In January, as always, we attended the Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chateau d'Oex, Switzerland. (We're already looking forward to Chateau d'Oex 2000 next January!)
After a couple of weeks at home in Florida, my feet felt the need to travel again. So it was off to Kenya for ten days with my daughter Annie (and her son Cam) and my daughter Patty (and her daughter Ellie). I wrote a pre-journal; the trip's actual journal was authored by Cam and Ellie.
Lots of photos, along with some pieces of original artwork, accompany Safari On! - Cam and Ellie's Journal.
In June, I spent two weeks ballooning and touring in and around Burgundy. Annie and I have made many such trips over the past few years; this time, Paul and a couple of additional friends joined us with their fresh eyes.
During our French ballooning adventure, Paul's new Nikon Coolpix 950 snapped nearly 2000 photos, and over 700 of them are available in an All-Digital Photo Album. Take a leisurely stroll through our two wonderful weeks in France. You can go to the index page for the full album, or jump right into the excitement of Annie Inflating the Balloon.
Some photos shot with my Elph APS camera and my Mavica digital camera are also available. Plus, before Paul went totally photographic, he rambled textually for a few days in a normal journal. Click away!
In June and July, Linda and I took a trip to three northern European cities, where we walked around observing architecture. We spent a couple of days in Stockholm, a couple of days in Helsinki, and a couple of days in St. Petersburg, all on a Butterfield & Robinson urban walking tour. Without any of the usual journal writing staff along, I was forced to pick up the keyboard for this trip and log the details myself.
In August, I took an extended trip through France, then Siena, then London.
The trip began in France, with a corkscrew conference in the Loire Valley; then Annie and I visited some of the same places we visited last month: Chateau de Vault de Lugny and Beaune. You can find all the details of our schedule and the cast of characters in my corkscrew journal. Our subsequent French travels, including our visit to a restaurant that recently lost a star, are recorded in my Burgundy Ballooning Journal.
I began September with a trip to Philadelphia for the Annual General Meeting of the International Conference of Corkscrew Addicts (ICCA).
While in London, I stumbled upon a mysterious and possibly dangerous story. I hope that you'll find the time to click into a full read of Mellisa's woe. This appeared to be a case for Scotland Yard!
Mellisa is just one of the hundreds of women who niche-market their services in London telephone booths. While mainstream service providers stick to such standard message carriers as billboards and window displays, the Mellisas decorate the otherwise drab interiors of phone kiosks with their tart cards. Some of these invitations to negotiate are vague and only suggest what is on the other end of the line. Others jump right ahead and promise the standard missionary approved sacrament. Further afield: many tart cards unashamedly tender a deep cafeteria of bewildering stimulations that employ tools such as "bondage benches," "internals," "racks," and "chattering dwarfs." Plus: A generous batch of phone booth tart cards.
I also stopped at Cameron Balloons in Bristol to see Corkscrew Balloon III. You can see it, too, in the CB3 Photo Album. Included here are 32 pictures, some taken by me and some taken by the staff at Cameron. You can either jump around to see the images you like, or take a tour straight through the pages by clicking on the blue buttons. You can also see excerpts from the Cameron Balloons summer newsletter, including details of a royal visit to the plant.
Most of October was spent on the other side of the planet. Early in the month, after a weekend visit to Seattle, Linda and I left on an extended trip to the Far East. My Seattle to Hong Kong journal includes photos of our guided tour of Ara Tripp's electric tower and our long journey across the Pacific. Travel details continue in my Hong Kong journal, which carries us through October 15, and my Shanghai journal, which continues through the 21th. We then moved on to Thailand, where my Bangkok journal continues through the end of the month.
On November 10 I left Florida for a two-week family trip to India. This trip would finally provide me with a partial break from journal-writing duties, as balloon pilot Mike (who would travel with us but without his balloons) offered to take up the pen, with some photographic assistance from my daughter Annie.
You can also scan through my alternative journal, which covers November 11-22 ... and my Bangkok Journal, which carries you through November 30. Throughout this trip, an array of digital cameras snapped graphic details of our travels.
November's travels flowed into December without a break. The first few days of the month were spent in Kathmandu and its environs, as detailed in my Polo Pre-Journal. Then it was on to Tigertops and the 18th Annual World Elephant Polo Association Tournament, where my Screwy Tuskers team once again competed for pachydermal competitive glory.
Our extensive coverage of the WEPA Tournament includes:
For those unacquainted with the rules of this sport, we provide here the latest version, updated to include last year's rule changes. (Before the Tournament began, Screwy Tusker team members studied these until they could recite them verbatim in their sleep.)
After polo, my Post Polo Photos, from Pokhara and Kathmandu, keep you on track during a few interim days. And then it was on to Thailand, where A Little Star Over Bangkok tells a different kind of Christmas story. Finally, the last week of the 1900s found Linda and me in London. And then, after a busy year climaxing with two months of non-stop travel, I finally returned home on January 4, 2000 ... for a couple of weeks before starting again!
Once every twelve months I select my favorite corkscrews for the year. This year, instead of singling out worthy workers from the thousands of hand-held candidates, I've chosen to honor the corkscrews that are on my new hot-air balloon. The details, as well as more tradional selections from prior years, can be found on my main corkscrew page.