Written in Alma, Colorado, March 11, 2023.

In 2019 Christine and I spent 3 weeks piloting a 61-foot-long narrowboat in England. This was the realization of a dream that I held for over 40 years, an idea planted by a 1974 National Geographic article which I read seated in a barbershop chair. The experience of canal boating in England, parts of which we shared with friends, Kris Ashton from Colorado, and Canadians Tom Shillington and his wife Nanci Burns, was extraordinary, so much so that we are returning in 2023 to reprise the adventure. Here is information that will provide insight into life on the canals of the United Kingdom:

Omitting the British canals of the Roman era and those of the Middle Ages associated with the construction and support of castles and monasteries, the dawn of the “modern” UK canal system dates to the mid 1700’s. It coincided with the Industrial Revolution, but whether the Industrial Revolution gave birth to the canals, or the canals were the progenitor of the IR is in the realm of what came first, chickens or eggs.


By the end of the 18th Century construction of a remarkable system of connected waterways was well underway. It was the 18th and 19th Century equivalent of the United States Interstate Highway system. At its zenith the canal network of the United Kingdom extended to over 2,000 miles of inland waterways providing the efficient transport of coal, raw materials, and manufactured goods throughout the realm. It was a technological tour-de-force in its day and remains a marvel in the 21st Century with parts of the system declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Steam rail service in the late 19th and early 20th Century became the chief rival of the canal system. Train operators undertook to purchase segments of the canals and then raised canal fees to a level that made them uncompetitive. The death knell for the canals was struck in the Great Winter Freeze of 1962-63 when the entire system closed due to ice. Rail service had won its century long battle for supremacy.


Visionaries and conservationists believed that the Canals might again find relevance… not as networks of commerce but purposed as a recreational windfall. In the 1960’s the Inland Waterways Association was founded to restore the canals. This effort was later passed to the management of British Waterways. Finally, an act of Parliament placed the ownership and management of the canal system into the hands of the newly formed Canal and River Trust, a not-for-profit that has been responsible for the restoration and maintenance of the system since 2012.

During the second half of our 6 weeks in England Christine and I will again be piloting a “Narrowboat”. This time it is the 62-foot-long, 7-foot-wide “Fjord-Empress” out of the quaint village of Middlewich that dates to the time of the Roman Empire. For 21 days the Fjord-Empress will be our personal magic carpet upon the waterways of England. We will be joined by Kansas City friends, Pat and Wendy Mejia, during the first week, and by Charlie and Mary Murphy during the second week.

Narrowboats are… NARROW! Here is a diagram of the Fjord-Empress’s interior:

The interiors of the vessels provide accommodations for sleeping, cooking, bathing, and relaxation. These boats are powered by small inboard diesel engines that are designed to propel the narrowboat at the canal speed limit of 4 mph. Interiors are comfortable if not spacious.



The canals wander across country, connecting villages and cities alike. England is not flat. In order to accommodate the undulating landscape engineers of the 18th and 19th Centuries had to devise systems of locks to climb hills and descend valleys, hundreds of locks. Most are human powered by the narrowboat operators (us!). In some locations there are “flights” of locks, as many as 21 in a 3-mile stretch! There will be no lack of exercise for any of us.

Where the hills were too daunting tunnels were dug, the longest of these being over 3 miles long and pitch dark inside.

In the pre-diesel days of the 1800’s men would hire themselves out as “canal walkers” to propel the vessels through these tunnels using their feet against the tunnel walls and ceiling!

The Anderton Boat Lift, constructed in 1875, still lifts narrowboats 50 feet from one waterway to another. Its 21st Century equivalent, the Falkirk Wheel, looks like a huge Ferris Wheel and lifts boats nearly 80 feet to the connected canal.

Finally, there are the stone aqueducts that carry narrowboats in 200-year-old cast iron troughs 175 feet above the valley floor below.


Canal boating in England is essentially safe, but not entirely free of peril.

We are counting down the days to departure in earnest. We hope you will travel along with us through my posts and pictures.

Peace Everyone. Pete

(Note: Parts of the preceding post were previously published by me in August 2018.)



Written in Alma, Colorado, March 10, 2023.

On the morning of July 7, 2005, Christine and I had passed the turnstiles to board a London Underground Subway at Kings Cross Station, direction to Russell Square. We were still full of the thrill and excitement from having spent the previous afternoon in Trafalgar Square with our Welsh friends, Huw and Nina Thomas, along with tens of thousands of others, celebrating London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Before we could step inside the subway car security personnel intercepted us and rushing aboard ordered all passengers to immediately leave the station and return to the street above. I asked one of the officers what was wrong. “The system is down!” I asked him how often the “system” goes down. With a look of grave concern he replied, “Never!”

We emerged from the station to a scene of dystopian chaos. Sirens were blaring from all directions, traffic was stopped, and pedestrians were rushing about in near panic.

Image from Wikipedia

Terrorists had just detonated explosive devices on 3 trains in the subway. The last of the three bombs destroyed the subway train which had just arrived at Russell Square, having departed our station minutes earlier. We barely missed being counted among the 26 dead and scores injured on that train.

Image from Wikipedia

A 4th bomb then exploded, this time aboard a bus in front of the hotel where our friends, Huw and Nina, were staying. The blast peeled off the roof of the bus, utterly destroying the rear section and extinguishing the lives of 13 passengers.

Later that year the bus was replaced with one bearing the special designation of “The Spirit of London, remembering 7/7”. In 2020 the bus was retired from service and is now preserved on display in the London Transport Museum.

Image from Wikipedia

The carnage from the four devices was such that an accurate count of the dead could only be made with the assistance of forensic analysis. In total, 52 died, including 4 Islamic terrorists. In the United Kingdom the London terrorist bombing is known as “7/7”, much like we refer to the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings as “9-11”.

Today I asked Christine why she still carries her subway ticket from that fateful morning, “It’s my reminder that life is both short and precious.”

Indeed, life is both short and precious. Peace Everyone. Pete
London’s Hyde Park Memorial dedicated to the victims of 7/7, Image from Wikipedia
Next: Part 2 of Our Coming Journey


Written in Alma, Colorado, March 9, 2023.

During the summer of 2005 Christine and I embarked upon a one-month trip overseas. It was an extraordinary tour that included travel deep under the English Channel from London to Paris and return via the high-speed Eurostar “Chunnel” train.

This was Christine’s third and my fourth visit to Paris. Nevertheless, over the course of four days we again took in all of the city’s major tourist sites.

On this occasion we shared the experience with Philippe and Patricia Pluvinage and their two children, Camille and Thomas. Years earlier this wonderful French family from Bussy Albieux had hosted our daughter, Alexis, as a foreign exchange student.

Back in the United Kingdom we toured the length and breadth of the British Isle, from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Swansea in Wales. In between our journey included Cambridge, the City of Bath, Stonehenge, Durham, and London, among others.

At York we even encountered a canal boat, reigniting my 1974 dream of someday navigating the canals of England in just such a vessel.

Little did I know that 14 years later the dream would be realized, and again reprised in 2023. But that is the subject of Part 2 of Our Coming Journey.

Portions of that tour again included dear friends. This time it was Huw and Nina Thomas of Wales.

As we drove near Durham in England, we happened to see signs indicating the nearby path of Hadrian’s Wall. I have always been fascinated by ancient history, embracing those studies in high school and college. We detoured to find “The Wall”.

Christine and a couple from Kentucky that we met at The Wall.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian (Reign: 117-138 CE) sought to consolidate the Empire’s hold on central and southern Britannia by erecting a massive defense line against the unconquered Scots to the north.

Construction was begun in 122 and largely completed by 128. The serpentine wall extended from the West Coast of England near Bowness-on-Solway to the East Coast of England at Wallsend on the River Tyne.

Hadrian’s wall, image from Wikipedia

As originally constructed, the wall measured between 8 and 10 feet thick, 12 feet high, and was further reinforced by a parallel ditch excavated 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The builders also took advantage of natural land features such as valleys and cliffs to further enhance the barrier’s effectiveness.

Hadrian’s wall, image from Wikipedia

The length of Hadrian’s Wall was garrisoned by soldiers billeted in stone forts, milecastles, and intervening turrets. It is estimated that 10,000 soldiers manned Hadrian’s Wall. Rome feared the Scots.

Today, much of the wall remains visible although significantly reduced in height as stones were “quarried” over the intervening centuries by locals for the construction of buildings and roads. Hadrian’s Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

In 2003 a British National Trail footpath was officially opened to follow the length of The Wall, from coast to coast. From this coming March 28th until April 8th Christine and I will hike the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall, 12 days which will include a few extra night stays along the way. Our path will cover nearly 100 miles. A special treat will be two nights at 14th Century Langley Castle, where we will lodge in “royal chambers” for my birthday.

Image from the Langley Castle website.

In addition to hiking Hadrian’s Wall, we will spend time in Manchester and Liverpool, thereafter, taking charge of a 62-foot canal “Narrowboat” which, along with Kansas City friends, we will pilot for three weeks. But that is again the subject of Part 2 of Our Coming Journey.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. During our July 2005 stay in London, we experienced the elation of London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. We also came too near to losing our lives in the tragedy of the July 7th terrorist bombings that rocked the city. That is the subject of my next post. This link will be active after March 14th:  The Terrorist Bombs of 7/7 and Our Very Close Call 

Image from Wikipedia


Written February 12, 2023. At Kansas City, Missouri.

I am 70 years old and I have been aware of my Essential Tremors (ET) since grade school. My mother had this condition and it is likely that it has been passed on through me to one or more of my children and grandchildren. I was fortunate to lead a productive life relatively unencumbered by my tremors. My tremors, however, put some limits upon my occupational aspirations. I became an attorney rather than pursue a profession in medicine or science.

My wife, Christine, and I retired in early 2015 giving ourselves over to the pursuit of travel, writing, and time with family.

Over the past eight years my tremors have worsened to the point that in February of 2022 I sought guidance from physicians at the Department of Neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Given my family history and manifest physical symptoms, a confirming diagnosis was immediate. Two pharmaceutical treatment options were tried and ultimately deemed unsuitable; Propranolol because of my slow resting heart rate, and Primidone because of its impact on my sleep and emotions. I was deemed a candidate for a surgical option, either Focused Ultrasound (FU) or Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). I put treatment decisions on hold taking an “I’ll think about it” attitude. The thought of brain surgery was daunting.

In September and October of 2022, while hiking solo across Portugal and Spain, I became acutely aware of the everyday assistance that my wife had increasingly rendered to me over the years. In an open letter to her on my travelblog I announced that I had come to the decision to undergo DBS surgery. Here is a link to that heartfelt letter:

October 28, 2022, The Decision

In December I returned to the University of Kansas Medical Center and in consultation with staff made a final election to undergo the DBS surgical procedure. I was presented with 3 options for the implanted neurostimulator, two by Medtronic and one by Boston Scientific. I selected the Boston Scientific unit because of its programming capabilities and that it is rechargeable.

Image from Boston Scientific
Image from Boston Scientific

The University of Kansas Medical Center has three neurosurgeons who perform FS and DBS surgeries. The surgeon with whom I consulted in January is young but very experienced. On average she performs two of these procedures each week. We spoke for nearly an hour, and I felt reassured in having selected her to perform the operation. The plan involves three separate operations. The first scheduled in June will implant an electrode deep into the thalamus of the left hemisphere of my brain which controls my dominant right hand. I will be awake for most of that procedure.

Image from Wikipedia

Two weeks later the neurostimulator will be surgically implanted into my chest and attached by wires running from the implanted electrode, under the scalp and skin, down my neck to the stimulator.

Approximately 2 weeks later neurology staff will fine tune the neurostimulator to my particular needs. Later in the year, but as yet unscheduled, a third surgery will implant an electrode in the thalamus of the right hemisphere of my brain thus extending the treatment to my left hand.

Image from Wikipedia
Image from Wikipedia

An MRI under full anesthesia was conducted in mid-January with and without contrast. The findings were normal and a possible hurdle to surgery was eliminated.

Last week I underwent a detailed neuropsychological examination, again through the University of Kansas Medical Center. Over the course of more than 3 hours I was extensively interviewed by a psychologist and completed a score of tests in areas that included Dementia Screening, Verbal Memory, Attention, Language, Executive Function, Perceptual Function, and Emotional Function. It was exhausting.

It is curious to me the amount of stress that I experienced in the days preceding the neuropsychological examination. What if I was not deemed an appropriate candidate for surgery? What if testing revealed cognitive issues or problems? It occurred to me that this anxiety was unique and never previously experienced by me in the course of any other medical test, examination, or procedure. Tests for cholesterol, blood pressure, cardiovascular health… these define a physical characteristic but do not reach to the core of who one is. The possibility of poor neuropsychological test results not only threatened my decision to go forward with surgery but presented a threat to the definition of who I am. Fortunately, the testing revealed no deficits. I remain a candidate to go forward with DBS surgery.

Reading between the lines, I hope it is evident how fortunate I am to have the support of Christine, my wife of 45 years. She has remained at my side, patiently listening to my concerns and allaying my fears. DBS surgery has an excellent track record and predictive efficacy for tremor reduction of from 60 to 90%. Nevertheless, it is brain surgery, and the risks cannot be ignored.

Image from Wikipedia

To this point the most difficult step has been the decision that I reached last October. It is my intention to further update my progress and it is my hope that this will be helpful to others who are contemplating seeking relief from their own Essential Tremors.

Peace Everyone. Pete

PS. I had the opportunity to schedule surgery much earlier in the year. However, Christine and I have planned a six-week journey in England this spring. Beginning in late March we will fly to Manchester England and then train to the town of Carlisle on the west coast just south of the border with Scotland. We will then hike 100 miles from the west coast to the east coast, following the route of Hadrian’s Wall which was erected in the 2nd Century CE by Rome under its Emperor Hadrian.

Image from Wikipedia
Hadrian’s wall, image from Wikipedia

After sightseeing in cities such as Newcastle, Manchester, and Liverpool, we will proceed to Middlewich England where we will take command of a 62 foot “Narrow Boat” which we will pilot for three weeks upon the canals of England and Wales.

Kansas City friends will join us for part of the canal voyage. This will be a reprise of a similar journey which I detailed in posts on this website:

The Canals of England, our 2019 Journey

It is my intention to again regularly post pictures and a running commentary which all are welcome to follow. Pete


Written January 8, 2023, at 39.26° N, 106.03° W. Also known as Alma, Colorado, USA.

Hello Everyone. I’m not one normally prone to procrastination, however this final post from an epic journey which began for me in late September, and for Christine in late October, is written more than a month after we returned to the United States. 8 weeks spent hiking Portugal, Spain, and sailing crossing the Atlantic Ocean… I just needed a break. Still, there are no real excuses, just my apology for the delay.

We departed Rio de Janeiro and headed back out to sea the afternoon of November 27th. November 28th and 29th were our final “at sea days”. We were given instructions for our final disembarkation which would occur on December 1st at port in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Reality was setting in and took the form of assembling, organizing, and packing our belongings, saying goodbyes to shipboard friends and also to the accommodating staff that had seen to our every need. Many acquaintances were made, but with the unspoken understanding that it was unlikely our paths would cross again. There were a few goodbyes which carried with them the hope, if not the promise, that we would meet again someday.

Included among the latter were Bob and Ann along with Paul and Shirley whose staterooms were immediately down the hall from ours.

There was Vicki and her husband Dell. Vicki, one of the fastest walkers I have ever encountered, slowed down in order that I might join her for conversation as we put in daily miles walking the ship’s promenade deck.

Finally, there was Saba and her husband Wes who celebrated his birthday aboard ship.

We shared dinners, drinks, and our personal stories with each of these good people and we truly hold hope to see them again someday.

In 21 days on the ocean a level of familiarity built between us and certain of the ship’s crew. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the courtesy extended to us by these gracious workers was flawless. Our stateroom was attended to three times daily by Alex and his partner Agus.

Evenings usually included pre-dinner drinks forward in the Explorers Lounge.

We developed a special fondness for Alexandra and Arturo who each served us. When time allowed, they also exchanged pleasant conversation with us. My only regret is the lack of an opportunity to just sit and visit with each of them at length.

What is the shipboard experience like for them, what have they seen, and what does the future hold, are just a few of the things I would have liked to explore with each of them.

Even on the last day at sea there was still time for some riotous fun. Over the course of the sailing various groups of passengers had assembled with the task of creating “ships” from discarded items. They would be judged for artistic merit, seaworthiness (in the swimming pool), and the ability to transport “cargo’ consisting of cans of soda. Many floundered and sank, but a few were more than equal to the task.

Early morning on November 30th we entered the port of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This ultra-modern city houses a metro population of nearly 16 million.

It also houses social and economic problems that I will touch upon.

We were booked on a boat excursion to parts of the Parana Delta. A one-hour drive from the port and city center delivered us to the dock. One would have thought that 21 days at sea would have satisfied any urge for more boat rides, but this was different and unique.

The Parana Delta is one of the largest in the world. It is also the only river delta that opens to another river (the Rio de la Plata River which at 140 miles from shore to shore is the widest river in the world) rather than the sea. Measuring 5,400 square miles, this labyrinth of small islands houses both permanent and vacation homes which are accessible only by boat. Some of these residences are decidedly upscale, and others are not.

Schools, resorts, and recreational activities are evident as is commerce in the form of riverboat “stores” that deliver groceries, supplies, mail, fuel, and most importantly, drinking water.

The rivers and streams flowing through the delta are fished but the brackish waters are not considered potable.

A modern Coast Guard facility stands juxtaposed to derelict vessels that have been abandoned to time and the elements.

It was an excellent excursion with our guide providing a wealth of practical information not included in most tourist pamphlets. She gave us guidance on navigating the generally safe city proper. She also educated us to the challenges of surviving in an economy wracked by nearly 100% annual inflation. The largest Argentine denomination is the 1,000-peso bill. When we were in Argentina in 2019 one dollar bought 50 pesos. During this visit the conversion had deteriorated to 175 pesos to the dollar. More confusing was that these rates were “official bank rates”… what one would receive in exchange at a bank, ATM, or for a credit card transaction. However, there was a thriving “blue market” where scores of ordinary citizens stand throughout the tourist areas calling out, “Cambio, Cambio, Cambio…” in hopes that they can exchange their declining value pesos for stable currency (dollars and euros), offering 250 pesos to the dollar while we were there. Our tour guide carried her own hefty bundle of 1,000-peso notes which she offered to exchange at the “blue market” rate. She had takers in the group and we were among them. A 1,000-peso note barely buys a Big Mac and French fries!

After the tour concluded Christine and I had time and the opportunity to wander solo in the heart of the city. We headed to July 9th Avenue, an expansive thoroughfare that runs for three kilometers in the city center.

It is named in honor of Argentina’s Independence Day, July 9, 1816. It features beautiful green spaces, upscale shopping, four-star hotels, and the iconic 221-foot obelisk in Plaza de la Republic which was erected in 1936.

Overlooking all of this is the image of still venerated Evita Peron who died in 1952.

Tomorrow we would be staying in a hotel along this boulevard for our final night in Buenos Aires.

On the afternoon of the 30th the entire community was holding its breath, seeking every opportunity to view television screens. Police assembled around store windows where televisions were mounted facing out to the street. Taxis cabs stopped, as did pedestrians to join law enforcement as spectators while bars and restaurants thronged with patrons glued to the television sets in those establishments.

The entire city could be heard to alternately cheer with glee and gasp in horror. Argentina was playing Poland in a lead up match to the 2022 World Cup Final. Argentina was down at the half but ultimately came back to win not only that match but later the coveted World Cup itself. Lionel Messi is a God in Argentina. His jersey, emblazoned with the number 10, could be seen on men, women, and children everywhere. To put world soccer or “Football” as it is more commonly known outside of the United States into perspective, America’s Super Bowl commonly attracts around 100 million television viewers. The World Cup final, held every four years, is a magnet for over 10 times that number, well over a billion viewers worldwide.

We returned to Viking Jupiter and the less than pleasant task of final packing in preparation for the morning debarkation. Fortunately, Viking has that task reduced to a science. Passenger bags which clogged the ship’s hallways that night had disappeared by the morning of December 1st.

Ship’s crew had removed them to a huge dockside facility where they were organized in such a way as to make retrieval a snap of the fingers. By 10:00 AM that morning we were through customs, bags in hand, and shortly thereafter riding in a cab which transported us to our upscale hotel.

Check in time at the Hotel Grand Brizo is normally 3:00 PM. However, at the hotel desk we were informed that our room was ready and we were welcome to occupy it immediately. This was a stroke of real luck, as was our 6th floor room which commanded a stunning panoramic view of July 9th Avenue. Our first look took in a political rally that was taking place on the street below.

That evening Christine and I enjoyed a leisurely walk with views of the “Times Square-esq” surroundings.

An exceptional steak dinner at a nearby restaurant put the finishing touches on a perfect day.

We had originally planned to spend five nights in Buenos Aires after departing the ship. However, we had each been gone from home long enough that the urge to return to family and friends in Kansas City overrode those earlier plans. We had canceled the earlier reservation in favor of the single night and a departing flight the evening of December 2nd.

Though we were at the Hotel Grand Brizo for only one night we were treated like royalty. Staff delivered to our room a surprise morning treat with wishes for a safe journey.

At checkout the hotel placed our bags in storage. We sat down to brunch where an immediate friendship was made with the hotel’s delightful and incredibly charming hostess, Normi.

She had greeted and spoken to us in the hotel lounge the prior evening. We learned that she was the genesis of the morning treats which she arranged to be delivered to our room. We would like nothing better than to have her as a guest in our home should she ever venture our way.

With the hotel holding our bags secure, and our flight not set to depart until late that evening, we had a full day on our hands to further wander the environs of Buenos Aires. We were not disappointed. Less than 100 yards from the hotel a huge protest was brewing.

Throwing caution to the wind we wandered in and among the protesters who asked for nothing more than fair treatment and fair wages for a fair day’s labor.

The remainder of December 2nd was spent taking in a coffee here, window shopping there, and reflecting upon the extraordinary experiences we had each enjoyed over the past weeks.

Not so long ago we had given serious consideration to booking an around the world cruise as an early celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. It would entail 139 days aboard ship with over 90 ports of call. We have not entirely abandoned the idea, but having experienced ocean sailings of 15, 22, and 21 days over the past four years we are mindful that cruise fatigue can set in. The continuing risk of COVID and a challenged economy are additional factors which may militate against such an excursion.

In the meantime, 2023 presents us with more exciting frontiers. This coming spring, after spending some time in Colorado, we are departing for six weeks in the United Kingdom, three of which include hiking from the west coast to the east coast of England, following the 2000-year-old Roman ruins known as Hadrian’s Wall. Midway we will celebrate my birthday by lodging 2 nights in the royal chambers of a 14th Century castle.

Picture from the Langley Castle website.
The Sir Radcliffe chambers (photograph from the Langley Castle website). Sir Edward Radcliffe bought the Langley Barony from the Earl of Annandale in 1631.

Here is a link to the Langley Castle website: The Langley Castle Hotel

We will sightsee in Carlisle, Newcastle, and Liverpool, after which I will take command of a 62-foot-long narrow boat for 3 weeks on the canals of central England and Wales.

Our dear Kansas City neighbors, Charlie and Mary Murphy, will be joining us for one of those weeks, taking their own turns at the tiller and managing the locks and drawbridges that date back to the late 18th century.

This link will provide an overview of our first canal experience from 2019:  Canals of the UK, Our Journey

Mid-year I will be undergoing brain surgery to address a lifelong inherited condition, Essential Tremors, which has grown increasingly bothersome in my later years. The Decision

In the fall Christine and I will ship out on another Viking cruise. Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, we will proceed into the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, up the west coast of Central America, and conclude 18 days later in Los Angeles California. Panama Canal and the Pacific Coast.

 A world cruise in the future? Only time will tell.
Peace Everyone. Pete