Hello from the Evans’ Family – we wish you good health and happiness – not easy these days. So far our entire family has dodged catching COVID-19; very lucky, considering it appears inevitable to happen to one or more of us. We started easing back into “normal” life this year – here is our story.
To start, here are messages from the Evans’ children – they provided the following updates as my Christmas gifts!
Despite numerous challenges, failures, and unforeseen circumstances, Zack has only gotten taller and better looking. He stands now roughly 9 and a half feet tall, and all of our necks hurt because of it. He decided in early 2020 to live amongst those most like him: the trees in Portland, Oregon, and now resides in Beaverton. He enjoys the weirdness of the pacific northwest, but sorely misses the warmth of California sunshine. The past year has been tumultuous, but every end is a new beginning. Zack is calling this his phoenix year, and many of us can relate. With a return to school on the horizon, he is ready to be reborn and burn more brightly than ever in 2022.
Grant is living in Seattle with his girlfriend Lauren and their two cats, Neo and Obi. He has been working from home (for Microsoft) since February 2020 and has built an expansive work from home setup he will be reluctant to let go when he returns to the office. In addition to working at Children’s Hospital as a Nurse, Lauren is studying at the University of Washington for a Nurse Practitioner degree (2-1/2 year program) – she just finished her first quarter. Grant and Lauren are excited to ski this season, as they were not able to visit the mountains last year. Grant wishes all of his friends and family a happy and healthy holidays and New Year.
Drew graduated from the University of Puget Sound in May of 2021, with a Bachelor of Science in Economics & minors in math & business. He enjoyed (as much as possible) a COVID senior year, living in Tacoma with his friends. After saying goodbye to Tacoma, Drew headed home where he planned a road trip with his girlfriend, Emily, across the U.S.. Despite some bumps in the road, they were able to embark on their trip and headed Southeast, then Northeast, then due East, finding a turnaround point in Chicago, IL. Finishing in Portland, they drove 8,000 miles in about 50 days. After this, Drew stayed in Orinda, cat-sitting for a while, before he found out that Emily got the job she had been pining after, as a KUPU intern at National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawai’i. Within two months, they packed up together and moved in to a 1-bedroom in Lihue, Hawai’i. With sunnier skies and sea-breezes, they started their post-grad journey together in paradise. Soon after arrival Drew found work, applying for and getting a position as a Production Operations Analyst at Kauai Coffee Company on the island. Drew works at the largest coffee orchard in the United States! Since then, they have met new people, experienced an entirely different way of living, and have grown immensely. Emily & Drew are excited to grow, learn, and experience 2022. Merry Christmas to all, especially you, Dad!
Claudia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola Marymount University in May with a degree in Political Science and minors in International Relations and Spanish. She spent the first half of her summer with her friends in Los Angeles, then spent 7 weeks in Vermont at an intensive language program at Middlebury College. This was excellent preparation for her next adventure: living and working as an English Language Assistant at a secondary school in Granada, Spain, where she has been working since September. She’s been enjoying the facilitation of a pen pal activity between her students and students in the USA who are being taught by her former high school Spanish teacher, a rare and inspiring experience for her and her students. She is excited to continue traveling in 2022, and Karen is excited to keep visiting!
We were fortunate to see all our children, more than once, in 2021. They even saw each other …
Karen & Marc
We reached our 30th wedding anniversary in August – very thankful to have navigated all the challenges of life over this time together. Karen continues to enjoy a healthy retirement, albeit with back pain (though you wouldn’t know it just by looking!); Marc had a “different” year – see Marc’s Retirement Journey post. Together we’ve enjoyed going to SF Broadway Shows (opened back up this Fall), Golden State Warriors games (have pair of 1/4 season tickets for the 2021-2022 season), living with our cats Scar & Rocco, keeping up with our children and Big Family, and travel.
First Part of 2021 Travel
Except for a trip to New Orleans in March, we did not travel in 2020. So as vacation spots began opening up in 2021, Karen & I began to travel again. We were both vaccinated in April so felt comfortable, at least driving in the first half of the year.
In February we spent a week in Palm Springs with Karen’s father Dick Weisbaum (aka Papa); it was a nice visit as we had not seen Papa in a while. Mostly hanging out at the pool, walks and visiting outdoor art installations called Desert X.
In April we flew to Maui, Hawaii with our close friends Patty & Mark Thompson and Michelle & Andy Winter. We have known these couples for 30+ years (Mark, Andy and I were friends before we each met our respective spouses). We took our initial friends vacation to the Caribbean in the early 80s on a sailboat; we call our group WET (Winter Evans Thompson) Sail. We went out to eat several times in Maui – all outdoor dining – and snorkeled, walked, and hung out at different beaches. Mark, Andy and I enjoyed a fantastic bike ride down the Haleakala Volcano . I did not realize this was on my bucket list and highly recommend this activity! The weather was awesome (almost always true in Hawaii).
Claudia graduated from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and Drew from University of Puget Sound (UPS), on consecutive weekends in May. LMU was very restrictive on their graduation – it was on Zoom (which we did not attend). But Karen & I drove to LA and spent the weekend. Claudia and her 4 roommates held a small celebration in their backyard with a few friends and family. It was nice to hang out with her friend’s families – ordered some food, some drinks, played only a couple drinking games. Karen has yet to congratulate me on my restraint. Claudia stayed in LA through July, enjoying the warmth and excitement of a post-grad summer.
The next weekend several of our family travelled to Tacoma WA to celebrate Drew’s graduation. UPS had an in-person graduation but only 2 people per student could attend (significant social distancing while sitting in the stadium). Claudia, Grant, girlfriend Lauren, and Zack plus Karen’s Dad, Brother, Sister-in-Law, Nephew and my 2 sisters attended. Drew and his friends threw a party in their backyard the day before – larger gathering, more food, more beer, and significantly more drinking games (restraint was a non-issue amongst the frat brothers) . The families also hired a photographer, which was a great way to capture the end of a college career. Drew stayed in Tacoma for about 3 weeks before coming home to the Bay Area to prepare for his road trip; such a celebration cannot be wrapped up so easily it seems.
Karen and I returned to Bakersfield for 4th of July Weekend for a WET Sail outing (has been an almost annual tradition, especially when our kids were younger). This year it was just the 3 couples and one lone child (Claire) – hanging out at the Winter’s pool, playing games, and checking out Bakersfield’s fast-growing brewery scene.
We visited Santa Barbara in mid-July to hangout with my two sisters, nieces and their families. 3 days in an Airbnb near the home of my younger niece Alison, husband Graeme and daughter Hopie Gehlen-Wingate were spent hanging out with older niece Lauren, husband Jamie, and daughters Rose and Bea Houssain, along with my sisters Robin Gehlen and Joanne Evans. Graeme, Jamie and I took care of the kids one day – the women in the family enjoyed a spa day and dinner without children. It was a treat to hang out with my siblings and their children / grandchildren, our growing village, and create some sweet memories.
We visited New Jersey, NYC, Vermont, Boston, and Washington DC in August. We started with the wedding of a good friend’s oldest son in New Jersey, followed by a week of attractions in New York City. Karen & I both enjoy New York, lots of walking, good restaurants & museums but no Broadway Shows – we will return. We then picked up Claudia at Middlebury College in Vermont (where she finished a competitive and challenging language program) and went to Boston and Washington DC to see the sights and connect with friends. All 3 cities were enjoyable – there were less tourists than normal (plus DC is very quiet in August with Congress out of session).
Last Part of 2021 Travel
Karen & I went to Spain to help Claudia move for her new job in late September. We rented an Airbnb in the center of Granada and greatly enjoyed the life of Southern Spain – people friendly streets, lots of historic sites, many tapas restaurants to choose from, afternoon naps, and walking around the town, including the famous Alhambra.
While there, Claudia found a roommate (in the same English Language Assistant program), found a 3 bedroom flat in a good part of town, practiced her commute to work (bus ride of about 25 minutes), and other move to new place type of things. I was there 10 days while Karen stayed another week to help Claudia get settled in.
In November, Karen and I met up with her father, brother and sister-in-law for another trip to Hawaii (this was planned 2 years ago). We spent 1 week in Maui and 1 week in Kauai. We were hosted by her dad and stayed in Westin Resorts – what a treat. We hit our favorite sites in Maui including snorkeling at Honolua Bay plus Happy Hour at Fleetwood’s in Lahaina.
This was our first tip to Kauai – with the added BONUS of Drew & Emily living there. We stayed in Princeville, visited the Waimea Canyon, Allerton Garden, a water tubing activity through old irrigation canals (much better than it sounds) and of course a tour of the Kauai Coffee Company.
In the middle of 2021, as COVID appeared to die down, Karen and I decided we wanted to take a special vacation with all four children for Christmas. We planned a trip to Eastern Europe to experience the historically vibrant Christmas spirit of Austria and surrounding countries with our family. So our in-house travel agent, Karen, spent endless hours making hotel reservations in Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Salzburg. This was for all 8 of us (including Lauren and Emily) with different arrival times and departures – each city had different number of hotel rooms or an Airbnb. It was a significant undertaking – including plane reservations to/from 4 US cities plus Granada, Spain.
Around Thanksgiving the Omicron COVID variant hit Europe – we learned that Christmas Markets were closing down and there would be a high risk of quarantine if anyone tested positive. With great sadness, Karen cancelled the entire trip – additional endless hours getting refunds or asking for a future date. We have were able to defer a couple hotels until next year – that vacation will be in next year’s Holiday Letter.
With all our children already having scheduled time off, we pivoted and rented Villa Castillo in Puerto Vallarta (PV), Mexico. We reserved a couple activities – an ATV jungle tour (highly recommend), a dinner cruise with an exciting circus troupe, and our favorite zipline tour – it has been a great time. This trip is significantly lower stress than a Europe Trip with all the inter-city travel, plus the weather in PV has been beautiful – low 80s every day. Our place is about a 30 minute walk / 5 minute taxi ride to Old Town – beach restaurants, shops, restaurants, bars. The place we rented had a pool and large deck – great space to hang out.
Best Wishes and Happy New Year
To all that took the time to read this far, we hope your Holiday with Family & Friends was wonderful, and we wish you health & happiness in 2022. We look forward to when our paths with you cross again!
Marc and Karen Evans: January 2, 2022