Holiday Greetings to All
2002 was a milestone-marker year in the Ballensky household. It was the year of our 25th wedding anniversary, Darlene's 50th birthday celebration with her college friends, and the 1st year of the adults being home without kids as Damian was the last one to leave home.  We also completed our kitchen remodeling project and are thoroughly enjoying it.

25th Wedding Anniversary
We had planned to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary by retracing our honeymoon route down to Colorado, over to Utah, and up through Yellowstone Park. However, with all the fires claiming our route we just decided to go somewhere we hadn't journeyed before, and where the climate was a bit cooler, and so ended up in the state of Washington. This was the first lengthy trip for us without kids in quite some time (they had to stay home and do the work), but we totally enjoyed ourselves. We left right after the 4th of July, as then Mike could get away.  We saw Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helen's and then drove up the peninsula stopping numerous times on the beach, and at different attractions in Olympia Nat'l Park. We ended up catching a ferry at the top of the peninsula, doing some island hopping, and then coming out north of Seattle. We headed home through the northern Cascades, where we spent a "dam" day before heading east much too soon.

Darlene's 50th Birthday Celebration
Darlene along with five of her college graduates journeyed to Door County, Wisconsin at the beginning of October to celebrate their 50th year of life. They explored the shops there and saw a lighthouse, but missed out on the spectacular fall colors by a week or two. They stayed at the Beach House in Fish Creek and accomplished a lot of talking not unlike their college days.


The hunting season this year was very successful. For the past couple of years we've had our place leased to Hunt America. Consequently, we had three different parties of hunters in for five day hunts, and it was interesting visiting with them all. Mike and the kids didn't draw any elk permits this year, so they had to hunt in their old stomping grounds over by Lima. Mike came home with a five-point he managed to shoot right outside of camp. Mike describes it as one that needed to be taken out of the gene pool as you can tell by its picture. Troy also shot a spike. When they returned they still hadn't gotten hunting out of their system, so before the end of the season Troy had a mule deer and Mike a whitetail.

The kids are all scattered with three in school and Jason finally earning a paycheck. Damian is attending Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City where he's learning carpentry. Molly is in her third year at MSU-Bozeman majoring in elementary education. Troy is in his last year at MSU-Billings hopefully graduating in May with a double major in accounting and informational systems. Jason is working for Qualcomm in San Diego helping design the chips for the cell phones we use.  The three in school still come home often enough that I think we've actually only spent three weekends without someone here.

Have a Happy Holiday Season and a Great New Year!

Darlene and Mike

2001 Christmas Letter