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First Of Many Upgrades

THIS MORNING

THIS AFTERNOON

The process of moving here and living here full time has begun. Up until now, our retirement home has been basically a weekend get away once or twice a month. We have moved furniture from our old Crestview home up here to make it livable and comfortable, but never really made it our own! Today marks the beginning of just that! We had our new bedroom set delivered and built! The pictures don’t really do it justice, but believe me, it looks beautiful. Of course there is more decorating to be done, but the bones are done! Soon another room will be done! Stay tuned!

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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!

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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