August 24 From 30,000 feet

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The Adventure finally begins! I am writing from 30,000 feet on our Iberia flight from Chicago to Malaga!

The past 2 months have been a blur! Preparing for a year abroad seems to have taken every spare moment in the past several weeks.   There were many parties and goodbyes.  Mike’s office threw him a pot luck lunch.  Not quite sure what typical Spanish dress was, they gave him a Zorro hat and mask, a chile pepper necklace and maracas to carry around!  I am sure his assistant Secret and all the doctors and nurses will miss him!

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ZORRO and his assistant Secret! 

My office threw a Dos Coyotes luncheon complete with a sheet cake!  My assistant Lana had everyone sign a giant card and they gave me a generous Athleta gift card so that I could stock up on cool running gear for the coming year of trail running around Alhama de Granada!

THE SHEET CAKE

THE SHEET CAKE

Sweet Lana! Miss you!

Sweet Lana! Miss you!

A few months ago we decided that we all need some help with our Spanish. If life wasn’t busy enough we invited Carolina, a lovely young woman from Sevilla to come to be our Au Pair/Spanish teacher for our last 6 weeks in California.  Carolina is 22 and in her last year at the Universidad de Sevilla. She is studying to be a teacher. She was lovely and patiently gave Sky and Savannah Spanish lessons while we were at work.   They learned games that the children are likely to play on the playground and common Spanish songs.  Over dinner she would politely correct our grammar and California-Spanish slang.  We had lots of fun showing her around Folsom, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco.  Sky and Savannah taught her Californian English and how to dance with the  Wii.

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Bienvenidos Carolina

At the end of July our Spanish Visas were approved by el gobierno de Espana.  Opening the e-mail was like getting an acceptance letter to college. What a relief.  It was quite a saga to get all of the documents for the Spanish consulate (I’ll describe that in another post…) but we did it!  Now we can live legally in Spain for the year without worries.  The entire family was required to present themselves to the Consulate in San Francisco so we made our 4th and finally trip to the Consulate.  We felt like celebrating so we decided to spend some extra time and reserved a room at the Villa Florence in Union Square.   We hadn’t really spent any time as tourists in San Francisco so it was a good chance to show Carolina around.  We explored Chinatown, Fisherman’s wharf, the Academy of Sciences, the Japanese gardens and walked 1/2 way across the Golden Gate bridge.  We ate a late dinner Spanish style and Sky and Savvy fell asleep in the booth.   It was an exhausting but satisfying trip as we left with our passports with a new official page.

Chinatown!

Chinatown!

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Checking out the Koi fish in theThe Japanese Gardens

Checking out the Koi fish in theThe Japanese Gardens

A butterfly lands on a Savannah flower in the rainforest at the Academy of Sciences

A butterfly lands on a Savannah flower in the rainforest at the Academy of Sciences

The Golden Gate Bridge Yes, it is August!  It was so cold we wore all the clothes we brought!

The Golden Gate Bridge
Yes, it is August! It was so cold we wore all the clothes we brought!

Our last couple of weeks were dominated with packing and closing down the house.  Mike had a 50 point checklist compliments of the Arizona Snowbirds and pages of notes for how to organize our finances, bills, re-routing mail and planning for an easy return next July.  We made the rounds to doctors and dentists.  It’s funny how leaving makes a person remember that it’s been 3 years since my last pap smear (thanks, Janel!) and 17 years since Mike’s last eye exam.  After all the visits we had a clean bill of health, Sky had 2 vaccines, Mike has new glasses to wear for night driving and Savvy had 2 teeth pulled.  Savannah’s trip to the dentist 2 days before the flight was the most dramatic.  Dr. Jenny ordered a panoramic x-ray and noticed that Savvy’s incisors were not coming in properly.  Her adult incisors were pushing on 2 other adult teeth so she recommended pulling the baby incisors.  Savvy was very brave and promised to rest the remainder of the day.  Well at least until gymnastics practice!  She and Sky had a meet the next day so she couldn’t miss practice.  Luckily her mouth didn’t really hurt and the bleeding had stopped by the time that she needed to tumble!   We had specifically planned to leave on August 18 so that Sky and Savannah would at least get to participate in the first meet of the season.   Both girls performed brilliantly!

Savannah focusing before her event

Savannah focusing before her event

Savannah and her best buddy Arya

Savannah and her best buddy Arya

Sky and Savannah with their buddy Megan

Sky and Savannah with their buddy Megan

For one last goodbye Janel, Linda, Lindalee, Sarah and Cathie took me out dancing in El Dorado Hills.  Cathie’s daughter informed her that “that place is for old people”.  Great, we thought, they will have just the right music.  And they did, when Linda requested Journey the DJ immediately played a dance version of “Don’t Stop Believin”!

Leslie, Cathie, Janel, Sarah, Linda and Lindalee

Leslie, Cathie, Janel, Sarah, Linda and Lindalee

Sky has already posted her version of the day we left Folsom. It did seem unbelievable that we were actually climbing into the shuttle and leaving the house behind.  Mike did literally seal the house.  The front door is sealed with duct tape and the toilets are wrapped in plastic wrap!  Kathryn came by for one last run in the morning and we quickly finished up the packing.

We spent the next 6 days in Chicago visiting my family.  It was my Grampy Harley’s 98th birthday so we were lucky to be there to celebrate.

Grampy Harley, born in 1915!  You look great Grampy!

Grampy Harley, born in 1915! You look great Grampy!

My brother Russell who lives in Brooklyn was there with his wife and new baby son, Ansel.

Sweet baby Ansel Harley Whitmore

Sweet baby Ansel Harley Whitmore

Ansel with his Mom and Dad (Sara and Russell)

Ansel with his Mom and Dad (Sara and Russell)

 

My aunt Bev drove up with my Grandma Ann who is 93.  We spent the day with my Dad and had a lovely visit.

Dad (David), Grammy Ann and Leslie

Dad (David), Grammy Ann and Leslie

Sky, Savvy and I spent an evening with my high school buddies Susy and Aimee and their children.

Front row: Savannah, Sky, James, Kelsee Back row: Jenna, Shelbiee, Aimee, Susy, Zoee, Leslie

Front row: Savannah, Sky, James, Kelsee
Back row: Jenna, Shelbiee, Aimee, Susy, Zoee, Leslie

We drove into Chicago on Friday night and ate at Flaco Loco with my good friend Jena and her husband Sam and daughter Athena.  I hadn’t seen her in years but the time instantly dissolved and we were right back to where we had left off.

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This morning Mom and Dave drove us to the airport. They helped us get our many bags to the Iberia counter, gave us hugs and waved to us as we stood in the security line.

Hugs for Grammy

Hugs for Grammy

Hugs for Grampy

Hugs for Grampy

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And here we are flying over the Atlantic!  Flying on Iberia is a bit like stepping right into Spain.  The flight attendants addressed us in Spanish which delighted me.  We all had a long laugh when the flight attendants offered us dinner.  In contrast to my travels in India where on a flight you are offered veg or non-veg.  On Iberia we were offered meat or the other meat.  Our dinner was served with real silverware and cute little bottles of red wine (tint rojo).     SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We are here now so the next post will include lots of pictures of our first week in Spain.   Remember to log in and register as a follower so that you will get an e-mail when we publish a post!

13 responses »

  1. Sounds great…and Stage 9 of the Vuelta de Espana is right in your neck of the woods….Antequera – Valdepeñas de Jaén 163.7km. You can watch Chris Horner…an inspiration to all of us 40 year olds everywhere! Hope you all had a great flight. Vamos a verte en Junio!

  2. Hi Dear Les, I loved getting this. At first when I saw the post, it looked like you were heading for extreme mounting climbing, slightly higher than Everest. It was nice to read about the bon voyage parties which you hadn’t mentioned. Is anyone feeling homesick? You are really lucky to have this special time with Sky and Savvy. Love, mum

  3. Hola Guapos! Great to get the updates and see some pictures. This is an exciting journey for all of you. Enjoy! The Yoakum 4 xxxx

  4. Hola Guapos! Great to get the updates and see some pictures. I can just imagine Zorro Mike walking around in his hat and mask … WITH the necklace! Enjoy your first week in Spain! The Yoakum 4 xxxx

    • Haha! Yes, and the nurses from his office told me that he wore the entire outfit for the whole party and went around to each table to greet people! We went on a hike today and met some runners from Belgium. They gave us their e-mail in case our travels took us there. Very nice! Hope you all are well!
      Leslie

  5. Hi Mike, Leslie, Sky and Savannah,

    Sounds like you all will be missed in Folsom. Frank and I are not sure if October 9th to the 22nd are good to come visit. I haven’t used Skype yet, so I don’t get to talk, but I decided to stay in touch throught the email. We’ve looked at airlines to Madrid and also to Malaga and think we should rent a car too. Let me know what you think. Want to make it easy for you. My cell phone is connected to Skype 949-683-0295.

    Love Mom

  6. Hola Miguelon, Leslie, Sky, & Savi,

    Love the updates & photos. What a fantastic experience! Savor it! I look forward to hearing more!

    Goyo

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