Bob & Ilona’s 2008 Annual Holiday Letter & BLOG

Hi friends, relatives, neighbors -

We did a bit of traveling again this year, and stayed home a lot too.

Retirement is still great! See below for some of our best pictures.

Hope to hear from you. Have a great holiday season and New Year.

Bob, Ilona, and our family


Most photos by Ilona



We spent 81 days in New Zealand during the winter of 2007-08. Here's Bob flying the 737.


One of the many beautiful beaches. This one is on the north of the South Island. We had to hike for a few hours to get here.

Rental Van

We rented a much-too-small van, and traveled and lived in it for most of the 3 months. This is the campground at Mt. Cook, South Island.

Here's the inside of the van. Just enough room to sleep in it. The cooking area only works by tailgating - okay if there were no bugs, wind, rain, or heat. So we did a lot of cooking in the community kitchens in the Holiday Parks (i.e. campgrounds).


The southwest part of the South Island contains beautiful fjords. We sprung for boat rides to see them - it was worth it.

This picture and the one above are of Doubtful Sound. Capt. Cook named it. He did not sail into this fjord, because a) he looked into this from the Tasman Sea and figured it was doubtful that he would be able to tack his way out of it, or b) because he didn't have enough rode to drop an anchor in this obviously-deep valley, or c) [your punch line goes here].


Mt. Ngauruhoe, North Island. This became "Mt. Doom" in the Lord of the Rings films, with a little photoshopping of the lava, fire and smoke.

Ilona, on a trek in the Fjordland area.

Mt. Cook, west side.

Mt. Cook, east side.

Mt. Taranaki (or Egmont), North Island. We hiked part way up this one too.

More New Zealand pictures on Flickr -


At the annual summer Jarvinen reunion at Sandy & Marty's home on Green Bay.

Family picture:

Martin Holden, Lynn Jarvinen, Bob Rouda, Naomi Catching, Sandy Holden, Jan Jarvinen.


Constance Rouda


Gwendolyn Rouda.



Ilona really likes flowers.


Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada

We spent a week sailing our boat here, as part of LOWISA - the Lake Of the Woods International Sailing Association regatta.

We didn't race; much prefer cruising - and taking pictures of the fleet. Beautiful area for sailing. It's the bump on the top of Minnesota.

Looking down

Part of the LOWISA Star Raft. Everyone drops their bow anchor, then backs into the circle and ties their stern quarters together. Forms a great community swimming pool.

Looking up

Our boat, with a partially reefed mainsail. That arrow on the top of the mast points the wind direction or, usually, our desired course.

Our boat.

Captain Bobby on the s/v Maija Lisa.

Sailing in NZ - not for us. These guys windsurf and kitesurf in gale-force winds.


Ben and his motorcycle.

Ben is working as a consultant for Medtronic, where he is a project manager for the Translation Group. He oversees contracts and works with translators to get Medtronic's documentation into multiple languages.

Ben is living in Uptown Minneapolis.

Our campervan, garage, car, son, and motorcycle.


Jennifer, Nik & friend

They moved back from Cambridge, England, where Nik recently finished his MBA in the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. Nik worked in Cambridge before they returned to their home in the Berkeley hills in the spring. Nik then worked in Silicon Valley, and is now working for Riverbed, marketing systems for computer acceleration. Jen still works for Energy & Environment. They both commute into San Francisco on BART.

Bob & friend.


This is Justin Roth, performing at our fund-raiser / house concert. We spent a lot of time working on the election.


Celebrating miracles. In 65 BC, our tribe had a popular uprising and overthrew their government, and we are still celebrating. Miracles like this still happen, and we are still celebrating.


This was taken looking across from the North Island to the South Island in New Zealand.

Fireworks in Auckland

Happy Holidays.

Enjoy celebrating.

Best wishes for a peaceful, happy, and healthy new year.

- Bob & Ilona Rouda

Bob's Home Page & letters from past years -

Coming Attractions in 2009:
  • Winter 2009 travel: South, West, California & warm (the Van Plan)
  • Watch the Recount
  • January 20: Celebrate!
  • April: Our 43rd anniversary
  • Summer: Sailing on Lake Pepin and Lake Huron
  • More trips to see our granddaughters in California
  • Next winter: Snowbirding again