Friday, December 31, 2004

Tying up Loose Ends

2004 was certainly an eventful year for us,
and we managed to keep up the pace
right through to the end.

November Getaway to Seattle

After years of business trips to destinations all over Europe and the states, Dave finally had the opportunity to take Karen along on a conference trip to Seattle. We LOVED the city! While there we had a chance to watch the Seahawks win a nail-biter against the Miami Dolphins, we ate an evening meal in the Space Needle, watching the lights of the city as the restaurant turned, we went to church at Ken Hutcherson's Antioch Bible Church, and we took long walks along the waterfront. It was a memorable trip and a great chance to get away for a while.


Thanksgiving in Kentucky

Thanksgiving was spent in Kentucky, in what has become a tradition at Aunt Kathy's house. The whole Burke side of the family showed up, including Dave's parents from Charleston, and sister Amy with her family from Atlanta. Grandma and Grandpa Burke were doing well, and Grandpa is gearing up to celebrate his 97th in January.

The food was awesome, the fellowship was great, and the football gave us opportunities to sneak naps.


4th Annual "Guy Road Trip"

Our fourth annual "guy road trip" to a football game took us to Atlanta this year, to watch the Falcons play the Raiders. The seats were the best we've ever had (right on the 50-yard line) and the game was,...well it wasn't so good for the Raiders. But there's always next year! The Falcons won the game handily and, as a result, sealed first place in their division. We made another attempt to lure the cameramen our way by wearing our Santa hats and proudly waving Tuck's sign saluting "St.Vick" (a reference to Atlanta's quarterback, Michael Vick), but to no avail.

We traveled to Atlanta on the day prior to the game this year, so we could stay with Amy and attend their church's Christmas program. The pageant included a "living, singing Christmas Tree, and an adaptation of the Dickens "A Christmas Carol" written by Eric that was brilliant! Eric also played the part of a Roman Centurion. The whole thing was excellent, and got our Christmas season started off in fine form.


Lots of Warmth But No Heat

Just days before Christmas, as Alabama temperatures uncharacteristically headed into the teens, our heat went out. Apparently our exhaust fan had been "laboring" for nearly a year, but it waited until December 18th to give up the ghost. We called a repair guy and he quickly identified the problem, so we thought everything was hunky dorey. Little did we know that getting the part would turn into a nearly two-week ordeal. Two days before Christmas it became clear that the part wasn't coming anytime soon. Christmas had brought the delivery system to a near halt and the holiday was upon us.

Once that sank in, we hung sheets in doorways and borrowed space heaters, and fired up the gas fire place to create pockets of warmth in an otherwise chilly house. The thermometer in the hallway read in the 40s for several days, and we started to get concerned for our water pipes during the overnight lows. But for all the adversity, we recognized early on that this was one of the most special Christmases we can remember. Something about those close quarters and facing adversity together brought a neat quality to the holiday this year.

The part finally came in on the 28th (Tucker's birthday), and now we just have to wonder what the utility bill is going to look like after running all those space heaters so long :-\


Maiden Voyage

Just before Christmas, Dave got a message from Kristen Barnett saying that her brother, Lewis, was coming to visit with his daughter, Lizzie, after Christmas. Lewis was Dave's school-mate, college roomy, and best man, and since Kristen and her folks live near Atlanta, in Kennesaw, Georgia, a plot was hatched to make some real use of that new pilot's license.

For days prior to the flight Dave scrutinized weather patterns, planned the route, and flew it repeatedly using the MS Flight Simulator program. Driving would have taken around 3 hours each way, but flying would take just a little over one hour. As Dec 30th approached, the weather started to look dicey. The forecasts finally got so bad on the night before that Dave was resigned to having to drive. It was a long night, but as morning broke, the forecast changed and Tucker and Dave headed for the airfield with their fingers crossed. By all accounts, the weather on the far end was good, so they took off and started the trip, knowing they might have to turn around if things deteriorated.

The flight ended up being wonderfully uneventful, yet totally exhilarating. There wasn't a single hitch in the plan. Tuck proved to be an extremely capable navigator, and his eagle eyes routinely saw checkpoints long before Dave could see them. He even spotted the buildings in downtown Atlanta as we neared our destination. When we landed at the Cobb County/McCollum airport (NW of Atlanta) the folks there treated us royally, and Kristen and Lewis picked us up just a few minutes later.

We spend a delightful few hours eating lunch with the Barnetts, reminiscing about old times, and wondering at how the years had passed so quickly. Dr Barnett presented Dave with an autographed copy of his second book, Pebbles in the Water, complete with a thoughtful note commemorating Dave's maiden flight. It was a great visit!

At about 3:30pm, we headed back to the airport, ran through our checks, and took off for home. The weather had cleared even more by then, so it was a delightful flight home, giving a fine finish to a great day.