A Year of Contrasts
Sharene and Harrison’s 2018 Christmas Update
The two of us had another good year: lots of time spent with people we love; unusually wonderful weather in Amsterdam; memorable travels in the Netherlands, Europe, and the United States; and topped by Sharene’s unforgettable 65th birthday party.
But it was a very bad year for many others. We have to start by recognizing the devastating lava flow near our former home on Hawaii’s Big Island. Our old house Hale Kakahi — just four miles from the lava — was not directly affected, but many of our friends and former business colleagues lost their homes, and everyone in the area had their lives severely impacted. This video shows what Kapoho Bay — one of the most picturesque areas on the Big Island where we had many of our vacation rentals — used to look like. If you have any connection to Hawaii, we hope you will take a couple of minutes to watch. It captures the spirit of what was a unique spot on this earth and honors this very special place.
[December 2019 note: Sadly, the Vimeo video we had here was removed by its owner. The YouTube video below is a nice alternative.]
In just a few days in early June, that entire area was obliterated, covered by a fast-moving river of lava. The three photos below, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey, show lava approaching Kapoho, filling in the bay, and the aftermath. What was a pristine bay is now a stark, black lava peninsula. Something like 300 homes were lost just in Kapoho, and the lava took out much more — over 700 homes in total and a vast amount of uninhabited area.
We’re focusing on Hawaii because it was a big part of our lives and our hearts, but our West Coast friends have also been affected by the many fires in California and Oregon, and both Harrison’s and Sharene’s families have had a challenging year of health issues. All of the good times we had this year were tempered by the suffering of so many people we care about. So we’ll forego our usual details and photos for the year and just give you a summary with the high points.
As most of our friends know by now, what sounds like a lot of exotic travel isn’t so exotic when you live in Europe and so many fascinating destinations are just a short flight or train ride away. Our trips this year together or separately on this side of the Atlantic included Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Doha (Qatar), Basel, Portugal, the Cinque Terre in Italy (twice — first in May with Amelia for Harrison’s birthday, and again in October for Sharene’s annual Girls’ Trip), Berlin, London, two Greek islands, and our 2018 Christmas celebration will be with our Swiss family near Zurich.
We took two trips to the United States this year. For a winter break in February, we flew to Savannah, Georgia, to spend a few days with Harrison’s cousin Beth and her husband Bob. Jean, another of Harrison’s cousins, joined us from her home in Indianapolis. We then drove to Nocatee, Florida (near Jacksonville), to see another of Harrison’s cousins, Phil, and his wife Joan. From there we drove across Florida to Venice for a visit with Sharene’s friend Ann and her partner Frank. Great visits and nice, warm weather to help break up the winter cold.
In October, Harrison flew to Seattle for a 3-1/2 week road trip. He spent the first weekend with dear friends Rick, Maggie, Brianne, and Laurel, and he had a nice visit with Doxie & Poh Bee. The Seattle high point was a KING Radio reunion. About 30 people who worked for KING in the 1970s gathered to celebrate a place they worked at 40 years ago — a testament to that organization’s impact. Harrison then drove Jim, KING’s then-manager who hired Harrison for his first big broadcasting job, back to his home in Dayton, Washington, and spent two days in a setting right out of the Andy Griffith Show. Next it was on to Portland for a weekend with Pete & Jan, Margie & Dave, and Barbara & Rich. Then he drove to the Bay Area for a busy week seeing Kevin, Farhad, Andrea and her daughters and several mutual friends, Laura, several colleagues from CellNet Data Systems (where he worked only 20 years ago!), Mari & Bill, Rocky & Serena, Jerry & Jeff, Jane, Steve & Kim and their son Sam, and the Stanford Business School (where he graduated 28 years ago!). He visited Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum, who played at our home in Hawaii, and he took in a concert of theirs. He was able to visit Linda & Ralph, Sharene’s sister and brother-in-law, in Stockton before heading to Sacramento, where he ended his trip at the West Coast Ragtime Festival. There he saw both Mimi Blais and Carl Sonny Leyland perform, both of whom have played home concerts for us over the years. A fabulous time, long to be remembered.
As you know, Amsterdam and all of the Netherlands is a biker’s paradise. We had the best weather in 40 years this summer and fall, so in addition to our foreign travel we took advantage of the good weather by taking bicycle day trips to different parts of the Netherlands. The country is covered by signed cycle junctions and many cycle routes have been defined using these junctions. Holland Cycling Routes has a map showing hundreds of cycle routes, many of which are circular and intersect with a train station. You can print out a set of directions for each route that takes you from junction to junction (e.g., 60→61→5→96→95→60). We put our bikes on the train, got off at the closest station to one of the bicycle junctions, and rode from there. Beautiful memories in a beautiful country. We feel very fortunate to live here, and we are thankful now to have both our permanent residence permits in place.
The number of visitors has come down a bit since we first moved to Amsterdam, but we welcomed quite a few old and new friends this year. Els visited from Barcelona. Janice & Walter came from Basel. Venki stopped by on his way from the United States to India. Hal & Kathy from Hilo can hardly be called visitors anymore because they come several times a year. Our Swiss family — Sarah, Amelia, Hallie, and Isabel — visited us together or separately on several occasions. Barrie was here all the way from Maui. Margie visited at the end of a working cruise across the Atlantic. Siobhan housesat for us while we went to Italy. Marty & Laura from tiny Green Bank, West Virginia, visited on their way to an astronomy conference. Harrison saw Dave one afternoon during a flight layover on his way from Seattle to Spain. Deborah & Frank — who winter in Mexico and summer in Oregon — stayed with us for a few nights. We had a nice dinner with Ben & Mary Lou during their annual trip from Seattle to Amsterdam for the IBC show. We met Susan & Rod the month after we moved into our Amsterdam home and they came through Amsterdam again this year on their way to other European destinations. Long-time friends Laurie & Joe visited on their way back to Seattle after a month in Nice. We also had many dinner parties and friends dropping by for coffee or wine, and this year we even had a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe the year wasn’t so slow after all!
Sharene’s 65th Birthday Celebration
The high point of the year was Sharene’s 65th birthday. The celebration began with her 23rd annual Girls’ Trip with her best friends Cathy, Kate, and Ann. For the past several years Sharene has gone to the United States to join the others, but this year they came to Europe and celebrated the fact that, as of this year, all four are retired! They started off in Italy, spending 10 days in Porto Venere, the Cinque Terre, and Lucca. They came back to Amsterdam just in time for the only birthday party Sharene has ever planned for herself, and it was a smashing success. We had it at the Schreierstoren, a 531-year-old building in central Amsterdam. Henry Hudson set off on his voyage to North America from this very location (he was English but the Dutch had the best shipping technology in those days).
About 75 people joined us for an evening of love, friends, food, music, and celebration. Our friend Frank acted as emcee, and about halfway through the evening he announced a surprise. It turns out that ever since we lived in Hawaii, Sharene has wanted to surprise Harrison by dancing the hula for him. She discovered Harry, a kumu hula (hula master), who has his own hālau (hula troupe) right here in Amsterdam. Harry choreographed a hula from the beautiful song Kipahulu, about a remote spot on Maui that is Harrison’s single most favorite place in all of Hawaii, and Harry taught his hula to both Sharene and our Swiss hānai daughter Amelia. They did all of this in secret, and they surprised Harrison and everybody else at Sharene’s party with a beautiful performance that brought tears to Harrison’s eyes — and those of many other guests as well.
One of the guests captured the hula on video, so we put it up on YouTube together with a slide show to remember the people and the party.
Harrison turns 70 next year but he’s not even attempting to top Sharene’s party!
Although it has been a tough year for many of those we care about, we wanted to end our annual Christmas letter on a positive note with the video and photos from the party. We have now been together for 32 years, married for 27, and writing holiday letters for about 25, and every year is different. For this year, we send our heartfelt aloha to those in our families, in Hawaii, and on the West Coast who have suffered so much, and we wish everyone a safe, happy, and most of all healthy 2019.
Harrison and Sharene
Another good year… and here’s to many more of the same!
It was great to see you Harrison. And looking forward to the next time, be it here… or Amsterdam!
Hugs to Sharene!
— Doxie & Poh Bee
Always love your annual letter and hearing of the amazing life you’re enjoying while at the same time sharing your compassion and concern for those impacted by the devastation and destruction that occurred in 2018. Your 65th birthday surprise was such a success, and your hula was beautiful. Maybe one day Jerry and I can visit with you in Amsterdam, ….and it might work out that we can dance a hula together. I’m so proud of you. Hugs, Mele Kalikimaka and Hau’oli Makahikihou to you and Harrison.
You two make my head spin! I have a title for the travel book you’re going to write: “Making Memories!” I love you and miss you and wish you and all your friends and family the best of everything. Hugs, Bev
Thank you both for sharing your adventures and for being such great friends.
We wish you a splendid 2019.
Love and Health,
Philip & Xaviera
That was some year, all right!
See you in March.
– Hal & Kathy
A very busy year for you indeed! It was great seeing you at the KING reunion. Let’s do it again in another 30 years.
Have a wonderful Christmas!
HK and SK – WOW – what a great way to celebrate Sharene’s B-day! LOVED the Hula and the slides of the festivities showed the kind and wonderful people that are always drawn to you both. Wish we could have been there with you to celebrate and send our best wishes for another remarkable year ahead of you. Sorry we can’t be there in May to celebrate another milestone in HKs life, but can catch up in July when we’ll see you and your new digs. The moveable celebration is coming your way! Love to you both –
Rick and Maggie : – )
It was so good to get to see Harrison just a bit ago. Merry Christmas! We love you guys.
In Maui for Dec. As I read your letter. Nice to read of your many adventures. Enjoyed seeing Harrison at the reunion along with so many other friends. All the best to you for the new year.
Love and affection,
It was so wonderful to finally see your beautiful home in Amsterdam this year, and spend time with you both. And it was a special treat to see Harrison in Seattle for the KING Radio reunion, and then host him in Portland. I am blessed to have you as friends and really look forward to our next visit.
Your Christmas letter was again so beautiful and heartfelt. Wishing you both a fabulous year in 2019 filled with love, laughter, and good health.
Thanks for sharing all your happiness as well as pitfalls of life this year. It has been quite the year for you both. Wishing you the best for the new year and hope to visit you (by way of Denmark) on day again.
Happy Holidays Sharene and Harrison!
From the Bay Area with love,
Tony, Hanne , and Nicholas Loiacono
Dearest Sharene & Harrison
Thank you for all the happy memories and fun times as well as your compassion for those hit by disasters and sad events.
Wishing you continued health love and happiness for many years to come
Arie & Kerstin
It was great seeing you and our CellNet friends. I hope to make it to Amsterdam in the next year or two and will be sure to visit you. Also loved reading all the updates. Happy new year to you and Sharene!
Yes, indeed, a bitter sweet 12 months.
Several times I have watched the video of the 65th celebration – I marvel at all your very handsome friends, besides being talented and clever!
From FLorida, Fokko and I wish you Aloha Nui Loa, and look forward to a year of renewal and rebirth in 2019.
Thank you both so much for your lovely life changing years! It is so fun to follow you from what feels so far away! We hope to see you next year, for a very short day and a half visit, if you are home! I will let you know our exact dates in early January, as we get more serious about our itenarary for our Viking Cruise beginning in Amsterdam and ending in Budapest!
We wish you both and all your “family” there, a beautiful Holiday season!
Thank you for all your love to all of those who lost so much in Hawaii this year! It has been a very slow recovery for most people. It was a terrifying event for sure. It is hard for us to drive around in Leilani Estates and see half of our neighbors gone for good and to see fissure 8 in the midst of what was our beautiful Leilani. The earth shows that she is very well alive for sure. The only very good thing I can say is that everyone got out, without the loss of any lives. What Pele took away, she gave back to us in a great new black sand beach in Poiiki! They just had the opening ceremony this past week. Sometimes change is hard, but it is something we have to accept, to go forward! Aloha to you both!
Always looking forward to your annual updates! Thanks for sharing and have a Merry Christmas!
It sounds like your lives are going very well. Sad what has happened in Hawaii. I turned 84 this year and have had to adjust my life to accommodate my age. David is a help and we still enjoy going to SUU sporting events. Taking care of my house takes a lot of my time as there is always something that needs fixing. I am a darn good fixer so I am thankful for that. Looking forward to Christmas and the New Year. Merry Christmas.
Tim and I always love receiving your annual Christmas letter and reading about all your adventures!! Wishing you and Harrison a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2019!!
Tim and Margaret
I always enjoy reading about all of your adventures. We are also sad about natural disasters in Hawaii and on the West Coast.
Looking forward to our trip to Europe and time we will spend with you in Amsterdam. See you in July.
Dear Ones…..you two do more in 24 hours than anyone I know. Learning the Hula was an inspiration….I could feel the love. Keep rolling on your bikes. It is a super way to see a country. After 20 years of bike touring in Europe I retired my wheels. Dick lasted a little bit longer. Also had a “Grand Finale” with my time share in London this fall with eight if my family as the contract is up at the end of this December. Sailed with the Queen Mary both ways.
It is a different life without Dick but I am doing fine with the help of all my children. In three weeks I turn 86 and 90 looks pretty good, I’ll keep you posted.
Love to you both,
Be kind, be generous and love,
Beautiful Sharene & Harrison! I felt so bad about missing the celebration due to an e-mail glitch and I am soooo looking forward to adding some more memories to your almost endless list on January 27th. With love and hugs, Ralph
the best party princess complete with hula – always a special treat to see you in Amsterdam , mary lou (and ben)
Always look forward to your letter every year. I love how the both of you have that lust for life. That’s the way it should be. So much to see in the world…Thanks for the wonderful vivid pictures.
Sharene’s 65th (happy birthday Sharene)!! looked like so much fun with many of the people that you both love, attending.. When it comes to age I consider it a privilege to still be on this earth. I think of so many family and friends that have passed on.
Sorry for the people and friends of yours in Hawaii that lost their homes in the volcano..We never know where a disaster will hit.
Harrison…Thank you for bringing Jim Kime to the King AM reunion….It was fun and hardly anyone has changed. I would have recognized Jim any where even thou I have not seen him years. He is like Dorian Gray…..Loved the Kime Doesn’t Pay T-Shirt…great idea…
Have a merry Christmas and happy New Year.