If it’s December then it is time for another edition of the Weissler Holiday Gazette. Time flies when you’re having fun?
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Well, the continuing pandemic is anything BUT fun, but on the bright side, at least we managed some travel this year! Our first foray was to Big Bend National Park in the spring (pretty much the only part of Texas I’m interested in visiting – sorry Austin friends…) and then back into New Mexico, but in both places we were hampered by wildfires and other closures. Still, it was fun, we were on the road enjoying ourselves, and we got to see the world’s largest pistachio in Alamogordo!
In June, fully vaccinated, we joined birding guide and friend Mark Pretti, along with neighbors Lois and Richard and a few others, on a birding tour of central Colombia. Our visit focused on birding the cloud forests and páramo of the western and central Andes, including Las Tángaras and Yellow-eared Parrot Reserves, Río Blanco Reserve, Los Nevados National Park, and Termales del Ruiz. Liza enjoyed using her new (last Christmas) camera in the field.
In August we had a family trip (Liza’s side) in Lake Tahoe planned, courtesy of niece Margaret, but wildfires and poor air quality led to a last minute change of plan. Instead of Lake Tahoe, Big Bear! We had a blast visiting that week with everyone in a spacious AirBnB close to the Bear Mountain ski area. En route to Big Bear, we even went up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, something we’d never managed to do before.
We (finally) made our long-awaited return to Spain in September, after a couple of years of being thwarted by the pandemic on a combined Portugal/Spain itinerary. The trip focused solely on Andalucía, for cycling with Bike Spain Tours, and birding with Wild Andalucía (Álvaro Peral) and Doñana Wings (Vicent Esteller).
We finished up the year with a trip to southern California for Thanksgiving at Liza’s mom Alpha’s house, followed by a road trip up to Morro Bay with Brooklyn friends Joanne and Mark, who had flown out to meet us in LA. During our stay in LA, we visited Robert’s mom Claire at the Los Angeles Jewish Home. At 92, Claire is rather frail, so our visit was somewhat limited. During our road trip we experienced gorgeous weather along the coast, winery visits and picnics, an olive oil tasting, and finishing up with a visit to Joshua Tree NP. We also celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary on this trip, in Twentynine Palms CA! (Don’t worry, Liza is holding out for Switzerland and Germany for the 40th.)
When not traveling, Liza took a ton of online cooking classes. Most were live zooms with Susana Trilling of Seasons of My Heart (Oaxaca, Mexico). Others included a live zoom Italian session with Alfredo Cafasso Vitale in Naples, a Great Courses (not live) class on bread, and Master Classes (masterclass.com – also not live) with Gordon Ramsay, Massimo Bottura (Modern Italian), Yotam Ottolenghi (Modern Middle Eastern), Thomas Keller, and Joanne Chang (Bake Like a Pro). She still has more on tap including Madhur Jaffrey (Indian cuisine) and Dominique Ansel (French pastry – the guy who invented the cronut!). Needless to say we need the miles on the bike to keep pace with the cooking and baking.
Meanwhile, Robert was diving into some of his favorites subjects during the pandemic: roadside geology wherever we travel, maps and geography, birding at home and abroad, the latest changes in bird taxonomy (not to mention paleontology and archaeology), and improving his pizza making technique. Robert continues to volunteer with the Friends of the San Pedro River, serving on the board.
What’s up next year, pandemic permitting? We’re slated to visit Trinidad and Tobago on a birding tour, fingers crossed that happens. A trip to Australia has been plotted out for the fall (their spring), but still just on paper at this point. Another trip with Liza’s family hopefully in the summer or fall.
Wishing you all a most happy holiday season, whatever you celebrate, and a safe and healthy 2022. A couple other websites you may want to browse as well: