Jim and Willa Beatty have spent recent years seeing the world one region at a time. I've enjoyed
hearing about their travels, from skiing in Europe to seeing Antarctica and a journey to South America. This year, their destination was Southeast Asia.
It began for the Beattys in Hong Kong, where they had a baby-sitting assignment" with their daughter Jennifer's
three children. As the assignment came to a close, Sandy and Franklyn Bud" Beebe joined them for the
rest of the adventure, beginning at Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
The two couples marveled at the open-air markets overflowing with exotic fruits, vegetables, dried fish and flowers.
Their long-tailed boat ride on the Mae Ping River putted past rural homes on stilts and led them to the long Naga,"
or dragon, staircase that climbs to the mountain temple of Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the holiest Buddhist site in the
area with its golden stupas (burial mounds) and elaborate temple.
In the hill country in the north, the Beattys and Beebes met many indigenous tribes, including the long-necked Karen, whose women extended their necks with ever increasing numbers of brass rings. They enjoyed a rustic and memorable
home stay that included authentic Thai massages and home-cooked meals prepared by their guide and hosts.
Next was Chiang Rai, the gateway to the Golden Triangle, where Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, Laos and Thailand
meet. It was once famous for hillsides covered with poppies that were processed for opium. The Beebes and Beattys
have delightful memories of this area, which include the extensive and artfully composed Mae Fah Luang gardens and
the nearby home of the King Mother, who was instrumental in helping local farmers convert their crop into a more
beneficial use - food production. The two couples took a rickshaw trip to the King Meng Rai, which commemorates the
accomplishments of the warrior king who consolidated many regional Thai tribes into a single empire in northern
After a short night in Yangon - formerly Rangoon - they took the road to Mandalay, Myannmar, (sorry, I couldn't
resist) where Bud Beebe added to the lumpy Buddha at the revered Mahamuni Pagoda by adding gold leaf to the sitting
statue while Jim commemorated the event with a photograph. Women are not allowed near the statue, so their wives had
to enjoy the experience vicariously.
Although the Mandalay royal palace was partially destroyed during World War II, much of it had been reconstructed, and it was still impressive. Another highlight in Mandalay was the Shwenandaw Monastery, made entirely of intricately
carved teak, which still functions as a school and home for Buddhist monks.
In Bagan, a former capital of Myanmar, they visited numerous cottage-industry shops, where artisans created elaborate
embroidery, stone statues, mostly of Buddha, and amazing hand-made lacquer ware, in all shapes and sizes, decorated
with ultra-thin gold leaf and colorful, highly wrought designs.
There are literally thousands of temples in Bagan, some dating back to the eighth century. Many were remarkably large
and featured a square base narrowing to an elongated domed center topped with a single spire.
The heat was oppressive, so a lunch along the broad Irawaddy River was a cool and relaxing break. The travelers also
visited the famous cave" temples with 11th century jataka murals.
No one can visit Southeast Asia without a stop at the enormous complexes of Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat and the overgrown
temple of Preah Neak Pean. The grand finale was a stop at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is one of the most
elaborately decorated compounds of temples, stupas, palace and reception halls anywhere. Buddhists revere the famous
Emerald" Buddha - although it's actually made of jade - and the reclining Buddha is about 180 feet long.
Wow - my passport is calling my name again.
Mother Nature is giving these birthday celebrants a lot of dust for their big day - Ann Murphy, Vance
Bulen, Luke Stetler, Aniya Brant, Sue McClain, Fred Gale, Marilyn Folk, Elise Murphy, Maggie Bachman, Sarah Law, Ashley Aarvold, Riley Jaye, John
Lavengood, Wayne Hose, Dennis Polsfut, Ed Cash and Larry House.
No one will ever forget Doris Brennan as a feisty La Plata County commissioner. Or the woman who has been
involved in St. Columba Parish for virtually all of her 90 years and was a committed organizer for the La Plata
County Democratic party for decades.
Yes, Brennan is marking nine decades on Saturday, and her family and friends are inviting everyone to come and help
The open house will run from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the St. Columba Parish Center. Brennan's daughter Mary Lou
Peterson asked that no one bring gifts, but those who would like to do so may bring cards.
Brennan has been living at Sunshine Gardens Country on Colorado Highway 172 since June, so she will really love to
get into town to see people. That is the ultimate gift.
Many happy returns of the day, Doris.
I am a big fan of Leadership La Plata - and not just because I'm an alumna of the class of 1991-1992. (There's no
need to do the math.) It helps community leaders become better informed and build skills that will help them become
more effective. And we can always use more effective leadership.
That's why I write about the program so often during the year, hoping some of my readers may be inspired and apply to
the program themselves.
This is the time of year when LLP holds receptions where people who are interested can ask questions, learn more and
decide whether the next class is for them while noshing on appetizers and meeting alumni from the last 20 years plus.
The first reception is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at the Bayfield Wells Group Office, 581 E. Colorado Drive in
Another reception will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 15 at the SunUte Recreation Center in Ignacio, and the
final one will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 21 at Bank of Colorado, 1199 Main Ave. in Durango.
To learn more, visit LLP on Facebook and at www.leadershiplaplata.org.
A few of you may have seen me around town on crutches. I have some broken bones in my foot and will be the queen of
Gimpland for the foreseeable future. One of the downsides is that I won't be able to attend many events as my foot
heals, but please keep me posted about the interesting things you and/or your organization are up to. The
Herald's photographers are still ambulatory, so I will continue to request photos, and I will put Neighbors
together with your help from e-mails and phone calls.
Holding tight to each other both because it's their anniversaries and because they don't want to blow away are
Tom and Elaine Hartnett and Mike and Paula Kirchner.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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