We are back with our annual Holiday Letter after missing the last two years. So we have three years of catching up to do.
No, no! Don't hit the "escape" key. We have lots to share with you and hopefully you'll find it informative and easy to digest using this online medium and our photography to tell our story.
Left: Peeking out of an abandoned barn window in Iceland (Feb. 2015)
We enjoy living in Florida where we can be active outdoors all year long. We also appreciate the beautiful setting where we live. Below are three photos taken from our house located on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Here are some of the things keeping us busy.
Our little publishing company, Human Kinetics, that started on the ping pong table in the basement, is doing well. HK is now an employee-owned company, and is the worldwide leader in publishing information in the physical activity field. In 2014 we celebrated our 40th year in business. We are immensely proud of what our 200+ employees have achieved, especially during this transformative period as the publishing industry becomes increasingly digital.
Our restaurant, called Jaybird's Restaurant, in St. Augustine, Florida, is conveniently located on the corner of Highways 1 and 16, near the Old City tourist sites. We purchased the restaurant in 2012, and struggled initially to make it a profitable business, but 2015 has proven to be a "turnaround" year. If you're in the St. Augustine area, stop in and try our great food.
In 2013 we bought the hotel next to the restaurant to "protect" the restaurant's appearance and to gain parking spaces. We call it Jaybird's Inn (Jaybird is my brother's nickname). We extensively remodeled the 49 rooms, lobby, and exterior. We added a fitness center and swimming pool. With the skillful work of our General Manager and his fine team, we are the #7 ranked hotel in the city. The considerable work has paid off as we are sold out almost every weekend.
And in September we completed the remodeling of another 28 rooms giving us a total of 77 rooms.
Our other business endeavor is Sandhill Properties, a series of apartments we own in Hutchinson, Kansas, that Rainer's sister Lori manages.
In February Rainer retired from a long career in softball and that meant Julie retired too because she did much of the behind-the-scenes organizational work for the Florida Legends. The Legends won 107 national tournaments over its 24-year existence, a record not likely to be matched in the sport. We leave behind many friends around the country who we do not get to see so often and we miss them. But it was time for us to move on to other things.
Julie is a committed pickleball player, playing at the World Senior Games in 2013 and 2014, and in local tournaments. Rainer recently began playing and is eating a lot of humble pie right now, but he likes the sport and hopes that some of the women where he plays will let him win a game now and then.
We spend a lot of time traveling to beautiful places in the world , places we want to photograph. Photography is Rainer's passion and travel is Julie's passion. That combination works well for both of us. Although not as passionate about photography as Rainer, Julie has become a fine photographer in her own right.
Our travels have taken us to every continent, to remarkable world heritage sites, and to meet amazing people living very differently than us. If nothing else, we've gained a great appreciation for the country in which we live and our own good fortune.
We will not begin to tell you all the places we've been in 2013, 2014, and 2015. If you would like to see photos from these many photo trips, you can see them on this website by clicking on Home at the top and then going to Photo Galleries.
We do want to share with you just a few photos that highlight our travels.
At the Great Wall in China with friend and guide Enyi Cai, November 2013
In southern Africa on one of our 4 trips to this wildlife paradise.
Snorkeling in pristine waters over coral reefs in the South Pacific.
Ice cave in Iceland, February 2015
Ox cart caravan in Vietnam, January 2014
Photographing bears in Alaska, July 2015
Our most recent trip was to Namibia where we had the privilege of spending a day visiting the Himba people (left photo) in northern Namibia near the Angola border, and another day visiting the Bushmen or Sans people in eastern Namibia. See the Pages section of the Photo Gallery part of this website if you would like to learn more about our visit with these native peoples.
On our most recent trip to Namibia we were on a catamaran at Walvis Bay when this white pelican decided to rest with one foot on Rainer's head and the other on his lens. As you can see Julie was greatly concerned about Rainer's welfare. Thank you Paul Renner for this photo.
We want to express our gratitude to our many friends around the world who give meaning and significance to our lives.
We wish you a HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND PROSPEROUS 2016.