We were in South Lake Tahoe, when October began.
Our family of 7 grew larger, when we drove to Tahoe City on October 1st and met up with more family.
Cousins and Second Cousins
It was wonderful to be reunited with Don's (NY) sister and her (CA) family for the first time since the pandemic.
We have two very young members in the family now. It was so wonderful to see all these kids (second cousins) together!
We started the month off well. Don and Heidi enjoyed some early birthday celebrating.
The Girls celebrated Halloween early, with spooky socks and a viewing of Hocus Pocus!
Two Weeks Along the Coast
The "kids' departed on the second and Don and I had over 2 weeks of exploring ahead. We enjoyed a little more of Lake Tahoe, before traveling south.
It's hard to decide which ocean view is the best! Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Laguna Beach, Oceanside, Newport Beach... All beautiful!
Hotels and Dining
Don and I are always on the lookout for curious hotel and dining adventures. The Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo) provided the perfect combination.
We purchased pink clothing at Goodwill, in anticipation of our stay at the crazy, over the top, silly, pink hotel!
We squeezed in 4 "Cookbook Adventures" on our coastal road trip!
We found 4 restaurants featured, in our 1950 Ford Motor Co. Cookbook. Then we found 4 waiters who were enthused about posing with our cookbook! Success!
Posing with Statues...
Don and I did more than pose with people. Don posed with a lifeguard statue, in Newport Beach.
I posed with a dog, wearing a bowtie and jacket!
... With Fountains
I guess we just did a lot of posing. Our hotel in Santa Nella, wasn't near the coast, but we found some fountains for photo ops.
Hotel Mission De Oro was one of 6 curious hotels we enjoyed. I can't wait to write these up.
Quiet in October
For the most part, we totally lucked out on weather.
No complaints about crowds either. October travel is the best.
Besides a hotel cat or two, we enjoyed some great bird and animal watching.
The elephant seals were a total surprise, right off the coast highway.
We did see a few familiar faces on our trip.
We reunited with musician Mike Hamilton, when he performed in Newport Beach. It's been 8 years.
Friends in Oceanside
We traveled further south to see our old friends in Oceanside. It's been 40 years since Don and Cliff worked together in California.
It's been nearly 10 years since Rhona and I played tennis or discussed books, in Texas. So great to catch up with old friends after this pandemic!
Back in Sac!
The best way to end a trip is with family again! We spent 2 nights in Sacramento with Scott and Chali... and Willie Nelson!
Scott and Chali know how to dress for a concert! Scott's braids were a hit!
It's been a long time since I've been at a concert for 7 hours! We hung out the next day. I got to spend time with my grand-dog, Lola!
Back in Texas, Don and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary with a night at home. The crazy photo was taken in our sparkly room at Madonna Inn.
Our anniversary celebration was much nicer this year. Last year Don was recovering from his open heart surgery... which he'd had his birthday. Much to celebrate this year!
We only had 7 trick or treaters this year.
But the few who came couldn't have been sweeter or more polite!
A good end to the month!
Starting in New Orleans
The month started off with a spontaneous trip to NOLA.
It's too complicated to explain. There was a converstaion with my bro and SIL and before we knew it, we were headed to Nola for Labor Day Weekend visit.
Most of our time was spent hanging out at the house... with the bulldogs.
There was some good eating and feasting, too!
We burned off some calories with walks.
We spotted bees and nuns, but no gators.
We don't always feel the need to hit the Quarter when we visit New Orleans. But we did a little wandering one evening.
There were crowded areas and quiet spots.
Eventually we made it to our dinner oasis. The Jewel of the South!
This is my kind of New Orleans visit. Family and patio dining!
We had one quick getaway to the cabin in mid September. Our palm tree had been removed, but a deer was standing in its place, when we arrived.
A walk at sunrise offered up a few fun moments.
Family-time in Tahoe
On September 26, Don and I headed for South Lake Tahoe.
We had a night with Scott and Chali at the festive Baseline Hotel.
We stepped it up a notch or two, for the next four days.
We moved to a bigger hotel, with lots of space, then suddenly our group grew to 7!
Heidi, Jamie and Little Charlie arrived and we cozied up for 4 wonderful days!
Hang Out Time
It was an extra treat enjoying some fun restaurant outings.
This was the first time in 3 years, that we 6 adults enjoyed each other outside of our pandemic bubble! Cheers to that!
Yes, we spotted some!
Past trips to Tahoe have been all about the hikes and scenery...
This trip was about enjoying each other.
And what a beautiful place to spend time together!
Off for Oregon
On August 10, Don and I flew to Portland!
Masks were optional, but we'd heard too many stories. On the day we flew, our son & DIL, were in Thailand, with Covid. :(
This was our main reason for avoiding Covid.
Don and I got in lots of grandparent-practice-time!
Hanging with the Parents
We loved spending time with Charlie's parents!
They've been wonderful parents for 18 months now! Pros!
During our hang out time, I let Charlie teach me some fashion tips.
She worked on her hair... and she worked on her outfits.
She made sure everyone was fashionable for Tiki Time!
This was our first trip to Happy Valley, since Charlie became a walker.
Her feet barely stopped, unless she was in a highchair.
After a few days in OR, it was time to see more family.
When in Idaho... stop at the Potato Museum!
We ate well, while visiting my bro and Sis in Law in Boise.
Chris and Karen cooked a fabulous feast the first night.
We dined at Taj Majal, on the second night.
We were treated like family, by Sohail and Farrah.
We explored some of Boise's parks.
Downtown was incredibly festive after dark!
We traveled a little further out and enjoyed a hike! Hot, but beautiful views!
It was also hot when we wandered the old town of Idaho City! Karen and I had a toast with water... in front of an old saloon.
After Idaho, Don and I were off for Bozeman.
We must have spotted 1,000 buffalo! Or is it bison? I need to learn.
We stayed with dear friends, Christy and Alan, in Bozeman. Lots of catching up!
One day was spent hiking and picnicking.
The scenery was spectacular! The next day we had lunch in the cute town of Livingston. Lots of cool signs in that town!
The best part was relaxing and catching up. Cheers to that!
Don and I spent one night at the Historic Davenport Hotel, on our way back to Oregon.
We practically had the grand lobby to ourselves.
We explored 5 ballrooms! This fine pose was in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom!
We enjoyed a cocktail in the Peacock Lounge...
Then more wandering in the building. Don found this modest woman in the basement, near the swimming pool. A fun hotel for one night!
After returning to OR, I was able to have a day with Milissa. We lunched near her Portland apartment.
Then we shared dinner with the fam, in Happy Valley. Our kids weren't much older than Charlie, when we first met.
Towards the end of our Northwest visit, we traveled further west to the coast. Our hotel in Gearhart had lovely grounds and views.
The weather was perfect for sitting out... and for walking to the nearby beach!
First Beach Trip!
The best part of our whole 2 week trip, was seeing Charlie experience a beach for the first time!
She loved the sand, even more when her shoes came off. And she was not a bit intimidated by cold water!
As I end this month, I'm feeling grateful that our trip went well and we connected with so many... and that covid didn't interfere. This third pandemic summer, was much better than the first!
My ugly wave at the end of this post, is a reminder to also feel grateful for no sprains or broken bones! My first run after returning home, involved a flying fall on the sidewalk. I'm slower healing than when I was a little kid. So very glad I didn't have these ugly scrapes when I was on the trip. They would have interfered with baby holding!
We weren't really housebound in July. But, we had a lot to deal with at home.
A huge foundation repair began in the beginning of the month. On July 4th, I made the most of the small mountain, that came from underneath our house. I decorated with a flag.
After all our travel in previous months, we just enjoyed being home.
We watched fireworks from the yard.
July 4th Feasting
We began the day with the tiniest of homemade waffles.
Later in the evening Don grilled chicken and we feasted on that, along with fresh corn, beans and watermelon.
Despite triple digit temps in much of July, we spent time outdoors. There were too many clouds on the full moon night, but I caught it early in the morning... near a cloud and jet stream.
Mornings in July were tolerable. I got out early with my coffee whenever I could.
Cool Drinks in the Evening
Most evenings, we have a decent breeze in back.
Don used some of his Father's Day gifts around the pool. Mai Tais one evening!
Another Father's Day gift got some attention in July.
Don's Grandpa & Granddaughter Outfits will be going into the suitcase in August. In August we won't be staying home!
Good-Bye in July
These photos are from the end of June, but our real good-bye to our neighbors, came in July.
Mara and her family moved back to Italy right after the 4th. They will be missed. Mara was good at bringing neighbors together!
This is the hottest July I remember, in our 24 Texas years. We made good use of the pool.
I got back to swimming laps, using a 40-year-old kick board. Lots of memories of lap swimming with Don, back when this board was new! Our 3rd date, was lap swimming... of all things!
Hanging out at home for a month, I concentrated on the yard and wondered why so many of my plants were suffering, despite my attention! Finally on July 31st, I had 3 blooms on the hibiscus.
I guess it's good we were home all of July. I'm not sure that any plants would have survived, without daily watering.
It was a quiet month. Probably just as well since Covid got crazy again, in July. We didn't travel, but Don and I put in more walking miles than ever.
We got out earlier, walked longer and created some new routes. That's pretty lame for my July highlight. But I'll take it!
New Mexico & Colorado
Much of June was spent on the road, traveling in New Mexico and Colorado.
We toasted more than once, to the beautiful weather. Nearly perfect weather for 18 days!
As always, we stayed at very unusual and different hotels.
All 12 had curious histories. 3 had bank vaults, one had hot springs, 5 had glorious porches, 6 had excellent restaurants... all supposedly had ghosts.
This is what we did on our travels...
We drove a lot.
Or rather, Don drove a lot. I cheered on the scenery.
We ate and drank well...
... in pretty places and settings.
We sat around...
...and found some odd things and some unusual picnic spots.
Don had fun with everything from intriguing monuments...
... to kiddie boats.
I enjoyed posing...
... with statues and donkeys and ice cream.
Best of all we interacted with people a little more.
The pandemic is not gone, but we've eased back into enjoying conversations with travelers and locals on our trips!
It was especially nice to meet up with some people we already know. It was great to spend time with our nephew, his wife and their sweet pooch.
... and it was fun to catch up and laugh with my old (and funny) friend from college!
It was a good month and we came home healthy!
The month started off well, with a May Day Surprise on the porch!
Our sweet neighbors who moved away 2 years ago, moved back. They restarted their May Day tradition, by delivering a surprise goodie to our porch!
Cinco de Mayo
After 2+ years, Don and I had our first "gathering" at the house.
There were just 8 of us, but it felt like a party to me.
Margaritas, guacamole and lots of catching up!
Blood Moon on May 15
Halfway through the month, we had some fun with the sky. Around 8:30, we watched the moon rise and got excited about viewing the total lunar eclipse.
About a half hour later, Don started focussing the other direction. We were able to watch the Space Station cross the sky in the west.
Then it was time to turn back to the moon. I grabbed my Nikon and attempted to record the eclipse.
But I was too lazy to get the tripod. I got up once in the night and enjoyed the moon again, from the window. What a special Mid-Month-May treat!
Best for Last
The best of the month came towards the end. Don and I met up with Heidi, Jamie and little Charlie, for a week in Austin.
This was Charlie's first time away from her Oregon home, since she was born. She took on the Texas heat better than any of us!
Luckily there are lots of parks in Austin.
The last time Don and I saw our grand daughter, she wasn't walking. We could hardly keep up!
We rented a house and spent a lot of time, just hanging out.
Charlie did some good sleeping and some excellent singing and she loved the hall!
It was nice to get out and enjoy some of Austin's great food. Although Char enjoyed toys and faces as much as food.
A storm brought a cool front, which made outside dining possible!
Heidi and Jamie were able to see lots of their old friends.
I was excited that we got to see a few of them too. These girls have been friends since 6th grade.
It was pretty sweet to see the next generation!
It was also extra fun to see Charlie with other little ones! She was born during the pandemic and hasn't had much interaction with other kiddos.
Summertime in May
Cheers for sunny days at the end of May!
I'm glad we got to experience some summer activities in the parks...
...and some good food and drink in relaxed settings!
A Happy End to May!
Lots of laughter...
...and lots of love... in Austin!
"i love you so much"
I hate the aging, but I love the Medicare part! Yay for turning 65!
And I didn't mind some of the nice surprises. Some fragrant and some funny and some sweet!
This year's birthday was lots more relaxed than the last two.
This is my third "covid birthday". But this year feels very different. We had a nice time celebrating at Houston's Rainbow Lodge.
This was also my third Birthday Zoom. There were only 6 of us at the first Zoom, two years ago!
I love being able to celebrate with our kids, in Oregon and California.
Easter in Springfield
A few days before Easter, Don and I hit the road for Missouri.
My sister flew in from Oregon and we spent 3 days hanging out with Dad. Our Airbnb just happened to be the home where Dad's brother and family lived.
We have good memories from visits to the stone house in the '60's and '70's. We made new memories, hanging out with games and coffee and old scrapbooks. A few easy meals out...
We made it simple and met up with our Springfield relatives at a nearby brewery, on Saturday afternoon. It was a block from the old grocery store where Dad worked as a teen.
We visited with the relatives, some that we've known all our lives. And we met the newest relative!
On the Road
After a good visit, Don and I took four days to meander home, through Missouri and Arkansas. We stayed in a grain bin one night and an old orphanage, another.
We slept in the only still operating bath house/ hotel, in Eureka Springs. We spent the craziest and creepiest night ever, in a room filled with old dolls in Jefferson, TX.
Enjoying the Road
It felt good to take our time and on back roads.
It was refreshing to be on the road, with new spring growth. We made lots of spontaneous stops along the way.
And we also managed to find some time to pose with strange characters...
And tasty drinks!
Ending the Month
At the end of the month, I was able to use a special birthday gift. Tickets to Fiddler on the Roof.
It's been over 50 years since I first saw this show on stage! It's been way over 2 years that I've been in a theatre. I was thrilled.
The theatre's mask requirement, was a reminder that we are still living with a sad and serious pandemic.
The ending of the show, was a powerful reminder of the (also sad and serious) happenings in Ukraine.
War & disease is not something for a Happy Blog. But, there was a positive message after curtain call. Every performance is dedicated to the people of Ukraine. It's a good feeling to have a theatre packed with caring and concerned mask wearing patrons, applauding together in support.
The highlight of March, was our belated celebration with this 1-year-old!
Don and I had planned on being with our granddaughter on her Valentine's Day Birthday. But we delayed our trip for March.
Quick Mardi Gras
The night before we flew to Oregon, we squeezed in some Mardi Gras celebrating.
We finished packing and celebrated with beads and Sazeracs!
From Houston to Oregon
I love pre-dawn drives to the airport.
We left balmy Texas and arrived in the cool, moist state of Oregon on March 2.
One Year Old
It was wonderful spending time with this spunky little girl. At the time of our visit, Charlie was two months older than when we'd last seen her.
Charlie's Aunts were able to come spend some time as well. A year ago, our group of 7 gathered in this house when Charlie was 2 months old... we weren't vaccinated then and Charlie seemed so tiny. The world feels so different now!
Celebrating is a lot more fun this year!
Just spending time in the house was enough!
But it was nice feeling comfortable, out in the world a little more!
We had our first inside dining experience with Charlie!
On a cool, sunny day, we made it to the park. Charlie had her first time in a park swing! It was hard heading back to Texas.
Spring in Texas
But we were back in time for bluebonnets!
These were spotted on a walk in a nearby neighborhood.
International Art & Kite Festival
Just a few miles from home, I ventured to an annual event that I've never attended.
The weather was perfect. Just warm enough and just windy enough.
Friends Again in March
March marked 2 years, since our real pandemic worrying began. This March, suddenly felt so much more relaxed.
It felt good to catch up with friends again... in person.
Although Don and I have traveled during these 2 years, we got out and enjoyed a quick trip with friends, Christy and Alan.
A few lovely spring days, wandering in Texas Hill Country! What a great way to end the month!
It was a quiet and chilly and slow month.
We kept things simple in February. One highlight was enjoying a nice moonrise, over Lake LBJ.
Ukes at the Cabin
We spent a couple nights at the cabin. A fire and ukuleles. Perfect.
It's been over a year since Don and I pulled out the ukes. I'm pretty rusty.
Games and Puzzles
Seemed like time stood still this February. We watched a lot of the winter Olympics.
And we read and played games.
Year of the Tiger
We celebrated anything that came our way in February.
Happy Lunar New Year! Eating cake with chopsticks is not a good idea.
On Valentine's Day we were supposed to be in Oregon, celebrating with this little one. But there were surges in Covid, so we rescheduled for March.
We Zoomed with this little Birthday Girl instead.
Our Valentine's Day
Don and I have had 43 Valentine's Days together. We've learned to keep it simple. Cookies and Cactus!
Music and Champagne. A big night!
Weather was lousy towards the end of the month, but we enjoyed a getaway to the island for a couple nights.
It was only a 75 minute drive and suddenly we could see beach and tropical vegetation! A treat, even with blustery weather.
I adore the historic parts of the old city. The architecture of the Sacred Heart Church and Bishop's Palace, always impress me.
Some of the beautiful old homes were decorated for Mardi Gras.
The Kettle House
We ended the month with a stay at one of the more curious "hotel" options of Galveston. The Kettle House today, is an Airbnb.
10 years ago, I took a photo of what looked like spaceship with a roof! I never dreamed that someday we'd sleep inside that thing.
This oddball structure was transformed into a modern-cool, Airbnb a few years ago. We arrived with food and games and books and made ourselves at home.
The circular, modern space was lovely and comfy. It had a very fun Jetson's vibe, with decor from the 1960's.
We settled into the oddly shaped space, with all its knotty cypress. We entertained ourselves with ukes and Margaritas.
The upper and lower level were connected with a spiral staircase. It felt like a boat down below, with bunks built into the side and hanging chairs.
It felt like we'd drifted off in a boat for 2 days. I tried to go out "on deck" a couple times.
But it really was too windy. I lasted only minutes.
Dinner on the Bay
After a couple months of opting out of restaurants, we stepped back into the world of dining out! We found this spot within walking distance of "The Kettle".
The best part of this month was seeing some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel! Cheers to seeing the numbers drop! Bring on the spring!
What a treat to wake up on New Year's Day to this little grand-baby!
But we also had to say good-bye to this little cutie (and her parents) on the first day of the year. That's never fun, but we had to head home.
The beginning of the year started with our road trip, from Oregon back to Texas. We squeezed in 2 family visits, in the first 2 days of January.
We had lunch with my sis and sister-in-law, on the first day. We had dinner with our son and daughter-in-law on the second day. No complaints about that!
I soaked up all the scenery, during the 6 days of travel home.
Luckily the roads were clear of snow on our first day. The windshield was pretty filthy by the time we reached west Texas. I pretended it was snowing.
More Views from the Car
Being winter, we took the southern route. We stayed in Tucson one night and I snapped a photo of a pretty church, not far from our hotel.
In the sleepy Texas town of Van Horn, we spotted this Blue Origin mural. That was sort of amusing, so I snapped a pic from the car.
Best Stop on the Route
But the very best stop on our route was in Riverside, California. We booked one night at the historic Mission Inn Hotel.
Our trip was more about destination than exploration. We were all about getting home. But we made a last minute decision, to enjoy a night at Mission Inn.
This grand hotel was worthy of a being our destination.
The hotel complex covers an entire city block and gave us lots to explore.
Arriving on January 3rd, we had the added bonus of seeing the Festival of Lights display... without crowds.
We made it home to Texas by January 6. The next night we had a second mini Christmas, opening the gifts we left behind.
Our holiday trip to Oregon, had been a last minute change in plans. It was a treat to get home and have a little extended celebrating, a week after Christmas.
Christmas for Two
I was in no hurry for the holidays to end. We enjoyed a tiny feast for 2.
And we enjoyed some gifts for two! This wasn't the first time that Don and I gave each other the same gift.
Pitiful and Funny
After traveling in the first week, my focus was "un-decorating" during the second week of January. I wasn't too surprised to se the sea of needles under the tree.
It was a pretty hideous sight. Our fresh tree was not so fresh! It was easier to face the pitiful tree with a camera and sense of humor.
I was never so happy to get rid of a tree. There was still water in the stand, but the tree refused to drink while we were gone.
I used my new gift of work gloves, to deal with the removal task.
We started January with family and good scenery. Then we arrived home and did little with the rest of the month.
I was perfectly fine with that. There was time to catch up on some important things. Lounging and Zooms/phone chats with friends. Nice to be home.