Thursday, January 31, 2013

65 years ... and counting

My wonderful parents celebrated their 65th wedding Anniversary yesterday.  While we didn't have a 3 day celebration in Kansas City to reenact their first meeting like we did last year, we did have a quiet dinner (and dessert, of course) to mark this momentous occasion. 
Happy 65th Anniversary to the best parents ever!

I am fortunate to be your favorite son. 
(Sorry brother Sam, but they've always liked me more.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tribute to Tom Henderson and Jerome Pliickebaum

One of the lawyers in my office is Tom Henderson.

When not serving as an Administrative Law Judge for the State of Kansas, Tom's 35-year private practice has included serving hundreds of disabled US Veterans at the Topeka VA Hospital.  Going beyond his duties as their Court-appointed Conservator, Tom has also served as their big brother, their baby sitter, and in some cases their best -- or only -- friend.  While Tom receives minimal compensation, it is essentially a volunteer job.  As each veteran ages, Tom is there to help.  In many cases, Tom becomes their family.  In some cases, Tom is the only one who attends their military funeral.

5 years ago today, Navy veteran Jerome "Plicky" Pliickebaum died in his sleep.  No, I didn't know him, but Tom provided me with some information about Plicky.
(click below to enlarge)
Tom was Plicky's family and the only one who attended his funeral.  In the 5 years since his death, nobody has claimed the US flag that covered his casket.
 In his honor, and with Tom's blessing, today Dad and I flew Jerome Pliickebaum's flag.

Thank you, Plicky for your service to our country.  Thank you, Tom for your tireless dedication to our US Veterans.
You are an unsung hero.

Oh yes ... on this day, the 5 year anniversary of Plicky's death and my 61st birthday, I was lucky enough to spend it with loving family.  
Not everybody is so lucky.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Anniversary trip to Costa Rica

Tired of seeing Helen wear earmuffs and winter coats during our past anniversary trips to Florida, and further inspired by last year's trip to The Bahamas, this year we ventured even farther south to Costa Rica.  We took along our friend Virginia so she could visit her daughter, Nancy, who lives there.  Interestingly, we soon learned that Nancy and her husband are both alumni of Topeka High School (Nancy is class of 1971 - Helen and I are class of 1970).  Big school - small world.  
We stayed with them in their historically intriguing home, a residence on the former Sanchez Coffee Plantation, in Alejuela which is just outside the capital city of San Jose.
While there, we enjoyed tremendous hospitality, fabulous views of the coffee plantation, the city of San Jose and several active volcanoes.
The next day, we traveled to Tamarindo Beach ... a 5 hour "white knuckle" road trip via Turismo van across hill and dale, washed-out bridges and every kind of "road" known to mankind.  (Please note that the word "road" is in quotes as I use it generously.)  The experience was memorable and will cause me to pause before again criticizing the potholes of Topeka.  Sorry, no pictures.  It took both hands to hold on.

Lucky for us, the destination was worth it.  While Tamarindo Beach is the quintessential tourist destination (think "Souvenirs for Sale"), the Villa Alegre Bed & Breakfast is the essence of tranquil.  
Barry and Suzye provide a peaceful environment that entices one to gently exhale.  Combined with a 5-star breakfast, it is pure bliss. With the Pacific Ocean a mere 9-iron (make that a sand-wedge) away and the infinity pool in our backyard ...
the temptation to nap-test every hammock was irresistible. 

Sure, there were tons of typical resort activities available and the beach-front restaurants were really nice
but we preferred to gaze at the sunsets ...
and eat at the funky locally owned huts downtown.

OK ... so I did brave the Howler Monkeys to experience the Monkey Jungle Canopy Zip Line Tour where one of the guides borrowed my camera and made this video.
Actually, the road trip there was an adventure in itself:

I also ventured to the Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course where I saw beautiful houses off the fairways
and encountered snooty iguanas on the fairways.  
I also saw a breath-taking view of the blue Pacific

and smelled a breath-taking cow pie on the 18th tee.

Otherwise, for several days we mostly did .... nothing.  

It was sad to leave but even that was an adventure.  Not willing to endure the 5 hour drive back to San Jose, we decided to fly.  Unfortunately, the bridge to the local airport was out.  Fortunately, the river was low enough to allow our taxi to drive across the river.  Had the river been up, our taxi ride would have been extended 2 hours resulting in our ultimate arrival via the runway itself.  

The airport itself was amazing.  Open-air lobby
and washrooms
with an adjacent convenience store 
provided us all the necessary amenities without the hassle of any airport security clearance.  I loved it.  The 45 minute flight to San Jose on the single engine Cessna was both scenic and flawless.

Goodbye to Costa Rica and to all of our new friends.  Thank you for providing a friendly and warm destination where earmuffs were not required.  
Happy 36th Anniversary to Helen.