Sally Gracie TwispBy Sally Gracie

Becky, Charlie and Isabella Curtis and Isabella’s three brothers — Abel, Ilo and Luke — have just returned from a six-day stay at the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, a family getaway made possible by Make-A-Wish Foundation.

From the moment the Curtis family arrived at Alaska Airlines in Wenatchee, they were treated like celebrities, greeted by air hostesses dressed in cowboy duds and waving a welcome sign in greeting. The pilot on their first-class flight from Seattle to San Antonio even invited 6-year-old Isabella to sit in the cockpit of the plane.

Isabella was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011; her treatment ended last September. When she was ill, her doctor had referred her to Make-A-Wish, but it hasn’t been till recently that Becky and Charlie could reasonably consider this family trip.

Becky told me that “just being together without distractions, without daily responsibilities” was a gift in itself. They had chosen the ranch from many options available because they could be together as a family all the time. That, and the kids are really “into horses.”

Dixie Dude Ranch is a family place and a working ranch, run by a fifth-generation rancher. The Curtises stayed in a cottage with old photos on the walls and western decor throughout. They shared ranch-style meals — “tons of food” cooked Southern style — three times a day with the other guests, some from as far away as Germany.

And they rode horses! Isabella loved her horse Shadow “because he was nice, and pretty and big.” She also enjoyed the book Justin Morgan Had a Horse, which Becky had brought with her from Twisp Library to read to the kids.

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Isabella Curtis riding Shadow at the Dixie Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas. See more photos of Isabella’s Make-A-Wish adventure. Photo by Becky Curtis

It was “unbelievably awesome,” Becky says. She is “grateful that there are such good people in the world” to make such trips possible.

One more thing. This Monday morning, Becky’s kids are learning about The Alamo, which they visited at the end of their trip to Texas. Eleven-year-old Abel especially likes to study history at home, where his mom is his homeschool teacher.

Howard Day celebrated his 80th birthday at a party arranged by his wife, Jeanne, at their winter home in El Centro, Calif., on Feb. 14. Jeanne invited about 80 guests, but it was the arrival of his five children, who entered the party to the tune of “We Are Family,” that brought Howard to tears.

Heidi and Larry Walsh, Traci Day and Saul Labanauskas, Jodi and Morgan Smith, Pete and Jennifer Day, all of Twisp, and Vicki and Mike Hood from Bellingham made the trip to California to be with their father on his special birthday. Former Winthrop residents Corky and Bev Scharf and their daughter Teresa Scharf Lukens were also there.

I learned from Heidi that she and her siblings all grew up in Twisp, when their parents left Bainbridge Island to settle here in 1970. Howard developed Horseshoe Mobile Home Park, then owned Methow Valley Sanitation, and later Methow Valley Lumber until Heidi and Larry took it over when her parents retired.

Heidi says her father is a very “active 80,”who enjoys exploring the California desert and playing golf during the winter. Happy birthday, Howard, and many more.

It’s nice to have two stories of local interest to write about this week. I wish you would call to tell me your news.

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