Catching up with the Handels

Long time, no blogs.  I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what we’ve been up to since we got back from Colombia last February.  It’s your lucky day, because after months of “thinking about it” – I’m finally writing this post!

So, in late March of 2022, we packed up the mighty Hyundai and drove to the Austin, TX area to stay with my dad, step mom Mary and younger brother Nick (and dogs Lucy and Luke!) for 5 months.

Dad with guard dogs Luke and Lucy

While we were in Texas we had many adventures. When we weren’t adventuring, it was good to just be able to spend time with the family.

At the Texas Stars minor league hockey with Nick

The whole crew hiked Enchanted Rock  –  (Relive Hiking App view)

From the top of Enchanted Rock in Texas

We all (including Jeff and Natasha) took a trip to Iowa for another one of my Uncle’s epic farm parties – this one coinciding with my dad’s 77th birthday and the “Arlington Days” parade. Sara and I stayed at the farm my dad grew up on.

The whole Handel clan in Iowa – Jeff, Mary, Dad, Nick, Natasha, me and Sara
Selfie while Mayor Don Handel drives by in the background

Back in Texas, we got a chance to hang out with my sister Natasha in Austin as well.

Hanging with Natasha

We briefly headed back to Maryland for Sara’s mom’s 75th birthday.  We saw the musical “Six” while in DC.

Sara and her mom after seeing SIX

Sara also went back to the east coast alone for a long weekend to catch up with some friends.

Sara, Holly and Becky

After our time in Texas was up, we headed off to stay with my older brother Jeff in Tahoe for a month just like we did the prior summer.  On the drive there, we stopped for two nights in both Santa Fe, NM and Las Vegas.

Obligatory cactus photo from Santa Fe

Santa Fe was a nice stop and we did a few hikes and explored the old town.

mmmmm.. beer

We hadn’t been to Vegas in years, and it’s changed a lot.  There’s professional hockey and football on the strip now!  No real luck at the craps tables – but lots of “free” beers were consumed.


This year Tahoe started off with glorious weather for the first two and a half weeks before we got a sniff of smoky air.  The last week and a half were on again, off again smoky from nearby fires.  We managed to get in quite a few epic hikes. It was great to be able to spend extended time with Jeff again.

Enjoying a break while making our own trail up the backside of Alpine Meadows ski area.
Sara scrambling to the summit of Twin Peaks
One of many alpine lakes we hiked by. This is probably Azure Lake?

Click the link for a map and extra photos of our hike to Azure lake.

Jeff at the summit of Round Top

Click the link for a map and extra photos of our hike to Round Top.

Mt Tallac summit selfie

Click the link for a map and extra photos of our hike to Mt. Tallac.

Earth Porn from the top of Mt Tallac
Don’t worry, I managed to sneak in some golf

In mid-September it was time to leave Tahoe, and we started our trek back across the country to Maryland.  We stopped for two nights in Park City, Utah for a few more days in the mountains and got in a few more hikes. Here’s a link to the longer one we did – Deer Valley.

Park City, post epic hike

After park city, it was a lot of driving with stops in Sidney NE, Iowa City IA and Columbus OH. The mighty Hyundai performed admirably.

We went to see Hamilton with friends in DC!

Our nephew Adam turned 15!

Happy 15th!

Then it was another trip down to Greenville, SC – to hang out with friends and look for a place to live.  We found a nice little apartment in a small town about 10 miles away – Travelers Rest.  We packed up all of our stuff in a POD and moved to South Carolina!

Sara, Terra, Mike and I before a delightful meal

Right after moving in, I went back to Texas to play some golf with my dad and Jeff

Golf Selfie

Well, that gets us to November at least.  I thought I was going to be able to catch all the way up to the present time, but we’ve even done a lot between November and now, so that’ll have to wait for another blog – hopefully sooner than a year from now!

Caliente Cartagena

After enduring what may have been the least comfortable airplane seat I’ve ever sat in, we made it to Cartagena (fortunately it was for less than 2 hours). Warmth at last!

We took an official airport taxi and managed to make it safely to our lodging in Bocagrande – a peninsula of high rises and beaches just outside of central Cartagena. We settled in for a month of new experiences and adventures.

Our apartment for the month was on the 30th floor of the white building in the center of the pic
Views of Cartagena
Views of Bocagrande

We’ve spent time almost every day at the pool. It’s on the 6th floor so there are usually nice breezes and views.

Pool selfie
The pool is magically kept at a refreshing temperature even though it bakes in the hot sun for much of the day
View from the pool

The historic walled city is about a 30 minute walk from where we’re staying so we’ve ventured down there a few times. It’s really beautiful with tons of colonial character and gorgeous flowers and colors everywhere.

Scenes from Centro
Scenes from Centro
Scenes from Centro
Scenes from Centro
Scenes from Centro
Up on the wall the Spanish finally decided to build after the city was invaded over and over again
A much needed rest stop at Beer Lovers in the Getsemani neighborhood
After refueling with beer and Colombian food, we were able to explore a bit more and walk home
Gimmicky streets abound in the Getsemani neighborhood
Different flag gimmick
Umbrella gimmick (and a welcome one that provided a lot of much needed shade)
On our second adventure downtown we took int the famous clock tower
And the, also, famous fortress Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas

We found a different cool place to refuel in Getsemani called Caffé Lunático.

I ordered a “Tropical Julep” and I am not sure what I got, but it tasted a lot like pure rum
Don’t worry, Jon had a beer with his arepa topped with eggs and avo

And on yet another adventure into town, we watched the sunset from the fabulous rooftop bar of the Hotel Movich. I think we may have been the only non-insta (wanna-be?) famous people there and we certainly took the fewest pics to give all the models their space. lol.    

Sunset views

After our fancy cocktails, we headed back to Beer Lovers for what we love most… beer 🙂

We love it / We take it
Views of Bocagrande on the walk back from Centro

We enjoyed lingering on our balcony and enjoying the views. Unfortunately, it was not as often as we’d hoped due to lots of construction around the area.

Balcony beer

We also went out and about in Bocagrande. We tried the local food and beer specialties.

A “small” plate of fish to share at a beach side kiosko
Beach side happy hour
Beach happy hour

We got back into running after two weeks off due to snow in Maryland and high altitude in Bogota. There is a fantastic trail along the bay just a block from our apartment. While we love the hot weather, it’s not great for running so we had to get up at 6 am to beat some of the heat and I still needed an afternoon nap most running days.

Running trail with views

All in all it’s been a great adventure to live in Cartagena for a month and now we look forward to being back in America soon with all our western comforts and lots more English speakers.