3 to 40: We Are Family – Part 2 (The Boys)

In my previous post I wrote about how our forty years is tied to our family and did a montage of photos for each of my first three children, all daughters.  Continuing is a collection of photos about our two boys, Seth and Solomon, who came to our family in March 1987 and March 1989.

I was working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) when Seth decided to come into our world in March 1987. At that time the three girls were seven, six and four and a half.  It was a new experience for us as we actually had children old enough to appreciate the newborn young boy and even, in some respects, assist us with him.

SETH DAVID

Three sisters started adoring on their little brother Seth almost immediately

Baby Seth was a cutie with red hair that he soon lost.

When Seth was about 5 months old, the family was on its way to Oita, Japan, where we would live from 1987 to late 1991.  So, for most of Seth’s early years he was watching Japanese television and getting the Japanese experience (as were the three girls, who made their way into Japanese public schools, learned the language and the culture, etc.)

Shortly after arriving in Japan, Marissa helped Julianne with Seth

It was easier to carry Seth on our back everywhere we went

Seth’s favorite bath place was on our balcony overlooking the Oita River.

And he liked the beach to. This was in Saga-no-Seki, Japan

Like the other kids, Seth was pulled into Japanese ads. He was in a number of them as a blonde baby boy.

Another shot for a different ad in Japan

Japan had a major influence on Seth

Marissa and Seth were captains of a ship in Beppu (at least for a few minutes)

Seth prized his Mickey Mouse wizard doll when in Japan

Finally back in the United States in 1992, Seth was able to get established in American schools and did well.

Seth visiting the Grand Canyon shortly after getting back to the U.S.

Visiting Sunset Crater National Monument near Flagstaff in 1992

Seth became a Jamestown settler for a while in Jamestown settlement Virginia in 1993

Hanging with his sister Amaree in 1992 (celebrating our 13th Anniversary)

Looking dapper in 1994

Seth in elementary school in Nicholasville, KY

Seth the high schooler

We visited a “bodily function” exhibit in St. Louis. Chelsea and Seth seemed to enjoy the Poo to You display

The Giant kid with the Jolly Green Giant in 2004. He accompanied Amaree to Great Falls, Montana when she moved there after graduation from UK

Seth as a football player at Lafayette

Shortly before graduating high school, Seth obtained his Eagle Scout. A proud moment.

Seth at Lafayette High School Graduation

Seth served an LDS mission in Salt Lake City

Seth and Holly Wedding Day in December 2009

Seth was so popular that they named a town after him in West Virginia

SOLOMON JOSEPH

Julianne and Sol in 1989 shortly after he was born. This was in Oita, Japan

We were already living in Japan when Solomon decided to join our family. According to Julianne, he was her easiest birth.  And, almost instantly he was a hit in Oita.  Not many “gaijin” children were born in that part of Japan.  So, it was great news for all of us and for many of our Japanese friends.

Solomon had long, fun curly hair

He always had a smile on his face (or so it seemed)

Seth and Solomon pretty much grew up together and were pretty much inseparable until about high school days…

Got a nice shot of Marissa and Solomon at a Japanese cafe around 1991

One of our favorite pics of the two boys together.

Solomon had his favorite toys too. This was at his grandmother’s house in Mesa, AZ

Amaree and Solomon together at some event.  That’s Chelsea in the background

Watching the horse events at the Kentucky Horse Park

Solomon and Seth looking nice in their ties

Fishing with Grandpa Bateman in Utah in 1997

Some of the kids, including Solomon at Bowlin’s Akela Flats in southeastern New Mexico December 1999

Seth and Solomon with Marissa in Chicago, just a couple of weeks before she was married

Solomon was always playful

Solomon and Seth giving “Aunt Beula” a kiss after a Trailer Park Troubadours concert

Seth and Solomon were mentored in many ways by University of Kentucky (and later pro) football player Aaron Boone

Solomon really liked hanging out with my friend, former Steppenwolf and Trailer Park Troubadours guitarist Bobby Cochran

Solomon as a football player at Lafayette. As a Senior in 2006 he was named All-City.

Solomon was a tough wrestler as a sophomore. He ended up going to state

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Both Seth and Solomon were linemen for Lafayette High School’s Generals

Solomon graduation from High School with his lovely mother

Ha! They named a town after Solomon too!

Soon after graduation Solomon made his way to Colorado to work in the Medical Marijuana industry.  He has become an expert in growing and prepping medical grade cannabis and is now in Kentucky working on a large hemp facility.

Solomon shows off the Cannabis Cup that he helped his company win in Colorado.  He still works with Todd (in the left) growing hemp in Kentucky

We have certainly been blessed with a wonderful family of five children.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the expansion of our family…our ten wonderful grandchildren.  These have extended the joy we have as we approach our 40th anniversary in a few days.

Solomon with Mom and Dad in 2017

 

 

4 to 40: We Are Family – Part 1 (The Girls)

Obviously, there are five other people that have been very involved in most of the forty years of Julianne and my marriage.  During the course of our first decade of wedded bliss, we also had the blessing of five wonderful children…  We did the girls first gig with Amaree, Marissa and Chelsea.  These three were born within 35 months of each other and were all married in a six week period in 2005.  Then the boys Seth and Solomon came along in 1987 and 1989, almost exactly 2 years from each other (Well, actually 2 years and 2 days).

In many ways our children grew up with us  Julianne and I were married at a young age.  We were ready.  And we were also ready for children.

All three girls married in 2005

The following shots are of our first three girls as they were growing up.  I intentionally did not add anything with brothers.  Those will be added in Part 2 tomorrow.

AMAREE

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

Here I am with Amaree as a newborn

I was there at Julianne’s side in Flagstaff, Arizona on that cold winter morning when Amaree was born. Word can never express all of the feelings that went through as I became a 23 year old father. I still get chills when I thing back to the MAJOR event in the life of my wife, myself and our new first child.

As with any parents, we had many hopes and dreams for this sweet little daughter of ours.  And, obviously, we had no idea if any other children would come our way.  But, we made sure that THIS child was loved beyond measure.

Amaree in Flagstaff ca. 1983

Amaree in front of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, AZ ca. 1983

Amaree Getting Made Up 1982

Amaree around 1989, taken in Mesa, AZ

Amaree all dressed up nice in the early 1990s

Amaree in an ad in Japan in the early 1990s

Amaree at her high school graduation in June 1998

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

MARISSA LEA

Just about 14 months after Amaree was born, we had another cold winter March morning in Flagstaff when our second daughter, Marissa, came along.  The feelings of joy I had when Amaree was born were the same for Marissa. No favoritism in joyful feelings!

Marissa baby picture – don’t have many. (Wish I had a better one!)

Dad and two daughters in 1983

Our little family in Flagstaff AZ in 1981

Hiking with Marissa and Amaree at the Grand Canyon

Julianne with Amaree and Marissa in the fall if 1981

Amaree and Marissa were fun sisters (taken in Sedona, AZ)

One of my favorite shots of little Marissa taken at Student Housing in Flagstaff

She is STILL a Supergirl and SuperMom

Marissa getting a swing from her Aunt Laura in Mesa, AZ

Family picture at family reunion in early 1982

Marissa with her friend Rika in Japan in 1987

Posing in Japan

Marissa in Japanese advertisement in 1989

Marissa in High School

Marissa Graduation from High School

Amaree and Marissa hanging out during ther high school days

Marissa reporting that she is going to Thailand to serve an LDS Mission

Marissa at her wedding in Louisville, KY in June 2005, just five days after Amaree’s wedding in Canada

CHELSEA DAWN

About 18 months after Marissa was born, we had another visitor.  Chelsea came into the world on a cold November day in Flagstaff.  Joy continued for us as our third daughter entered this world.  Couldn’t find any baby pictures, but

Little Chelsea sleeping when she was about 2

I think Chelsea was around 2 in this shot

Julianne and me with our first three…all girls..(L to R) Amaree, Chelsea and Marissa

Chelsea’s 3rd Birthday November 1985

Young sassy Chelsea Dawn — “you WILL NOT spank my little bottom Mom!”

Chelsea was a cutie at age 5 in Japan

One of my all-time favorite pictures of Chelsea taken in August 1987 in Oita, Japan

 

Three Sisters

Three Sisters in Kamiura, Japan around 1989

Chelsea was in many ads in Japan – This one for a large department store

Julianne with the three girls

Chelsea in a kimono in Japan around 1988

Visiting grandma in Arizona

Chelsea in Sedona in 1993

Three Sisters in Monument Valley – July 1993

Chelsea in high school

Chelsea Senior photo

Chelsea’s mischievous look

Dad…QUIT – 1998

Chelsea was also married in 2005, but that didn’t end well.  She married Jorge Mendez in 2015 and they are great together.  The first photo was one I took of Chelsea on her wedding day in 2005.

Chelsea – wedding shot 2005

Chelsea at her wedding to Jorge in 2015

And finally, to finish off Part 1 — about the girls…

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

 

 

 

 

20 to 40: Adventures of Merried Life

(Author Note:  Life continues to be busy.  I was once again not be able to add days 26 thru 21, but hope to continue now from Day 20 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Yes, I wrote that correctly — The Merried Life.  As our 40th Anniversary approaches, I want this post, representing 20 days before the said date, to show some of the Merry things of married life.  Over the past 14,591 days of our marriage (including today), we have had many unique and fun experiences, making life Merry.

The worst thing about these merry events in life is that, in most cases, I don’t have photos.  Most of the photos in this post are captured from the internet.  I don’t like to use other photos.  I prefer my own, but these do get the point across.

Back when we celebrated the first year of our marriage I got one of our photos and glued it to a red plaque and then wrote on top with paint, “Merried Life.”  It was meant to represent the joy I had with her in our first year together.  The plaque is still around, probably buried in one of our many boxes of memories.

Scrabble LOVE

From the beginnings of our marriage, Julianne and I have spent many hours together playing Scrabble.  This seems to have been our go to game over the years.  In fact, in the earlier years, the statistician geek in me kept a “Scrabble Records” book in which I kept track of all of the scores, the 7 letter words, the high scores, the low scores, the Win/Loss records, etc.  In fact, I still have the book in one of my memory boxes!  I will have to be honest…Julianne probably leads in the W-L column from all of the years.  In recent years I have not kept track, but I will bet it is something like Julianne 1220, David 850.  Nowadays, we continue the games but they are online on our mobile devices, so the togetherness, laughs, “you cheated” claims and that kind of fun don’t happen as often.

Murmuration of starlings

One of our laughable memories comes from our first year of marriage, before kids made their arrival.  I had come home from one evening from work in Provo.  We lived on the second floor of an apartment complex.  As I went to the door, I saw something that gave me the chills…it was actually scary.  In the distance I saw a bunch of glowing lights in the sky flying in weird formation and thought we were being visited by hundreds of UFOs!  No Joke!  I called for Julianne and basically scared her as well.  Turns out that the real culprit was a murmuration of starlings that had static electricity on them.  Living in Kentucky we get to see murmurations of starlings quite a bit.  It is an amazing thing to watch.  But, I will never forget my UFO birds of Provo from 1979.

The Anniversary Dinner at Red Lobster — unforgettable

Another fun memory of ours goes back to Mesa, Arizona when she and I went out to celebrate our fifth anniversary in 1984.  I was a new graduate student at Arizona State University and Julianne was home taking care of children.  I wanted to do something really nice to celebrate our fifth anniversary.  So, I took her to dinner at Red Lobster… a super, big deal treat for us.  We had a splendid and memorable dinner…especially when we got the bill.  It was over $40.  We cringed.  That was a lot of money for us. So, we paid…with some regrets…   As we got into the car, Julianne exclaimed, “David, that was too much.  Let’s take it back and get a refund.”  We didn’t.  But, we also did not ever forget this memorable anniversary dinner.

Another thing we have done together over the years was attending symphony concerts.  We have not done this as often as we have wanted to (especially Julianne!), but we have still made it to one or two a year.  Since Julianne is a talented violinist, this was something important.  In Flagstaff, we would see the Flagstaff Symphony.  We have seen a number of concerts in Kentucky as well. This is always a time of merriment for us.

Snow Splat in Face

Of course, our children began showing up in 1980 and so our “Merry Times” together soon included the children.  Even with these, we have some fun times and memories of things we all did together.  Perhaps one of the funniest memories took place one winter morning in Japan in 1990 or 1991.  We were all playing in the snow and I was on the sidelines videoing the adventures.  The kids all began throwing snowballs as was Julianne. Suddenly, and without warning, I was splattered in the face with a snowball.  Right in the eye!  I was videoing and got hit good.  Seconds later Julianne was laughing so hard, that I couldn’t help but laugh with her.  It wasn’t funny for about two seconds.  But the timing was impeccable and totally accidental.  I wish I could find that video that captured the second I was splatted.  Even today we laugh about this story.

Landen Water Gun

Snowballs are not our only fun.  The Kravetz family has had some serious water fights.  Not talking water balloons here.  Talking BUCKETS of water!   These have been a staple since the days when our kids were younger in Arizona and have carried on with our grandchildren.

With a deck in our backyard in Kentucky, water fights have gone to new levels and there have been times they have found their way into the house.  The more the merrier!!

Family Fun with masks in Japan

We once had an interesting Merry Christmas in Japan, thanks to Julianne.  All of the kids got some interesting rubber masks and were able to open them and put them on.  I am not sure if the kids remember this merriment, but I certainly do.  Julianne’s mask of a guy with a cigar in his mouth (not pictured because she wanted the witch for the photo) was priceless!

I am sure there are more memories out there that I have forgotten.  Maybe a second post will find its way in the next few days.

The goofiness and fun-loving nature of both Julianne and I has flowed down to the kids as well.  I am always one for grabbing a fun family photo. So, to close out this post, following are some of our more “unique” family shots from years past. And yes, some of them were taken despite complaints by one or more of the participants.  But, for the fun of merried family life…..  And much of this fun can be directly attributed to the fun creativity of Julianne.

Hanging around at a park in Lexington in the 1998

Thanksgiving at Chelsea’s in 2017

Non-adulting in 2018

The Ends of the Road (Springfield, Illinois at Lincoln Home) — Marissa didn’t like the idea… But, it WAS Julianne’s idea

Tug of war at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Another park pic from 1998

All gathered together someplace in Texas in December 1999

Masked adventures on KravGirls Night Out in December 2015. # Generations in this pic

All on one lap…in Vernal, Utah

And, we get the grandkids in on it now too. The whole family in prime form – July 2017!

 

27 to 40: The Amazing Mother

(Author Note:  Due to an extended road trip, busy work schedule and more, I have missed out on two weeks of posting.  Sadly, I will not be able to add those in, but hope to continue on from Day 27 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Julianne always wanted to be a mother.  From our very first discussion about the possibility of marriage, she would always relish the thought of being a mother.  And, what a wonderful mother she was (and still is!). We had our first three children in our first four years of marriage.  We had all five before our 10th anniversary. Today all five of our children are in their 30s and are well engaged in their lives.  Much of their success in life can be directly attributed to their sweet and wonderful mother.

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

Julianne with Amaree and Marissa in 1981

Mothering was Julianne’s passion (until she became a grandmother….).  It wasn’t always easy for her. Due to my school and work, she had to carry much of the load herself.  But, she was an absolute trooper and loved and took care of her children with passion and fervor.

Taking care of children in Japan. She is with Seth and Marissa here.

By the time we had three daughters, Julianne was making matching dresses for Easter, doing girl things with them, teaching them music, making them feel loved.

Julianne and me with our first three…all girls..(L to R) Amaree, Chelsea and Marissa

Eventually, the boys came along, presenting new challenges, but Julianne took those with gusto.  Much of Seth’s early life was in Japan and Solomon was actually born there. So, Julianne learned to shuffle her schedule (she taught English, took kids for TV Commercial filmings, etc.) to make everything work.  Despite the many frustrations of living in a foreign country with language and cultural obstacles, Julianne pulled things off like a pro!

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

My Wonderful Family – 1993 – visiting Monument Valley

Family 2009

As our children grew through their teen years and married (all three daughters were married within 6 weeks of each other in 2005!), Julianne has evolved from a mother to an adult friend with her children, especially her daughters.

Julianne with our five children on my 60th birthday in 2016

I am massively blessed to have had the opportunity to marry such a wonderful woman who so cherished her role as a mother and wife and now loves being a grandmother.  All of our children are talented and leaders in their various life activities. They can thank their mother for this!

 

45 to 40: The Traveler

When we first met in Provo in 1978 I don’t think either of us had an inkling of what lay in store for us and our future together. Like any youthful souls, we had idealistic hopes and dreams. Of course, our main goal after being engaged was getting married, starting a family and finishing college.

Little did we know in July 1979, as we were bound together in loving matrimony, that we would have a future filled with the wonder of travel. For me, by the time I was 22 and married, I had already lived in five states and six cities. I had traveled to Canada twice on band trips.  Julianne, on the other hand, had grown up and lived in Mesa, Arizona all of her life. The majority of her travels had been to Utah for family gatherings and to California to stay with her oldest sister Kathy.  She did make a cross country trip in 1978 with the BYU Orchestra, which also went into Toronto and on to Washington, D.C.

Our first road trip together, during our honeymoon, was to Monument Valley in southern Utah in 1979.

After vacillating to determine my  college direction, I ultimately settled on a dual major in Asian History and Geography at Northern Arizona University. I probably followed my heart more than my brain. My original plan was to become an attorney, but various things along the way led me to choose a different path. Admittedly, my sweet wife was not happy with my change in direction, but, thankfully stuck with me all these years, even though the “what ifs” have often crept into both of our minds at times.

We later visited Monument Valley with the family in 1993

Family visiting Abraham Lincoln home in Springfield, IL in the late 1990s

As I look back today, I honestly believe that following the path we chose has enabled us to have a life rich in experiences. We have never had the riches that many lawyers enjoy, but I think we provided our children opportunities and memories that few American children, especially those born in the 1980s, ever got to experience.

By 1987, we had the opportunity to live and work in Japan. Our children went to Japanese public schools, got to be in numerous TV commercials, were in local TV shows, learned a new language and culture and all that came with that.   They were enlightened with a mindset of diversity and global thinking.  And I am grateful for that.

The family in Oita Prefecture in Japan in 1989, visiting with Governor Morihiko Hiramatsu, who I worked for.

The family visiting the Usa Shrine, one of Japan’s famous Shinto Shrines.

My Dad visited us in Japan in 1991 and we went to Kyoto, where we visited the Kinkaku-ji (The Gold Pavilion)

Julianne and David, visiting the old Tulum ruins in Mexico as part of a cruise.

At the age of 20, I don’t think Julianne would have believed anyone if she were told she would live in Japan for four and a half years and have the opportunity to visit places in Canada and Mexico while also traveling to most of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska.  But, that we did.  We enjoyed many opportunities to travel together and continue to do so to this day.

Japan was quite the culture shock for Julianne initially.  The weather was different, the people were different, the language was strange and many of the foods she was offered were a bit more than unique.  But, like our children, she learned to love the land and the culture, became engaged and conversant in Japanese and really found great pleasure in the variety of unique dishes in Japanese cuisine, as well as the Japanese take on other ethnic foods.  To this day, all of us enjoy the variety of foods from all over the world.

Julianne enjoys some real ramen with Marissa and Chelsea at a small Mom and Pop ramen shop in Japan in  June 1988

We still enjoy good food. Here we visited Koreana, a local Korean restaurant with my cousin Lew and his daughter.

Visiting the Mystic Pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut

Over the past 15 years or so, we have traveled all over the United States.  At one time, we had Amaree living in Montana and then they moved to Port Orchard, Washington.  Seth got his first job out of college and lived just north of Cincinnati, but job changes eventually took him and his family to Connecticut and later to Houston.  This meant opportunities to travel for visits.  These became long trips that afforded us the opportunity to see many new places.

Then, in 2017, we had a giant family reunion that began in Kentucky and eventually took most of us as far east as central New York.

Watching the grandkids on the beach at Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

Visiting the Field Museum in Chicago with family

Julianne and I at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

Travel in Virginia

Visiting the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

We were able to check out glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska

With family in West Virginia

Julianne on a canoe trip with Chelsea and her family on the Little Miami River in Ohio

On a visit to Washington, we got to see Mt. Rainier National Park

Chelsea and Julianne at Letchworth State Park in Castille, New York

Visiting Antique Archaeology, famous for the TV show American Pickers in Le Claire, Iowa

Julianne having fun on the beach with grandchildren in Hilton Head, South Carolina

Enjoying the grandeur of Glacier National Park in Montana

Visiting Pittsburgh on a recent trip to visit her sister

Travel runs in our veins.  Julianne may not like the long road trips that I enjoy (as do many of my children and grandchildren), but she still loves to travel.  Annually she has a sibling trip to San Diego where she spends her time in a family time share on the Pacific coast.  And now that her sister Laura is closer, we make occasional trips to Pennsylvania or meet Laura and her family in Ohio or West Virginia.

I am grateful that we have had so many adventures and memories.  I hope for even more to come.

Enjoying the beach in San Diego with her sisters Maren, Kathy and Laura

Do you like travel? Are you aware that I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places?  You can use these to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

49 to 40: The Hiker

In my previous post I wrote about Julianne the biker.  She loves being outdoors and enjoying nature.  Biking is an activity I can easily do with her.  But, in recent years, due to knee issues, taking nice nature hikes with Julianne is a bit more difficult.  But that doesn’t stop her as she will go with daughters, grandchildren and often even solo on hikes. Where possible, when the hikes are “easy” (meaning not too many hills, etc.), I try to join her.  But, she is happy when she is out there, even on her own.

Hiking is something that we have done throughout our marriage.  I was never brought up in the camping tradition, and so I have not been a very good camper.  But, hiking was something I did with my dad and Julianne also did a lot of hiking.  As our children grew, we would take them on hikes.

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

After we arrived in Japan in the late 1980s, we were afforded the opportunity to take many hikes.  There are many antiquities, old statues and beautiful nature hikes in Japan.  We took advantage of these.

Julianne and David with children on a hike to the Usuki Magaibutsu in Oita Prefecture, Japan 1988

We continued on hikes into the 1990s.  After Amaree was married, we all went to Montana and did a few fun hikes there. We enjoyed seeking out a nice waterfall with children and grandchildren.

David and Julianne with Grandson Kade at a waterfall in Montana

David and Julianne hiked to a waterfall near Juneau, Alaska

Of course, the hiking has continued, even as recently as May 2019.  Here are more shots of Julianne on hikes…enjoying nature, time with children and grandchildren and the great outdoors.

Julianne getting ready to hike the Double Arch Trail in Red River Gorge.

Hiking with grandkids in Watkins Glen, NY

Hiking in West Virginia with a view of the New River Gorge Bridge in the background.

Hiking a trail with granddaughter Autumn

A small hike in Glacier National Park in 2005 with son Seth and a friend of Amaree’s

Hiking with the Noe grandkids in Kentucky

Julianne loves hiking in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky

Julianne and David on a short hike at Letchworth State Park in New York

Julianne in her element hiking lovely trails

 

 

50 to 40: The Biker

Throughout most of our 40 years of marriage, we have not had bicycles.  However, when we went to Japan in the late 1980s, much of our local travel was on bikes.  We lived along the Oita River and it had a wonderful bike trail. We would ride to go shopping, take the children on rides, etc.  We had lots of fun doing that.

Fast forward to the 2000s and we finally got a bike for Julianne. This became an instant passion for her.  I would drive her to local trails in Lexington, especially the Legacy Trail, drop her off on one end and pick her up at the other end.  She loved her bike rides.  I enjoyed taking her, but also longing to ride.  But, alas, I felt I was too big to find a bike that could handle me.

Legacy Trail entrance in Lexington, KY

Julianne loves her bike

Always on the bike

We soon determined to venture out and find other places to bike.  Julianne discovered the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in her research and all of a sudden a whole new world of adventure opened up for both of us.  Initially, I would drive her to a Rails-to-Trails bike path, drop her off and then pick her up 10-20 miles later.  In the meantime, I would go exploring.  We took biking trips together to numerous places in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.  Soon Julianne’s sister Laura was getting in on the trips. As a matter of fact, as I write this, Julianne and Laura are up in Ohio riding on the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway near Athens, Ohio.

Riding with her sister Laura at the North Bend trail in West Virginia

Riding the trails together with my biker wife

Though I enjoyed taking Julianne on these road trips and doing my own exploring, I so longed to join her on these biking adventures.  As a high schooler in Montana, I rode daily and loved it.  So, as my 60th birthday rolled around in 2016, unbeknownst to me, my children had contacted many of my high school friends who passed a plate around and got donations for a bike for me.  By 2016 the Specialized Bike company had developed the Roll Bike which has a rugged construction, a larger saddle (to handle big bottoms like mine!) and disc brakes.  The 26 speed bike became my birthday gift and I was soon able to join Julianne on many of her bike rides.

Picking up my new bike on October 14, 2016

Julianne riding with her sister Laura, niece Emma and daughter Marissa on the Virginia Creeper Trail near Damascus, Virginia

So, quite often this is something that we now do together.  I have been blessed to join her on bike rides along the Little Miami River Scenic Trail in central Ohio, the amazingly beautiful Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus, Virginia and others.

Julianne and Marissa often ride the Legacy Trail in Lexington together

Julianne and Marissa riding with the kids on the Little Miami Trail near Xenia, Ohio

On some trips our daughter Marissa and her children join us.  These rails-to-trails bike paths are mostly flat with only slight hills, making the trips easy for young children as well.

Julianne, Marissa and Laura riding at a tunnel on the Montour Bike Trail near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Julianne, Laura, Marissa and Emma getting ready for the 10 mile downhill ride on the Virginia Creeper

For Julianne, spring means bike time.  Warm enough to ride. We are already discussing future trips to more diverse bike paths.  One of the hoped for trips is the High Trestle Trail in Iowa, a 25 mile adventure that crosses over a half-mile bridge that spans 13 stories high over a gorge.  And recently, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has announced the Great American Rail Trail, which will traverse 12 states and cover over 3700 miles from Washington DC to Seattle, Washington.

The biking gang somewhere on the Virginia Creeper Trail. My first REAL bike ride.

Julianne at the Montour Trail in Pennsylvania

Biking is in Julianne’s blood and I am thankful to have this unique activity to share with her, even though I may not always be to ride the distances she does.

I hope we will have many more biking adventures in the months to come.

52 to 40: My Wife is a Superhero

As many of you know, I work in the Superhero business. I know superheros.  And Julianne has proven time and again that she is a superhero. In fact, sometimes she is Captain Marvel. Other times she is Wonder Woman. All times she is Supergirl.

Though I have a number of examples from our 40 years together, perhaps the greatest superhero story took place in the summer of 1987.
I had been working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) and an amazing opportunity came before us. The Japanese Government began an “internationalization” program called the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program). They had two courses…one as an Assistant English Teacher (AET) and the other as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). I applied for the CIR position and was accepted and sent down to Oita Prefecture to work under Governor Morihiko Hiramatsu.

Here I am working as an interpreter with Governor Hiramatsu on the right and then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe on the left

Though that in itself offers many stories, there is the backstory that I want to tell here.
In July 1987 I headed to Japan for Orientations and training, etc. I wasn’t coming back due to my aggressive schedule with the JET Program. That left Julianne alone with our four young children and the arduous task of packing and prepping to leave for a faraway and strange country with an open-ended return timeline. She would follow me to Japan in late August.

The family in Japan in 1987

As if all of the packing wasn’t superhuman enough, she still had to travel to Japan with four children, all aged seven and under, for a nearly 18 hour trip, through Seoul, Korea and then to Fukuoka, Japan.  Unfortunately, her flight got delayed and arrived late into Seoul.  Tired and most likely frazzled, she was shuttled to a hotel in downtown Seoul Korea where she had to spend the night and then get up very early to catch the next flight out to Japan.

Julianne is a Wonder Woman!

Those were the days before cell phones, online flight tracking, etc. And, she was also strapped with the language barriers.  It was a real challenge for her, but Wonder Woman that she was, she made it to Japan, learned the language, handled the kids school things (they went to regular old Japanese public school) and ultimately became very adapted to the Japanese lifestyle and food.
There are so many other Superhero stories to tell.  Perhaps in another post.