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Goodbye Snoqualmie…….

…..and Seattle, King County, and Puget Sound!

Leaving So Cal in 1990!

Back in 1973 or 74 I moved from my home state of New Mexico and we headed to the big city of Seattle, Washington. I had no idea what I was heading into because at that time in my life, I had hardly ventured out of my home state! Growing up in the dry desert heat, it was a wondrous sight to come over the Cascades into the sea of green trees, cool clouds, and mist! I fell in love with the area immediately and settled into an area of south of Seattle. My stay there only lasted two years and then was off to various locations for the next 15 years but vowed to one day return.

My life journey finally landed me in Southern California in 1978. There I would be for most of my 20’s and early 30’s. I had a career in sales, had tons of friends, and made decent money. It was a great place to be when one was in their youth, but the longer I stayed there, the more I wanted to leave. The constant brown everywhere, sky, mountains, landscape was depressing. I hated “smelling” the air on a daily basis and the damn weather never changed! Each time I left for a vacation or to visit family out of town, I hated coming back. My yearning to return to the Pacific Northwest was growing like a long forgotten seed planted now starting to sprout. Finally, in 1989, while visiting family in New Mexico and Oklahoma for the holidays I made the proclamation that I was going to move back to Seattle by the end of the following year! That was met with disbelief, laughter, and “yeah we’ve heard it before”. My mind was made up and I would soon be working on my plan to get there.

I started subscribing to the Seattle Sunday Times by mail to read up on what was happening up there. Even back in the late 80’s Washingtonians were crying about the onslaught of Californians moving up there and things haven’t changed much today. Californians are leaving their state in droves to here, Idaho, Texas, Oregon, and even Montana! Ruinous bastards…….okay…..okay I was one too, BUT I can say I “returned” to Washington. I started to put the pieces of my relocation plan into effect. I reached out to my manager of my desire to transfer to the Seattle branch and he thought I was nuts. I assured him I wasn’t and after much persuasion trying to get me to stay, he gave in and contacted the Seattle manager of Kraft Foodservice and let him know there was a potential new sales person from the LA ranks that wanted to join forces in Seattle. So in July I took a vacation to the Emerald City, stayed with a former coworker who just happened to have moved there, met with the sales manager, and sealed a relocation deal. On September 1, 1990 I rolled into Seattle and my dream had finally come into fruition!

As luck would have it, my former coworker had decided to go back to Alaska for another fishing boat gig and I sublet his place in the cool and funky neighborhood of Wallingford. From my bedroom window I could look out over Lake Union right at downtown Seattle! I was in absolute heaven and happy as an Ivar’s clam! Unfortunately, not everything was as rosy as it could have been. Once October came, I discovered never ending gray, torrential sideways rain, and a career that began to stumble. During the beginning, bouts of depression came over me and I really started questioning the decision I had made. I always had an open door to return to LA and go back to work down there, but knew that was not an option for me. Once I realized what it all was for, my head cleared and no matter what happened to my career, I was back in Seattle where I had longed to be and was home! I worked hard and gave it all I could, but a year later parted ways with my career in sales and would be moving on in a totally new direction in life, and boy was it ever! 

In those subsequent years I met the love of my life and married her, became a stepfather in the process, did a brief stint in real estate appraisal, bought my first home, ended up in a new career driving public transit for King County Metro, and settling down in a small burb near the foothills of the Cascade Mountains called Snoqualmie. In the beginning it was an idyllic life. The small community was growing thanks to a new development “up on the hill”. We loved it even though there were hardly any services and you had to drive a few miles to get anything done, but for us, it was no problem. We bought a beautiful house which I loved, started making a few friends, and were enjoying life as “empty nesters”.

Our Snoqualmie Home!

So here we are, 17 years down the road, and it’s time to move along. The once small peaceful town has burgeoned into a bedroom community way bigger than we had expected or hoped for. It’s now full of yupsters, soccer moms, and helicopter parents. We find ourselves surrounded by people of totally different thinking and values than ours. We have a very tight small group of friends that would have our back at anytime, but for the most part, many others would just stab it. Until the COVID pandemic, traffic around the area had slowed to an intolerable crawl even during the off rush hours. Property taxes have surged beyond affordable. The once beautiful city of Seattle, has turned into a sewer being lead by idiotic progressive liberal leadership. We have had enough!!! Debbie retired last year, and I have finally driven my last bus trip, going a bit early. We have packed up and moved to our paradise on the Olympic Peninsula. While we will return to Snoqualmie from time to time, we are glad we are leaving and starting the “retirement chapter” of our lives. Seattle and the rest of King County can pound sand!

A Family Affair

In early October we took our last vacation of 2013. It was a combination of family get togethers on both sides. The first part of it involved Debbie’s side of the family and the wedding of her niece Jennifer. It took place in Texas near Dallas, so we flew into the Dallas-Ft Worth airport. I had driven through the area years ago mainly speeding by on the interstate, but had never spent any time in Dallas. This time was no different as the wedding was held in a town called Whitewright which was north. What did strike us was the size of the airport. It was huge and we got lost just trying to leave, driving in circles for a while before we finally managed to escape the madness. Then as we drove toward the location of the ranch, the sprawl that is the DFW metro area was just crazy. The place is way too big for me and Texans drive insanely! The wedding and reception were held at a beautiful place called the Bethel Ranch. Most of the wedding party, family, and many guests stayed right there as the place was huge. Debbie’s sister, Donna(mother of the bride) and her husband Chris did a lot to make all of who stayed comfortable. Austin’s, the groom, Mom and sisters did a lot of cooking and feeding of the guests. There was quite a bit of organized chaos, but the event went off without a hitch and even the weather held off until the outdoor ceremony was over. Much fun!!!

After the wedding fun, we departed the Dallas area and flew to the glorious city of El Paso. We got our rental and drove up to my hometown of Alamogordo, NM! The closer I got, memories of childhood and growing up came streaming in. It seems like such a long time ago that I roamed these streets and many loved ones who were part of my young life are now long departed. It is bittersweet returning here sometimes. What helped was our somewhat mini reunion of my brothers Scott and his wife Dana and Garth, sister Monica, and seeing my aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch and cousin Lorie. Due to my half assed organizational skills, we had forgotten to let my other cousin, JoAnn know we were coming and she wasn’t able to be around. Next time I will do better! Boy did we have fun! Along with running around town looking at old homes we haunted and schools we went to, we did road trips around the State together! We took a drive up to Santa Fe where Debbie had always wanted to go and I hadn’t been in years. We had a great time going to the plaza and eating tamales and visiting the shops and old churches. On the way back we stopped in a very small town called Duran and parked in front of this building! It was dark by then and very spooky and no matter how we tried, we could not get a decent photo of it at night! We also stopped on the highway near Carrizozo where, when were young,  we saw a woman in a wedding dress come walking out of an arroyo and tried waving us down. We later heard the story of her ghost!!!! We weren’t sure of the exact location though, and didn’t see her again!

Other journeys took us to the ghost town of White Oaks, the old Fort Stanton, Lincoln, and Ruidoso. Deb and I love Ruidoso and here we go again thinking we might like to live here when we retire. It is a very cool town and we saw some very nice homes nestled up in the hills. There is the yearly worry of fires when the season hits and the last one saw some pretty intense fires come very close to the town. We have thought about New Mexico before, but we have thoughts about going to many different places to live once we have removed the shackles of employment. We may just get an RV and just drive and hang out in all these places. We took a drive to Las Cruces and went to the old town of Mesilla. The town has a lot of history and home of one hell of a Mexican restaurant called La Posta where we had an awesome lunch! Our final trip was up the hill with my Aunt to Cloudcroft. It is an old lumber town which is just up from my hometown. It was a cool place to go in the heat of the New Mexico summers. We visited the Lodge at Cloudcroft and looked around at the old hotel. We went into the tower and the Governor’s Suite. The place is supposed to be haunted by many different ghosts and one in particular, a girl called Rebecca! My Aunt had a strange experience coming down the stairs from the tower. One of her earrings was knocked out of her ear! She just took it in stride and put it back in. Then it got knocked out a second time. I was walking behind her at that point watching it and saw it just fly out of her ear. Was it Rebecca???? It was a great time and for once, time did not fly by! It was great seeing all of both families and sharing some great memories!! Check out our the New Mexico pictures here!

Winter Has Arrived

Finally we are looking at a wintry wonderland for the first time this season. It would have been nice if this had happened at Christmas and up until just now, we have had a very uneventful winter this year! La Nina didn’t sock us into multiple snow storms like last year and I am kind of glad because I am driving articulated buses now and they are horrible in ice and snow. This wintry weather is supposed to last the next four days and I am not looking forward to going to work tomorrow!

Our Holidays were nice. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house and our friends Larry & Lynette hosted Christmas. So it was a family affair on both occasions. For New Year’s we headed up to our long time friends the Hillstroms in their brand new home on San Juan Island. They have a beautiful waterfront home overlooking the sound. We have always loved the San Juan’s and Friday Harbor and have thought about maybe retiring there among the other places that we consider. Well we have taken the first step into making that possibility a reality. We were walking about and found a wonderful smaller home we are calling “the cabin” for sale. We contacted a realtor we know there and had him come open it up and show us. We decided it was a deal we couldn’t pass up and made an offer a few days later after we returned home. After some offer counter offer volley, we came to an agreement with the seller and are now moving through the financing process. Until we have the keys in our hot hands, I hold off on providing the details until later but we are very excited!! I am also working on possibly what will start out as a side career that I am hoping flourishes into something I can do full-time! Again, I’ll hold off on the details until I get a better idea on how it is going to work out but I think 2012 is going to be a great year…..(knocking on wood)!

Happy 2011

The Givens Family Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well another years has passed us by. This was the fastest year yet for me. It seems like we had just put the tree and decorations away from last year just a few months ago and here we were dragging it all out again. For that reason, I was not very prepared for this Christmas. Debbie, on the other hand, gets excited no matter what. She loves the Holidays and loves giving. Our great friends Larry and Lynette hosted Thanksgiving and we had Christmas Dinner at our house. The day after Christmas we went down to Tacoma and had brunch at the Hob Nob with the sisters and their families. This has become somewhat of a tradition at the Hob Nob. It makes it a lot easier on everyone to just gather together at a restaurant and have our brunch and gift giving right there. The staff has become used to us taking over the dining room!

We had a wonderful Christmas. It was also Cordell and Patience first Christmas and they both enjoyed the company over. I think Cordell got a little stressed at all the fuss, especially while gifts were being open. He went off on his own and spent some quiet time by himself. We were very proud of both of them! Speaking of gifts, Debbie and I got some nice gifts this year! She got a Nikon D90 digital camera and I got an IPad! She is taking pictures of just about everything. I have left the photo editing to here as I can no longer keep up with the avalanche of photos she is ripping off. I love my IPad and it is really cool using it during my breaks on the bus (what few I have these days). It is an awesome gadget and I can hardly put it down. We are very blessed.

 

The Snowy Estate

Not soon after Christmas, we got our second snow storm of the season! They had predicted a rough winter for our area and so far it has been pretty wild. It made for a beautiful wintry wonderland right at the Holidays but also made my bus driving job not very fun. So now we have had two very big winter storms and we have a lot of winter left. I wonder how many more of them we will see this year. Everybody is doing well in our tribe. Alex is still working at Milgard Windows and is also a volunteer firefighter. His wife Mo is teaching and loving it. Her kids love her too. Ryan, after being laid off for awhile, now has a new job he likes better. He is still doing HVAC work, but is now with a different company and they are treating hime well. He recently moved to downtown Seattle and has his own space finally and loves it. It is quite a nice bachelor pad if I say so myself. Now we are looking forward to a new year and new adventures. We hope your upcoming year will be bright, prosperous, and wonderful!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Summer Update

A lot has been going since the last blog post so I’ll do my best as concise as possible. Patience and Cordell have settled into their new forever homes nicely! They seem very happy and content! As with most pets, we have had a few accidents along the way, especially with Patience the cat. She has taken to occasionally peeing on our bed. Not good!!! We have to now keep her out of our bedroom while we were not at home and when she does sometimes sleep in our room, we bring up the cat box and put it in the bathroom. So far these tactics have prevented further pee episodes, but we are still at odds at the reasons she is doing this. My assumption  is that she is jealous of the relationship Debbie has with Cordell. Cordell is mommy’s boy and he loves her to death. We are making sure we give her as much attention as we give Cordell and so far seems to be working….crossing fingers!

We are enjoying our new camp trailer and so is Cordell. We have made a few outings to places with hook ups just to get a feel for things and learn how everything works. Cordell just loves to go camping with us. He has such a good time on these adventures. He has turned out to be a wonderful dog!! We were on the fence about taking Patience with us on these trips and in the end decided it would just upset her routine too much and exacerbate her peeing problem, so she has to stay home!  Over the 4th of July weekend, we met friends near Mt. St. Helen’s and dry camped for three days. Dry camping is no power, water, or toilets. It tested our water rationing and the brand new generator and everything worked out great! It was also a long drive with winding roads and long grades which tested the Mercedes and the car also passed the test! We also had a great time with great friends. One of the days we were there, we hiked the Ape Caves. That was a cool but long brutal hike, climbing over rock falls and tight spaces sometimes a bit challenging and scary! We’d do it again in a heartbeat! In a few weeks we will be heading down the Oregon coast for a week of camping adventures.

Just before that, we had Debbie’s oldest son Chad and his wife and two girls come out for a visit. It was the first time visiting us out here since they found each other! It was also the first time Chad had met Ryan and Alex. Deb took some time off work to visit with them and show them some of the sites of the area. The highlight of the visit was Chad and I running the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon! It was my first half and six years and though I finished allot slower than the last time I ran one, I did finish it! Chad of course rocked it and kicked my ass! That day was finished off by a big family barbecue at the house. It was a nice visit and hope they enjoyed their stay with us! As I wrap up this entry,  go and check out all the new photos on our Flickr page and watch the video of us being fools in the cave at our You Tube page. Until next time!!!

It Was Bound To Happen

We are back at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah for our annual volunteer week with the animals. As usual, we are having a wonderful time. It is so wonderful and satisfying working with all these wonderful creatures! It is a lot of hard work, but you know it is much appreciated by staff and the animals themselves! This trip we did things differently. Instead of flying to Las Vegas and driving from there, we flew to Salt Lake City, then to St George where we rented the car and drove. It was much better doing it that way! I must admit, getting on a small propeller plane to go to St George was a little scary and then landing on a freaking plateau in St George wasn’t pleasant either!!! But the short drive to Kanab made up for the harrowing experience! Before we started our stint we had a day to go visit Zion National Monument and took a long hike which was very challenging and somewhat scary at times. It was the Angels Landing hike and took us up on some very high and narrow spots! Debbie did pretty good even though she is scared of heights. We decided that trying to reach Scouts Lookout was too much and continued on the West Rim Trail! It was a beautiful hike and we were both wiped at the end! Now on to the sanctuary!

This was our third trip to the sanctuary and as usual we always work with dogs, cats, pigs, and horses. This time we also worked in the Parrot Garden with all the birds. It was loud as expected, but we learned just how intelligent they are. The average cockatoo has the intelligence of a 3 -4 human child. It is also very sad to see them in cages as that is where they should not be! Please never buy a bird from a pet store because you are just exasperating the problem of bird mills, yes they exist. If you must have a bird as a pet, get them from a rescue and realize they can live for decades!! We also learned that one of my favorite piggies, Raisin, who fell in love with me on the last trip, is getting adopted and will be leaving the sanctuary for her forever home! We are happy for her, but at the same time sad we will not see her when we return. Here is another adoption story, ours. We have always come here with the idea that taking home any animal is not in the cards. A year and a half has past since Simon, our last kitty passed over the Rainbow Bridge and we have been pet less ever since. I kept that idea in mind, yet Debbie fell in love with a little cutey named Cordell. He is a Chihuahua mix and is the sweetest little dog we have ever met! Also, while we were working with cats, a little gray princess named Patience fell in love with me. She more or less decided we were going to give her a home, so did Cordell! So as of today we have adopted both of them and they will be joining us in our home in Snoqualmie. Cordell will be flying home with us Sunday and Patience will fly in later the next week. We will soon be pet parents once again. Oh God what have we done!!! We have one more day of volunteering, then doing the logistics of adoption paperwork and transport details. There are pictures up here of the trip and videos are up at our YouTube Page. In the mean time meet the newest members of our family:

Meet Cordell

Meet Cordell

Meet Patience

Meet Patience

Holiday Recap

Before it gets too stale, well it may already be stale, let me post a recap of our Holiday season. I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays because we hosted nothing!!!! It was kind of nice for a change and less work! For Thanksgiving, we were invited up to our friends Larry & Lynette for the turkey feast. It was wonderful as Lynette is a great cook. The only other family member that was there was Ryan. Mo and Alex went to her parents for Thanksgiving. This is what happens when the kids get married off. Time has to be shared with the in-laws!  Then came Christmas and again it seemed to come way too fast! Alex and Mo hosted their first Christmas in their new house in Gig Harbor. Larry, Lynette, Mariam (Lynette’s Mom), Ryan, Mo’s parents and brother and sister joined in the festivities. We had a fantastic dinner and opened gifts! By the end of the evening, Alex knew what it was like to host a family gathering….. allot of work! This year, our gift giving was toned down a bit! We exchanged small gifts between ourselves because we got big gifts earlier on! I had California Closets installed in her closet in our bedroom! That was her big gift! We also had bought a 52″ TV for our downstairs family room and called that a gift to ourselves. Between the two, that was plenty! Since Gig Harbor is quite a drive from our home in Snoqualmie, we had reserved a room in a nearby hotel for the night! It was convenient also because the following day we met up with Deb’s sisters and their better halves for brunch at the Hob Nob Restaurant in Tacoma! This is an old Tacoma establishment and looks to be an annual thing for Deb and her sisters to do at Christmas time! New Year’s Eve was fun especially since I got the day off unexpectedly!!! We went to a bash at the Queen City Yacht Club where Larry & Lynette are members! We also stayed at a hotel in the  University District so we wouldn’t be on the road afterward!! It was a fun time and we hung out with some boating people we had met on one of our voyages! So that was the holiday recap!! Look to the right under our Flickr photos for links to the pictures!!

The new year will be an exciting one and hopefully without the disasters that befell us in 2009! We have some awesome vacations planned for this coming year! We plan on returning to Best Friends Animal Society for our third visit in April!! We are looking forward to seeing our animal and human friends again there! In September we have booked a two week cruise to Alaska and I am busting with anticipation for this one!!! I can hardly wait! We have also possibly planned to rent a boat in July and cruising with Larry & Lynette up to Canada, but that one is still tentative! I am a little anxious about getting on a boat of that size again and cruising around on it, but I will have to get over the hump and just do it!!! Well, that’s it for now will be back soon!

Chicago Family

It has been awhile since I posted much since the boating accident and I’ll just say one last thing and we’ll put the subject to rest. Just this last week we got our insurance check for the loss and paid off the loan. With some of the remaining funds, we are paying off Deb’s car loan and now we are debt free except for mortgage. We are  still waiting for our personal loss claim to go through for all the stuff we lost in the boat. I still think about that day and feel queasy when I see rough water. It has permanently affected most of us involved.

Just recently Deb and I took a week off and went to Chicago to see her oldest son Chad and his family. It was her only second time visiting them and my introduction to them. The story of Chad is an interesting one that needs to be told in full someday soon but I won’t do it here. We were going to record a podcast and tell the story of Debbie and Chad, but never got around to it. Let’s just say that he was Debbie’s first-born that she never knew and now they have reconnected. He lives in Lake Bluff in a very nice neighborhood and is successful. He has a beautiful wife named Kay and two gorgeous daughters! That fact has just made us instant grand parents! Debbie loves it and the call her Nana and love her to death. They call me Papa Joe and I guess I made quite a hit with both of them. Riley is the older one and is five and Brynlee is three and looks just like a little Debbie. They are both sweethearts and very smart just like their Nana. Now, you ask, how does it feel to be an instant grandpa? I am not sure as it is still sinking in. It does make me feel old though!

We had a great visit and made it our vacation. There was a lot of family time but also some touristy stuff too. We took a train to downtown Chicago and went up to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), went to the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Botanical Gardens, saw a friend of ours who played at our local pub play at the House of Blues, and Chad even had us running a 5k race while we were there. One day Chad drove us through the ghettos of South Chicago bypassing traffic, so we can say we saw a lot of diversity while we were there! Now I like Chicago and there are some beautiful parts of the city, especially around where they live, but I would never want to live there! First, the weather would be had to handle. The freezing cold winters and blistering humid summers would be a bitch. Another thing is the horrendous traffic! It is horrible and the natives drive insane! The place is just too big for us, but we will always enjoy visiting, and now we have four good reasons why we will! There are pictures, go have a look. Soon the story will be told to those who don’t know it already so stay tuned!

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