Christmas 2019 – and Growing Older With my Twin Sister!

 Christmas 2019

Wednesday, Day 1, Christmas, home to Craig’s Castle in Stockton via CA99, I-5

As sure as Christmas rolls around this time of year, we rolled north to spend the day with family at our son’s lovely home in Stockton. It has become a family tradition to meet there as he is very welcoming and his large home accommodates the rather large crowd of family.

2019-12-25a let's go My Trail Buddy, ready to hit the road for Christmas with family.

We drove, as usual on Christmas, to Craig’s aboard Big Blue. We would spend Christmas night there, then the next day we’d drive north to my twin sister’s place. Our birthday is the day after Christmas and this year we turn 76 years old. Last year’s 75th bash was a great time all ’round, and this year’s would be much less celebrated, but would still include both of Gale and John’s kids and their spouses.

And I’ve gotten ahead of myself already. We arrived at Craig’s a little before 1300 hours. I backed into his driveway and set Big Blue up for the night. Dinner was to begin about 1600 which in Walter’s time, meant around 1700 hours or so.

Lavonne joined in with Craig to prepare for the big Christmas dinner for fifteen people. I helped out a little bit, too. The afternoon was busy with all the work that had to be done. Around 1600 the family units began arriving and a lot more hands joined in the final prep and presentation of a huge Christmas feast. There was turkey, ham, taters and gravy, sweet potatoes, dressing, corn and broccoli casserole, salads, and more. For dessert there was a huge pumpkin pie and a pretty big pecan pie. And there were cookies, and I don’t know what all else.

Our great niece, Stephanie, married this year as noted in earlier posts on this site, so her hubby, Sam, joined the family Christmas party, as did his mom and dad, Sam Sr. and mom, Jerri, and sister, Nicole. And, of course, our other great niece, Ashley, Stephanie’s sister, and her husband, Darren, now have two toddlers, Jeremy and Alexandra. Yep, the family has grown quite a bit in recent years.

Click to enlarge these photos and to read the captions:

Photo credit: Lavonne

We all dug in and greatly enjoyed the warmth of family and, of course, the very delicious dinner. About the time I finished eating, it seemed the little ones had also finished and a very noticeable increase in noise began. The shrieks were joyous, I suppose, as the kids seemed to be having a wonderful time. But just as it was at our Thanksgiving dinner, I headed to the coach for some peace and quiet. But first things first: I grabbed a piece of both the pecan and pumpkin pies on the way out, and enjoyed dessert in the quiet of the coach. I spent the rest of the night there, and enjoyed a quiet Christmas evening. It is not at all uncommon for me to head for the coach early on family gatherings after a meal, as I very much enjoy my solitude and even more, I enjoy peace and quiet.

2019-12-25g a peaceful ChristmasI enjoyed a quiet Christmas evening in one of my favorite places, Big Blue!

Back at the coach I checked out my favored websites and worked through the usual evening chores such as my shower, etc. With the two zones on the forced air heating system, I cranked up the back zone to 75° to make showering on a cold Christmas evening tolerable. It was quite comfy! I wasted time watching some of the endless nonsense available on YouTube ’til my dear Wifey returned from the party. After she rejoined me, we both spent time on the ‘puters ’til bedtime.

I am blessed to sleep well every night. But that night, as it was at Thanksgiving last month, I did not sleep well due to what seemed to be acid reflux. I take a prescription medication for it, but apparently not strong enough for my oversized holiday meals. A couple hours after going to sleep, I was awakened time and again with heartburn, and finally got up to find relief. I even had to wake Lavonne for one of her stronger meds. I also popped a few Pepto-Bismol tablets. Relief came a couple hours later after a second round of getting up due to the discomfort of a blazing heartburn. Finally, I returned to bed sometime after 0200 and slept long enough make up for the lost sleep. What a night!


Day 2, Thursday, Stockton to Gridley, CA via I-5, CA99

After morning chores, Lavonne and I walked into the Castle to see Craig awhile before he had to head to a business meeting. He presented me with both Christmas and birthday gifts, as did Lavonne. All too soon he had to hit the road, and we bid him good-bye with many thanks for hosting yet another big family dinner.

2019-12-26a Morning at the CastleBig Blue at Craig’s Castle the morning after Christmas, awaiting her call to take us to Gale and John’s near Gridley.

We headed back to the coach and prepared for our drive north to Gridley where we’d park in my sis’ driveway for the next couple of days and nights. We pulled out of Craig’s driveway a few minutes after 1000 hours and joined the northbound mob on I-5.

2019-12-26b en route to GridleyFarm country north of Stockton – how refreshing to see Kalifornistan greened up after all the brown ugliness of the very dry and parched summer months.

2019-12-26d rice paddy birdsA relative few of the thousands, perhaps millions, of water birds enjoying the flooded rice paddies along CA99 north of Sacramento. This is a part of the well known Pacific Flyway that millions of migratory birds fly each year as they migrate.

2019-12-26e rice paddy birdsA closeup of the swans and ducks we passed en route to Gridley. Beautiful!

2019-12-26f Sutter ButtesAn unusual view of the Sutter Buttes, looking over flooded rice paddies to the smallest mountain range on the entire planet.

The drive was pretty much as usual with most of the traffic, naturally, in the Sacramento area. We dealt with no slowdowns, so the drive was as good as we could expect – for the day after Christmas.

We arrived at Gale and John’s a bit after 1300 hours. As I set up Big Blue for our stay, Lavonne prepared lunch for us. We usually have lunch by the time we arrive, but the one place we had planned to stop, near the town of Live Oak but out in the country, was too wet and sloppy to park. We told John what we were up to, and he was busy getting Gale ready for our visit, so the delay was good for them, too.

After lunch, we did head into the house and began a visit with Gale and John. My dear sis is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and it an awful progression to see unfold in a loved one. She cannot walk or do much of any chore, and John lovingly cares for her and makes her life as comfortable as possible.

We visited for some time, but soon I wanted to go back to the coach for a nap. The rough night I had was catching up to me. I crawled into bed, and slept very well for almost an hour – I guess I really needed it.

In the meantime, Jill and Craig, Gale and John’s daughter and husband, arrived from Oregon and were already visiting in the house. I took my shower before heading over to greet them. It was good to see Jill and Craig again, and we spent a lovely evening together with family.

Jill and Craig stopped at Costco in Chico en route, and we enjoyed a good chicken and pasta Alfredo, a tossed salad, and toasted ciabatta rolls for dinner.

After dinner, Lavonne presented the wonderful birthday cake she special ordered for the event. She decorated it very nicely for the birthday celebration. Before we enjoyed the cake, Gale and I were forced to endure a simply awful rendition of Happy Birthday, sung with great gusto and love. And in spite of the song, we all had a grand time together.

2019-12-26h dinner at Gale's An after dinner portrait of a stuffed and happy family. That’s Jill, Dale, John, Craig, and Gale. Missing is Lavonne, who took the photo.

2019-12-26i birthday cake
The incredible bakery made raspberry bundt cake with creme cheese frosting that was decorated for our birthday by Lavonne. mmmmmm, it was a real treat! Photo credit: Lavonne

Back at the coach after our dinner and birthday party, Lavonne and I spent the rest of the evening aboard, perusing our favored websites, as we usually do. We called it a day around 2300.


Day 3, Friday, at rest with family in Gridley

We slept well out in the country near Gridley, and I was happy not to repeat the prior night’s heartburn episodes. But it was cold overnight, down into the high 30s. Now, that’s not bad considering the news of the day! There were snowstorms in SoCal that closed the Grapevine (I-5 north of LALA land) and CA58, the highway between Bakersfield and Barstow. The weekend travel of thousands of people became pretty miserable as they were stranded on roadways and in airports. But it was cozy and calm inside Big Blue on Gale and John’s driveway!

I was up around 0630 to turn up the heat, and as I did, I heard Craig and John backing out of the driveway as they headed to the Sacramento airport to pick up Kevin, Gale and John’s son. He arrived from Arizona, where he lives with his wife, Kelley. The Samples would have a family reunion during the coming few days after Christmas.

Around 0900 I walked over to the house and visited with Jill. Gale was still sleeping, and likely would continue ’til late morning or early afternoon – that’s one of the issues she has due to her awful Parkinson’s Disease. Somewhere around 1000 hours the fellas returned from their airport run to pick up Kevin. They stopped at a restaurant in Yuba City for breakfast, so they weren’t looking for breakfast. Meanwhile Lavonne and I hunted and gathered for breakfast, both of us settling on cereal and milk. We also partook of a bit of the many baked items sitting around the kitchen.

The day was a very lazy one. We all pretty much sat around visiting and munching on the endless pastries and candies that seemed  to fill every nook and cranny.

2019-12-27a family photoThe family photo and the only one taken for the day. That’s (L-R seated) Craig, Gale holding her pooch Abby, Jill, and Kevin. Standing is John, Lavonne, and Dale.

For lunch we brought leftovers from our Christmas feast at Craig’s. We served it buffet style, and including food from John’s kitchen as well, everyone ate their fill. Dinner was done about the same way, ’til there was very little left for us to take home the next day.

Kevin took off for a two mile run as he’s an addicted runner and is training for a full marathon, of which he has run many. The next day he planned to run 18 miles! The fella really loves his running, and he looks like a runner; he’s long and lean and hasn’t an ounce of fat on him.

After dinner and the clean up, and a bit more visiting, Lavonne and I returned to the coach for the night.

During the evening, I noticed a lovely sunset, grabbed my camera on the tripod and shot these photos of a rather striking sunset. These are well worth clicking on, then as each individual photo appears, scroll down and click on “View full size”. Go ahead – try it!

We had invited Jill and Craig to the coach for a round of margaritas, as they’re the only ones besides us that would imbibe. A short time later they joined us. We brought the Margaritaville ice shaver from home, and whipped up some watery margaritas, an unusual result from the machine. We can make the machine shave more ice each time, and I guess that’s what we’ll have to change.

We had a nice visit with Jill and Craig anyway, and enjoyed our chat with them. After our visit they headed back to the house for the night, and we worked through bedtime chores. We were in bed by 2300, a bit earlier than usual. We would be heading home in the morning!


Day 4, Saturday, December 28, Gridley to home via CA99, I-5: 249 miles total trip

It was a cold night in Gridley, down to about 30°. Now, that isn’t cold to most parts of the country, but to us Kalifornistanians, it was darn cold. Lavonne was up a bit before me, and when I did roll out of bed, I simply turned up the heater and water heater and went back to bed for a few minutes. As confessed in past travelogues, she is made of sterner stuff than I.

We worked through the usual morning chores, and some time before 0900 I headed to the house to see who was stirring. John was the only one up and around, but soon after I arrived Craig joined us, and a bit later Jill appeared. Lavonne had joined us too, by that time. Kevin was long gone, having taken off on an 18 mile run at 0630 and wouldn’t be back ’til after 1000 hours. There must be something wrong with that boy!

We pretty much hunted and gathered individually for breakfast. I had some sugary, flaky cereal, to which I added banana slices and mandarin sections. It was different and I enjoyed it. 

We would be leaving soon afterward, so when I was finished eating I headed out to prep the coach for our drive home. When I returned to the house, Gale was up, too. It was good to see her, as I figured she’d be sleeping ’til after we left. After greeting her, I bid everyone goodbye, thanked them for making the lovely visit possible, and we we headed to the coach. We pulled out of the driveway at 0940 hours.

The drive home was unremarkable, as we like. There were no delays and traffic flowed smoothly all the way. We pulled into our little senior gated community at noon.

It’s always good to be back home. First thing, I turned the house heater and water heater back on. I then added water to the bird bath in our backyard, as I take my bird sanctuary duties very seriously. I also turned the hot tub back up to 100° – I had missed my morning soaks, and was looking forward to the next morning’s good, hot dunk. Then we set about unloading the coach.

2019-12-28a home
“No matter where you may roam, the best part is coming home!” So says a plaque on our home fridge, and it is true. Here we’d just arrived home and the unloading began.

When the unloading was complete, I drove the few yards to the community’s RV lot and dumped the holding tanks. After filling the fresh water tank, I backed Big Blue under her big, oversized carport and our trip was complete. When I walked back into the house, it was 1415 hours. And those two hours even included a break for lunch!

My next adventure, hopefully, would be my annual Search for Sunshine, and as usual, I planned to head south into Texas. I’d try to follow warm weather around for a week or three. On occasion, I don’t find much warm weather on such adventures, but I would sure give it my best again this year!



About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
This entry was posted in Travel: Craig's Castle, Travel: Gale & John. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Christmas 2019 – and Growing Older With my Twin Sister!

  1. Mel says:

    When are you ever going to learn about overeating ? At your (our) age I guess nwver.

    • FishWisher says:

      Hi Mel – Are you kidding? I learn about overeating every year about this time! Perhaps one day it will stick, but not yet, it seems. In all honesty I have lost about 30 pounds over the last few years, and it was due only to constant denial of my overeating urge. But hey, a couple times a year seems fair!

      Happy New Year, and thanks for the visit…

  2. crash3289 says:

    Belated Happy Birthday, Dale!

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