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Ben and I had a wonderful Christmas break that was filled with friends and family! It was a long trip, so this is a long post, with lots of links and links to pictures…

Friends on Pearl Street!

Ben wishes he had Sunglasses!

We started off our trip by spending a few days with Wendy in Denver. The weather was beautiful, and we were able to see some of the places we frequented when we lived in Colorado. We had coffee with Aspen, who I played soccer with when I lived there, and we had a great dinner with Wendy’s parents. Ben got to take a welding class at Club Workshop in Denver. Club Workshop is this cool place where they have any tool imaginable for woodworking, metalworking, and more! You can be a member, or pay by the day. It was cool!

We were able to go to my favorite Indian restaurant anywhere, Taj Mahal III, in Louisville. They even remembered us! That’s how often we went there!

From Denver, we flew to Durango, where we met up with the rest of the Heavners, along with Jaye and Bob, and their kids with their families. We skied one day at Purgatory – the weather was beautiful, the snow was great, and we paced ourselves and managed to ski the whole day!

B&G at Purgatory Resort

Skiing at Purgatory

We spent a lot of quality time playing with our nephews, Taariq, Torsten and Naadir, and we met our new niece, Aven, for the first time.

On December 23, we went on the Polar Express. There is a narrow gauge railway that goes from Durango to Silverton. In the winter, the route is shortened, and Santa visits the train! If you know the story of the Polar Express, then you know how the train ride went. The train arrived, then we boarded. The people working on the train were dressed as chefs (just like the book and movie!), and served us hot chocolate and cookies while the hot chocolate song played.

On Christmas Eve, we flew to Seattle to visit my family. We had a relaxed Christmas day that started with Danish Puff and stockings. Ben and I went for a run (it was cold and slippery, but sunny!), then we had our traditional Christmas day breakfast of eggs benedict and baked grapefruit – then presents! That evening we had a fondue fiesta! Ryan and Corinne came up from Tacoma, and Laura and Chris came over from West Seattle.

We spent Boxing Day in Seattle with mom and Ryan – we took the fairy over for a dim sum lunch, then the traditional Seattle outdoor store tour: REI, Feathered Friends, Second Ascent, and O.R.. We got some good deals on new jackets, and realized that other than that, we don’t really feel like we need much gear these days. That’s one difference between Ithaca and Alaska!

We couldn’t get enough quality Ryan and Corinne time, so went down to Tacoma on Sunday to hang out there. We got to see the new Tacoma Vertical Club that Ryan’s been building for the past few months – it is super awesome. Ben and Ryan bouldered a bit, then we went and got some coffee drinks and looked at shops on Tacoma’s antique row before going to see their super cool T-town loft and getting dinner with Corinne at the not-so-cool as we remembered Rock Pasta.

Cai mans the pumps!

Monday morning brought some relaxing, and the afternoon brought Tamara, Jason, and Cai! We went to the park so Jason and Tamara could stretch their legs after the drive from Portland (but we told them it was so Cai could burn energy…). Audrey, Caley, and Madeline joined us for a Thai food dinner and great evening of catching up.

Cai had a busy Tuesday cleaning the house (he’s very in to sweeping, so we got him a broom and dustpan as a present, and he immediately got to work). We interrupted him for a short trip to Battle Point Park. We did a bit of digging under Jason’s supervision, and then went to explore the soccer fields and to track the elusive Killer Bunnies of Bainbridge Island. Fortunately, we made it out of the thickets alive, so we could still participate in one of Jason’s wonderful single malt whisky tastings at the inaugural meeting of the Bainbridge Island Whisky Society, hosted at my parent’s house. Ben reports that the whisky was great. I watched a movie with Tamara and Cai.

Tamara, Jason, and Cai headed out on Wednesday after breakfast, and I slept. I wasn’t feeling well – maybe I got Ben’s hangover for him? He and dad went and watched Avatar while I slept.

I had planned to cook a great dinner of braised short ribs and polenta with goat cheese (since it turned out so well for Ben’s birthday dinner), but in the end, I just gave mom the recipe, and she did all the work (sorry mom!). It was fantastic, but I felt bad since it was supposed to be my turn to cook. Stupid being sick.

On Thursday, we had a morning dash of packing up, saying goodbye, and catching the ferry to Seattle to meet up with Gavin for New Years festivities. Said festivities involved getting The Illustrious S.K.T. from her job, and driving to a cabin just South of Mt. Rainier that E. & L. had rented. We hung out, banged on pots at midnight, watched some 1980’s ski video, and played a “Neverending Story” drinking game before finally calling it a New Year.

Heroically, Gavin and Susan woke up on New Year’s Day and drove us back up to the airport, where we caught our plane and made it home with only minimal security problems caused by the 8 pound cast-iron krunkake griddle that we hoped to transport in Ben’s carry-on bag (we ended up mailing it).

Thanks to all our wonderful friends and family for such a great holiday season, and Happy New Year to you all!

To see the rest of our pictures, go to our gallery!

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