"Hallo, I am Mirek Stehno from Czech republic. I enjoy camping and hiking too. The nature in neighbourhood our town Chotebor is very nice ( http://www.chotebor.czl ). I give one's regards to you. This is page my dog Bekky : http://bekky.rtw.cz/ Excuse me, my english is very elementary."
That's how it all began, on October 4, 2002, when Mirek contacted me by e-mail. He has since told me that it was somewhat of a random act. He accessed the Yahoo people finder application and typed in "Stehno." Just to see what would come up. He says that he got something like 240 names. He didn't recognize any of them. But, just on a whim, he randomly selected two names—a Chris Stehno and a Frank Stehno. There was no way that he could have known that Chris and I were so directly related, and, as it turns out, we may be related to him as well.
My father and mother (Frank E. and Patricia A. Stehno) had assembled a very comprehensive Stehno family tree and issued a loose leaf bound version of their findings. From this well organized document it was easy to determine that many of our Czech ancestors came from the area around Chotebor, Huc, and Horni Studenence in the Czech provence of Bohemia. Exactly where Mirek lived.
Mirek and I began an extended correspondence that has continued to this day. We have explored our philosophies on life, religion, politics, Nature, etc. And we have explored our family tree, looking for a direct connection. Mirek and his wife Hana have accessed records in Prague (the capitol of the Czech Republic) dating back to the early 1800s, but have as yet to find a direct link. But there is little doubt in my mind that there must be some connection somewhere in the distant past.
But a blood relationship does not matter. Mirek and I have become very good friends through the magic of cyberspace and modern technology. And, at one point in our correspondence, I extended an invitation to Mirek and Hana to visit our country, and told them that if they did come Anne and I would be glad to show them around. They jumped at the chance.
Over the course of the intervening months the four of us have exchanged ideas for travel plans, destinations, expenses, and every other aspect necessary to complete a joint adventure here in this country. Mirek and Hana obtained a travel visa and other necessary documents, and began serious lessons in English, while Anne and I made motel and lodge reservations and played around with learning a few Czech words.
Early on I let other family members know that I was in contact with possible relatives in "the old country." Everyone seemed excited. My sister Susan, having, for many years, expressed a wish to visit the Czech Republic, asked for Mirek's e-mail address. She thought that perhaps he could give her some pointers. I checked with Mirek and he had no problem with expanding his range of correspondence. Mirek and Sue began to write and that led to Sue and Dan's visit to the Czech Republic in July of this year (2004).
Sue and Dan's visit to "the home land" helped Mirek and Hana's confidence in their English, and set the stage for their big adventure to this country. And now, after all of our reservations were made and plans and itineraries approved, it has happened. Our Czech friends have come, they have seen our great landscapes, they have tried our foods, and they have returned home. It took so long for them to get here, the tour was wonderful, but it passed way, way too fast.
And now, all that we have are our memories ... and our notes ... and our photos. And that is what this document is all about. It is but a brief summary of our 17 days of adventure touring some of the greatest landscapes in North America. Perhaps in the world.
This document has been prepared for Mirek and Hana and Anne and I to remember the great times we had along the way. But we would like to share our memories with our family and friends by making this document available to anyone who is interested. But you must realize that the tone of this document is quite casual. I did not spend a great deal of time attempting to correct grammar and syntax. It is more of a play-by-play account than a fleshed out travel log.
Some notes are cryptic and abbreviated, intended to help us place ourselves during a particular day's adventures, and to help us identify the many megabytes of electronic photos that we took along the way. This document is also intended to help us remember the mundane issues involved with such a trip, such as when and where we bought gas and how much that cost us, where we ate and what we ate and what the meals cost (because quite often what we ate was the first time Mirek and Hana had experienced those particular food items), and where we stayed and what each room cost us. For an outsider looking in, many of these details might seem unimportant. But for us they were.
In addition, some of the details, such as where restrooms and drinking water could be located, is important to me because it adds vital information to many of the pages on our Hiking and Camping Web site (http://www.frankstehno.com/sagemesa).
One final point is that while we were in Sandy, staying in our home, Anne and I paid for all of our meals. We felt that this was only fair, since If time had allowed Anne would have prepared meals and eaten them in our home. But this was Anne's vacation too, and so we decided that eating out would give her a break and allow our guests to sample the widest variety of American foods. We think that plan worked out quite well for all of us.
And please note the hyperlinks scattered throughout the text. Clicking on those links will open full versions of the related photographs. I should be noted, also, that these photos have been resized and in some case cropped and edited to fit this presentation. If you would like a full-sized, unedited version of any of these photos contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a copy.
And now ... enjoy a brief rendition of our journey through canyon country.