In January, Jana visited a conference in Orlando, and we took the opportunity to visit Jana's brother, Tracy, and his family, including his wife Alishia and their newborn boy Dylan. This was the first time for Jana to see her nephew and we spent a few days with them. We went to the beach in Tampa and it was Dylan's first time in the water. The water was a little cold and he didn't like it very much, although aunt Jana also reports that he normally likes his bath .
Since we were already in Orlando and Tampa, we also visited some of the many adventure parks located there. At Disney World's Animal Kingdom, we hung out with Tigger , we went to Disney's Epcot Center and visited Busch Gardens in Tampa.
Photo Gallery from Florida
To celebrate Eliza's birthday, we went to Universal Studios with our friends Troy and Eliza. We took the Studio Tour, where we saw King Kong , a flash flood nearly surprised us, and Jaws was ever present. The day was fun-filled with food (primarily pizza) on the Universal City walk, and rides on the Jurassic Park "log ride" and the E.T. adventure.
Photo Gallery from Universal Studios
This year, Jana had a milestone birthday and we celebrated at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. Several of our friends were able to participate in the festivities and Jana enjoyed the fabulous day .
In May, Jana and Marc took a dive vacation on the Caribbean island of Bonaire. It was fun trip with lots of shore diving, some relaxation and good food. See the complete Bonaire trip report for more details.
In early June, we went to one of our favorite cities in the world - San Francisco, for a long weekend. On the first day, we had breakfast at "Sears" (not the department store, but a long-established restaurant with servers who have been there longer than we are old). But then we were off...taking pictures . This is how Jana saw Marc for the most time, as Marc had just bought a new camera and was busy trying it out. You can see some of the results in the photo gallery below (although the pictures on the website are not that great due to the lower resolution).
We hopped on the next available cable car that came our way and off we were to Fisherman's Wharf. The ride on the cable car trolleys was a lot of fun going down the steep hills of San Francisco , and narrowly passing by the on-coming cable car trolleys . At Fisherman's Wharf we strolled through some of the tourist shops and visited Pier 39, where we had a great view of Alcatraz and the local sea lion population . Afterwards we took a taxi cab to Coit Tower, where we were awarded with spectacular views of San Francisco. We were very lucky and had a day without any fog. We could even make out our next destination - the crookedest street in the world - Lombard Street . Unfortunately, we didn't have a car, which would have enhanced our excitement, but since we have driven Lombard Street before, we decided to walk it watching all the cars snake their way down. At the bottom, we caught another cab and sped off to the Palace of Fine Arts .
Here we took many pictures and experimented with Black and White photography. It is just a beautiful place with many nooks and crannies that invite the visual mind.
From there we walked along the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was extremely windy and it took us literally twice as long to get there than we had anticipated. But on the way we saw interesting sea life, boats, windsurfers and stone art . The bridge is always amazing, but we caught it at a special day (no fog) and at a great time with great lighting . We took some Black and White pictures of the bridge, which resemble some of the old-time San Francisco pictures we have at home. After the long walk and staying on the bridge for a while, we took a bus back to the hotel where we got ready for our night out at Club Fugazi to see Beach Blanket Babylon...an absolutely hilarious show.
For the second day we decided to explore Golden Gate Park. On our way there, we stopped by Alamo Square , where we saw one of the most well-known San Francisco views. Golden Gate Park has many attractions and is very wide spread, so we decided to first start at Stow Lake in the middle of the park, where we walked through a serene setting with large trees, stone bridges and turtles . Fortunately, the park offers a free shuttle on the weekends, so we hopped on one of the cars and went to the Japanese Teagarden. On the way, we found this rather odd looking vehicle , which everyone was staring at. Inside the Japanese Teagarden, it was very calm, despite the many people visiting, and we were able to take some nice portrait pictures, as you can see below. After reveling in the Asian culture, we then headed west to the Dutch Windmills , which are at the end of the park, close to the ocean. We then heeded the call of the Pacific Ocean, where Jana demonstrated her beautiful modeling ability . Since we were very hungry after walking and sightseeing, we had a late lunch at the famous Cliff House .
Photo Gallery from San Francisco
To celebrate the 80th birthday of Jana's grandpa BJ, we headed to at the end of June. We flew into Grand Junction and took a car to Parachute, CO.
Since the party did not start until Sunday, we had the opportunity to visit some of the magnificent landscape of Colorado's Rifle Falls and Glenwood Canyon. Rifle Falls is a set of waterfalls that used to power an electricity generator in the early 1900s. Today, the falls are part of a state recreation park, and it is possible to take some great shots in front and behind the falls. The area also has many caves that we explored during our visit.
In the evening we joined the folk at the senior citizen center for a round of bingo. This was Marc's first official bingo tournament. The competition was furious, but in the end it was all good fun.
On Sunday, the birthday party got into full swing. BJ's and Shirley's friends organized a great buffet and lots of memorabilia for BJ or a.k.a "Burt". It was also an opportunity for many members of Jana's mom, Sharron's, family to get together, including Jana's cousins and aunts.
Photo Gallery from Colorado
On August 24th, we celebrated our second anniversary of having met through the matchmaker.com website. Keeping the tradition alive, we went to the restaurant "Bistro 201" , where we met in person for the first time . A further tradition that we indulged in was to order the restaurant's famous chocolate soufflé.
The following day, we decided to drive down the coast and visit nearby Dana Point. Here are some picture from Dana Point and the mission at San Juan Capistrano.
Photo Gallery from Dana Point
After driving for approximately 8 hours, with a short stop at the funniest ice cream shop on the old Route 66, we arrived at Grand Canyon Village. It was too late to enter the park, but we took a quick trip on a side street and found ourselves staring at a herd of deer.
Bright and early the next day, we drove into the park and decided to have a good breakfast to strengthen ourselves for a hike along the canyon rim. The views were just magnificent and the feeling of grandeur was overwhelming. We walked for quite a distance and saw many different views of the canyon until we reached Hopi Point . Since we were starting to feel exhausted (city folk we are), we hopped on the park shuttle and saw the rest of the trail from the tourist-approved air conditioned shuttle bus. Before heading back to the hotel we visited the old-fashioned steam train , which transports passengers every day from Williams to the Grand Canyon.
Jana and Marc decided to go on a night-time horseback ride through the forest and saddled up at the local stables . We rode for about an hour and came to a campground, where the wranglers had already prepared a fire, where we cooked sausages and made smores.
The next day, we explored more of the canyon by hiking into the canyon for a little while, until we hit "Oohh-Ahh Point". The name became very clear after the canyon walls opened up to a magnificent view over a large portion of the canyon. At the end of the day, we were very excited to explore the forest in a much speedier way by taking an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) tour through the forest . It was a lot of fun, but it took two washing machine cycles to get our clothes clean again.
On our last day, we spend some time taking special pictures with the canyon always in close proximity. It was a great experience, to be recommended to anyone.
Photo Gallery from Grand Canyon National Park
Taking a long vacation, Marc's parents, Frank and Sylvia, decided to visit us in Irvine late September . Before heading out to our Fiji vacation, we were able to spend a little time with Frank and Sylvia exploring the California coast. We showed them around Irvine and Laguna Beach, and visited the pier in Huntington Beach , where Frank pointed his new digital camera at everything and everybody . We were able to spend some time together with Frank and Sylvia, and were able to catch up on what is happening in Germany, the U.S. and the world over making dinner and eating it inside and outside .
While we were splashing in tropical waters, Marc's parents enjoyed the relaxing times at California's beaches . After our return from Fiji, we were lucky enough to be able to spend some more time with Frank and Sylvia. Together we visited the (Getty Center) in Los Angeles .Here you can see Frank overlooking the hills of Los Angeles and the famous Interstate 405 freeway , and Sylvia is overlooking Culver City with downtown L.A. in the background .
Photo Gallery from the Getty Center
In October, we took to the South Pacific and visited several islands in Fiji. The trip included some diving and was also very romantic with Marc proposing to Jana. See the complete Fiji trip report for more details.
Unfortunately, sadness overcame the Shelton family at the end of October and beginning of November with Sharron's sickness and passing. Please visit Sharron's page, which we have dedicated for her memory.
Thanksgiving Denise and Jennifer invited us to join them in Victorville. We hit the road, and in good Los Angeles tradition, came to a very quick stop. The freeways were insanely busy and it took us twice as long as we had planned to get there.
We then had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner. Jana's aunt DeeAnne and her cousin Jamie were also present. After having stuffed ourselves with turkey, stuffing and green bean casserole, we visited Denise and Jennifer's father, who was enjoying the outdoors at a nearby campground. The night ended around the fireplace.
Photo Gallery from Thanksgiving with Family
In the morning on Christmas Eve, we boarded a flight to Columbia, South Carolina (with its state flag ) to visit Jana's brother, Tracy, and his family (wife Alishia and son Dylan). On the way, we picked up Jana's father, Mickey, in Atlanta airport with whom we shared a rather bumpy flight to Columbia. The weather was very cold and Columbia had very gusty winds. Tracy picked us up at the airport and took us to their house in Irmo. The neighborhood was cheerfully lit with Christmas lights and after a quick tour of the large and beautiful home , we sunk tiredly in our beds.
After a cheerful squeal from her nephew in the morning, Jana rushed out of bed to give him a hug and after a delicious breakfast we started the Christmas celebrations. Dylan sat between a mountain of packages and gifts, and could not help but play with every new toy he received from Santa Claus. Around noon, Jana and Tracy's sister Liane joined us after having driven from Charlotte where she was visiting a friend. We had a scrumptious Christmas dinner with Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, and a delicious chocolate cheesecake and home-made pecan pie. As with all great Christmas dinners, we were completely stuffed by the end of the day.
Photo Gallery from Christmas Day
The day after Christmas it was shopping time for Jana and Alishia. The bargain hunters pursued the deals in the largest mall in Columbia, fully equipped with a carousel for Dylan to enjoy. Marc and Tracy headed to Charleston to learn more about the Civil War past of South Carolina, where the first shot of the war was fired on Fort Sumter located in the middle of Charleston's harbor. While the girls were shopping to their hearts' content, the boys hopped on a boat to the old fort and reveled in the historic artifacts and war stories. After returning, Tracy and Marc had lunch while watching dolphins playing in the harbor and cargo ships being loaded. Before returning to Columbia, Tracy and Marc took a trolley ride around the inner city to see the old market, the King street shopping area. The report of such interesting areas prompted the return of the whole gang two days later. Upon returning back to Columbia, Jana's aunt Nelda and cousin Mike stopped by for a short visit on their way to a short vacation in Tennessee.
Photo Gallery from Fort Sumter National Monument
On Friday, all of us went to get professional pictures taken. We then had to say goodbye to Mickey, as he headed back to Oklahoma. After a quick lunch, we visited downtown Columbia to take a look at the famous state house, which continued to fly the confederate civil war flag until 2000. Only after many years of protest by the African-American community was the flag removed from the top of the state house, but it continues to fly in front of it by the Civil War memorial. We drove around the city for a little while and then visited the . On the way back, we stopped by Lake Murray, where we witnessed a beautiful sunset over the lake. Then Tracy and Alishia got ready for their "Night Off" and Jana and Marc took care of little Dylan. We bathed him and put him to bed and then settled in to watch "Minority Report".
Photo Gallery from Columbia
Our last full day in South Carolina was spent (re)visiting Charleston. But instead of exploring historic sites, the focus of the day was on exploring the old market, where many different vendors were selling their wares in fully equipped shops, as well as on fold-down table tops. We also explored the King Street shopping area, where lots of little shopped invited the weary shoppers. The final stop on our tour was a stop at the old battery, which had been turned into an exclusive neighborhood with old-style houses.
Photo Gallery from Charleston
Unfortunately, on Sunday we had to say goodbye to Tracy, Alishia and Dylan. We enjoyed our visit to South Carolina, and hope to be able to come back sometime in the future.
We checked in at about 4pm, after traffic had just been really bad on the freeway. But soon after we entered our state room . After a short nap, we got ready for the black-tie affair including dinner, 7 parties (everything from Disco and Jazz to Country and Swing), and champagne and fireworks.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! AND A GREAT 2003 FOR ALL OF US!
Photo Gallery from New Years on the Queen Mary