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XMAS 1998 - RoadTrip


In the News

To our Family and Friends,

Winter Trip 12/22 - 1/5   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

4,009  miles,   281 gallons of gas, 14.26 mpg, Ave. speed 70+, 
Paid as high as $1.49 for gas in LA, and $.99 for supreme in 
Wichita Falls, Texas.  In  summary,  San  Antonio, Palm Springs, 
Newport Beach, Christmas, family,  whale  watching,  fishing, 
Elkinís Ranch Golf Course, Rose Parade, Grand  Canyon, Navajo 
Reservation, Pagosa Springs,  Colorado, mineral pools, massages,
Wolf Creek skiing, long trip home.

Our trip started off before we even left the house. On 12/20 my 
good friend Chuck Gore, Uncle Chuck to my kids,  came over with 
presents and we sat and visited with great food and wine. The
pool was heated and the temperature was warm enough to eat outside.
  Chuck  left, then came our neighborís, Craig and Leanne, with more 
wine and great  snacks.  We  both  broke  out  our  fine bottles of 
wine we had been waiting  all year to do, great appetizers, caviar, 
fine port wine, and many good laughs.

Home from work about noon on December 22, we packed up and cruised 
into San Antonio around 5:00 PM.  We  bundled  up  and walked the 
riverwalk.  The trees were  covered  with   XMAS lights, and the 
temperature was very cold. We had a festive Tex-Mex dinner with a 
killer 48 oz. Margarita.  Yes, we were now ready for the road . . 
. . .  It was clear out and we made good time on the road. Kate and 
I would switch driving every few hours through the night. We made 
El Paso by 4:00am, Tucson by 6:00am and Phoenix for breakfast.  
Kate and I decide that we could make Palm Springs.

We arrived in Palm Springs at 11:00AM, about 18 hours since we left 
San Antonio.  We checked into a nice resort near the center of town, 
got on our bathing suits and went down to the heated pool.  After 
soaking up some sun and a few bloody Maryís, everyone hit the sack
 by 7:00PM.  We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day and 
toured the main boulevard.  We loved it  Then it was on to Balboa 
Beach to Kateís Grandpaís house.

Palm Springs to Balboa is about 100 miles.  In my mind this should 
take no longer than  1 Ĺ hours.  Time for a LA wake up call!  It took
 us 3 hours to get to get there.  The freeways were packed, I was a 
nervous wreck, and was so glad to get out of that truck when we got
 to Grandpa Lemkeís house.

After we unloaded the suburban, Kateís brother, Rick, and I went out
 to find a Christmas tree.  After all, it was XMAS eve.  We drove 
around several hours and asked half dozen people to point  us  in  
the  right direction.  The Kodak moment was our return to the 
Peninsula via the car ferry.  Rick and I had our tree on top of my 
suburban and we floated across the bay and laughed about our adventure.
  We decorated Grandpaís house and the tree for him. He is 86 years
 old and was having a great time with us and  the  kids. He was all
 smiles.  The neighbors watched us as we made the evening  very  
festive.  We ate out later on that night at the Landing on the
 bay side and exchanged gifts when we got home.  Uncle Rick gave
 each of  the kidsí $75 in quarters.  They went  nuts  over  that! 

The next morning after opening the rest of the presents, we went
 to my Aunt  Colleenís  for Christmas Dinner.  We brought Grandpa
 along and Rick joined us later that afternoon.  My mom showed 

Early the next day, Kate and I took a long walk to the "Wedge"
 at the end of the peninsula.  We watched, amused, as a few surfers
 ate the beach for breakfast.  Later on we took the kids on a whale 
watching excursion, but no whales. We did see dolphins (the mammal
not the fish) and sea lions.  It was exciting taking the boat out 
of the harbor, past the lobster traps and into fishing lanes.  
We were out to sea for about 2 hours.  We came back to the harbor
 and messed around at the Fun Zone for a while.

On the 27 we had to take down the lights and tree, and head out
 to my momís house in the Valley.  We got there about 3:00pm and
unloaded the suburban again.  We were very good at this practice
 by now!  Leanne and Larry, their kids Andrew and Lindsay, and 
Lanette, Bob and Nicole came by.  We had another Christmas and ate 
dinner together.  It was a long night, but a lot of fun.

Monday  morning Kate and I got up early and took a long walk. 
 Later on Kate, Leanne, our kids, and me, took off for an old 
ranger station sight on Stunt Road off of Mulholland.  Larry Joers
 and I used to go there all the time.  Only the foundation remains
 and the view is spectacular to say the least.  You can see Downtown 
LA, and some of the coastline by Santa Monica to Long Beach, Catalina
 Island, and the entire San Fernando Valley.  Kate, Leanne and 
I sat there and drank Coronas Ė we needed targets for Andrewís new
 beebee gun.   We walked back to the car, cranked the tunes and 
took turns showing off our marksmanship.  It was a great day in 

The next day the girls went to see the Rocketteís and Joseph, 
Andrew and I went fishing at Lake Piru.  We sat there for over 3
 hours  and  caught  nothing.   Then, I sad something I never 
thought I would ever do.  I told the kids I was taking them to 
"Troutdale"!  Yes!  Stocked ponds!!  My  Dad  would  have come 
un-glued, but these kids pulled out 6 of the biggest trout I have 
ever seen.  They  were happy and proud, too.  The Big Trout  
Fishermen  headed  home.  Mom, Kate and the girls had just driven 
up.  Of course our fish story of catching these beauties in Lake 
Piru lasted for about a minute.  The bottom line,  the fish were 
tasty and it was good to have my son see where I spent many  a 
weekend with my dad fishing.  We all had a great time.

Kate, Bob (my brother-in-law), and I played a round of golf at 
Elkins Ranch in Filmore. It was a beautiful day!  Bob shot a great
 round of golf.   Yes, I lost by 3 strokes, but his BUTT is mine 
next time.  On the 17 hole the tee box sits about 200 feet up on
 a cliff.  Majestic mountains are a picture perfect back drop for 
acres and acres of orange groves.  I grabbed my Dadís driver and 
hit one for him off the tee box.  Unlike our tee shots, this one 
soared into the ski. It was the first time I had hit a ball with 
his driver since he passed away.  It was absolutely beautiful  to
 see.  We all had a tear in our eyes.  Bob hit Dadís second shot 
put it smack on the green.  Then Kate put it in the hole and that
 one was for him. He was definitely there.

On New Years eve we stayed around my momís house and I re-packed 
the suburban. I added a few items of my dadís that I wanted to 
take back with me. My dadís backpack, his rifle, some tools, and 
his short wave radio that still works.  I know it was hard for my
 mom to let me have some of the items, but instead  of having them
 collect dust, for example, the rifle will be proudly displayed. 
 I need to clean it up and build a case for it.   We celebrated 
New Years on New York time so we could get some sleep and get up 
early for the Rose Parade.

January 1, 1999 at 4:00 AM we rolled out of my momís house and 
headed for Pasadena Ė us and about a million other parade watchers.
  We had grandstand seats at the beginning of the parade.  
Everything started right in front of us.  The parade was spectacular.
  Kate, the kids and I enjoyed the festivities.  The reserved
 parking lot was next to the freeway on ramp, so we were out 
of the crowds quickly. 

We took the Angeles Crest Hwy through the mountains.  We could 
not see the valley below because of the fog/smog.   Kate remembered
 a short cut through Little Rock and we took it into Llano, where
 Kateís brother, Gary lives.   Rick was already there and we were
 able to stay for a little while and catch up with each other.

Our  destination  was  the Grand Canyon by the end of the day. 
 We arrived on the South rim of the Canyon about 10:00 PM on the
 1st and got a great room with a view.  The moon was full that 
night. Kate and I walked to the rim and the view was spectacular.
  Breakfast at the Tovar Lodge was awesome and for the next 3 
hours we went from scenic point to scenic point.  Breathtaking!  

We headed to the Navaho Reservation on our way to Colorado, 
toward the four corners area.  We found a trading post where 
I purchased some ceremonial spears.  By the time we reached Monument
  Valley it was dusk and completely dark when we got to four
 corners.  The site was closed, so I pointed for the kids; 
that way is Utah, there is New Mexico, behind us is Arizona, 
and we are going into Colorado.  They got the idea.

We arrived in Pagosa Springs about 8:30 PM.  It was freezing and
 ice and snow covered the parking lot at the restaurant near our
 hotel.  We checked in to a huge suite so everyone could have
 their own space, and went straight for the mineral hot springs
 at the hotel.  It was a Saturday night and the mood was still 
full.  Snow was on the sides of the pools and steam was everywhere.
 We found this place by accident last summer.  The springs are
 open 24 hours a day.  There are 11 different pools ranging 
from 89 - 100 degrees that sit on a slope overlooking the icy 
river that runs through town.  Needless to say we all slept well.

The next day we soaked in the pools, got a massage, walked  the
  town.  We had a great dinner, watched a few movies and 
prepared for skiing the next day.  Wolf Creek Ski Resort is
 about 40 minutes away from Pagosa Springs.  We skied all day 
with the kids. The conditions were the best in all of Colorado,
 according to the papers.  A 70 inch base with powder on top; 
we all had a blast!  At  the end of the day . . .  you guessed it
,  a bottle Ďo wine and a soak in the waters.  What a life!

On Jan. 4 we headed for home.  It was a very  long drive,
 about 15.5 hours from Pagosa Springs to Houston.   We got 
home at 11:30PM and went to bed at 1:00AM.  Only a good coffee 
high kept me going through the next day.  We were very tried.

As other trips, this one is full of good memories.  We saw a lot
 and each day was an adventure.  We are all very glad to be 
back home.  Road trips do allow one to reflect on a lot of 
things.  The one thing I thought about the most was how lucky 
I was to have this time with my family, and to be able to watch
 my kids experience new adventures.

Hope you enjoyed this letter.

Have a Happy New Year and hope to see all of you very soon.

Joseph Yoklavich

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Joseph Yoklavich
67 Cascade Springs

The Woodlands, TX 77381
United States