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Hello Everyone,

Here we are at the end of a very busy and tumultuous 2008!

I began the year here in Atlanta continuing my service as Sales Coordinator at the SpringHill Suites Atlanta Buckhead. I was also working part-time at Olive Garden as a host. My brother Bruce was set to move in with me in early February from New Mexico.

As February approached, my bosses at the hotel informed me in late January that I would be attending a banquet in downtown Atlanta (Sheraton) in early February. This banquet was to honor the Georgia Hotel Lodging Association (GHLA) nominees that have been chosen as Employee of the Year for 2007. My General Manager and Director of Sales had nominated me for this award for the "Administrative" employee division. We also had a Front Desk associate from our hotel nominated in the "Customer Service" employee division. Employees from all hotels in Georgia, primarily in Atlanta, were nominated for their accomplishments and dedication to their position and for special results that they had achieved for their hotels. I was up against 20 other "administrative" employees and they called all nominees up on stage. When they read my story and announced my name as the winner of my division, I couldn't believe it. I just tried to take over my position and provide the best customer service I could and make the whole process as organized and easy for the clients as possible for their meetings/banquets/events. I was given my award by Jim Sprouse, Executive Director of the GHLA. I later had my photo taken at the hotel with my trophy. Our Regional Manager Crissy also sent me a wonderful basket to congraulate me! PHOTOS from GHLA Event

Next up was a quick trip to Augusta for a one-day trip to my first MASTERS tournament. My friend Ron from Oregon was in Orlando for a convention and drove up for a day to go to the Masters with me. This was a special day because it was also Ron's 40th birthday.
Even though it was just a practice day, we got to see lots of action including Tiger Woods.
Since it was a practice round, we were able to bring cameras and take lots of photos.     MASTERS PHOTOS

My next little trip was to New York to join up with my other buddy Neal, also from Oregon, offered to have me join him for 3 days up in New York for his last visit to see Yankee Stadium (Yankees) and Shea Stadium (Mets). Both teams are going to move into brand new stadiums in 2009. I don't think Neal has ever seen these 2 stadiums, I saw them both in 2006 (see Annual Update 2006). But since the Yankees were playing the Tigers, I HAD to go! I hooked us up with hotel rooms in New Jersey and we took trains into Manhattan and Flushing for the games. NY 2008 Photos

In May, we had an associate celebration at the hotel which also honored a couple of our managers who left us for other opportunities.
PHOTOS from Associate Celebration

My good friend (and Assistant General Manager at my hotel) Jose Salazar got married in the hotel on a Friday night in June, right before I went on my vacation to San Diego (see next section).
Here are some photos from the Salazar Wedding

My big vacation this year was a WORKING vacation. I signed up in early 2007 to be a volunteer at the US Open golf tournament in San Diego.
As you all know, I used to live in San Diego for 6 years when I was in the Navy. During my time there, I actually had the opportunity to play Torrey Pines Golf Course around 50 times. So when I heard the US Open was going to be held at Torrey Pines for the first time ever (also the first US Open ever in California), I had to plan this trip.

What I didn't factor in was the great "assignment" they were going to give me. They randomly assigned me to "player transportation." This means my main job was to hang out by the 12th green and wait for STORMS, LIGHTNING to happen and then I would be responsible to transport players in special vehicles back to the clubhouse safely. Like we are EVER going to see Storms, Rain or Lightning in San Diego in June??? Not a chance, it's always sunny and 70 degrees in June. So basically I had a front row viewing of all the action at the 12th hole each day.

On my days off, I actually traveled around San Diego, including a baseball game each day off at the new baseball stadium in San Diego. They built this stadium a few years after I got out of the Navy and left San Diego. So I was able to score tickets to 3 games on 3 of my days off at the golf tournament. I also was able to visit Sub Base Pt. Loma to walk around and check things out. Hard to believe, but with only 2 subs in port that day, one of them was the USS Topeka, my first submarine. I asked the gate guard if I could go visit it, and they let me do that too... I went down below and told a lot of "sea stories" to the current sailors. Very cool stuff. Here are some photos from the US Open 2008

My next little trip this year was shortly after my return from San Diego. Bruce and I went up to Cleveland to meet up with our brother Jack, his son Noah and his daughter Erin. Erin brough her best friend Brittany as well. Our main goal was to spend a day at Cedar Point, but Bruce and I were able to go visit my hold stomping grounds at the Cleveland Renaissance hotel as well. Here are some pictures from our CLEVELAND 2008 trip.

In July, we had a going away party for two of our managers at the SpringHill Suites as well as an associate barbeque. Here are some pictures from our Going Away Party

In early September, Bruce and I moved from our bug-infested hell hole of an apartment into a nicer, BIGGER 2 bedroom townhome even closer to the hotel. This will make us save about $100/month on bug spray and we only have to deal with one bus line to the hotel and to Lowe's. It's a gated community which is also an improvement over the last place.

September 20th gave me the opportunity to take Bruce and one my primary clients to a Braves game. Tom is a travel agent from Charlotte that books LOTS of hotel rooms with us every week so we decided to host him for a couple days including a Braves game. He brought his daughter Paige who is a senior in high school.
Here is a photo from the baseball game (Braves/Mets)

The other trip I was really looking forward to this year was a 6 day trip down to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood to see my friend Jalane who is a college professor at Berry University. I had so much fun staying at her house, helping her organize some things, watching and getting to know her little 2 year old boy. We were able to get away for some time for ourselves for a night on a Friday night. We took a popular Ft. Lauderdale dinner cruise called the Jungle Queen. After the cruise, I stayed the night at the Ft. Lauderdale Harbor Beach Marriott resort. The next day I took Amtrak up to Lakeland to see my parents for a night and the following day. I was able to go to church with them on Sunday before Amtraking back to Ft. Lauderdale to spend 2 more days with Jalane.
Here are some pictures from our Dinner Cruise

Finally, Bruce and I are planning to go down to Florida for a few days at Christmas to see our Dad/Stepmom. I'll put pictures on my site throughout the year next year on the main page. Then, of course, I will do a 2009 summary again around Thanksgiving, 2009.

Until we speak soon, I wish you and yours the most happiness and love this holiday season and please keep in touch. But to everyone, all the best and please write soon!