After Southeast Asia and before the Olympics, I planned on about 4 months at home relaxing. With a few trips to break it up - which ended up being a string of week trips to Denver, Oregon , Chicago , Mexico and Vegas that left me exhausted before I boarded the flight to China!
In June, I went to the Copper Canyon with my dad and niece, Jamie. Dad had found the combo bus/train trip - we took a train along and through the Copper Canyon , which is four times as big as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It was a beautiful trip, with travel through the high desert and along rivers included.
A pic of Jamie on the train at a stop shows some of the local indian women selling their intricate woven baskets. These tribes fled the central part of Mexico during the initial Spanish invasion in the 1500's for the high country and the Copper Canyon -we took a hike into the canyon and saw indian families still living in the canyon in rudimentary cabins built into the walls for protection from the brutal weather. Also bought some very cool seed bracelets from them in the canyon.
There were some beautiful and HUGE hummingbirds all over Mexico - here are some in a tree on the rim of the canyon. Also - here is a pic of the canyon from our hotel hanging right on the rim of the canyon itself. I didn't sleep well since it was at 7,000 feet - so when I got up in the middle of the night to sit on the much cooler porch, I got a treat of a lightning storm miles away across the valley.
We had a great guide and learned alot about Mexico along the way. I was pretty chagrined to learn how little I really knew about Mexican history apart from the discovery of guacamole in 1847. For example, who was Pancho Villa and why should we care? Anyone, anyone? Bueller?
He was one of several military gents that challenged the incumbent and longtime strongman president of Mexico who ruled for almost 30 years. Pancho was from the Chihuahua state that borders Texas and got pulled into a civil war. He has about 20 "wives" (ie recognized by the Catholic church but not the state after #1) and a gazillon kids. He was assassinated in the 1920's.
Also had some time on the Oregon beach with the Swinnerton clan I visit each Thanksgiving. Great time playing games at night and walking with Atty and the kids on the beach just outside our house. Funny thing happened - when some folks were "downtown" in the little tourist part of town, they ran into a large group of Secret Service agents with motorcycles - apparently, the King of Jordan was taking a motorcycle tour of southern Oregon between events in the US. A week later, Obama met with him in Jordan on his big tour of the mideast - weird to feel the strings of foreign affairs stretch to OR.
Also spent a great birthday week in Chicago at Jean's - she threw a BBQ for my old high school (and token college friend, Jim) friends and asked them to bring memories of me - it was pretty funny what people pulled out - not playable for a family venue like this blog. Tried to get into the Obama office while in town but its not a walk-in place for volunteers to visit - its strictly by appointment and an HQ for strategy and operations for the national campaign.
DID I MENTION OBAMA?
Did some volunteering for the campaign this summer - I walked into the weekend office in Los Gatos during the phonebanking into Indiana and got pulled into the core group of South Bay volunteers.
Its been a fascinating experience learning just how grassroots a campaign like this is. I have met some truly dedicated people - and some a little too excitable! It was a relief to finally see the phonebanking and canvassing (roadtrip to Medford, OR a few weeks before the primary and before his big 80,0000 person rally in Portland) pay off and allow for eventual rallying behind one candidate -and its my guy! Also really interesting to see who volunteers - I met alot of teachers and retirees and women in the group. Didn't meet too many high-tech people except for occasional folks on the weekend for phonebanking.
Had a garage sale in July to fund some voter registration efforts as well as helping one of the delegates get to Denver - raised $840. Here is a pic of Kristin and Kirsten and I with the candidate.
On July 29th, I boarded a flight to Japan and began what is probably my last big trip of my timeoff - on my way to Beijing.