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Travel Slideshows: UAE National Day, 2006 | Yunnan, 2006 | Kyrgyzstan 2006 | Thailand 2004

Welcome to the Family Homepage

of Vance, Bobbi, Glenn, and Dusty


A fanciful view of the part of Abu Dhabi where we live, and the real one:

Family Album:

Click here to see photos and find out more about:

Glenn's Homepage is at: <--and an older one is still at>

The purpose of the material in these pages is none other than to greet and inform our friends, to entertain casual passers-by, and to welcome all into our virtual home.

On this page: Find family members | What's new? | Life in Abu Dhabi | Recent family history | Jokes | Friends' list

What we were up to in ...


Four of us together on Christmas morning, 2007. Glenn's girlfriend Gulya from Uzbekistan was with us; Dusty is spending Christmas with his girlfriend Joan in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, near Cancun, where they have been working and scuba diving after finishing a TEFL training course in Guadalajara. Vance spent part of the day rejuvenating the Webheads seasonal wiki at

Bobbi wrote this account of a walk we made in the mountains in Oman Dec 1-2, both of us pushing 60, but still kickin' . We repeated this hike before the end of the same month. The second time we got as far as the high saddle at over 2000 meters, 1100 meters higher than the village of Sunt, where we'd left our car. It took us two days to haul our food and water up to that point. We camped there, our second night on the mountain, and were prepared to spend a third on the way back, but we somehow made it back to our car from the saddle in a single day, arriving at sundown, and back home in Abu Dhabi before midnight.

Just to let you know that we back safely from our hike. I am totally sore all over. It's a strenuous hike and we carried a lot.

We were to get away early, but Vance didn't find his GPS. He finally remembered where he put it, so we were off, leaving here after 9 am. It took us several hours to reach the Omani border. Then we spent around an hour exiting UAE and completing formalities at the Omani side. We didn't reach the village where we start the hike until after 2. We were swarmed by village kids, so we had to drive away to get our bags ready for the hike and then return to the village to park our car.

So we didn't start hiking the first day until 3 p.m It gets dark before 6, so we didn't get too far. We found a soft spot on the mountain to lay camp. We didn't have a fire, but ate sausages, bread, carrots, fruit, etc. We went straight to bed after dinner. We slept in the open, on mats, covered by sleeping bags. The stars were magnificent. I forget how many stars there are until we get away to the mountain or desert. A half moon came up, and we slept under perfect conditions, not too hot, not cold either.

We woke to the sunrise over the mountains, painting the sky in red hues. The moon was still up. It was so beautiful and serene. We knew we had a long hike ahead, so we quickly packed up and started hiking. We made it to a mountain village where we replenished our water supply. Then we started climbing more, making slow progress because of the slippery stones and the heavy packs and steep slope.

We walked for several hours when we saw that grey clouds were gathering on the mountaintop. We discussed our progess - I was very slow with a heavy pack, and we had so much to go if we wanted to make the peak. In fact, we knew it would not be possible and that we were'nt going to be able to make the peak and back to our car in time since daylight hours are short. We decided that since we could not make the peak we didn't care to sleep another night on the mountain, so we turned back. We made it to the car before dark and got back to Abu Dhabi at 10:30 p.m. As we walked in our apartment, we heard fireworks going off celebrating National Day. We had a perfect view from our balcony, so it was a nice way to end our hike. I had called and ordered Indian food which cost just 12 dollars for a great big meal.

The streets were crazy here, with people honking their horns, revving their engines, shouting in celebration of National Day. A lot of it was right under our window. We wondered how in the world we were going to sleep. Still, we were tired and sore and decided to at least lie down and read. We both went to sleep instantly, in spite of the chaos in the streets. We must have been really exhausted.

So once again, we didn't make the peak. This was the second time I've tried it, and the third time for Vance. The mountain, Jebel Kawr, is quite a challenge. Still, we had a beautiful night under the stars, got away alone together, and worked our bodies to exhaustion and still made it back in time for fireworks! A nice weekend! I'll upload the photos of both National Day and the hike and send them to you.

To see photo albums from the summer of 2007 (Spain, France, Houston, and California) click here: homepage2007.htm


The four of us together on Christmas morning, 2006. Dusty flew in from California and Glenn and Vance had the day off from work. Vance started a blog at and set that as the annual Christmas card for this year.

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In December 2006 Bobbi and Vance took
these pictures from the park beneath our
flat in the center of Abu Dhabi.
The occasion was UAE national day.

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In October, Bobbi and Vance flew to Yunnan, China.
Read the writeup and find the link to the photos here:

This summer Bobbi, Dusty, and Vance went to Kyrgyzstan Glenn went there as well and then on to Moscow and St. Petersburg

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In July, Vance, Bobbi, and Dusty made a trip to Guatemala and Honduras, and blogged it here: Glenn meanwhile was traveling from Kenya to Kigali, in East Africa.

Vance has been writing papers and reports and attending many conferences, giving presentations; see: . I presented again at the TESOL Convention in March

On my way to San Antonio for the conference I passed by Houston to see my aging parents. One of my webhead pals blogged a screen shot of Dusty and Dad and I looking into our web cams:

They were looking forward to their 59th wedding anniversary on May 28, 2005.

It wasn't to be ...
Oct 11, 1916 - May 25, 2005

After the initial grief, I've settled into the idea that as practical as Dad was he'd just seen the writing on the wall and took the most graceful exit possible. He died comfortably I think, with his family around him, and well loved and respected by his children and my mom, and he died smiling in her arms, so you couldn't ask for a nicer departure. One thing he had feared was a painful, protracted death, incontinent, lacking in dignity. After totalling his red sports car he'd started falling down a lot and was losing control and unable to do many things he'd taken for granted all his life. Quality of life had taken a turn on him. He had cancer but refused biopsies. He didn't want to be probed and pricked and kept alive but in discomfort. He often quoted his own father who made a living as a 'carney' in the Vaudeville days: "Leave 'em laughing," meaning don't wait till the audience is tired of your act, but get off the stage while you're making your best impression. Dad did exactly that.

The Houston Chronicle is keeping a guest book for him where many have recorded their comments that will be up until June 28, 2005:

I came across these from healthier more vibrant days in 2002, bottom of:
and others I've just happened on from 1998

Obituary and photo in the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday Houston Chronicle, May 29, 30, 31, 2005

Darrell W. Stevens, 88, passed away on May 25, 2005 in the arms of his loving wife of 59 years, Marianne. He was also surrounded by his family.

He was born on October 11, 1916, in Sioux City, Iowa. He began working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in 1941, but left temporarily to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War II. He married his wife, Marianne Royer Stevens, on May 28, 1946, and returned to the telephone company after the war. He worked there a total of 44 years until his retirement in 1980, working over 20 years with perfect attendance. He was an avid golfer, shooting his lowest score of 68 on one of the many Houston golf courses he played regularly with his friends and family. Darrell loved children, and created a special relationship with his children, grandchildren and the children in the neighborhood, which will give them all special memories throughout their lives. He was also a prolific reader, found great pleasure in humor and debate, but mostly enjoyed dancing with his bride Marianne at every opportunity.

Darrell is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marianne, as well as by three sons and a daughter and their spouses: Darrell Stevens and his wife Kay of Chico, California; Vance Stevens and his wife Bobbi who live in the United Arab Emirates; Michael Stevens and his wife Kim of Houston; and Leslie Stevens MacClean and her husband Chris of Austin. He also left surviving 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, William Royer and his wife Gayle of Katy.

The family is very appreciative of the support given by their many friends and by the compassionate, loving and competent care given for many years by Mr. Stevens’ physician, Doctor David Shin of Katy. They would also like to express their gratitude for the wonderful care given him by the nurses, staff, and doctors of Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital. Darrell asked that his body be given to Baylor College of Medicine for the purpose of research in the hopes that others will benefit from his death. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

MARIANNE ROYER STEVENS, 85, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Monday, August 14th, 2007. Marianne was born to Dorothy Vance Royer and William Blackburn Royer Sr. on July 15th, 1922, in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Marianne enjoyed children and taught preschool at The Oaks School in Houston, Texas from 1952 until her retirement in 1979. Most of her life she dedicated much of her free time to charity work with organizations such as the Girl Scouts of America, IIE, Unicef, St. Michaels' Thrift Shop, and many others. She married the love of her life, Darrell W. Stevens, on May 28th, 1946, and they remained happily wed until his death just three days prior to their 60th anniversary. Although Marianne was spirited to the end, she was happy to leave this earth, and looked forward to joining her loving husband, and the many family members and friends who had passed on before her. Though we are saddened by our loss, we are happy that she is finally at peace. Marianne is survived by her step-son Darrell Stevens Jr. and his wife Kay of Chico, California; her two sons: Vance Stevens and his wife Bobbi who live in the United Arab Emirates and Michael Stevens and his wife Kim of Houston, Texas; and by her daughter Leslie Stevens MacClean and her husband Chris of Georgetown, Texas. She also left surviving: 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother, William Blackburn Royer Jr. and his wife Gayle of Katy, Texas. Marianne's family would like to extend special thanks to Jackqulyn Bodenstedt of Katy, Texas for all of the time and effort she gave freely, and out of the goodness of her heart, to assist with mother's care. We would also like to thank mother's compassionate and loving caregivers, Ozia Ree Pickins and Ella Mae Williams who worked around the clock to make sure mother was as happy and as comfortable as possible to the very end. We would also like to thank Delores Hawkins who was not only a devoted caregiver to Marianne, but also to her husband, Darrell, in his final days. Marianne asked that her body be given to Baylor College of Medicine for the purpose of research in the hopes that others will benefit from her death.

While in Houston, I let my neice Emily play with Paint on my computer and she drew a picture of Kirby which we then blogged at:

We also used Paint to insert her in a picture of a meal Dusty and I had with her great-grand dad when we visited last March. We put her on great-grandad's lap:

Vance went to the Philippines in January:
Pic and dive logs here:

Summer travels begin in late June (stay tuned)


Bobbi and I went to Thailand in November

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Busy summer:



Trekking in Ladakh in August, Dusty's slide show is at:
One of my online collaborators put it up at his Moodle here:

Here at our first 5000 meter pass:

Our Christmas card from that year, showing us crossing our second 5000 meter pass:



Bobbi and Vance
have been married
25 years
as of August 15, 2000

Hoti cave was never easy to enter. From the top end you had to abseil 10 meters at the start, and then you were on an 8-12 hour trek to the resurgence, abseiling through waterfalls, with the last part of the journey a float through a standing lake sometimes requiring complete submersion to reach the exit and avoid the climb back out (never had to do that, would have been exhausting). The other way in was at the bottom, but you still had to drop down a chimney about 6 meters. If you were spry and sure footed you could do it without ropes, but we often belayed people in who feared exposure. Once past either entrance there was total darkness except for whatever light we had brought ourselves.

On Bobbi's 50th I arranged with friends to have her party in the cave. For some reason, we attracted about a dozen kids and their parents, a group in all of two dozen people. The cave was several hours from where we lived, and we had to cross an international border. We arrived at night, but it didn't matter when we got there because it was dark in the cave anyway. We had to drive off road into the hills below the cave, and it was a half hour walk in the moonlight up the trail to the entrance. The kids were having a great time. At the entrance, my friend Ali rigged himself with a rope, harnessed the kids one by one, and lowered them into the hole. I climbed down and received them at the other end and made sure they didn't wander off into the pitch black cave. Some of the parents climbed down but others let themselves be lowered. Bobbi, who has an absolute fear of this sort of thing, was the last to be deposited into the cave except for Ali who climbed down after her.

At that point we made a trail of headlamps ferrying food and gear to our camping spot a couple hundred meters into the cave. I had brought a special treat for Bobbi, 50 long wax candles. I started setting them up around the camping spot. All lit they made that part of the cave appear like a medieval cathedral and exposed the bats returned to their roosts high overhead. They also made a great base for us on our forays with the kids up to the pools, lighting the spot to which we had to return. It was unusual to have so much light in that cave.

We started to become timeless from that point. We unpacked food, had dinner, and toasted the birthday girl from bottles smuggled over the border. We had cake while the kids played and grew weary. Eventually the kids started to nod off while the grownups socialized down to the dregs. The candles were still lit as the group bedded down for the night.

Those who awoke at night did so in pitch blackness. Those who awoke a second time again found utter darkness and went back to sleep. Eventually someone who had something to do back in Abu Dhabi awoke with a start and realized it was well after ten a.m. It was still pitch dark. Biorhythm had been turned on its head.

Not long after that the Omanis blocked off the lower entrance to the cave and built a train along the trail we used for access. They have since made this cave into a show cave. For the ten years we lived in Oman it was a natural playground for outdoor adventurers. Now I'm afraid it has been spoiled along with so much else in the world. Or some might say it has been opened for access to the other 95% of the world's population.

You can see the cave now on YouTube and decide for yourself if you think it was a good thing. At any rate you can see what we saw in candlelight on Bobbi's 50th birthday, and what I passed occasionally at the end of exciting trips from the upper entrance.

  • December 2000

Vance did a second through-trip in Hoti Cave and put some pics up on one of his web sites. 

Glenn arrived in Abu Dhabi on Christmas eve and spent Christmas with his family, as you can see from the pics.

  • October 3, 2000

Vance had an operation on his knee (arthroscopic repair of the medial meniscus cartilage) from which he has since fully recovered.  Vance resumed running in November, but having been essentially out of the running since the injury in April, some work will be needed to get back up to marathon speed. 

On October 25th, we spent Bobbi’s birthday night inside Hoti Cave in Oman and lit the place up with 50 candles.

  • August 2000

Glenn left Abu Dhabi to return to San Francisco via Amsterdam and UK. While he was here, and when he could be distracted from partying away the wee hours in Abu Dhabi, he and Vance went diving at the Damaniyite Islands in Oman. Around the first of the month, Bobbi and Dusty returned from their visit to parents/grandparents in Houston.

On August 15, the family was together for the celebration of Bobbi and Vance's silver 25th wedding anniversary. Eschewing silver, we took Wednesday off work and headed over to the eastern Emirates for a night at the Fujairah Hilton with buffet and wine and champaign, and diving next day off Khor Fakkan.

  • June/July 2000

Vance, Bobbi, and Dusty met Glenn in Casablanca and the family traveled together to Barcelona where after a conference, we all went to Pamplona for the Encierro there. Glenn documented his summer travels at

In May 2005, I got this email. Unfortunately I've lost control over my travel pages (login/password no longer works, Geocities totally non-responsive on the issue) or I'd apply these corrections directly to the pages here: Pamplona Encierro. Best I can do is direct my own links to these pages through here: "Hello Vance, I enjoyed reading your impressions of Pamplona, and thought I would make a couple suggestions with regard to some details in the description of the bullfight itself. When the matador goes in for the kill, the red cape (muleta) is always in his left hand, and sword always in the right. There is a saying that the bull is killed as much with the left hand as with the right, as it is with the left that the matador controls the head of the bull, down and away from where he is "going in." Olay is actually spelled "Olé", and the dagger with which the puntillero ends the life of the bull is put into the spinal cord at the base of the skull, not into the brain itself. I have finished work on a photographic book about bullfighting and so have had the chance to learn a lot of small things about this odd and ancient subculture. You seem like a detail person, so I didn't think you'd mind a few minor corrections. As I said, I enjoyed reading about your travels. Take care, Michael Crouser"

  • March 2000

Vance travels to San Francisco to visit son Glenn, and Glenn joins dad in Vancouver, where Vance is presenting at the annual TESOL conference. Fulfilling a longstanding ambition, Vance skis Whistler and Blackcomb.

  • January 2000

A diving milestone: Vance buys a dive computer and uses it to descend to 50 meters on a wrecked supertanker north of Musandam.

  • December 1999

Vance travels to Venezuela during flash flooding and barely gets away to Aruba and on from there to Houston to meet Bobbi, Glenn, and Dusty for a family reunion millenium Christmas.

  • October 7, 1999

The family (Vance, Bobbi, and Dusty) returned to the Straights of Hormuz for some challenging diving in stiff currents with black-tips, bull rays, and turtles, et al.

  • September 1999

Vance got away for a trip to South Africa. Read all about it.

  • Summer 1999

Vance stayed home for a change to feed the cat and turtle. Bobbi and Dusty went to Houston in July a week after Glenn came to Abu Dhabi. Glenn left August 7 for Milan to see friends from the UAE in Innsbruck and he returned to San Francisco where he met up with his Mom, who helped Glenn move into his apt. in San Francisco. Bobbi and Dusty returned to Abu Dhabi in late August.

While Glenn was here, he and Vance made an interesting trip to Salalah. I meant to write it up while I had the house to myself, but never got around to it, and now I can't even locate the film for the pics we took. I need a memory upgrade.

  • May and April 1999

After a month of being away most of the time, the tendency for the Stevenses these months is to stay put. Accordingly, Vance participated in an online conference from the comfort of home, and presented a paper on his online ESL class, Writing for Webheads.

  • March 1999

An eventful month: Vance went to a TESOL conference in early March and gave a presentation there, did some skiing in Austria en route, and spent a few days with Glenn in New York. At the end of the month, Bobbi, Vance and Dusty headed for the Maldives (trip description with pictures posted) for a few days of diving at Kuredu resort. We also worked in a visit to Sri Lanka (more pictures).

  • January 1999

Here you can see pics from a hiking trip with Dusty and Bobbi, and from a caving trip to Jebel Kaw in Oman


Here are pics from when I saw my parents when they saw us off at the airport:


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· Late July 1998: Vance attended the WorldCALL Conference in Melbourne, followed by diving off the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea, with a day of decompression in Cairns spent river rafting.


On this page: Find family members | What's new at this site | Life in Abu Dhabi | Recent family history | Jokes | Friends' list 

Life in Abu Dhabi, UAE

In the summer of 1997, Vance, Bobbi and Dusty (and Musky) moved back to the Middle East, to Abu Dhabi, where Vance has started working for Amideast on a project to set up a language school for the UAE military. Glenn remained behind in San Jose, but he's since moved to San Francisco and is studying at San Francisco State University.

The UAE on the web:

We often enjoy great sunsets from our balcony. Click on the picture for a full-size view (60K)

We bought a '96 Chevy Blazer 4x4 and have taken it out in the desert and on a couple of runs down to Oman. It's made of plastic, so each trip costs us $100 in repairs. Add in what you pay for radar speed traps, and it gets expensive.

Click here if you'd like to share some recent Oman adventures.

Vance sometimes (rarely) writes about what life is like in Abu Dhabi, the kind of stuff you might find in a newsy letter (if anyone still wrote letters anymore). If you'd like to share Vance's occasional impressions of Abu Dhabi lifestyle, check out Vance's Abu Dhabi Journal. But don't expect much .. I don't really keep it up.

On this page: Find family members | What's new at this site | Life in Abu Dhabi | Recent family history | Jokes | Friends' list

Recent Family History

Life in Oman 1985-1995

From October 1985 to around June 1995 we lived on the campus of Sultan Qaboos University, where Vance was CALL coordinator and teacher in the Language Centre. Oman was a very pleasant place to live, one of the best-kept secrets and most enjoyable and pristine travel destinations left on the planet.

Travel via Borneo, 1995

In July & August 1995 we traveled from Oman to California via Borneo. In Borneo, we acclimatized in Kuching, visited the caves in Mulu and Batu, and climbed Mt. Kinabalu as a family as far as the base camp hut, and Glenn and Vance to the summit. We did some superb family diving off Sipadan and then made our way as far south as Banjarmasin, the fascinating Venice of Kalimantan. In Singapore we stayed with the Pat Barkers, who took us in when we overnighted there and looked after our excess baggage while we were swanning off in Borneo. For an example of what we did, see:

Life in California, 1995-1997

In August 1995, we moved to California so Vance could take up work as Director of ESL Software Design for Courseware Publishing International, a small company producing interactive multimedia CD-ROM products for ESL and foreign language learning. After almost two years of fruitful involvement in innovative products such as Traci Talk: The Mystery, an ESL adventure incorporating speech recognition, Vance left the company in May 1997.

While residing in California, Vance wandered off as far as Chile, and the family drove together to Oregon, where Vance taught some seminars in early August, 1996. Other than that, we stayed mostly in California. We got up to Lake Tahoe now and then for hiking in summer and skiing in winter, and we visited good friends from Saudi, Brock and Cydney and Barry and Karel, in San Luis Obispo and drove back via Highway 1 up the Big Sur coastline. And when the weather allowed it, Vance made trips to King's Canyon and Sequoia National parks and to Mother Lode for caving. Toward the end of our stay in California, Bobbi, Dusty and Vance drove to Yosemite and camped out a couple of times, and before leaving the state we rented rafts and sampled the current in a couple of rivers within a few hours of where we lived.

On this page: Find family members | What's new at this site | Life in Abu Dhabi | Recent family history | Jokes | Friends' list

Some Jokes

Politcal Commentary:

Have you heard a good one lately? You can click here for a bit of humor (we don't censor for language or taste, but each joke is preceded by a truth-in-telling advisory to prevent you wandering into anything offensive to you unawares).

On this page: Find family members | What's new at this site | Life in Abu Dhabi | Recent family history | Jokes | Friends' list

Friends List

I'd almost forgot about my Friends List to help me keep in touch with people who've kept in touch with us. These are years old and no longer maintained.

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