BCUF Adventure

Hey kids… A little while ago, we went to a ukulele fest, in S. Indiana. The Brown County Ukulele Festival. Good times. Great friends. Fab tunes…. Got to see peeps irl, that we hadn’t seen in a long time, and hear some amazing musicians… If you are interested, keep your eyes open, for the dates, etc…

Hangin’ in the bar, with Greg, Mike, us, Sharla, and Diane
In Class
Us, Diane, Sharla, and Jim
The very talented Diane Poole, Sharla Rae Stephens Weins, Michael August, and, the killer Jim Allen
The amazing Mike August
Backing up Mike
One more…
Headed to the airport, to drop off Diane and Sharla,
then home

Again….Good times. Good friends. Great tunes. Lucky to be alive….

There and back again…

Hello! Happy Boxing Day! I haven’t posted for awhile, I know… Been very busy with the Holidays, and, our ‘trip of a lifetime’ adventure. It all ‘started’ in September 2019. A two week trip to the UK, and a ukulele festival in 2020. Well….. We decided to have a pandemic instead. So that adventure was postponed a year… And postponed in 2021. So, we thought we’d try another approach, and sign up for a 10 day Rhine Christmas market cruise in December 2021… Yup… 10 days before we flew out, it was cancelled. Ok… ONE MORE TRY…. We moved it to the 1st full week of December 2022, for 12 days. Now, we’re getting somewhere, so to speak. But, as in all things, the universe had other ideas. Our flight took off on 12/4/22, but 2 1/2 hours out, we had to turn back, cuz of pressurization problems… So, at 10pm on a Sunday night, w/ 300 of our closest friends- it was a 747 plane- we tried to rebook. Got into the air, the next day, but short story long, we were delayed to the cruise by 24 hours. However, when we stepped onto the gangplank all that changed…

Our room, in the mirror

We were on the boat/ship. The Tranquility2, in the Avalon fleet..

A pano of our ship. We’re the room on the FAR right
From our room, near the back of the boat, to the lobby, near the front

Nuremberg market

The entrance to the Nuremberg market

What a beautiful place to spend 12 days. Lovely room. Great staff. Amazing food… We’d been up for like 25 hours, then, so, we had a strong cup of coffee, and off we went to the Christmas market in Nuremberg … What an experience for us. Little open air stalls, with food, drink, and gifts for purchase… Something called ‘Gluhwein’ or mulled wine, is available everywhere in the markets. Keeps one warm… We wandered the markets for a couple hours, and it was time to meet the bus to take us back to the boat. A rest for a little while, and then dinner. So many great dishes to try. We sailed from Nuremberg round 5, and headed to our next market town. Bamberg.

A castle/monastery in Bamberg
Along the river, in Bamberg

Another prince/bishop residence

That’s city hall, behind us, on a manmade island

The gate to city hall

cruising up the river

After breakfast we hit the bus, and went into Bamberg, for a couple hour walking tour of the city. After, we went to the Christmas market, and then back to the boat for lunch, and an early sail to our next port- Wursburg.

We wandered in Wurzburg, and Rothenburg, a beautiful medieval city. some streets were started by the Romans… It’s that old… We had great guide, Victoria. We toured the city, and then had free time to shop the Christmas markets, and stores.

On the bus, ready to see Wurzburg

The Wurzburg Residence… Yeah, Prince/bishop thing

Wurzburg palace. Home of the Prince/bishops, til the early 19th century

Kiliansplatz. An Irish monk we here and converted a large portion of the people… Yeah, as in Kilians Irish Red…
Nice tram/train
The ‘Alte Mainbruke’ Marienberg fortress behind us
The Marienkapelle Catholic Church, Built in the 14th century
Touring down the street, w/ the tour group… Note the size of the road. Again, designed by Romans….
In Rothenberg, touring the city. Shopping and Christmas markets to come
Going through the main gate in town
A church, outside of the city walls. Almost every medieval town had walls around it.
Set sail for the next town…

After our day in Wurzberg and Rothenberg, we set sail for a Main River village…

We made it to Maltenberg overnight, and a cute little town… Yeah, Christmas markets, wandering, shopping…

Headed into the town
Here’s a better pic of the from part of the boat

Some of the towns had the same effect from the pandemic as every other small town… Some businesses made it through….Some did not. A few empty storefronts in every town…. But, all in all, they seem to be doing ok…

Small streets. Small delivery trucks…

The guide was saying that, because of Germany getting a lot of their energy/natural gas, from Russia, the Ukraine situation has really effected Germany’s energy. His, and everyone else’s electric bill is going up 75% in January…. Also, he pointed out the age of this building…

House built in 1333… Yes, 160 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue…
Up the steps to the church at the top of the hill…
…And, down the steps…..

So, we had to be back at the boat, at 3pm, to sail onto our next stop… Frankfurt and Rudesheim…

Leaving Miltenberg

Oh, in sailing the Rhine, there are a bunch of Locks for the boat to go through. I believe I remember 37, between Nuremberg and Frankfurt… Here’s what they looked like…

We woke up in Frankfurt, and, after breakfast, we boarded a bus, to head to Rudesheim, to see a mechanical music museum, wander the town, see the markets, have lunch, and….

We are frickin’ on the Autobahn…. Though buses have speed limits…
A mechanical music thing…
A statue called, ‘Germania’ that basically says, ‘ we see you, France. You stay there, and and we’ll stay here… ‘ Both sides ignored that advice, over the years…

We bid a fond farewell to Rudesheim, and head back to the boat, for another amazing dinner, and sailing to our next destination.

My dinner. Beef tenderloin and veggies….
Yet another amazing dessert…

We made it to Heidelberg and it’s time to tour castles, more Christmas markets, and …. Again, soooooo much history in these towns….

It snowed overnight, so, we had a true Christmas palette to enjoy… We did dress warmly, w/ wool socks, etc, and were quite comfortable, the entire trip
The ‘ruins’ of Heidelberg castle…
From up at the castle… FYI, that bridge there…. In March of 1945, the Nazis blew up the original bridge, to stop Patton, and the army from crossing… Within 24 hours, pontoon bridge pieces were there, in place, and only slowed down the Allies by a day… Sad, all the way round…
Tourists at the castle
We are standing on ‘that’ bridge

And, every city we visited, had bakeries. Lots of bakeries. Really. Nice. Bakeries…

And again, back to the ship, dinner, watch a Christmas movie while we sail, and, voila’… wake up in France…

This is the ‘La Petite France’ area of Strasbourg France…

I thought that Strasbourg was one of the highlights of the trip. So much history, and so many things to see… A cathedral from the early medieval ages. There is a George Clooney movie, ‘Monuments Men’ -it’s a book, too, btw- about the arm of the army that tried to find/save lost art treasures, from the Nazis, durning, and the end of the war…. The stained glass windows in this cathedral were taken out, and hidden by the French, from the Nazis. However, the Nazis were not going to be dissuaded, and demanded that the windows be brought back ( or worse would happen). When the war was ending, the Nazis packed up the windows, and put them in a Polish salt mine, ‘for protection’ ( keeping) But, the Monuments Men, found them, and got them back to the cathedral, where they are now….

The Notre Dame cathedral of Strasbough, and, the Kammerzell House, on the left,
built in 1427…
Said windows ….

The Stasbough/Alsace area has gone back and forth for millennia, from French, to German, to France, to…. Maggie’s ancestors come from this area, so, it had special interest/appeal to her… We toured Strasbough, went back to the boat for lunch, and then, for something we wouldn’t normally do, a trip to a winery. Like, how often are we gonna be in France, with a chance to go to a winery? So, yeah, we did!

After our couple hours at the winery, which was very tasty, though 3 outta 4 wines were a bit dry for our taste, we had an end of the day visit to another little town on the way back to the boat. Yup, another Christmas market- you know, this was a Christmas market cruise- and shopping… the little town was Obernai France… So, yeah, we spent a day in France….

The town square of Obernai, and the Christmas market…

Our last full day of adventures in Germany, was to a ‘living museum’ at the Black Forest Open Air Museum… And, as it says, it’s in the Black Forest…

A German farmhouse, from the 15th century. Animals in the back. People in the front. Hay in the attic. Smoke everywhere. Women, between childbirth, and SMOKE from woking in the kitchen, did not live past late 50’s early ’60’s… tough life…

After the visit to the museum, we headed back to the boat, one last time, for our last night onboard. There are ‘Welcome dinners, and ‘Farewell dinners’, for the guests. We missed our welcome dinner, as we were a day late, getting to the ship. About half way through our cruise, people departed and joined the boat. some people sailed from further up the river, for a longer cruise. Some joined in Frankfurt, and had a shorter cruise. So, there would be a ‘welcome’ and ‘farewell’ dinner for everyone. We got one welcome, and two farewell dinners….Two and a half hours of 5 course amazing food… Our farewell was this evening…

During the 2nd half of the cruise, we met a very nice couple from Perth, Australia. Zhai and Rye. Lovely people. It was also Zhai’s (40th) birthday, though she wasn’t nearly that old… We spent several dinners, and a couple outings w/ them. It was the last night onboard, so, we celebrated. Come 6am, we’d be up, packed, have breakfast, and, on the bus to Zurich and, home…..

It was cold and rainy, on the bus to Zurich. We dozed… Then, in the airport, our ‘adventure’ continued. Delayed flight to Munich for our return to Ohare. Then, cancelled flight… OMG, now what?! Scramble and get in lines to rebook… Managed to get shoehorned into a SwissAir flight to Newark. Long flight…. Had an hour and fifteen minutes from touchdown to wheels up, to get through customs, get our luggage, go back through security, and get to the flight. ‘All seats now boarding’ was on the p.a. when we got to our gate. A nice United flight, and crew awaited us… Only 2 hours to Ohare, and catch the bus to home…. Oh, the fun was not finished yet…. Ever watch StarTrek, and during the battles, or such, the crew gets thrown the bridge? Lean left. Lean right? That was our flight to Ohare…. Most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on. Not up and down turbulence but that back and forth stuff… Whew…. And, to add to the almost 27 hours of being awake, trying to get home, as we landed, and got our luggage, we watch the last bus of the night leave…. 10 minutes earlier, and we’d have made it…. Knowing this, we had talked to our amazing friend, Mike August, who, said, if things got ugly, travel wise, he’d come to the airport and pick us up. When we landed in Newark, we knew it was gonna be CLOSE, so, we reached out to Mike, who very kindly say yes, and came to get us. It was good to see a familiar, face, at midnight, Chicago time… Thanks to Mike, we walked into our front door round 1:20am Thursday morning. That, was 27 hours since the alarm went off, on the boat. Great trip in-between horrible flight experiences. Not sure if I’d ever fly Lufthansa airlines again. Left us hanging, more than once….. BUT, the cruise…. AMAZING. A ‘trip of a lifetime ‘ as friends called it….

Fun at Funky Frets…

Been a couple weeks since I posted. Been busy getting ready for this adventure… We left at 3am cst, for Pennsylvania and a ton of fun…

On the road

Spent the night in Somerset, Pa, cuz it’s too difficult to drive all the way in one day…


Made it to Pottstown/Boyertown the next day, and the fun begins…

Waiting for the class

Mike, Sharla, and Diane


Louise, Mike, Diane, Kelly, and Sharla

Kurt, Louise, Magtones, and Mike…

Train Ride jam

Magtones having fun

It was a great trip/adventure. Kelly, and Funky Frets killed it…. So many good friend, and fun… Kurt, Kendra, Cheryl, Pete/Dee, Diane, Sharla, Louise, and 182 other close/new friends… And now, onto more fun!!

A Frank Lloyd Wright Day

Hi there…. So, today is our 27th wedding anniversary, and, to ‘celebrate’ we went on a tour of the two Frank Lloyd Wright sites within 1/2 hour of our home…. The first, is the Laurent House… The only design he did for special needs…



Garden room

Garden View

Exterior view

Then, we went over to Belvidere, Il, to see the Petit Chapel, one of Wrights early designs

We are lucky to have two distinct examples of his work, so close to home….

Two Rivers Fest, and, Straw Sculpting Fest

Hey kids… So, we have a couple gigs this weekend… We play Friday at 4:30pm, and, Saturday morning, at 11:35am, at the Two Rivers Bluegrass Festival. So will several other amazing musicians. It’s free. Come out, it’ll be fun! And, to make it more interesting for me, I will play bass for/with the amazing Grass Attack, at 5ish Friday, and 11ish Saturday morning.

Grass Attack, W/ me on bass
Magtones onstage

Our latest, new, surprise gig, will be Sunday, 12:30-2ish, in Mount Morris, Il, at the Straw Sculpting Festival. Amazing sculptures, made from straw. Yes, that is why the name….

Mr Peanut

Pizza on the Farm

Hey kids… Last night- Saturday- was a fun evening. We were invited to play at the ‘Pizza on the Farm’ event, at Inn Serendipity, for the Wisconsin Soil Sisters… Fun time. The Inn is an off grid, B&B/farm, and Soil Sisters are a group of women farmers, that work together to help each other. Both are way cool… A good crowd, and amazing food. The pizza was killer, and, other tasty foods- salads, cheeses, finger food… All soooo good… Thank you again, for asking us to be a part of this fun, worthy event!

Mugging for the camera

We played City Market!

Hey kids… So, blowing our own, local horn… Last Friday, or as some say, Friday last, we- The Magtones– played the acoustic stage ( it’s a spot, not a stage, actually) at the local city market… That is quite a feather in our small caps… We played from 5 to 8pm, and had a lot of fun… Our amazing, and very nice friend Michael August, was nice enough to join us for the fun… And, it’s always more fun when he plays/jams with us, or anyone, for that matter….

Mike, Maggie, Tim

The band

Showing Art

Hi. So my lovely wife, through the local art guild, has a showing at Katie’s Cup, through the month of August. She does beautiful, happy, art… Paintings are on display, and, for sale…

Deciding what goes where

The artist, and her art

Very proud of her, as always

Stop by, sometime, have a really good coffee- they make excellent coffee, and lunch- and take a look at several artists work, from the local art guild…

Rockford City Market Gig

Hey kids… So, we have a gig on Friday, July 29th, from 5:00-8:30pm, downtown at the Acoustic stage, at City Market. Our VERY special guest is the amazing Mike August… That makes it extra fun! The acoustic stage is by the fountain, on Water St, just north of Market St. (The City Market hours are 4-8:30pm. We play from 5:30-8:00pm). C’mon down, have some fun, food, and tunes… We hope we see you!!!!

The Magtones