On Tuesdays, from January thru May, Danielle drove up to her former sister-in-law’s home in the mountains above Santa Cruz where she would privately tutor (in a Waldorf-based curriculum) our 5-year-old grand-daughter, Aria. As their home is situated adjacent to a Christmas tree farm, Aria named these 3-hour class-times the “Tree Farm” school.

In addition, each week, Jaclyn would drive down from Santa Cruz with the grandkids to spend the day with us: which allowed Kara and Aria to participate in the Aiki-mites program with “Grandma” Sensei :-)

In June we gathered with family members at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz to celebrate our grandson Brennan’s 1st birthday. In keeping with a Talbert family tradition, he was given a birthday cake all to himself – his came decorated with creepy, crawly/flying things! =8-O

In September Michael's youngest sister’s daughter, Chelsea, married her partner of several years, Justin Hoese, at the Purgatory Resort near Durango, Colorado. We boarded the Amtrak “California Zephyr” in Emeryville (near Oakland) at 9am for the 24-hour train ride to Grand Junction, Colorado. The scenery along this route is spectacular! And so much easier to fully enjoy from the comfort of the lounge car or our roomette. The next morning as we were travelling through the Ruby Canyon in eastern Utah, Michael took quite a few photos of the scenery (not really noticing Danielle looking out the window of our roomette). But one photo (below, left), which hasn’t been “PhotoShopped” or retouched, immediately caught our attention: which have now titled "The Ruby Canyon River Goddess" (see the larger image)

From Grand Junction, we rented a car for the 3-hour drive to Purgatory. Our route took us along the “Million Dollar Highway” (US 550): beautiful, breathtaking, and definitely not for the faint of heart! The wedding ceremony and reception took place at Dante’s Bistro, elevation 10,500’, near the top of Purgatory Mountain. Chelsea was gorgeous, radiant – her mother would have been so proud! It was also great to get together with so many family members, including all of Michael’s brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.
The kids lost the lease on their home in the Santa Cruz mountains; so in early September the family moved to the town of Auburn in the Sierra-Nevada foothills – about 3 ˝ hours away. It certainly has been challenging for them in many ways, but also has brought them new opportunities. It has also been a significant adjustment to our lives not having them within an hour’s drive from us. That had allowed us to get together almost weekly. I guess we were spoiled, but we really do miss seeing them so regularly. Shortly after they moved, we did get together for our annual visit to the NorCal Renaissance Faire.

Thanksgiving this year was at Michael’s sister’s home in Gardnerville, Nevada. Chelsea and Justine flew in to Stockton and we picked them up en route. There had been an early season snowstorm the night before, but luckily we got over the pass without having to put on chains (which we didn’t have!). Colin, Jaclyn and the kids couldn’t make it over from Auburn, so we dropped in for a visit with them the day after Thanksgiving. This was our first chance to see their new residence and neighborhood. They have a very nice gluten-free bakery within walking distance – sticky buns and café latte for breakfast :-)

The kids drove over from Auburn during Christmas to visit all the parents/grandparents. They dropped in to see us on the 1st Day of Christmas.