Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turkey Dinner on the Road...

 With Thanksgiving approaching we were up in the air about what we wanted to do this year.  We were so indecisive.  I was indecisive.  My husband was just waiting to see what I wanted to do.

Our soon-to-be parents were staying in Northern Idaho and sharing dinner with their orphaned friends.

Our newest newlyweds made plans to be here... 
Where they were celebrating their honeymoon like this...  and apparently hadn't considered inviting parents...  (sniff)

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Our older son was working through the holiday weekend.  Their late building start and getting organized in Bliss means now as winter weather is imminent the work load increases to 6 and 7 days a week.  His wife and son would be spending the day with her family.

With my work schedule I am scheduled the day after Thanksgiving.  I'm not a Black Friday shopper.  Had no major desire to be out with the crowds.  When enough of the surgeons turned in their block time and the schedule was emptying, I knew I could have the day off. 

My waffling continued...  "let's just stay home".  Mike didn't want me to be depressed if we ended up spending the day along.  I couldn't promise not to be sad.  I love spending time with my family.  Having them scattered in the winds, it would probably not be my favorite day.

Decision made.  We were going on the road.

We made a hotel reservation for our favorite overnight place in Cascade Locks, Oregon along the Columbia River and headed over when I got off work Wednesday.  Feeling good about the holiday we asked a surprised drive-thru clerk if we could pay for the dinner of the car behind us.  I'm sure they would have ordered more if they thought that was a possibility. 

The trip was uneventful...  we stopped to switch drivers.  I should have guessed as I started to drive and the chilly sky was spitting moisture, it would only get more intense.  Driving from La Grande to Pendleton was like special affects from a Star Wars movie.  I could barely see the road, trying to follow a car in front of me when the tire tracks were disappearing.  At times with the snow coming at the windshield it felt like we were standing still. Once through the Blue Mountains we were again blessed with clear sky and stars.  Our arrival to our hotel was rewarded with a bottle of wine.

Paper cups?  No worries.
Thursday morning we woke to cool temperatures to start our Thanksgiving day.  We enjoyed our breakfast and coffee and headed for our first stop of the day.
Happy Thanksgiving!
We scheduled a morning visit in Troutdale with our niece Jorgan and her daughter Savannah, as well as my "sister-friend" Kevin.  We just don't get to spend enough time together.  Definitely need to plan a Portland weekend soon. 
Crossing Columbia River from Oregon to Washington

Some of the Oregon Shaws - my sister-in-law Kevin, niece Jorgan and great-niece Savannah
Our daughter-in-law Debbie is co-owner of Centralia Deli, Steak and BBQ in Centralia, WA.  She started serving Thanksgiving dinner to folks last year.  When we first saw the reminder on the Internet we knew it was an option we had to seriously consider.  As the pieces of our Thanksgiving holiday fell into place we knew dinner at the Deli would be a reality.  We met our good friends Mike & Linda Palomino at the restaurant to share our Thanksgiving meal.  It was a perfect meal.  Favorite dishes.  Chatter with friends and familiy.  No dishes to clean up!  It is so neat that Debbie, Tim and their employees provide Thanksgiving dinner for the locals.

I think next year we will just go over and help serve meals to people who come to the restaurant.  Perhaps this would allow an employee to spend more time with their family too.  It seems so often when Thanksgiving approaches we wait to know what our families are doing and work around other's plans.  It's not possible to go to be with my folks.  I want to do something meaningful.
Centralia Deli - the calm between the crowds
With our DIL Debbie and good friend Linda
Our Thanksgiving Day "family" - Mike, Linda, Mike and Debbie

We drove north of Seattle to spend the rest of the day and night with our friends.  It was amazing to see people standing outside of stores already in the middle of the afternoon, waiting for the Black Friday sales. Ridiculous.

After a restful evening and the camaraderie of friends, we enjoyed breakfast Friday morning at an Irish Pub (where we will definitely have to return) and headed for home.  We stopped again at the Deli for a better visit with Debbie and then started our trek home.  It rained.  And rained.  And Rained.  We were through Portland and I wondered if we should consider hunkering down for the night and driving after the storm passes.  Mike double checked the weather.  It looked like we could get ahead of the rain by The Dalles.  Fortunately it did.  The rest of our drive home was "dry and dusty".

It was a whirlwind trip over and back - filled with very special time with family and friends.  You just have to take advantage of every opportunity.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

San Antonio

For awhile I've had thoughts of visiting San Antonio, TX.  Years ago one of my favorite uncles shared pictures of his trip - including pictures from a Naval Museum.  It was one of his favorite ways to razz me.  I was in the Navy but stationed in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley at a Naval Air Station.  He loved to send me pictures of ships with comments like "This is a Navy vessel Deb".

After the family wedding in August (and into October) I struggled to find purpose again.  Two years of weddings and projects will do that to a person.  We found airfare that was ideal, a reasonable rental car and perfect timing with our second grandson's football schedule.

Salt Lake City
Time slipped by and our first ever trip happened.  We flew into Dallas and rented a car.  We are such frequent travelers (joke) that we had no clue what benefits were out there for us.  We fly, we rent, we just don't keep track.  We were informed we could PICK our rental car.  My husband quickly looked past the rows of practical, economical, comfortable cars and zoomed in on A TRUCK.  I nixed that idea and caved in to the 4-door Jeep.  Here's a news flash.  They drive just like a 2-door Jeep and are equally uncomfortable for someone with a 36" inseam to drive.  But hey - we looked dang good!  The 4 hour drive south was an experience.  We had heard of a new tollway on our route that allowed people to drive 85mph.  Really not a necessity since everyone around us (on the non-tollway) was already driving 80+mph, until they were going 60 and then back to 80.  Mike labeled it the Texas Freeway Caterpillar.   

The temperatures were in the 80's  all week long and the skies clear and blue.  We found our hotel and settled in for the evening, waiting with everyone else, for news about the Superstorm Sandy.

Monday we headed north to the San Antonio Zoo.  Though it was a little late in the season and a lot of the exhibits were under construction for the zoo's 100th birthday celebration in 2013, it was still very nice to stroll through and take pictures.  Our favorites were definitely the butterflies and the birds.

Our next stop was the Japanese Tea Gardens.  We found ourselves a bit more tired than we anticipated and still wanting to visit several of the Missions so we did a look around and continued on our way.

Four of the five colonial missions form a National Historical Park.  We drove to visit on the south edge of town.  The history was remarkable.  We started with the Visitors Center and watched a movie which was very interesting.  From there we toured the Mission.  I loved imagining the first people who inhabited the small community moving about their day.   

We were able to find our way to Mission San Jose and Mission San Juan Capistrano as well. Though the maps had us thinking we might take one road to go from one to the other, we actually had to weave around a bit.  There is a lot of road construction all over Texas - and San Antonio was no exception.

The Riverwalk
The Alamo

How fortunate for us, Mike's second youngest daughter Tonya was in San Antonio for business. We headed back north of the city towards the airport to take her to dinner at Lupi's Tortilla.  We were able to catch up with her family's routine in Tennessee.

We didn't allow enough time to see all we wanted to see in the San Antonio area.  We will someday return to Hill Country and visit that historic area. 

We were able to stop and visit the former homestead of one of Mike's ancestors.  The ranch is now owned by University of Texas and used as a writer's retreat.  The current writer was willing to allow us an opportunity to visit.  It was fun to see so much history. 

The original cabin was built in the Swedish style.  The home where the writers stay has been updated with a few modern features - running water and electricity! 

But our time had come to an end and we needed to return to the Dallas area so we could visit with Erin's Godparents, Lew and Donna Flitcraft as well as Krieg's Godparents, Lori and Andy Otano.  Plus we had the big football game to watch.  

We arrived at Otano's home in Colleyville on Halloween afternoon.  While the guys caught up sharing their war stories, Lori and I handed out candy to trick or treaters.  We were able to meet hang out and visit their little town of Grapevine.  

The next day we were heading for Mike's oldest daughter Renee's home in Wylie.  How fortunate that Erin's Godparents lived only 30 minutes east of Wylie.  We met up for lunch and had a crash course in 'catching up'.  It was too brief but the memories and love was abundant. 

Friday night we were able to see our grandson Kalen play in a Varsity football game.  There is nothing like Friday Night Football in Texas.  Crazy.  This particular game was away.  The opponent was intense.  Very 'good ole boy'.  When the coach from the other team didn't like the calls made, he would involve the referee in a rampage.  He definitely needed to work on his sportsmanship.  We are proud of Kalen and his teammates.  They can hold their heads high. 

As usual, it was time to return home.  We enjoyed completing an item on our bucket list by visiting San Antonio finally.  It was made extra pleasant by the added opportunities to see family and friends as well.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Four More Years...

I'm not happy with the outcome of the election. However I was raised to respect the office of the President of the United States. I don't have respect for the man in office, nor his values. In fact the split in the United States frightens me. He is not a leader. He does not have the ability to unite.

However our democratic system allows us to vote and choose. My fellow citizens made their choices and the majority chose to keep the President in office. So be it.

We have to work together and be strong despite what is happening around us. Show our children how to face adversity. Our grandparents survived the Great Depression. Our parents survived a recession. We will fight off hints of socialism flaunted in our faces and endure.

The concession speech was reflective of the man running and his campaign. Peaceful and prayerful. Perhaps he was too passive and people felt he wouldn't do well. Whatever the reason, the vote is done.

I want to keep God in our fundamental beliefs - not just in our homes and churches. I want the Pledge of Allegiance taught to our children and said in our schools.

It's not about race. It's not about freebies. It's about hard work, determination, and pride. Pride in our country. Pride in ourselves. Too many folks looking for bail outs, hand outs and what they will be given without their own hard work.

My frustration goes beyond what my husband and I may lose... It goes beyond our house value dropping or our military benefits dropping, healthcare and pension reduced. I fear for our family as they start out on their own in this struggling economy. I worry for their well being, employment and housing. I worry for our grandchildren (all of them) as they grow and face new stages of life.

I will pray for my loved ones. I will pray for their safety and good health. I will continue to pray for our country. I will pray for unity where we are divided. I will pray for guidance and strength for our military. I will pray for our United States.

... and this is the end of my one and only political rant.