USA Visit

Meeting Ardele once again!

August 31 to September 19, 2001


     It started out as a perfectly normal trip to my home... with an extra special trip to visit Ardele, my best girl friend from the time I lived in the Philippines. Little did I know how "different" this trip would end up.......

     Ardele and I had last seen each other in 1964 when I returned to California after my family's 3 year stint in Subic Bay, Philippines. We had been the best of friends, doing just about everything together. We soon lost contact with each other, but I never forgot her and often asked myself, what she was doing and where she was.

     As fate would have it, in March, 2001, I decided to look into the homepage of our old school. In it they had a nice guest book and it was fun to read the various entries. Suddenly.... there was her name!! And there was an e-mail address!! I immediately wrote her a mail.... which was soon answered! We had a lot of keeping up to do!

     As every year, I was planning my usual trip to visit my parents. Normally I flew over in January/February, but this year I had decided on September. And, since Ardele lived in northern California, I suggested I fly up to meet her! That idea was immeditately accepted and arranged.

      I arrived with United Airlines on August 31 (for the first time flying via Denver), my parents 59th wedding anniversary and the next day was my mom's 82nd birthday.

      On the first Sunday of every trip to San Diego I try to go visit Balboa Park and my old folk dance friends. This year was no different. I'm always surprised how many of my "old" friends are still dancing strong! The next day, September 3, was the Labor Day holiday and a folk dance party was being planned at Walter and Andy Moffitt's cabin in the mountains.... of course I attended!! Not much dancing was done, but a lot of swimming in the pool and talking!


September 6, 2001


     On September 6 it was finally time to board a United Airlines flight to Chico, California, to visit Ardele! The flight went via San Francisco and was uneventful. Ardele met me and WOW! It was like we had never been separated! For the next days we were like sisters... sharing everything, reminiscing, remembering the "old days", and just plain having fun together! My return was planned for the 12th, but more about that later......

     Ardele lived in a small (and I mean SMALL) town outside of Chico in the mountains. She owned a cute little cottage in the middle of the forest. It was lovely! And a bit scary, since some miles away there were forest fires ablazing and occasionally you could smell the smoke!



Ardele on her front porch




Now this was the life!  Laying in a hammock in the middle of nature... squirrels and racoons sometimes coming by for a visit.... just lovely!!


      Of course we visited Chico often, doing some shopping, visiting with Ardele's mom and sisiter. It was so nice to see them all again and catching up on the past years. Ardele also has 2 children, both living far away following their professional careers. Ardele herself was looking for a job and wishing to leave the area some day. Her dream: to go to Hawaii to work and live! She had been there once to help out with the Iron Man competition and just loved it!

      One of the places we visited was "Bear Hole Nature Park. I just love that wild landscape. It looked much like down San Diego way... and of course we had great weather.






September 11, 2001

     Then came the fateful September 11... Ardele and I were still sleeping when Ardele's phone rang. It was her mother, telling us to turn on the TV, which we did. The first plane had crashed into the World Trade Center! We sat glued to the unfolding events... believing it must have been an impossible accident. Then the second plane hit.... this was NO accident!!

     We watched the TV all day... we we couldn't believe it. Then we heard about the imposed air traffic restrictions, how all planes were being diverted to Canada, Mexico, and anywhere else... none being allowed in US airspace. My return flight was scheduled for the next day! We didn't worry yet, but soon I was beginning to think I would be stuck there for a long time to come!



     Every day we had to call to Chico airport about a flight out. No way!! Of course I wasn't the only one... business people and others were also waiting for flights. Some people got together to rent cars to drive to San Francisco. Well, I didn't give up... yet.



September 14, 2001

      Finally, on September 14th, I got a flight to San Francisco. Ardele and I finally had to say our good-byes, but vowing to keep in contact this time!!


at Chico airport before my departure


my flight back to San Francisco for the connection flight to San Diego... needless to say, we were all a bit nervous


September 18, 2001


      In spite of all the problems with flights in and out of the US, I managed to get a flight to Denver for my connection to the flight to Frankfurt. My lay over in Denver was longer then planned.... and spooky. All the shops in the terminal were closed... only ticketed passengers were allowed in the gate area.,,,, and there weren't many guests anyway. There was an atmosphere of shock, despair, resignation.......

     I arrived home almost as planned ... but it was a trip I will never forget......  


Soon after my visit to Ardele her local newspaper printed an article about us.....


By the way, Ardele has fulfilled her dream and is now (2005) living in Hawaii! She got a job at a tourist submarine attraction and has in the mean time become a submarine CAPTAIN!!  Good going gal!! I'm proud of you!!

last update: 05.05.2011