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Christmas 2004 in West Virginia
Spencer Stirling

We decided to spend most of the Christmas break at Astrid's parent's house in West Virginia. The house is a beautiful redwood perched high above the Potomac River. Located in the middle of the forest, the view from their large deck is very impressive. The Potomac sits below (up where the Potomac is actually nice), and Maryland is across the river. Daan (Astrid's dad) takes a certain amount of pride in his garden, which really completes the image. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of what I'm describing. Haha.

I spent the first couple of weeks trying to brush up on my string theory, but it wasn't long before Daan reeled me into his computer geek trap. The women don't like us to hang out too much since we will disappear for weeks in his office downstairs, setting up his network and computer equipment. He always has some new toy for me to configure, and I'm only too happy to do it. Geekdom has no limit, and we demand maximum performance. Now I can't even remember what I set up for him, but it seemed important at the time.

Christmas itself was very pleasant. We actually went to the tree farm and cut our own tree. They decorated the tree, I watched. The best part about Christmas - no gifts. You can call me Scrooge all you want, because I take the label with pride. Gifts are annoying. I really dislike feeding the corporate pigs by being coerced into purchasing/receiving their crap (that is, unless I really actually need it). Actually, that's just my front - I just hate shopping. Christmas should be about good dinners and enjoying each other's company, not spending money on worthless junk.

Speaking of dinner, here is Astrid preparing one of several beautiful dinners that we enjoyed. They take pride in their cooking, and I can only encourage that. Dishes suck, however.

Here is a picture of Astrid and her sister, Dierdre. Dierdre's boyfriend, Scott, sits in the foreground. We went skiing with them later in Colorado.

Daan takes pride in his carving ability. Notice the suit - I love the style.

The men enjoyed a fair amount of discussion surrounding fine liquors and cigars. The Freunds (friends of the Vreugdenhils who live in the "neighborhood") were also in attendance, as well as co-workers from the retirement home where Astrid's mom (Eveline) is the director of nursing. Here's a photo late in the evening as we are really getting into the booze

Astrid and Eveline relax, but the men continue to banter in the background.

Later in the break we went to Washington D.C. to visit Astrid's friend Emily from high school. Here are some photos of Great Falls National Park (near/in Washington D.C.) where we enjoyed a little bit of sun.

Emily now lives in New Zealand, so I was quite interested in hearing her stories of the land (especially since I now have several friends from New Zealand).

It's time to leave West Virginia and head to Colorado for SKI VACATION!

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