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.
Yoklavich Home Page:
67 Cascade Springs
The Woodlands, TX 77381