Seasons Greetings


The best of the season’s wishes for peace and good will to all of you.


Vance Hackney, ring bearer supreme

We know that we probably haven’t had the chance to catch up with you since the wedding, so we’ve sent along this letter to bring you the news of our year since May.




By far the biggest event for us all year was our wedding on May 10th in Napa Valley, CA. It concluded a very busy time for both of us, especially Steph, who was finishing up a lot of back to back business travel as well as doing all the last minute coordination for the wedding. It probably peaked when we ended up in the parking lot of a laundromat the night before the wedding, exhausted and contemplating a quick flight to Vegas. If not for our anticipation of a wonderful time with our friends and family, we might have taken that option!









Vows in the vines, May 10, 1996





As it was, our hopes and dreams were more than fulfilled by an incredible day that we were able to share with many of our friends and family. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy or proud as when Amber came down the aisle, that is, until Steph appeared on her father’s arm in her beautiful dress.





Chari, Shaun, Steph, Doug, Amber & Adam


We had a wonderful ceremony, followed by the seemingly endless photo sessions, the all too brief conversations in the receiving line and finally the reception! Lots of good tunes and good dancing combined to add up to a great time for everyone. Before we knew it, we were in the limo heading back to the hotel. The entire evening went so fast for us, that until we saw the video, we weren’t really sure it had all happened.










Instead of jumping on a plane that evening we had decided to stay and share the weekend with our family and friends who had traveled to be with us. On Saturday morning we all shared a lesson in formal lawn croquet. It was indeed a group of brave souls who ventured forth after Friday night’s celebration. The bright glare from the obligatory all white dress was a little hard on those feeling the full effects of the wedding, but we all pulled through and had a great time in the mini-tournament.


Resplendent in all whites, the croquet brigade braves the AM.









In the afternoon we ventured forth on a tour of the surrounding wineries. We couldn’t decide what was best, the local fruit of the vine, or the company. A great time was had by all, and we all appreciated Steph’s forethought in booking a bus for the event.


Wine tour adventurers at Clos Pegase












Sunday morning, bright and much too early, we headed for the airport and our date with destiny. We cast our fate into the hands of United, Hertz and Marriott and headed for Kauai, the garden island in the Hawaiian chain, for the first half of our honeymoon. 


No words required for this one












The island was everything it was purported to be, and more. We found beautiful beaches, waterfalls, sunsets and even fun local shopping. The people were friendly, and the pace was perfect for us: slow and easy. The service at the Marriott was outstanding, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re considering a vacation spot.


All too quickly, our week in paradise drew to a close and we winged our way back toward the mainland. After a day to gather ourselves at Steph’s, we headed up into the Sierra Nevadas to visit one of America’s true natural treasures, Yosemite National Park. It was our first visit, and we were both very glad we saved it to share together.


Yosemite 12 mile hike

















We didn’t bother putting in a landscape picture, as they don’t even come remotely close to capturing the overwhelming scale and natural wonder of this most special spot on planet earth. From the majesty of El Capitan to the roaring, surging power of the fast flowing countless waterfalls, it is a place impossible to describe in words or capture on film. Visit, and bring your children.


The whirlwind didn’t stop, or even slow down when we returned from the splendor of Yosemite. We took a quick trip down to San Diego to see Shaun and Chari before heading back to the Midwest for the picnic reception in Newton, Iowa, where most of my family is from.


Chari, Steph and Shaun















Many of my friends from the Midwest joined the large crowd of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Add in all of our kids and it was quite a crowd. (It’s still hard to get used to all of us cousins being grown up enough to have kids!) Recent heavy rains had created a lake in the winter ice rink area, so the young ones had lots of fun playing in the water and mud, while the older kids held a baseball tournament.


The Iowa picnic baseball team picture












Amber, Shaun and Adam show their stuff at Willow River state park.















Finally arriving back home we worked on getting settled into our home here in Hudson. It wasn’t long before Shaun came to visit on one of his quarterly vacations. He goes to year round school, so we get to see him multiple times throughout the year, which is great. We had a good time showing him around the area and exploring some local attractions.


Shaun’s first motorcycle ride











We also got Shaun out for his first motorcycle ride ever. He was a little reticent at first, claiming that surfing and soccer were his sports, but in the end, we had to drag him off the motorcycle for dinner.


Soon after Shaun’s departure we made a trek to Road America and the AMA national superbike races. It was Steph’s first up close road racing action and she was even more convinced that she wanted to try it in person. (Keep in mind that she hadn’t crashed a bike yet.) We got the chance to socialize with some of my motorcycle racing friends, including Joe and Beth Miller, who are among the volunteers who staff the corners and provide the support to keep the races going.

Steph and Joe Miller in turn six.


The aftermath of Steph’s first wipe out













We had hoped to get in a fair amount of trail riding this year, so we soon took to the woods. For Steph’s first ever dirt riding experience, I took her to Northern Wisconsin, where there are hundreds of miles of fire roads and snowmobile trails to ride and explore. Although she didn’t appreciate the deep sand on a few sections, one of which bit her for her first time down on a bike, we had a great time wandering around the trails. After a hard day of riding we were able to relax at a cabin on a lake and enjoy an incredible sunset.


Post ride rental cabin view











Stephanie Hackney, a.k.a. Fox poster child

Adam, Amber, Steph & Doug ready to ride




















Throughout the rest of the summer we tried to ride as much as we could, both as a couple and as a family. We explored trails in the North woods and in Southeastern Minnesota. By the end of the summer, Steph was ready to move up to some bigger iron, and still itching to try some road racing. (Remember, she still hasn’t gone down on asphalt yet.)



Amber gives the thumbs up to Jeremy












In early August, we took the kids to see the rocket level dirt riders at the Millville AMA motocross nationals. These guys regularly defy gravity and the laws of physics, so we knew we would be in for a good show. Jeremy McGrath, Amber’s favorite rider, was slowed with a foot injury, but the kids were still able to secure an autograph and a few quick words.


Amber, Chari, Adam & Mathew Wicks


The “boat gang”














Our next August adventure was a trip to my hometown of Adel, Iowa for the annual Sweet Corn Festival, along with a huge 13 class reunion. Chari was in town for a visit, so I took it upon myself to introduce her to the fundamentals of life, Midwestern style. First stop was the Iowa state fair, where I made it clear that if you didn’t eat at least one corn dog, you were doomed to turn into a pumpkin after midnight. I also introduced her to the butter cow, and other state fair traditions, such as the Ye Old Mill ride, a tunnel of love type experience that the kids hooted through. In the end, the kids managed to put up with me and still have a good time.


The multi-class reunion was a lot of fun, if a little frustrating. You just don’t ever have enough time to talk to everyone you’d like to. We did have the chance to hook up with the “boat gang,” a group of friends that I had taken a house boat trip with prior to my 20th reunion last year. 




Scott Larson, Steph (yes, she’s in there) & Doug with the 1927 Model T












The whole family spent the next day cleaning up gramp’s Model T for the big Sweet Corn Festival parade on Saturday. It was so much fun putting through town in the parade, tossing candy out to the endless number of kids scrambling for each piece. We even managed to save a few pieces for the very last kids on the route.


Vance on the Zoo carousel

















Steph and I spent Labor Day with my brother Jeff, his wife Michele and son Vance. We had a great weekend, and were able to visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, one of my favorite destinations in that area. Vance is a regular visitor and knows all the cool spots and has his favorite animals all picked out.



Adam (#64) chasing down a loose ball











With Fall came football season, and Adam was determined to take advantage of all the new skills he’d learned at the football camps he attended in the summer. We were able to attend almost every game, and enjoyed a beautiful ride through the blazing leaves on a trip to a road game about an hour North of home.


Doug, Bob Mueller, Tom McAllister & Dave Rees on the Ridge Runner 500














October brought the annual Ridge Runner 500 dual sport ride for me, and the culmination of a six-month project for Steph at work. Her project turned out very well, with happy clients and participants. My dual sport ride, 500 miles from Angels Camp, CA to Carson City, NV and back, was also fantastic. It’s always a highlight of the riding season, and I always look forward to the scenery, riding and camaraderie.


October also brought two new additions to the house, Roxanne and Cooper, our two cats we discovered at the local animal shelter. They’ve added a lot of life and zest to the house since their arrival.


Shaun and Roxanne













Shaun joined us in October for another visit, having wrapped up another quarter of school. He was able to be here when Amber made her stage debut  in a local production entitled “Rapunzel, Warrior Princess,” an original play by a local director inspired by the children’s classic by Grimm. I volunteered to run the sound system for the production, and had a great time. We met some new friends through the experience and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to help out with the production.

Amber on stage


Amber with premiere bouquet


















Amber had a lot of fun, and also made some new friends. All the kids did a super job, and the production was a big success. Steph was able to use her 35mm camera to get some good shots during one of the performances, which has inspired us both to get back into photography.


Newton’s corner










November started off with a “bang” when Chari and one of her friends discovered that Newton’s laws of motion still held sway, even in tight corners in new pickup trucks. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt in the rollover.


Steph, Shaun & Chari on coffee break


Steph, Shaun, Chari & Doug chowing down in style












Steph and I made a trip out to see the kids and her Dad and Elaine in mid November. As always, we had a fantastic time. We made our usual stop at a huge Japanese grocery store to stock up on things we can’t buy here.


We also discovered a really fun seafood place where buckets of steamed seafood are brought out and dumped on the table for you to chow at will. We’ve got to figure a way to get Adam out to this place. Definitely his kind of style!



Adam’s bedroom takes shape











One big goal for November was to get Adam’s bedroom built out downstairs in time for my sister’s family and my mom’s visit for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we were able to get it far enough along to get the carpet in, and the kids made do with camping out on air mattresses and sleeping bags during the visit. They enjoyed having a room of their own, where they could be away from prying eyes and ears of adults.



1st row - Jeff Hackney, Doug, Steph

2nd row - Adam, Amber, Mat & Melissa Wicks

3rd row - Carol Hackney, Barb & Dick Wicks




Doug & Steph’s 1st Holiday turkey






















A big surprise for everyone else attending the first big family holiday at our home was my brother Jeff being there. We had secretly made arrangements for him to fly in and surprise everyone. He and his family are moving from California to Texas, and nobody expected to see any of them until well into next year. It turned out to be a great surprise, and added tremendously to making this Thanksgiving a very special one for both Steph and I, and our family.

 Now that we’d pulled off the surprise, our next big challenge was the turkey. Steph used a secret recipe that turned out great! We added in all the traditional Midwestern fixin’s such as sweet potatoes, squash, great grandma’s giblet gravy, grandpa’s sweet corn casserole and grandma’s home made pumpkin pie, and enjoyed a fabulous holiday dinner. To say nothing of the naps that followed! We also celebrated the big 4-0 for me, which turned into a night of extreme hilarity and fun.


We’re well into Winter now, with lots of snow and temps down around zero (F). Steph’s blood is thickening fast, she’s even considering 15(F) to be “not that bad.” She is, however, still struggling with the concept of -30(F) Sorrel boots being an acceptable fashion statement for all occasions, casual or formal.


Our days are now filled with kid’s concerts and activities, Steph’s fast growing business and my consulting, speaking and books. Although there is never enough time in the day to do everything we’d like, we never fail to think often of you, our friends and family. We have been blessed with a wonderful 1996, and wish the same for you in the coming year. Be well.