Day 9: Almost home

We got up at 5:30 this morning, Uppsala time, and just barely caught the-bus-we-thought-was-a-train (when we purchased the tickets yesterday) to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. From there we flew to Amsterdam. After promising that all checked luggage was our own and that no one had asked us to bring anything on the plane, we got on a packed plane. Our flight to Minneapolis took 7+ hours. Once in the airport, I got busted by the agricultural-sniffing dog for carrying an orange across the ocean. I relinquished the citrus and then we had to re-check our bags and go through security again because, you know, we could’ve spent that 7+ –hour flight filling our shoes with knives. We’re now sitting in a bar/restaurant, drinking local craft beer and eating fries while we wait for our flight to Denver.

It’s already been a loooong day, and there’s still miles to go.

Here’s a somewhat appropriate image from our last day in Stockholm:

Almost home.


Day 7: Biking the river in Uppsala

This afternoon, Zippy and I took the train from Stockholm to Uppsala where Zebu has been studying for two semesters. He took us on a walking tour of the university town where I was thrilled to see evidence of a phenomenon he’d described during one of our Skype sessions:
 Bikes in the river.

Thanks for making my day, anonymous bike-thrower!


Day 6: Things I learned in Stockholm

An elevator (aka lift), is identifiable by a silent HISS:

This is a Western Jackdaw (image from because those taken on my phone are poor quality). We kept hearing and catching glimpses of the bird yesterday, but weren’t sure what it was. Now we know. A Western Jackdaw!

It’s possible to walk a whole lotta dogs without any muss or fuss:

The National Library of Sweden has very nice toilets that are FREE to the public, plus nice statuary next to the entrance/exit:

Zebu, Zippy, and a very chill woman.

The last thing I learned? It’s WAY easier to take photos with my camera and download them to my laptop than to transfer between phone and computer . . .


Day 1: Amsterdam balcony view

What we see from our AirBnB on Maritzstraat.

We’ve only been here about an hour and I’ve already managed to trip the breaker with the hand blender I brought with me to make my green smoothies each day. I REALLY needed one after that long day of traveling. Bad news is there’s a good chance I fried my brand-new blender. Good news is this place had a little blender so I  was still able to have my smoothie.

Other good news? It’s really beautiful here.


Thankful Thursday: the travel edition

Zippy and I are leaving today for Amsterdam. Neither of us has ever been to Holland, despite my maternal grandfather immigrating from there way back when. It’s late in the season for tulips (bad timing, huh, Barb?), but that’s okay. We planned this trip around our schedules and Zebu’s. He’s finishing up his study abroad in Uppsala, Sweden, and we will see him after our stay in Amsterdam. (We’re also spending an afternoon in Copenhagen on our way to Stockholm.)

I hope to post an image each day. Should liven up this mostly-Colorado blog!


Trying to keep this truth in mind

It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.
~  Hans Selye

A whole lot of stress-inducing stuff swirled around me today and while I undoubtedly could’ve handled all of it more gracefully, I’m still standing. And if tomorrow brings more of the same, I’m going to try to remember that watching the clouds is a sure-fire remedy for all that ails me.


Family vacation flashback

I asked Zippy if he could locate some old photos from 2003, and he (quickly!) found them on a CD. And even though I wasn’t looking for this particular photo of the young Wildebeest and Zebu strutting their stuff in San Francisco, I couldn’t resist sharing it.


Because this picture made me smile. And smiles are always, always welcome around here.




If You Build It, You Will Sleep


Last week we went to Westcliffe where my mother has a small cabin.
A few people sleep outside on the deck but most everyone sleeps in tents.


Zippy and I’ve pitched our tent in the same place for years,
a slightly sloped, rocky spot beneath some pine trees.
I don’t get very good sleep while there and after a few nights of that, I’m exhausted.

So, this year we (um, I) decided we should have tent platforms.

Via Craigslist, I found enough secondhand Trex decking for two 10′ x 12′ platforms
and in early July we loaded that and a bunch of other lumber into a 16′ rental truck and took it down.
Here’s where we built the first platform (for Zebu and Wildebeest) last week:
Here are Zippy and Zebu working hard to build a level frame (Wildebeest was off chasing a gorilla) :
Zippy and Zebu are math-heads, and they had a grand time measuring and strategizing 
while I served as beast of burden and moved lumber and tools as needed.
They made great progress that first day but we had to pause while it stormed:
When we finished, the boys had what turned out to be The Best Morning Spot on the property . . . 
shade until ten in the a.m., baby!

We built Zippy’s and my platform after that (note the 9 on the headboard; Zebu and I drove into
town for drill bits and when he saw the house numbers on display, insisted we get some. He
and Wildebeest are number 4 while I opted for "number nine, number nine" in honor of The Beatles):
And now Zippy and I have this glorious view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains:
But even better, we sleep well.

Seeing Is Believing


I’m a woman of routines.

Every morning while in Hawaii, I got up and did yoga while the sun rose over the water just outside the window.
Then I’d take my coffee out onto the beach where I’d watch the crabs do their work.

                                                                                                                         © Tracy Abell 2011 

The crabs would sneak out of their holes with an armful of sand and scuttle away to toss it.
And then back down into the hole for more sand.
Some were a couple feet away but others were just inches from my feet, 
and I delighted in their sci-fi features.
At one point I spotted some crabs farther off on the beach 
and began watching them through my powerful birding binoculars.
These crabs were huge!
Could they be the crabs creating the large holes and the big piles of sand?
The crabs I’d never seen?
As I watched, one ginormous crab stopped next to a massive stick 
and I lowered the binoculars to locate that stick on the beach so I could
witness the huge crab with my bare eyes.
It was not a massive stick but a small twig.
And it wasn’t a gigantic crab; it was one just like the others moving around next to my toes.
The binoculars tricked me.
I laughed at myself and then watched through the binoculars some more
while The Crab That Ate Honolulu stomped around the beach.
You should’ve been there.

Then and Now


A couple weeks ago I was hiking in a tropical forest, scanning the ocean bay with my binoculars:

                                                                                                                          © Zippy 2011

Today I’m at the kitchen window, photographing a Mourning Dove hunkered down in the snow:

                                                                                                                           © Tracy Abell 2011

What a wonderfully diverse home we have on this big, blue spinning ball.


Here in body, not-so-much in spirit . . .


This is where I spent a week clearing my head:

                                                                                                                                                         © Tracy Abell 2011

I’m having a hard time adjusting to reality so am easing back into life.
I will blog with more details soon but wanted to pop in and shout HELLO! to my friends here.
I hope you’re all doing well and have only the desired amount of sand in your swimsuits. 




Tomorrow morning (Saturday), Zippy, Wildebeest, Zebu, and I
are flying to Oahu for spring break.

We haven’t had a family vacation in about three years
because the last one we took (car trip) was a nightmare.
More arguing.
Refusal to participate.
Bad attitudes and all-around-unpleasantness.

Zippy and I swore we’d never vacation with them again.

Well, we’ve reached a new place (as a family) and now get along much better.

All of us.
So I suggested we try one more family vacation, this time to the destination of the kids’ choice.
They wanted Australia or London (which we couldn’t afford) and then agreed on Hawaii.
We’re renting an out-of-the-way place on the beach and bringing lots of sun block.
I’ve got high hopes for our time together, and believe we’ll create lots of good memories.
In the meanwhile, I wish everyone a splendid week filled with all-around pleasantness.

                                                                                            image from