click to return homeDenny, Sage & Ranasha Chittick
library: non-fiction

Christmas 2001
by Eldon & Carlene Chittick

Happy New Year!

Dear Family and Friends,

Eldon & Carlene's Clan
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Yes, I know. You thought that you had received all the boring Christmas letters you were going to for the 2001 season. Well, a big "sorry" from me, but Carlene decided that we’d wait until I got back from my trip, so I could describe the experience in the letter. Of course, all of you (who are in the know) realize that she has just found another excuse to leave the Christmas letter writing to me, as she has done for the past years.

Well, first we must mention the previous 11 months of 2001. Our Snowmobiling hobby led us (in Feb) to a 10 day trip with three other couples to Wyoming to cover about the upper 2/3rds of the Continental Divide Trail from the south entrance of Yellowstone to as far south as the snow would allow, but still about 100 miles short of the end of the trail at Lander. We put about 600 miles on our sleds in nearly perfect weather.

In March, we flew to Phoenix to visit Denny/Ranasha and see some baseball. We were able to see the Canady’s, Siegford’s and connected with Eldon’s old high school and college friends, Dick and Leona Parks from Port Orchard, Wash., who winter down there. Then in April, we drove to Colorado Springs to work for a couple weeks at Denny’s T-shirt Co., Galapagos Sportswear. We were able to visit friends, and Carlene’s dad’s family in Grand Junction, the Corcoran’s in Baily, and cousins, Tim and Jim O’Connor, in Chugwater, WY. coming and going.

Somewhere along the way, our "little one" Quilene announced that she and Egan wanted to get hitched in September. So, we began to plan for our 4th and final wedding. The summer was busy with softball (yes, Eldon quit playing finally, but is now helping our son-in-law, Jimmy, coach a men’s-league team). Eldon continued to use his big green thumb in his garden, but with mixed results. Great potatoes, radishes and tomatoes, but out of 40 feet of carrots planted, only 12 carrots appeared. And no rabbits in sight !!!!

In July, we journeyed to Seattle and then Edmonton for a long overdo visit to Eldon’s brother’s new condo and a Mariners game. The drive to Edmonton was a nostalgic trip for us as we hadn’t driven that way since we moved from Edmonton to Vancouver in 1968. We spent a fun week with our Canadian friends the O’Sullivans and the Riars. We miss our Canuck Connection!

Denny flew us down for a brief visit in August so we could see Ranasha dance at a Phoenix Mercury game. Then the serious planning time for the wedding began. Quil wanted no traditional ceremony or atmosphere. So, with minimal southwestern and Native-American decorations, and a very informal dress code, our home became the sight of the "LOVE-IN" or the "NORTH IDAHO WOODSTOCK 2001". One week before the wedding on the 8th, friends and relatives began arriving. By the day of the wedding, we had about 60 people camping in tents on the property. Egan’s grandparents from New Mexico; his dad Terry, wife Kay and his step-brother, Sesh; his mother, Debbie, from Washington D.C.; and his step-dad Don, and wife Elizabeth from Idaho City all stayed with us in the house. It was great to get acquainted, and we all enjoyed the harmony and joy of having the common purpose of giving our kids a happy send off.

Eldon & Quilene on the wedding day
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About 275 people attended. We fed 250, with Quilene’s boss, John, the restaurant owner from Corvallis, catering the whole shebang as his wedding gift to the kids. Many guests described the wedding as one of the most unique and touching they had experienced, and praised the meal as "the best" they had ever eaten at a wedding reception. It was exceptional. A friend of ours, Judge Gene Marano conducted the service, and together at the rehearsal, we put this spontaneous ceremony together in 30 minutes, and it came off without a hitch. The weather was perfect and the view from our front lawn set the stage for Egan’s step-dad, Don, to create the atmosphere with a prayer/blessing spoken in Lakota and his own poem written for the occasion. They stood on a ceremonial blanket, which was passed down in Carlene’s family from her Grandmother, who traded for this blanket (with food) with some Navajo Indians around 1910-15 at Cumbres Pass telegraph office on the Colorado-New Mexico bord! er. We’re proud to have such a fine young man as Egan for our son-in-law. He and Quil make a very compatible couple…like peanut butter and jelly, they seem to belong together. It was special to get to know his parents and families.

Obviously, the week that followed the wedding was less than joyful for us all. Perhaps we felt the need to not let the tragedy slow us down, or we were in shock, but we were scheduled to fly to CO to work at the T-shirt Company again. So we loaded the kids wedding presents in our truck, drove to Corvallis, unloaded them in the kids house, met Kay for dinner and an overnight stay with her in her home (Terry was in Canada shooting pictures of wildlife, that tried to shorten his life…he’s a wildlife/naturalist photographer), then headed for Colorado Springs the next day. We ended up spending a month working at the "sweat shop" due to heavier fall orders than normal. Then we returned home for Halloween, and then the whole family came for Thanksgiving. By "family" we include our "not-genetically-but-emotionally-related " kids, Mike and Helen Williams and their new baby girl, Reyla. It was our holiday gathering, as we knew we wouldn’t have Egan and Quilene or Denny and Ranasha home for Christmas. Our brood is growing with grandkids and in-laws, which means we have to share the holidays with the other families. That’s worked out very nicely with them all, we’re happy to report, as we all struggle with this transition from "selfishness to sharing" that characterizes this stage in our lives.

Denny & Ranasha at Machu Piichu
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O.K….now the TRIP..…On Dec. 5th, I flew from Spokane to Seattle to LAX to Lima, Peru to meet up with Denny/Ranasha and my old pal Don Michael (whom we lived next door to in married housing at NMSU back in 1963-4). We left the next day for Ica, Peru to see the Nazca Markings. The next day to Cuzco, Peru as the jumping off point to see Machu Piichu. Then we flew back to Lima and up to Quito, Ecuador where we spent a day acclimatizing to the altitude. Our friend "nurse Nancy" Barr joined us for this next leg….a 5 day white water rafting trip through the jungles of Ecuador. We flew to Macas and bussed to the Upano River. After 5 days of unbelievable scenery, a few dozen sand flea bites, a visit with a Shuar village, (a previously head-hunting tribe of aboriginal Indians who gave up that practice in the 1950’s), and some record setting rapids, we were bussed back to Macas and flown back to Quito. Nancy’s husband, Mike joined us for the last leg of this adventure, The Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. We floated around 7 of the islands on a refurbished 108-foot cruiser, built in 1942, for the next 5 days. An amazing and relaxing experience.

Eldon & 2 new friends from Galapagos
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I could spend hours relating the many stories and anecdotes about this unique trip; including the landslide in the mountains that blocked our return train ride from Machu Piichu for 7 hours; dancing with the natives to a battery powered boom-box in a thatched roof cottage; the 1000 foot climb through the jungle at 10:00 at night up from the river to get to their village; the ceremonial drinking of their "home brew" and "white lightening" which we couldn’t refuse or we’d insult our hosts; then the nightmarish climb/slide back down mountain cliffs at midnight with only some of the flashlights working; the home cooked meal in the home of an Ecuadorian family in Quito whose daughter stayed with our Riar friends in Canada as an exchange student 2 years ago; then the unimaginable experience of seeing the wildlife in the Galapagos that gave Darwin the basis for his theory of evolution. These and other details, like flying on 16 different planes in the 18 days we were gone, the security in these 3rd world countries at the airports and in the cities that make ours look like a momentary inconvenience in comparison, and the excellent food on the flights of Lan Chili and Tame’ Airlines, will provide me with memories for the rest of my life.

Returning home to snow plowing was a dramatic reality check, but a welcome return to my wife, my life, and my family that made this experience all the more meaningful. I spend my free time now, relating these stories to interested ears and eyes as they view the pictures and videos of "papa’s adventure". Carlene chose to experience this trip via my pictures and stories, cause she "doesn’t do water things, especially white water rafting things."

2002 brings a new grandson into the family by Brad and Shawna in April. His name will be Thaden Bradley! Brad is still with UPS and Ally at 2 ½ is keeping them both very busy.

Sharla is still enjoying her teaching at North Idaho College as full time faculty member in the History Department. Jimmy’s Web Site business is going well and keeps him very busy! Sage loves being in the lst Grade and found that soccer this fall was his new passion!

Here’s hoping your New Year is off to a good start, with the shadow of 9-11-2001 producing a positive motivation, not a negative modulation.

Best Personal Regards for 2002…Eldon and Carlene……………..January 1, 2002…….

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