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Oregon Vacation 2012

It is obvious we seem to love the great state of Oregon because we keep returning there year after year. Once again we took a road trip back there. We first headed to the coast winding up in Newport. We have driven through the quaint coastal town many times in the past, but never stayed and explored it much. This time we did and discovered it to be very beautiful. We stayed at the Hallmark Resort right on the beach. Cordell loved running on the beach. He goes crazy out there on the sand and watches the waves and seagulls and explores the driftwood and bits washed ashore! If you just drive down the coast highway like we have done many times past, you don’t discover the very cool part of the town, the old historic dock part of the town. We did and it was very cool with many shops, galleries, restaurants, and sights. We had one of the best dinners ever at a place called Local Ocean! It was fresh and wonderful and if we lived here, it would be our favorite dining stop. We also took a drive up the coast a bit and ended up at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Debbie loves going there and any time we are within driving distance, we go eat cheese!!!!!

Leaving the coast for our second leg of the trip, we drove to central Oregon over the Santiam Pass to our next destination of Suttle Lake near Sisters, OR. There we met up with some very good friends Rich and Pam and bunked together at the Lodge At Suttle Lake. It is a very beautiful property nestled in the woods on the shores of Suttle Lake. We had a very nice cabin but no internet and you know I needs my internets!!! We had dinner with another couple of friends Rob and Ursie at the Tumelo Feed Company where you can get great steaks and a nice big plate of rocky mountain oysters (no….Deb nor I tried them). It was very nice being together with all these great people at the same table. We have shared many good times together! The next day was snowmobiling time!!! Rich and Pam have their own, so Debbie and I had to rent ours. The weather was iffy at best with the wind blowing hard. In Bend things looked hopefully, but by the time we hitched the trailer with our sleds and followed Rich up to the sno park near Mt Bachelor, the wind was howling and snowing sideways. Well did that stop us, hell no and off on the trails we went. It was fun but slow going as visibility was an issue for all of us at times, sometimes not being able to see the trail in front of you. We made it to the Elk Lake Resort where we dried and warmed up a bit with a hot coffee drink before heading back. We were going to do a loop, but due to time constraints and needing to get the sleds back in time, we had to go back the way we came. The trip back was much better as the wind and snow stopped and the sun came out! It was fun regardless of the weather!

Well we parted ways and started on the third and final leg of our trip driving down the road to Sunriver where we had a fabulous room at the Sunriver Resort! The place is gorgeous!

The Lodge

We absolutely love this area and have thought about retiring here many times! Having a state income tax on top of the federal taxes have changed our mind about retiring in Oregon though. We just don’t feel like giving an additional 10% of our pensions to the state. We have settled on somewhere else, but more on that in a later post! We took Cordell on a nice long walk around the grounds and into the Village, had a great dinner in the restaurant, and enjoyed the accommodations. The next day we went skiing at Mt Bachelor. The weather was perfect, but my skiing wasn’t. I think I rented the wrong skis and spent a lot of time on my back. It was pathetic and poor Debbie’s day was ruined waiting for me! I think some lessons are in order since I have never had any. I just pointed myself downhill one day at Ski Apache in New Mexico on fine day long ago and headed down and figured it out. I am sure I learned some bad habits along the way that need to be corrected. The next day ended our time and we had to head back home. Actually it was in the nick of time, as bad weather and snow had come and made driving a bit tricky at times but we made it back safely. The time had gone by very fast on this trip and the next scheduled vacation won’t happen until July. We will be busy though as you shall soon see, meanwhile have a look at the few photos we took and we’ll see ya soon!

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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)!

Mt. Bachelor

We have done some very good vacation planning this year, just like the last year! With my job, I have to pick my vacations in January for the complete year. Sometimes it is hard to know what plans to make in advance and what weeks to pick. But last year we did great and this year is all laid out. We have never done a week ski vacation before. Usually it is just a long weekend or possibly an anniversary trip that we do some skiing! This year we decided to plan one! Debbie looked and looked for a place to go. Colorado was a thought, but we found it to be on the spendy side. Tahoe was another target, but again proved to be to pricey. Another factor was Cordell. We planned on taking him with us and just couldn’t justify the expense. On of our friends suggested we check out Mt. Bachelor just outside of Bend, Or. We could drive down and plus we had friends there we could visit! Debbie found a great place to stay so off we went with Cordell in the back seat. Now people always ask, what about Patience (the cat). Have you ever travelled with a cat? They don’t do well and she is happy at home just fine. We have very good friends that take good care of her.

The drive to Bend isn’t a bad one and we had great tunes to listen to whilst on the way from SnoJoRadio my music podcast! Debbie had found us a condo to stay at the Seventh Mountain Resort for the week and our unit was dog friendly! It was a very nice place and just twenty minutes at the most to the slopes at the mountain. It also had a kitchen so we could cook there when we wanted. A very cozy place. Cordell loved walking the grounds and exploring. Both of us had been to Bend a few years back, but had never been to Mt Bachelor to ski and only vaguely remembered anything about the town itself! It is a really cool, hip town and the downtown section is very vibrant and alive. There are many restaurants for a town that size, so when we did decide to venture out for dinner, we had plenty of choices. We ate at the Pine Tavern Restaurant, McMenamins, and also the Brickhouse Restaurant. Each of the were fantastic! When we weren’t on the slopes, we drove around and explored. We took a drive down to Sunriver, and also headed out to Sisters, Or. It was a bit quiet at both places, but we did find a lively and enjoyable place to have dinner in Sisters at a place called Bronco Billys Ranch Grill and Saloon. Dinner was filling, tasty, and cheap. Check out my salad that I had to take part of back to the condo:

My Huge Cobb Salad

Now the real reason we went down to Bend was to ski and ski we did! The only snafu was my feet, especially the left one. I have very flat feet and also pronate somewhat. I have to wear special orthotics in my street and running shoes and the rental boots on the mountain just killed my left foot. After the first day, I was in severe pain. I was hoping not to spoil the rest of the week for Debbie because she was looking forward to doing a lot of sking. We spent a whole day looking at ski boots and thought we had found a pair for me, but hesitated. Then I decided to rent some demo boots skis at the mountain. I explained my situation to the boot fitter there and he came up with a pair of Tecnica Mega 12’s and I was in heaven. It was the first time in my life I could ski for hours and have no foot pain. I scored on a new pair, and as well fitted as they were, they still needed to be punched out for my left foot. Then Debbie wanted to also demo boots and skis and by the time we left, we each had a pair of brand new boots! I guess we will be skiing more often now! We’ll demo skis for a while until we decide to buy, but we need to save money for the next big vacation adventure coming in May! I also put up some pictures of our trip in a new album on our Flickr Photo Page, so go have a look!

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!!!!

Seventeen Years

Ahhhhhh yet another year has passed of wedded bliss with my sweetie. We put another notch on the anniversary pole. There are now seventeen notches logged. This was my year to plan the secret get away and I had a tough time figuring out just where to take my girl. After some serious pondering, I came up with the idea of a ski weekend might be fun. Since the Winter Olympics had just been held in Vancouver/Whistler, that destination was discarded as an idea. After doing some research and putting out some feelers, a buddy of mine gave me the idea of taking the train to Whitefish, MT and skiing there. At first I thought that may be to far to go just for a weekend, but after checking into it, it looked like a great idea. On Friday afternoon we hopped on the Amtrak Empire Builder and away we went. Debbie has been on Amtrak before, but I hadn’t and neither of us had slept on a train. I had booked a sleeper car which was nice, but very small. We had to sleep in bunk type beds that brought back memories of childhood. Along with the sleeper came dinner in the dining car! I was very impressed  with the quality of food on the train. Sure beats airline food any day! Then came sleeping……oh boy! Debbie had chosen the upper bunk which she later regretted as it was small, hard, and had no window to look out. She got little sleep and I didn’t fare much better! With all the rocking and noises and whistle stops, I mostly watched the clock and tossed.

We arrived in Whitefish early the next morning bleary eyed but ready to start our adventure! We got shuttled to our hotel, the Grouse Mountain Lodge, which was a big beautiful lodge right on a golf course. There would be no golfing on this trip as there was still snow on the ground. Even though it was early morning, our room was already ready so we could head right up and get freshened up. Even though we were dead tired, we decided to head up to the slopes for a half day of skiing. After a quick breakfast, we got the shuttle and headed to Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort! It was beautiful and the weather was gorgeous, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day of spring skiing and we had a blast. We skied pretty good for not having much sleep, but once we got back to the lodge, we didn’t last very long. The next day we put in a full day on the slopes then went into town after we were worn out. Whitefish is a very cool place surrounded by mountains and lakes. As we usually do when we visit new places, we think we might like to live in them and Whitefish was no different. This place has possibilities for a future place for us to land after retirement and could be a target on our six-year plan as Debbie will have 30 years in the State Retirement System and can throw the working world away! We plan on a return trip to spend more time checking things out.

After walking around town and grabbing a bite, we headed back to the lodge and readied for our trip home. It would be another all nighter on the train again and we had a plan. Deb took the lower bunk and I had to suffer above. We headed to the lounge car and had a few adult beverages to get us happy and tired. When we were ready to crash, took a couple of Tylenol PM, shoved in some ear plugs, and hoped for the best. It helped, but we still only got a fitful night’s sleep but managed to get up before the last call for breakfast. As I type this back in our warm cozy home sore, tired, ready to sleep in my own bed, I realize I won’t get to posting the pictures on our Flickr page until sometime later, so I won’t even post this until I do. It may be a few days before you even read this.  It was worth every sore muscle and every hour of lost sleep and another anniversary memory to never forget!

What It Looked Like Christmas Day

While it does snow here in the Puget Sound Area from time to time, we rarely have a white Christmas! This year not only did we have one heck of a white Christmas, but we’ve had snow for weeks! Record snow fell in Seattle and surrounds the last half of December and it is just now beginning to melt away! These are some images of our home and neighborhood Christmas morning:

Our Big Snow Storm

We are blasted righ now with a big snow storm that will probably mess up our roads for quite awhile, since we are experiencing a very long extended cold snap. I am sitting at the Metro Base wondering why us bus drivers even need to show up when it gets this bad. Buses are stuck everywhere and nobody with any brains are even trying to go anywhere at this point! But here I sit waiting for those that think I should, to go out in a vehicle that is not or ever will be equipped to operate in these type of conditions. Check out the link below to see the story:

http://www.king5.com/topstories/stories/NW_121808WXB_snow_thursday_LJ.74fa6e42.html

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