Monday, December 31, 2007

Holiday Greetings To All My Friends And Family!

For the last day of 2007, I thought I would recap the year and share my christmas letter.

It started in the United Kingdom where I was launching on the second year of a five-week business trip. It was a good time! I met lots of great people, made some good friends, did some amazing things, and have wonderful memories.

In January, Saga got her chance to beg from new people at the pub. She had joined me in the UK in December and really took to the whole pub culture. Usually, she would beg when Daddy wasn’t watching, but occasionally…

In February, I took off for the weekend of my birthday and went to Amsterdam for the first time.

Well, technically, it was my fourth time. In 2006 I had put some air miles onto my Northwest Airlines frequent flyer account by taking a quick flight to Copenhagen (connecting through Amsterdam both ways), and another weekend I went to Amsterdam, but as the point was to get air miles and not actually to do any sightseeing I bought the cheapest tickets I could get. In short, I had only about nine hours in Amsterdam and I was staying an hour train trip out of Amsterdam.

So my first official visit was this February, it was great! I really had fun! Anyone who wants to know what I have done, please see my blog for a detailed travelogue.

In March, I made my first trip to South Africa. A colleague of mine had to leave a trip he was doing early and so, being half-way there (compared to Denver) they asked me to go out to Johannesburg to complete the trip.

April was a lovely month in London! The fun fairs started for the year, the spring flowers were at their peak and the weather turned absolutely lovely! I spent lots of time riding my bike. Oh, yes, and allergy season started with a vengeance.

May was a month of Graduations. My best friend’s daughter, Charlotte Karrer and my nephew, Andrew Bergquist both graduated from high school in the same week in May. I was able to fly back to Florida and drive to Alabama to see (and photograph) both graduations.

June was a wet month in Thames Ditton. There was rain, rain, rain. At least it was green! Not a lot to report. Very few bike rides, no travel to speak of.

The rain continued to fall in abundance in July. But the wet weather could not dampen the spirits at Molesey Regatta, though. The actual races were rained-out but the lunch and good times were not to be stopped by a little thing like rain!

My friends Fritz and Janine came over to the UK for a visit in August and I got to play tour guide. It was fun seeing some of the places I had not gotten to, and taking them to some of my favorite places. Of course, there was a pub or two on the itinerary. My friends in Surrey got to meet some of my friends from the states.

Terry and Angie threw a barbecue at their house. It was a great time!

In September, I was far too busy at work, trying to suss-out whether I was staying in the UK or going home to do much of anything else. I did get to go see a game of cricket (my first) at Bushy Park. It was a charity game between the Police and the grounds crew at the park. I never realized how dangerous a game it is. There were three injuries in the first side.

October was my last full month at the Thames Ditton Office. I discovered that my assignment to the UK was truly going to end (this time) and that I would be returning with Saga to the States when the assignment ended.






November was a great time! My friends from the UK and I went on holiday to South Africa. The brief visit to Johannesburg in March not withstanding, this was my first real visit to South Africa. Again, please see my blog for stories of our adventures in South Africa.

December has been manic, it is amazing how much there is to do when you have left your house empty for two years. Luckily, I have a friends who checked-up on my place for me periodically.

There’s not much to tell about my family over the last year. At least not a lot I can tell you first-hand. All are well.

Dad had a stroke in October but he has made and is making a remarkable recovery. I drove home to Minnesota to spend the holidays with family. It was a good time and fun to see all my relatives again. Even the weather cooperated, though I had to duck between the two blizards to get back to Denver on Boxing Day!

I hope that this holiday season is a great one for you and your family!

Wherever you are today, I hope your 2007 has been a wonderful one and I wish you an even better 2008!

Happy New Year!

Don Bergquist - December 31, 2007 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

New Year's Eve

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Still Working On It!

Trying to get the place in shape is taking all weekend… but I'm working on it.

There is absolutely nothing interesting going on at all this weekend.

Wherever you are, I hope that you're having a good weekend!

Don Bergquist – December 30, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Marin

Happy Birthday to my niece, Theresa

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pit Stop

It is amazing how fast my house can fall into disarray. In the three weeks I have been home, I have used my home more like a pit stop than a home. Between the holiday travel and the time I have been spending at the office and getting ready for the holidays, I have spent very little time unpacking my luggage and getting it put away, getting my office back into order, and doing laundry.

I think I will be spending the weekend cleaning and organizing… it is time!

Wherever you are, I hope your life has some order to it!

Don Bergquist – December 29, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cleanup

I had some errands to run today. It is really amazing how hard it is to get back to normal after having lived abroad for the past two years. I still have not gotten my office at home back into order. I have a pile of laundry to do and a number of small projects to complete.

Of course taking a week to go to Minnesota for the holidays and being sick so that I spend a great deal of time curled-up below the duvet instead of going through the list of things to do has not helped.

If the prediction for continued cold and bad weather continues perhaps I will get a chance to catch-up this weekend. Yeah! That’s just what I wanted to do to ring-in the New Year! Housework! A mid-winter spring cleaning is not really my idea of a great way to spend the New Year’s weekend. But what am I to do?

There is a lot of things I need to get done around here. Not the least of which is take a walk with Saga Roo… she wants me to play with her. After that, I have no idea what I will do today, but in addition to the things I have to do, I hope to find something fun to do.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will find a way to combine the things you have to do with those that you want to do!

Don Bergquist – December 28, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my uncle, Chris

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Second Verse, Same As The First

Apparently, the snowstorm yesterday was just a prelude to today’s storm. When Saga and I arrived last night, there were about six inches of snow in the yard and the walks had all been shoveled. That was last night.

This morning, when we went out to the park, the snow was already ankle deep on the walks. I swept my porch and walks before retiring inside to catch-up on my email. By lunchtime, the snow on the walks was at least four inches thick! I’m staying inside today. It is a good day for hunkering down under the duvet!

I think it is a good thing that Saga and I made it home last night. I’m sure we would not have made it home through this!

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re snug and warm!

Don Bergquist – December 27, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

What changes a year can bring!

This time last years, Saga and I were having a wonderful time with our friends back in the UK celebrating Boxing Day at the pub. This year, I celebrated Boxing Day by driving from Kensington to Lakewood.

Far from my drive of a week ago, I had no delusions that I could even come close to setting a record. Last night, after checking that the weather reports for the Denver area were continuing to show a deterioration of the weather here, I packed the car, bade my holiday greetings to my parents and went to bed.

When I awoke this morning at 04:30, I made a pot of coffee, took Saga out for a walk and hopped onto the computer to check the weather forecasts. It was not looking good! The prediction was for 50% chance of snow by nightfall.

The little one and I piled into the car and headed off. The roads were good until the Minnesota State Line. It started snowing just after I crossed over into South Dakota. The next six hours would be spent dealing with the fog, ice and snow in South Dakota. There was a spectacular sunrise to be glimpsed through the fog banks, and a few harrowing heart-stopping moments on the ice outside Vermillion, but other than that, nothing too bad.

On crossing the state line into Colorado, I had reports that this morning’s blizzard had left the roads west of Fort Morgan impassably icy and snow-packed. I decided that I would drive as far as I could get before stopping for the night. It was looking good as I got past the point I was told about. I kept seeing traffic coming at me, so I kept going.

Until I got into Denver proper, there was no problem on the road. There were a few slick spots once I got to my neighborhood, but nothing too bad. Saga and I took a walk in the park to shake the road our of our bones and now, completely knackered by the last 18-hours on the road, I am headed off to bed.

Wherever you have spent today, I hope that you have been going places.

Don Bergquist – December 26, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Boxing Day

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The big day has dawned cold and white!

My brother, his wife, and son arrived at parents’ place yesterday afternoon. Almost immediately Eric and Grandma went outside to decorate the small tree at the end of the drive. (The "Eric Tree.") They have done this every year so that Santa will know where Eric is spending the holiday. It would be a shame if Santa left Eric’s presents at his home in Minneapolis if he isn’t there.

The tree topper was a bit of a quandary this year. The tree has grown too high for Eric or Grandma to reach so they had to conscript Uncle Don to get the topper on. This may be the last year that tree gets a topper!

Christmas Eve was lovely! There was music and games. Eric beat his daddy and his uncle in a game of Monopoly. Everybody beat Uncle Don in card games… and then there was the food!

Granddad made a lovely roast duck! Chip and I pitched in to make the veggies and everyone contributed something to preparing the meal. It was a lovely meal and a great time.

But now it is Christmas Morning. The tree is beckoning me. Were I still a kid (instead of just a child at heart) I would run screaming into my parents’ room: “Santa has been here! Santa has been here!” but because I am now an adult (a-hem) I can restrain myself, if just barely.

We have to wait for everyone to arrive and then we’ll have breakfast and open presents. By lunchtime the floor will be festooned with the detritus left over from the opening of presents. Ah! The holidays!

This afternoon, we’re headed over to the family farm to have lunch with my uncle and his family. I’m sure that will be an experience too!

Wherever you are today, I hope you get to spend the holiday with your family and friends!

Merry Christmas!

Don Bergquist - December 25, 2007 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Christmas Day

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Visit From St. Nicholas

By
Clement Clark Moore
'Twas The Night Before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Wherever you are today, Saga and I wish you sweet dreams full of wonderful Christmas joys!

Don Bergquist - December 24, 2007 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Elizabeth

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Abigail

Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Frosty Morning

It is amazing to me to consider the places I have been, the people I have come to know, and the means they will employ to come to grips with their environment.

Last month, in South Africa I wondered aloud at how they could be wearing jumpers (sweaters) whilst we were running the air-conditioning in the bus as we drove along. I think it was Angie who pointed out that while it was hot to Europeans, it was comparatively cold to the South Africans. It was only in the high seventies but it would get much warmer as the spring progressed and turned into summer.

I won’t say that I have never thought of this, I grew up in Miami and used to make fun of them there for putting on a coat when the temperatures fell to seventy. Being of Minnesota parentage, I never was made to put on a sweater or a jacket until my parents got cold… so I usually only wore one when I was cold.

The reason for the musings this morning is that I woke-up thinking about the different ways that people deal with their environments. Back in the UK, where it is cold and miserable but not deadly without long exposure, they build pubs in ever village and burg. People gather for warmth and hospitality.

Here in Minnesota, they do all their socializing in the warmer weather, here they hunker-down in the winter. The cold and the ice are a deadly combination so they leave their homes when they can but know that there will be long stretches where leaving home is not a good idea.

You lay-by provisions, make sure you have enough coffee and cards and you entertain yourself (yourselves) until the dangerous temperatures and the ice subside. Ah! But it is lovely out! Deadly but beautiful, that’s the Minnesota winter. The trees are iced in frost and snow, the ground is covered in a fluffy white quilt.

And here is sit. Inside, warm, with a cup of coffee, my feet up and staring out at the bitterly cold woods around the house. There are geese walking out across the frozen lake. But in here it is so cozy!

Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you’re cozy and warm.

Don Bergquist - December 23, 2007 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Internet

It is amazing how quickly one becomes jaded. But is it really my fault that I have grown so accustomed to the internet speeds that I get from my DSL? Is the direct internet point-of-presence speed that enjoy at the office really too much to ask for? Who is to blame for this impatience I feel? I blame Bill Gates.

Well, perhaps not Bill personally, but the whole class of person who sees a technology and decides it has to be better. It is possibly apocryphal but I have heard the anecdote that Bill Gates once asked why anyone would ever want more than 256k of memory in a personal computer. The answer, of course, it that we need it because the software that Microsoft and others create requires it.

Likewise, there was a time when the 256k modem I am communicating to the internet this morning over would have been more than sufficient to do anything I need to do. But this morning I cannot even get the page loaded to upload my blog entry. I can write it, but as I have been waiting an hour for the page to load (there must be some pretty intense stuff on that page that I just never noticed because of my internet speeds at home) I will just email my entries to myself at home and post them when I get home.

Well it will, at least, keep me from farting away my entire vacation on the internet. (As if that would have happened…) That being said, I suppose I should go and beat the old man at a hand of three of cribbage!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a great day with the people you love!

Don Bergquist - December 22, 2007 - Kensington, Minnesota , USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Rebecca

Winter Solstice

Friday, December 21, 2007

Driving East

It was a lovely day and a perfect day for driving!

The skies were clear and bright, the roads clear, the traffic (for the most part) light. As a matter of fact, the only problems all day were the encountered in the first hour of the drive. Oh, and with my cell phone.

By not getting out at butt-ugly-early o'clock as I had hoped to do I had to negotiate Denver traffic at rush hour. But as my entire itinerary touched no other major metropolis, once I hit the interstate, it was fairly smooth sailing practically the rest of the way.

Denver Rush Hour was made worse by a roll-over accident on Interstate 25 that had the exit I would have used normally closed. No biggie. I just adjusted my route to exclude I-25 and all was okay. It left me on the surface streets for a few extra miles and added about thirty-minutes, but it knocked time off the journey had I not changed my route this morning.

The down-side was that when I passed Sterling my mobile started reading "No Signal." The remaining 800 miles of my trip I had no signal. It was worked out this morning when I called Qwest. The phone had been set when I got it the other day to recognize only Qwest towers. That fixed, I am now able to use my phone again.

All that aside, the temperatures were warm (relatively speaking) until I reached Souix Falls (South Dakota) and the roads were clear of snow. I arrived about 14-hours after I departed home in Denver. A door-to-door time of 14.5 hours for an average speed of about 65-miles-per-hour for the entire transit. Not a record. I have to shave about 45 minutes off that to claim a new record.

Today, we're going into town to lay-on provisions and do some last-minute Christmas shopping so I guess I should wrap this up and get social with my parents.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're day is going along smoothly.

Don Bergquist - December 21, 2007 - Kensington, Minnesota , USA

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Coyotes

The coyotes were howling this morning to beat the band. The pack sounds like it has grown (groan?) appreciably since I left for the UK. When I left a couple years ago, I would have guestimated that the population of coyotes in the park was fewer than ten. I saw one or two once-in-a-while; occasionally, they could be heard howling.

This morning, the chorus sounds as if it is at least twenty-strong! The howling came at me from down the valley (toward Wadsworth) and up the valley (towards Fox Hollow) and, by the sounds of it, is pretty wide-spread. The sounds of the pack echoed off the sides of the valley for a while after the singing had stopped.

I would not have known any of this had I been able to keep to a schedule. At least, I would not have known about it this morning.

Despite my plans, I have yet to leave for Minnesota and it is well after five. My plan was to have the car parked and have all the provisions laid-in so that all I had to do this morning was walk with Saga a while to get her tired for the trip, jump in and go. And all of this was to have taken place more than two hours ago. The plan kind-of fell apart about six last evening. Well, it started to at least.

After working from home yesterday, I spent the afternoon gathering things for the trip and had planned to pack the car before bed. Of course, I wanted to do this after I had popped out to run a couple errands and finished a few last-minute things I had to do before leaving town. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

One thing lead to another and by bedtime, the car was not packed. But I decided that the few minutes it would take to pack the car in the morning were not going to seriously inhibit my progress. I went to bed and slept the night away.

This morning, bright and early (if 02:00 can be called bright) I rolled over and looked at the clock. I was up right when I wanted to be. It was time to get moving. But, that snow on the lawn looks cold. Who could blame me for snoozing just a bit longer? Besides, I'm on vacation and don't have to be anywhere at any specific time. Thus thinking, I lay myself back down and took a little (three-hour) nap.

Well, that's pretty much it. I was up at five, which allowed me to hear the chorus of coyotes across the road in the park by the creek. The car is all packed. My breakfast is on passenger seat, all that is remaining to do is to take Saga and go for a walk and hop in the car. The Weather Channel shows that I should have great driving conditions all day long and so, there is nothing keeping me from the open road!

Wherever you are this morning, I hope your day starts out with a serenade!

Don Bergquist - December 20, 2007 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Last Day

Well, it’s the last day of 2007 in the office for me. It has been a good year and one that has had many surprises. I have lots to do today and only a normal day to do it in so I had better get going.

Sorry for the short entry today, I am working from home today and want to get to work early. I’ll have my laptop with me on holiday so look for me to post again just after the New Year!

Wherever you are, whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season and prosperous New Year!

Don Bergquist – December 19, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Christine

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winding Down

Well, the year is coming to a close. In two days I will be headed off to Minnesota for the holidays. The weather looks like it is going to cooperate. I’ve put together a playlist on my iPod of Christmas Music and some novels that all have a Christmas theme. All I have to do is pack the car tomorrow before going to bed.

The mornings have been early. My cold is all but gone. I still have a bad cough at night, but other than that, am feeling great. Saga is sitting on the floor to my left looking at me as if to wonder why daddy is playing with that damn glowing box again.

I bet if I said the word “out” even under my breath, it would get her attention. I suppose I should take her for a walk and then get to the office.

Wherever you are, I hope your year is coming to a wonderful conclusion!

Don Bergquist – December 18, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, December 17, 2007

Much Better, Thank You!

I am feeling so much better. My energy level is still not up where it should be, but I may be able to stay vertical enough to do some work. It’s a good thing we were expecting snow Friday, I have my PC at home and can work from my home office today.

It is just after four, and with all the sleep I have had this weekend, I am not ready to head back to bed yet. I think I am going to try and work for a while and then go off and take a nap. I need to get over this.

Wherever you are, I hope that you’re feeling well!

Don Bergquist – December 17, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Feeling Better?

Well, I have been taking it easy (sleeping mostly) this weekend and am feeling a bit better. I was able to get out to the grocery store this morning and get some soup and some more juice. Other than that, I have been taking it easy. I'm feeling a bit better, but still not 100%.

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re feeling well.

Don Bergquist – December 16, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, US

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Craig

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back Off To Bed

I have spent most of the last 24-hours asleep. I took some cold tablets, walked Saga, went back to bed. Got up at mid-day, repeated the process, and then slept again until well after dark. This cold is the pits!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re feeling well!

Don Bergquist – December 15, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cold and Snow

Well, the snow part is self-explanatory. They are expecting a big snow system to move across the state today. But that is a ways off. It is about four o’clock in the morning and I cannot sleep. I am coughing and aching. My head is stuffed and I cannot concentrate.

Here is one big benefit of being in Colorado over Thames Ditton: The grocery store that is only two miles away is open 24/7! I’m going to pop into the car, run up to King Soopers, get some juice, some cold medicine, and head back to bed. In Thames Ditton, I would have to wait for the chemists to open at 09:00 and then ride my bike up there.

I hope that wherever you are today, you’re feeling well!

Don Bergquist – December 14, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Too Busy To Write Today

It has been a busy day for me today. I found myself too busy to write.

After my workout this morning, Saga and I went for a walk in her park and today she wanted to go all the way down to the river and back. She didn’t seem to notice that it was cold or that her feet were getting wet.

Once, back at the house, I grabbed my lunch and gave her Saga a quick cuddle and headed for the train. Some wanker parked across two spaces in the place that I normally park and so I had to go to the remote lot. But a quick slog through the mud later I was on the train into town.

The morning was manic and I got a lot of testing done, went to the post office to get a few things sent out, and then back to the office for lunch at my desk. Back at the homestead, I did some work in the office (still trying to get things back in place and working as they should) and finally, it now being nearly nine, sat down to check my email.

I’ve been at the computer now for just over thirty minutes and so, of course, Saga has come to tell me I am not paying enough attention to her. I love it how she tries to get her nose under my hand as I am trying to type. I suppose I should get some shoes on, take her out and then get to bed.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day has not been too busy to spend some of it with those who are important to you!

Don Bergquist – December 13, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Storm Passes

All-told I have about eight inches of snow on the lawn. It looks lovely sitting there in the hollow between my building and the one across the yard. That will not last long. Already there is a discernable path of one of my neighbors and their dog here they walked across the lawn early in the storm. There is also the single set of tracks left behind by the guy who shoveled the walks. After he shoveled up to my place, he walked across the lawn to the next building and shoveled out from Michael's door.

From everything I have heard, the roads are good, a bit icy in spots, but not bad overall. I am, however, going to give myself extra time to make it to the train station. With the derailed train yesterday still eliminating the last three stops from the line, I am pretty sure that the spill-over will reach-up to the station where I park.

If too many people have made the connection, the train is likely to be packed even this early. I suppose I should wrap this up and head-on out.

Wherever you are, I hope you're having an excellent morning!

Don Bergquist – December 12, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Emily

Happy Birthday to my nephew, Eric

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Colby

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heavy Weather

What a morning to be out on the road!

Or, rather, it would have been had I actually decided to go into the office this morning. Instead, assuming the local meteorologists knew something out the weather that I didn’t, I decided to bring my work laptop home with me last night. I’m glad I did!

When I turned on the TV this morning and did my workout on the treadmill I could see that it was not nice outside. The snow was falling and the lawn outside my office window was a blanket of white cotton candy.

At five o’clock, when the local news replaced the overnight network news, the lead story was how messy the roads were after the snow had fallen all evening. I decided at that moment to stay home. With a cup of coffee and the television making noise in the background, I started my testing. The rush hour was worse than they had suspected. There were over twenty accidents according to the news by five-thirty.

There was also a coal train that derailed in Littleton that knocked the commuter light rail off its tracks. I heard no reports of casualties, so I assume that there were very few people who had made it onto the train by that hour.

When Saga and I went out for our walk at sunup, the snow was up to her knees. The snow kept falling all morning with a bit of a slackening at lunchtime. Saga and I went out to walk around her park at lunchtime and the snow was up to her belly… she really eyed me with a mixture of excitement (she wanted to go out) and misery (it was cold and wet!) as we walked along what was a trail (somewhere down there, under the snow).

As I sit here in my office, just finished my testing for the day, I can see that the snow has started falling again. Saga’s gonna love that! Well, all that snow does look pretty! Sure, it’s cold and wet and tomorrow it will be sloppy, but right now it is so beautiful!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you can see the beauty around you.

Don Bergquist – December 11, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, December 10, 2007

Trade-Offs

It’s the little things you miss. While in the UK it was root beer and Triscuits. Here I miss the availability of lamb and curry spices in the grocery store. Last night I did the shopping at the local King Soopers.

There were a few things that I needed that I didn’t have so I decided to brave the side roads and go out. The snow had mostly melted and it was nice to get out of the house. While perusing the aisles, there were a number of things that I noticed that I hadn’t known about two years ago that I now wish they had at the local grocer.

The mere profusion of beans available in the UK is just staggering. Here I have the choice between pintos, navy, lima, and chickpeas. Oh well, I guess I can get over the lack of lamb and beans for the ability to drive my car when ever I want (provided it isn’t snowy out) and being so near the mountains. I do wish there was a pub here though!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you find whatever you’re looking for!

Don Bergquist – December 10, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gray Morning

Well, yesterday was every bit as miserable outside as the predictions would have you believe. It didn’t stop snowing all day. This morning there were nine inches of snow on the front lawn. Saga and I went out for a walk in the early morning hours, but it was not pleasant for Saga. It was too cold and too wet.

The temperature when we went out this morning was -2º (Fahrenheit – that’s about -19c). Saga really wanted to go out, but by the time we got across the street, she wanted to go back in almost immediately.

The skies were still overcast and the snow was still drifting down gently. The walks had been plowed in my complex (I had heard the grounds staff shoveling about 05:30) so I guess the prediction is for no further substantial accumulation.

I have some housework to do today, but nothing too substantial. It is going to be a lazy gray day.

Whenever you are today, I hope you have a good day!

Don Bergquist – December 09, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my step-mom, Florence

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hibernation

I can understand why bears hibernate! What a miserable day outside.

Saga ran outside, took one look at the snow that has been falling since last night, and came back in. I had to coax her to go out and take care of her morning ablutions. After having taken Saga out, I crawled back under the duvet and enjoyed a nice leisurely morning reading and listening (well, half-listening) to Christmas music on my PC.

Saga came and curled-up under my arm while I was reading and promptly fell asleep. The party last night was great! There were a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I sat at dinner with some old friends and caught-up on what has been going on with them.

After dinner, I danced a bit and then headed home. The roads were getting bad, but nothing like they are this morning. The snow started falling as I was headed to the party and continued unabated all evening. The news this morning said: “If you don’t need to be somewhere today, stay home.” How wonderful! The local television station is affirming what I wanted to do anyway!

I may take a walk in the snow later on (it would be alone, Saga will not enjoy that) but then again, I may not. It is a good day to watch movies and drink a toddy or two.

Whatever you find yourself doing today, I hope you’ve got a great day to do it!

Don Bergquist – December 08, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 07, 2007

Freezing Rain And Snow

Listening to the weathercast this morning, I think it was a good thing that I have decided to take the day off and do some work at home. Channel 7 is calling for rain this morning with falling temperatures and freezing rain or snow by nightfall.

It is good that I have nowhere to be until tonight. My company Christmas party is on for tonight and I am looking forward to seeing people I haven’t seen for most of the past two years!

Qwest has scheduled a technician to come out today and sort-out why I have no internet and other than that, I have nothing on my schedule for the day. It is gray and dreary out there so I am not at all upset that I have no plans to leave until this evening.

When Saga and I went to the park, she didn’t even want to chase the prairie dogs… it was out, purchase some real estate, and get back in. It wasn’t so much that it was cold; it was pleasant (except for the mist). It was misting pretty heavily, though. It was very much like I remember from so many mornings in London. That heavy, thick form or precipitation that is too wet to be fog but too fine to be rain.

According to what they were saying on the local National Public Radio station this morning, we’ve already hit our high for the day… 22º (Fahrenheit – that’s about -5.5c). Woops! Saga is barking… I’d better go check and see if the Qwest guy is here.

Wherever you are today, I hope you’re warm, comfortable, and happy!

Don Bergquist – December 07, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Evening At Home

I didn’t get a chance to write this morning. I spent too much time trying to decide if I was going to get out of bed this morning. It was a lovely, lazy morning that made me want to stay in bed and watch the news.

When I finally got out of bed and got my morning workout done, I had no time left to both walk with Saga and write so I decided to put this off until this evening. I had a good day at the office. I got through my projects for the day and also scheduled Qwest to come out tomorrow morning. Perhaps by this time tomorrow I will have internet.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ve had a great day!

Don Bergquist – December 06, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So Much Time, So Little to do…

I am at my desk in my office at home. It is five o’clock and I have already done my morning walk on the treadmill, showered and dressed for the office. My lunch is packed and after I walk with Saga Roo in her park, I will be headed into town.

While I haven’t discovered exactly what my job actually is to be now that I am back in Denver for good, I have been given a couple assignments that I have deadlines for. Today, I have to continue working on the project portal updates that I have been asked to put in place and get some testing done for Thames Ditton.

I still have no dependable internet connection at home, so I am only able to update my blog periodically. Qwest (my phone company) has yet to determine that I have a mobile number that should be connected to my home line. (Which is amazing as they provide me with both phones!)

There is lots to do at the office and I have some errands to run at lunchtime. In fact, Saga has come in twice since I sat down to write this morning to tell me that she feels that I spend too much time at the computer. I suppose I should go ahead and get out to walk her. It’s going to be a busy day. I hope it will be a good one.

Wherever you are, I hope that your day will be a good one!

Don Bergquist – December 05, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Cecilia

Hanukkah Begins

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Medical Professionals

Well, this week is the week that I see my doctors (allergist and general practice), my ophthalmologist, and my dentist. The year is running out and it is time to spend the flexible spending dollars that I have banked for the year. It has been a good and healthy year (with the exception of my allergy/sinus problems this summer in London) so I have nearly my entire medical budget to spend or to lose.

It is not that I actually dislike doctors, it is just that I don’t like going to the doctor. I would have no trouble coming up with a list of things I would rather be doing. But the good news is that other than a slight change in my prescription, and a slight adjustment to my allergy situation, I came through my exams with flying colors. I am feeling great and now I have doctors backing me up on that.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re feeling well!

Don Bergquist – December 04, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law, Helen

Monday, December 03, 2007

Well, It's About Time…

For those of you who have been asking, yes, I do intend to finally update my blog!

I've got intermittent internet service at home (still working with the phone company on that one…) so it may take a few days, but there it is. It is about time I get my pictures and stories that I have been writing uploaded. So, since there is so much that I have backlogged and ready to upload, there is no entry today… (…other than to tell you that I have started uploading the backlog, that is!)

The stories that I am uploading today start with the entry dated 30 October 2007 titled "Departure." I hope you will enjoy the stories and pictures.

Wherever you are today, have a great day!

Don Bergquist - December 03, 2007 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Guess Who Has Jet-Lag Now!

I guess I never thought about it, but Saga Roo is jetlagged! It never occurred to me that dogs could get jetlag, but what the hey! Why not!?

Dogs have a diurnal cycle like any other mammal and she has gotten acclimated to Greenwich Mean Time. She didn't have the benefit of taking a strong sleeping tablet to try and reset her sleep-cycle.

I know that she is jet-lagged because she keeps coming up to my room at ungodly early hours of the morning, jumps on the bed and wants to play. She doesn't need to go out, I know… I tried to take her out and she wanted to come right back in. Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait for her to catch-up to our current time zone.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re well adjusted to your surrounding.

Don Bergquist – December 02, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Advent Begins

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Work To Do – No Internet

The good thing about having no internet connection at the moment is that there is nothing to distract me from the work that I have been allowing to stack-up all week. I have all the laundry that I have brought home to do. I haven't sorted it yet, but I am sure that there has to be at least a dozen loads to do.

In fact, I suppose that I shouldn't be wasting time writing this morning. I should get to work and get this place into shape. But, nah! It is a lovely morning and I think that I will take Saga for a drive and perhaps stop by Sonic and get her a treat! Anything is better than starting the work around here.

…and who can blame me for avoiding things I don't really want to do?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you've got nothing but pleasant things to do today!

Don Bergquist – December 01, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 30, 2007

Jetlag

Perhaps it is the realization that I have returned to my home in Lakewood for good and my body is rebelling against it, perhaps it is that I spent that three weeks in the GMT +2 time zone with my friends in South Africa… What ever the reason I am jetlagged.

No, I mean I am really JETLAGGED! It usually is the case that when I get home I want to fall asleep at my desk around two in the afternoon and want to be awake at three every morning. This time, I actually dozed off at my desk yesterday just after lunch. I think I may have come-up with the correct solution, though.

When I returned home last night, I took a nap for an hour. I the forced myself to stay awake until my normal bedtime and took a sleeping pill to keep me asleep until my normal wake-up time. It seems to have worked. When my wake-up track started on my CD alarm clock (Piano Concerto in a-minor by Edvard Grieg) at 04:30, I was lightly dozing, but still asleep.

It is now just before six; I've done my 1/2 hour on the treadmill, completed my morning ablutions, dressed, eaten breakfast and taken Saga for a nice long walk in her park. I guess I should wrap-this-up and get to the office. Hopefully, I will have an internet connection this weekend and I can catch-up on my blog posting.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is starting-out nicely!

Don Bergquist – November 30, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What A Difference

…and this morning it is lovely!

I love it here in Denver! The weather one day can be completely crappy and then the next day it is lovely. Of course, there is still a bit of snow on the grass in the park. Saga hates the cold and snow.

My friend, who watched Saga whilst I was in South Africa, noted her odd habit of sometimes wanting a long walk and others that she barely wanted to go out. This is magnified by the presence of the snow. This morning, she ran back to the house as soon as she had done her morning thing.

But the drive into the office was nice enough and it was warm enough that I really didn't even need the light jacket I had brought with me when I went out for lunch. What a difference a day makes!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is pleasant!

Don Bergquist – November 29, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Surprise!

Well, there goes that plan!

I had hoped to get in early this morning and get some paperwork done. But the snowstorm that was supposed to pass north of the state hit us straight on. When Saga and I went out this morning the skies were clear. She barked at the coyotes in the park and re-established her ownership of the greenbelt. Half-an hour later as I was finishing my preparation for getting into the office, the news said that the snow was falling in earnest.

Looking outside in the yard, there were two inches of snow. The roads were a mess! Knowing that my car gets horrid traction in the snow, I opted for the bus. Good thing too! The back-ups on Wadsworth and US-6 were impressive. There were a couple times that we passed a car in the ditch.

In the office, I caught-up on my paperwork and tried to get through the backlog of email and headed out. This evening I am doing laundry and continuing to get on with my unpacking. Coming home is so much work!

Wherever you are today, I hope all your surprises were pleasant ones!

Don Bergquist – November 28, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of Course!

I do not know why I expected that I would have telephone and internet and wireless reconnected just because I called ahead and ordered it. My phone and internet connection were as dead as my car was. Good thing that I really didn't think that it would be that easy!

My errands took longer than they should have today because I had no car or mobile phone. But I eventually got through the list. Tomorrow I am headed back to the office. This evening I am going to try to get through a couple loads of laundry before I topple over. I am so knackered because of my jetlag!

Wherever you are today, I hope you've had a great day!

Don Bergquist – November 27, 2007 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, November 26, 2007

Travel Day

That wasn't so bad!

On the way to the airport, I asked the driver of the car service that we use if he would mind assisting me with my bags. It was the one real worry that I had. I knew that I had to get them in and that if they were too heavy, I'd pay the overage and expense it. (I was still stressed, but dealing with it!) Kevin (the driver) went above and beyond the call of duty on that one!

By dint of following the directions given to me by the airline, I got almost everything wrong. On the preparation of Saga to fly, I was told to: pack the kennel with a blanked that had her and/or my smell on it so that she would feel comfortable, fill the kennel cups with water and freeze them, and attach food to the top of the kennel so that she could be fed in Detroit. The problem is that they will not allow the kennel to have a blanket in it because they are afraid that she could be tangled-up in it and strangle herself. She cannot have food during the flight because they are afraid that she will choke on it. And the water thing? Not allowed to carry liquids on. Hmmm… but I can check them and she will be in the cargo hold as checked baggage. I (wisely) didn't press the issue. I packed the blanket, tossed the food and dumped the ice out of the bowls.

I was also mislead by the BBC (and by Northwest) when I believed what I had been told. No! As of this morning you can still only carry ONE carry on. Not "one plus a briefcase" as I was told by Northwest and by the reports on BBC. Luckily, the check-in agent was kind enough to take my camera bag, and put a do-not-load tag and fragile stickers on it. I was handed it back as I boarded the plane.

The flight is now about half over. I've watched a couple movies, and am listening to podcasts as I write this. I've decided that I will find a porter to assist me in Detroit with getting Saga and my luggage through to the re-check desk and there will definitely be a porter in Denver. I've got my bottle of wine, my entertainment and am not even going to give what I have got still coming up ahead of me another thought.

Wherever you are today, I hope you've got time to relax!

Don Bergquist – 26 November 2007 – Northwest Airlines Flight 31, Somewhere Over The North Atlantic

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Relax!

I cannot believe how stressed I am getting over this! Yesterday, after returning from the bank, I unpacked and repacked all my cases, trying to get them even, if not under the legal limit for carrying. I know that tomorrow is going to be a bear! I've got four cases and Saga in her kennel with my carryon and my briefcase to get to Denver.

There is no reason to stress about it! I've had training on reducing stress! I'm going to "live in a day-tight compartment" as Dale Carnegie puts it. I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow. I think I will catch the train and head into town this afternoon and do one last day of bumming around London.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a relaxing weekend.

Don Bergquist – 25 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Late Night/Early Morning

It's about noon and I am sitting at a table in the King's Arms with my PC waiting for the time to come for me to check-into my flight. Last night was a blast! I had a chance to spend one last night in the pub with friends and had a few rounds with the great people that I will miss when I head home on Monday.

One, a little girl that I have known over here since my early visits to the pub, gave me a stuffed leopard since it was the only one of the big five that I hadn't seen in South Africa. That was so sweet of her! I was really touched.

I closed the pub down with my friends it was nearly two before I got back upstairs this morning. At nine, I was at the bank to close my account and get that finished. This afternoon, a friend is coming by to take Saga and me to the vet. I've got to get a health certificate for Saga so she can fly on Monday. That done tomorrow will be a day of rest.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a great day and getting lots done!

Don Bergquist – 24 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Friday, November 23, 2007

Going Away

This afternoon I bought a round of drinks for my friends at the office. About twenty of my colleagues showed-up to toast with me on my departure. This afternoon, I'm back at the hotel getting my re-packing started and resting-up for the party tonight.

I've invited a bunch of my friends from the UK to join me for drinks tonight. Being this is my last bash with friends and I know that it is going to be emotional. I am so going to miss my friends. I guess I'll have to enjoy it while I can.

Wherever you are, I hope that you'll enjoy the company of the people who are important to you!

Don Bergquist – 23 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving In The United Kingdom

Back home it is the holiday and I guess my family will be gathering at various places for their turkey dinner. My turkey and stuffing came in the form of a Christmas Wrap from Sainsbury's. Turkey with sausage, savory stuffing and cranberry sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla. (It was every bit as unappetizing as it sounds.

I long for a turkey stuffed with Mom's sausage stuffing, real cranberry sauce (the kind the still has the ridges from the camera still imprinted on it as it sits in the serving plate), and pumpkin pie. The closest that I can come up with today is that I am going to have a bowl of pumpkin soup.

I've got a couple more errands to run today and then all I will have left to do before getting on my way back to the states is to close my bank account and get Saga to the vet. Both are scheduled activities for Saturday.

Wherever you are today, I hope you're with your family and friends for Thanksgiving.

Don Bergquist – 22 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Anniversary

Three years ago today, I published my first blog entry. I'd never had a blog, never knew anyone that blogged, it was all a new thing to me. As I wrote in that first entry, it was a way for me to keep in touch with my family whilst I was traveling.

At the time, I'd been traveling for my company about fifteen years and had never had a need to communicate that wasn't more practicable via post cards, letters, email or phone, but this was different. Today is also the anniversary of my first trip to the United Kingdom. It was the first time that I had traveled to a country that was not on my own continent.

This broadening of my horizons meant that I would be taking more pictures than usual and that the cost of phoning home would be prohibitively expensive. That is why the blog started. I was trying to find a fast, easy, inexpensive way to write home. That is far from where it has ended. I have lots of people out there reading my blog and writing to me to tell me that they are enjoying it. I am thankful for each and every one of them and appreciate all the email I get. Thank you and keep it coming, guys!

That first trip, three years ago, was meant to be a six-week design trip that was meant to be one of three that I would take before my project assignment finished. Those of you reading my blog regularly know that it is far from where it ended. That assignment generated another and then another and as such, I have now been (for all intents and purposes) living in Thames Ditton for the past two years.

It has been a great time! I've met a lot of really cool people and have made a lot of really great friends. My recent holiday to South Africa is one of the side benefits of this whole chain of events that started three years ago.

To everybody who has become (or continued to be) a part of my life over the past three years, I cannot tell you how much you mean to me! When I return home to Denver, early next week, the blog will continue as a way to communicate to those of you I leave behind in what I think of as a second home, the United Kingdom.

Wherever you are today, I hope you take time to appreciate the wonderful people in your life.

Don Bergquist – 21 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Grainne

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back In The United Kingdom

We arrived to rain and cold in London. The temperatures were cold enough to make me glad that I had my jacket and long sleeves on when we got off the plane. Brrr!

Once we had all been dropped off and I had checked into the hotel for my last few days in the UK, I headed into the office to catch-up on my emails and see what had happened in my absence.

Back at the hotel this evening, I started uploading my pictures to Shutterfly. Hopefully, I'll have them all uploaded by the end of the week so I can start uploading my blog entries. Until that time, I'll keep my blog on this document and update the blog as soon as I have pictures and links to go with my stories.

I'm so thoroughly knackered… once I have finished the set that is uploading; I'm headed upstairs to bed. It was a great trip and I cannot wait until the next time I visit South Africa! I am sure that I will some day head back. If only because there are so many game parks that I have yet to visit.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have something that you're looking forward to!

Don Bergquist – 20 November 2007 – Hampton Court, Surrey, UK

Monday, November 19, 2007

Departure

Travel is an interesting animal. I look forward to it, but hate it when it arrives. I love the idea of going places, seeing things, doing things, it is just the actual travel to the places where I am going and seeing and doing that I dislike.

As I have written before in the blog, travel is largely a process of waiting for things. You wait for the taxi, and then wait in queue to check-in. You slouch about in the departure area to have your flight called, wait for the luggage at the carousel and then wait some more for rental cars, taxis, hotels, etc.

Travel is also odd because it does not seem to matter how much stuff I leave with, even if I do no shopping, use up consumables, discard any damaged items, lose an item or two and give-away the items that I brought with me to give as gifts, there always seems to be more in my bags when I pack to return than there was when I left. My bags when I came down here weighed about 25 kilograms. Having given away a few things, drank the five bottles of wine that I had in my checked bags, discarded a cheap pair of sandals I had acquired specifically for this trip, given away some of the clothing that I can no longer wear and delivered a gift I carried down here, my bags now weigh about 28 kilograms.

I have bought a couple souvenirs (small carved animals for my curio cabinet back home) but those are all in my camera bag and so add no weight to my checked bag. It's odd…

Oh well. It is a mystery for another time. Right now, I am sitting on the patio of my friends' flat in Ballito enjoying one final quiet morning, staring out to sea. I can see the breakers just above the screen of my laptop. Now, this is an office with a view! This morning we've got to return the keys to the flat we let for the past few weeks and we're going to try checking-in for our flight to get good seats. That done, we just have to find a way to entertain ourselves until about one when we leave for the airport. (Preferably, this will be one that does not involve shopping; I have too much stuff already!)

Wherever you are today, I hope that your morning is passing in a pleasant way!

Don Bergquist – 19 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Penultimate Morning

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I went down to Chaka's Rock and put my feet into the India Ocean for what may be the last time of this trip. The morning is just as bright and beautiful as yesterday was bleak and oppressive.

Your humble reporter had walked down to the beach to swim in the surf for one last time. Unfortunately, the surf was far too powerful for that. I could feel the undertow undermining the sand from my feet as I stood there. What is the old saying? "Discretion is the better part of valor."

I wet my feet and shins, then walked back to the flat, and showered. We have been invited to a traditional South African braai this afternoon. A couple that Lucy and Phil have known or a while have invited us over. It should be a good afternoon.

Lucy and Phil head back to London this evening. The rest of us are headed back in the afternoon tomorrow. I had best get ready for the afternoon's festivities. So for now, have a good day!

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you're having a great day!

Don Bergquist – 18 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Morning Solitude

What a brilliant start to the day! Even though I was up 'til about one, I found it impossible to sleep past six this morning. I lay in bed listening to the rainstorm for an hour or so and then decided that it was time to do something. Anything!

Not counting the travel day, Monday, we have only two days left. This vacation is rapidly coming to a close. I know hat we have been invited to a barbecue (or to be more exact: a braai) tomorrow. I have no idea what is planned for today.

At a break in the rain, about eight, I headed down to the rocky point near the bottom of the complex and sat watching the tide change. I stared-off into space occasionally registering the fact that there was a world behind me. This morning, the universe was just the waves and me. An occasional bird would enter my universe, spend a few minutes and then fly off to the real world.

Around half-ten my universe got positively crowded! A school of dolphin swam into my field of vision. They could not have been fifty-yards off the coast, headed south, romping and playing in the wake. At a guess I'd say that there were about fifteen or twenty of them. They were half-way to Chaka's Rock before I remembered that I had a camera with me.

When the rain returned with a vengeance about fifteen minutes later, I picked myself up and headed back to the flat. All-in-all, it was a very peaceful and serene way to spend a morning.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day has time in it for peace and quiet!

Don Bergquist – 17 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday In The Rain

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it was another lovely day with friends. The skies were a bit overcast so when I went for my morning swim, it was realty nothing more than a quick dip. It was too cold in the pool to spend much more time than that in it.

This afternoon, we hired a cab and went to a lovely Italian restaurant down the coast from here. We where there to meet-up with some of my friends from London's friends from around here. It was really good meal and good to meet new people.

A "Small World" moment happened, while chatting with one of the South Africans at the table. We were talking about Florida, where I grew-up, and it turned-out that he was familiar with it. He had spent some time in Clewiston near Lake Okeechobee.

The rain started to fall while we were making our way down to the restaurant. It fell on-and-off all afternoon and into the evening. This evening, after lunch, we went to the pub. What a way to spend a day!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having an excellent day!

Don Bergquist – 16 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rorkes Drift

The second (and better known) of the two battles associated with this place is the battle of Rorkes Drift. Fresh from the victory at Isandlwana, a contingent of 3,000-4,000 of the Zulu warriors who had not tasted battle moved to the south to attack the British camp at Rorkes Drift.

The camp consisted mostly of a group of engineers, left in charge of the bridge, and a field hospital. All in all fewer than 100 British soldiers successfully defended the encampment from the onslaught.

Our guide, Dalton, told us of the time between the two battles, the origin of the buildings at Rorkes Drift and finally of the battle itself. How could one help but have been moved?









Once again, Kevin had brought poppies to decorate the memorials of both sides.

Our drive back was slowed considerably by the occurrence of a huge thunder storm accompanied by hail ranging up to marble-size. It was an adventure, but Kevin got us home safely with the aid of Angie's navigation.

Wherever you are today, I hope you've been moved by something!

Don Bergquist – 15 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

My god! It's Full Of Stars!

It is about three thirty and I am wide-awake. For some reason I cannot exactly put my finger on, I came awake about thirty minutes ago. Not being able to go to sleep again, I grabbed a glass of water and headed out to the verandah of my room to look out at the sky.

Immediately, the line from 2010 by Arthur C. Clark sprang to mind. David Bowman's last words broadcast to the Earth as he fell into the monolith were "My God! It's full of stars!"

Even with the layer of smoke clinging to the valley, the skies are clearer than I have seen since I was in Arizona for the first time years ago. The Milky Way is clearly visible running through the sky. The sounds of the night animals are the only company my thoughts and I have as we sit here, staring over the dark landscape. The world is at peace.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope you’re enjoying a quiet moment alone with your thoughts

Don Bergquist – 15 November 2007 – Isandlwana Lodge, Zululand, South Africa

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Isandlwana

Today's adventure was to visit the battlefield at Isandlwana. The less famous of two related battles I the Anglo-Zulu war, The Battle of Isandlwana took place 22 January 1879. Other than the occasional reference by my friends to the battle (for which I had no context), I had never heard of Isandlwana before the planning for this trip began.

In short, a massively outnumbered British force had crossed the Buffalo River into Zulu territory and was destroyed by the Zulu army. In a single day, 1,200 British forces fell to an army armed only with spears. Granted, the size of the opposing armies was greatly disparate; the Zulus numbered 25,000. Even at the three-to-one ratio that the Zulus fell that day, sheer number made it inevitable that the battle was lost before it began.

We had a local man whose great-grandfather had been on the battlefield that day. It was fascinating to hear the stories of what led to the war, what happened that day, and the aftermath. It was moving to be in a place where such a horrific battle took place.

Before leaving, we climbed Isandlwana Mountain to the place where the last of the British troops fell. Kevin had brought some poppies and, it being the week of Remembrance Sunday, he placed a wreath on both the British and Zulu Memorials. It was a very moving day.

Returning to the Isandlwana Lodge, a lovely little hotel overlooking the battlefield, we had a dip in the pool and then dinner and drinks. After a while looking at the stars on the veranda, I turned in with the sounds of the night filling my room.

Wherever you are tonight, I hope you've had a moving experience today.

Don Bergquist – 14 November 2007 – Isandlwana Lodge, Zululand, South Africa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chilling

Today we've done nothing of note. How wonderful just to hang-out with friends, splash around in the pool, have a bite of lunch, do whatever comes into our heads. This afternoon, we had lunch at a fish and chips shop in Ballito. It was excellent.

Tonight we have a trip to the pub planned and then it's back here for a braai dinner. Other than that, we're just chillin'.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is as pleasant.

Don Bergquist – 13 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shopping

Apparently, it's the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere. A whole bunch of shopping! Oh Boy! To quote an old line from a comedian (which one, I cannot remember) "there is a reason the menswear is located right inside the door to the mall…"

It was interesting at least to see the differences between what you'd see in a mall here and a mall back home. The building is more-or-less the same. This one was a bit more opulent than some, and more diverse. There was a three-storey rock climbing structure at one end where the atmosphere of the air-conditioned park-like setting changed to more cave-like, but al-in-all, it was still a mall.

We were there to get stuff that everyone needed to buy while here. A few things to bring back to London, or to the flat in Ballito, a lot of shopping to take advantage of the exchange rate between the pound sterling and the rand. At the best of time I do not really enjoy shopping… I run in, get what I need, run out. It is almost as if I am afraid that I will spontaneously combust if I spend too much time in a mall.

Besides that, I already have too much stuff to bring back to the states with me in two weeks. It is as if need to get more stuff. So I walked down the mall, looking at the people and the way they interact with each other. People Watching: the one really good reason to go to a mall; in my humble opinion.

There are subtle differences. There were more bare feet than I would expect to see. Perhaps it was an anomaly, but shortly after one guy walked in with three sons in tow (all bare below the ankles), I spotted a woman walking around barefoot. Ironically, she had two shoeboxes in her arms.

The real difference was the behavior of the staff. They were helpful. Too helpful. On the off chance that there would be a store that I actually wanted to see, I stopped to peruse the directory. There were a number of stores whose names were familiar, even more that weren't.

After a few minutes of reading through the list, a uniformed person came over and stood at my right, just in my field of vision. "May I help you find something?" he asked. I assured him that I was just looking and had no specific destination in mind. Okay. That was strange.

The fact that it happened two more times with more-or-less the same exchange in the space of the time it took me to read through the list is what makes this interesting. It wasn't 'til I had re-grouped with my friends that it was brought to my attention that I had missed something. Something that was pretty obvious now that I think about it. There seemed to be more staff than shoppers in the mall.

We had adventures trying to get out of the parking lot due to a malfunctioning exit gate that would not open, then when it chose to open, it slammed shut before we could reach it to exit. Drinks and dinner later, we finished another wonderful chill-out day of holiday

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a lovely day!

Don Bergquist – 12 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Happy Birthday to my cousin, Michael

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Prawn Shack

What a blast! In a trip that has been rife with good times and adventures, today has been another highlight. My friends who have been here before have been trying to tell me about this place but nothing that they said fully captured the spirit of The Prawn Shack fully.

Let's start with our preparations: we hired a local that the owner of the pub recommended as a driver to take us up there and back. This proved to be an excellent preparation as the food and wine flowed the entire time we were there. Around noon, we headed north on the motorway for a leisurely afternoon lunch/diner.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial for the place, you've got to go there! The views of the beach are spectacular, the food is exquisite, and the atmosphere is totally relaxed. We arrived at the beach about an hour north of Ballito and were greeted with a round of Camparinhos.

The bar is literally a shack! It has a sand floor and swings instead of bar stools. After drinks you head up to the deck above the bar to enjoy a leisurely seven courses of the local delicacies. As you can tell from the name, feature heavily. They appeared in four of the seven courses. Heck! There is even a live prawn/tequila shooter.

There is no worry about accidentally breaking dishes either, the bowls are all hewn out of logs, the plates and the glasses are enameled tin. The shot glasses and the fish tank was the only glass I saw there.

The dessert was one that was unusual as well: caramelized camembert! Wheels of cheese covered in sugar, caramelized to a crunchy finish and served with crackers and fruit to top.

What a great afternoon! The staff were friendly and we all had a great time. I so enjoyed myself that I want to share the experience. If you find yourself in the area of Durban and want a thoroughly enjoyable experience, look them up! Their website is the place to get more information: www.prawnshack.co.za

Wherever you are today, I hope you've had a relaxing, enjoyable day surrounded by friends.

Don Bergquist – 11 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Veterans Day

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sleeping In

I didn't get up 'til almost 07:30 this morning. The first thing I did was to unpack the computer, offload my pictures and start looking at them. I think I go some really nice pictures!

I then spent most of the morning while the rest of the group slept in drinking coffee, working on my pictures, and catching-up, transferring the notes I had kept of the safari into the document I am writing for updating my blog when I return to London.

The maid showed-up just before ten. I asked her if she could have waited as my friends were still asleep but she didn't seem to understand the question. She wiped few surfaces, made the bed, and pushed a dust mop over part of the floor and left.

Remaining notes from the Safari: Drivers here are crazy! The things they do on the roads disturb and amaze me! There were a number of times the drivers ahead of us came perilously close to disaster yesterday on our ride back. People here seem to take a very caviler view of when they need to clear the road. A couple times, we saw people just sauntering across the motorway!

Phil and Lucy are returning this afternoon from their trip to Kruger and we'll compare notes, swap stories, and go to the pub. (Though, not necessarily in that order...) We've ordered a curry for tonight. I am sure this will be one hell of a day. It is getting on in the morning, I am off for a swim.

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll have an excellent day!

Don Bergquist – 10 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Downer Moment

With the great time I've been having, what a strange notion that I would be down. This evening as we were sitting after dinner, having a drink and chatting of the things we had done and the things we were going to do, I had a really down moment.

It happened as my friends were making plans for the holidays. Who was hosting which dinners, where they were going on Boxing Day, etc. It suddenly occurred to me that the plans that were being made didn't include me. I'm going home. This is my last blast as a part of the group.

The dinners they are planning will be for them; the parties will not include invites for me. It made me sad to think that the next time I see these friends of mine will be months (or years) away after this month ends. Unless they come to the states on holiday or I return to the UK on business or on holiday, we will not be sharing a beer at the pub.

I guess that I am looking at this from the wrong angle, though. I had these same feelings when I left Tampa for Memphis, then again when I left Memphis for Denver. Heck, I had the same fears that my friends in Colorado would not remember me if I had the opportunity to move to London.

I guess that the thing to do is to remember the good times, hope that the pleasant memories are mutual and hope to see my friends again as soon as possible.

Wherever you are tonight, I hope you'll take a moment to think of the special friends you have in your life.

Don Bergquist – 10 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Friday, November 09, 2007

Safari And Stupidity

It was another great day at the park! I've been getting-up naturally early with just the alarm on my watch as a back up, but I have been awake before it each morning. My first task on this trip each morning is to make hot water for the flask so we can have coffee and tea before we pack the bus to go and then again in a couple hours at our breakfast stop.

This morning, we packed the bus for going home, headed out and had another wonderful day of spotting animals. We saw hyeanas and crocodiles for the first time. We also saw lots of reptiles: geckos, monitors, snakes, etc.

The encounter of note today was not between the wildlife and us this time. At a stop at the Hilltop Camp, we saw a couple of local guys who decided (in spite of the signs) to try and approach a cape buffalo to get a better picture. They soon found-out that there was a reason for the warnings. The buffalo charged them. One of them lost their shoes trying to run away. Luckily, (for them) the buffalo was more interested in asserting his territory than in getting them. He stopped after a few steps. They kept running.

There was some idiot driving along with one of his passengers hanging out the open window of the car sitting on the door, hanging onto the roof. Besides being dangerous, it spooks the animals. However, the idiot of the day award goes to the couple who actually parked their car, got out and tried to get their own picture standing in front of a herd of zebra that were totally freaked by their presence.

Mid-afternoon we drove back to Ballito for a stop at the pub for some drinks and a dinner at a local restaurant. Then, totally knackered from all the activity, we turned in. We're all planning on sleeping-in tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I hope you've had an excellent day!

Don Bergquist – 09 November 2007 – Ballito, South Africa

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Roughing It And Other Adventures

Camp just doesn't seem the right word for it. The tents are not so much tents as canvas hotel rooms. If scout camp had been anything like this, I would have loved it! I liked scout camp, but this place is great!

The tents are huge and on raised wooden platforms about three feet off the ground. Each is comprised of two rooms: a sleeping area big enough for two single beds, a cabinet and the other accoutrements you'd be likely to find in any hotel room; and the bathroom with a huge shower, lavatory and basin. Each tent also has a large covered entry area with outside seating. A thirty-foot raised deck that has a large kitchen tent with sink, cooker, and refrigerator joins the two tents. Of the kitchen is a deck with a picnic table. Just down the steps from this is a braai (barbecue grill).

Last night we returned later than we had planned and had to eat in the dark. There are lights in all three tents of the suite, but they do not shed much light on the dining deck. Oh, they also turn off all the power at 22:00.

Today we had another great day of spotting game. Angie and Terry really are good at this! They took us to some great places to spot game, birds, reptiles, everything. The weather continued to behave itself and we had a good day for spotting.

It has worked-out great too! Kevin has done most of the driving in the park with Angie navigating from the front seat. I've been allowed to sit in the middle with Terry in the back. I know that the back of the van is the least comfortable seat, but Terry keeps saying that the middle is better for shooting pictures. I have easy access to open windows on both sides of the van.

Speaking of photography, I think I am getting some good pictures. I hope so at least! I have filed three cards on my camera… I cannot wait to get back to civilization to see the shots on something larger than the 1.5" preview on the back of the camera!

An interesting shot that I got was of a baby rhinoceros nursing. I guess I knew that they suckled their young, but I have never seen it! The calf just lay down in the middle of the road and started feeding off its mother. What a cool sight!

The big adventures for today include seeing my first lion in the wild. We saw a female, a juvenile, and a cub cross the road in front of us. Unfortunately, I was not in a position to shoot because they were right in front of us. Kevin was looking off to the left trying to spot where they had gone in the underbrush when he happened to catch movement out of the corner of his eye. This big female had hung back to watch that the family was safe before joining them.

A little ways on, we saw a family of rhinoceros ahead of us. They were crossing the road when we came upon them as they were crossing the road. They were already agitated because the stupid family ahead of us (family of humans) was hanging out the top of their vehicle to take pictures. Guys, here is a word of advice: Fight the urge! Don't leave your vehicle or break the line by standing up out of the sunroof, or hanging out the windows. It spooks the game and you will lose the chance to see whatever it is that you are trying to get a better view of.

So, spooked already, the group was watching us very closely as we inched past them on the road. The bull was off the road by about ten feet… really too close to get to a rhino! To our left was the thicket they were in, to the right a pretty sheer decline into the valley.

According to the reconstructions we all shared later here is what happened:

Kevin decided that it was safe to go because they were paying no attention to us. I was trying to move my camera from the right side to the left to get shots of the beast as we passed. We got just a little too close for the bull's comfort and he charged.

Kevin did lots of mental calculation. "We're going over the cliff unless I can keep it on the road. I turn the wheel to the left and gun it to keep it on the road… that kind of thing."

Angie was looking out the window and saw the beast come to within a foot of the side and so she rolled up the window and braced for impact.

Terry was trying to decide how to explain this to the rental car company: "you see, there was this rhino…" would start the explanation. Our tale would be met by eye rolling of the "Oh! Not that old story again" variety and we would lose the deposit on the van.

I pictured the side of the van collapsing as the main horn was headed straight for me. It came within inches of hitting the side of the van. I dropped the camera on the seat next to me, grabbed to the handholds and yelled "Oh, god! Oh, God! OH GOD!"

At the last second and with distance estimates varying from a couple to a few inches, the beast feinted and moved off… we were heading out of his personal space by that point had he was convinced he had scared us off. He had!

In the aftermath, we all laughed, caught or breaths and exchanged our views of what we had just been through.

Wherever you are today, I hope you've had an exciting day!

Don Bergquist – 08 November 2007 – Mpila Camp, Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tales From The Pub


"So Seriously, I mean it!" Jones, the big bull, was saying to his companions. They all stood around the floor of The Watering Hole pub reliving the day at the office for the delight and amusement of their friends.

"I had just said to Johnson: 'Johnson,' I said, 'all it is going to take is one more thing to set me off!' it had been a bad day. First, I showed-up and discovered that the grass I had chomped just a week ago had been replaced and I had to chomp it down again! I mean who does this!?

"Have you noticed it? You get rid of a particularly bothersome clump only to have some asshole replace it so that the next time you come by, there it is!"

His companions are all muttering and nodding their assent.

"And then to make it worse, you have the boss riding your back! Mr. Redbill, the little twerp! I mean sure, he gets rid of the bugs in the system, but what kind of qualifications does he have? And, am I wrong, he seems a bit flighty to me."

This elicits a laugh as he takes another slug off his grass juice highball.

"So anyway, with the boss riding me, and the problem trying to decide which project to tackle next, what should happen but this big-ass white box comes up behind me. It was making this strange sound… kind of a rumbling sound so I turned to watch. It quit making that noise and then I could hear a clicking sound.

"Well, this I didn't like at al so I told the big white box-beast to just fuck off and get on with whatever he was supposed to be doing. But is the box-beast smart enough to comply? No! He isn't! He just stands there!"

At this point, Smith tries to add to the story that he had seen a big blue box-beast a few days ago, but Jones didn't stop talking long enough to allow him an entry.

"I took my best 'Bugger Off' stance. Finally, the idiot white box-beast got the idea and started to retreat, I gave him what-for! Advancing to make sure that he didn't come back, I made sure he got the point. I had a lot to do!

"After that, I got back to a bit of clump chopping I had on my agenda before the evening meeting. What a day!" and then to the bar maid he added, "Flossy, another one over here please!"

Charlie Jones, Cape Buffalo First Class – 07 November 2007 – The Watering Hole pub, Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa