It turned out that Heidi planned to work Christmas day in order to let colleagues with families have the day off, so we arranged to spend the weekend and Christmas Eve with Heidi, then catch a red-eye flight to Raleigh in time to spend Christmas afternoon with Mike and family. From there we went to Nashville for the weekend through New Year's day with Mandi and Paul. After that, we detoured by El Paso on the way home to see the UNM-UTEP basketball game January 2nd.
In Vegas we attended a very impressive and inspiring afternoon Christmas Eve service with Heidi. Thanks to a bulldog named Joey.
Here's the story: A co-worker was having trouble caring for Joey and asked Heidi if she would like another dog. Heidi thought her boxer, Katie, would benefit by having another dog to keep her company while Heidi is at work, so she agreed to a trial. Things had gone pretty well for a week or two, but now occasional unpleasantries were occurring between the two dogs. Wasn't working out. Heidi called to arrange to return the dog and in the course of the conversation it was arranged that we would drop Joey off, then follow his owners to their church for an afternoon Christmas Eve service. This was on the far north side of Vegas; Heidi lives on the south, so it was not her regular church. Anyhow, the music, drama, and sermon gave us all a good feeling.
Here's a shot of Christmas Eve at Heidi's.
Trip to Raleigh, via Continental Airlines through Houston, went as scheduled, but neither of us slept much. Christmas dinner was at Karen's parents, Bob and Kathy Nauman. They surprised Susie with a birthday cake.
At Mike's the big attraction was the Wii video game that Jason and he got from Santa Claus. Here we're vigorously running the 400m run at the Beijing Olympics. Jason won almost every race. My specialty was bowling.
After a couple of days of game-playing we were in need of some outdoor activity, so we took a stroll around a lake that is in an Apex city park not far from Mike's home in Cary.
Our Nashville time was very relaxing. I got a lot of work done on my class notes for Monterey. Susie and Mandi did some serious shopping. Paul and I watched a lot of football. Sorry, no pictures.
Trip to El Paso turned out to be a long day. We took 6:30am flight from Nashville to Houston, hoping to connect with mid-morning flight to ELP. It was full. Other options such as through Dallas were booked solid, too. We had lunch and decided we'd just as soon go home, so we listed on an afternoon flight to ABQ -- full, too. Last chance was a flight to ELP that would get us there about an hour and a half before game time. Gate agent felt optimistic, so he gave us boarding passes. We got on, but weren't sure of being able to stay on. Plane filled up. A late arrival boarded and walked all the way to back of plane looking for a seat. Turned back to the front. Oh, no, we thought. They're going to ask us to get off. But, there was one seat up front and the guy sat down, the door closed, and away we went.
Flight was about a half-hour late, but we got rental car, checked into motel, and headed for game. This whole idea had been planted by friend, Dick Reinert, who was in ELP visiting his son Scott and family. They got us tickets near their seats, so we made arrangements to meet them at the arena. They gave us directions to parking -- thank goodness for cell phones -- and we found our way there. As we walked across an intersection, somebody honked at us. 'Twas the Reinert clan. Some days you just get lucky.
The game? Very exciting, with UNM winning in overtime. A fair amount of rough play on the court and referee-abuse from the crowd. Four technical fouls on UTEP helped the Lobo cause. We decided the extra day of travel was worth it.
Cheers and a belated Happy New Year to All,
Susie and Rob