L. David Roper Foreign Travel

Soviet Union to give Biophysics Talks at Moscow University (1972)

Visited Kiev and Leningrad (St. Petersburg since 1991). Drove a Russian car to Yaroslavl to see the Volga River.

We had always wanted to travel to other countries, so in the summer of 1972 we began a long saga of such travels by going to the Soviet Union. I gave two talks about nerve excitation and my biophysics course at University of Moscow, the location of the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics Conference.

A USSR biophysics graduate student was assigned to look after my desires and several young girls were assigned to help the wives of the visiting biophysicists have a good time. One day my guide asked me if we would like to attend the USSR championship soccer game in Lenin stadium, of course, we said “yes.” We had excellent seats in the middle of the stadium. Thelma was wearing a “Virginia is for lovers” button and a nearby lady asked what the button said. Our translator said something to her and every one nearby laughed uproariously. We asked him what he had said and he said “I am a virgin.” He asked us if we would like to have some special beer; even though we were not beer drinkers, we said “yes.” He then took us under the stands to the refreshment area and proceeded to argue with the attendant at a beer stand. Finally the attendant went behind the stand and came out with some bottles of beer and our guide paid for them with money I had given him. Immediately as he left the stand an angry crowd gathered around him, apparently complaining that he was able to get the special beer. We hurriedly moved back to our special seats in the stands. Then he asked if we would like to talk to the players after the game. Again we were ready for a new adventure, so he took us under the stands to a place where no one else was and left us there for about 15 minutes. We began to worry what we would do if a policeman found us there. Finally he came back and took us to the locker room, where we shook hands with the Moscow players, Thelma telling them that she really appreciated their fine kicking. The guide got all the players to sign one of their shirts for us, since we were “avid soccer fans” from the United States. Then the guide asked us if we would like to ride back to the hotel on the bus with the players. Of course, we would, so we walked out with the adored players as fans clamored against the fence and rode back to the hotel with them. The next morning the guide called my room from the hotel barber shop and asked me if I would meet him in a taxi outside the hotel. I did and he asked me if I would give him the shirt with the player’s signatures on it. I did. A later night he suggested that we go to a lake and bath in the nude; we declined.

We met a middle aged lady, who took us to the Moscow Circus. She asked us to send her a wig from the U.S., which we later did.

Two of the young girl guides devoted themselves to Thelma's service. They took her to special places by themselves; sometimes I would sneak out of the conference to join them on their interesting jaunts. They asked Thelma what she would most like to do, and she replied that she would like to visit in a Russian home. They said that they were not supposed to have foreigners in their homes, but they would try to arrange something. The next day they said that we were to go with them that night to one of their homes. We met them at the assigned place and all took a bus to a suburb. When we got off the bus, they asked us to walk some distance behind them until they told us otherwise. Then they led us to a large apartment building up a few floors to the apartment of one of the girl's parents. We spent many hours that evening with another U.S. couple and members of the family as they came in to join in eating much food and even more alcoholic drinks. Thelma and I were not drinkers, but we drank much that evening. After midnight we all piled in a taxi, with some lying on the floor so that the police would not stop the taxi for having too many people in it.

We felt always watched in Moscow. Once Thelma sat down to rest on the curb outside the GUM department store in Red Square and a policeman came up and told her to get up. Another time, in the Kremlin, she was very thirsty and decided to follow the example of some Russians and get a drink out of a running garden hose on a lawn; again a policeman blew his whistle and told her to stop.

Intourist plans for us always seemed to go awry. It got to be a big joke guessing what would go wrong next: Would it be that there would be no hotel rooms available or would it be that no bus would show up to take us to the next place?

That summer that were massive peat bog fires all around Moscow and the air was turgid with acrid smoke.

Before leaving the U.S. we had arranged to rent a car in Moscow to drive to Yaroslavl, about 100 miles north of Moscow; the road to there passes through Zagorsk, the home of the Russian Orthodox Church. I wanted to go to Yaroslavl because it was the closest city to Moscow that had the famous Volga River passing through it. When we went to the Intourist auto office to pick up the car, they did not want to give us the car. It took about two hours to convince them that all papers were in order. We were given explicit instructions to not deviate from the planned route and to not pick up any riders. At a small village we noticed several people carrying bananas, and Thelma insisted that we stop and get us some. We located the place of origin of the bananas and got in the long line to buy them. The line never moved; finally we discovered that people were crowding in at the front of the line. We got into another moving line, but discovered that it was for onions. A young girl was hitchhiking, so we broke the rules and picked her up and had a delightful conversation with her in broken Russian. We also broke the rules by deviating off of the road to see a museum of old Russian Navy boats that were once used on a lake nearby. It was a moving experience to see the great Volga River, despite its high level of pollution. The stop in Zagorsk was very interesting.

After the 2‑day trip to Yaroslavl, we flew to Kiev in the Ukraine. We thoroughly enjoyed mingling with the seemingly happier people than appeared to be the case in Moscow. However, Thelma got a terrible stomach illness and the doctor wanted to put her in a hospital to check for communicable disease; she refused and barely managed to get on the plane later to go to Leningrad. There I did most of the sightseeing by myself as Thelma recovered in the hotel. I went to a Russian movie in Kiev in an old theater that smelled of urine.

The next stop was Leningrad. Thelma was too sick to enjoy it, spending most of the time there in bed. She was able to see the art in the Hermitage; she liked visiting art galleries very much. I saw the Summer Palace without her.

When the airplane's wheels finally lifted from the Moscow airport runway, most biophysicists and their spouses on the plane spontaneously cheered. Apparently most had experienced the feeling of constriction that we had experienced. I came away thinking that it was so unnecessary for the Soviet government to clamp down so hard on its citizens, as most we met were very patriotic. It was obvious that this practice could not go on for many more years.

Year in Europe (1973-4)

I was granted a research‑study leave at half pay to go to Europe for the academic year 1973‑74. (I did this three times, and one more time at no pay, during my academic career. I always lost about $10,000 every time, but it was well worth it for the experience in another country.) We found a very inexpensive ship trip from Baltimore to Southampton, England; $145 per person; that cheap because it was a repositioning cruise of the Chandris Lines cruise ship Ellinis from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. I had just completed the data collection and analysis of big‑time athletics compared to academic excellence in U.S. Universities, so I spent some of the eight days on the ship writing a paper about it, which was later published in an Eastern European journal of sport sociology. Our two girls, aged 16 and 12, had a wonderful time running all over the ship. Thelma was propositioned by the steward, who offered to wash her in the shower. The quality and amount of the food was high. The ship was supposed to go directly into Southampton, but instead stopped first in Cherbourg, France. This was our first opportunity to set foot in Western Europe and we had much fun walking around and observing the French people and businesses.

When we got off the ship in Southampton a telegram was waiting from my brother, Kenneth, telling that my father, Fred, had had a heart attack while we were on the ship. (Dad later had another small heart attack.) I called Kenneth and found out that my father was doing OK. We took the train to London only to quickly catch another train to the east coast and then a ship to Amsterdam.

I had arranged to buy a Fiat 124 car in Amsterdam to drive across Europe and down through Austria and Yugoslavia to Trieste, Italy, where my first 3‑months appointment was. (We wanted to go through Czechoslovakia, but I refused to pay the high $16 per person fee the country wanted for a visa.) Before we left Blacksburg in August, I found a Fiat 124, measured its trunk and then we obtained precisely the suitcases and backpacks to exactly fill the trunk. After getting the car we looked around Holland for a day or so and then headed east. Shortly into Germany the car began to miss some firings, so we had to stop twice to get it repaired; at one stop we found a U.S. Army base and got hamburgers at the PX. We were almost thrown out of a Gasthaus in Austria because Truda jumped on the couch with her shoes on as the owner was showing us the room. We were enthralled with the exotic nature of Yugoslavia as we drove into the market town of Maribor. We went on to Llubjana and met up with Bob and Franciska Dyck from Blacksburg; Franciska's parents were there from Hungary and her mother fixed us a delicious Hungarian supper.

The International Centre of Theoretical Physics, located at Miramare on the Adriatic Sea a few miles northwest of Trieste, had arranged for us to stay in a nice house in the lovely fishing village of Duino. (We became friends with the owners, who used it for a vacation home, and visited them in Milan later.) Tamra enrolled in an Italian school that taught young girls domestic skills and Truda joined the International School, which gave instruction in English. Both were included in an International School “field trip” to the Soviet Union, because we wanted them to experience some of what Thelma and I had experienced the previous year. Just prior to that trip everyone in Italy had to get a Bubonic Plague shot because of an outbreak in Naples. We got them, but forgot to include documentation of the girls' inoculation in their travel papers. As a result, it took about half a day for the USSR to admit them, and only after a teacher swore that he had seen them get the shot, which he had not. They were in the USSR for two weeks and had a marvelous time. We had given them written permission to go out on the streets on their own, as we wanted them to experience real life instead of just Intourist fare and we hoped that they might meet up with the young ladies we had met the year before. They did not meet the young ladies, but they did explore life in the Moscow streets on their own. (Truda later went back to the USSR on her own on a “peace” trip.)

We traveled all over Northern Yugoslavia during our three months in Trieste. (From our house in Duino we could see Yugoslavia about one‑quarter mile away.) While the girls were in the USSR we drove down the coast to the magnificent castle city of Split. (I understand that Dubrovnik, further south, is even more magnificent.) We loved discovering the Roman ruins and driving off of the main roads to visit small villages and to try to talk to the people in Italian. (They would usually think we were German by the way we looked, but I always refused to answer back in German, because I knew how much they hated Germans and because my Italian was better than my German. Actually, I can't speak either language very well, so it was broken communication with the girls listening and me talking, since that was what we each did best.) Yugoslavia reminded us very much of our beloved Virginia, with its old mountains and dense foliage.

We also traveled much over Northern Italy and down into Italy. We went to Venice five times, since it was only about 150 miles from Duino. Once we met Thelma's mother, Alice Bowles, there when a tour group she was on came through. I remember being elated when we met them there because I had just deciphered an Italian newspaper that indicated that U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew had resigned. The tour members did not know this news, and I delighted in telling them; many of them looked like died‑in‑the‑wool Republicans.

I got much work done at ICTP during the three months I was there. I concentrated on writing a large paper on a model for excitable membranes, and it was later published in Journal of Theoretical Biology. Also, I worked hard at increasing the holdings of biophysics books in the ICTP library. The famous English physicist, Paul A. M. Dirac, was there at the same time, but I never saw him enter or emerge from his office about four doors from mine. In those days I was too much of a recluse to have the nerve to knock on his door; probably he worked in the middle of the night instead of the day as I did. One event that made a big impression on us was a “banquet” that was held for all at ICTP. We arrived about 15 minutes late according to U.S. custom and there was no food left on the tables. However, we noticed that there was a special table still loaded with food, but most people did not dare get close to it. Seated at it were the director, Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salaam, other officials of ICTP and invited speakers to a conference that was underway there. One of the U.S. invited speakers saw us with our two kids, realized our plight and brought us some food on a plate. Every time I have heard Salaam speak since then, and there have been many, I think of his imperious ways. He died in 1997.

We took a week trip to Rome. We had read in Frommer's Italv on $5 a Day of a nunnery near the Spanish Steps and made arrangements to stay there. I parked our car inside the court yard. After getting settled in, Tamra and I went to the office to ask for something. The ladies spoke no English, so we tried to communicate with them in our broken Italian. We could not understand most of what they said. It took several minutes before Tamra realized that it was a French nunnery and they were speaking French to us. So then we used our even more broken French.

Our Italian travels included Pisa, Siena where my Ph.D. thesis work was first reported at a conference by Prof. Feld (my thesis adviser at MIT), San Marino (a small country inside Italy) near where I got a speeding ticket, Florence, Milan, San Gimignano (the tower town) and Genoa (on our way out of Italy to Switzerland), where we enjoyed seeing the monument to Christopher Columbus.

In November we moved to Geneva, Switzerland where I worked for three months at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Physics. I concentrated on learning about the kaon+‑nucleon system, which later led to extensive work on it and several publications. We traveled much around Switzerland, particularly enjoying two weekend stays in Zermatt, where we did cross‑country skiing.

For Christmas vacation we drove down to the Barcelona area of Spain. Despite a break‑in to our Fiat in Barcelona (nothing was taken, they wanted the car but were thwarted by the locked steering wheel), we had a delightful time driving to Tarragona and on down to Benicarlo and Peniscola. At Peniscola we stayed in a small motel run by Jose Paris. He took us to the docks early in the mornings to get fresh seafood and showed us how to prepare it. We kept in contact with him for many years.

On the way to Glasgow, Scotland in March 1974 for our last three‑month stay in Europe, we stopped for a few days in Paris and in London, our first forays into those two cities.

The weather in Scotland was exceptionally good during our stay. We had a flat on the third floor of an old building about two miles from the University of Glasgow, where I worked. I was the guest of Gordon Moorhouse, the Professor of Particle Physics at the University. He and I wrote a history of the discovery of the “Roper resonance,” since he was the closest competitor to me in discovering it. (This article is now available on the Internet.) I helped some instructors there start teaching the Keller Plan of self-paced personalized instruction, which I had used extensively at VPI&SU. We traveled all around Scotland, and had the requisite “sighting” of the “Loch Ness monster.”

For Easter we went to Arran Island off the coast of Scotland with the Moorhouse family. We also took our Fiat 124 on a ferry from Holyhead, Wales to Dun Laoghaire, Ireland to spend two weeks touring southeastern Ireland. We stayed in old dilapidated castle just “beyond the pale” of Dublin; I think it was near Carlow. We visited the Fitzgerald hometown of the Kennedy's, Wexford glass works and took in several local celebrations. We really enjoyed a small traveling circus in a small town.

I drove the Fiat down to Liverpool about two weeks before we were scheduled to fly home to have it shipped to the U.S. (It took two months to get it because of a strike, and it was badly rusted when it arrived.) I took the train back to Glasgow and rented a British car for the last two weeks. (I had become quite good at driving the left‑drive Fiat in Britain, but had great difficulties in adjusting to driving the right‑drive British car.)

Trip to Carribean and South America (June 1977)

In June 1977 Thelma, Truda and I took a summer trip to Puerto Rico for a physics meeting; to Martinique (prepaid hotel was long closed when we got there), to Curacao; to Bogota, Colombia to visit a friend; and to Baranquilla and Cartegena in Colombia.

Year at KEK Physics Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan (1980)

For the academic year 1980‑81 we lived in Japan. Truda took a year off from college to go with us, on the condition that she would do the chores in our apartment there. She made many friends there, including a boy friend (Hideo Shirakawa, who later visited us in Virginia, but Truda had lost interest in him by then), and taught English to young children, often riding a train for an hour or so to get to the location.

I made arrangements to visit China on the way to Japan as a guest of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. We stayed a week in Hong Kong (visited Tim Lam and former students) on the way and then passed into China to Guangzhou (Canton) by train. Then we flew to Quelin, a very strange place geographically and socially. We took a river cruise on a barge and met a couple, Geoffrey and Margaret Piggin, from Australia as they were getting on the boat from another boat in the middle of the river. They had been visiting their son who was working with an agriculture company in the mountains of China. Our and their itinerary was the same throughout the rest of the Chinese trip, so we had many meals with them and became good friends. Later in 1983 we visited them on their sheep farm near Corowa, Australia. Then we flew to Hangzhou.

In Beijing we stayed in a camp for training young cadres on the edge of the city. Truda made many friends there and communicated with some of them for several years afterward. Thelma got very sick, but insisted on lying in the back seat on a car trip to see the Great Wall. I gave a talk at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the director took us to the best Peking duck restaurant in Beijing for a wonderful meal. We met a couple, the husband of whom was the Pepsi executive in Bangkok, Thailand.

I worked on Kaon+‑nucleon scattering analyses on a large Hitachi computer at the National High Energy Physics Laboratory (KEK) in Oho‑machi in Tsukuba‑gun, Ibaraki‑ken, fifty miles north of Tokyo not far from the Narita international airport. We lived in a new western‑style apartment at the Lab, which was very pleasant. A rental car for only $100 per month was provided, and we traveled much by car and train. Some places we visited were Mashiko (famous for its pottery) several times, Nikko several times, Kyoto and Hiroshima for a physics meeting. I gave a talk once at Sendai in the north and we spent a cold Christmas with the family of a Japanese friend in Kyushu; both of these trips were by bullet train.

KEK provided a graduate student, Keiji Hashimoto, to meet us at the airport and help us at KEK. The KEK computer had no English instructions, so I wrote English instructions for it as Keiji (we nickname him Ken) taught me about the computer. (Later Keiji went back to the US with us to work on his Ph.D. with Dick Arndt and me. His parents came to visit once.) I also wrote an English manual on how to survive at KEK, which several people from VPI&SU had occasion to use in later years. I left a copy of the Kaon+‑nucleon scattering-analyses code, which I had revised for the KEK computer, at KEK.

Thelma's mother, Alice, and step‑father, Worth Bowles, and my brother, Kenneth, visited us in Japan.

In Japan Thelma and I took a “vacation” for two weeks and took an inexpensive “sex cruise” to Thailand and India. (Japanese men regularly took these flights to Thailand for sex purposes.) (Truda stayed in our KEK apartment.) We stayed at the luxurious Oriental Hotel in Bangkok and had supper at the home of the Pepsi executive we had met in China. We took a boat cruise up to the ancient capital of Thailand.

In Bombay, India we stayed with the parents of a VPI&SU student, Denish Tiwari, for whom we were his host family. They were very gracious to us even though we were the first foreigners to ever be in their home. It was quite shocking to us to see people living and doing business on the sidewalks. I gave a talk on pion‑nucleon scattering analyses at the Tata Institute of Physics in Bombay.

Our friend had arranged for family members to host us all along the way in India, but the helpfulness decreased with distance from Bombay. Even though we had tickets, we could not get on a plane from Bombay to Ahmedebad, probably because I did not offer a bribe to the clerk. Together with another US couple we rented a car and driver to take us to Ahmedebad, which was quite an exciting ride with elephants and other animals all along the road. At Ahmedebad we stayed in a maharajah’s palace which had been converted to a hotel. We took an elephant ride into the bush for about an hour while there. We were supposed to have a room at the palace converted into a hotel on the lake at Udaiphur, but they had no room for us, so we stayed in the town. Next was Jaiphur, where we stayed in the Rambaugh Palace and visited the Amber Palace. There we saw small children following the elephants delivering tourists to and from the palace, picking up the elephant dung right after it was expelled to take home in baskets.

We arrived at Agra at night and stayed at a Holiday Inn. When I awoke early the next morning and looked out the window I could barely see the Taj Mahal about one‑half mile away through the dung smoke of breakfast fires.

All along the way I felt that everyone was trying to get as much money out of me as possible. I learned to trust no one.

The final stop in India was New Delhi, where I gave a talk at the University of Delhi. We arrived in New Delhi at about nine in the night. I was told that a certain bus would take us to the University. We were chagrined and frightened when the bus stopped far from the University and the driver said that it was the end of the line. By the time we got out of the bus all automobile taxis had been taken, so we had to take an open‑air motorcycle‑cart taxi. The cart stopped at a gasoline station which was guarded by men with rifles. At about 3 AM we arrived in the area of the University, but the driver did not know where the University guest house was. I saw a policeman and asked him, but he did not know. Finally, some late‑partying students directed us to it. They offered to take us there, and I said “Why are you doing this,” which seemed to shock them. The next morning two of the students came by the guest house to talk to us and asked why I had said what I said the night before. I told them many instances of people trying to “help” me for large sums of money, which shocked them.

I developed severe diarrhea before my talk that day. In the middle of my talk I had to go to the bathroom. I announced so and someone asked “Does that mean that we can not ask questions?” I said that I would come back. Someone took me to try to find a bathroom. After some time one was found, but it was locked. By the time a key was found, it was too late. The bathroom had a low window with no shade or curtain. I did my thing, washed out my underpants and pants and went back to the lecture hall to take questions.

The next morning we had some time before the plane was to leave for Japan, so we walked around the campus, which was rather pretty. While doing so we notice a big truck coming down the street spraying something all over everything, apparently an insecticide. We tried to escape by a side street, but the truck turned after us and we ended up getting sprayed.

I was very anxious to get out of India; in fact I was afraid that I was going to go mad soon. At the airport some Indian tried to crowd in front of me at the passport‑checking station and I became very angry and refused to let him. A Japanese businessman behind me told me that I should not act that way, because I could be arrested.

Near our apartment at KEK in Oho‑machi lived a Japanese couple, the Shimazakis, the husband of which was an artist for a magazine in Tokyo. We became good friends with them and often spent Friday evenings with them, which time was often spent learning about Japanese art. We joined a hiking club and took many long hikes with them. We had two bicycles which Thelma and Truda often used to travel through the villages and the rice paddies while I was working. It was much fun taking a bike ride and stopping in at small stores in villages to talk to the proprietors.

On the way home from Japan the plane stopped briefly in Saipan and we spent a few days with VPI&SU friends in Guam (took in a Philippino wedding banquet). We spent a week in Oahu, Hawaii where we drove all around the island. Truda made a female friend there to whom she wrote for many years.

Semester at University of Papua New Guinea (1983)

On the way to PNG we visited Hawaii, Bora Bora and a sheep farm in Australia, whose owners we had met in China. On the way back stayed in Singapore, Greece, Turkey and London.

When planning the trip to Japan for 1980‑81, I had contacted a physics professor in Papua New Guinea about doing teaching there. (I had long wanted to try living and teaching physics in a developing country.) I did not hear from him then. However, in 1982 he wrote asking if I would be interested in teaching for a semester in 1983. I took a leave without pay to do so. They provided a round‑the‑world plane ticket for both of us and said that housing in Port Moresby would be provided. We took a month to go by way of Hawaii, Tahita, Bora Bora, and Australia. For the nine days in Australia we drove from Sidney to Canberra, Corowa to the Piggin's sheep farm, and Melbourne. Australia reminded me of the Midwest US in the 1930's and 1940's; I would like to spend more time there some day.

Papua New Guinea is a very dangerous place because of the clash between the primitive and modern cultures. There was a long strike by students, protesting an Australian being made provost, in which they blocked the campus roads by cutting down huge trees. Our first of five places we stayed in PNG was on a hill overlooking the University. I took pictures of the strike from the apartment area; the students saw me do it and sent a war‑clad (red clay smeared on the face and tribal clothing) student to deal with me. I locked myself in the apartment and a native mathematician neighbor convinced the warrior to not bother me.

We bought a used Toyota and sold it before we left; it was stolen once, but the thieves did not find the second ignition switch in the glove compartment, so they pushed the car into a ditch not far from our house. Two of the five houses we lived in were broken into just after we moved. The last house in which we lived was that of an engineer from England who went on vacation. It came with two large dogs to guard the doors at night. Many robbery and rape incidents occurred in the neighborhoods around us; we heard police sirens almost every night. We lived in constant fear of criminal action, and were very glad to leave there. I chained the car to a post under the house; once I forgot to undo the chain and almost pulled the post from under the house.

We made many friends in PNG, probably because of the need of all expatriates for protection. (We later visited John and Jan Piggot in London.) Thelma started a “club” the first day in the hotel before we got a more permanent place to live. (While we were in the hotel, some robbers came into the parking lot one evening to steal cars.) The “club” met almost every weekend. Some weekends we formed a caravan of cars to visit places outside of Port Moresby. We often joined a hiking club for weekend hikes, once to a large airplane that was downed in WWII and once to a WWII junk yard of military vehicles and equipment.

Our favorite restaurant was a Chinese restaurant at the Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby. We took sailing lessons there. Part of the final exam is to capsize the small boat and then put it back up. Thelma and her instructor could not get it back up about a half mile off shore. A motor boat had to “rescue” them.

We took a two‑week vacation to visit the highlands. We flew to Lae, took a local van‑bus to the gold‑mining area of Bulolo, and flew to the Mount Hagen area to stay in a very nice tropical hotel surrounded by a high wooden solid fence. Thelma liked it so well, that she stayed an extra week while I went back to work. Another time we flew to Madang on the east coast for a week to stay in a lovely tropical hotel with an open‑air restaurant. We did some snorkeling in perfectly blue water there and saw ships that had been sunk in WWII.

We took a month to return to the U.S. A full solar eclipse was scheduled for Papua New Guinea the day after we left. (I was involved in some of the planning to help local people understand what was going to happen.) We spent about a week in Singapore, where we watched the high-partial eclipse there at the hotel swimming pool. Then we landed at the Karachi, Pakistan airport on our way to Turkey to visit our son‑in‑laws parents.

Hakan Demirbulak was in Turkey for the summer, so we wrote him and told him that we were coming and gave him the name of the hotel we would be in Istanbul. After two days in Istanbul and we had not heard from him, we found the phone number of his father in Izmir (old Smyrna). General Demirbulak was commander of the air force base in Izmir. He invited us to Izmir and then contacted Hakan in Istanbul and told him to come to Izmir, also. They royally entertained us, but never introduced us to his acquaintances as Hakan's parents‑in‑law. Hakan helped us buy some gold, but apparently tried to make some money of his own off of our transaction.

Israel and Egypt (Nile boat trip) (December 1984)

During Christmas vacation of 1984 we took a boat cruise up the Nile River, which included a visit to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel. We had to make sure that our passports were not stamped, so that we could go on to Egypt. I was accidentally left behind by our bus at Abu Simbel on the upper Nile, and I had to find another plane back to Aswan. On the way we spent four days in Spain (Granada, Costa del Sol and Madrid) and one night in Athens, Greece. Because of TWA not letting us on our scheduled flight, we almost missed the Nile boat.

Trip to Bolivia (July 1985)

Took my father, Fred Lloyd Roper.

For ten days in late June of 1985 I and my father visited my daughter, Truda G. Roper, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she was a World Service worker with the YMCA. She worked with mothers and children.

We passed through Panama City and Santa Cruz, Bolivia on the way. We purchased two big boxes of Alpaca rugs to take home to sell for Truda. I gave two seminars at Universidad Mayor de San Simon in Cochabamba. We spent four days in Manaus, Brasil on the way home, where we took a boat trip to the “meeting of the waters” on the Amazon River.

We lived in her apartment a few blocks from the lovely central square of Cochabamba. About a fifteen minute walk from her apartment is the Universidad Mayor de San Simon, one of Bolivia's largest universities
with about 20,000 students.

I had heard all the stories, including many from my daughter, about the horrendous inflation in Bolivia. It indeed is a fascinating phenomenon. When my daughter went there in October, 1984 the Bolivian peso was about 18,000 to the US$. When we arrived there it was 515,000/$ and when we left it was 550,000/$. Now, in late July, 1985, my daughter tells me it is varying between 800,000/$ to 1,000,000/$. Because of this extreme inflation there are many people anxious to exchange pesos for dollars; one square a few blocks from the central square is packed with Bolivians offering peso for dollars. Some Bolivians regularly fly to other cities in order to get a favorable exchange rate when trading money. How trade manages to flourish, and it does, in such an unstable money market is something of a mystery. I estimate that one spends about 10% of shopping time counting money; you count it and then the merchant counts it. I bought a leather coat that cost $40 and paid for it with a stack of money over a foot thick. I have read that airplanes are busy flying in new money every night to meet the demand for pesos.

I expected to see much more decay and human misery than I saw. I was told that the physical surroundings have deteriorated much from what they were a few years ago, but I still found them to be much better than what I had observed in several other developing countries. The number of "street people" seemed to me to be less than in most large U.S. cities.

One thing that greatly surprised me was the lack of physical danger. I had lived in another developing country where danger was an every day affair. I noticed that women and children walked the streets of Cochabamba at all hours of the night with no apparent danger. The streets were well lighted, with no light bulbs missing. My father did have his pocket picked in the big market one day when I could not be with him, and one must secure one's possessions well; but I can live with that much better than with physical violence. I left feeling that my daughter is safer living in Cochabamba than she would be in many U.S. cities.

There were many taxi cabs and the fares were usually the same for similar trips; it cost about 50P to go about anywhere in the main part of the city. The public buses ran regularly, although they were often packed; they cost about 10P.

I found the people to be patient and friendly with us. There seemed to be little animosity toward U.S. citizens.

The political scene in Bolivia has never been very stable; although, by South American standards, the level of violence associated with it has been low. Despite the extreme economic problems and associated strikes and road blockades, an election for president was held shortly after I left.

The cocaine drug traffic is not evident to a casual observer. There is one street where trucks are lined up to transport workers to the low lying areas where cocaine is grown. I did not observe people that I could ascertain were under the influence of drugs; there was an occasional drunk strolling down our street in the middle of the night expressing his feelings with song. I understand, however, that the cocaine traffic to the U.S. is a huge part of the economy and the
economic problems.

Cochabamba sits in a flat valley at 8500 feet elevation surrounded by the Andes Mountains. During June when I was there it was very dry, sunny and pleasant. At night it got cool enough for a light jacket. The terrain reminded me of the mountain areas of Arizona, even down to the vegetation - lots of cactus. The central square is quite pretty with a tile floor, statues, and many palm trees around it. There are a few other attractive squares and the university is pleasant to visit. There are, of course, areas where the rich have their beautiful homes, but most of the town is rather dilapidated looking with many adobe walls crumbling. However, I was surprised that all streets are well lighted; I never saw a single missing or broken light bulb.

All in all, I think that Cochabamba is a good place to live. I have not visited another city in a developing country that tops it.

Safari in Kenya; London; Israel (December 1985)

In December 1985 Thelma and I took Dad to Kenya with us on a safari. On the way we stayed two days in London and visited PNG friends John and Janet Piggot. On the way back we spent two days in Tel Aviv, Israel; Dad took a bus tour of Jerusalem while we rented a car to drive to Caesarea beach.

Semester at Universidade de Goiânia, Brasil (1985-6)

Lived in Goiânia, Goiás, Brasil. See The  Goiânia Radiation Incident, which occurred while there.

I decided to take a two‑semester leave to teach one semester at Universidade Federal de Goiás in 1987‑88. I traded jobs and houses with a professor, Waldmar Wolney, there. We wanted to be near our beautiful granddaughter, Tassiá Araújo‑Roper. I bought a used Volkswagen Passat and sold it before we left at a car street fair. We lived about two miles from the university in the country. After about a month Truda and Jailson found a place to rent on a farm about one‑quarter mile from us. Truda taught English downtown; I would often meet her in our car where she got off of the bus about a mile from our house.

I taught a course on computational physics, which I had recently introduced at VPI&SU. I also arranged for the Physics Department there to get its first computer and I set it up with software.

We went to Rio de Janeiro for a physics meeting; the week we were there the stock market crashed on “Black Monday.”

During a month long strike by clerical workers the university was closed, so we took a vacation to the Iguasu Falls (helicopter ride into the falls‑fantastic!) and Florianopolis Island (two weeks on the beach) in the state of Santa Caterina in Brasil; and to Montevideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Bariloche in the mountains of Argentina. We took a day bus and boat trip into the mountains of Chile, including the famous village of flies. In Montevideo we met a Baptist missionary from Texas, who let us use his short‑wave radio to talk to our parents in Oklahoma.

Inflation was extremely high in Brasil, about 1000% per annum; one constantly had to plan how to dispose of Brasilian cruzados when one received them. The first week I tried to sell the car, someone said they wanted it, but later backed out. The next week I offered it at the same price in cruzados and received $400 less than I would have the week before! We would convert cruzados to dollars, gold or gems as quickly as we got them.

Russia for Particle-Physics Conference (June 1994)

Someone was supposed to meet Jeanne and me at the Sheremetyevo Airport to drive us about 60 miles north to the Joint Institute for Nuclear research in Dubna for a physics conference, but the driver was not there. I found a taxi that took us there for $100.

We visited a Russian physicist, who had spent some time at Virginia Polytechnic Institure, in a dingy hospital while there.

During times when the conference was not on we made two trips by train to Moscow.

Alaska Cruise Trip; Vancouver, BC, Canada (May 1995)

11 May:
US Air 1774 Roanoke->Pittsburgh
US Air 697 Pittsburgh->Seattle
Visit: Aunt Marie Pieper and Aunt Sadie Nelson, 22069 106th Place SE #77, Kent Washington 98031
12 May: Tour Seattle
13 May:
7:30-9:05 Alaska Air 61 Seattle->Juneau AK
16:00 Baranof Hotel Alaska Sightseeing, Cruise West Hospitality Suite
18:00 Board Spirit of Discovery cruise ship to Seattle
14 May: Glacier Bay
15 May: Sitka & Salisbury Sound
16 May: LeConte Glacier & Petersburg
17 May: Misty Fjords National Monument & Ketchikan
18 May: Shore of British Columbia
19 May: Discovery Passage & Desolation Sound
20 May: 8:00 Land in Seattle
Car: Hertz #90981EC2AB7 Toyota Camry to Vancouver BC
Hotel: Blue Horizon Hotel, 1225 Robson Street, Vancouver BC Canada
21 May: Tour Vancouver
22 May:
US Air 204 Seattle->Pittsburgh
US Air 278 Pittsburgh->Roanoke

Guatemala Sister Parish Trip (August 1995)

During the first trip in August 1995, the delegation of ten visited five different communities in the province of Chimaltenango. The subcommittee has since selected one of those communities as the one to visit during the second trip, the rural community of La Ilusion in the Bola de Oro area, near the town of Chimaltenango where the Episcopal Mission Center is located. Good relationships were established among many members of that community and the members of the first delegation. It is hoped that a short visit with the organized group of women at San Andreas Iztapa will be possible during the second trip, a group which greatly impressed the first delegation.

During the first trip many projects were considered whereby Christ Church members can cooperate with the sister parish. During the second trip it is planned that one or two of these projects will be considered in detail, so that the delegation can return and formulate a specific proposal for such cooperation.

The first and last night of the trip are spent at the Episcopal Conference Center in Guatemala City, a very comfortable place. Other nights delegates will need a portable mattress pad and a sleeping bag, as they probably will be sleeping in the homes of the community members where accommodations are uncertain.

A second trip to San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala occurred about two years later.

Alaska/Vancouver BC Trip (May-June 1996)

19 May 1996:
US Air 1234 Roanoke-Pittsburgh; US Air 115 Pittsburgh-Seattle
Pacific Plaza Hotel, 400 Spring St.
20-21 May 1996: Pacific Plaza Hotel, 400 Spring St.
22 May 1996: Alaska Air 191 Seattle-Anchorage
Anchorage Hotel, 330 East St.
23 May 1996: Dollar Rental Car at Anchorage airport
24 May-4 June 1996:
Drive: Kenai Pensile, Denali Nat. Forest, Fairbanks, Tok AK
Dawson City, Carmacks, Whitehorse BC Canada
Skagway, Haines Junction, Valdez, Anchorage AK
5 June 1996: Alaska Air 196 Anchorage-Seattle
Pacific Plaza Hotel, 400 Spring St., 800-426-1165; 206-623-3900
6 June 1996: Holiday Rental Car at Seattle airport
Quality Inn Downtown, Vancouver BC, 1335 Howe St.
7 June 1996: Quality Inn Downtown, Vancouver BC, 1335 Howe St.
8-9 June 1996: Admiral Hotel, Victoria BC; 257 Belleville St.
10 June 1996:
Franklin family reunion at 22069 106th Place S.E. #77 Kent WA 98031; 206-854-5370 (Aunt Marie’s)
Pacific Plaza Hotel, 400 Spring St.
11 June 1996:
US Air 108 Seattle-Baltimore; US Air 1099 Baltimore-Roanoke

France & London Trip (August 1996)

We flew to London for a few days and then on to Nice, France, where we stayed a Château de la Napoule for 2 weeks. We drove to the Pyrenees Mountains and stayed in a farm house for a week; while there we drove to Barcelona, Spain.

16 August 1996: Air France 25 Dulles DC IAD-Paris CDG 17 August
17 August 1996: Air France 302 Paris CDG-Nice NCE
17-23 August 1996: Europpcar Rent a Car, Nice Airport
Chateau de La Napoule, Avenue Henry Clews, La Napoule, France,
24 August 1996: On road to Pyrenees farm house.
25-30 August 1996: Pyrenees farm house near Arles-sur-Tech. Owners E-Mail: kgcb@axford.com
Internet: http://www.axford.com/gb/coug/mas.htm. Telephone of owner: 0171-336-6060 in England
31 August 1996: Chateau de La Napoule, Avenue Henry Clews, La Napoule, France Telephone: 93-49-95-05
1 September 1996:
Air France 305 Nice NCE-Paris CDG; Air France 26 Paris CDG-Dulles DC IAD

Guatemala Sister Parish Trip (May 1997)

We went on another Sister Parish trip with other Christ Church members to visit Episcopal parishes in San Andrés Itzapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala and other locations. Jeanne and I stayed a few more days to tour the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.

Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal and Tibet Trip (October 1999)

Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Katmandu in Nepal and Lhasa in Tibet. The Bhutan side trip was canceled because of bad weather.

Trips to Canada (2000, 2001)

We took two trips to Canada up to Nova Scotia about two years apart. Located Roper relatives, descendants of Loyalists, in Ingonish.

Jeanne and David Roper
Canada 2000 Trip
Took dog, Leona.
Scranton PA
Holiday Inn
200 Tigue St
13-14 Aug
Holiday Inn
6700 Trans-Canada Hwy
Pointe Claire
15-16 Aug
Quebec City,PQ,Canada
Holiday Inn
3125 Hochelaga Blvd
17-18 Aug
Auberge Fort Prevel
2053 Boulevard Douglas
19-20 Aug
Keddy's Motor Inn
1510 Shediac Rd
21-23 Aug
Oasis Motel
4173 Trans-Canada Hwy
Holiday Inn Civic Center
500 Main St
Scranton PA
Holiday Inn
200 Tigue St

Jeanne and David Roper
Canada 2001 Trip
Took dog, Leona.
Lancaster PA
Paul Keddy
503 West President Avenue
7 Hours
Lancaster PA
Paul Keddy
503 West President Avenue
Bar Harbour ME
Holiday Inn-Bangor
500 Main St.
6 hours
Civic Center
20-21 Aug
Ferrie to NS; Halifax NS
Salmon River House Inn
9931 Hwy 7, Jedore
3.5 hours
Lake Charlotte NS
22-28 Aug
Ingonish NS
Atlantic Beach Resort
Box 187
4.5 hours
Ingonish B0C 1K0
Yarmouth NS
Lakelawn Motel
641 Main St.
8 hours
Ferrie to Bar Harbour
Holiday Inn-Bangor
500 Main St.
Civic Center
Scranton PA
Holiday Inn
200 Tigue St
8 hours
Blacksburg VA
7 hours
7 hours
40 hours
Ferry $216 one way

Trip to London (September, 2002)

In September 2002 we went to London. Jeanne stayed at our Euston Square Hotel while I went to Norwich, Norfolk to meet some Ropers, who turned out not to be related to me. We had lunch at the House of Commons Restaurant with Lord Roper (John Francis Hodgess Roper), not a relative.

Iceland Walking-the-World Hiking Trip (23 July - 2 August 2003)

23 July 23 Hotel Old, Nj6lsgata 65, IS 101 Reykjavik
24-25 July Hotel Skbgar, Skogum, IS 861 Hvolsvollur
26 July Hotel Skaftafell Freysnesi, IS 785 Fagurholsmjrri.
27 July Hotel Hofn Vikurbraut, 780 Hofn
28-29 July Guesthouse Egilsstadir, Egilsstadir 700
30-31 July Hotel Gigur, Skutustadir 660 Mjrvatn
1 August Hotel Old Njalsgata, 65 IS 101 Reykjavik
Walked about 10 miles per day occasionally on glaciers and across volcanic areas. The first day we swam in the Blue Lagoon geothermal pool.

Driving in Ireland (August 2004)

8 August: US Air 4420 ROA-PHIL; LUFT 427 PHIL-FFT 9 August
9 August: LUFT 4980 FFT-DUB. Hotel: Number 31, Dublin, 31 Leeson Close; 011-353-1-676-5011, info@number31.ie, Noel
10 August: Hotel: Number 31, Dublin, 31 Leeson Close; 011-353-1-676-5011, info@number31.ie, Noel
11 August: Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Cork, Ireland, 011-353-25-36349, ballyvol@iol.ie, Justin
12 August: Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Cork, Ireland, 011-353-25-36349, ballyvol@iol.ie, Justin
13 August: Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Cork, Ireland, 011-353-25-36349, ballyvol@iol.ie, Justin
14 August: Femoyle Lodge, Connemara, Ireland, 011-353-91-786111, fermoylelodge@eircom.net, Jean-Pierre
15 August: Femoyle Lodge, Connemara, Ireland, 011-353-91-786111, fermoylelodge@eircom.net, Jean-Pierre
16 August: Femoyle Lodge, Connemara, Ireland, 011-353-91-786111, fermoylelodge@eircom.net, Jean-Pierre
17 August: Woodhill House, Ardara, Donegal, Ireland, 011-353-74-954-1112, yates@iol.ie, John
18 August: Woodhill House, Ardara, Donegal, Ireland, 011-353-74-954-1112, yates@iol.ie, John
19 August: Woodhill House, Ardara, Donegal, Ireland, 011-353-74-954-1112, yates@iol.ie, John
20 August: Belcamp Hutchinson Lodge, Carrs Lane, Malahide, Ireland, 011-353-1-848-0843, belcamphutchinson@eircom.net, Doreen
21 August: Belcamp Hutchinson Lodge, Carrs Lane, Malahide, Ireland, 011-353-1-848-0843, belcamphutchinson@eircom.net, Doreen
22 August: LUFT 4981 DUB-FFT. Hotel:Intercity Hotel Frankfurt Airport, liza@holidaycity.com,011-65-6346-8177
23 August: LUFT 426 FFT-PHIL; US Air 4119 PHIL-ROA

We drove all around the edge of Ireland, staying at country estates.

Trip to England (Feb-Mar 2005)

We went to London. Jeanne stayed at the Westminster Days Inn Hotel while I went to a Roper meeting I had arranged in Thetford, Norfolk. We visited the Lanning Roper Memorial Garden at Trinity Hospice in Clapham Common and had lunch Lord Roper at House of Lords Restaurant.

23 February: UA 7927 ROA -> IAD (DC); UA 918 IAD -> LHR (London)
23 February-5 March: Days Inn Westminster Hotel, 80-86 Belgrave Rd, Pimlico, London
David: 26-27 February: Bell Hotel, corner of Bridge & King Sts, Thetford, Norfolk, England for Roper Union meeting
5 March: UA 919 LHR-IAD; UA 5352 IAD-ROA

Benjamin Franklin London/Paris Trip (Oct-Nov 2006)

In October 2006 I met grandson Caio Araújo-Roper to attend a Roper meeting that I had arranged in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Then Caio and I drove around 30 Roper villages in Norfolk and Suffolk, especially Hoxne, Suffolk where our Roper family lived from c1500 to 1750.

27 October: Orientation at The Crown Plaza-St. James Hotel
28 October: Coach tour of Benjamin Franklin's London; Dept. of Manuscripts, Simpsons-on-the-Strand in The Savoy Hotel
29 October: Trip to Acton, BF's ancestral home
30 October: Visited Winchester Cathedral; visit to Twyford, Buckinghamshire; attend play Wicked at Apollo Victoria Theater
31 October: Visited St. Bartholomew-the-Great, London's oldest parish church; Visit Middle Temple law school; Visit Royal Society for the Encouragement of the arts
1 November: Flew to Paris, France
2 November: Couch tour of Founding Fathers; lunch at Le Procope, the oldest restaurant in Paris; visit site of signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
3 November: Bus trip to Monnaie de Paris and Academie des Sciences
4 November: Bus trip to Versailles Bibliotheque Municipale
5 November: Flew to U.S.

Trip to England (October 2006)

In October 2006 I met grandson Caio Araújo-Roper to attend a Roper meeting that I had arranged in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. Then Caio and I drove around 30 Roper villages in Norfolk and Suffolk, especially Hoxne, Suffolk where our Roper family lived from c1500 to 1750.

Roper Union V meeting at Ramada Bury St. Edmunds Hotel in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England. Grandson, Caio Araujo-Roper, came from Germany to be there.

Trip to England (October 2008)

Roper Union VI meeting in St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Lynsted, Kent, England

São Paulo, Brasil Trip (March 2011)

21 March
Extended Stay Hotel, 2705 Frontage Rd, Roanoke VA 24017
22 March
US Air
Air Wisconsin 3859 ROA-CLT
US Air 1616 CLT-EWR
United Airlines Red Carpet Club
Continental 31 EWR-GRU (São Paulo) 23 March
23 March
Mercure São Paulo Pinheiros Hotel, Rua Capote Valente 500 Pinheiros, 0540900 São Paulo
24-30 March
Mercure São Paulo Pinheiros Hotel, Rua Capote Valente 500 Pinheiros, 0540900 São Paulo
31 March
TAM Linhas Aereas 8082 GRU-JFK
La Guardia Airport Hotel, 100-15 Ditmars Blvd, East Elmhurst NY 1136
1 April
Piedmont 4165 LGA ->ROA

Viking Cruise on Seine River, France (July 2014)

Paris & the Heart of Normandy Cruise: 16 members of Jeanne's family were on this 8-days cruise:

Cuba Road-Scholar Trip 8-16 December 2015 to celebrate 80th birthday

Viking Cruise on Rhine River, Netherlands, Germany, France & Switzerland (July 2016)

Rhine Getaway: 7 members of Jeanne's family were on this 8-days cruise.

Cuba RMI Renewable Energy Trip 16-27 May 2018

Morocco Road-Scholar Trip 9-15 February 2019 to celebrate 25th wedding anniversary

Mexico City Road-Scholar Trip 4-12 November to celebrate Jeanne's 80th birthday

Countries Visited by L. David Roper

  1. Scotland (3 months Scotland 1973)
  2. England (many times)
  3. Italy (3 months 1972, 1999 hiking)
  4. Switzerland (3 months 1972-73)
  5. Ireland (twice)
  6. Germany (several times)
  7. Belgium
  8. Netherlands
  9. Austria
  10. Yugoslavia
  11. Portugal
  12. Spain (several times)
  13. Greece
  14. Iceland (hiking)
  15. France (several times)
  16. Egypt
  17. Israel (twice)
  18. Kenya
  19. Tahiti on way to Papua New Guinea (1982)
  20. Australia on way to Papua New Guinea (1982)
  21. Papua New Guinea (5 months 1982-3)
  22. Japan (10 months 1980)
  23. Singapore (1984)
  24. India (1980)
  25. Thailand (1980, 1996)
  26. Russia (1972, 1994)
  27. Turkey (1981)
  28. Brazil (5 months 1986)
  29. Argentina
  30. Chile
  31. Uruguay
  32. Colombia
  33. Curacao
  34. Mexico
  35. Guatemala (twice)
  36. Canada
  37. China on way to Japan (1980)
  38. Bahamas
  39. Martinique
  40. Guam on way from Japan to USA (1981)
  41. Cuba (Dec 2015, May 2018)

Airport Stops

L. David Roper, http://arts.bev.net/RoperLDavid/
5 December, 2019