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New Year Catch Up

I guess I better write an update with the goings on in the Givens’ household. I am so used to posting on Facebook and Twitter, that I sometimes forget about the blog here. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and are not following us there, you are missing quite a bit. It is 2016, get with the program! I am also assuming that you even care, how narcissistic of me!

Let’s see, where to begin, one of the things I forget to mention in earlier posts was my bout with shingles back in the summer! Wow that was painful and in encompassed the whole right side of my scalp and in the heat of the summer too! It sidelined me for three weeks and I hid in the house from the sun and heat as best I could. My hiatal hernia surgery in 2014 didn’t hurt as bad!!! A miserable ordeal it was, and I still have phantom itching on my scalp at times. I will definitely be getting a shingles shot when my doctor says it is okay!

My Aching Neck!

My Aching Neck!

The rest of the summer saw us taking a few camping trips locally in our trailer so we could scout out real estate and possible retirement locations that we could settle our work weary asses down. This brings up the next item of interest, we have put up our San Juan Island house aka Givens Grove up for sale. We have shifted gears on living there full-time and are going to decide on other places. Getting to and from an island is too much of a headache and the politics there suck! We still have a couple of years before Debbie can retire and as for me at that point, we will have to see where we stand financially! The one decision we have made is to get out of King County and the Seattle area. It has become too crowded and too expensive to enjoy life here in retirement…….period!

In October we went down to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary once again to volunteer with the animals. We fed pigs, groomed horses, and walked dogs. One dog really tugged at my heart and almost brought her home but resisted the temptation, barely! We just aren’t ready for two dogs in the house. Debbie wants another one badly so Cordell can teach it how to behave……ummm…….yeah! It is always such a spiritual reconnection when we visit there!

Joe's New Friend

Joe’s New Friend

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

After our stint there, we drove down to the Phoenix area to visit our friends the McEvoy’s who were joined by our other friends the Kelly’s! These are our trailer buddies if you didn’t already know! We visited Superstition Mountain and went over to Tortilla Flats for lunch. Another day we took in the sights of Sedona. Deb loved it there……. a possible retirement spot?!?! I love Arizona too, but don’t want to be in the heat, maybe Flagstaff is more to my liking, we are going back in March to have a look around!

The Six Finger Drunkards

The Six Finger Drunkards

The six of us were then to head to Las Vegas where we had a timeshare booked, but poor Patty Belle was sick which turned out to be pneumonia so it was just us and the Kelly’s. She is fine now! We drove up, stopping by the Hoover Dam to take a walk and have a look and be tourists! The water was very low and if it gets any lower, it won’t be enough to turn the turbines for the electricity Las Vegas needs to stay lit up! We had a great time with Rich and Pam and did lots of walking on the Strip! We saw Cirque du Soleil O and what a show, unbelievable!! We spent Halloween night walking Fremont Street and that was a show in itself……wild!!! It was a great time like always with old friends like these!

Debbie Photobombing!

Debbie Photobombing!

Vegas

Debbie and Pam Hitting The Slots!

Speaking of old friends, in early December, we hooked up with a very old friend of mine I used to work with in my restaurant sales life, Jeff Simon and wife Jamie! We met in Oakland for the Packer/Raider game. Since we were staying in Oakland near the airport and stadium, we took the BART into San Francisco on the Saturday and spent the afternoon walking around, hitting local watering holes and having dinner at John’s Grill. For the most part, Jeff and I spent a lot of time catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in years! Debbie and Jamie also get along just great too! The game was awesome and the Packers got a win and the Raider Fans were pretty cool too! It was a fun trip and look forward to hanging with them again!

Joe And Jeff

Joe and Jeff surrounded by Raider Gear!

Shots

The Boys Doing Shots!

Dinner

Dinner At John’s Grill

And there you have it, a catch up with the Givens’! A new year has begun and new adventures to have and let’s hope that we all stay happy and healthy and have a wonderful 2016!! Let the show begin!!!

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Our Southwest Vacation

We have enjoyed a wonderful 10 day vacation to the Southwest and it was packed full of adventure, travel, sights, enjoyment, fulfillment, and reconnection. We started by flying to Las Vegas where we rented a car and headed out. Las Vegas was just a starting point and did not spend any time there. Renting a car in Vegas looks like it should be an easy organized task but it wasn’t for us. First you take a bus to the rental car building where all the rental companies are all together. I thought this was going to be a good idea! We went in and found our company Thrifty and saw the line of people waiting. It looked like the screening line into the gates at the airport. After that 45 minute wait, we were given our paper work and headed up to the garage where we stood in yet another line. What a mess! Don’t you just get your car assignment when you get your paper work and just head out to the space where the car is??? Well not here. We waited and waited because they didn’t have any cars. Finally they brought up a bunch and started the line. We were supposed to get an economy car like a Chevy Aleo or similar. When it was our turn, the guy asked us what we had and I couldn’t remember, so he just pointed to a 2008 red Mustang and asked if we wanted that! Well hell yes we did and were finally off in a nice ride!

Our first stop was Kanab, Utah! We were going to spend the first three days there visiting and volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society. Now if you have watched the TV show Dogtown on the National Geographic Channel, then you are familiar with Best Friends. What a wonderful place it is and it was better than either of ever expected. Best Friends is a no kill animal rescue/sanctuary that cares for around 2000 animals at any given time. They care for dogs, cats, pigs, birds, horses, and goats and employ 400 staff members and host many many volunteers. It is run mainly from the donations of the 250,000 members and it is run very well from what we saw. Our volunteering stint had us cleaning dog runs, walking dogs, feeding and socializing with pigs, and spending time with many cats! We loved it!! We even had two dogs come to our motel on two different nights for a doggie sleep over! They allowed to take two dogs with us for an overnight visit with us which helps the animal get used to being out with people and other dogs. It also helps them get used to the noises of everyday life like TV’s, cars, traffic, phones, kids, etc. Many of these animals are abandoned, abused, hoarded, and rescued from disasters. Some of their stories will just break your heart, but it was nice to see that they are now very well taken cared of and deserve the pampering they are getting at Best Friends. Most of these animals are being prepared for adoption, but if they are not or have issues that will not allow them to be adopted, then they will live out their lives at the sanctuary!!! If you are wondering….. we did not leave with any animal, but we will definitely be returning for more volunteer vacations!!!

Our next stop was at Bryce Canyon National Park on the way to Cedar City, UT. Now I have been to Bryce Canyon before, many years ago, but Deb had never seen it. It was a beautiful as I remembered and we did quite a hike while we were there. We then visited one of Debbie’s former co workers that has retired in Cedar City, Alan and Travis Hoppes. We stayed at their very lovely home and enjoyed a fantastic restaurant. Deb and I really liked Cedar City and it will be a future destination when we come back. It might not be a place to retire to when we are ready, but that’s way down the road. We then left and made a journey to Zion National Park which was different from Bryce Canyon but just as beautiful. There we did another hike and enjoyed the scenery. If you haven’t visited southern Utah, you must take a visit. The countryside and views will astound you. It is gorgeous down there!!!

We headed into Arizona for an overnight in Flagstaff. We drove right by the Grand Canyon, but it was dark and our itinerary didn’t allow for any time to be spent there so it will have to be on the list for our next visit. From Flagstaff we headed into western New Mexico. We made a stop in Mogollon which is an old mining town that no longer exists as a vital town although there are people that live there and we met a few. I don’t know how they do it as they are far off the beaten path. They probably like it that way that’s probably why they live there. It is kind of a spooky place and we were there in the day time. From there we stopped in Silver City, NM and visited my uncle Herbie and aunt Brenda. I hadn’t seen them in over 15 years! We had a nice visit and dinner with them. They are full time RV people and live in it! They had it parked at their son’s (Tyson) place. We went out and saw it and visited with him and his family. It had been even longer since I had seen him. It was great to see them all and know that they are doing good and are healthy!

The final leg of the journey took us to my home town of Alamogordo, NM. I was born and raised here and still have family left there. Allot of the family is there but reside in the town cemetery!! We visited my uncle Butch and aunt Sharon and cousin Lorie. My other cousin Jo Ann and friend Lisa drove over from Carlsbad and met us in Mayhill, NM for lunch and a great visit! We also drove by houses, schools, different points of meaning in my past and it was very poignant to revisit what was my childhood. Finishing off our vacation took us down to the hell hole of Van Horn, Tx. Sorry to any of you that have a connection to the town, but it really is a hell hole! Most of the town looks like it had died on the vine as many buildings that had housed former businesses were abandoned and crumbling. Even former gas stations were closed. Most of what was left were motels and there is a golf course nearby, but not much else. What took us down there was some land we hold that has been handed down to me from family. Since we were in the area and had one last day to kill, we decided to go down and have a look! We did learn allot about it and even found the location of where it was and even drove there to have a look. We weren’t able to get to the exact property as it was not accessible by car, as far as we could tell, but we did get a general idea where it was…… basically in the middle of nowhere! Our last stop was El Paso where we dropped off the car and flew home! It was a jam packed vacation and was allot of fun! You can check out our pictures by clicking here and soon I will have podcasts posted at my newest podcast Just Joe Podcast, so go and check both out!!! That’s it for now, finally!!!

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