Secret Squirrel’s Private Musings
Welcome to the ramblings of our favorite secret agent / ridiculous cartoon character from the 60’s: Secret Squirrel. Though Diaper Man certainly gives him a run for his money.
If you have reached this page in error (without use of either decoder ring or password), well, you probably won't find it very interesting. Even if you came here intentionally, you may have your doubts....
It offers the following chapters.
Alum Groups Forming
The fall Green Spain trip has 5 aboard, 3 on the way in, and all are alums. So that would be one: it only has 12 spots, so there is no way for alums not to be in the majority. The May Provence trip is all-alum at the moment, but that is only 4 people, so excitement is probably not appropriate yet. And the SalzburgerLand & the Danube Austrian trip is also all-alum. But, same story, it is just 3 people :-)
Last year's many Alum trips went well. Austria, Brittany, Umbria, the Dordogne, and (of course) the Mystery Trip, in the beautiful mountians on the French / Swiss border, were chock-full of people who know and like us. Makes the off-season of accounting and route-sheet correcting worthwhile.
Two are scheduled this year, the first in... (drumroll, please) Brittany! The second will travel to the Jura, the site of last year’s mystery trip. Watch the Family-Friendly intro page for details.
Family-Friendly trips have in common special arrangements for meals, luggage movement, room disposition in the hotels, and special attention is paid to providing a low-traffic environment. And our Family-Friendly trips reduce the number of night stops, to lessen all that packing and unpacking.
Pictured at right are some of our favorite families (hosting and hosted) in Austria last summer: Meltons, Shoemakers, Pringles, and Wilpernungs in Bad Aussee. Below, the Pierce clan approaching the Chambord Chateau on the Loire Valley trip. See all the smiles? You CAN travel (and have fun travelling) with children!
We feel very fortunate. You, our alums, came in the usual numbers, and you brought friends. So, first and foremost, thank you!
Nicolas, Lyn, Jimi, and Catherine ran the bulk of the trips, and the same team will likely be managing the 2011 season. Ty capably shifted the baggage around. Nothing got permanently lost, echoes were good, there were lots of smiles.
The Alum-Initiated trips were among the year's highlights for each of the Coordinators who lead them. We got to explore a new (for us) and beautiful part of France, the Jura, thanks to our Mystery Trip participants. We've been able to host more families, thanks to the positive word-of-mouth from previous riders. With apologies to Bob Dylan, it’s all good.
No new marriages (that we're aware of — Tony G, have you tied the knot yet? And Suba, what are you waiting for?), but we are happy to report the arrival of more Blue Marble babies....
The Kugelfros (Laura Efros and Noam Kugelmas) welcomed daughter, Nora (photo, right. Don't worry – we vaguely remember the days when all babies looked alike to us, too). Jeremy Westin and Vanda Freesman gave son Jack a baby brother (Blake).
Long-ago coordinator, Anthony Ziemkhe and wife, Niesha, became parents to Tess in January '10. And Ethan Gelber and Jane had their second son, Kai.
Congratulations to all!
As for news of your favorite Coordinators... rumor has it that Jimi is ski guiding in Champery, Lyn is in Africa, Tony's in Japan, Cate's coming back to Italy after a stint working for an orphanage in India, Ethan's moved from Australia back to NYC (though he and family are wintering in Maine, heaven knows why), and Santa's on the North Pole. Have we covered all of the continents yet? (ok, Santa hasn't lead a trip for us in a long time). Ah, the vagabond life of a Coordinator. The more domesticated of us are holding down the forts in NJ and Paris. Which is colder and grayer? Toss a coin....
Also, thanks again to everyone who has shared their photos over the past season — special thanks to Christian Wright, Tom (Surly) Albrecht, Frank Dimichale, Chris Meadowcroft, Tammy Souza, Kerry Dowdell, Christine Fitzgerald....
Anti Bike Gear Bike Gear, a.k.a. “Nico-Shirts”
Those of you who have cycled with Nicolas have often, er, “noticed” his sartorial freedom, in particular with regard to bike gear. Vibrantly-colored African cloth bought on the Lomé market achieves approximately the visibility of the garbage-collector vests currently in vogue, and shows up better on flash photos. Button-down cotton provides the ventilation of lycra and then some, and dries as quickly. And you cut your panier contents by half: you wear a clean shirt to dinner, and then ride in the same shirt the next day.
Well, now you, too, can be a proud owner of a genuine, hand-tailored, Togolese, Blue Marble biking shirt. Yes, we've actually sold a bunch of these. Luckily for the African-shirtless among you, we know where to get more. Info is here. We can’t wait for our first “team Togo” sortie. If we don’t provoke at least one fender-bender, it’ll be quite a let-down.
And Pro Bike Gear Bike Gear: Blue Marble Bike Jerseys
Despite the total lack of interest on Nicolas’ part (he is not buying one -- and why should he? He has a lifetime supply of African biking shirts), we are offering full-zip, short-sleeved, 3-color jerseys, made by Nalini in Italy. The company was recommended by our in-house bike geek Jeff Kralik, so we are sure they are up to hardcore biking standards. But the logo includes a wine glass, so no one will confuse you with the folk on the Tour de France. Unless Georges DuBoeuf has started sponsoring a team.
The thinking for ‘11 is water bottles (Nicolas doesn't want that, either, unless it contains wine).
Information on ordering the jersey is here.
And lastly, a reminder to our alums....
Don't forget to earn your REFERRAL POINTS to get trip discounts (or even a free trip)
For each new rider you refer to our regularly scheduled trips, you receive “Referral Points.” These points can be used to earn discounts on future trips which you yourselves take.
Referal points do not apply to charter or guest-initiated trips.
Each rider referred earns a 5% - 8% discount on your next trip of similar length. Find 15, and you go for free.
The exact formula takes into account trip lengths, additional friends who join in, and whether or not you travel on the same trip, so look through the details before you start spending your points. But, essentially, that sums it up.
Follow this link for details....
Cell reception? Here?