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You are here: Davis of Iowa > Jim Davis's Biography > Part XVI                    Click HERE to go to Part XVII

Part XVI





(2015 - 2018)


The year 2015 began with a modest Estancia snow storm, which happens every two or three winters.  It was not enough to stop our golfing as a couple of days later, here is what we saw on the cart path near the tenth hole:



We See Fewer And Fewer Bobcats As Our Development Is Pre-empting Their Territory


Waste Management (WM) again hosted Francine and me for dinner and for the WM Pro-Am.  It was a perfect day and the noise level in the box seats on the 16th par 3 hole was really cranked high.


Our ISU Acacia reunion at our house and the launch of a new chapter house campaign -


In mid-March Francine and I hosted my ISU Acacia alumni gathering at our home.  We had nineteen alumni and six undergrads/chapter members.  In addition, there were at least fifteen spouses/significant others.  It was a great reunion, the largest reunion attendance to date. Harold Zarr, the ISU Acacia Alumni board of director’s president, addressed the attending brothers and guests about the dire status of the 100 year old chapter house and the board’s work in analyzing the various options to improve the condition of the chapter house to enable ISU Acacia to compete with other social fraternities on the ISU campus. 


L to R:  Harold Zarr, John Bahr, Jim Davis, Larry Wogahn, Larry McComber, Bert Fellows,

Dick Taylor, Wally Kolbe, Dennis McComber, Jerry Crossett, Bob Davis, Bruce Campbell,

Don Lyons, Jim McDonald, Neil Woodley, Dan Wise, Dick Cone and Larry Fellows 

Not In The Picture:  Jeremy Davis


Harold Zarr And Eight Chapter Members – Whose Names I Don’t Have


The board of directors had considered all possible options and came to the conclusion, which was supported by a survey of our membership, that the only viable option was to demolish the existing house and build a new house on the current chapter house site.  Preliminary work with an architect and a general contractor, concluded that the new house could be built for $2.9 million.  Harold distributed architectural renderings and statistical information of the proposed house to the attendees.  Jeremy Davis, the chapter advisor discussed the difficulty in recruiting the talented men that ISU Acacia requires with the current unsatisfactory chapter house.  Two of the chapter members, the Venerable Dean (President) and Senior Dean (House Manager) reinforced Jeremy’s   comments about the difficulty in recruiting.  Additionally, it was pointed out that the  maintenance costs to keep the current house open were becoming prohibitive.


Upon the completion of these presentations, Harold asked for any questions or comments.  Following some discussion, Harold asked the alumni brothers if we would support a campaign to fund the new chapter house.  Larry McComber and his wife, Diane, very strongly endorsed the campaign and pledged $50,000 toward the project.  Other brothers also indorsed the program although no one pledged a specific amount.  From that moment, the campaign to fund the new house, the design finalizations, the required city approvals and a myriad of other activities were put into high gear


The rest of the reunion was concluded with an air of excitement. The six chapter members who attended were elated with the thought that the near future new chapter members would be living in a new house.  A couple of  months later, Harold Zarr called me asking me to co-chair the funding campaign with another brother.  He advised me that the board had contracted with the third party who had done the survey of the alumni and concluded that there was sufficient support to proceed with the campaign and it was to provide guidance and assistance in the funding campaign.  He and the board had identified several other alumni brothers who would be recruited to serve on the campaign committee.  I agreed to serve as co-chair, however no other brother would step up to also co-chair.


The campaign consultant suggested that the five brothers on the campaign committee  and the consultant each take responsibility for soliciting fund commitments from brothers in a certain  geographic sections of the country.  Doing so meant that each of us would personally telephone and/or e-mail every ISU Acacia alumni in our assigned section.  We soon discovered that while ISU Acacia thought that we had some 500 alumni for whom we had addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, that maybe only one-half of the phone numbers and e-mail addresses were correct and other than those USPS letters which were returned for lack of a forwarding address, we did not know affirmatively that the USPS addresses were correct.  Moreover, we soon learned that the cost of the consultant was more than he was able to deliver in the way of funding commitments. 


Also, as a result of serving as co-chair of the campaign committee, I learned that the alumni board was not very experienced in building projects, had little business experience, had several members who did not have the necessary time to manage a multi-million funding campaign and construction project.  Harold Zarr, the board president was a college professor, had minimal business experience  and other than constructing his home residence had no project management experience or expertise.  By this time now a year later, I was fully committed to the project, having assured a number of our brothers with whom I had conversed about the project, that this was a viable project – although, I was not personally confident that such was the case.  Harold and I fired the campaign consultant and I took over the campaign committee of about four active members.  I was unsuccessful in recruiting other brothers who were willing to ask their brothers for money to build the new house.  Although as the campaign progressed several stepped up somewhat and solicited at least their contemporary brothers.  In the end, I had personally talked with about one-half of our alumni brothers and nearly all of the brothers who ended up donating to the campaign.


Concurrently, I expressed my concern to the board president about the inexperience of the board in managing such a big project.  This was particularly the case when I reviewed the projected cost of the new house and found gaping holes in the cost projections, with several significant items totally overlooked, such as paying off the existing mortgage on the chapter house, funding the operating expenses during the one year in which the house was under construction – and no real assurance that the house could be built in the assumed one-year that was in the plan – and other various financing and operating costs.    (In the end the house and related costs were double the $2.9 million initially projected!)


As a result of these conversations, Harold asked me if I would join the board in place of one of the current board members, a younger alumnus who resided in Washington state and while  dedicated to ISU Acacia and serving on the board of directors, was busy with his career.  I accepted Harold’s offer and began to dig into the status of the project, the funding, The Acacians finances and other major matters of the board.  I was the board’s vice-president with responsibility for fund raising and other special assignments.  I learned that the previous treasurer had not stood for re-election to the board a couple of years previously and that Harold had assumed that responsibility as well as the presidency.  (Which is a very poor management practice from a financial management standpoint as he was in a position to authorize expenditures, approve those expenditures and pay the invoice (s) for that expenditure, hence no real financial control.)  I assumed the responsibility for making and reporting on the board’s cash forecasting as well as the cash projections for the construction of the house as well as all other projected The Acacians expenses.


Additionally, relying almost exclusively on phone calls and USPS letters in the fund raising campaign was unsatisfactory.  In tandem, I began rebuilding our ISU Acacia alumni directory with an emphasis on e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers. One of the challenges in using e-mail addresses was that the address we had for many of the recent graduates was their ISU student e-mail address which is canceled after the student has graduated or otherwise left the university.  Hence many valid e-mail addresses were missing. Also, there were  older brothers who did not use e-mail. It soon became apparent that maintenance of an ISU Acacia directory was also a  time consuming task which I undertook almost exclusively.  Thirdly, as the campaign began ISU Acacia relied solely on a black and white printed hard copy version of its quarterly newsletter which was individually addressed and mailed to our brother’s home address – if we had the valid home address.  I changed this important means of communicating to our brother alumni to a color version e-mailed to all brothers for whom we had a valid e-mail address.  In addition to this I printed about two dozen hard copies and mailed them to brothers who did not do e-mail. 


Despite diligent work by the board, the architect and the assumed general contractor, for various reasons, including the length of time that the city of Ames required for the various approvals, the planned date to break ground was moved back  two years which also added to the costs of the project.  Consequently, we finally broke ground on August 1, 2019.  In the meantime, I almost single handedly worked the finance campaign.  In the early stages, one brother who was a member of a group of brothers who were in the chapter house in the early 1960’s that had tightly bonded because of one particularly talented and popular brother, who unfortunately died in his mid - 40s, took responsibility for fund-raising from his group of approximately 30 brothers.  He did a good job, but limited his efforts to just this specific group.  Another brother on the campaign committee took responsibility for fund-raising from brothers residing in Texas and surrounding states.  He also did a good job, but he limited his efforts to about 10 brothers.  Harold Zarr, despite his limited time assigned his campaigning responsibility to Iowa where almost one-half of our brothers lived.  He was not able to do justice in reaching out to our Iowa brothers.  Additionally, all three of these were  reluctant to ask for big gifts from those brothers we suspected might be able to do major gifts.  Later in the campaign, one of the brothers not initially on our campaign committee took it upon himself to twist arms of his contemporary brothers and did a good job.  Unfortunately, he died before completing the campaign.  At the very end of the campaign two of our younger brothers made concerted efforts to raise funds from their contemporaries and both did a nice job. 


All of the rest of the fund raising over about 5 years fell on my shoulders and consumed about one-half of my time during that period.  In the end, we received commitments from 251 brothers totaling $4.1 million.   Approximately, one-half of our brothers committed funds, possibly 20 per cent of them made modest commitments of $100 or less.  However, in 2018 it was evident that we would need to supplement whatever amount of funds that we raised in the campaign with mortgage financing.   Harold Zarr, Jeremy Davis and I worked together to arrange satisfactory construction financing convertible into a mortgage upon completion of the house.   We arranged for a $2.5 million package with the interest rate reset every five years.   In addition, we arranged to sell some $0.8 million of 10 year, 15 year and 25 year debentures to some of our brothers to provide additional funding.  Working with a legal firm expert in determining how much of the chapter house could be considered “educationally related”, e.g., libraries, conference rooms and class rooms, it was determined that 38.38% of the cost of construction and of future chapter operating costs, not including meals, would be considered educationally related.  Hence, some $2.2 millions of campaign funds dedicated for the construction of the house were charitable gifts. 


We broke ground for the new house on August 1, 2019, some two months later than planned as we unexpectedly found  asbestos fibers in the 100 year old plaster used to construct the original house.  We lost about two months of time and incurred an additional $0.1 million of unanticipated demolition costs.  We were able to recover most of the lost time by utilizing some construction techniques which saved that time on the critical path, however it cost us an additional $0.3 million in construction costs.  Almost unbelievably, the four story, 18,000 square feet new house was completed one year later – August 1, 2020 in time for the men to move into the house for the fall term.  It was a credit to our general contractor for this accomplishment.  Harold Zarr and I participated in by-weekly construction meetings reviewing the construction status and making decisions on the spot to avoid causing any construction delays. 


Serving as chairman of the funding campaign, participating in the alumni board of directors, including analyzing the cash flow of the project as well as the other demands for funding and helping direct the construction of the house occupied fully two-thirds of my time during the six year period 2015 through 2021.  All of this was accomplished from Scottsdale, via Zoom meetings, and utilizing e-mail and the telephone.  Additionally, the Covid -19 pandemic began midway through the construction of the house, further complicating our project.  Although, on balance we benefitted from the pandemic as other major  construction projects in the area were put on hold because of Covid.  Consequently, we had all of the construction trades personnel that we needed.


Having described my major activities from the announcement of the construction of the new chapter house in 2015 through the completion of construction in midyear 2020, I will now  describe my concurrent activities during this time period which occupied the balance of my time and attention.


More desert wildlife -


Supplementing, the picture at the beginning of this chapter of the two bobcats, living in the southwestern U.S. desert, we see a variety of wild life.  Among them are snakes, including the dreaded rattlesnake and the beneficial king snake.  King snakes eat rattlesnakes.  One of our neighbors found a king snake trying to eat a rattle snake about the size of the king snake on his driveway one morning.  After partially swallowing the rattlesnake, the king snake gave up and crawled away, leaving the rattle snake to live another day.


A King Snake Attempts To Eat A Rattle Snake


And to round out the wildlife discussion, one morning Francine looked out our bathroom door and sleeping on the tile some four feet away was a bobcat.  He suddenly sensed her looking at him and scooted out of the enclosed outdoor shower area, jumping a six feet high wall with ease.


A Young Bobcat Sleeping Just Outside Our Bathroom Door


 Grandsons and college –


The spring and summer of 2015 was busy with Kyle being accepted into Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), Brad receiving his Master’s Degree (MS), Adam graduating from college, Brian hosting a joint graduation party for Brad and Adam at his home, Francine and I attending my 50th  HBS reunion,  me enjoying my 80th birthday observance, Dick and Judy’s celebrating their 50th wedding celebration in Mount Vernon, WA,  Veronica and Kyle joining in wedlock in Austin, TX,  Kyle, Veronica and Jackson moving to Erie, PA,  Kyle beginning his medical school studies and Logan and Zach’s joining in wedlock in Nevada and Boone, IA. 


Brad was awarded his M.S. from Regis College with a major in Medical Specialty.  He earned his degree in an after work/Saturday program while working full time. Adam graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where he majored in plastics engineering.  He did well in college and was particularly good in the hands-on aspects of the curriculum, such as mold making. Shortly, thereafter he was gainfully employed at a  company manufacturing medical supplies, e.g., syringes and packaging requiring injection molded parts.  Brian hosted a wonderful graduation party at his home for Brad and Adam, their family and their friends to celebrate Brad and Adam’s accomplishments.  Adam is the youngest of my six grandsons.  All have graduated from college and four of them have advanced degrees – Kevin and Brett with MBAs from Harvard and UCLA respectively,  Brad and Kyle with a MS in Medical Science and Kyle with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.


Adam’s Commencement Party


At the end  of May, Francine and I attended my 50th HBS reunion which is one of the best attended reunions of any of the, every five year reunions.  Francine and I took advantage being in Boston to visit Brian and his family.  Francine and I could not attend Dick and Judy’s anniversary celebration, as it was held on June 12th and we needed to be in Austin, TX for Veronica and Kyle’s wedding on June 14th.  Judy and Dick chose Mount Vernon, WA as that was near to where they most enjoyed their life – in the Navy based at the Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island  The base is about a dozen miles as the crow flies, west of Mount Vernon, WA.  They had a good family turnout for their celebration, despite my family all being in Texas.  Judy reported that the weather was most accommodating.  They were delighted that they had chosen this venue to celebrate 50 years of marriage.



Judy And Dick’s 50th Wedding Celebration, Mount Vernon, WA

L to R, Front Row: Richard, Dick, Judy, Beverly, Jill, Norah, Danny, Elise and Jackson.

Second Row: Janie, Nancy, Neal, Allan, Kraig, Kyla, Jolinda, Lizette and Colin.

Third Row: Michelle, Tomi (Judy’s sister), Jason, Justin, Jamie, Raynee (Colin’s wife), Mike and Cody.


Kyle and Veronica are wed -


Veronica and Kyle had spent several years in college and working in the Austen, TX area and chose  that as the  location for their  wedding.  The  wedding  was   outdoor   under very large oak trees.  The weather was hot and humid, and for a period of time light rain,  however the rain did not change the wedding venue or time!  The weather wasn’t that bad but our clothes were destined for the cleaners the next day.  Many of Veronica’s family who lived near Austen and their friends attended the wedding.  Their wedding was a wonderful event with David’s father, sister, brother, sister-in-law and Brett all attending.  

L to R:  Brett, Veronica, Kyle, Kim And David

Jackson Entertains The Wedding Party While The Bride Is Walking Down The Aisle


The Bride Escorted Down The Aisle By Her Soon To Be Father-In-Law

(Notice The Umbrellas In Use)



Jim celebrates birthday number 80, Fran and Jim travel to Jackson, WY to spend a month and attend Kevin and Mandy’s wedding –


On August 1, Beverly and Allan joined Francine and me to celebrate my 80th birthday a few days early at our favorite steakhouse.  Francine had been busy asking family and  friends  to write me a letter  in observance of   my 80th birthday.  She presented the letters to me in a wonderful small chest at home that evening.  It took me several hours to read all of the very nice letters, flowery comments and recollections about me.  I still have all of them and read them periodically.


Jim Celebrating His 80th Birthday


In mid-August, Francine and I travelled to a townhouse that we had rented for a month in Teton Village, WY.  We were  preparing for Mandy and Kevin’s wedding which was to be held on August 22 in nearby Jackson, WY.  We hosted much of our family over the next several weeks.  The townhouse was conveniently located near the Shooting Star golf course club house and restaurant.   Kim, Dave, Veronica and Jackson came several days early which gave us time to do a wildlife game drive with Jackson to interduce him to the bison, moose, elk and the wonderful Yellowstone Park.  Francine surprised me with a second birthday dinner with several of my family.  Kyle was in medical school and unable to attend the wedding.  However, Brett and his girlfriend, Ellen were able to attend.


The Great Room Of The Townhouse In Jackson, WY


Jackson, WY is also home to the National Elk Preserve which is located near the town.  During the winter months some 5000 to occasionally 7000 elk migrate from the higher elevations to this area where the weather is less severe and some grass is generally available. The National Park Service provides feed for the wintering herd.  One of the landmarks of the city itself is its park/town square which has entrances on each of the four corners consisting of an arch made exclusively from elk horns that the elk shed each year before growing a new set of antlers for the coming year.


Francine Standing At The Jackson Town Square Elk Antler Entrance


Mandy’s parents were residents of Jackson, WY  It is a wonderful venue for an outdoor summer wedding.  The wedding was held at golf course several miles north of Jackson  on a sunny, warm afternoon.  The venue was perfect and the background of the Grand Tetons was unsurpassed.

Mandy And Kevin Exchanging Vows

L to R:  Jim, Francine, Andy, Brad, Adam, Brian, Kevin, Mandy, Courtney, Kim, Jackson, Veronica, Ellen, Brett And Dave


Francine and I spent two more weeks in Jackson, playing golf, touring Yellowstone Park and relaxing in the wonderful climate.  We  returned to Scottsdale for about a month and then off to MN and IA to catch up with family there.  We celebrated Francine’s grandson, granddaughter and daughter’s birthdays with a big dinner.  I drove to attend the wedding of my great nephew, Zackary and his bride Logan which was held in  Nevada, IA.  On November 14th, Francine told me that we had a dinner obligation at The Estancia Club.  When we walked in, I was totally surprised by some 25 couples including family and friends who she had invited to surprise me with a third 80th birthday party.  It was a great party which included Kim, Dave, Brian, Beverly and Allan, Dick and Judy.  In addition, Jeff Martin the Waste Management Safety Manager came from Houston, TX to attend.  He and many of the other guests toasted me during dinner.  My 80th birthday was celebrated over a  three and one-half months period.


Francine and Jim Celebrating Jim’s 80th Birthday


Brian had decided as an empty nester, he would sell the large Westford home and move to a new very attractive residential area in Boston called the Seaport Area.  He purchased a condo in a building that was scheduled to be built.  His unit was ready for him to move in, so he sold his Westford house and moved to 22 Liberty Drive in November. Brett was enjoying a very good initial career working in Los Angeles, CA with a Fox subsidiary which provided retail advertising and instore sales promotion however he saw that business declining with increased digital sales competition and decided to apply to graduate school for a two year MBA.  He took the GMAC  (Gradate Management Admission Council) exam and did exceptionally well with a score of 78 percentile for quantitative, 94 percentile for verbal and 97 percentile for overall.  When he applied for the UCLA MBA program, the school was so impressed that it offered him a scholarship equal to 50% of the tuition for the program.  He accepted the offer and enrolled in the program.  Lindsey again spent Thanksgiving with us in Scottsdale and brought her new man friend, Lewis Goodall, with her.  They enjoy spending Thanksgiving week with us and living in our  casita, which they call their little house.  Beverly and Allan  joined the four of us at The Estancia Club for Thanksgiving dinner.  Our family spent Christmas 2015 in Boston and then Francine and I returned to Scottsdale to celebrate New Year’s Eve with our Estancia neighbors, the Halquists, Swansons and Helms.   The very busy 2015 year was in the books.  We looked forward to 2016 with considerable interest.


Jackson And Jim Celebrating A Family Christmas At Brian’s Condo


In 2016 Colin again had his booth at the Barrett Jackson Auto Auction in Scottsdale.  Beverly, Allan, Francine and I visited him at his booth and joined him in a typical tradeshow lunch of ribs and fries.  Colin has built Macs Tie Downs from an operation began in his garage to a sizeable company.  He and Macs Tie Downs are well known in their specialized industry of securing vehicles for transportation.

Allan, Beverly, Colin, Francine And Jim


Waste Management (WM) invited me to play in a pre-tournament pro-AM on Monday of the 2016 Waste Management Open.  I played with two WM customers and WM’s Vice President – Legal as well as a local pro-golfer.  Many of the primary WM Open golfers were still in competition for the final round of the 2016 Farmers  Insurance Open at Torrey Pines CA, because of really bad weather during the scheduled tournament days.  Francine, Beverly, Allan and our good friends Gary and Debbie Hourihan were our gallery, hosted by our good friend WM’s Jeff Martin.  It was a bitter cold February day, with spitting rain/sleet and wind challenging our small gallery, although it wasn’t too bad for the golfers.  I managed to  birdie the famous 16th Par 3 hole, although our pro also birdied the hole from a greenside bunker so I graciously let him claim the birdie.  The round was fun however we scored in the middle of the pack – so no trophy, just a picture of we five golfers!  Francine and I were hosted for dinner and a day at the regular WM Open Pro-AM in the sixteenth hole box seats by Jeff Martin and WM.


Our Acacia Fraternity brother Wally Kolbe resided in Bisbee, AZ about 100 miles southeast of Tucson.   He and his significant other, Nancy, hosted our AZ ISU Acacia reunion in mid-March.  We stayed in a Bisbee hotel but spent the reunion time in Wally’s country home.  Our reunion was well attended with fourteen alumni and two chapter members.  It was a good gathering and everyone enjoyed visiting some of the earliest copper mining and processing facilities in our country.  All of these facilities are now shut down and there is a major US EPA environmental clean-up of these shuttered facilities.


L to R, Front Row: John Bahr, Larry McComber, Don Lyon, Larry Fellows, Bob Davis, Dick Cone, Dick Taylor, John McDonald & Bruce Campbell. 

Back Row: Jim Davis, unidentified chapter member, Dennis McComber, UCM, Wally Kolbe, Jerry Crossett and Bert Fellows


On our drive back to Scottsdale, after the reunion, Francine and I stopped in Tombstone, AZ a western U.S. historical landmark.  Touring the town reminded us of some of the western lore about the settlement of the U.S. 


The Entrance To Tombstone’s Western Town


We again hosted Beverly, Allan and the Hoffman family for an Easter celebration at our Estancia Club.  Early in 2016 we lost a dear friend, Jim Perry a WM vice president responsible for Risk Management.  He is the gentleman with whom Brian and I negotiated the settlement of Cindie’s death.  He had been suffering with  cancer.  Fran and I had lunch with Kaye, his widow some months later.  She was very frustrated dealing with all of their estate issues. Their accountant had retired, their investments were scattered among several brokers and their various taxes were yet to be determined.  I offered to help her since I had been through much of this when I helped my sister Jaynane after she lost her husband, Jerry.  Kaye  accepted my offer and I spent several days working with her to get the various estate issues handled.  Since then, I have continued to manage her investments and to do her taxes.  She is genuinely grateful for my help and advice.  Since I do Jaynane and Beverly and Allan’s taxes and investments, adding Kaye Perry’s investments and taxes to my work load is not a big deal.



William Penn University’s 2016 commencement address, Kevin graduates from HBS -


In May, I gave the William Penn University (WPU) commencement address.  It was an invitation and acknowledgement of my service and financial support of WPU.  Francine and I travelled to Oskaloosa on the previous Friday and visited with the officers of WPU, particularly with President Ottosson and Marcia Reimers, VP for Development.  We enjoyed a nice dinner with them, their spouses and several other officers of WPU.


Francine And Me, May 2016


In late May we attended Kevin’s HBS commencement ceremonies. The day of Kevin’s commencement was very warm and humid.  Brian and I attended the Harvard University commencement ceremonies in Harvard Square.  I had never attended the University commencement ceremonies.  In fact, I had never attended the HBS commencement ceremonies, as Karen and I put Cindie and Kim on a plane to California and we got on a plane for Scotland as soon as my HBS classes were completed in 1965.  The Harvard University ceremonies were poorly attended as most of the graduate and professional schools graduates and their guests attended only their particular school’s  commencement ceremonies.  The HBS ceremonies were held on the large lawn in front of the HBS Library which was almost totally unshaded from a fairly brutal sun, plus no breeze but plenty of humidity.  It was a long and somewhat miserable setting.   


Francine, Kevin And Jim


L To R: Brian, Kevin, Mandy, Francine and Jim


Brian hosted a wonderful weekend celebration for Kevin’s family and friends. After celebrating Kevin’s accomplishment, I met up with Ben and Norma Shapiro and with Harry and Marlene Skilton as we drove to Woodstock, VT to help Bill Chorske celebrate his 80th birthday.  Harry had a picture taken at one of our very first HBS reunions of himself,  Ben, Bill and me, -  shown below.  We took a then current picture during the celebration which is also shown below.

Harry Skilton, Jim Davis, Ben Shapiro And Bill Chorske, possibly in 1970


Harry Skilton, Jim Davis, Bill Chorske And Ben Shapiro, in 2016


In June, Francine and I met Kim, David, Veronica and Jackson in Santa Monica, CA to visit Brett and to introduce Jackson to the ocean and to Disney Land.  Francine, Kim and I visited Lee Swanson, and Lynn and David Fite on that visit.  Lynn continues to do  remarkably well considering  her cystic fibrosus.  In July, we celebrated Beverly’s birthday with her, Allan, Francine and me  with dinner at The Grayhawk Golf Club.  Later in July Francine and I travelled to NYC to visit Lindsey.  We  dined at the restaurant where she worked..  It was a lovely setting on the Manhattan side of the East River looking at Brooklyn.


Veronica, Emerson and Kyle, In The Hospital On The Day Emerson Was Born


Emerson Noelle Holmberg is born -


On September 17th Veronica gave birth to our second great grandchild, Emerson Noelle Holmberg.  Both Veronica and Emerson were doing well.  While, Veronica, Kyle, Kim and David were focusing on Emerson, Francine and I headed to Hawaii for the wedding of Gary and Debbie Hourihan’s younger son to a lovely  Japanese woman.  Since members from both the bride and grooms families were attending, they chose Hawaii as the venue for the wedding.  The flight to Hawaii introduced us to a new flying experience.  We boarded our non-stop flight from Phoenix to Maui, Hawaii and departed on time.  After about one hour into the flight, the captain announced that one of the planes two radar units was malfunctioning.  Since the flight was over water it was required that both radars be functioning.  The only solution was to return to Phoenix and get a different plane or fix the radar unit.  Which we did after circling over the California and Arizona deserts for two hours while the plane burned enough fuel to permit it to land!  The good news is that as soon as we disembarked from our plane another plane for us was at a nearby gate.  American Airlines (AA) even had a food cart in the boarding area of the second flight with almost unlimited snacks.  That was a much appreciated gesture on the part of AA.  We boarded and took off promptly.  However, we arrived in Hawaii some six hours late.  The wedding was very nice.  Francine and I played golf  twice while in Hawaii.  It was my second time golfing in Hawaii.


Donald Trump, a New York City based developer of commercial real estate bested about a dozen other Republican candidates for the party’s nomination for president.  He  faced off against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s nominee for president.  Trump had never run for public office, whereas Hillary had basically been in politics her entire life and had served as wife of the Governor of Arkansas and of the U.S. President, as senator from New York State and as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. President.  The primary campaign was highly contested and Trump was particularly aggressive in ousting his fellow Republican candidates, whereas Clinton won her nomination handedly as she and her allies pretty well controlled the Democratic Party.  The general election campaign however, was very contested with heated debates, allegations against both candidates and significant involvement by the FBI particularly into the Clinton campaign for some of her alleged infractions of rules when she served as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.  Additionally, it was proven some five years later that the Clinton campaign created a false scandal attributable to Trump with respect to Trump’s supposed ties to Russia, which was intended to be the negative “October surprise”  against the Trump campaign.  Basically, that and other campaign tactics by both sides resulted in Trump’s upset win of the presidency in November.  Regardless, throughout Trump’s four years the “Russia Hoax” dogged President Trump and his administration.


Bill Chorske and I visit many UT and AZ National Parks -


In mid-October, I met Bill Chorske at the Phoenix airport as we prepared to leave on a  two week driving trip to see the natural beauty of  northern Arizona and of Utah.  Bill had visited a few of our natural wonders but had not spent much time in any of them.  Bill and I departed the next morning for Sedona.  After viewing most of the Sedona red rock formations that were visible from the highways.  We attempted to do lunch at a wonderful restaurant on the bank of Oak Creek in Sedona, however, only guests at the hotel associated with the restaurant were eligible to be seated for lunch.  We drove to Flagstaff, ate lunch and continued to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where we  spent the night.   We checked into the El Tovar Hotel then promptly went for a couple hour hike to the west of the hotel along the rim to view a portion of the Grand Canyon that I had not previously seen.  The views from nearly every place along the rim of the canyon are all very spectacular.  The crowds at the Grand Canyon were considerably smaller than during the summer tourist season.  Early the next morning, we took a similar hike along the southern rim to the east of the hotel to an observation point to see the sun rise over the canyon.  Upon completing our hike, we decided to check out a bit early and continue our trip to Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.  It was about a three hour drive to the Dam which blocks the Colorado River near Page, AZ to form Lake Powell – named for John Wesley Powell the leader of the first expedition to travel and map the entire distance of the Grand Canyon.


One Of Many Spectacular Views Of The Grand Canyon


We spent time walking across the top of the dam and observing the water cascading down from the discharge of the electrical generating turbines.  Unfortunately, the tourism center was closed for renovation so we left for the north rim of the Grand Canyon another three hour drive.  The drive was through a wonderful high grass covered plateau in which we saw moose and elk grazing.  The north rim is about 1000 feet higher elevation than the south rim and is not nearly as popular for tourists as it is less accessible than the south rim.  Bill and I checked into the National Park Service Hotel at the North Rim and spent the rest of the day and following morning hiking the North Rim.  The  views from the North Rim are not as spectacular nor is the availability of viewing sites as plentiful as on the South Rim.  Unlike the South Rim, the North Rim is closed during the winter because of the higher elevation and its more challenging accessibility.  It  was scheduled to close at the end of the month.


A View Of The Sunrise Over The Grand Canyon From The South Rim


Bill and I left the North Rim and drove to Zion National Park in southern Utah.  One of the contractors for our Scottsdale house described Zion National Park as “Sedona on steroids!”   This park is relatively small with vehicular viewing  from a highway traversing the southern portion of the park along the valley floor between soaring mountains, all composed of red rocks and pink sandstone.  Driving this highway is the only way to observe this jewel of a park other than extensive hiking.  One can drive  through the park at a leisurely pace easily in a couple of hours.  There were several parking areas for hikers to leave their vehicles and do a variety of day hikes. We entered the eastern end of the park and drove to the western end observing as much of the wonderful views as possible.  We reversed course and drove back to the eastern exit after stopping mid-way through the park at a small restaurant for a late lunch. 


We left Zion and drove the 70 miles to a 20 mile long portion of UT 63 highway in Bryce Canyon National Park along the rim of Bryce Canyon.  Much of Bryce can be observed from this highway.  The wide sweeping canyon stretching for miles to the east of the highway is easily viewed from this distance.  Bryce is known for its Hoodoos, which are irregular columns of rock. Bryce has the largest concentration  of Hoodoos found anywhere on Earth. Situated along a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase, the park’s high elevations include numerous rock formations, fantastic dark skies, and geological wonders that defy description. 


We enjoyed many stops along this drive and took too many pictures.  It was a most fascinating drive. Bryce Canyon National Park encompasses about a 20 mile stretch of Bryce Canyon.  The park has numerous entrances for access to the canyon floor where  those visitors who want to hike and camp in the park can do so.  We however, wanted to view the scenery and appreciate one more very special place in the wonderful U.S.  We were able to do than in about two hours.  We decided to drive the 250 miles to Moab, UT our next stop..  It was an easy 4 hour drive about one-half of which was on I-70.


Picture Of Hoodoos In Bryce Canyon National Park


We arrived in Moab the home of Arches National Park as well as the entrance to Canyonlands National Park which were our next visits.  Moab is an interesting western town where Bill and I spent the better part of three days.  Our first day was spent in Arches National Park, the entrance to which was only a few minutes from our motel.  We got an early start to try and beat the crowds, even though we were in October and the heavy tourism crowds were not prevalent.  However, Arches National Park is such an attraction that there seems to always be a crowd and there was one that morning.    


Once in the park we were impressed with the concentration of magnificent rock formations, including particularly many, many arches.  The roads through the park were congested and the parking areas mostly full, particularly those at the most significant formations.  Arches National Park has over 2000 natural rock arches, very large balanced rocks and many pinnacles  of rock punching the sky.  The size of some of the arches were such that is was difficult to comprehend why that arch had not collapsed.  The longest arch is over 100 yards in length! Some of the arches were located some distance from the more centrally located arches and other formations.  The size of some of the formations were really impressive.  While I am sure that there were a number of hikers, I believe that most of the visitors were driving from one formation to another.  Typically, the  fairly generous sized parking areas were within a few hundred yards of that particular formation(s).  This permitted a large number of the park visitors to enjoy the arches and other formations from an up front and personal site.  Of course, may were taking photos of their family/friends posing with the formations. 

Isolated Rock Formations

The Famous Double Arch

Notice The Visitors Walking Under The Arch


The second day in Moab we spent at the northern entrance to Canyonlands National Park located not far to the southwest of Moab.  Canyonlands National Park is the fourth of the five national parks located in Utah that we visited.  The only one we did not is Capitol Reef National Park a large park located near the center of Utah.  Canyonlands National Park is a huge (340,000 acres) park located in southeastern Utah.  It was created principally by the Colorado River and includes stunning vistas, towering red rock pinnacles called Needles and Cataract Canyon home to whitewater rapids.  Bill and I entered the northern entrance of Canyonlands Park from where from an overlook viewing area we were able to see a small portion of this gigantic park.  The formations in and vastness of the park were stunning.  We did some short hikes to better view some of this unbelievable scenery.  After spending most of the day in the northern portion of Canyonlands, we returned to Moab to explore the area east of Moab which is also a very scenic. The Colorado River enters the mountains of Utah from the high plains of western Colorado just east of Moab.  That evening we explored the town of Moab and learned of its rich western heritage. 


A View Of Canyonlands National Park From Near The Northern Entrance


The next morning, we departed Moab and drove south through the vast Canyonlands Park enjoying unrivaled scenery. We stopped at numerous viewing points and drove several  side roads into the interior of the park.  It was a leisurely, interesting very pleasant day of driving and viewing although we only saw a small part of Canyonlands. Each viewing of Canyonlands scenery bested the previous views.  One could spend a lifetime in Canyonlands and not fully appreciate the entirety of this vast wonderland.




Three Of The Spectacular Vistas In Canyonlands National Park


We departed Canyonlands and drove to Canyon de Chelly National Monument a small park in north eastern Arizona which is a blind canyon that served as a home for the native American Hopi and later the Navajo nations.  However, the canyon is now unoccupied.  A highway along the canyon’s high walls provides wonderful views of the valley floor from a number of viewing locations.  In the photo below, one can see evidence of previous agricultural activities on the floor of the canyon.  I suspect that the lack of water in the canyon is now the reason for the discontinuance of these activities and the abandonment of the canyon by the native Americans.


The Valley Floor Of Canyon de Chelly Suggesting Prior Agricultural Activities


The next day we visited the Meteor Crater located 40 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ.  This crater is listed as the tenth largest of the world’s “the largest” meteor craters.  It is about 2/3 of a mile in diameter  compared to the largest crater in South Africa which is 185 miles wide.  The Chicxulub Crater in the ocean near the Yucatan Peninsula which is thought to have resulted  in the demise of the dinosaurs  some 66 million years ago, is considered the second largest at some 110 miles wide.  This Meteor Crater  we were visiting was created some 50,000 years ago.  The crater and land around it are privately owned by the Barringer family.  A geologist named Daniel Barringer first suggested the crater was a meteor crater.  The family acquired the site and made a commercial attraction of it adding considerable information about the crater and  creating a space museum at the site  which includes artifacts from NASA.  The U.S. government designated the site as a National Natural Landmark and its official name is Meteor Crater.  Because of the relatively young age of and the arid weather in this high desert of Arizona the Meteor Crater is one of the best preserved craters in the world.  The tour of the Crater and the well done space museum was most interesting.  Bill and I then returned to our home in Scottsdale.  Bill and I were very glad we made it a stop on our driving tour.  In all we spent two weeks on the road and visited some ten parks/monuments/attractions.  Bill treated Francine and me to dinner when we were back in Scottsdale and he returned to his home in Vermont the next day.


The Meteor Crater And Visitor’s Center


Francine and I meet Emerson, family Christmases in NYC and Loon -


In October, Francine and I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Kim and David and to drive to near Erie, PA to meet our new great granddaughter, Emerson.  Before Christmas we visited Lindsey and her significant other, Lewis Goodall in New York City and then traveled to Brian’s ski home in Lincoln, NH to celebrate another Davis Family Christmas. The November Presidential election resulted in President Trump handedly defeating Hillary Clinton.  A number of key states thought to be in Clinton’s column instead voted for President Trump, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  The race was called by all of the media fairly early in the evening.


Proud Great Grandparents And Emerson


Christmas 2016 With Lindsey And Lewis In New York City


Jackson And Adam Getting Ready To Celebrate Our Gift Exchange At Brian’s NH Home


Brian, Jill Zimmerman, Francine and Jim


 Francine and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with Brian and his serious lady friend, later his wife, Jill with a very nice dinner in Boston near his new Seaport Area condo.  The year 2016 was now in the book.


The Patriots Win Superbowl 51! -


Kim and David visited us in Scottsdale at the time of the 2017 Waste Management (WM) Open and attended the Wednesday Pro-AM with us, complements of WM and Jeff Martin. The Boston  Patriots were playing the Atlanta Falcons in the LI (51st) Super Bowl in Houston, TX.  Brian had purchased tickets earlier and invited me to attend with him.  David and Kim were invited to attend the game by one of the Highmark vendors.  David reached out to his good friends at the Pittsburgh Steeler’s organization and was able to purchase four wonderful seats for the game.  Brian then offered each of his sons – all of whom were avid Patriots fans – a ticket if they were able to get themselves to the game and to find a place to stay overnight in Houston.  Which they did.  Hence, all eight of us – Kim, David, Brian, his four sons and me – were able to attend the game.


The game will always be remembered as the Patriots were trailing 28 to 3 with less than 3 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter however, the Patriots scored 25 points and held Atlanta to 0 points for the rest of the game.    The Patriots won the toss in over-time and marched the ball into the end zone to score a touchdown and complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.  It was an absolutely sensational win  for the Patriots and a devastating loss for the Falcons.  It was my great pleasure to have been on hand to witness it.

L To R: Jim, Kim, Adam, Brad, Brian, Andy, Kevin And David, In The Excellent Seats

From Which Brian And I Viewed The Game


In March, Dick and Jan Cone hosted our AZ ISU Acacia reunion at their golf club in Fountain Hills, AZ.  It was the largest attendance we have ever had.  In addition to the usual luncheon and fellowship, we briefed the attendees on the status of the campaign to fund the new chapter house and the timeline for construction of the new house.  I was surprised to be presented the Acacia Order of Merit at the luncheon.  The recognition was very much appreciated, particularly among the large number of attendees.


L To R: Harold Zarr, Ashley Zarr, John Bahr, Gary Sundberg, Joan Moeller, Dick Taylor, Jim Davis, Rita McComber, Dennis McComber, Sonny Campbell, Bruce Campbell, Jan Marrett, George Marrett, Vickie McDonald, Lee McDonald, Bob Davis, Jim Hunt, Julan, Jim Stewart, Aivars Berzins, Jackie Berzins, John McDonald, Margie McDonald, Nick Siebold, Bert Fellows, Jan Fellows, Doug Carlson, Sharon Carlson, Jan Cone, Dick Cone, Jeremy Davis, Mary Lou Crossett, Jerry Crossett. Missing: Francine Davis, Larry and Diane McComber, Dick and Irene Sar, TC Swartz, and Doug Whitney


In April, Lindsey and Lewis visited us in Scottsdale.  We took the opportunity to introduce Lewis to the wonders of Sedona and many of its red rock formations. They also joined us for our traditional Easter celebration with the Hoffman family, Gloria Maur, Beverly and Allan.


The Democratic controlled congress continued to pursue possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.  The Director of the FBI, James Comey, was fired by President Trump on May 9th.  His interim successor,  Deputy Director of the FBI, Rod Rosenstein appointed a previous director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, on May 17, 2017 to investigate any links between the Russian government and the persons in the Trump campaign.  Despite Mr. Mueller staffing his investigative group with known very vocal opponents of the Trump Administration from the Department of Justice and the FBI, many of whom with detailed knowledge of the various investigations of the Trump campaign to that point, the Mueller investigation took almost two years and finally concluded that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.  His final report severely disappointed the Trump opponents within  the federal government and through-out the country.


In late June,  our family gathered at Estes Park for our  Davis Family Reunion.  Francine and I drove to Colorado by way of Moab Utah so we could visit Arches National Park as Francine had never visited the Arches.  She was truly impressed with the exceptional rock formations which Bill Chorske and I visited the previous year.  Our family reunion was well attended.  Jill Zimmerman accompanied Brian and was introduced to the larger Davis family.  My nephew, Justin Aiken and his longtime significant other, Jill Eslinger surprised nearly every one of our attendees and were married during the reunion by our grandson, Andy Holub. Unfortunately, Kim and family were not able to attend the reunion as she was recovering from a broken ankle and traveling was very difficult for her.  Regardless, It was a great reunion of our extended family.


A very special trip to Los Alamos -


The drive home from Estes took us to Santa Fe, NM for a short visit with our good friends Judy and John Bloomquist.   During that visit we   toured  Los Alamos, NM the principal site for the development and construction of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in August 1945.  These were two of the most fascinating and successful scientific developments ever.  From the theory of both  nuclear fission  and nuclear fusion to the construction of two workable bombs each using one of these technologies  in an unbelievably short time period during a devastating World War II.  I was 10 years of age at the time these two bombs were dropped on Japan causing Japan to unconditionally surrender. 


The scientific and engineering expertise demonstrated by numerous U.S. scientists supplemented by many scientists from around the world, but principally Europe and managed primarily by an U.S. Army general was almost unbelievable.   Considerable scientific research was being conducted in both Europe and the U.S. during the 1930’s particularly later in that decade, driven by the hostilities of both Germany and Italy, then later by Japan.  Late in the 1930’s and early in the 1940’s many scientists believed that a nuclear bomb could be made using nuclear fission technology and somewhat later it was determined that a fusion bomb could also be made.  The results of an active research program resulted in the confidence that a bomb was possible.  President Roosevelt approved making an atomic bomb in January 1942.  It was the beginning of a project that cost $2 billion but  in 27 months  a prototype fission bomb was built and successfully tested on July 16 1945  and concurrently a fission and a fusion bomb were built.  Of course, we did not have the extensive immediate news coverage and social media at that time. Were we to try to accomplish something this significant with our current 24/7 news coverage, with our country’s inability to contain secrets and with our governmental constraints and regulations, there would be no chance of accomplishing something this significant, i.e., going from theory to working devices in less than three years and keeping the advances secret and confidential.  This visit was particularly interesting to me as I had witnessed two atomic detonations some 60 years previously.


Francine and I had visited Santa Fe previously however we enjoyed walking the town, visiting the art galleries and dining at wonderful restaurants.  We returned to Scottsdale after spending three days in Santa Fe.  Francine and I visited Pittsburg to see Emerson, primarily, but also Kim, David, Veronica, Kyle and Jackson over Labor Day weekend.   Kyle and family had moved to Pittsburgh in July. 



Francine And Emerson, Almost One Year Old



Veronica, Emerson, Kim And Francine


Kyle, Jim, David And Jackson - Four Generations


Two weeks later I attended Kolin and Morgan’s wedding and reception in Nevada and Boone, IA.  Dick and I visited the Hartland Cemetery and were pleased to find it well maintained.   While in Central Iowa, I visited Francine’s grandson, Benjamin Carleton who was a freshman at ISU majoring in software engineering.


 Benjamin And Jim At ISU


Another trip to Africa, this time South Africa –


In October Francine, Kim, Jill, Brian, Jim and I traveled to South Africa to visit a part of the world to which none of us had previously visited.  We arrived in Cape Town and spent three days visiting the city and its surroundings. Cape Town is at the very southern tip of South Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is located at the southern end of Cape Peninsula while Cape Town occupies the northern end of the Cape Peninsula.  Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa.  It was the site first settled by Europeans.  It served as a major seaport and trading city when it was first established and is still one of  the busiest seaports in South Africa.  The historical and cultural aspects of South Africa with its major apartheid issues were interesting. Cape Town is experiencing a major inward migration from the other parts of South Africa to the point that it is a significant problem to accommodate this basically homeless population.  This is causing major political and economic problems for South Africa.


During the Cape Town visit we traveled to top of the very large Table Mountain which dominates Cape Town from its position north of Cape Town.  This is a huge plateau some 2000 meters wide and with an elevation of nearly 1000 meters provides a wonderful backdrop to this thriving city.

Cape Town, South Africa With Table Mountain In The Background


The South Africa coast line is particularly rugged and beautiful. We spent a day touring a portion of the coast observing a large population of the South African penguins which reside on its beaches.  The third day we toured the city itself, including a wonderfully large garden featuring a very large variety of flowers and flowering shrubbery.  The city’s architecture testifies to Cape Town’s rich varied population as a result of its being a major stop for travelers between countries to the east and to the west.  We celebrated Brian’s 60th birthday in Cape Town.  He chose this destination to celebrate it.


Francine And Jim At Cape Of Good Hope


From Cape Town, we flew  northeast to MalaMala airport, a small private airport in the MalaMala Game Preserve.  The MalaMala Game Preserve is a 33,000 acre preserve bordering Kruger National Park.  Kruger National Park is a very large game park located on the very eastern edge of South Africa and its border with Mozambique.  It is the oldest and largest private game park in South Africa.  We were booked into the MalaMala Camp, one of three major camps in the MalaMala Preserve.  It is a privately owned game operation also bordering on Kruger National Park.  Camp employees met our plane and transported us to the camp. The camp had 18 suites/rooms for guests as well as the necessary support accommodations, principally a dining area, common gathering area, etc. Meals were provided to accommodate the game viewing drives. The MalaMala game viewing operations have the advantage of not being restricted by Kruger National Park rules such as vehicles being restricted to authorized roads/trails.   Consequently, we at times could get very close to the animals, providing that the guides knew  that it was safe.  Also, since MalaMala’s private land bordered the Park, the animals roamed freely from and into it Kruger National Park.


We spent three days at MalaMala camp and had game drives early each morning and late each afternoon. The six of us were the only ones in our viewing vehicle and the driver was free to take us where we wanted to go.  The MalaMala Preserve has many of each of the “Big Five” African animals – The Rhinoceros, The African Cape Buffalo, The African Bush Elephant, The Leopard and The Lion.  We saw all five, many of them up close and personal.  A large male rhinoceros walked leisurely past us some 100 feet  away while we ate our morning snack and drank our coffee under a tree one morning.  We had large elephants only feet away from our vehicle.  We had a male lion only feet from our vehicle.  We did not get close to a buffalo however, several of them were walking away from us only about 50 feet away.  Only the leopard was maybe 30 feet away on a large limb of a tree, sleeping.  He/she had a kill stored in the tree so he/she ate and slept next to the kill.  He/she only left the perch to go to the nearby river to drink and then returned to continue feasting on the kill until it was gone.  We had a night drive and the animal activity was even greater after sundown with the somewhat cooler weather.


Jim, Francine, David, Kim, Jill and Brian And Our Viewing Vehicle


A Rhinoceros


The last day of our stay at MalaMala was inclement and chilly.  Our guide was looking for a lion or pride of lions feasting on a kill.  We had not had a chance to observe such up to that point.  Our guide  checked with neighboring camps to locate  a viewing.  One camp reported that a pride of lions had killed a buffalo and they were feeding on it.  The problem was that this was about an hour away from where we were staying and the weather  was not good.  Regardless, Jill, Brian, I and two other visitors agreed to accompany our guide to the site.  We found the site but another vehicle was parked as close to the kill as it could get and all other viewing was blocked by vegetation.  Our driver parked as close as he could however we couldn’t see the kill  or the lion feasting on it.


An African Cape Buffalo


A Leopard Napping After A Large Lunch


We could hear the lion cracking bones to get at the meat he wanted.  The other two lions were sleeping nearby, probably having already feasted.  While we were waiting for the other vehicle to move so we could see the feasting, our guide spotted a fourth lion from a different pride approaching the kill from several hundred yards away.  Our vehicle was between the kill and the approaching lion.  The intruding lion kept our vehicle between him and the other kill as he crept much like a household cat slowly and silently approaching  the kill.  This intruder came to within about five feet of our vehicle.  He stopped there and waited.  Our guide thought that the intruder might challenge the other lions for the kill, but he never did.  He just laid there looked at us and listened to the feasting lion.  We waited for almost an hour but nothing happened.  Finally, we were cold, wet and needed to relieve ourselves.  We made the long drive back to camp and the next morning we prepared to leave for the famous Victoria Falls.



A Lion, Just Six Feet From Our Vehicle


An African Bush Elephant




Our third destination on our trip was Victoria Falls located on the Zambezi River, the fourth largest river in the world, which forms the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  We had a small chartered airplane take us to an airport in Zambia near the falls.  We were bussed from there to the grand old Victoria Falls Hotel.  The border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe was a challenge, as it was crowded and the border crossing personnel, systems and facilities were unable to efficiently process the travelers.  We were particularly concerned as the officials demanded that we leave our passports with them while they processed our entry and concurrently we traveled several miles to our hotel.  Fortunately, the A & K personnel retrieved our passports and returned them to us later that evening.


Victoria Falls


Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as it is the largest water falls in the world, with both the most amount of water traversing it and it being 1700 meters wide.  Unfortunately, we were visiting the Falls at a time when there was a drought upstream resulting in a minimal amount of water for the Falls.  Several sections of the 1700 meters had no water.  Where the water was falling, it was an impressive sight.  I can believe that with a normal amount of water it would have been a really incredible sight.  We had a really informative walking tour of the Falls from the side of the river opposite the Falls.  It was a perfect viewing venue.


Victoria Falls


The Victoria Falls Hotel, is a grand hotel, however, it is not being maintained to a world class hotel standard.  Regardless, visiting the Victoria Falls was certainly a major bucket list accomplishment.  As we checked out of the hotel, Francine gave away all of her clothing purchased for the trip to our room attendants, for which they were elated. After the two day visit to the Falls, we were bussed to a small regional airport for our flight to Johannesburg to catch our flight back home. The Johannesburg Airport was one of the most modern airports I have ever been in.  Johannesburg, located somewhat in the center of South Africa, is the largest city in South Africa.  It is located in the midst of untold mineral wealth, namely gold and diamonds.  Unfortunately, our itinerary did not include any time in the city itself.


We again had a wonderful family Christmas at Brian’s ski house in Lincoln, NH.  Brian started the tradition of our family joining in making gnocchi pasta from scratch and then cooking it with a variety of toppings.  We also celebrated Francine’s 74th birthday a couple of weeks early.  This also closed out year 2017.


L to R, Front to Back: Kevin, Mandy, Adam, Jackson, David, Kim, Emerson, Jim, Francine,

Brian, Jill, Veronica, Kyle, Courtney, Andrew, Nicole and Brad



Click HERE to go to Part XVII