It was so nice to see Bongo again tonight.
When we were on our trip, we talked about having an "after party" to rehash the trip and to share photos (though many of us have already posted them on line). With no date chosen, Jeri took the bull by the horns and suggested we have the party on August 30, when she will be in town and can attend. Everybody agreed that sounded like a great idea, so the party is set for August 30.
But some people decided that was way too long to wait, so an interim gathering was set for tonight. Thing was that not everybody could make it tonight, but Sheri, Ashley and Bongo came so I took the above photo to send to Jeri, so she wouldn't feel left out. He's sitting next to a container of prosciutto and melon that I brought as my contribution to the dinner. I think I may finally have gotten prosciutto and melon out of my system!
We enjoyed sitting around our hosts' gorgeous back yard, overlooking Mt. Diablo
What a difference it was this time vs. the pre-trip parties. This time I wasn't uncomfortably standing around trying to get to know strangers I would soon be spending two weeks with, I was sharing memories with old friends who had survived the Bataan march together. I was hearing about how Kathy and Russ's trip to Spain had gone and what other people thought about the hell that is DeGaulle Airport security. It was remembering Ian and laughing about the time David posed with the statue of David.
It was remembering the gelato and the chocolate croissants and the Big Head and Jennifer's trip to the doctor and all the other things we enjoyed together. It was sad that only about 10 of the group could make it, but fun that two of them, who were supposed to be at a party somewhere else, had to stop by for a few minutes because they couldn't stand not to see us when we got together for the first time. But I think almost everybody will be there on the 30th, when Jeri is able to join us.
At Cousins Day, Kathy asked what the state of the economy was in France and Italy and I replied that we stayed in 4-star hotels and you really didn't get a sense of that (or at least I didn't because I wasn't looking), but we were talking tonight about how few other guests there seemed to be at most of the other hotels (except the one in Paris, which I learned is owned by the same corporation that owns Motel 6 here). Once we left Paris, there were no other tour groups, no tour buses and in a couple of hotels, we never saw any other guests. The guy at our last hotel, outside Florence, said business was terrible and that not only were they not getting any customers, but the U.S. was no longer ordering their wine, which had been a huge financial blow to them, since it's their wine exports that pay for the upkeep on the hotel. (Makes me wish, now, that I had bought a bottle of wine, in addition to the olive oil I bought!)
I'm looking forward to getting us all together next month, when Jeri is here. We are now old friends who survived the 2 week tour and share memories we will never have with anyone else, though the chance of me seeing most of the others again is slight!
SPECIAL LAWSUIT ALERT: Ned has been posting old Lawsuit videos (because, of course, there are no new Lawsuit videos!) on the "Lawsuit Music Channel" on You Tube. If you were a fan and are missing Lawsuit in your life, or if you just wonder what the magic was all about, by all means check it out!