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