November 24, 2011 Thanksgiving in Pleasanton

As usual whole family gets together for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. There is a lot of picture taking and chowing down. I think this is a post best told through the photos I took that day.

Thanksgiving table ready, just needs people

People begin to arrive. Here's Sarah with her corn pudding, a new dish!

Let the picture taking commence! First, the old folks.
Mom and Sarah
Sarah and Dad
The other Pilats arrive! We all pose for our yearly Christmas card picture.
Nathan is contributing napkin rings and placecards this year.
He has done a great job!
Our Thanksgiving buffet area
Nathan enjoying his dinner
Everyone enjoying their dinners
Sam always enjoys dessert!

A great dinner on a special family day – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 20, 2011 A visit with Nathan and Sam

John and I are excited to see all the family again. We head over to Palo Alto to deliver the last chapter of The Adventures of Clark and Lewis in person.

Beeba reads the last chapter of The Adventures of Clark and Lewis

Before we hand out the gifts to Nathan and Sam, we explain the stories of Pinocchio and Remus and Romulus since Nathan is getting a marionette and Sam is getting a wolf. They are, of course, more interested in the presents than the explanation. They both seem happy with their presents.

Sam and Ryan look at the wolf

It is fine day of catching up. We see Nathan’s schoolwork and admire his lost tooth. Sam is adorable as usual. Traveling is special but coming home is special too.

Nathan shows off his lost tooth

November 15, 16, 17, 2011 Menfi, Monreale, Palermo, Rome, London, Los Angeles, home

I need to finish this trip up. We’ve been home for five days and the worst of the jetlag is over. I can’t believe it is almost Thanksgiving. So much to do! (I had good intentions when I started writing this but now it is 2012 and I haven’t finished it yet.)

We leave Menfi early on the 16th. The idea is to stay over in Monreale and see the fabulous cathedral. We get to Monreale but then get lost within the rabbit warren of tiny streets filled with traffic, parked cars, people, and vegetable stands. By the time we finally find the parking lot and get up to the cathedral, it is almost time for it to close for siesta. It reopens at 3:30 PM. We decide to find our hotel instead.

The proprietor of the hotel has gotten glowing reviews on TripAdvisor and And he is amazing. He goes with John to the parking lot at the bottom of the cliff. Drives our car back up and then manages to get it into his garage. He is an expert and his K-turn has 6 sections. John would have taken many, many more and probably damage the car in the process.

Anyway, our room is roomy, the bed is fine and the internet works. Hurrah!

We head back to the cathedral later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, you can only rent the audio tour in the morning. Don’t understand this. Plus only the altar area is lighted so it is really difficult to see the beautiful mosaics. We are sad but there is nothing to be done. We buy a map of the cathedral and try to peer through the gloom to see the fabulous mosaics. This is a big disappointment.

The exquisite mosaics of the Monreale cathedral

We have a nice dinner in the exact same restaurant that we ate at last time we were in Monreale. There must be some deal with the local hotel owners. Both hotels we’ve stayed at here have recommended it. We are, of course, almost the only ones here at the unheard of dining hour of 7:30 PM. The only exception is a father with a child.

The next morning we fight monstrous traffic on the way to Palermo airport. A trip that should take maybe a half an hour takes well over an hour. It is good that we leave plenty of time. The flight is uneventful. We check into the airport Hilton in Rome. They are having trouble with their heating and cooling system. The vents keep pumping out cold air. It is freezing. At midnight after trying out three rooms, we finally get to sleep.

The flight home is endless. Due to a screw up by American Airlines who first booked us on a non-existent flight, we now have to fly to London, then Los Angeles and finally San Francisco. As the final coup de grace we sit on the runway at LAX for an hour and forty five minutes waiting to take off. We are exhausted.

So that’s the trip. It had some highs and some not so highs. We have discovered that three days is the right amount of time to spend in most places. It’s enough time to get a good flavor of the place but not so long that we run out of things to do. We have had a really good time. I could go to Italy endlessly.