Archive | February, 2014

Christmas 2013 Visiting Mom in her New Home and Facing getting older

14 Feb


Ausin found that glass float at sea

Emerson and Greg and I

  photo by Aunt Laura



Dixie and Greg Goode

Merry Christmas 2013 and Happy 2014


Photo Card 2013


This was a year of changes for our extended family, but we are finding ourselves at the end of it with a lot to be thankful for.

As things and people grow up and grow older, and move in and out of our life, we find ourselves with a lot more time to rediscover the relationship we began when we got married thirty year ago (May 21st) and the fun part is that we still find out that there is much we enjoy best of all when it is just the two of us.

When the year began, we had my Mom and Lance still living in Cody, Wyoming where my Mom and her Dad had both grown up, as did my brothers and I. Since spring, her health became so bad that she really couldn’t continue to live with just Lance. That was sad for Lance because he had to give up the job he has loved and been proud of for 19 years, but things have a way of adding blessings when other things are taken away and they have been living a new adventure in Virginia with my oldest, younger brother, Brett. Lance has even learned to drive around to take care of animals on the farm there.

I got to go visit them for ten days in July and then this Fall, Brett married Emily. Emily and her two teenagers, were really nice to me when I met them and wonderful to Mom and Lance. I am glad to have them in the family.

Greg’s Sister, Laura came to visit us at the start of summer, and that was wonderful. She is always energetic and fun to have around. Then Greg’s other sister, Wendy scared us by wrecking her motorcycle and getting some serious facial injuries but she has recovered ok, or so we hear as we didn’t actually make it to Wyoming to see them or Greg’s parents.

We also had our former Brother-in-law, Vince and his wife living only 5 hours away, in Salem, Oregon when the year began, so visiting family was possible any weekend – but now they have moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. So we find that family has spread apart from Coast to Coast and we are more thankful than ever for the speed of contact allowed via phone and text and internet.

And at the start of the year, Austin was together with a girl we love, and her 18 month old daughter. Since then they have broken up and maybe that was best for them. But remembering how my kids were adopted by their daycare grandparents, and just had three sets of real grandparents, we decided that simply because we got to be Angel’s grandparents because our son met her Mom, didn’t mean we had to give her up when they broke up, so we have stayed friends with the mom and daughter and see them sometimes more often than our boys.

Emerson and Lula were in their Freshman year at UC Santa Cruz as 2012 began. As it ends they are living here in Crescent City and taking time off from college as they await their own child, due in May. Emerson has gotten hired by the school district to work with handicapped children and seems to be getting along well there.

Austin has been out of town, both up the coast at Westport, Washington fishing for tuna, and down the Coast at Bodega By, California crabbing. He is on a fishing boat called the Barbara Marie which is supposedly based out of Crescent City, but the harbor still is undergoing rebuilding from the tsunami damage. Maybe someday he will be able to fish from home.

Greg has been active. He started a new youth Choir here in Crescent City in the evenings on Mondays and sings in the Crescent City Community choir on Wednesdays. His school classes expanded to include a period of Drama as well as the band and choir he was doing, so he is pretty much on the go non stop.

I have been writing, and when not writing have been trying to market my books. I got a set sold to a school district so the 5th grade can teach from 38 of the Oregon Trail books. I have done school presentations as an author and am working with one class to try and publish their class writing by the end of the year. I have been researching Pompeii and Mt. St. Helens for my next novel and really having fun with the small successes that are coming more frequently. I have had favorable interviews and reviews from Europe and India, just a couple but enough to smile and call myself an international author, and my first novel, Duffy Barkley is not a Dog, won a “Betty Award” for favorite tween series.

We devoted some time this summer to trying to save the local drive in theater from going defunct after the movies all switch to digital projectors, a change which would cost them about 80 to 100 thousand. Honda had a project to but projector for 9 theaters, but we didn’t manage to win that. So unless we find a miracle that era ends. I haven’t given up on miracles yet however.

I love Christmas and the gift of going through my family and friends list each year and remembering why you are so special and important to me. I hope that this finds you weathering the changes and remembering the blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dixie and Greg






New Years Goals




Brookings High Music Trip met up with a couple college freshmen




I have lived 1,000 lives


Trying to Save Red’s Drive in

at Honda’s Project Drive-In






Crescent City Harbor




Greg, Patty and Willie




Wave Watching




Grandpa tries to do hair




Crab feed




The old folks at home




Austin Dropping by for a minute




Emerson and Lula flew home for spring break




Home airport




in the redwoods




Walker Road




Ford and Em on the LoveSac




Making Music




The Lady Washington








Art with an Angel




Leaving Santa Cruz




UCSC Koi pond




You’ve been framed




visiting the NEIGHbors




Greg and Caesar




Greg and his sister Laura




South Beach Sunshine




Lance working at his new home




Mom at Virginia Home




walking KoKo Jo




My New Sister in Law and Lance and Mom




Lance learned to drive




Lance and his Niece, Lacy




Me and Mom




Emily and Brett




Vince and Marcy before they moved away




playing in the Smith River








The Smith




Checking out the tuna haul




Austin showing Dad where he lives








Christmas at Charleston, Oregon




Shore Acres




Austin on a Crab run


Austin and Trisha




Rocky being adored as is his due




A long time ago in a country far far away


2012 A not so Empty nest and the World did not End

14 Feb
Christmas Card 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy 2013 to All of us.


Page 1

And since it is Christmas, I am assuming we all outlived the Mayan Calendar



This was a year of change for us, but we are finding ourselves at the end of it with a lot to be thankful for.  Emerson Graduated from Del Norte High School in June, and while he sent out a ton of thank you cards, let me say “Thanks” again.  We had an incredible outpouring of love and support that gave him a good start on this year at college.  Then he had worked hard and gotten good grades and managed to get scholarships enough to allow him to start Fall at University of California at Santa Cruz, as a UCSC Banana slug.



His girlfriend graduated high school with him and is also going to Santa Cruz, so Emerson and Lula are doing amazingly rapid growing up and changing every day and yet, staying steady and wonderful through it all too.  She is wanting to be a math teacher and he is interested in math and in designing computer games. They both go to class and work in the dining hall and the campus is a lovely redwood and deer filled meadow parkland on the hills overlooking the Pacific and the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk.



Page 2


 Austin was working at Ray’s Market as a cashier and on the dock’s helping take care of the Crab boats loading and unloading Crab and shrimp, but now he has started going out to sea with the crab and tuna trips of the Barbara Marie.  No, I don’t watch “Deadliest Catch.”


He has introduced us to a couple wonderful people who have become a part of out family since July.  Raelene is Austin’s age, and has been his girlfriend for 6 months but we love her for herself too and she’s around even when he is at sea. She is the Mom of an 18 month old girl named Angel, and the two of them moved here from Arizona to live with her sister.

  Angel is a lot of fun to have when she visits and very different for Greg and I after only having boys around.  Raelene just started working and then her daycare lady had a heart attack, so Greg and I got to babysit some while a new place was located. 



Page 3

Greg says this is the best year he has had in a long time. He loves the classes that he is working with this year. Most years he has some he loves and some that test him and try his patience, but this year he keeps being amazed that they are all fun.  He is in that busy time of year, preparing for concerts at school, and in the community Choir he sings with. He just turned 50! He is also setting up a spring Train trip to San Francisco from Klamath Falls and being really intensely into a computer game so that I have to get between him and the computer before I have his attention.


 I published my third book this year. A different kind for me, in that it required a lot of research. Double Time On The Oregon Trail, is about two girls, both traveling the trail, but one in 1850 and one in 2002.  This one is fun because the 5th grades teach the Oregon Trail here, and one of the teachers ordered a class set, (36 books) to teach – and a book reviewer in India read it and raved about how everyone should read it even though she had known nothing about the history before.


This is Emerson’s View from his Dorm. UC Santa Cruz is a long way from us, and every trip there ends up being about 1,000 miles driving, so we are thankful for things like cell phones and facebook.



 Austin’s Blind, loving dog, Ford (Pronounced “ferd”) stays

Page 4

with us while Austin is out at sea.


Austin has been in the boat or down in the harbor at Bodega Bay quite a bit this Fall.  He was amazed at how many different kinds of dolphins he saw, and at the whale swimming under them that was bigger than the boat.  He was way out at sea where the albatross fly and fishing for tuna but crab season has not started yet. Raelene and Angel and Greg and I played with Ford and went to eat and took Angel to the park and I realized how much harder it is chasing a toddler than it was just 17 years ago.


So, the empty nest hasn’t happened, but it isn’t filled with quite the same birds either. Speaking of birds we do still have a couple of parrots, the Amazon and the green wing Macaw, and a cat, but the greyhounds died and Ford is just an off and on replacement.


the changes have kept us on our toes and feeling pretty good about what life is like this year. And when you like the things in your life it is easy to be optimistic about the coming year.


Hope you have a wonderful 2013, For us, I hope we get to see family again. It has been 3 ½ years since I saw my brother Brett and his kids and 2 ½ since we saw my Mom and Lance or Greg’s parents.


The miles between seem to get longer and more expensive every year.


Love, Dixie and Greg


Austin fishing again


Emerson Graduating High school


The light of my life


2012 – The world’s not ending, we’re just taking over


Prom night for Lula and Emerson


Camping at Howard prairie


The best day are the simplest


Austin’s boat on Howard prairie Lake


Dropping the Banana Slugs off for Freshman Year at UCSC


Dropping The Crabber off for his Maiden Voyage


Greg’s Captain’s chair


Christmas 2012 



Helping “Grandpa” wash dishes


So much to be Thankful for


One Goode Book Deserves Another

2011 Christmas Letter – Tsunami and A Death by Train and life changes again

13 Feb

Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy 2012 to you

from Dixie and Greg, Austin and Emerson


December 3, 2011

     I was just looking at a collection of photographs called, “the most powerful images from 2011.  There were pictures of tornado’s and tsunami damage and starving children, and protesters being pepper sprayed and sad people at memorials.  I know that all of those Images had a place in this turbulent year, but I also know, that all around this big, beautiful planet, there were images of love and beauty, and I still believe that there is much to celebrate about being alive in this time and place. 

    I crawled out of my warm bed this morning into a house that was frosty and cold, and stuffed my feet into slippers to go out on the front porch and raid the kindling box and get firewood to start the woodstove again.  The sun was glittering off frost on the maple, with it leaves just starting to turn reds and yellow, the green grass that is back after the dry brown of September meets the rain of November here.  Even 28 years since I lived in Wyoming, has not cured me of the amazement I feel at seeing green grass and having a Christmas tree at he same time.

     2011 has been a different year for our family, a year of change, a year of memories and anticipation.  I know that life is about movement, and watching my children grow has shown me an ever steady progression from a tight, warm nucleus out in steadily expanding circles of exploration.  At first the babies were the center of everything, and went no-where except cradled in our arms, then they crawled around the room, and stood shakily and walked and fell and made it out to the bigger adventure of exploring the yard.  Next they ran to the neighbors and picked apples, and dug in the ditch and rode their bikes up and down our little road.  But still moving out in circles of experience with our home at the center, they began to ride the bus to school, and their bike to the market and even the 6 miles to school, and they went on trips to Washington DC, and Nebraska, and Portland and San Francisco and Disneyland.  Then they began to drive and now Austin has moved out and Emerson is a senior and has completed several college applications and the circle keeps expanding.

               A few things that impacted us this year,

    The March Tsunami in Japan also hit Crescent City and demolished out commercial boat harbor, but the repair is underway now and the way the community has worked together on this is mostly good things for a lot of people, still the damage will be there and has hit some families much harder than others.

    Austin met his birth father, and his birth mom and oldest sister have moved out here close to us.  That has added some drama and confusion as well as answering a lot of his questions.  I’m glad he has the chance to get to know them, and glad too that he was grown and already his own person before this happened.

     He graduated from high school in June and moved out and got himself a puppy.  He spends every moment he can on the river and is doing OK now but he had some difficult moments.  He broke up with a very serious girlfriend and had to have 4 wisdom teeth extracted and was basically homeless for a time.  Being an adult isn’t easy, but he’s managing.  He has always been a great person with a passion for the outdoors.

     Emerson has been doing well in school.  He gets good grades and is the senior class treasurer, and he has a very nice girlfriend and a group of friends with his own style of humor.  His life is moving fast toward graduation himself but he seems to be handling it with grace and a smile.

View from Klamath Bridge

     This summer we had a lot of great days, good company three times, and a grey whale and her calf that took up residence in our Klamath river and stayed for several weeks.  Greg’s Sister Wendy, and her family came and we had the time to explore our redwoods and beaches with them, plus take a jet boat up to see the whale.  My friend from high school brought her husband and daughter and we got to visit and explore even more and then we had a friend here for Band Camp, but Thomas is more like part of our family than like company.

     I managed to publish book 2, Duffy Barkley: Seek Well  so now there is actually a “Series” of Duffy Barkley Books, and I am working on number three.

     Greg and I are feeling the aches and pains of nearing 50, our 30th anniversary from High school graduation was this year.  There were a lot of expensive medical tests and frustrating Dr. visits but we’re doing fine, just not as young as we’d like to be and far too young to feel this old.  So once again, the New Year’s resolutions include getting healthier.

     This summer will be 2 years since we have been back to Wyoming, and there have been some sadness and changes there as well.  The biggest, saddest change is that we lost our first nephew when he was killed when hit by a train, walking home from the grocery store in Nebraska.  RIP, Cody! Our family there has otherwise survived and is doing about the same as far as we can tell, but it has been so long that we have to make it back this 2012 summer.

     Have a great Christmas with all the friends and family that you can manage to gather around you, and thank you for being a part of our lives.



Greg, Dixie, Austin and Emerson

Austin’s new puppy, Ford (pronounced Ferd)


The old lady of the sea


our tree was blown down across the road to the neighbors homes


neighbors working together to move tree


Emerson and Austin helping


Austin and both his Moms


Emerson and Greg went to Blue Man group in San Francisco




Austin’s High School graduation


Book 2


feeling accomplished


Ford by Summer


taken during Jet boat ride


Emerson, Lula, and Greg’s brother-in-law John


Emerson being all laid back and cool


Just, No words  


Emerson and Shira (A good friend) in Fern Canyon


Make a wish


playing cribbage and waiting on the turkey to bake


Emerson and Greg in the Redwoods




Our nephew, Cody and his children
RIP Cody


Cody, at age 11


Cody and the other Grandsons

2010 Christmas Letter filled with family re-unions and my first book

12 Feb

Working through the family letters has brought me to another year filled with Joy and Family.  Goode-Stock at Custer State Park, a trip up above Yellowstone to Hell’s A Roarin outfitters, a family re-union with Austin and his Birth Family. Lots of Family re-unions this year

Wedding Day
Greg, Vince, Marcy, Dixie, Austin, Emerson
The Crescent City, Goode family
Vince & Marcy
Emerson and Grandpa Harvey

Merry Christmas and Happy 2011 to you

 from Dixie and Greg, Austin and Emerson




Raft Ride at Cody Wyoming
Christmas 2010
My Family at Vince’s wedding


Lance at Hell’s A Roarin’ Outfitters
Pahaska teepee
Austin gets my Dad’s Truck
In Fern Canyon
My Boys
Vince and Marcy’s wedding


Hello again, 

     The year has once again flown by and left me wondering where it went.  Sometimes I think that I could just copy the letter from last year, because we keep plodding along in the same yearly routines – but I like that.  This year, I feel the end of those routines following my every footstep as I realize that my baby boys have turned into young men, and the time when we have two children at home is slipping away so fast as to be already gone.

     Austin is going to turn 18 at the end of March, and Emerson will be 17 just a couple weeks after that.  By June 2012 we will be done with the High School Days.  Except for Greg who is in his fifth year teaching High School Band and Choir across the border in Brookings, Oregon.


Austin with his birth family

The highlights of our year were mainly about family.  The first really exciting one happened on March 29, Austin’s 17th birthday, when he flew to Nebraska to meet his birth Mom, her husband, his sister, and three younger 1/2 sisters.  They have always been in touch, but this was the first time, since he was a month old, that they have been able to hold each other.  We have been so lucky to share him with another family who loves him as we do.

         The next major event was that Emerson started driving and his Grandma Mimi  gave him her car, and now I have even more reason to worry.  Honestly, The person who said that deciding to have children meant deciding to always have your heart running around outside your body, had it right.

     In May, Greg and I celebrated our 26th anniversary, Austin started working at Burger king and Emerson earned an academic Letter at del Norte high school.

     June was a happy month.  Three years after we lost Greg’s big sister April, her husband Vince remarried.  The wedding was a delightful celebration, with a few intense tea filled moments of bitter-sweet memories.  We love April still, but Marcy is a wonderful new member of our family, and it is great to see Vince so happy again.

     Then we drove back to Wyoming to celebrate Mimi and Harvey’s 60th anniversary with a family reunion in Custer State Park.  That was a great visit, followed by a visit to Cody to see Grandma Priscilla and Uncle Lance where she gave Austin my dad’s old Ford truck.

     Everyone managed to get together, except we didn’t see my brother Brett and his kids, or our nephew Cody’s children.  Mom and Lance did get back to see Brett and family at the start of December. Greg and I rented our favorite Gold Beach Cabin for Thanksgiving and our nephew Connor, and Vince and Marcy came there to join us.

     My other news, is I finally managed to publish one of the many writing projects that I have always been working on.  My fantasy novel, with a 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy as the main character, goes from a school shooting to a life changing journey to another world.  Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog, can be ordered by any bookstore or library, and is available on

Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog

Christmas 2009 Wyoming Travel and Game Warden Training and Chorus and Publishing

7 Feb

Merry Christmas and May 2010 be a wonderful year!



     2009.  Wow!  As I sit here, I can see the sunset making my Maple tree, and the few leaves that have already scattered themselves on the green grass, glow like stained glass – I can’t believe how fast the years have flown by.

25 years ago in May – a couple of skinny, red-haired kids stood in front of the justice of the peace in Cody, Wyoming and swore that we were ready to promise to love each other, “Til Death do us part.”

     Were we CRAZY?  What did we know of Death, Life or anything?  But Because Greg is the best man ever, here we still are.

    It has been a wild ride, a crazy Quarter Century.  We have lived in Wyoming; Custer state park in South Dakota; Ashland, Oregon; Beijing, China; and after 13 moves in 12 years, we’ve lived in this old logging house in Crescent City, California for another 13 years.

     When we got married there were 16 people in our combined families.  Now, Death and Birth and Marriage have changed those numbers to 26 people.  The faces shift and the roles and places alter but the core is still a group of people who may not have chosen each other, but will open the door if we show up.  I have been so rich in love my whole life.


     I admit I was delighted to see the end of the Bush years in the White House.  Ready for a change.  I don’t know if the choice was a wise one, only time will tell- but I do know 

Americans – and people all over the world – need to be wise now.

     “It is too late to confine loyalty within National Boundaries.  Loyalty to all humanity is now absolutely essential.”  Ikeda

      This year Austin got his real driver’s license and Emerson is studying to get his permit.  I know it will be less and less often that I have them both with me – more and more that they will be steering their own way into their own future.  It scares me but when I look at them – I see strong, caring young men, with a lot of the energy and compassion and courage that I was hoping they would develop. I am so proud of them both.

      Austin had a lot going on in 2009.  He turned 16, got a driver’s license, traveled with the band to Reno, and to LA to perform in Disneyland.  Suffered headaches and memory loss from a concussion in football.  Started going into training to become a game warden by doing ride-alongs.  


Checking fishing on the Klamath



Officer Weldon and Austin



Austin with Game Warden


Went duck and deer hunting, came down with mono, became a high school Junior, met some of his birth family at his great grandparents home.


Emerson is starting to learn to drive, dropped the violin and joined a college choir with Greg, 


At Immigrant Lake



With Uncle Lance and Cousin Lacy



Love that smile



Crescent City Community Choir


turned 15 and became a sophomore, started psychology class and thinks he found his career path there, mastered the art of cooking spaghetti my way,  is learning German, and loves to play World-of-warcraft in his free time while on the phone at the same time.


Mom and I on Chief Joseph Highway

     As usual we put in a lot of miles.  Over 5,000 this summer, visiting family in Wyoming doing some camping and trying to help while Greg’s Mom has been very sick.  Most of the year saw her in three hospital, in Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado, but I’m happy to report that a brain surgery and a hip replacement finally seem to be allowing her to recover.

     I took the month of November, to write my second NaNoWriMo novel, and that was a blast.  It is a sequel to the fantasy novel I wrote about 5 years ago, and very different from the Oregon trail one I wrote for national novel Writing month last year.  With 3 novels sitting here in manuscript form, I have also been researching publishing options.  It has been my “When I win the lottery dream” for so long, but now it’s time to do the work to see if I can make it happen.

   I also took on a week long Sub Job at the end of October, that stretched to last at least through Jan. 6th and maybe longer.  The Severely handicapped, middle school class had a new teacher, and she shattered her ankle when her dog knocked her off her deck.


     Greg’s job changed this year, from choir at the middle and high school in Brookings, Oregon – to Band and Choir at the high school only.  That means most nights and weekends he has to perform with one group or fund raise with another at city council meetings and football games etc.  He seems to thrive on demanding schedules, but with this and the worry about his mom, and trying to get enough college credits to renew his Oregon teacher’s credential, he has been having a stressful year. 


Father’s Day


Mimi and Harvey


     I am so glad that I have the opportunity each year, to go through my address book and the cards from last year and remember all the people who are important to me.  I’m so happy to have you in my life!

     My computer has helped me stay in touch more.  So I have to say, my email address is    and I am on facebook as Dixie_Miller_Goode  and on twitter as pandorasecho. Plus I usually leave a note every morning on the forum as echo on the good morning thread.  I also post photographs on redgage as Echo and started a blog called “echo’s Voice” at  That on-line community has led me to declutter my home with, and to start exercising and lose 20 pounds with Jonathan Roche’s No excuse workouts, and to renew friendships and make new ones as well as motivating me to write my novels.  I hadn’t realized what a great tool it would be for changing my life in positive ways.  Before this, we were not online and I just used our 1996 computer as a word processor.

Merry Christmas,


lovely Bison and calves

Dixie, Greg and Austin and Emerson

Gotta remember, my Dad’s favorite STEELERS won their 6th Superbowl on the 12th Anniversary of Dad’s Death!  Yeah!

2009 Summer Trip

4 Feb

2009 summer trip

At Cody airport
Evan’s Plunge in Hot Springs
My Mom and Austin
Buffalo Bill Dam
Dam that’s a long way down
Emerson on the hot 4th of July
Mom took Austin Fishing
Heart Mountain
Up on Chief Joseph
Mom and I
Yellowstone “Buffalo”
Lance on “Red Devil”
Heart Mountain
We hadn’t made it back to Wyoming since my sister-in-laws memorial service in August of 2007 and things were not going particularly well for a lot of our extended family. My brother had divorced and his kids were having a hard time dealing with that. My Mom and Younger brother, who is wonderful and has down’s syndrome, suddenly the only ones still living in Cody after my other brother moved east, made my Mom pretty depressed as her 70th birthday approached. My husband’s family wasn’t doing too well either, his sister was so depressed she wasn’t getting out of bed for months at a time and his Mom had fallen down steep concrete steps, one full story and been in the hospital a couple of months with no real therapy or progress, just sitting there, wearing a catheter and saying the world would be better if she died.
Sooo. . . anyway we knew we needed to get there, but at the same time, my husband needed 7 1/2 credits by August to keep his Oregon teaching credential so he got on-line and signed up for any choir type educational grad units he could find, but they were all over the Northwest.
Brief as I can make it – here is an overview
June 18 – Pack and leave around 11, drive 415 miles, from the coast, through Medford to Klamath Falls through the desert to Burns, Oregon by 9 PM
June 19 – Drive 500 miles to just past Swan Valley Idaho to “Falls Campground” on the overflowing Snake river by the Wyoming Border.
June 20 – Saturday we drove 400 miles across Wyoming through Jackson, and into the snow
 then on to Riverton, Casper, and Wright and to my In-laws home in Newcastle on the WY/SD border. We got there by 6 PM and went to see My MIL in the hospital, and out to eat with my FIL – we were staying with my husband’s brother and his wife.
June 21 hospital visits and a steak dinner for Father’s Day
Mon, June 22 we checked MIL out for a couple of hours and talked her into visiting her house. She had to come in a wheelchair but could use a walker inside. Dad-in-law couldn’t pull the chair up the steps.
June 23 My DH, (Dear Husband) had to drive about 80 miles round trip to get lumber for a wheelchair ramp. YIKES! Wood is expensive and that was $1000. Newcastle is small and lovely but even a McDonald’s or KFC or Taco Bell is over 80 miles away in any direction.
That evening we brought MIL back to the house and invited her sister, her Step-Mom and all her in-town family and had a big spaghetti feed.
June 24 Doing Laundry and removing sod where the ramp will go
In Custer State park
It was hard Working here
much better visiting

June 25 – MIL and FIL’s 59th anniversary More ramp building and then a trip into the Black Hills to the Black Hills Playhouse for “Sugar Bean Sisters” and a swim in Legion Lake. Musicman and I spent our “Honeymoon Summer”  working at the playhouse 25 years ago.

June 26 and 27 Finishing the ramp, Our two teenage boys helped a lot and also went fishing both days. Now that Austin can drive he had a lot more freedom and got sent on a lot of trips to the hardware store.
June 28th We spent the morning at the hospital and then went to Hot Springs South Dakota – home of mammoth bones and Evans Plunge. My Mom’s paternal Grandmother got married there just a couple years after the plunge opened. 1892, Saw a lot of buffalo in Custer state park and swam for hours
June 29 we drove from Newcastle, up I-90 to Billings Montana. Met my Mom and Younger brother, and my  other brother and his three kids, and my cousin  and her husband and their two teens. We got rooms with hot tubs and a pool and went out for BBQ and started the celebration of Mom’s 70th birthday
Inside teePee pool
June 30, more swimming, Red Lobster, and drive to Cody, WY to the first ever KOA. Sadly my Mom has packed her house too full of stuff to have room for visitors so we put up a tent. Brother 1 had to leave to drive back to the East with his kids. I’d expected heat but everywhere we went was cool and rainy
Hail Storm
July 1 – July 5
We stayed around the Cody area but drove a lot with Mom and brother, We went over to Thermopolis
Thermopolis Wyoming
My cousin’s Mom plays Calamity Jane
She is related to C. J.
and the booths at the city park and to the fireworks on the 4th, we went to a rodeo
4th of July in Cody
Up on the Switchbacks of the Beartooths and chief Joseph Highway

and up Chief Joseph Highway (Yes, I’m glad the name was changed but it will always be Dead Indian in my head) through Yellowstone and up to a Mountain top Ranch above Gardiner Montana to visit a friend of my son’s from high school here who was working for her uncle there. My brother got to ride “red Devil” there and it was a really intense drive up a gravel road in a lightning laden downpour to get there.

July 6, 7, 8
Baby Bison are camouflaged if you see in black and white like a predator
Three days of driving through Mountains in torrential rain and wind and lightning. The 6th we crossed the bighorns on 14A through Powell and up by Lovell to Newcastle again. The 7th we came down to Laramie and stayed up til 1 AM visiting Greg’s sister and her husband and two son’s – plus the oldest son has a very nice girlfriend from Cody who actually remembered my Mom and Brother. June 8th We drove to Denver, Colorado to visit Greg’s Mom. She had been moved to Porter’s Hospital on the 4th.
July 9th, My 46 birthday, we mostly visited at the hospital and then my youngest son bought us all tickets to see Transformers in IMAX that evening.
July 10th Greg’s sister came down from Laramie and I stayed at the motel with the boys to catch up on laundry while they were at the hospital again
July 11 we visited MIL in the morning then drove I-70 through Vail, to Green River, Utah
July 12, Drove from Green River to Ontario, Oregon. I usually get sick from the heat but it was cool and almost green. Every river we saw this entire month was up to or beyond its banks.
July 13 – Drive all day to Tacoma, Washington
July 14 and 15 Greg takes a music conference for 2 credits and then we leave at 5 PM and drive home by 3Am and collapse.
I saw so many places I wanted time to explore and was so close to other cousins and friends that we never managed to get in touch with. My Mother-in-law was still in Porter’s in Denver although she has since gone to her house, back to the Newcastle Hospital and over to Rapid City’s Hospital. My husband  left July 20 for a three day class in Billings, then went go back to Denver.
This time the boys and I stayed home to work on a yard sale, and save some of the expense. As a teacher we get no pay between the middle of June and the end of September and this has been draining the bank account.
On the way home I did hear an appropriate song,
“Sounds Like Life To Me”
( Darryl Worley, Wynn Varble, Phil O’Donnell )
He said I don’t know where to start
Sarah’s old car’s about to fall apart
And the washer quit last week
We had to put momma in the nursing home
And the baby’s cutting teeth
I didn’t get much work this week
And I got bills to pay
I said I know this ain’t what you wanna hear
But it’s what I’m gonna say
Lots of storms this trip
Sounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me
Wyoming Traffic Jam
Living in Cody
In the Black Hills
Legion lake, SD
reminds me of the Donkeytail plants my Grandpa used to grow
or the “Stone Crop” my 8th grade science teacher had us eat
Don’t know what, but very un-redwood
Love Pilot and Index
Pilot and index peak up by Cooke City, MT
Map of our travels
this shows the insane loops and backtracking we did, and then my husband had another class in Billings and had to drive it all over again.
Grandma Mimi
and she is the real reason for all of this.  I wish I could give her even a fraction of the strength and support she’s given other people in her 77 years.
 But months later she is still in the hospital with no real solutions, although this 4th hospital says an MRI scan showed fluid around her brain, and that a shunt should allow it to drain so the brain can expand to normal.  Not sure, but hoping that it might let her spirit expand to normal as well.
and now 5 years later, she has been in a hospital/Nursing Home ever since. Really since 2006, Her mind returned as strong as ever but her body is weakened by the time spent in hospital beds.  Still, when we talk she sounds like our Mimi, and can remember and converse like always and we are grateful to still have her.

Brookings Music Students Trip To San Francisco 2009

2 Feb

All year long, for twenty years now, My husband plans the big, end of the year Field trip to San Francisco with 40-50 school age choir students. For 17 years it was middle school kids, but he changed jobs 3 years ago and now has High School kids.  For 17 years we camped in sleeping bags on the floor of a school Gymnasium but the last couple we’ve graduated to bunk beds in Hostels.  His planning is intense and minutely scheduled


This year he might as well have not planned at all.


San Fran is about 8 hours south of us on a bus, some years we’ve gone by school bus but this year we had success in fund raising and splurged on a charter bus.  Last year we had no knee room and no luggage room and no bathrooms — this year we set out in luxury.


A short 2 1/2 hours from home we stopped at the Bayshore mall.  The driver dropped us off and said he’d pick us up in 45 minutes after we had lunch and he picked up a missing log book from a truck stop.  The Mall Food court was mostly closed down and wouldn’t open until the bus was due, but the driver called.  He had turned the bus off at the truck stop — and it wouldn’t start again.  The 45 minutes turned to three hours and we realized that the guided wagon rides through the Santa rosa Wild Animal Safari would not be something we could get to.  During that 3 hours, kids ate and tried hard not to blow their 3 day food budget at the mall.  And my Husband was on the phone trying to find a last minute replacement charter bus.    


Then He found one, hours south, in Santa Rosa, that could come and pick us up, get us to San Francisco and to the play we had tickets to, and to the Hostel afterwards,     but they had no bus for the next day   and then we realized that if they left Santa Rosa, and returned South with us, there was no way we’d make it by the 8 PM musical that my husband had paid $1,300 dollars for tickets to.


rescued from the broken tour bus

Then, a wonderful Lady named “Linda” from the Eureka School District said “I can let you have a school bus and driver and get you headed south to meet your driver and save some time.”  And soon we were loading the Luggage and kids into a crowded bus with suitcases on top of everyone.  

Dropped at BenBow State Park

and that wonderful bus driver kept saying, “Oh, I can go a little further.” until finally he dropped us at a green, riverside state park (Benbow)



So open up that Golden Gate

and within 10 minutes the third bus of the day pulled in to get us to S. F. over the foggy Golden Gate

almost late, we see the bus in front advertising the show

                                                        just in time for “Spamalot” (Monty Python),  Literally, the show started at 8:00 and the newest Charter bus dropped us off at 7:48   We laughed our way through a show full of rudely funny and somewhat inappropriate jokes and my husband had to hear a lot of comments about why he made them turn off “Blades of Glory” and then took them to this play.

So the charter bus hung around during the show and then took us to the Hostel at 11:30 and that driver was gone.

and 43 starving people checked in and then walked past Ghirardelli Square to an In and Out Burger at then 1:00 AM finally headed to bed, on hard wooden bunks that felt like heaven. 

We woke up on Friday, Knowing we were stranded some 400 miles from home with no bus, and were due at the Exploratorium  soon, but we figured we could get a city bus to get there – except another stranger with bus number 4 said his charter bus company happened to have a driver and bus available for the day, so he took us around the city that day.

the kids posed at Exploratoium

The kids posed on the stairs

An Endless Selfie

and they loved all the hands on science stuff at the Exploratorium and that included a big, dark, Maze where you crawl and slide and climb. 

Then we went to the De Young Museum and I loved the art, but most kids were too tired and didn’t really look at it, but they did love climbing to the 9th floor tower and looking at the city.  Our home area has a couple of elevator’s and 1 escalator and nothing past 4 stories.

De Young Museum
View from the Tower


and also from the tower


From there the charter bus dropped us at the cable cars and we rode, on Critical Mass Friday when people try to block the cable cars, down to Fisherman’s wharf.




on a bed of broken glass

At the wharf we got to see a street performer do fire eating and walk on broken glass and finally lie down in the glass while someone stood on his back.


and we got to shop and eat and ride the Pier 39 carousel,

Pier 39

Then, exhausted and Cold, we piled into Taxi’s, which most of these kids had only seen on TV.  And were Hostel bound once more.

Academy of Arts and sciences

The Last Day our original Charter Bus driver showed up in a replacement bus, the old one needed a whole engine replacement, and we went to explore the jungles and rainforest at the academy of arts and Sciences, with a great aquarium,a growing roof and a cool planetarium show,

Me on the Ferry

Then onto a ferry boat  past Alcatraz to Tiburon, across the bay from San Fran and to a divine Meal at the Dynasty for a Chinese banquet.


Then a fairly quiet return trip

My husband

My Boys ❤

and home by 1 AM Sunday Morning.





The following are pictures that I had never actually included with the letter due to the cost at the time