Christmas

2017

12/31/17: We drove from Medina, OH, to Effingham, IL, today. The weather was incredibly cold and a bit breezy, but there was no more falling snow, so we made good time. We got off to a late start, leaving Aunt Barb’s house in the late afternoon. We stopped in Columbus at the Whole Foods to pick up a few things for when we return home.

We had one minor hiccup along the trip. I thought we had enough gas to make it to Effingham, but we did not. We were four miles short. I tried to add gasoline from the can I had in the trunk, but managed to dump half of it on myself, and only trickle some into the gas tank of the car. Even so, we made it to the hotel with what I was able to get into the tank. However, we rung in the new year, with me soaked in gasoline in -3 F weather. I was not pleased at all!

I did play on amateur radio for part of our trip. I only made two contacts, but they were in two different grid squares, as this year marks the new “Grid Chase” game.

12/30/17: We decided to stay an extra day near Medina, so it has been a laid-back day. I shoveled the walkway at Aunt Barb’s and have spent the afternoon and early evening catching up on my reading and writing. JoAnna is cooking and baking for the final leg of our trip.

It has been a relaxing visit with Aunt Barb!

12/29/17: We drove to Chardon and then to Cleveland. We visited JoAnna’s brother and his family in Cleveland, having a nice chili dinner before heading to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show.

The TSO show was great. They had a nice tribute to Dave Z, the bassist who passed away this year, as well as a special song for Paul O’Neill, who was the writer, performer, music director, etc. who also passed away this year. They did “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” show this year, which was wonderful. Then, after the intermission, they did their tributes, then some of their non-Christmas songs. They concluded with “Cleveland Rocks”, of course.

The drive back to Aunt Barb’s was treacherous, as it had been snowing all evening. There was only a half an inch or so on the ground, but that made the roads slick.

12/28/17: We drove into Cleveland, picked up Jane, then went to the Cleveland Museum of Art. This year, they had some relics from Cambodia, as well as themes from the Jazz Age. I didn’t go to the Jazz Age display, but Joey did. I instead spent time in the early Christian works, as well as the modern art exhibit. I had never realized that “The Thinker” was in Cleveland, and had been damaged in a bomb years ago.

In the evening, we went to JoAnna’s parents’ house and visited with them for a little while. It was beginning to snow, so JoAnna’s father had the lane plowed, and we stayed in and ate vegetable beef soup and left over chicken. We drove back to Barb’s late at night, and once we made it to major highways, they had been plowed, and it was only slightly slower than usual.

12/27/17: We drove from Philadelphia, PA, to Medina, OH, to visit Aunt Barb. The PA Turnpike is almost $40, so we took it for a little ways, then switched to US-322 and US-80, which got us to Youngstown, OH. From there, US-76 took us south of Medina.

We visited with Aunt Barb and made a few plans for later this week.

12/26/17: We left my parents’ house in the afternoon and traveled to Barclay, MD, to visit Grandpa.

He was not very talkative, but was glad we stopped in to visit. He told us a little about his dog, Rusti, and staying at Bootsie’s. After 45 minutes or so, we left and drove north to Philadelphia, PA.

In Philadelphia, we met up with Joey’s father, Frank, at the Whole Foods on 22nd street. We talked about teaching and jobs until the Whole Foods closed. From there, we drove south slightly to the Quality Inn near the airport.

12/25/17: We had a nice Christmas with my parents. We slept in a bit (the advantages of a teenager versus a small child), before waking up around lunchtime and opening presents.

I got some neat presents this year, including a scope for one of my rifles, the Founder’s Bible, and a few other great things. JoAnna got me Wendy’s Frosties for the year, and a new set of flannel pajamas. She got a microwave for traveling to her shows, and Joey got several tool kits for working on phones and computers.

We also took a group photo:

In the afternoon, I went over to Courtney’s house and visited with her, her mother, her husband, Matt, her brother Dan, and her sister, Alyssa, and Alyssa’s husband and daughter.

12/24/17: It was another relaxing day. We took a quick trip into Fredericksburg and had lunch at “Greens and Grains,” a Gluten-Free sandwich shop near the Mary Washington campus. We met up with my friend, Amy, and her husband, Will. I had not seen either of them since 2009 or so.

In the afternoon, we watched Die Hard and had our Christmas Dinner.

12/23/17: I went to church with Dad and saw Aaron and his wife, as well as Pastor Olivieri. It was a good church service, and I was glad I went.

In the afternoon, I mostly lazed around. I did some writing, and I think we ran some laundry in the evening and watched movies.

12/22/17: We had a relatively relaxed day in Jersey, VA. We spent the day chatting, but then went shopping in the afternoon in Fredericksburg. The crowds were nuts, but we were able to do some shopping.

In the evening, Joey, Mom and I stayed up to 4 or so watching funny videos and playing Civilization II. I also snapped a quick picture of our Christmas Tree:

12/21/17: I started out by visiting my friend and former storm chase partner, Kathryn, in Atlanta. We walked along the Chattahoochie River, which was near her apartment.

We then left and drove from Atlanta, GA, to Jersey, VA, taking I-85 to I-95 in Petersburg, VA. We arrived in Jersey, VA, in the early hours of the morning.

12/20/17: We started out the day in Jackson, GA, at the TA.  I found a geocache at a nearby cemetery (walking distance), but then we got on the road towards Atlanta.

I played on amateur radio, running exactly one county.  I only made one contact, and received an email from him.  He said he also lived in Rio Rancho!  However, he also pointed out that my audio was full of RFI, so that is no good.  I’ll have to investigate that problem.

After we reached Atlanta, we dropped Joey off to visit with his friend.  JoAnna and I drove to Columbus to visit with our friend, Richard, at Iron Bank Coffee.  That has become our tradition.

We had a nice, but unfortunately brief visit with Richard, and then returned to Atlanta.  We then had dinner at the Red Lobster with JoAnna’s uncle.  

12/19/17: Yesterday, we had a nice visit with our friends in Tampa.  We stayed there until almost sunset before heading north on I-75 towards Atlanta.

On the road, we planned out our day in Atlanta, which will include a trip to Columbus, GA, and a tour of the Weather Channel in the evening.

We also did some geocaching at a rest stop in Florida, just because I had not geocached in Florida before.  It was an easy find, and I logged it on my geocaching app.

In the late evening/early morning, we slept in the car at the TA in Jackson, GA, with a little ways left to go to Atlanta today.

12/18/17: Yesterday, we spent the day driving from Pensacola to Tampa. We thought we might visit another friend in Orlando, but the scheduling didn’t work out. We arrived at Tiffany’s house in the evening, and sat up until 3, chatting and having a nice visit.

12/17/17: We spent the day driving from Decatur, TX, to Pensacola, FL. We showered at a truck stop east of Dallas on I-20. At Shreveport, we dropped southeast on I-49, then US-190, to I-12. We met my friend, and storm chase companion, Dan, in Slidell, LA. We had dinner at Phil’s Marina Cafe, which was pretty good. I had a roast beef po’ boy and macaroni, and Joey and JoAnna were able to eat broiled fish and oysters. We spent the night at an Econolodge in Pensacola.

12/16/17:  We drove from Rio Rancho, NM, to Decatur, TX.  We spent the night at a rest stop northwest of town. I didn’t play on the radio at all, but we have had a good time. We set up a laptop with an FM transmitter to play Christmas music over the car stereo.

2016
This year, we left for our Christmas trip on Friday, December 16. Our original plan was to go rock hunting in the south, but an approaching winter storm changed our plans.

Instead, we ducked south on I-25, spending our first night in El Paso, TX. After El Paso, we headed north on I-20 to Dallas; this dodged the falling snow and ice, and put us there in the frigid cold instead. The next day, we continued east on I-20 to Meridian, MS. After Meridian, we hit just north of Atlanta. We spent two nights there- one restocking food and laundry. The second day in Atlanta, Joey visited Brenda (his grandmother) and we visited Uncle Larry at the Red Lobster. We also found JoAnna’s grandparents’ plot in the cemetery and marked it on the GPS. The following day, I tried to catch up to Kim in North Carolina, but the timing wasn’t working out. Instead, I ran counties in northeast Georgia and into South Carolina on the way to Mom and Dad’s house.

We arrived there about 10 pm on the 21st. The next day, we worked at the Storehouse, and Joey met Rocky, who was a camp councilor at a summer camp where they build and repair houses. Friday, JoAnna and I returned to Fredericksburg to finish our Christmas shopping. Saturday, Dad and I went to Sabbath School and Church with Pastor Olivieri. We had our Christmas dinner together and worked on puzzles and watched movies.

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Sunday was Christmas Day, so we opened presents and had a good time. The weather was finally okay, so, JoAnna and I tested our our new FitBit Charge 2 Trackers by walking along the driveway at my parent’s house.

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Unfortunately, we also learned that Grandpa had a heart attack and was in the hospital in Delaware. We hung out at Mom and Dad’s on Monday, but then learned that Grandpa was going to go in for some procedure Tuesday morning. Instead of leaving for Ohio, Mom and I drove to the hospital. JoAnna and Joey packed up the Crown Vic, and them and Dad drove up a few hours later. Grandpa was through the procedure by the time we got there, so we visited with him a bit between naps. He was at the Christiana Hospital, which seemed like a nice place. We met with Uncle Kevin and Aunt Penny for a bit. I decided to spend the night in Christiana, and so we stayed at a Rodeway Inn about 5 miles from the hospital. The next day, we went and visited him again for a few minutes before heading west to Ohio.

We arrived at Aunt Barb’s around 10:30 pm on Wednesday night. We hung out with Aunt Barb on Thursday. Friday, we went to JoAnna’s brother’s house and visited with them. Saturday, we went to JoAnna’s childhood home, where her parents were staying, and visited with them.

Then, we left and met Aunt Barb, and JoAnna’s brother and nephew at the New Year’s Eve Trans-Siberian Orchestra show in Cleveland at 9 pm. The concert was great, and they also introduced a special guest for several songs- Joan Jett! Chris Cafferty’s guitar strap broke between songs, and it busted the guitar. He gave it to a kid, which was awesome. They did the New Year’s Countdown and then played Cleveland Rocks, ending the show.

The next morning, we left Lodi, OH, for Indianapolis. Joey and I followed JoAnna and her parents through Columbus (had dinner at Outback), and then to Plainfield, IN, which is just southwest of Indianapolis. The next morning, I went for a run, and then we drove across Indiana and Illinois to St. Robert Missouri. Along the way, Joey and I detoured and ran a few counties. We stopped for a bathroom at a Dairy Queen and a woman told us there was a geocache in the lamppost. I signed the log! After that, we drove to Greenville, IL, and I took a picture of the sign for one of my students at Magdalena, who used to live in that town. We had dinner at Missouri Hick BBQ, one of the best BBQ places in the world. Before ending the night in St. Robert, MO.

We left St. Robert, after I found out my friend lived three miles away, but was not in town that day. I went for a run again in the morning. I also dropped my tablet while loading the car. The screen was broken and it is unusable. We drove to Oklahoma City, had dinner at Red Lobster and spent the night at a Sleep Inn south of town.

The morning of 1/4/17, we loaded up and headed home from Oklahoma City. We had dinner at Jasmine Thai and celebrated yet another cross country Christmas trip.

2015
12/18/15: Drove from Rio Rancho, NM to Fort Stockton, TX.
12/19/15: Drove from Fort Stockton, TX to Baton Rouge, LA.
12/20/15: Drove from Baton Rouge, LA, to Tampa Bay, FL.
12/21/15: Drove from Tampa Bay, FL, to Atlanta for dinner with Uncle Larry. Drove back south to Columbus for the evening.
12/22/15: Woke up in Columbus and had lunch/hot chocolate with Richard. Arrived at my parents’ house.
12/23/15: Hanging out with parents, drove the Ranger for the first time.
12/24/15: Dinner with Jessi and Davis at Ruby Tuesday’s
12/25/15: Christmas Day at my parent’s house!!
12/26/15: Left parents’ house and drove to Grandpa’s
12/27/15: A busy day. We spent the night at Grandpa’s, so we visited with him, Uncle Kevin, Stephanie, Jessica, Andy, and Carrie. Then, we drove to Uncle Lex’s house and visited with him and Aunt Eunice. After that, we drove to Philadelphia and had dinner at Whole Foods with Frank and his wife before continuing to a Rodeway Inn in Carlisle, PA, for the night.
12/28/15: Drove to Aunt Barb’s house.
12/29/15: Cleveland Art Museum with Jane.
12/30/15: Visiting friends near Cleveland, and then Canton, before driving back up to Cleveland to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra play. This was the first year of a new show.
12/31/15: Left Lodi, OH, towards New Mexico. We spent New Year’s Eve in Chicago at the Hollywood Grill with a few of JoAnna’s old high school friends. After the festivities, we continued to Joilet, IL, and spent the night in a Quality Inn.
1/1/16: We then drove across Missouri and spent the night in Lenexa, KS.
1/2/16: The following night was spent in Oklahoma City before returning home.

2014
12/15/14: Drove from Rio Rancho, NM, to Garland, TX. Joey and I traveled, as JoAnna was going to fly to MD after she finished with the Landmark Seminar.
12/16/14: Drove from Garland, TX, to Nashville, TN. We stopped and saw two Futuro houses along the way.
12/17/14: Visited LP and Tammy at Whole Foods before driving to Winchester, VA.
12/18/14: Visited Antietam Battlefield with Matthew Daugherty, my childhood friend, and his girlfriend. After that, we went back to his apartment and met up with Tim Newton, another childhood friend. Then, we drove to BWI and picked up JoAnna, then spent the night at Grandpa’s house.
12/19/14: I helped Grandpa cut up and haul off a large tree that had fallen in his yard. We then went and saw two Futuro Houses in Delaware, and then returned to Grandpa’s House to visit with him some more.
12/20/14: Went to the Chestertown SDA church with Grandpa and Joey. Grandpa let me drive the Cadillac. After church, I stopped by Aunt Penny’s and Uncle Kevin’s for a few minutes, and then went and visited Uncle Lex and Aunt Eunice before driving to Virginia.
12/21/14: Woke up late and sick with poison oak. I got it from Grandpa’s house when we worked on the fallen tree. We watched movies and played “A Christmas Story” Monopoly.
12/22/14: Went and got a Christmas tree. Joey’s first time going and picking out a tree.
12/23/14: Worked at the Storehouse and then drove to Northern Virginia to hang out with Brad, Eric and Carly.
12/24/14: Christmas dinner at my parents’ house and watched movies.
12/25/14: Christmas at my parent’s house, and left over Christmas dinner.
12/26/14: Drove from Jersey, VA, to Cleveland, OH, for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show. It was their first year on a new show. We spent the night at Aunt Barb’s house.
12/27/14: Lazy day, slept in.
12/28/14: Hanging out with Aunt Barb.
12/29/14: Hanging out with Aunt Barb, Maggie and Nick. We diagnosed the problem with Aunt Barb’s car.
12/30/14: We drove from Lodi, OH, to Indianapolis, IN. Along the way, we visited a Futuro house and a friend in Dayton. In the middle of the night, I had a 24 hour flu, so we spent an extra day here.
12/31/14: We spent New Year’s Eve in a hotel in Indianapolis.
1/1/15: Felt better from the flu. Drove from Indianapolis to Wichita, KS, just over 800 miles.
1/2/15: Arrived at home.

2013

2012
We got the opportunity to drive across country again this year to VA/MD/OH/GA. We took I-40 to Memphis, TN, and then veered southeast to visit family in Atlanta. After a visit there, we headed north up I-85/I-95 (plus a detour through NC due to traffic) and spent Christmas at my parents’ house. We visited family in MD, and then left in the middle of the night for OH to avoid winter storm Euclid. In Cleveland and Akron areas, we visited more family, and saw a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. Then, we headed back to NM. That was a brief summary, but this trip was really quick due to work schedules. I also took almost no photos this year- I will have to do better next year.

2011

I am still looking for records of this year’s Christmas trip.  I found one photo of the Christmas tree at my parents’ house:
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2010

I know I have more photos from this Christmas. This year was crazy, as we were all at the house together; Mom, Dad, my brother and his girlfriend, plus JoAnna, Joey and I.  We went and found a Christmas Tree, decorated it, and then had a massive snowball fight (on a different day, one where there was snow).  Right now, I can only find photos of the tree arriving at the house.

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2009
We took our annual Christmas trip this year from December 20 until January 5ish. We picked up a friend who flew into Cleveland and went straight to the TSO concert.

After the TSO concert, and a few days in Cleveland, we headed across to MD/VA, stopping to visit Atta in Pittsburgh, and my family in MD. We spent Christmas in Jersey, VA with my parents and then drove down to Virginia Beach, so that our friend from Idaho could touch the Atlantic Ocean. Most of these photos are from VA Beach. We took the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel back into MD to visit Grandpa again, and then back to Cleveland for a few more days.

After we left Cleveland, we visited my aunt and uncle in Michigan, and then headed west on I-80.

Around Davenport, we noticed that the heater had stopped working in the car. This was due to the intake manifold gasket and the valve cover gasket leaking out all of the coolant. We spent a ton of time at the Iowa-80 truck stop, the largest in the world. $800 and two days later, we were on the road again, now ducking south to cut through MO, KS, OK, TX and ending our trip in NM.

2008

2007

2006
Christmas 2006 in Maryland and Virginia.

2002
Christmas, 2002, at Mom-Mom’s House.

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