Christmas
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Christmas 2017


The "home" link above has links to pages with current pictures and some of our travel experiences.

Christmas 2017
Dear friends and family,
     Another year come and gone! A year of traveling, geocaching, and doctor’s appointments!
     In February, Maureen’s brother-in-law, Jeff McNeal, had to have a multiple bypass surgery.  We hopped in the car just after midnight and drove straight to Tonopah, Arizona, to be with Karen and Jeff.  Seventeen hours and 1100 miles.  Halfway, we were still in Texas! Spent about a week in Arizona with them.  Took a couple of day trips to Quartzite and Yuma.  Took a much longer, lazy way home through central New Mexico and north Texas.
     The end of March, Layne woke up in the night with chest pain and a very rapid heartbeat.  Trip to the ER, lots of tests, lots of options.  Final diagnosis was his heart is in great shape, valves and vessels good, but the electrical system was a bit chaotic - atrial fibrillation, AFib.  They kept him in the hospital for a week, wanting him to go 24 hours without a spike in his heart rate.  We were supposed to leave on a cruise that week, so were extremely anxious to get out of the hospital!! They finally released him as even when his heart was racing, he had literally no adverse symptoms.  They put him on some new medications and gave clearance for him to go on the cruise.  We had planned to drive to Florida to board the ship, but ended up flying instead.
     We spent a great week with Maureen’s sister, Terri, and her husband Steve, on a Panama Canal cruise.  One more checkmark on the bucket list done! We made stops in Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; went through the 3 northern locks of the Panama Canal; Panama City; Limón, Costa Rica; and Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island.  Our favorite was Costa Rica.  So beautiful and great guide on our river tour.  Our least favorite, Cartagena.  So many street vendors in our face all the time and a tour guide who seemed more interested in taking us to stores rather than museums or churches!  I think he got a cut of any sales! We had a great time with Terri and Steve and really enjoyed this break after a week of being in the hospital!
     The end of June we took a 4-week vacation.  We took about 6 days to get to Utah, spent 16 days there, then took another 6 days to get home.  We were able to attend the Tucson Temple Open House.  Stayed in Tonopah with Karen and Jeff on the way up and had good visits with family in Arizona.  Our first grandchild, Russell’s son, David, was married on July 7 (7-7-17).  We were able to attend their wedding in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  We did some baptisms with Sherrie, Emily, Mary, and Brandon.  Maureen was able to do several hikes with her hiking buddies, Chris and Daphne. Layne spent a lot of time with his brother, Don, and his cats!  Did several activities with the Russell and his family, visited several other extended family, went to two Murray Concert Band concerts, and had a really good visit.  Came home through Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park and got ourselves out of Dodge City, Kansas.  Attended a session with some friends at the Dallas Temple on our last day before returning home.  It was a wonderful 4 weeks, but we were really glad to get home to our own bed!
     A week later, we were on the go again, taking Jenner and his family (Sandee, Charlie, Josh, and Jake) on their “spending their inheritance” trip - a cruise to the western Caribbean.  Stops included a day on the beach in Roatan, Honduras; Mayan ruins and an authentic Mayan lunch at Costa Maya, Mexico; then a totally awesome dolphin encounter at Cozumel, Mexico, followed by an equally awesome lightning storm!! Lots of days at sea were filled with plenty of activities for the boys, napkin folding classes, winning lots of trivia quiz prizes, and of course, delicious food! We had a really fun time.  
     In August, we took the opportunity to visit Layne’s brother, Ralph, in Missouri.  He happened to live right on the cusp of the totality band for the Great American Solar Eclipse! We took a few days to get there, stopping at the Oklahoma City Memorial; the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas; and three state capitols, Topeka, Lincoln, and Des Moines. Had dinner with Layne’s nephew, Jon, and his family in Omaha.  Went to several LDS historical sites through Iowa and Missouri before arriving in Warrensburg. We headed out on August 21st, eclipse day, for Arrow Rock State Park.  It turned out to be a bit hazy, so the eclipse was a bit subdued, but still quite awesome, especially the 360° sunset.  Looked like the sun was down below the horizon all around us, when it was actually straight above us! Had a fun day.  We took an extended long way home through St. Louis where we went to the top of the Gateway Arch.  Visited several Lincoln historical sites through Illinois and Indiana.  Had dinner with Maureen’s nieces, Sarah and Sophia Boese in Louisville, Kentucky.  Went to Mammoth Caves and Shiloh Battlefield.  On the last leg of the trip we visited two more state capitols, Nashville and Little Rock, and two more temples, Louisville and Nashville.  
     We also made quite a few day trips around Texas, and a few 1- or 2-night overnighters.  We were able to complete our goal of finding a geocache in all 254 Texas counties in March.  Yes - 254!! That was a great challenge to finish!  We worked on a couple of other challenges that took us to some interesting places during the year.  Our drive to Florida was postponed in March because of the hospital stay, then planned for October but postponed again because of hurricanes.  Maybe next year we’ll finally make that trip.  Maureen’s sister, Sheryl, and her daughter, Susan, moved to Conroe, Texas in May, so they are about 3 hours away.  Have seen them a few times since their move.  
     All in all, we spent 85 nights away from home this past year!  Not quite a quarter of the year spent in strange beds!! But we’ve seen so much, done so much, and had way too much fun with family and friends - it was all worth it!
     Layne is still working with the Webelos scouts at church.  Maureen was called in June to be the 1st counselor in the Relief Society.  She had never been a counselor - it has been interesting and good to see and do things from that perspective.  We are so blessed to be together, with relatively good health, a lovely home, and a great family.  God bless each of you this Christmas.
                    Layne and Maureen

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