The year was 2000, we were off to El Paso for the celebration of the marriage of Carmen and Jamie. They met in Germany while attending Frankfurt High School. Over the years, there were many miles separating them but it was their love that endure distance and time.

We had some down time from wedding prep so we went over to Juárez. We had a snack at one of the outdoor cafes where a Mariachi played for us. Later in the City Market we bartered with some friendly, good nature merchants for a few “prizes” to take home.

June 2000 Juárez Mexico City Market
June 2000 Juárez Mexico City Market

The wedding was an absolutely flawless day spent with loved ones and family members to celebrate the marriage of Jamie and Carmen. There was only one problem, the priest got Jamie’s first name and last name mixed up. Every time he should have said Jamie he said Kelly. At the time it was a little upsetting, but it soon became a funny part of the day. After all, if everything goes perfect you are less likely to remember much about the day.

June 10 2000 The Four Sisters

At Jamie and Carmen’s wedding reception, Steve asked all “four of the parents” for our blessings to ask Kristie to marry him. Of course, we were happy to give it. Family, friends and neighbors traveled to Minnesota 12 days after 9-11. The beautiful fall days before the wedding were wonderful. The morning of the wedding the sky opened up and it stormed all day. We arrived at the church dodging the rain drops, as we carried the wedding clothes in side. During the ceremony, huge booms of thunder filled the church. I have always heard it was good luck to have rain on your wedding day but this was a little much! As we came out of the church, the rain had stopped, there was a rainbow in the sky and it turned into a wonderful evening.

For this wedding, the four girls were joined by Steve’s sister, Michelle and Kristie’s college friend, Susan. As you can see from the photo, they did not have any fun together. I made the dresses and purses for the girls and Holan made the wraps.

September 23 2001

Our next trip was up to Fred to plan, but we all added our input when Steve and I went down to El Paso for a visit a few months before. Once the time arrived, we flew in a couple of days early and enjoyed some downtime. Then we were in the car, heading out on our epic American southwest road trip. Fred and Lupe had done a fantastic job of planning the trip. Our days were filled with sights of magnificent rock formations that took our breath away. We visited Arches National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (cayenne pepper from dinner kept Steve, Lupe and Fred up all night), the red rocks of Page, Powell Lake and Dam, (no purses or pocket knives allowed!), the stunning badlands and unique Petrified Forest, the
gorgeous Painted Dessert and Zion National Park.

A stop at the Mission Mine, a working open-pit copper mine was like visiting a small Grand Canyon. The mine was a quarter-mile deep, two miles from north to south, and a mile-and-three-quarters from east to west. The Copper Queen Hotel, the longest continuously operating Hotel in Arizona since 1902, was our resting place for the night.It was an experience to take in the wild, wild west in Tombstone watching the “OK Corral Shootout” re-enactment, drinks at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon and finally having lunch at the Longhorn Restaurant. It was the oldest continually operated restaurant in Tombstone. The building is what use to be the Bucket of Blood Saloon, the Holiday Water company and the Owl Cafe and Hotel, where Virgil Earp was shot from the second floor.

We drove to the Grand Canyon, making a big loop so we didn’t have to backtrack. Standing over looking the massive canyon is something that can’t be described. At sunset we joined several hundred people to view an outstanding sunset!

June 2002 Southwest Road Trip Grand Canyon
June 2002 Southwest Road Trip Grand Canyon

On our return to El Paso we were greeted by the kids. They had mowed the lawn, cleaned the house and prepared a wonderful dinner of steak, baked potatoes and salad. The next day we went over to Juárez for a Mexican lunch.

June 2002 Juárez Mexico

Now it was Steve’s turn to plan our next trip. He decided a cruise on Carnival Triumph might be different instead of a road trip. It was a wonderful cruise but we decided Carnival was not the cruise line for us.

May 31 2003 Carnival Triumph

We docked in Cozumel, rented a car to tour the island, which was only 10 miles wide and 28 miles long. We found a laid back beach bar with small circular palapas to set under while we enjoyed some tropical drinks. We lunched at Las Palmeras and later went into the Palmar Beach Club, The weather was very humid, so entering the water, from the powdery white beach, felt like going into a bath with ice cubes. It was heavenly! The currents were swift, with a strong undertow. Beautiful tropical fish could be seen without snorkeling gear but Steve and Fred did swim out further to snorkel.

June 02 2003 Cozumel Mexico

At Sting Ray city in the Cayman Islands we swam with “tame” Atlantic Southern Stingrays. We stood on a sand bar in chest deep crystal blue water and were surrounded by more than two dozen. The stingrays felt like a wet gummy bear, kind of soft and slick.

June 4 2003 Carnival Triumph Cruise Cayman Islands Sting Ray City

On the island of Ocho Rios, we walked the picturesque boardwalk, shopped in the curio shops, relaxed on the beach and the guys rented jet skis.

June 5 2003 Carnival Triumph Cruise Ocho Rios

After our cruise, we came home to prepare for Holan’s wedding. This was during our creative years. There were handcrafted invitations, CD covers, table center pieces, napkin rings and a very creative alter designed by Holan. The morning of the wedding Fred, Lupe, Bill, Wanda (Godparents), Sue, Bill (family friends since ’72), and Rumi joined us to decorate the event center. Lupe is shown here putting the final touches on the faux cake I made.

October 12 2003 Lupe

Later in the day, the sisters posed for photos in the park. Four very lovely young ladies.

The fathers always could be found together supporting each other, no matter what the situation.

October 12 2003 Steve and Fred

In 2004, Fred had an Embassy Vacation Resort deal in Orlando, FL It was a great condo on the second floor with a screened in deck, with white rockers, over look a stream. We explored downtown, where the guys found Segways to try. On other days we visited a place called Wonderworks, a Pirate’s Dinner, Disney Animal Kingdom and Disney World. Our time came to an end so the Rotchfords returned to TX and we traveled over to the coast for a visit with Pat and Stan.

2004 04 Orlando FL Segway Steve Fred

The New Dinner Theatre was always been a favorite place to go when the Rotchfords came to visit. Fred and Lupe’s birthdays are the first of November, so on this trip we took them to the Peppercorn Duck Club for dinner. It had been, before closing several years ago, a 30 year tradition in Kansas City, offering a fine dining experience featuring Rotisserie Duck and an Award Winning Ultra Chocolatta Bar for dessert. Another thing we enjoyed with Fred and Lupe was going to and watching movies at home. In Germany we had joined a private video club. It was located in an apartment in the housing area operated by a military family. To join you had to put in one movie to join. The number of movies you put into the club was the number of movies you could “check” out at a time. Anyway, the movie we saw this time was Cast Away. Excellent movie!!

October 2005 New Dinner Theatre
October 2005 New Dinner Theatre

2007 rolled around and it was time to try another cruise. This time we traveled to Seattle to board Norwegian Cruise Line The Star. From the Crown Plaza, we explored the Pigs on Parade, located in downtown, visited Pike Place Market and admired the Space Needle and buildings of the city.

June 15 2007 Seattle

The next morning we waited for our transportation to the cruise port.

June 16 2007 Seattle

We boarded the Star and got our first drinks. They sure don’t put drinks in this type of glasses these days. As you can tell Fred and Lupe are wearing sweaters. This is was not a cruise for shorts and swim suits!

June 16 2007 NCL Star Alaska Cruise

When it was announced we could go to our cabins, we got on the elevated and started taking selfies.

June 16 2007 NCL Star Alaska Cruise

On this cruise we visited the cities of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert, British Columbia and Sawyer Glacier.

As we docked in Ketchikan at 7:00 a.m. I stood on our balcony and said “the stores won’t even open this early!” When we got off the ship EVERY store and attraction were ready for us with their doors wide open. During our time there, we saw the Herring Bay Lumber Company sawmill, took a walk in our first ever rain forest sanctuary, watched a master totem pole carver. A visit to the Wagner Mine remnants was interesting and a visit with an Alaskan Reindeer was fun. We walked the historical Creek Street and learn the history of the town.

At the Gold Creek Salmon Bake in Juneau Alaskan caught salmon was grilled over an open alderwood fire. As a person who did not like salmon, I was very surprised that it was delicious. I have always love waterfalls and up close view of the Salmon Creek Waterfall did not disappoint. We boarded a boat and was guided through the waters of Stephen’s Passage in search of whales. The naturalist on board explain the behavior and habitat of wildlife located in this area. We only caught glances of a couple of whales but saw other sea life.

Skagway, the northernmost point of the Inside Passage, still looks like it did during the Gold Rush Era, as a restored historical town. There were picturesque Victorian homes, the Red Onion Saloon & Brothel, other historical buildings and lots shops. It was a clear and sunny day, as we boarded the White Pass & Yukon Route so the views were wonderful. The train hugged the narrow tracks up to the summit, as we looked out of the vintage train. We could see the sharp drops into the dangerous valleys, traveled through two tunnels and made many sharp turns following the mountain terrain. This was believed the best route to the Klondike gold fields. We did another salmon bake at Liarsville. Again, for someone who didn’t like salmon, I was becoming a fan. After eating, we visit the reenactments of a gold mine camp.

Our next port was Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. We went to Cowpuccino’s Coffee House, know for its homemade soups and sandwiches plus coffees, ice cream and muffins, all made on the premises. Jana Seale, a Canadian performer appearing on the ship, had recommended the coffee house. We enjoyed our dessert, looked around the city and watched bald eagles in the area. The next night we were in our usual seats at the bar. As Jana was playing the piano, she told the story of going to get her favorite dessert the day before and they were out. We confessed that we had taken the last one they had, not knowing she had not been there yet.

Our final adventure, on the cruise, was entering the Glacier Bay park narrated by park rangers. It took about nine hours for us to make the round trip of the park. We sailed into the heart of the Fairweather Mountains passing by glaciers that were many miles long. Our ship stopped in front of a tidewater glacier for about an hour. What we saw was a wall of ice around 200 feet tall and a mile wide but it was actually the end of a river of ice, many miles long. Going into the glacier was like being in a space ship going to a narrow entrance into the mother ship. At least, that is how it felt to me. Guess I’ve seen too many SYFY movies. Anyway, it was an amazing sight to see.

June 17 2007 NCL Star Alaska Cruise

Renting a villa, named Beach Music, on St. John, Virgin Islands, in 2008 was a fun relaxing week. Beach Music, was located at 98 Chocolate Hole over looking Chocolate Bay. We spent the days visiting different beaches and the evenings on the large wrap around deck. Time was spent in the pool, located just off the master bedroom and feeding our visiting iguana his daily banana. There was never a dull moment with iguanas dropping from the trees, a very loud bird outside of Fred and Lupe bedroom and the recuse of a boat in the bay, after a storm, A path to the bay, lead to Beach Music’s private beach, with large rocks and lots of conch shells.

2008 06 20 St John VI Villa Pool Group
June 21 2008 St John VI Beach Music’s Private Beach

Asolare Restaurant was one we had wanted to have dinner because it was a lovely restaurant perched high above Cruz Bay. But we never seemed to be there at the right time. Even without a reservation, we were allowed to enter when they opened, twenty minutes after we arrived. The view of the lights in the harbor below and on distant St. Thomas alone was worth the wait. As we were finishing our wonderful meal, a storm moved in with lots of lightning. Suddenly lightning struck the building, we saw the flash and felt the electricity. Of course, we lost power. The car was parked the hill so we waited, having strawberry shortcake for dessert. When the worse part of the storm had passed, the hostess helped guide us to our car with a flashlight and umbrellas. We got to the villa to find we also had no electricity or water. After a call to the rental agency, someone came reset things and the lights and water pump were back

June 21 2008 St John Asolare Restaurant

We visited Honeymoon Beach were there was a colorful reef providing the best snorkeling on St. John’s north shore. Trunk Bay National Park, voted one of the top ten beaches in the world, is the most visited and most photographed beach. It has a beautiful scenic overlook and the only beach that had lifeguards, snorkeling equipment and restrooms. Cinnamon Bay was a short distance walk. This is where Kenney Chesney sat on a little wooden chair and wrote the entire an entire CD, “Songs from an Old Blue Chair.

Fred was enjoying the hammock until Steve decided to turn him over. The guys were always picking at each other like brothers.

2008 06 21 St John VI Beach Music Lower Deck Fred Steve
2008 06 20 St John VI cheers to a great vacay!

We came back, from St. Johns, to reality, hosted our annual 4th of July party and then loaded up the van to head to Texas for Maria and Derricks wedding. This was the first road trip we made with Samantha. She did very well on the 7 plus hours in the van. She was very happy arriving at the hotel and having some kid time with Ian and Conner. The next day, the Rotchfords hosted an ice breaker for the out of town guest. We visited with Fred and Lupe’s families, some for the first time and others at previous family events. Later we attended the rehearsal dinner at Buca Di Beppo. As usual the fathers were together, side by side, supporting each other.

July 10 2008 Fathers with the Groom

The girls had a fun girls night out and was ready the next morning for a spa treatment, hair and make-up appointments. There was a minor problem with the hair and make-up. In the middle of getting their hair done someone decided to rob a store in the mall. Of course, everyone had to leave the building. The girls ended up back at the hotel with the hair dresser in tow to finish up. Just a little excitement for the big day. One again it was wonderful seeing all of the girls together.

July 11 2008 four girls all dressed up.