Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Birthday present from Uncle Steve and Aunt Luci

Madison in her new outfit she got for her Birthday from Uncle Steve and Aunt Luci. She loves the clothes and her happy birthday bear. We got the package a few days ago. We delayed opening it because Nicole had surgery for her wrist. Madision is a happy bear!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pumpkin Carving Time!

Tonight we carved Madisons Halloween pumpkin. Yiayia (Nicole's Grandmother) grew this huge pumpkin in her garden. She brought it over on Saturday when she came to Madison's Birthday Party. We had a great party Saturday and a great time carving the pumpkin tonight. Madison especially liked pulling out all the "pumpkin brains". We are now munching on the roasted pumpkin seeds. Yummy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Praise You in This Storm

I was sure by now, God You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus: And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth


Artist: Casting Crowns
Words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

Hear this amazing song on YouTube:

Letting Papou Go

("Papou" - Floyd Pettis at his 85th Birthday)
"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" James 14:4b
The family decided last night to removed Floyd's feeding tube. His recovery has pretty much stopped and he is still in a near vegitative state. Infections are slowly taking hold of his body, he can't speak, eat, walk, talk, anything really. According to his Advanced Directive he was never to be on life support in the first place. The family held on for a little while hoping for a recovery that just wasn't meant to be.
Though our hearts want to hold on, our minds tell us it is time to let go. We will always love you "Papou"

Tired Lately

I feel like I am working three full time jobs right now. I have my day job, the setting up of our Alaskan investments, and my Real Estate Class (not to mention family, fatherhood, etc). I feel like I can not do all three to the level that I would like. Something is always being sacrificed. Maybe I took on too much at once. I feel like something is always being neglected.

I had my first mid-term tonight. In order to be ready, I had to spend the last five days doing the last four weeks of school work that I had been putting off. So I wasn't able to get out and do my job as much as I would like. Speaking of the job, we are in the middle of changing our name as a company, which causes a ton of logistical problems on top of the normal day to day. I feel like I'm juggling constantly and it is wearing me out. I can manage two large projects pretty easily. Three is getting to be too much. Hopefully by Christmas things will calm down a bit.

On a lighter note, here's a neat shot I took while we were camping at Tehachapi:

(A UP train passing through the loop at twilight on Oct. 11th, 2006)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We interrupt your regularly schuduled blogging . . .

. . . To bring you HOCKEY!!!

Patrick Marleau takin' it to the net!! (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

I haven't been blogging lately because, well, hockey season started. If I had to admit it, my weakness is Sharks hockey. I actually had a dream last night that I played on the San Jose Sharks. It was so real, and fun! Someday I hope to get season tickets.

So far this season, we are off to our best start ever in franchise history. I think we might have a real good shot at the cup this year. It's going to be a fun run no matter what happens!! Go Sharks!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Looking Back on Our Trip

(Nicole & Zoe watching a train go by in the rain at the Tehachapi loop - Oct. 2006)

We had a great time. The memories we built were both precious and abundant. We come home with 485 pictures, and that's after I deleted half of the not-so-good ones. There were a few rough spots, there always are on trips. There were also plenty of highlights; Madison sleeping in the bunk for the first time; dry camping at the Tehachapi loop; our first time to Yosemite; Mono lake . . . the list goes on and on.

We spent today cleaning and winterizing the trailer. Since it will not be used until next year, we have to clean and drain all the tanks, empty all the cabinets, throughly clean the interior, wash the exterior, and cover the trailer. It's a lot of work and Nicole and I are very tired.
It's hard being home, the trip being over and knowing work is just over 24 hours away, but it is also nice to be back to the comforts of a full size house.

I'm already dreaming of the next trip~

A Sign of the Times

This no tresspassing sign is posted on the power pole at the top of the hill at the loop. They are not posted anywhere else except here and at the entry to the loop area.

It's a sad sign of the times, railfans not welcome here anymore . . .

We arrived at the loop on Wednesday afternoon and had a great two days there. Plenty of relaxing, playing, and tons of trains. Friday a M.O.W. person knocked on the trailer and asked us if we knew we were on private property. He asked if we were aware that we could be cited and have our vehicles towed. He never asked us to leave, but it was plenty clear to us what he was hinting/suggesting. It had been raining hard for a day already, and was expected to ran throughout the weekend, so we decided to come home early. We got home last night.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Welcome to Mojave

We are in Mojave now. We are staying in this GHETTO RV park here in town. It also happens to be the *only* RV park in town. We've pretty much been inside the trailer with all the windows closed all night.

Earlier we went down to the tracks and watched a few trains roll through town. There were a couple UP units parked at the end of the yard and I snapped their picture. Needless to say Madison loved the trains. She has been asking for "More Trains" all night.

Mojave is a relic of it's former self. A few years ago they built a freeway bypass around the town and it has destroyed the economy here. You used to have to drive through the town as you traveled to your destination. Since they built the bypass, cars do not have to come into town unless they have a reason too. All the stores along the main drag used to be open and hopping. Now two out of three are boarded up and vandalized. It's sad to drive through this town now, remembering how it used to be.

We will be at the loop until Sunday morning, then we will drive home. The next few days are going to be very relaxing, which will be a nice change from the rest of the trip. We have seen a lot, much more than I have posted here. It will be nice to relax for a few days before coming home . . .

Laws Railroad Museum

Yesterday we went to the Laws Railroad Museum. They have a neat display of old trains and railroad stuff. They have this narrow guage steam engine, number 9, which was built in 1902. We were able to climb into the cab and ring the bell. Madison had a *blast*. It was a fun time. We got Madison a hand held five chime whistle which she can blow. She's been tooting on the thing for two days straight!

Our Chariot

Our Truck "Daisy" and our Cruiser Travel Trailer at 9000+ feet in Yosemite. Daisy is a great truck, and we *love* our trailer. The truck is strong and durable, pulls like a monster (can't say much about gas mileage though). Out trailer is perfect, it has the best floorplan of any trailer we looked at in our price range, and we looked at a lot of trailers. We have the CT30BH model. It's great for the trips we like to take.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My Three Favorite Ladies

(Nicole, Madison, & Zoe eating lunch
today at Devil's Postpile National Monument)

I love this. I love being away. I love being with Nicole and Madison. No daily stresses to pull me away from them, from what matters most. We go out each day and explore the world, the beautiful things that God has created. Every day a new adventure together, building new memories. I'm the luckiest husband and dad on the planet! The thing I treasure the most are the memories. Days at home grind by and blur together, but our trips away stand out in my mind as bright vivid memories. I wish this trip was two months instead of two weeks. The time is going by so fast. It is already half over. A week from today we will be home. Back to the usual stresses, back into the daily grind. Back to all the projects that are awaiting me.

We are 72 hours from Tehachapi, the grand finale of this amazing trip. I can't wait to spend three days relaxing and watching the trains go by. The loop is my happy place, what I think of when I need to escape. I can't wait to actually be there . . .

Friday, October 06, 2006

Fun day at Mono Lake!!

Today we had a fun day at Mono lake. It was sunny and hot this morning, and for the first time since we arrived here, NOT windy. The wind here is incredible, it blows strong 90% of the time. Today was a rare windless day. We went to the South Tufa area to look at the amazing spires that rise out of the salty water here. The Tufa area hike was about a mile walk and I ended up in my tank top because it was so warm. The history here is amazing, and the politics run thick. The LA water diversion controversy is everywhere. It's quite an "us versus the evil to the south" feeling around town. At least the lake is still slowly rising back to it's former self.

After we left we hopped back into the truck to head back to camp so Madison could take a nap. By the time we reached camp, it was snowing!! That's right the weather had changed in only a few minutes. The micro-climates here are so small that it can (and does) change hourly. As I sit here at the local visitor center computer kiosk, I'm looking out at our dusty truck getting rained, hailed, and snowed on. Good thing we came over early, because Tioga pass has been closed for a couple days now.

Yesterday we went to Bodie, the local ghost town. That was a lot of fun but the wind blew *hard* all day long. We made it about 80% of the way through the walking tour before the wind got the best of us and we headed back to camp.

We stayed up late last night celebrating Madison's birthday and litening to the Sharks season opener on XM Radio. They won a nail biter in overtime, it was a great game. It's so nice to finally have hockey again!!

Tomorrow we leave Lee Vining and head South to Mammoth Lakes. Hopefully I can find some internet access down there. Our great adventure continues . . .

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Frustrated with cell phone posting not working

So I'm sitting in the local visitor center. They have computer kiosks which you can rent. I'm sitting on one because my cell phone MMS message postings are not working.

They seem to go through fine, but I get no conformation from the Blogspot website, and nothing appears on the blog. I can send MMS messages to Nicoles phone, so I know they are getting through the Verizon network. I think something is wrong with the Blogger website. I think they are not parsing the messages properly for some reason. I have no internet access with the computer, so I am dead in the water unless I come to this kiosk.

This is frustrating. When technology you are relying on fails, it really sucks. So I don't know if/when I'll be able to post again . . . I'll keep trying though.

Mother Nature Forced Our Hand

(This was supposed to post yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, but mobile blogging hasn't been working)

We are in Lee Vining. We left Yosemite a day early due to the incoming storm. We crossed the Sierra's on Hwy 120, Tioga Pass. At 9945 feet, it's the highest Sierra crossing and often the first to be closed. They are expecting 1-2 feet of snow on the pass in the next 24 hours. Because of this, we decided to pass over a day early. We did not want to get stuck on the other side.

The drive over was beautiful. There is a six mile long seven percent grade that drops into Lee Vining. I left the truck in first gear and coasted down the mountain at about 25mph. The vistas were incredible! I will try to post some pictures, but the RV parks over here are not internet friendly, and the cell phone isn't working for some reason.

Tomorrow (Today) we are heading out to the Bodie Ghost town. It should be a lot fo fun. It's dry so far but *very* windy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

We Went To Hetch Hetchy Today

The three of us at the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

We had an adventurous day today. First thing in the morning, we ran out of propane. After getting more propane and making breakfast, we went to town and gassed up the truck. Town around here consists of about five buildings and a gas station. The gas station owners had flyers for the different types of wood they sell for house heating. With the rain this week everyone is talking about the impending snow fall. It's a whole different way of life out here. I find myself at the same time in awe of people who live this way, and feeling a little pity for them at the same time. I wonder if I have what it takes to survive in this part of America . . . . Nah, I think I like my suburban living just fine.

After leaving town, we went to the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite. The road is long and winding. Nicole drove again today so I got to look around. The views along the way are incredible. Huge valleys, rolling meadows, ancient looking farms, this area has it all. After we got to the dam, we walked across the dam and through a long tunnel that leads to the trails. Madison is fascinated with tunnels right now. Every time we are driving, she asks if we are going to go through any tunnels. After passing through the tunnel we stopped to take the above picture. I set up the tripod and used the time delay with a flash fill. It came out really nice. We walked along the trail for another half hour or so and along the way we saw several squirrels, birds, and a bear cub and her mom. They were up in a tree and we stopped to watch them for ten minutes or so. After they climbed down and started to walk away, I snapped this picture (click on it for a better view):

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Rainy Day at Yosemite

We took this picture at the "Tunnel View"
overlook just before the rain picked up.
Today we went into Yosemite and spent the day exploring the park by car. It's an amazing place. We went to Yosemite Village, Bridalveil Falls, and Glacier Point. There is an entire small town here, it's different than I expected. There's a grocery store, auto mechanic, even a hair salon. It's very differnt than in that respect than all the other National Parks I've been to. None have been this developed inside the park boundaries.
We drove through the campgrounds in the valley and picked spots that we would like to stay at next time. I am frustrated because when I was planning this trip, I tried to get us a site within Yosemite Valley. The NPS website said that all the campgrounds were completely sold out for our dates. So we booked the campground we are at, which is well outisde the park and an hours drive from Yosemite Villiage. When we were there today we learned that they are booked at less than 50% of capacity. It's too late now because we are already paid in full at the campgound we are at. So we are driving back and forth everyday when we don't need to. That's a lot of gas, time, and hassle that could have been avoided. The rangers at the park seemed like they had heard this routine before and told me thay are working on changing the reservation system in the near future. I hope they do because the one they have now sucks!!
It was gray and overcast this morning and as the day went by it started to sprinkle and then rain. We drove back to the trailer in heavy rain. We are exhausted. I think we will sleep in tomorrow (if the kids let us).