For times gone by, my dear,
for times gone by,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For times gone by.
Dear friends and family,
This time of year, we think about all the friends and family we're thankful for, and we try to reach out to them. In years past, it was holiday cards. More recently it's been holiday blogs and e-mails. Even so, it's sometimes hard to come up with a theme we think might be meaningful. We'd really like to put in a letter everything we find dear about each one of you, but that seems a bit impractical. We decided the next best thing might be a quick summary of the highlights for each month of 2014, emphasizing our family and friends. After considering all this, we realize how wealthy we are in companionship and love!
January - Trip to Ecuador & Peru
We flew to Ecuador in December 2013 and stayed through early January, which gave us lots of holiday and vacation time with our daughter-in-law Weina, our son Matt, their son William and our daughter Katie:
And, as a family bonus, we had a chance to stop and see our niece Hannah and her partner David - and we made a new friend, Fil (at right in photo):
February - Mardi Gras in Galveston
We decided we didn't want the chaos and crowds of New Orleans at Mardi Gras, but we heard that our favorite campground on the Gulf Coast, in Galveston, organizes a group to attend Galveston's Mardi Gras. So we joined - and BOY did we have fun. George and Eddie, who of course must make an appearance in any review of the year, model all the bling we collected:
March - Biloxi & Myrtle Beach
Continuing east on the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic as we moved north this Spring, we stayed in Biloxi for a spell and enjoyed its beautiful beaches and parks, fully restored from the Katrina devastation:
Not to be outdone, Myrtle Beach entertained us with a huge street rod show. Here, Mater makes a cameo appearance
April - Uncle Howard's Memorial Service & a Visit with Dick and Evie
David's Uncle Howard passed away last year, and his family organized a memorial service for him on Bainbridge Island in April. In addition to giving us a chance to remember all of the wonderful things Howard represented in our lives, we also had a chance to catch up with loads of West Coast cousins on David's mom's side of the family:
May - Philly Broad Street Run, & a Visit with Karen and Connie
Matt and Katie have always wanted to run in the Broad Street 10-Mile Run in Philadelphia, and we joined them for that in May. We think the race injured all of us for life, which you can see from the photo of our deformed bodies below immediately after the race:
We've formed friendships with a few other full-time RV couples, and we had a chance in May to join up with Karen and Connie Stoll at Letchworth State Park in northwestern New York state. It was a lot of fun catching up with them and exploring the waterfalls of the park:
June - Jen's Wedding & a Visit with Laird and Risa
June was the month for a huge family event, when our niece Jen Miller got married to Drew Gobrecht. They shared with us this photo of their new joint family, including Kathy's sister Eileen and her husband Tom, Michelle and Thomas O. Miller (Jen's sister-in-law and brother), Jen and Drew, and in the front in the photo below, Jen's paternal grandparents:
The after-party for the wedding was - just as Michelle's and Tom's wedding party in November 2013 - a real blast. Jen and Drew's wedding photographer caught David in the act of splitting his pants as he joined nephew Ryan in a demonstration of some smooth dance floor moves, to the consternation of all who witnessed it:
We recuperated from the wedding in time to join David's brother Laird and his wife Risa in one of our many "exchange programs" in the last couple years. Whenever our RV is planted somewhere within reach of Albany, we take turns visiting each other. Below, someone (guess who?) is gloating over his or her victory over the rest of us in a take-no-prisoners game of Chuckluck:
July - Lots of Time with Katie, William and Matt!
We also visited Matt, Weina and William in Toronto in late May and early June to help them move to their new apartment, and to help Matt care for William while Weina returned to China to bring her dad to Toronto for a long visit. Here, their dog Bubu took a selfie of himself with Matt, William, Katie, David and Kathy. Note the beautiful painting by an Ecuadorian artist, which also appears in the photo above from January in their home in Ecuador:
August - Backpack with Nick, Puppysitting & Another Visit with the Torontoans
August brought a landmark backpack in the Adirondacks with nephew Nick. We were lucky to have lean-to shelters to sleep in because it rained each night. Here, we all settle in before dinner at our campsite:
Our grandpuppy Maggie also got into the act more than once in 2014. We puppysat for her a stretch in New Haven in August while Katie traveled to present a paper at an annual Ecology conference. One of our many puppy hikes was to East Rock. Kathy and Maggie willingly took the heroic pose overlooking the Connecticut countryside:
Later in August, we were back in Toronto for one last visit with Weina's dad ("Laoye") before he returned to China in early October. Here, Laoye, William and Weina share a relaxing moment at a park on Center Island in Toronto on Lake Ontario:
September - Schroon Lake with Katie, Risa and Laird
In September, it was back through the Adirondacks (again) to Schroon Lake, where we hosted Laird and Risa for another episode of "Exchange Program" and a return bout of Chuckluck. Before they left, they had a chance to see Katie, who drove up with Maggie Puppy to join us for the Adirondack 10K Run. While Katie and Maggie were with us, we took a hike up Severance Hill, near our campground, and Katie snapped these photos:
No race souvenir is more appreciated than a photo. Luckily, the race photographer grabbed this photo of the three of us before the race:
October - Birthday Weekend in Finger Lakes
In October, we started a new tradition. Little William's birthday is in October, as is Matt's, so we joined Weina, Katie, William and Matt at Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes for a Big Birthday Bash Weekend! Luckily, we grabbed a photo of the climax moment:
We hope to make this an annual event.
November - Thanksgiving in Toronto
Again, the highlight of November was Sir William & Co. in Toronto, where we joined him, his mom and dad, and Katie (the Founder of the Feast) for a huge Thanksgiving repast. Below, Katie joins Weina and William for a little something to eat on one of the days of our visit:
December - A Visit with Eric and Ginny, Nephew Ryan, Cookie Baking & the Pollyanna Party - not to mention Christmas!
We can't believe it! The year is winding down and it's already December. But already we've had more than our share of adventures this month. We started with a bang by spending the first week of December with another RV couple we are friends with - Ginny and Eric Lajuene. They stayed at the same campground we are staying at outside Washington D.C. and joined us in innumerable hijinx, including a visit to the ICE! Display at the Washington National Harbor across from Alexandria. Here, Eric, Kathy and Ginny are preparing to endure the 9F cold temperatures of the exhibit:
We also shared a scrumptious turkey dinner with them before they headed south ahead of us.
Not to be outdone with that, we got TWO big days with nephew Ryan and his parents, Kathy's brother Steve and his wife Lea Ann.
THEN we hit the annual McNee Family Cookie Baking Day in suburban Philadelphia, where we rent a little space in the Cupboard Under the Stairs from Kathy's sister Eileen and her husband Tom. Here, the Cookie Crew enjoys a well-earned rest after laboring all day in the Cookie Kitchen:
On Sunday, December 19, we'll be joining our kids, William the Conqueror, Katie and all of Kathy's family for a huge Pirate Pollyanna Party. Then a wonderful Christmas dinner with Katie, Matt, Weina and William. And, last but not least, the two of us will ring in the New Year grooving to some cool jazz at Blues Alley in D.C.'s Georgetown section before waking up to that imponderable, mysterious new year - 2015.
We wish each of you health, happiness and the joys of being with ones you love for the whole coming year. Be sure to keep us posted on your adventures.
Kathy & David