Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2016 Recap

2016 was a crazy busy year!  James scheduled more vintage races than ever, so there were lots of trips.  First off was Amelia Island, Florida in March.  It was pretty low key and we stayed right on the beach, so there was plenty of time for walks.  It wasn't a huge race, but there were some interesting cars.  We always see lots of "Rileys", but this time there was a "Tucker Special".

April was the annual "girls trip".  Since our usual retreat didn't make this year, we decided to just head out for San Antonio and Fredericksburg on our own.  We missed getting together with out-of-town friends, but Roddie, Sam, and I managed to have a fun time on our own.  If you're ever in Fredericksburg and want to visit wineries, the wine bus is worth every penny.  $20 and you can hop on and off all day.  The only catch is that you can't back-track so you have to visit them in the order the bus runs.  By the end of the day we were best friends with the whole bus!  Way better than driving.

In May, we celebrate all of our grandchildren's birthdays.  They're spaced about a week apart, so it can be a challenge logistically.  Especially when you throw in Mother's Day too.  This year I managed to squeeze in a trip to Arkansas with my mom so we could visit Aunt Robbie who was 102!  We also wandered around old cemeteries looking for ancestors, and visited my great-grandparents old farm.  Mom's cousin still lives there, but the old house is long gone.  Only thing left is part of the barn and smokehouse.  But the house in Ashdown where my mom lived (and later Aunt Robbie's family), is still there are beautiful.

June began with James in Norwich at the Lotus Factory.  While he was gone, I picked up the boys after school let out.  Riley spends most of the summer with us, and Tucker is here when we're taking trips.  Since James' god-son was graduating from medical school in NYC, we started off the summer with the boy's first plane ride.  They were pretty nervous, but made it through ok.

It was kind of a whirlwind trip, but we did manage to squeeze in Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.  I think Riley and Tucker enjoyed the park more than anything, and we walked our legs off every day.  After the graduation ceremony, we ate dinner at Patsy's, which was some of the best Italian food I've ever had.  It was exactly what I would have expected from an old New York restaurant - tiny, busy, lots of old photos of movie stars on the walls.

When we got home, we had a few weeks off before our next adventure, so it was finally time to get started on my weaving studio.  After tossing around lots of ideas, we decided to build a Tuff Shed and finish it the inside.  It has about 800 sq ft, so there should be plenty of room for looms and spinning wheels.  And it looks so cute sitting next to the house!

A few days after the Tuff Shed was up, we left on our next big trip.  It was kind of a celebration of Tucker having successfully finishing chemo, so we brought Chris and Shelly along too and took off for Mont Tremblant in Canada.  It was a crazy long drive, but once we got there it was absolutely beautiful.  Since we were entering Canada late in the afternoon, we stayed near the border and took a daytrip to Fort Henry the next morning.  It's a beautiful old fort with lots of reenactors, shops, and a nice restaurant.  Very interesting to see what life would be like when it was active.  Everything you needed was inside the fort.  Chris showed the boys how to roll a barrel hoop and explained that it was something kids used to do to entertain themselves.  I don't think they can even imagine what life would be like without phones, tablets, and video games!

Once at the track, they put our Texas group in our own paddock area.  It was a little tricky getting around to take photos, but everything else was so convenient.

We had seven cars entered in the event, and everyone was still running at the end which is always a successful event.  Not to say there weren't issues, but since some of us were heading to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix on our way home, we were glad that all the cars and drivers were still in one piece!

On our way to Pittsburgh, we managed to talk James into stopping in Niagra Falls.  After all, who knows when we'll ever be back up here again.  Especially after our run in at a Canadian truck inspection station!  But that's a whole 'nuther story!  So after squeezing "Big Red" through a tunnel in the dead of night, we made it to our hotel mostly unscathed.  The next morning, we walked over to the falls, donned our rain ponchos and water sandals, and braved the Cave of the Winds.  Even with the ponchos, we were pretty wet!

Pittsburgh wasn't as kind to us this year.  They let people in early, so we had quite a challenge getting the car haulers parked.  Thankfully, it didn't rain or we would have probably been there for weeks.  And the race took it's toll on cars.  James had a fire, which put him out of the running, then Doc got hit in the final.  Plus everyone was tired from being on the road so long, so it was good to get home again.

August found the boys back in school, so James and I were off to Wales for the Fun Cup.  What a wonderful trip!  Since James and Andy were co-driving and they had someone else preparing the car, there was plenty of time for sight-seeing.  Andy and Merrie were kind enough to give us their guest room for the trip, which was so relaxing.  They live in Swansea near the university, but it's also within walking distance of town.  We slept in every day, walked to town for lunch and sight-seeing, and enjoyed getting to visit with friends.  I'm sure they were probably more than ready to have their home back to themselves, but we had a great time.  We only rented a car for a week to hit some of the outlying areas.  Wales is so small that you can get just about anywhere in a few hours.  In addition to the racing, I was able to attend a workshop at the Swansea Festival of Stitch, we visited the Dr. Who Experience and Stonehenge, explored several woolen mills, and had a fun at-home wine tasting on our last night.

After being on the road for most of July and August, it was nice to have a break in September.  James still had lots going on, but I took the month off since I knew October was going to be busy again.  I had signed up for Spinzilla again, which is an entire week where you spin as much yarn as you can.  By the time it ended, I could hardly even hold onto the yarn.  Good old carpal tunnel!  But I did win a couple of nice prizes for coming in 3rd place in our group and having the photo with the most "likes".

The week after Spinzilla, I went to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.  The weather was perfect and the leaves were turning.  Absolutely beautiful!  It's a great festival with loads of vendors, sheep, fiber, and yarn.  I do have to admit that I just don't get quite as excited about yarn since I spin.  The booths were filled with lots of stuff from indie dyers, but it all just started looking the same.  It didn't stop me from buying anything, but I mostly focus on breeds that I don't have, or yarns that aren't available locally.  We are very blessed to have so many great yarn shops nearby.  One of the highlights of the festival was running into a lady that I had bought a favorite fleece from several years ago.  I had only talked to her online, so it was nice to get to meet her in person.  It was a great venue, but if I could only do one wool fest, it would be the Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon.

When I got home it was time to leave for another vintage race in Savannah.  This is one of our annual trips and always fun.  This year we stayed at the Westin on the island, which made it very easy to get around with just a golf cart.  And we could sleep in!  I love hotel living.  Doc trophied, but James and the girls weren't so lucky.  We were just glad Serena was ok after hitting the wall.

Once we got home, it was time to start working on my studio in ernest.  But I'll save that for it's own post!