Happy New Year 2009, Happy Valentine's Day and Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Well, you'd think that we would have all the time in the world to (1) write our annual holiday upate and (2) keep our website (www.carylota.com) updated. We were completely fooled by this notion of "retirement" -- rather than the conventional notion of "all play and no work," our implementation of retirement has been very different in 2008. Sure, Cary temporarily took in the "Lighthouse Photography" shingle, and Lota stowed away the business attire for about 90% of 2008, and plans to continue the same in 2009. But the reality is that we've simply traded those "work" activities for other types of activities that have been incredibly gratifying and uplifting for us -- and we did manage to play a little too in 2008. Here's our year in a nutshell....
When January 2008 rolled around, we had three major housing/construction/remodeling projects underway. The first was at our homeplace, affectionately know as the Compound. Our backyard oasis (pool & outdoor kitchen) was completed and ready for an April 15 opening. Our detached garage and storage building, as well as the Waggin' Wagon's home were both completed in March. Landscaping around these areas was completed in May, including Ruth Ann's greenhouse and rose garden.
The second major project initially began as a supporting role for our nephew Brian (Tom's son) and his family, who were moving here so that Brian could work in the thriving wind energy business. Rental properties were few and far between, so we decided to buy a home and become landlords. Brian and his family moved here in February, and we thoroughly enjoy Elly and the two boys - Kain and Jordan. The boys especially love playing with their Uncle Cary!
The third major project was a fairly deep cleaning and remodeling of Nancy (Cary's mom) and Gene's home here in Buffalo Gap. Built in the 1950's and extensively remodeled in the 1980/90's, their little bungalow needed cosmetic repairs both inside and out. This included new carpeting, some furniture and repainting. Nancy, having retired in October 2007, was also anxious to clean closets, dressers and storerooms. We also added a dining deck, a patio and some new sidewalks to make accessibility much easier. All of this was completed by June in anticipation of summer visitors.
With all of the projects either well underway or completed in the spring, we finally took some trips in the Waggin' Wagon. We managed to take six "official" trips, all of which are describe in more detail (including photos) in the Trails Traveled in 2008 section of our website. Here is a quick summary of these trips:
(1) January 2008 - Destination - San Antonio, TX - Time to take the Waggin' Wagon in for some warranty work. Given the warmer climate in San Antonio, and the motorhome garage construction in Buffalo Gap, we left the Wagon there until February. Upon returning to pick the Wagon up, we stayed overnight down on the historic riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. RV Trip 1
(2) March 2008 - Destination- Fort Worth, TX - Our introduction to Camping World (awesome place to shop) was a quick trip to have the tow bar installed on the Wagon and on our Jeep, which allows us to have a smaller vehicle with which to explore while on our trips.
(3) March/April 2008 - Destinations - Washington DC and Orlando, FL - Ok, now it's time to head out for more than a couple of days! This trip represented three weeks of fun, excitement and some anxious moments for we still-novice motorhome owners. While in DC, we visited with our friends and enjoyed a stay at the Weiman Inn (thanks Lori!). What does one do after spending time in DC? Let's go to Disney World, where we joined Callie (Cary's sister), Jason and their boys - Quinn and Dylan. We had a blast at the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. When American Airlines grounded their Super-80 fleet, Nancy and Gene decided to ride home with us in the Wagon. We enjoyed stops on the west coast of Florida, Pensacola Beach, Biloxi and Shreveport. Great fun! RV Trip 3
(4) June 2008 - Destination - Kerrville, TX - Another trip back to the hill country of Texas with Callie, Jason, Clay (Callie's oldest son), Quinn and Dylan along as well to visit Gene's daughter, Teresa, and husband, Kerry. Teresa and Kerry have a lovely home outside Kerrville nicknamed "Bushwhack" because it is located near Bushwhack Creek. We had a delightful, long weekend there and enjoyed hiking, fishing, sunning and tremendous culinary creations!
(5) July/August 2008 - Destinations - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/ Washington DC/ Hilton Head Island, SC/ Stone Mountain, GA/ Bumpass, VA/ Kansas City, MO/ Oklahoma City, OK - This was an awesome trip - our longest so far - over a six-week period. As a child, Cary and his family visited the Smoky Mountains, and he was so excited to take Lota to see the beauty and majesty of this national treasure. Between Molly barking at the twin grizzly bear cubs on one of the off-road trails and Jordan letting his presence be heard by the moose grazing in a grassy meadow, we all were thankful to have seen (and survived) our touring of the huge park. As we made our way back to DC, we stayed in a beautiful state park (Little Bennett) in Maryland not too far from where we lived. The campground was heavily forested and absolutely peaceful, while being only 30 minutes away from the beltway. After a couple of days at Lori's new home on Lake Anna in Bumpass, Virginia, we headed to Hilton Head Island for some wonderful time with our friends, Cynthia and Scott, as well as their nearly grown children, Conner and Alyssa. We had wonderful meals and enjoyed several rounds of golf. The motorcoach resort we parked in was awesome -- we will definitely return! From Hilton Head, we drove to Stone Mountain, Georgia -- in the Atlanta suburbs. Callie and boys joined us for golf and fun at Stone Mountain -- beautiful! On our way back to Lori's lakehouse, we stopped in Charlotte to see Selena (Tom's sister-in-law) and her two gorgeous girls, Kacie and Karlie. We enjoyed meeting most of Lori's family at her lakehouse, including her parents and three of her siblings and their families. Finally, it's time to head home -- and we decided to take the northern route through West Virginia, Louisville (stopped to see our niece, Dana, and her daughter Jessica), St. Louis, Kansas City and Oklahoma City. Just a great trip through the heart of America! RV Trip 5
(6) October 2008 - Destination - Austin, TX - We finally made it to Austin to visit our friends, Cynthia and Scott, and see their son Conner march in the Westlake High School Band and watch their daughter Alyssa swim in a meet at Lost Creek Country Club. Oh, those children have grown up entirely too fast! We also met Truffles, the newest member of the family, and enjoyed playing with him! While in Austin, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary with dinner at a wonderful restaurant on Lake Travis called Hudson's on the Bend. This was truly a fun-filled week for us! RV Trip 6
We had many other memorable events in 2008, but time permits mentioning only a few here. We always enjoy Easter, and this year was no exception. For great photos, and the story, click Easter 2008. We also were first-time attendees (also known as "baby parrott-heads") to Jimmy Buffett's concert in a suburb of Dallas. We had a great time, and will make every effort to attend more in the future! For all our party pics, clickJimmy Buffett 2008. In August, Cary, Lota and Ruth Ann traveled to Dallas for the American Idol concert -- Ruth Ann was so excited to see her boy, David Archuletta. For photos of our evening, click American Idol. In September, Cary, Lota and Ruth Ann traveled to Colorado to visit Ruth Ann's granddaughter (our great-niece), Tiffany. What a wonderful learning experience -- for photos, click Colorado Trip.
Well, we hope you enjoy navigating around this website! Before we close this "annual" letter, we would like to encourage you to get involved in your community and make a difference. You will be so happy with the result. We discovered how good it can be, particularly in 2008. For our story, please see The Salazar Story 2008, along with The Salazar Story 2009. We are truly humbled by the blessings we enjoy, and hopefully share with others.
Thank you for reading our letter! We hope you and yours have a safe and properous 2009!