Oh, là là! Family has intimate trip to ‘Gay Paree’

When Hope Hamilton made a commitment to taking seven of her eight grandchildren on a “trip of a lifetime” after they graduated from high school, she didn’t exactly do the math.

(Her only grandson, Zack Hamilton, had to spend this summer after his graduation playing baseball, as he started at Louisiana State University this fall on a baseball scholarship.)

On the current schedule, Hamilton wouldn’t take her youngest grandchild, now 8, on her big adventure until Hamilton was 87. That might be pushing it a tad. So the next two girls in line, now 16, get to go next year, a year early, and the final two, 10 and 8 this year, get to go when they each turn 14.

In the meantime, this year’s lucky granddaughter was Caroline Hamilton, and she was lucky in more than one way on getting to travel with her grandmother.

Caroline’s cousin, Kate Hamilton, who started her French studies at Fort Lewis College and is scheduled to graduate from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, in December, happened to be finishing up some studies in art history at the Sorbonne University in Paris, so upon landing in the City of Lights, the two visitors had a guide who had gotten to know the in-spots and lay of the land.

Hope Hamilton’s daughter, Adair Hamilton Watson, who’s with the U.S. State Department, flew in to meet the adventurers, so it ended up being three generations of Hamilton women roaming picturesque Paris.

Hamilton, knowing how many La Plata County residents are world travelers these days, wanted to share some of their favorite stops that are off the beaten path.

First up was a restaurant called Les Papilles, a tiny bistro (about half the size of Olde Tymer’s Cafe). Reservations need to be made weeks in advance, and the owner cooks, serves and visits every table. No menu – it’s a multiple-course chef’s choice.

Getting out of restaurants and into the outdoors was another favorite. A picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries featuring roast chicken, cheeses, wine and a baguette, really hit the spot.

Hope Hamilton and her daughter discovered the kind of Parisian street you see in all the paintings but not often in modern Paris.

Rue de Mouffetard, a neighborhood street, comes complete with cobblestones, friends sitting at cute Coke-sized tables, locals carrying home freshly baked bread or a handful of flowers, children on scooters or little bicycles, folks walking their dogs or coming home from work ... not tourist central, as many of the main attraction areas are these days.

Paris is loaded with museums, too, but the Hamilton entourage discovered my favorite, the Musée de l’Orangerie, featuring the Impressionists and post-Impressionists – think Monet, Cezanne, Degas – that were too revolutionary for the Louvre in their day. The women didn’t need a guide as Kate Hamilton’s studies stood them in good stead.

The grandmother/granddaughter duo took off on their own to England after Kate Hamilton and Adair Hamilton Watson had to return to the States. They stayed with Hope Hamilton’s friend in Oxfordshire, a quaint town that still sports cottages with thatched roofs. Poppies colored the countryside as the ladies enjoyed trips to Windsor Castle, including Queen Elizabeth II’s dollhouse, and Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

Caroline’s favorite souvenir was a sweatshirt from Oxford University, because she entered “Ole Miss,” also known as the University of Mississippi, the pride of Oxford, Miss., as a freshman this fall. That’s a memento all her classmates will be coveting.

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Here’s wishing the happiest of birthdays to the last of my fellow Scorpios – twins Dinah Jones and Dixie Palmer, Judy Hook, Jo Fusco, Kay Baker, Katherine Burgess, Annabelle Eagle, Vance Thurman, Judith Johnson, Wayne Pratt, Tim Williams, Andrew Williams, Robert Maple, Stacy Waterman, Sherry Wilmoth, Audrey Stockton, Margie Winkelbauer, Ben Arriza, Chandler Jackson, Kathryn Ogier, Sandy Turner, Hannah Miller, Autumn Schulz, Cindy Atchison, Brandon Engle, Ray Schamel, Tyler Wood, Frank Fristensky and Jim Hudson.

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October was such a crazy month, I’m still catching up. Fall is usually the time of year I check in with the 18-year-old Women’s Health Coalition of Southwest Colorado, so here goes.

In addition to holding seminars during the year to update women on the latest in health issues, they have a fund to help everyone, men, women and children, undergoing treatment for any kind of cancer. It’s not for treatment expenses, but to help meet some of the daily expenses that can be hard to meet when medical expenses stretch a budget to the breaking point.

The WHC gives grants of up to $500 for expenses such as utilities, groceries and rent, and gas cards for $200 for folks who have to travel for treatment. In an average year, they give away from $25,000 to $30,000.

Because, once upon a time, the fund was dedicated to helping women going through breast cancer treatment, a lot of the fundraising goes on during October. October, of course, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so the biggest fundraisers are pink in nature.

Pink Digs Volleyball, organized by volleyball coach and role model extraordinaire Terene Foutz, enlists most of the female volleyball players in La Plata County in the fundraising effort. That group brought in about $11,000 this year for the grant fund.

Keeping it all in the family, Ingrid Foutz organized a new event this year, Paddle and a Pint, that brought in about $1,500. That brought out all the paddleboard enthusiasts. Dr. Marc Gaughan organized a golf tournament that brought in about $3,000, and the distributors associated with A&L Coors donated another $1,500. Pink Streaks, where local salons at this time of year send clients out with a strand of pink hair shining in their coiffures, also brought in some moolah.

In mid-October, the WHC held its annual Pink Ribbon Affair at the Henry Strater Theatre, pulling in about $6,500 through a live auction featuring everything from a punching bag to jewelry and an offering of creative baskets that people bought raffle tickets for, hoping to win them in a drawing.

Durango A Cappella and Tom MacCluskey set the musical mood for the evening.

The theme was Vintage in Pink, and attendees were rosy indeed, sporting outfits in all shades of pink from eras including Victorian to flapper as well as some wildly inventive creations.

In previous years, the event has featured a fashion show with cancer survivors as models, but this year, organizers came up with a new idea. They invited family members of cancer survivors to speak about what their loved one went through, and how it impacted everyone in the family.

Information about the WHC and its grants is available at the Cancer Awareness Center or Southwest Oncology Associates, which are both located in the medical office building next to Mercy Regional Medical Center, or by going online to http://swwomenshealthcoalition.com.

Donations may be sent to the WHC, P.O. Box 1455, Durango, CO 81302.

My thanks go to B.J. Boucher for keeping me posted.

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Enjoying a lot of candlelight for their anniversaries in this time of shorter days and longer nights are Bob and Alice Robinson Pope, John and Ulys Gardella and Bob and Heather Lundquist.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

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Kate Hamilton and her cousin Caroline Hamilton stop to enjoy a Paris landmark, the Moulin Rouge, while traveling with their grandmother Hope Hamilton late this summer. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Kate Hamilton

Kate Hamilton and her cousin Caroline Hamilton stop to enjoy a Paris landmark, the Moulin Rouge, while traveling with their grandmother Hope Hamilton late this summer.