It’s my favorite time of the year. I look forward to the new year and take time to reflect back on the past year and share the highlights with my friends. I hope life is treating you well and that you have so much to be thankful for –not just at the holidays, but every day.
For me, there is so much to love about the holidays — the twinkling lights, the sounds of Christmas music, the amazing feasts, and the beautiful snow (it’s still early in the season).
My family is doing well. I’m still the morning meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in the Quad Cities. I’ve been there almost three years.
Ray is the Economic Development and Planning Director for the city of Moline, a job that he excels at and still loves after ten years. Miss Gretel, a high school freshman, aspires to be a movie director. (Hopefully, a very successful one, so we can have a mansion somewhere near Hollywood where there’s warmth all year around and we can have avocado, lemon, lime, and orange trees! Okay, that’s really long-term planning!)
My sister, Tammy, is still in Moline and her two sons and two granddaughters now live in the Quad Cities. It makes her very happy to have them here and not several states away.
As you know, we love to travel and try to get in a few concerts throughout the year. Paying bills isn’t the only reason we work! J
In early December of last year, we took Gretel and Tammy on an eastern Caribbean cruise. It was a nice way to put off winter longer.
Ray and I started 2015 in New York City. We flew there on New Year’s Eve, but got into town too late to get anywhere near the televised festivities and Taylor Swift rocking in 2015.
It was my first visit to the “Big Apple” and we did a lot of walking and sightseeing. I loved the beautiful window displays decked out for Christmas, Rockefeller Center, and the gigantic Christmas tree. We also saw the new World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. Along with the great food, we saw Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) off Broadway in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and we attended “The Merry Widow” at the Metropolitan Opera.
We made our annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas in May, where we ate some amazing food (buffets, of course!) We discovered a new brunch this year that you have to check out when you’re there next – Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. On a future visit, I’m determined to visit the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.
In June, we took Gretel to Riviera Maya (Cancun) and she got to use her passport for the first time.
In late September and early October, I accompanied Ray to his two back-to-back work conferences – the first was in San Francisco, California.
On his one free day, we took a bus trip for wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. While he worked, I went sightseeing and saw Chinatown, Golden Gate Park and the National AIDS Memorial Grove. I also walked to the Castro District and was so touched to see the house where Harvey Milk diligently worked to plant the seeds for the LGBT movement. While I was only a teenager when he was murdered, I was overwhelmed just being there where it all happened four decades ago.
While I would never want to live in downtown San Francisco (very dirty and expensive), I was blown away by the funkiness of Haight-Ashbury. I’d move there in a heartbeat. The “Summer of Love” was still very much alive!
To celebrate our four year wedding anniversary, we took a scenic boat tour on San Francisco Bay, which took us around Alcatraz, Sausalito, and under and around the majestic Golden Gate Bridge.
From there, it was off to the second leg of the two-week getaway and his next conference in Anchorage, Alaska. If you’re ever going to visit, do it before October. Most of the tours are over by this time as the Frontier State settles in for a long northern winter.
We did get to visit an animal sanctuary where we saw bear, moose, deer, bison, eagles, and other animals. On the drive there, we saw snow-covered mountains and glaciers, tasted natural Alaskan spring water, and saw a few salmon swimming. Also, we got to visit Prince William Sound, now fully recovered from 1989’s Valdez Exxon oil spill.
This year, we saw five concerts. On our trip to Vegas in May, we saw the divine Miss M, Bette Midler.
She’s still incredible. In August, I saw Reba McEntire in the Quad Cities. I’ve now seen Reba 13 times.
In October, we saw three shows in three different cities: In Anchorage, we saw Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. If you’ve never heard of them, Google them because they are amazing. Days later, we saw Madonna in Saint Paul, Minnesota (my fourth Madonna concert), and then in late October, we took an overnight road trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and saw Janet, Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty! She is so beautiful and talented.
That’s what we did in 2015. I’m already looking forward to what adventures lie ahead in 2016. I guess I should wrap this up so I can start planning trips and concerts for next year so I’ll have things to share with you next Christmas.
I wish you and yours the very best as you travel down the road of life.