anniversary and a celebratory family Mediterranean cruise. As both of our work was in a lull, we elected to spend as much time there as possible. Mike borrowed vacation to the limit (he’s almost out of the hole) while Lori took her sabbatical.

We started with a week in London where we toured the normal touristy sights, we watched Wicked, and followed fabulous internet advice for seeing all aspects of the changing of the guard. From London, we Chunneled to France and toured Normandy. It was sobering to see the price paid for this beachhead and amazing the allies actually pulled the landing off. We then trained to Paris where we stayed at a little apartment near the metro. We had fun with the locals on how to pronounce “brOWnie”, enjoyed Hayden and Vivaldi in St Chappelle, and ran around Paris at night (into the morning) to obtain iconic photos of the Louvre, Arc de Triumph, Sacre Coer, and the Eiffel Tower.

After Paris, we hopped a high speed train to Barcelona to meet up with Mike’s family for two weeks aboard the Island Princess and visited ports in Southern France, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. After a couple extra days enjoying the Venezian sites, we said adios to the family and boarded the Bernina Express heading for Switzerland. We lollygagged high in the Swiss Alps in the town of Mürren. It was absolutely amazing, peaceful, and incredibly beautiful. We spent our days waking up, having breakfast, “wanderwegging” around, then back for a fabulous sunset on our balcony with beer and wine. We concluded our trip in Laussane (Lake Geneva) before heading home. It was an incredible trip and we are planning to go back to Switzerland when there is more snow and less tourists.

For our 21st anniversary we flew back to Bonaire (6th time). We dove the east side with Bas Tol, who pointed out all sorts of things we never would have found (including a 1mm baby drum fish). We dove the northern part of the Bonaire for the first time. The healthy marine life up north was marvelous; with a mixture of hard and soft coral and abundant fish life. The trip reinforced why we continue going back – great diving on our own schedule. Ahhhhh…..

What is life without unexpected twists and turns? This year, Jim (Lori’s mom’s beau of 21+ years) has been battling colon cancer. The end of his chemotherapy/radiation regimen is in sight. Yippee! His condition reinforces our philosophy of “work to live” and enjoy every day. Speaking of cancer, on Jan 18, Mike will be 17 years cancer free.

Work keeps us busy and (more importantly) pays for our vacations. ☺ We’re both breaking in new managers after getting the old ones into shape. Mike’s job is finally transitioning from documentation to test and is enjoying the new challenges and responsibilities. Lori is still leading high end server platforms. Her product, when launched, will be the largest super computer in the world. No pressure there…..

The boys, Marleau and Murray, turn 11 this year. Marleau is still “big-boned”, and enjoys his food, pats, and “his” bed (we disagree). Murray is his svelte self, loves to walk in front of the monitor when we are on the computer, and will start trying to get us to go to bed at 9pm, even though bedtime is closer to 11pm….

Next year we are planning two dive trips – location is TBD. We also intend to finally rip out and remodel the main bath (being out of the country made it a bit of an untenable challenge this year).

We hope you have a safe, healthy, and wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! Feel free to email us at or visit us (inluding dive and Europe pictures!) at


Mike, Lori, Marleau, & Murray