Happy Holidays!

2002 Newsletter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel

9564 Wandering Way, Columbia MD 21045    tel. 410.997.2241
Riegel.Kurt@comcast.net        Riegel.Marieluise@comcast.net

Note:  This version of our Newsletter is Illustrated ... click on hyperlinks in the text to see the photographs.

As time passes we notice that news from friends is ever more dear. The reader is left to decide whether this is a sign of maturing emotional sensibility or advancing decrepitude. 

So, just in case you have similar stirrings, we hereby recount our shenanigans for the year, in earnest hope that you’ll find our second-hand report even a smidgen as entertaining as we found the actual living.

We had some terrific excursions, starting with a week’s skiing in Vail.  After Marieluise’s pelvis break in Davos last year, this was her first time on the pony-what-throwed-'er.  She quickly regained confidence and left Kurt far behind – although Kurt advanced perceptibly and is now skiing black-diamond slopes, if nervously.  We both have new skis and are planning trips this winter to Park City UT and Lake Tahoe CA.

We’ll remember our 2-month summer mega trip as the Summer of Bears & Lookouts, since nearly everywhere we went we saw both bears and Kurt’s fellow Yellowstone Park fire lookout alumni.  We did the American and Canadian Northwest:  WA=>BC=>AB=>MT=>ID=>WA and then Alaska.  In a great mix of camping, dropping in on good friends and hotelling, we saw wonderful country and reconnected with some terrific people.

We started in Seattle, sampling cultural treats all over the city in perfect weather.  Actually, every time we’ve visited Seattle the weather has been breathtakingly beautiful. Might it be that Seattlites have a disinformation campaign to make visitors stay only briefly and then go home?  Or maybe all those lattés so cloud both eyes and judgment that the natives just misconstrue the weather.

A highlight was our visit with Bern & Anne Marie Shanks on their Orcas Island retreat in the San Juan Islands off Washington state.  We climbed Mt. Constitution, went sea kayaking around Gene Hackman’s island, and explored neat art galleries.  Then we went on to British Columbia for wonderful camping, hiking & glacier trekking in Jasper/ Banff/ Lake Louise – reveling in abundant wildlife everywhere: deer, eagles, ospreys, elk, black & grizzly bears, ground squirrels, mountain goats and sheep, etc.

From Alberta we entered U.S. Glacier National Park from the north, luckily joining the first caravan of the year over snow-clogged Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road.  We hiked up to Avalanche Lake and noted a flurry of activity including a helicopter search.  We learned that a woman walking along our path casually stepped back for her companion to take a photograph, tumbled into Avalanche Creek, and was swept down the gorge in a fury of glacier melt. Her body was found 2 days later, reminding us that Nature is still boss in a few of the world’s places.  We met a park ranger with a great bear tale. He’d been sitting in his wheelchair when a bear cub emerged from the trees, ran up and began chewing vigorously on his leg. Now he’d lost that leg in a military mishap years earlier, so all the cub got was the crunch of stainless steel.  Discouraged, it departed.

Moving southward into Montana, we stopped by for a great visit with Lizzie Range at Flyway Ranch on the Missouri River, and a great kayak adventure.  We met daughter Eden Riegel in Bozeman, and drove on to an historic western saloon with more dead animals on the wall than you’d imagine.  Next came Yellowstone Park, where we popped in on Bill & Jackie Schneider at their house on the banks of the Yellowstone River.  We did all the sights of Yellowstone, from elk tiptoeing through hot springs, to the Hayden Valley bison herd, to Old Faithful geyser, to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where Eden and Kurt cooled their feet.  We saw grizzlies and trembled for fear lest one come visiting our tent.  South to the Grand Teton National Park, we had a nice mixture of luxury at Jackson Lake Lodge and the town of Jackson, plus a terrific hike into the mountains up to a small glacier.

A long drive across Idaho delivered us to the paradise created by Jon & Kathy Warren for a warm reunion, catching up on Jon’s wildflower and wild grasses restoration project, plus other delights too numerous to mention.  Then a short stop at the Roslyn Café where Kurt imitated the moose made famous by Northern Exposure, and back to Seattle stopping by Snoqualmie Falls and the Asian Art Museum just long enough to ride a camel and meet with old Harvard buddy Junius Rochester.

Joined by daughter Tonya Stewart, off we flew to Anchorage for our very first Alaska adventure, again splitting our time between camping and the gracious hospitality of lookout pal Roy Dalthorp.  We climbed many hills in the Anchorage area, took a great wildlife/glacier boat trip out of Seward, stopped at a historic saloon in Homer.  Roy introduced us to moose, shooting and rafting down a river laden with gray glacier silt.  An excellent excursion to Denali National Park gave us our first view of caribou, marmots, mosquitoes that carry off small birds as appetizers just before turning to us for the main course, and lots of grizzlies (called brown bears in Alaska).

Kurt, ever on the cutting-edge of technology, has prepared his Johns Hopkins environmental compliance course for presentation next semester on the Web.  He’ll teach the course from the ski slopes and from a cruise ship.   We’re going from Florida to the Amazon, Kurt having been hired on as an “enrichment lecturer.” He has preserved a near- flawless record of dodging gainful employment. The Governor of Virginia reappointed Kurt as a member of Virginia’s Environmental Education Commission.

There was sadness with the death of Pat Davis, wife of Kurt’s good friend and college roommate Jack.   It’s poignant to recall that last year’s edition of this letter featured Jack and Pat after we saw them in Honolulu, a visit we’re now doubly happy we made.  Myra Cox died at age 101, but not before we were able to orchestrate a nice reunion with her sister Jane, Kurt’s mother.

We still have no rooster or dog, drat, but that’s just the downside of all our gallivanting.  We’re still in our house in Columbia, made better every day by Marieluise’s imagination and energy, so our repositioning plans have not worked out yet.

And it’s a good thing, too. Ed & Linda Gray provided both encouragement and fine example, and we’ve now become sailors gone ga-ga over the sport.  We took a good course at the J-School in Annapolis, joined a sailboat syndicate to buy the sloop Tsavo, and just love day-sailing, overnight cruising and organized sailboat racing.  We enticed Quyen, Sam & Eden aboard, found they had great seamanship skills, and capped off our sail with a bodacious crab feast.  Ditto for Mark & Angela, and sister Dee & Barry Bingham. It’s a whole new world.

Our children:  Tanya is now editor of NBC’s very interesting new TV series American Dreams in the ‘60s milieu of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in Philadelphia.  Sam continues performing and teaching improvisational comedy, has finished a screenplay with his partner, and is in a zillion other amazing things.  Eden continues as Bianca on ABC’s All My Children, and does a lot of personal appearances. All will be in Costa Rica this year for a Christmas eco-adventure.
Pasha has developed a nice personal training and yoga practice and is enjoying rural New Hampshire with husband Scott & kids.   Continuing their educations are Tonya at Rhode Island School of Design, also elected to residence in the president’s house for the term; and Mark at University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he also works as resident associate in student housing and consults with fiancé Angela over future wedding plans.

Marieluise is a dynamo, starting and completing art and remodeling projects by the dozens. Examples include a new design for the garage door, remodeling of the bedroom/bathroom/closet, and quality knit crafts.

We wish you the very best for the year 2003 and very much hope that we will see you soon and often.