December, 2016

Another year, another holiday letter. Getting started is the most difficult part. Thoughts of "what's the point" creep into my head. The original point, back in the day, was to help Beth. Putting all the info that she would include, anyway, in each card allowed her to concentrate on personal messages. Lately, we have found a good use for the letters, ourselves. Documentation. What year did we travel to this place? What year did we see whom? When did that happen? Given our ever waning recall, this document may become more and more useful to us in the future. Which reminds us that we can't find our letter from 1992. To anyone who sends us a copy, Beth is offering a signed print.

We started out the year at Beth W's New Year's bonfire. A tradition she has. We hope to participate for a long time.

Just a few days into January we started on a long trip: Seattle, Portland, Hawaii and Kauai. It completed both of our 50 states. We think. Where are all those old holiday letters, again? :-) Mary & Gaylord house sat for us. Just as important, they cat sat for us. April is not a cat for beginners. They did a wonderful job. In Seattle, we had multiple opportunities to visit with Mike's cousins Pat & John. Even though we had travelled dozens of times to Seattle when Mike's mom lived there, they took us to places that we had not seen. And, they treated us to dinner at the Washington Athletic Club for our anniversary. First class.

In Portland, we stayed with Pat & Doug Eddy (cousins, of course.) We celebrated Doug's mom's (and Mike's aunt's) birthday with even more Eddys than last year. They have built their dream house on a stunning 10 acres west of Portland. A sweeping view of Hood, St Helens, Adams and more. One afternoon, we had a chance to catch up with Barb & Brian over lunch (more on them later.) After soaking in the wonderful Oregon scenery (and soaking is the operative word), we traveled with Pat & Doug to Hawaii and Kauai.

Before writing about Hawaii, we have to mention Chihuly. Amazing. Spectacular. Etc. We saw two major exhibitions: Chihuly Garden and Glass near the Space Needle and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. Highly recommended. We hope to return next time we are in the NW.

Pat & Doug have been to the islands a few times. Together we formed a plan to see as many of the sights on two islands, without repeating, too much, what they had seen. On Hawaii (the "big island") we stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Quite a resort, quite a spectacular setting. Mike got up at dawn every day of our stay (not as difficult as it may seem given the massive time change) to shoot gigabytes of photos. He will gladly bore you sometime, if you ask. After we all got together for breakfast, we ventured out to a few of the many sights. For example, we saw King Kamehameha ... well ... his statue and some of his works. We saw petroglyphs. We saw several of Dr Beach's best locations. We saw whales. We attended a Luau, of course. We saw glowing volcanoes, but no lava ... darn. While at Volcanoes National Park, we had dinner at the Volcano House with Beth's cousin Jim and his girlfriend. He lives in Naalehu, which, he says, makes him the USA's southern most electrician.

On Kauai, we stayed in a shack. It was called the Surf Shack. After the Waikoloa, it was quite a change! But, we ended up really enjoying it. Plus, we did get to meet surfers. Actually, the owner was a surfer as well as an outfitter. Dani pointed us to several sights that we would have missed otherwise. She told us locations and times to see the best surfing and surfers. The main attraction of Kauai, for us, was the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Dr John would never forgive us if we went all the way to the Hawaiian Islands and missed these gardens. He is, after all, on the board of directors. In addition to a tour of the Allerton Garden, we spent another day around Waimea Canyon. Another day, seeing waterfalls, Menehune Fishpond, Kamokila Village and lots of chickens ... they run wild. We also toured a coffee farm. Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee. We should mention that we saw Capt Cook at the very spot he landed ... no wait ... it was another statue.

Every day, on either island, we made sure to find a good place to view the sunset. Polihale State Park was the best.

As soon as we got back to SC from Hawaii, we drove to Hilton Head to visit with Catherine, who was there on business. We took the opportunity to see some historic sites near there that we had always wanted to see: Penn Center, St Helena's Church and Old Sheldon Church. No sooner had we returned from HH, Mike flew to Las Vegas. Well, first Fran & Jim drove down from Asheville. Fran stayed with Beth on the Isle of Palms. Mike and Jim flew to Las Vegas. Gaylord hosted (read comped) our stay as well as that of another friend from our Bell Labs days. Thank you, Gaylord. We were there ostensibly for the Superbowl. Too bad Carolina didn't show up.

Soon, we returned Fran & Jim's visit when we stayed with them in Asheville. Carol & David stayed for a night, too. It is becoming our traditional New Year's celebration ... but not necessarily on Jan 1st. Then, Beth took a solo trip of her own. It was the first of two solo visits to her mother.

Before we knew it, almost half the year had gone by. It was time for our annual Spoleto bash. Should we say bashes? And, joining us this year was Denny after too long an absence. Right after Spoleto, we drove north to our cabin in NC. We do this every year. However, this year we plan to stay the remainder of the year and maybe longer. People have told us, that we should spend the winter in our cabin before we fully decide to live here year round. We made quite a few improvements to the cabin to make extended stays more comfortable. We had the roof replaced with a metal one and had foam insulation sprayed into the attic. We don't need air conditioning, but we had a whole house fan installed to move the air on those still summer nights. We had the bedroom remodeled adding lots more storage and closet space.

We took a short trip to Chicago during the summer staying with Fran and Jim. We had pizza with them and Joey & Steve. Joey & Steve had stopped by our IOP place this spring on their way back from celebrating a significant wedding anniversary in Hilton Head. Back in NC, we had a return visit from Brian & Barb. They had always wanted to tour DC. Just in time, we'd say. They drove to our place in NC and stayed a couple of days. Then we all drove to SC and stayed a couple more days. It was a great visit and we got to catch up on their and their children's lives.

This Thanksgiving Beth went to Rolla and took Mike with her. Beth cooked up a fabulous dinner, both in advance and on the spot in Rolla. She outdoes herself each year. While we were gone, cousins Gretchen and Bob had their whole family for Thanksgiving at their place. Too many to all sleep in their house up the hill from our cabin. So, Carol & Darryl used our cabin and cat sat April. April is happy with most anyone as long as they feed her. ;-)

That brings us almost up to date. December 1st, we attended an Eggnog Party, which started getting us into the holiday spirit. After the party Penny & Ray invited us for dinner. An excellent day. We will be spending the holidays in NC this year. Beth is hoping for snow. Is that a surprise to anyone? We wish you peace and good health in the new year.

                                                                                                                With Love,
                                                                                                                Beth & Mike

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