2014 Holiday Letter
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
This was not a good year for my parents. My Mom passed away in May, 2013, at the age of 90, and my Dad passed passed away in December, 2013, at the age of 92. Both died of natural causes and were buried at the National Cemetary in Jacksonville, Florida. My Dad was buried with full military honors. It was a service that will be remembered. Both my brother and I will miss our parents greatly.
Travel this year
WoW! What a year for travel!
When my Dad passed away, Helen and I immediately flew to Florida. My brother took care of all of the arrangements for the funeral. My cousin Margie and good friends Kathy and Audrey braved the cold weather (it was in the 20s (Fahrenheit)) for my Dad's burial in Jacksonville. Kathy drove down from North Carolina, Margie from Georgia and Audrey & her friend drove up from South Florida. My brother and I really appreciated the effort they made for my Dad.
Following the funeral, I flew to Las Vegas as I had agreed to be the moderator for a 1-day JEDEC workshop on computer memory during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Once completed, I returned to Gainesville and spent the rest of the month of January cleaning out my parent's apartment. Fortunately, Helen was around to help me out.
Driving through Georgia
At the end of January, after the apartment was cleaned out, Helen and I drove my parents car to my brother Wayne's in Georgia. This was just a day or so after the horrible ice storm in Atlanta. Many residents at the Atrium senior apartment complex where my parents were living, counseled us not to go, but we had little choice as the lease on the apartment was up. The trip was very cold. Fortunately, the heater in the car worked great. Other than the cold, the weather was uneventful. However, there was still snow on the ground once we were North of Atlanta.
The trip was a lot of fun as on the way, we stopped at the Okefenokee Swamp National Park. Unfortunately, we arrived late in the day, so we saw very little of the park and it was very cold with a lot of ice everywhere.
When we left the park we drove to the town of Folkston, which is the closest town to Okefenokee National Park. The town is called the "Folkston Funnel" as all trains going into or out of Florida pass through the town. There are freight trains passing by every few minutes. To capitalize on this, the town has constructed a nice park near the tracks for train affectianados to watch them pass by. The park even has a radio so you can listen to the train engineers as they talk to one another.
After watching trains, we drove to Warner Robins, Georgia. The Robins Air Force base has a good aviation museum and Wayne had suggested we spend a few hours there.
Since we had to go through Macon, Georgia to get to Wayne and Rosie's, I wanted to stop by to see our old house at the Naval Ordinance Plant. My Dad was stationed there from 1963 to 1967. The last time I had seen the house was in July, 1999, when Wayne and I drove from his house in Atlanta to Gainesville. To my surprise, the house is now gone.
We visited Wayne and Rosie in Clarkesville for a few days. He and Rosie took us sightseeing around the area. We also went on a very interesting hike in the Tullah Gorge area.
During one of our days visiting Wayne, we all drove to Atlanta to meet up with Cousin Margie. Margie took us to the Coca-Cola museum where we spent 3 hours viewing all of the exhibits.
The March trip was to a week long JEDEC meeting in Newport Beach, California. I only had a chance to do one day of sightseeing as the rest of the time I was in a meeting.
Helen flew in at the end of the week to John Wayne Orange County Airport and she and I drove down to San Diego to visit her brother Robert and Jenny and their son Jack.
Robert and Jenny gave us a great tour of the San Diego area. They had heard about Helen and I going out geocaching and they were interested in seeing what it was all about. It was kind of humorous as I did not have to go far to show them their first geocache. It was only a couple of houses from where they live. They had no idea there was one so close their house!
The June JEDEC meeting was in Munich. However, before going to Munich, Helen and I visited my good friends Peter and Beatrix, their children Niels and Benita in Dussledorf. While there, we were also able to catch up with good friends Albert & Uta and Kurt & Uta (they delayed their vacation by a couple of days just to visit with us) and finally, their friend Charles. Peter and Beatrice took us all over the Dusseldorf area visiting a closed coal plant (it's now a museum) where Peter worked as an electrician before going to University. We also visited an old castle which was the home to a music museum. The old town which had buildings and a church dating back to 1200 AD. However, the highlight of the visit was going to a Folk Museum. This was a huge outdoor museum where life from the 1600s had been recreated, complete with houses, a farm and many workshops and small businesses. To see more pictures, check out our vacation website at http://www.furnweger.com.
My very good friends, Peter, Beatrix and their children,
Benita (far left), Beatrix, Peter and Niels (far right)
After leaving Dusseldorf, we flew to Munich. After arriving, we took a 1-day trip to Innsbruck to visit my cousin Regina. Regina took us on a walking tour of the old part of the city where we saw the church with the mausoleum of emperor Maximilian I (1459 - 1519) and the "bronze men" bidding farewell to him.
Back in Munich, we took a walking tour of the city and went to a concentration camp and to a very large aircraft museum and finally to one of the best science and industry museums in the world, the Deutches Museum. Munich kept us busy!
After the JEDEC meeting, good friends Roelof and Lettie drove us to the famous Bavarian Castles about 2 hours away. We saw Ludwig II castle at Neuschwanstein which was the model for the castle built in Diseny World and Disneyland.
Wow! This was a GREAT trip and there are many more pictures on our vacation website.
Our next adventure was to Houston, Texas, where I had many "firsts":
- Staying at Helen's house
- Met Helen's Son, David and his fiancèe Karen.
- Met two of Helen's grandchildren, Shelbea and Reghan.
- Met Helen's very good friend Tim.
- Met Helen's very good neighbor and friend Sammy
- Attended David and Karen's wedding.
North CarolinaFrom Houston, we flew to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit with Helen's relatives. Cousin Betty who lives near Durham, took us sightseeing in the area. Then we drove to Greenville, North Carolina and stayed with Cousin Ginger and Butch and met their son-inlaw, Jeff who was just back from a volunteer church trip to Costa Rica where he built a long fence. We also met one of their three daughters, Cassie. They showed us around the area and we had dinner with Cousin David and his wife Rae and their two son Dean. We also went out to the "New Ground" to see Matt and had a wonderful chat with him while he was sitting on his HUGE bulldozer. Aunt Ilmar and her boyfriend, Denby, let us pick a couple of gallons of blueberries and a basket of pears which Helen used to make a pear crisp and a blueberry pie. They were good!!!
Also while in Greenville, we spent an afternoon with Cousins Monica and Patricia and their daughters.
For those keeping score, here's the score card for Helen's North Carolina relatives:
- Cousin Betty and friend Nick
- Cousin David and Rae
- Son Dean
- Son Matt
- Aunt Ilmar and boyfriend Denby
- Cousin Ginger and Butch
- Son-in-law Matt
- Daughter Cassie
- Cousin Monica
- Daughter Jenny
- Cousin Patricia
- Daughter Amanda
I want to thank each and everyone for showing Helen and I such a good time in Greenville! It was a pleasure to meet all of Helen's relatives!!! Thank you!
From Greenville, we drove back to Raleigh to return the rental car. My brother, Wayne, and his girlfriend Rosie had driven in from the Atlanta area to pick us up and drive us to Atlantic Beach, where Helen had rented a condo for a week. That week went by so quick as we played on the beach, visited an old coastal town, saw a lighthouse and searched the beach for shells.
From Atlantic Beach, Helen, Rosie, Wayne and I drove to Wayne's home in Clarkesville, GA. It was a fun 10 hour drive, with several stops along the way. This was the first time for Helen and I to stay in Wayne's new house. It is a really a nice house, but it was lacking one item. A TV antenna! So, I built him one! He was skeptical that it would work as he has lived in Clarkesville for 10 years and had tried several antennas with no success of receiving any stations. I got lucky, as the antenna I built and installed in the attic was able to receive 4 stations in Greenville, South Carolina. He is really happy that he can watch commercial TV stations again!
Cousin Margie from Atlanta stopped by one day to visit with us in Clarkesville. We had a great time chatting and catching up on old times.
In September, we flew to Chicago where my good friend Pattie let us stay at her home even though she was in Saint Louis working at a contract job while we were there! While in Chicago we visited with my Uncle Edward, everyday, who was in a rehab center after having a terrible time kicking a case of Pneumonia. Cousin Karen gave us a tremendous tour of the Shedd Aquarium, even though we were 3 hours late due to a car accident! A semi-truck rear-ended us while we were waiting at a traffic light. Fortunately, his company's insurance covered the damage to the rental car and other than having to do 3 hours worth of paperwork, there were no other problems with Helen or myself. On our last evening in Chicago, Cousin Margie went to dinner with us. We had a terrible time trying to decide where to go, so we ended up at Dennys!
From Chicago, we flew to Montreal for a week long JEDEC meeting. The city was a lot of fun and we had many good French meals. We also hiked to the top of Mount Royal, which is a large hill and city park in the center of the city.
About the time you receive this letter, Helen and I will be in Florida. I fly into Orlando and Helen will drive up from Gainesville to meet me. We plan to tour the Kennedy Space Station and then meet with my long time friends Wayne and Carol in Vero Beach.
As you can see, travel has taking up most of 2014. I can't wait for all the exciting trips Helen and I have planned for 2015!
Due to all of my travel, very little was completed on the Cozy this year. However, the Cozy can now stand on it's own. No longer are saw horses needed to hold it up. Also, the front hinge canopy was designed by Jeff and myself. It was built and installed. Both of these are major accomplishments!
I returned to Lyric Theatre this year after a two year absence. Helen worked on costumes and I was the run crew chief (my favorite position) for Gilbert and Sullivan's "Utopia, LTD." It was fun to become involved again. Next year, both Helen and I will be working on "The Sound of Music". I'll be the run crew chief and Helen plans to spend many hours helping to build the costumes for the show.
I hope your year was as eventful and as exciting as mine and...
I wish you a merry holiday season and a happy New Year!