Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to Reality (via First Class)

Tonya's tears had nearly dried by the time we were ready to land at Love Field. Just as the wheels were touching down our SWA pilot came on the PA system, welcomed us to Dallas and a prayer, "God Bless The Dallas Cowboys & Tony Romo"; made us smile, only on Southwest and in Texas would you be likely to hear that prayer request. Texas is it's own little country, and Tonya is proud to be a Texan. From that point on it seemed as if everything ran just like clockwork. On our way to baggage claim we smiled as we passed "our bench", the one that we had lived on for several hours the week before. We noticed is was now occupied by a new family that looked pretty tired too. Once we gathered our bags with hailed a cab and make our way to our hotel (yes, decided against spending about night in the airport and slept in the hotel we had reserved).

Everything about the room was very nice and the fact that we had received “winter rates” made it that much better. We have stayed in much worse places for a lot more money, no complaints from us. For our fancy- smancy dinner out on the town in DFW we walked across the parking lot to Denney’s! We were tired, and just wanted to grab a bite and go back to the room for a hot shower, high speed access and a comfy bed (knowing we had to catch our shuttle to the airport at 5:00 AM!) Neither of us slept all that well (seems we never do the 1st night in a hotel) even though the shower was great and the bed was great so there was no problem making the shuttle in time.

Our flight was fine, it was rather turbulent, although that was not unexpected after watching the weather. However the accommodations and customer service were superb in First Class. Leather seats big enough to accommodate our big bottoms, lots of leg room to accommodate Bill’s long legs, a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon & fresh fruit that we didn’t have to pay $5 for and non-stop coffee served in a real china cup. All of the above made the 4 hour flight to Seattle seem a lot more tolerable. During the time we were flying over Colorado it clouds cleared and the view out of the aircraft window was awesome. The mountains were so white with their white snow covering and the sky so blue in the distance. This was a vision that we are not often blessed to see from this perspective.

We arrived home to 40 degrees and rain, rain, rain. Since being home today we have unpacked, unloaded groceries and talked to G’Ma E and C2. Tonight we showered in our own shower that we love and sleep in our own bed while listening to the rain through our open bedroom window. Since we had to come home, we’re glad that the travel is behind us now.

  • Even a sleepless night @ La Quinta is better anytime than a bench at Love Field
  • You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl
  • First Class air travel is the preferred method to make a 4 hour flight and very nice, a great way to use those frequent flier miles of Bill’s
  • Family – we don’t get to spend enough time with any of them, and we miss them dearly
  • There are actually parts of the country, like the Texas Panhandle, where people actually still say "Merry Christmas" instead of Happy Holidays, as in the Pacific Northwest.... this was music to our ears.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas II (Dos)

Christopher, Heather, Hunter & Sierra all arrived safely in the Texas Panhandle after driving all night from Crosby, Texas (Houston Area) making the drive in about 10 hours. It was so good to see them all. Christopher & Heather had been to Washington to visit us in September, but it was good to have them with us for Christmas as well. They arrived with some good news, it appears that Christopher has a really good lead on a job, more details will follow once they are confirmed and of course when more details are available. This is something Christopher is really excited about, please keep him in your prayers.

The 7 of us joined Pat & Waudell along with our extended family (The Sterlings) (14 total) for their traditional Christmas Eve get together and dinner. All of the food was delicious, as usual and we all ate way too much. Hunter & Sierra entertained themselves with the pool table while the “adults” talked and talked. Dinner was followed by 2 tables of Chickenfoot dominoes. Christopher’s family started to fade (yes some of them had been awake for over 36 hours) just about the time our Chickenfoot game was over so we all headed back to G’Ma Evelyn’s so we could get the kids (& the adults) in bed.
On Christmas morning our Hopper tradition continued; the kids must wake the adults up before they run out to see what cash & prizes that Santa has brought to the good little boy & girl. When we told Heather & Sierra about our family tradition while tucking them into bed they looked at us as if we had lost our minds, but they agreed to follow the Santa rule. It was great to be able to have younger kids around to share those magical moments with, it had been a long time.

Pat & Waudell came over for Christmas dinner II, it was a full house with all 9 of us there, but we still had a good time as always. As usual Bill’s turkey was cooked to perfection and the dressing was good. It was Tonya’s opinion that there was “too” much cheese in the broccoli/cheese/rice casserole but she quickly found out that out of the 9 of us, 8 strongly disagreed with her opinion (yes that too is not anything new). Bill says that there is no such thing as "too much cheese" and everyone but Tonya agrees.
(No family get together at G'Ma E's house would be complete without some sort of check on the plumbing...)

Friday was a sad day for all of us; it was our last day with the family as that evening was when our flight was scheduled to fly back to Dallas (7:00 am Saturday flight out of DFW to Seattle). Another tradition within the Hopper family is that we all get back together the day after Christmas (or Thanksgiving) to eat leftovers from the day before. We got to spend a little more time with Pat & Waudell. Christopher & Heather followed us to Amarillo where we said our good-byes and tears were shed by many of us.

We made another family connection right in the airport there in Amarillo! Tonya’s great-nieces, Baylee & Hannah were arriving from Dallas to visit their Grandparents (Ronney & Marilyn) for Christmas. In our conversations with Marilyn and due to the timing of the flights we were convinced they would arrive on the same flight that we were leaving on. The girls we had not seen in several years are now beautiful young ladies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas I (Uno)

We are thrilled! Jeremy has been offered a job with a nearby school district in a nearby town where they live. Jeremy has been unemployed for 6 months so of course we are all thrilled by this early Christmas blessing.

Jeremy & Dae drove to Dallas from Houston on Friday to drop their pets with Dae’s parents and then flew to Amarillo from Dallas. They arrived as scheduled and the 3 of us were there to meet them as soon as they got their luggage! For a mama that hasn’t seen this ½ of her offspring since April of ’07 they were a sight for sore eyes. They arrived to high winds and cold temperatures that resulted in bone chilling wind chill factors, it was cold! It was so good to see them.

Sunday afternoon we had an impromptu Hopper sibling reunion. Our gang (G’Ma E, Bill & Tonya) & Waudell & Pat went to Ronney & Marilyn’s for an afternoon. We talked non-stop (yes, nothing unusual) just trying to catch up. Ronney & Marilyn’s recently finished their new home west of Amarillo so we got the grand tour of the house; it is so nice and very easy to see why they are so proud of it. Tonya’s niece Melinda and her family were able to join us as well for a short time. It was a good day.

Monday we celebrated Christmas with Jeremy & Daesha. They are not big fans of turkey, so for our (pre)Christmas dinner we feasted on ham, sweet potatoes and macaroni & cheese. Of course Pat & Waudell joined us for dinner as well and of course G’Ma had plenty of pies and cakes for everyone. Everyone pitched in to make sure that dinner was on the table.

Sadly on Tuesday evening we had to take Jeremy & Daesha back to the airport so they could make their way back to Dallas. We really, really enjoyed them, and we really, really miss them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Hotel Love Field Adventure

What a trip! In all of the trips that we’ve taken, this was our first time to spend the night in an airport. To recap, we woke up to bone chilling cold and snow and our flight is scheduled to depart at 12:50 pm. When we left our house at 10:00 the snow in Graham had stopped and the roads were clear but about 5 miles from the airport the snow started and was heavy, the roads started getting slick, but airplanes were still taking off. We dropped our luggage off at curbside check-in then Bill took the car to the parking garage while Tonya waited for him to make their way for security.

Since Tonya had her knees replaced the trip thru security can be a little time consuming, so traveling without Bill is not often an option (someone needs to be able to grab her stuff off of the conveyor belt while she is being “wanded”) but it is a system that we have perfected.

Our flight was postponed to 1:15, then 2:30, and then they thought we might have a plane in range. When it came time to board it was 3:30 still not departing (de-icing) until nearly 4 o’clock. The plane was packed like sardines and by this time we know we will have missed our connecting flight from Kansas City to Dallas.

Our pilot came on the loud speaker and announced that the weather in KC had deteriorated and it appeared that we would be diverted to St. Louis but he would let us know more as soon as more information becomes available. We did land in KC about 10:00 pm, and we knew we had missed our connection to Dallas but a “pit stop” seemed most important at that time.

Once we had settled down we discovered we had not missed our connection afterall. Flights had been delayed all over the country. We boarded our plane to Dallas about 11:15, then we sat on the tarmac for a bit, waited for the deicer fairy to come sprinkle our aircraft with fairy dust so we could actually depart at midnight.

We landed in Dallas to a balmy 68° at 2:00 am on Friday morning. Our 2 bags made it just fine, but we couldn’t locate our box… this would be the box with all of our Christmas presents in it. It was a special box, and we couldn’t find it. It seems that SWA thought our special Christmas box was cargo and took it to their cargo area. By this time it was 3am, we were exhausted and the hotel we reserved was another 30 minutes away when the 2 of us developed a plan B.

Plan BFlight #2009 to Amarillo departs at 6:35 am (we were booked on a 10:00 am flight), we shall try to catch some sleep in Love Field, be in line as soon as the ticket counter open and get on the first flight out to AMA as we could. We were successful and we landed in Amarillo about 7:30 am. and made our way to Mom's house where a clean, warm, king size bed was waiting on us.


  • The best made plans don't always cooperate with Mother Nature!!!
  • Benches at the airport can never compete with the Marriott

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Power of Prayer!

We believe. We believe in the power of prayer. In the past months we have asked our family and friends to pray for us and our family during the employment obstacles that we seem to be facing right now. We have also been added to prayer chains. We believe in prayer and we know this is how the interview for Bill came so quickly. Both of the boys in Texas have been looking for a job for several months. We are asking again for all to pray for us and our families. Jeremy & Dae hope to have permanent job news for each of them at the beginning of this week, please keep them in your prayers that the outcome will be a positive one. Christopher continues to pound the pavement.

Also, our daughter-in-law, Dae has accepted a part-time job in what we understand is in a not so good neighborhood, we pray that God will keep his loving and protective arms around her while she is there and that she will be safe.

We are still praying that Bill will hear something from the company he interviewed with. We have not heard anything yet, but we also know this time of the year the hiring process tends to slow down.

Thank you for all of your continued prayers for us and our family

This is our backyard today.... we are due to have the coldest temps here than there have been in years.... we are schedule to travel to Texas this week, we just pray that the weather calms down a bit by then. Did we mention we typically do not get snow like this? And if we do, it turns to rain and melts it all away.... hmmmm how's that story again about global warming?

And Santa is working hard in his shop to finish last minute Christmas gifts.

We leave soon to travel to Texas for Christmas. Pray that we will all travel to Borger safely.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leavenworth Village of Lights Adventure

Today we did something that we have heard so much about since we moved out here and has been “on the list” since we moved to the Pacific Northwest. We went to Leavenworth (that would be Washington, not Kansas) to see all of the Christmas lights and decorations.

We had a great time. Knowing that we were forecasted to have one of the most severe winter storms in the PNW this week-end we were not thrilled with the prospect of driving over 2 mountain passes and fighting traffic but we totally lucked out. Tonya’s employer offered tickets for sale that included touring bus transportation to and from (a trained professional that knew all about driving on ice and snow covered mountain passes) as well as a hospitality suite at the Enzian Inn (lots of Old World charm with authentic Austrian furnishings) was decorated so nicely. They even have a 2 story Christmas tree that goes through the ceiling and continues on the floor above. When we got cold and were tired of walking the streets of Leavenworth we would go back to the suite for a bite to eat and warm up with coffee and cider. The suite also had a great view. We just wished more of our family members had been there with us, what a perfect way to start the Christmas season.

For those of you not familiar, Leavenworth’s central Northwest Washington location and Bavarian town atmosphere it provides the ideal setting for a unique Winter Wonderland getaway. The history behind this village is an interesting one since there was once a sawmill and had a healthy logging industry that eventually fell apart, however, when the Great Northern Railway Company pulled out of Leavenworth. The re-routing of the railroad and the subsequent closure of the sawmill sadly converted the town from a bustling, thriving hub of commerce into a hollow, empty community. For more than thirty years, Leavenworth lived on the brink of extinction.

But in the early 1960’s, everything changed. In a last-chance effort to turn their precarious circumstances around, the leaders of the town decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance, hoping to bring tourism into the area. Using the beautiful backdrop of the surrounding Alpine hills to their advantage, the town agreed to remodel their hamlet in the form of a Bavarian village.
On Lighting Festival weekends, Father Christmas arrives at the Front Street Gazebo late Friday afternoon to much excitement and fanfare. Saturday morning, the aromas of food booths and roasting chestnuts begin to drift through the air. Holiday music fills the village while kids play and sled in the city park. At dusk on Saturday and Sunday, everyone gathers to sing “Silent Night” and witness as the Village is decked out with thousands of twinkling lights as it is transformed into a winter wonderland.
·We really miss having our family share these events with us this time of the year that it physically hurts! (okay not a new lesson just a refresher course)
·Professional Drivers- They deserve every dollar and then more they make and more people should tip these professional that had you life in their hands for 6 hours.
·The box lunches provided by the bus drivers were a nice touch but not necessary due to the amount of food available in the hospitality suite

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bill’s Surgical Adventure

After all the waiting and all testing and all the restless nights the adventure of Bill’s gallbladder removal is finally over. As some of you know the surgery was originally scheduled for Halloween, but due to concerns of the anesthesiologist they opted to move the procedure from the surgery center to the hospital. While we were glad extra precautions were being taken, it did move the date out nearly a month.

This was only Bill’s second surgery in his entire life, the first being in 1958 when he (as so many other children back in those days did) had his tonsils removed. And to add insult to injury, not only was the surgery a month out, it wasn’t scheduled until 3:00 pm, pretty much an entire day without eating and nothing to drink since mid-morning. But he’s handling the whole thing like a trooper… after all with the 2 big losses he’s already suffered this year (his sister and his job) the loss of his gallbladder seems like a piece of cake.

He made it thru surgery just fine. He was very groggy and wanted to go home, they finally let us leave about 8:00pm. We got him home and tucked away in bed, that was when the fun really began, getting a prescription filled at that time of night!

I wish someone could please explain to us the complete job description of a pharmacist. To me it seems as if the most time consuming thing of the whole process would be to decipher the highly educated doctors handwriting, but I apparently am wrong on this assumption. I stopped by the Rite-Aid closest to our house on the way home, hoping that I could just run in, drop the scripts off, get Bill home and in bed, go back and pick up the drugs; I was wrong. Granted we had not had a prescription filled at this drug store before so when I dropped them off I had to give them our information; address, insurance card, allergies; I get all of this and the attendant said it would be close to an hour before they would be ready for pickup (did I mention that I was close to being the only person in the entire store?) to which I replied, no problem, I want to get my husband home and in bed, that I would be back.

Once I returned the store our scripts were NOT I have to deal with the pharmacist (apparently her assistant had left for the day), she asked me for the address, insurance card, allergies to which I explained that I had given all that information to her assistant, she then asked me, where did she put them??? I wanted to say, HELLO??? don't work here you'll do, but I didn't. She finally found the insurance card and I gave her all of the other information again. She then tells me it will take about 20 minutes!

The pills are already made all she had to do was count out 30 pills put them in bottles print a label and slap it on the bottle and let me go home, all of which I'm pretty sure could be accomplished in half that amount of time. Can anyone explain what I am missing in the whole process here? Finally got the pills, finally got home, drug the patient up for the night and fixed myself a stiff drink!

  • Whether it's Wal-Mart or Rite-Aid, there is no such thing as a quick fill for a new prescription
  • A new appreciation of our prescriptions by mail plan (too bad it's only for refills or 90 day supplies)
  • Gallbladders are now removed with a laparoscope

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Job Search Adventure

We received some really exciting news Friday, Bill has an interview on December 4 with a large construction company. This just so happens it is for the very job that he applied for the day he was laid-off. Coincidence? Fate?

Also, he is also now officially "in the system",,, the Unemployment system that is. Although we have not received that first check yet, but we understand it is "in the mail" which is a miracle knowing how he fought with their website (we all know Bill has the paitence of Jobe). We are not concerned yet but just in case our search for a second income continues:

Just in case, keeping all of our options open.

PLEASE pray for us...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Adventure of Lewis River Falls

Yesterday afternoon as we were out running our weekend errands the sun was shining and the skies were clear as a bell. Mt Rainier was just beautiful and we had a crystal clear view of the Cascade Mountains when Bill said he would like to get of the house for a while and next weekend it would be nice to go for a day trip photo safari, Tonya agreed. We discussed going to Olympic National Park and up to Hurricane Ridge when we remembered that there was a waterfall in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that we had planned to go to at some point this past summer and we never made it.

As we relaxed last night and were listening to the weather forecast for next weekend we decided to just get up in the morning and go today (instead of getting out in the yard as we had originally planned, as Bill said, “those leaves will still be there on Monday or better yet maybe they will find their way into the neighbor’s yard), so we begin to drag our stuff and get ready to head out first thing this morning. After perusing the newspaper (Bill) and Internet (Tonya) while having our morning coffee we put some bread, peanut butter and jelly (our homemade strawberry of course) in a tote bag and headed out.

It was a bit further down there than we had originally thought, but it was a nice day to spend together. The day was so clear that we could actually see Mt. St. Helen’s from Interstate 5, likely only the first or second time we have seen the volcano from the freeway.

We have always loved the Gifford Pinchot (or as we call it, “the GP”), it is one of the older national forests in the US. It was included as part of the Mt. Rainier Forest Reserve in 1897. The forest was named after Gifford Pinchot, one of the leading figures in the creation of the national forest system in the United States. It is located in a mountainous region between Mt. St. Helens in the west, Mt. Adams in the east, White Pass in the north, and the Columbia River in the south. The region is noted for its topography and volcanic geology. It is quite a wierd feeling being in the middle of three active volcanoes.

It was so pretty down in that area, not only were the falls big, so are the firs and cedars in the splendid old-growth forest. The Lower Falls drop 35 feet into the Lewis River with a powerful whoosh. There is lots of mist in the air and we even caught a rainbow in some of the photos. We checked out the campground at the falls and decided that we will definately put this one on the "must do" list for next summer. We would love to return to the area to explore more of the river and the waterfalls.

Since it was going to start getting dark soon, we decided to head back toward home. That is the bad part about this time of the year is the short daylight hours. It starts getting dark by 4:30 or so this time of the year. So next weekend we will try to do another "photo safari, if the weather permits.

Lessons Learned:
Spur of the moment trips are fun, but don't forget that the days are shorter in the winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Week of Up & Down Adventures

This week has been quiet the adventure for our family, similar to the stock market lately up and down. Friday 10/31 thru Friday 11/7 has been full of one thing after another. Bill was scheduled to have surgery on 10/31 which was postponed (the surgeon decided he should do the surgery in the hospital rather than the surgery center), Halloween was fun (see below) Whit was here for the weekend. Monday Bill turned 53 (post of 11/3), Wednesday we learned our daughter-in-law’s employment contract had not been renewed (lay-off #2 for her & J) and then Thursday Bill was laid off from his job (post of 11/7). It’s been a week but we are all healthy, happy and blessed in more ways than we can count.

Since we moved into the house back in 1998 we have always had more than our fair share of ghosts and goblins and this year was no different, 120+.

Bill was originally scheduled for surgery today (now postponed to the 11/25) so our plan was to forgo handing out treats this year but Whitney wouldn’t hear of it. She volunteered her services, we bought the candy, she made the treat bags (120 of them), she made the jack-o-lantern and she ran up and down the stairs time after time to each time the doorbell rang. It was also seemed like a good chance to have Family Game night, so we played Rummycube in-between Whit’s constant trips to answer the door. By 8:15 we had run out of candy bags as well as handing out part of “our chocolate stash”, so we turned off the lights and played like we were not at home.

All of our "surrogate" grandchildren stopped by for their special treat bags (since these kids have a special place in our hearts, they get a special treat bag full of all types of goodies) as they do each year and this year we had 2 new additions to our family, Kayla and Ben (no pix of Ben he was sound asleep in his Daddy's arms). This is our favorite part of this day, when each one of them (and their parents of course) stop by to show off how cute they look in their costumes!

Cinderella & Batman (J&K)
Skooby-Doo (Blayne)
Little Monkey Girl (Lexy)
The Little Mermaid (KMR)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Recession vs Depression

We have all heard the old joke; a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, a depression is when you lose your job. As of this past Thursday, we are in a depression.

This past Thursday Bill was laid-off from his job of 12 years due to the economic down turn in the construction field. All sorts of feelings flood you when something like this happens, dumbfounded, disbelief, this must be a dream; when all you know really know for a fact is that your world has just completely changed with the snap of your fingers.

Right now this is all still soaking in and while we are not exactly sure what the future holds, we do know that for right now we are okay. Not that there is ever a good time for this to happen, if it had to happen there couldn’t be a better time for us to weather this storm.
Bill has dusted off his resume and he has already submitted an application on Friday. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers that something comes Bill’s way in the near future.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Bill!!!

Happy 53rd birthday to Bill today. Tonya just loves this day of the year! It is the day of the year that we are the same age. Finally those 7 months and 5 days have passed since Tonya turned 53 now it’s Bill’s turn, he caught up with her (at least for another 4 months & 24 days). But who’s counting!!

This year’s celebration was a quiet one at home, enjoying Tonya and Whitney's company with a dinner of Arroz Con Pollo and Carmel Apple Pie to celebrate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Getting Old Is Not For Sissies!

Let us start out by saying…. The Baby Boomer’s life that we are living in these days, is not one for sissies! Once again we have allowed our yard to kick our butts.

This time of the year in the Pacific Northwest it's pretty much unheard of that the weather forecast is for “no rain for the next 4 days”. This past Saturday, we heard that very thing on the newscast and we looked at each other, as to say "hmmmm?". Those of you that know us, know that we take pride in our lawn. It is a yard that our neighbors are envious of. You also know the joy we feel when they say “your lawn always look so nice, how do you keep it so green, isn't it a lot of work?” we just smile and tell them how much we enjoy our yard (as we snicker silently to ourselves) . But you also know that we never seem to be 100% pleased with it ourselves. We are always striving to make just a little better.

Dear Lord, we are still trying to figure out what came over us this past Saturday as we were running our normal week-end errands when we stopped at our local landscape supply dealer and ordered 10 yards of compost. By next spring our yard will be so green we are sure it will be seen by the International Space Station after all of the compost works it's magic this fall and winter. We will be the envy of our neighbors. We couldn't wait to get home and wait for their truck to come and dump this huge pile of organic matter in the middle of our front yard. It will be great!

We were so wrong. First off, 10 yards is A LOT of compost, pretty much a dump truck full, but with shovel, rake and wheel barrow in hand we dove in Saturday afternoon and started our compost adventure still thinking to ourselves that this will be fun and it will be great next spring when our yard looks phenominal. Did we mention this was not the smartest thing that we've done this year?

Long story short… by Sunday evening we were extremely tired and oh so sore. We had too much compost, we have pains where we shouldn’t have pains (the cheeks of one’s bottom should not be painful, especially when you haven’t spent a lot of time on your bottom). Who needs to join a gym when you have compost to spread? We over estimated how much compost we needed so we are hauling it to the backyard to the future storage shed site to be used in our flower gardens next spring…


*10 Yards of Compost is A LOT of compost

*Think long and hard about how sore we are now the next time we come up with and idea like this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Mexicans

The "Via con Dios" Ranchero is officially ours! Here is an exert of the email we received from the title agent yesterday morning: We are in receipt of your closing documents and have also received the wire. We will be recording the Warranty Deed today so around 3:00 the property will officially be yours! The property is 20 acres of prime retirement land that we hope to be living on one day in the not so distant future.


  • Admitting to ourselves we needed professional help (real estate)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The San Francisco Family Wedding Adventure

There is a lot to catch up, so here goes…. We didn’t get the blog updated each night this trip as we had in Albuquerque.

Thursday, October 9, 2008
We traveled from Seattle to San Jose on Thursday evening. We got in late & were pretty tired by the time we picked up our car and got to our room.

Friday, October 10, 2008
We had to be back at t
he San Jose airport this morning to pick up the girls. They arrived within an hour of each other, Brittany first and then Whitney, both safe & sound.

Once we had the girls we made our way to San Francisco, where we could not check into the hotel until after 3:00 so we headed into downtown to do some sightseeing, no matter how many times we make it to SF we have several things that are on our "must always do" list. The first thing was to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and stop at the view point, no matter how many times we see it, we are always ahhhed. Back to downtown to Ghirardelli Square (another must on the list no m
atter how many times we make it to SF) we did the usual lunch of hot fudge sundaes at Ghiradelli’s!!! In our opinion the best hot fudge sundaes EVER! Ghirardelli’s has been located in the Square there since 1852. We walked around Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoying the city. This is Fleet Week in SF, which is an annual celebration of the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard (in Seattle we call this Sea-Fair). There is an air shows going on and the Blue Angels perform stunts all over the city, they were practicing their show overhead.
We made our way to towards the airport where our hotel was located. Ironically we got to the hotel around the same time as Don & Diane. Later we all enjoyed dinner together, took a nice walk then called it a night.

Saturday, October 11, 2008
The 6 of us met in the hotel
lobby for breakfast and discussed what are options were for the day while still allowing 4 ladies enough time to get dressed for the wedding. We all piled into the rental car (those of us in the back seat were packed in like sardines) and headed to downtown. We walked around the wharf and Pier 39 where we had a really nice lunch, then headed to back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.

This was the wedding of Bill’s nephew Adam and his fiancĂ©e Meredith both of which live in SF (the mother of the bride is Bill’s sister, Karen). The wedding was very nice, and it was very Scottish (Meredith’s family immigrated from Scotland) . The ceremony and reception were held on the 9th & 10th floors at City Club of San Francisco which is located in the Stock Exchange Tower.

At the e
ntrance to the building there was a bagpiper outside playing, very cool. The males of the wedding party were all dressed in kilts which were very handsome. They wore socks which were turned down at the knee with garters and each “sporran” (purse/pouch) hung from the waist with a chain, some of which were made from sealskin. It was very interesting as well as attractive.

The ceremony was very touching and we were very glad we were able to be there to be able share this event with the rest of the family. Dinner was delicious and there was lots of dancing afterwards.

Whitney was the lucky girl that caught the bouquet!!! A good time was had by all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008
Today was a day of recovery for several members of our group, high heels were the downfall for one and “other” reasons for others. But being the true troopers they are, they came along as went back to the city to meet up with Karen, Ronny, Jan (Ronny’s mom) and Oli
via (niece of Ronny & 1 of the flower girls). We met up with the Texas clan at Golden Gate Park at the Academy of Sciences along with about 10,000 other people that had the same idea. There were lots to do and see there, a rainforest, aquarium, planetarium and other points of interests, it reminded us of smaller scale of Moody Gardens in Galveston. It was extremely crowded the day we attended which had an impact on our enjoyment of the facility. After a great time together, we said our good-byes and headed back to the hotel.

We had a nice dinner with Don, Diane, Brittany & Whitney. After dinner we said our good-byes to Don & Diane since we were leaving earlier on Monday to take Brittany to the airport.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bill, Tonya, Brittany & Whitney all met in the hotel lobby for the continental breakfast for the last time for this trip. Brittany needed to be to the San Jose airport by 8:00 and we were not sure what California’s Monday morning traffic would hold for us. Actually we made it to the airport in good time, said our good-byes to Brittany and then decided what were going to do with the rest of our day (Our flight was scheduled to leave about 6:00.)

We decided that since we were in San Jose we would like to see the Winchester Mansion. This is a story the 3 of us had heard for years so we were interested. For those of you not familiar the story goes:

In 1884, a wealthy widow named Sarah L. Winchester began a construction project occupied the lives of carpenters and craftsmen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week until her death thirty-eight years later. It is believed that after the untimely deaths of her baby daughter
and husband, son of the Winchester Rifle manufacturer, Mrs. Winchester was convinced by a physic that continuous building would appease the evil spirits of those killed by the famous “Gun that Won the West” and help her attain eternal life.

We read the reviews of the house tour and none of them were very favorable, with the main complaints being it was over priced, rushed and you weren’t able to see much of the house. We found the house without any trouble and walked around the outside perimeter of the house. We looked thru the fence, and talked and we realized we all wanted to take the tour. We were so glad we did. While it was pricey but for people who app
reciates fine wood working it was well worth it. The craftsmanship was phenomenal especially when one considers all of this art was created by hand, no power tools. We were so glad we took the tour.

We did some other sight seeing around San Jose. It’s time for us to head to the airport and go home. I know we are all tired ready to go home.

Lesson’s Learned:
  • Even though you pay extra dollars to rent a full size Cadillac, you still can’t get 4 grown adults comfortably in the backseat
  • Kilts are quite classy
  • Think long & hard about how tall the heels really are (even if they are really cute) that you wear to an event
  • Don’t always believe all the reviews you read, you might miss an opportunity to see some of the most amazing woodworking craftsmanship.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Unit 24, Block 3, Lot 15

A new adventure begins today; we have made an offer on land. We have been in touch with our real estate agent the past few days and we were correct, the land that we stood on Monday was not the land that was for sale. We have reviewed county maps and survey maps and realized that we had not gone far enough down the road. Our agent went to the subdivision on Thursday and took pictures from all directions and emailed them to us. The lots (yes there are 2 side by side 20 acre lots for sale, and we told the agent we were not interested in both parcels) are closer to the mountains and you can still see the neighbor’s house (even though they are about 3/4 of a mile away). We are hoping the owner will accept our offer even though it’s below their asking price (we keep hearing it’s a buyers market) and if not we’re sure they will come back with a counter offer. And if not, the asking price is not a bad price. We will keep you informed of how things are going. We are including a few of the agents photos that he took (they are much better quality than the ones Tonya had to take with her cell phone on Monday while we were there).
Now we need to explain the "Via con Dios" from the previous entry. Tonya has always heard that expression in old western movies and TV shows and thought that it sounded cool. We were talking about it when we were driving all over New Mexico looking at land, Bill told her that it means “Go with God” in spanish so it was decided that our “ranchero” would be named “Via con Dios”.
Thursday evening we leave for the San Francisco Bay area, Bill’s nephew is getting married there on Saturday and it is always good to get together with family (and Tonya is not going to miss a San Francisco opportunity if at all possible). Brittany will drive up from Los Angeles on Thursday and meet us at the hotel and Whitney flies in on Friday morning to meet up with us.