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The Family Tour 2022

Still recovering from my fall from my truck bed, read the last post, another vacation loomed up. This one could not be cancelled as the last one was. We had airline tickets purchased, family waiting for us, and their vacation time had been taken. There would be none of the sort. Just before we were to leave……..I caught a cold!! I just had to tough it out and hoped I wouldn’t be contagious when we got there. By the time we got there, I just had a nagging cough and all was fine!

Phase One – The first part of the trip was to visit my remaining family in my home town of Alamogordo, NM! I was born and raised there until the early seventies when we left and never returned to live there again. I still miss it as it is my roots, but not sure I’d ever live there again or if I wanted to, convince my lovely wife to take up stakes there! My Aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch still live there in the same location since I was a child. My cousin Lorie lives just across the way from them. Some apples never fall far from the tree! It was nice visiting with them, telling stories of the past, and driving around looking at the old homes and schools we all attended. Much of the town hasn’t changed too much after all these years, but it has grown a bit! As I relived my childhood reminiscing, I admit to being a bit homesick, but the reality of living there again does not fall into the realm of reality. We just have to revisit more often for as long as the reasons remain there!

Phase Two – The next leg of the trip took us to the Dallas suburb of Lantana, Texas to visit Debbie’s sister and husband, Donna and Chris. While Debbie had visited them before, I had never been there. They showed us a great time, taking us around visiting very cool places. We headed down to Grapevine for a day and walked around. The weather was warm and beautiful. We went to Grapevine Main and had some drinks and then dinner at the 1845 Bar! Every place we went to had the aroma of burning wood for their BBQ meats! It was a carnivore’s heaven. We also spent a day in Fort Worth cruising around the Stockyard District shopping, drinking, eating, and riding bulls(real and fake) on the street and in Billy Bob’s 81 Club!! See the pictures in our album here! Another day we went down to Dallas to Deep Elum. That was quite an experience walking around down there. It is a very historic area of Dallas and has a very colorful vibe to it. It seems to get a little sketchy after dark, but it was a fun time visiting all the cool places they took us to and we had a fun time. It ended with a collision of families. Our next visit was to be in Oklahoma visiting my brother and his wife. He texted me that their oldest son and his newish wife (Matthew and Katie) lived down there and if we had a chance, we should hook up. I did and low and behold, they lived down the road and on the other side of the freeway from Donna and Chris just minutes away. We all met up at Marty B’s for dinner and drinks and closed that place and headed to another bar and closed that place too!! It was a great time!!

Phase Three – Our next stop was in Oklahoma City to raid my brother Scott and wife Dana’s place. Oklahoma area was another place neither of us had spent any time in. They have a beautiful home and both worked while trying to also entertain us. We really appreciated the time they spent showing us around and having a good time. Dana took us to a couple of museums while Scott attended work functions. One was the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. It was a very interesting place and I wish we had more time there. We were kind of rushed and missed quite a bit. I could spend hours in museums. She also took us to the First Americans Museum, which was an Indian museum and was a very interesting and somewhat sad place to learn of how there land was taken(stolen) from them! We all went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. If any of you On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder rental truck filled with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The resulting explosion killed 168 people and destroyed the entire north face of the building. We spent hours there and it was a very sobering experience. If you are ever in the OKC area, don’t miss it! They also took us down to the Bricktown River Walk and we had dinner down there at Charleston’s. We made a trip to Tulsa to have dinner with their other son and wife Josh and Bailey. It was our first time meeting her as it was meeting Katie! Both of these girls are fun, gorgeous, and a wonderful addition to the family! It was finally time to leave for the final leg of the journey!

Final Phase – The end of our journey had us spending some solo time at the Inn Of The Mountain Gods in Ruidoso, NM. This was my favorite place to visit when I was young. It is nestled up in the mountains, off the desert floor and heat of the summer. As a matter of fact, we hit some snow on the way there. It had all melted by the next day. We only had a full day there and walked the town window shopping, bought some southwest art to hang at home, spent some time in the Hatch Chili Store, and enjoyed the mountain air. We had dinner and drinks in the resort restaurant, Wendell’s and it was very good. Our flight back was in El Paso and we made one more stop at the family to spend a couple of hours before we flew back. It was nice to get back in touch with family away from here and was also nice to get back home. A few days later we had a visit with this little “bean” sporting our New Mexico shirts we brought back. Again, to see all the pictures CLICK HERE! It was a wonderful trip!!!

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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!

Many New Pictures Posted

Wedding

Wedding

San Antonio 2009

San Antonio 2009

At Best Friends

At Best Friends

Have a look at our photos from our recent vacation. Click each image to go to the album or just go here for our complete Flickr Photo Page!

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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