"Ray's Homepage" AlbuqRay's Profile
All of our immediate family lives in Albuquerque, including my daughter with her three kids, my son, and some really special in-laws. It is a wonderful thing to get to see them often, especially the grandkids. We may look forward to the weekend sleepovers even more than the grandkids, and my daughter and son-in-law do. The twins are now 12 years old and Joel is 10 (but he thinks he is 12). It's a beautiful ordinary life because of the extraordinary people in it.
After going to Northern Territory in Australia in August 2010 for the Virtualtourist Meet and Survivor Camp in Alice Springs, my left knee failed four days after I got back (old basketball injury and surgery from 1968). The doctor tried an arthroscopic clean-up and injections but they did not work. I finally had a knee replacement on 29 March 2012.
I had retired fully (no more consulting even) on 1 Sep 11. To keep from getting bored while I was waiting for my knee surgery, I tried some local road trips to revisit some of the amazing sites that we have here in New Mexico, like Chaco Canyon and the Seismosaurus site in the Ojito Wilderness. After surgery in March, by September 2012 my knee had improved enough to try local road trips again. I attended another jujube tree workshop in Alcalde, and afterwards went to see Las Vegas (NM), Pecos National Historical Park and Tent Rocks. On 16 Oct 2012 I took a day trip to the Bisti Wilderness, which I had not seen before. My goal was to find the stone wing hoodoo that I had seen on a calendar, whose location was secret due to fragile geology. I did not find it but I did find other spectacular stone wings.
In mid-April 2013 I did a road trip in southern New Mexico that featured a tour of the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument. I also visited El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Old Mesilla and Fort Craig. Two weeks later, I went to a jujube tree grafting workshop and afterwards drove up to the Stone House Lodge to go fishing for a couple of days. After sitting all day, my back was killing me. I had to go home the next morning and could barely walk by the time I got home. I had been diagnosed with bilateral synovial cysts at L4-L5 in 2007. The neurosurgeon told me at the time that I would eventually need surgery. Physical therapy saved me three times, but now my back finally failed. I think that the changed angles and pressures from the knee replacement are probably what caused my back to get worse. Albuquerque has a severe shortage of neurosurgeons, so they could not do the surgery until 6 Aug 2013. Everything went well but recovering from back surgery is a slow process (60-90 days?) and I cannot travel yet.
March 2010 - I returned to Cambodia, taught science activities at the PIO schools in Phnom Penh again, and toured several remote sites including Sambor Prei Kuk, Beng Mealea, Koh Ker, Preah Vihear, and Boeng Yeak Lom.
April/May 2010 - I braved flying around volcanic ash and visited my niece, who was doing a semester at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. I also took the Rabbie's 5-day tour to the west coast islands of Mull, Iona, Staffa and the Isle of Skye. See also my Scotland Shutterfly albums.
June 2010 - I went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for my 50th high school reunion and to visit friends and relatives.
August 2010 - I attended the Virtualtourist Survivor Camp and Meet in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. This was an amazing trip that included several remote sites south of Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the MacDonnell Ranges, and places along the Stuart Highway between Darwin and Alice Springs. See also my Northern Territory Shutterfly albums.
I went to Malaysia and Cambodia from 25 Feb - 24 Mar 09. Locations included Kuala Lumpur, Miri, the northern Borneo jungle, Mulu caves and Kuching in Malaysia. In Cambodia, I just visited Phnom Penh and the Siem Reap area. It was an amazing trip in many ways. Up-country Borneo and Angkor Wat were pretty remarkable but teaching How Things Fly to the teachers and kids at Phnom Penh's Stung Mean Chey municipal dump and the Borey Keila slum area was an unforgettable experience. The People Improvement Organization teachers and staff do an incredible job. Even though some of these kids live in conditions you can hardly believe, they are still loving and appreciative. It touches your heart. These kids have already learned life's hard lessons and now they are getting a more formal education. They will be surprising everyone (except their teachers) in how well they do in our now global society. I wish the young people in the USA realized how privileged a life they live and how many opportunities in education that they often turn down or do not fully utilize.
We went to Trinidad in the West Indies for a wedding at the end of May 09. It is always fun to visit relatives there and the food is delicious. This time I also did a little touring in the Port of Spain area. In Jul 09 I visited my son who was working in Tucson, Arizona, at the time. Along the way, I went by some old hangouts in the Gila National Forest and in the Datil, New Mexico, area. In Sep 09 we went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Janet's 50th reunion at Marquette High School. Later in the month, I visited my brother in Pen Argyl again. I also included return visits to Gettysburg and Havre de Grace.
On 1-7 May 08 I took a trip to visit my middle brother in Pen Argyl, PA. The best flight from Albuquerque to that area was to Baltimore's BWI (it was a direct flight). I had never been to Gettysburg, PA, so I decided to spend a night there on the way up to Pen Argyl, since it was not that much out of the way. On the way back to BWI I spent the night in Havre de Grace, Maryland. It was one of my favorite places to visit on the east coast when I worked at White Sands Missile Range. See my tips on Gettysburg, Havre de Grace, and the Delaware Water Gap. I have also added to my previous Pen Argyl tips, including an interesting video clip.
In Oct 08 we went to the University of Tulsa for Homecoming (both of us went to undergraduate school there), and to visit friends and relatives. Since I grew up in Tulsa, I decided to visit all the places where I had lived and gone to school. On the way back we went through Dallas to visit relatives there too.
I retired on 24 Dec 08 with mixed feelings. I had had a great job with an excellent boss and worked with nice people; however, I also wanted to have time to travel while I was still able to do it. I had to wait 90 days but started consulting part-time after that. It was a good way to transition into full retirement for me. My last business trips before I retired included the 2nd CALCE counterfeit electronic parts symposium in College Park, MD, and an electronic parts distributor benchmarking trip to Hollywood, FL. Guess those business travel perqs were not too bad either.
In Nov 07 a business trip took me to College Park, Maryland. I knew that the University of Maryland was located there but I had no idea that College Park played such an important role in aviation history. Most of my tips on College Park are about the College Park Aviation Museum. The museum had special meaning to me personally because it connected me to the history of the Ercoupe, a small plane that my mom and dad (both were pilots) owned when I was a boy. It turns out that the Ercoupe was manufactured in College Park.
I went to Alaska in Aug 07. There was some bad weather and I did not get to do some of the things I had planned, but I had fun anyway. I visited some of the popular places but also went to Bethel to visit relatives of friends that I used to coach in soccer. The other places included Homer, Seldovia, Kenai, Ninilchik, Happy Valley, Anchor Point, Nikolaevsk, Cooper Landing, Girdwood, Hope, Anchorage, and Seward. I also put some general things along the Seward and Sterling highways on my Alaska page since I could not figure out any other way to locate them on VT.
I was born and lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until I finished undergraduate school. In 1964 I married Janet and we both went to graduate school in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In 1970 I started working at White Sands Missile Range, and moved to Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque in 1985. I am a physicist by education but ended up being a systems and process engineer. My hobbies include growing grapes, fishing, wildflowers, and palmistry. I love to travel, meet people and experience the way they live. I truly believe that work is what you do, but life is what you give. Also, I listen to Nat King Cole's song, Nature Boy, to be reminded about the greatest thing that we shall ever learn.
Sometimes the view from your own front door can be the best. "New Mexico, Earth," may not be "the best place in the universe" as the State used to advertise (hey, even aliens like to land here), but it is a very nice place to live. Ralph Waldo Emerson said "though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." I am sure he meant in our minds and hearts but a digital camera helps also.
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