2015 in Review

Thursday, January 07, 2016 Road Junkies 0 Comments

After the year ended and we finished our Gaelic Getaway trip to Ireland and Scotland in early January, it was time for a look back at 2015.  Yes, we knew the weather wouldn't be all blue skies in December, but we definitely did not expect all the severe storms and flooding in both countries.  
As we review our calendar, we relish memories of some minor trips and other events which helped define the year though they didn't find a place in our blog.  In a continuation from December of last year, we spent the first half of January at our favorite winter beach—Perdido Key, on the Florida panhandle.  The chill in the air keeps the sun lovers away and leaves the beach just the way we like it—empty and with no risk of sweating.
When yours are the only footprints on the beach
In early January, we gathered for the unveiling and dedication of the extraordinary black granite marker for Woodie's grave.  Of course, Kathy laid plans to make it a special event, and family members gathered to remember Woodie and commiserate in our grief over his absence.
Steven, Kathy & Rachel with Woodie's marker, which is exactly his height
As soon as we returned from Perdido in mid-January, Dianne headed to Savannah with her shoe shopping friends for another girlfriend getaway in an historic Savannah home for the MLK holiday weekend.  In four days, they walked and talked and letterboxed and drank.  They ate and shopped and hunted ghosts and drank and played endless rounds of games, especially their favorite—Fictionary!
Shoeshoppers ready to play (L to R):  Karen, Cathy, Dottie, Diane, Mary & Tina
Still in January, we drove all the way to Cincinnati to visit a cemetery.  Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum was founded in 1844 to provide a nondenominational burial ground for a city besieged by a cholera epidemic.  Its establishment was initiated by the Cincinnati Horticultural Society, and it was conceived as a park as well as a burial ground.  But, as beautiful as it is, we probably wouldn't have driven 500 miles just to take in the cemetery, had it not been a hotbed of letterboxing.  In three days, we found 100 boxes within Spring Grove, not nearly the total number.
The extraordinary graduate with her siblings and parents
Spring Grove administration building
Even more interesting than the letterboxing were some novelty flower arrangements we chanced upon in the cemetery.  From these creative displays, we were able to learn a lot about the recently deceased.  Franny was someone's beloved mom and aunt who liked shopping on eBay, listening to her iPod, wearing Toms shoes, washing with Tide, talking on the telephone, drinking Pepsi, and eating at Chick-fil-A.  By the huge number of arrangements of all types, this lady will be missed by many people.
Just a few of the floral creations in Franny's memory
February found us headed back to Alabama for a short visit with both Uncle Joe and Uncle Jim and their charming wives Eleanor and Dean in town.  On the way down, we stopped at the Alabama State Capitol, which we have never visited, though we've driven through Montgomery innumerable times.
Alabama State Capitol
Designed in the Greek Revival style so popular with state capitol buildings, the Alabama statehouse underwent a major renovation in 1992, restoring it to its original 1850s appearance.
May brought Karoline's high school graduation in southeast Alabama.  One of the most organized and resourceful individuals we know, Karoline worked diligently and secured funding for her college education by cobbling together a combination of scholarships and grants to cover the cost.  We couldn't have been prouder or more impressed.
Heather and Dan and their respective children
Another life event in September brought family together to celebrate the wedding of Heather and Dan in North Carolina.  In an unlikely coincidence, this blended family now has two twelve-year-old Emmas.  They've already figured out how to reduce confusion by that tried-and-true school method of adding a last initial.
Uncle Joe and son-in-law Steve
In October, we spent a week with Uncle Joe and Eleanor in St. Augustine.  Due to his cancer treatments, Uncle Joe's health has declined significantly and he needs assistance with some activities of daily living.  His daughters have been taking turns being with him, and we were glad to jump in and spend some quality time with this lion of the family, whose sense of humor was definitely still intact.
Avery explains the tractor operation to Layson. (or maybe it was just a photo op)
Between our other trips, we squeezed in the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Alabama with family.  Much of sister Jeanne's family was there, as well as Woodie's.  And we were so glad we went, as the long talked about barn dance finally happened with Alex and Steven as deejays.  It was all we had hoped for and more.
Jeanne and Dianne had talked about having a barn dance for 50 years.
After returning from the family Thanksgiving, we flew off to Ireland to end the year.  In addition to our travel adventures in 2015, we relished the times we spent with family and friends.  We're looking forward to more of each in 2016.