We are so excited to finally be moving and traveling on our own. Follow our blog as we adventure around the country! We hope that you will enjoy reading our story just as much as we are experiencing it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Longest Post??? or Averting Disaster Yet Again!

We have arrived at our final destination, but it was no picnic getting here. We left Diamond Lake earlier in the morning to make the trip to Trinidad, California. We stopped in Grants Pass at an Albertsons to get stocked up on food and make lunch. After that we headed west and south on the 199 towards Crescent City. Known as the Redwood Highway, the road wound through great stands of ancient trees. Some of the massive trees were very close to the road, and those that were too close near curves actually had large chunks cut out of them so the vehicles wouldn't hit them. I was a little worried pulling the trailer, but we didn't hit any. The truck did fine on the hills and we arrived in California to be greeted by the agriculture inspectors. No firewood, citrus, cherries or rabid guinea pigs!
Once out on the coast on Highway 101 in California we stopped at the Redwood National Park Visitors Center. It has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean across the dunes. We watched a film and Thomas bought a Giant Sequoia seedling. Highway 101 in that area is very hilly, so it took longer than expected to get down to Trinidad. The Emerald Forest RV Park was very inviting. It looked like the forest on the Endor moon in Return of the Jedi. There was a trunk of a dead Redwood next to our trailer that the boys immediately began playing on. They loved it, and NO mosquitoes. We did camp fire, had dinner and decided to do Patricks Point State Park the next day.
Patricks Point has a beach below a series of cliffs overlooking a shallow bay. We chose to go to the beach first. It was named Agate Beach for a reason. There were tons of small semi precious stones that comprised the majority of the beach. We planted ourselves near a creek coming down to the beach from a canyon above where the kids immediately started climbing and exploring. They found wild strawberries, rhubarb, and many other small wonders up the canyon and proceeded to play in the creek. Jennifer found a sandy spot and lay down on a towel digging her toes into the sand. She loves the beach, the sun and the waves. She grew up in the sand, taking most of her family vacations there. Her skin radiates beautifully when she's on the beach, I think because that's where she's truly happiest.
Jennifer had packed a lunch so after we looked for agates with Sam and Shannon for a while we ate. After lunch and a little more play we headed back up the steep trail. It was steep and pretty rough going, so a few of us were winded at the top. Jenn said she was really sore the next day but was flying up those hills. From there we piled back in the van and headed over to the Native American (or First Nation) village which was pretty interesting. Their architecture was very effective in helping them survive the weather and survive in this beautiful area. We looked at the NA/FN garden, which was more of a walking tour through the woods, and were interested to see what the NA/FN people used the individual plants for. The afternoon was getting late so we decided to get our hikes in and we loaded up the car again to find the trail to Patricks Point and the Rim Trail. We found lots of trails.
Lookout Rock, Wedding Rock, and Patricks Point were all great places to see the ocean in amazing panorama. There were lots of trails, some in need of repair, but none too long that led to each spot. The kids ran ahead, sometimes too far, and played in the bushes or climbed to caves along the trails. They had lots of fun. We hiked a lot and everyone was pretty wiped out by the time we decided to call it quits. We headed back to the van and out of one of California's hidden treasures, Patricks Point State Park.
Back at the camp site we made dinner, had showers and watched a Harry Potter movie (I think #2). We crashed out and got an early start the next morning heading for Aunt Tricia and Uncle Bob's house in Concord, Ca. The girls and Bob had decided that it would be okay for us to park the trailer overnight at Bob's mom's house nearby, and stay with Bob and Tricia at their place so the cousins could have a sleepover. Sarah and Nate have been tracking our progress across country and were very excited to see the line on their map getting soooo close to their house. We couldn't disappoint them!
After leaving Trinidad we headed south on the 101, and instead of crossing to Redding on the 299 like originally planned, we went down the 101 until we caught the 37 near Sears Point (north of the San Fransisco Bay) and headed down the 780 and 80 to Martinez and then into Concord. About 50 miles south of our camp site I unloaded the girls to Jennifer's van and they drove on a detour called the Highway to the Giants (or something like that) and enjoyed the really big trees. Shannon's ankle was bothering her so I was carrying her from car to car. Unfortunately at this stop I kind of dropped her into the van seat and hurt her ankle worse. Yikes. Sorry baby.
I stopped in Garberville to get diesel and waited for Jenn. She showed up about 15 minutes later and got gas. There were a ton of hitchhikers and panhandlers there. The primary mode of transportation looked to be the Greyhound Bus. It was about 11 a.m. but we decided to push on instead of eating lunch there, then we had a heck of a time finding a spot to stop with the trailer to have lunch. There were only a few small towns with no big parking lots to be had. We finally stopped for lunch in Willits, yeah it's an actual town, and pulled the trailer into a pizza parlor's tree lined parking lot and made lunch. They weren't very busy.
The wine country north of San Fransisco is gorgeous. The hills and mountains sometimes spotted, sometimes covered in vineyards were enchanting. If we weren't trying to make it to our next destination, and the wine tasting places could have accommodated our trailer, I'd loved to have stopped for some wine tasting. From Ukiah south it seemed like there was a different winery every mile or two. As it was we wanted to arrive before dark so we hit rush hour traffic. I noticed that I was the ONLY person towing a trailer on the roads I was traveling. Did they know something I didn't. Well, the traffic was challenging, especially the quick lane changes in order to not miss a turnoff or an exit. With Jennifer's help in the van she was able to clear lanes for me to move over again and again. We pulled into Concord with what seemed like a massive building on wheels compared to all the hybrids and Priuses on the road.
With Tricia's local expertise we quickly arrived at Joe and Diane's. We dropped the trailer half on their sidewalk and moved the truck so they could have use of their driveway. Tricia, Sarah (6) and Nate (3) were there to greet us with Joe. Bob and his mom arrived separately later. Bob had to leave quickly because his garage was flooding and he needed to get it fixed so we would be able to use the kitchen sink when we got there. Needless to say Bob had it fixed by the time we got there. After getting the overnight bags, sleeping bags, shoes, toiletry bags, game systems, presents, etc. we headed to Tricia's house to drop the stuff off. Then, without Bob because he was still working, we went to a nearby Mexican restaurant. The food was pretty good, especially after a long day on the road, yet pricey, which is to be expected in the Bay Area.
Tricia and I stocked up on some ibuprofen for Jenn (whose back was in a lot of pain from the hiking, sleeping funny and twisting wrong trifecta) and an ACE bandage for Shannon who had twisted her ankle hiking sometime the day before but not made a deal out of it until we were driving out of Trinidad.
Back at Tricia's house we had birthday cake for all the kids and they got more presents. If I'm not careful the kids are going to be asking to go visit all their relatives every summer for birthdays. Tricia and Jennifer are as close as two sisters can be who've been separated by an entire continent for 5 years. They are looking forward to being part of each others lives more now that we're close. Tricia is having a medical procedure and Jenn is planning to travel back to Concord to help with kids for a week. She'll do this twice and I'm sure they'll have a good time being together. We'll just pray that the procedure and recovery go well for Tricia. We got the kids down and visited on their back patio well into the evening. Bob is a Personal Trainer at a local gym and has a pretty high end clientele. He had to be up early so he crashed out and we missed him the next morning. The rest of us followed suit, but I took a late shower because I had been hot and sweaty all day. California is hot as soon as you cant see the ocean anymore and the Bay Area is no exception. I remember being in Concord last year in August/September and it being 105 F.
We had a 3-4 hour drive the next day so we decided to get up and have breakfast together and take a look at how fast we were moving. We made an early lunch and headed over to Joe and Diane's to hook up the truck and get it on the road around noon. By 1 p.m. we were pulling out. We decided to go down the 680 to 580 and over to the 99 on the 205. Just before we got to Tracy and the 205 exit, on our last day of driving and while going up a hill, I smelled radiator fluid. The temperature was slowly climbing to the pretty hot range so I watched it closely going down the backside of the hill. I asked Jenn to look to see if I was leaking anything under the truck and she said "no", but Thomas (in the passenger front seat) said "yes". I pulled off immediately and shut down.
Along side Highway 580 with its 10 lanes of hustle and bustle we came to a stop on the side of an off ramp. It was just as I suspected, a blown upper radiator hose. Luckily, eight miles ahead was a Napa Autoparts, so I sent Jenn and the kids ahead to get a new hose and anti-freeze. Jenn did wonderfully, and proved again the wisdom of following with the van, but she left her credit card at the Napa and we didn't discover it until an hour down the road. She brought the hose back, which I replaced, and we refilled the radiator from the water in the trailer, and we were back on the road. We had only lost about 45 minutes by my calculations. Betty (the GPS) said we'd be in by 5 p.m. to Oakhurst, but I knew it would be later.
We stopped south of Modesto at what was supposed to be a Truck Stop, but when we got there there wasn't anything but a small gas station and a convenience store. The only reason we stopped was to use the restroom and for me to top off on diesel. My part was a wash but the kids all got to do their business. Jenn went to buy them snacks for the road when she discovered her card was still at the Napa. Ooops. Back on the road we went for the last lovely stretch down Central California on the 99. (If you're from the east coast, that's "99" vice "the 99".) Its pretty ugly if you were wondering. The flat dusty area is covered in golden dead grass and a few scraggly oak trees, farms, junk yards and prisons. Just sayin'. The Central Valley is where I grew up, and is a very rich, fertile basin when irrigated, but it's not appealing to the eyes, especially along the 99.
Betty, God love her, told us to get off on the 140 north of Madera and head east towards Mariposa. This route would take us on the 49 directly into Oakhurst and shave off about an hour of time from going around. I drove this road last year in the minivan as we traveled north for Jenn's family reunion and I didn't remember it's vertical aspects, which when towing a heavy trailer in 95 F degree mid day heat can become an issue.
As we hit the foot hills we were doing okay, but about 10 minutes later we were in full blown MOUNTAINS. We were going up at 25 miles per hour and having to use pull outs to allow traffic to go by almost continuously. Coming down wasn't much easier. Gravity wanted to have its way with my brakes and transmission and the narrow winding roads had shear drop offs next to sharp outside corners more than once. I kept saying to myself, "Its the last day. You can make it." Again, Jennifer did a great job following and blocking and signalling for me. She's probably prevented about a dozen accidents, while suffering only one herself. (I couldn't resist.) I kept watching Betty's arrival time slipping towards 6 p.m.. I called my dad and told him the same. Looking back it was lucky we blew the radiator hose where we did. If it had waited to blow way out where we were on Hwy 140/49, it would have been a mess.
We arrived at my dad's around 6 p.m., parked the camper on his drive and headed down to make dinner. We took a lot of stuff out of the trailer after dinner, including the mattresses for the kids to sleep on. The next day was Shannon's birthday and we were planning to head to Fresno to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 with my mom, dad and nephew and to see my brother.
As expected we left a little late but arrived by 1p.m. in Fresno for the birthday movie. John's son, Darshaun went with us but he'd already seen it. Mom showed up a bit late, but after the movie we all went back to Oakhurst to have Shannon's birthday party. It was nice being back with family again. There's so much to do and try and work on and organize its a bit overwhelming, but at least it wont be boring. :) Thus ends our 12 week long trip entitled, "There, But Not Back Again." On to new adventures and keep checking back as we still have a lot of pictures to post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Trinidad

Today was so beautiful and nice, I will never forget it. We all slept in and had a slow morning, and then we went to the beach. The beach was so sunny, warm and nice. There were freshwater streams and beautiful mountain views with wild strawberries, daisies, and rhubarb. We had lunch on the beach too, And I had lots of twizlers. We went to go see the native American village and waled through the native plant garden too. We went on two big and long hikes to view the ocean and we had a fun time. We saw seals (so cute!) and a snake! Yuk! I do think it was poisonous! I can't believe that tonight will be the last night in our trailer for this trip, and what a wonderful day it has been to celebrate a happy ending and a exciting beginning.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crater Lake and Lava Land

Our last day in Bend with Grandma and Grandpa we went to Lava land which is a vast expanse of hills and mountains with volcanic activity. The hills we made up of cooled volcanic rocks and used to be a lava lake when one of the volcanoes had erupted. Great aunt Kristy came to visit too and all the grandmas came to the observation tower with us, but didn't come for the obsidian trail hike or to see the dormant lava tube. The obsidian trail hike was completely buried under snow, but we decided to hike it anyways. For me it was sun for about 10 minutes and then the snow got too tall and slippery and I didn't have the right shoes on either. So we decided to turn back after we did not find any obsidian, because it was all buried under the snow. We then went to the Lava tube cave with grandpa and went down into them. They were extremely cool, quite literally actually. They were really cold. Then we left and met up with the grandmas for dinner. We left the next day and made our way up to Crater lake. Today we went to go see the lake itself. The entire area around the lake was completely covered in snow. The lake was a beautiful violet blue color and was amazing. There was two small islands in the lake, pirate island, which actually looks like a lost pirate ship, and Wizard island witch (oops, get it witch, wizard! :P) Which looks like a wizard's hat. It was once an active volcano though. We ate our lunch that we brought at the cafeteria area and then it started to rain. So after we finished we left to go back to trailer/home, we have started to call it home. :) Tomorrow we are going to head to Trinidad, the redwoods.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crater Lake Whirlwind Tour

We got a slow start today. The weather was cloudy but fine around 11 a.m. when we got out of the RV park. The pumice stone desert was an interesting little bit of landscape to drive across. Apparently its 50 feet deep and the result of the Mt Muzama blast 7,900 years ago. We got to the rim around 11:30 and looked down into the crater and saw Crater Lake. We didn't stop to take in the sights. We wanted to get to the visitors center and then planned on taking in the sights on the way back.
We got to the visitors center after traversing the treacherous, cliff hugging roads along the rim. There was deep snow all over the place but the road was clear and dry for the most part. The visitors station was very plain, but the observation deck held all the geology and history we were wanting to find for the kids. The view of the lake was breath taking. If you don't like heights this is not the place for you. I was apprehensive driving the roads and looking over the edge at the lake. Samuel loves heights and was really enjoying being close to the edge. Yikes. The lake is a brilliant blue due to the depth and the absorption of other light waves in the spectrum. My favorite part was Wizards Island, the "new" volcano in the northwest corner of the lake. It looks very mysterious out in that isolated high mountain lake that is nearly 2000' deep at about 6000' in elevation in the middle of a huge volcanic caldera.
We decided to eat the lunch Jennifer packed in the upstairs cafe area above the gift shop. While we were eating the weather started coming in and by the time we were done it was raining and the lake was basically occluded. We had planned to go to the west entrance to pick up some groceries at the little store so we headed out that way. I decided to go around via Hwy 62 and 230 instead of going back into the park to cut through. It took a while to get back but it was worth it not to have to drive those treacherous roads again.
When we got back we made a campfire, cooked hot dogs and Smores and Jenn made turkey burgers and veggies for her and I. We watched a couple of movies, Harry Potter 2 included, and settled in; anxious to get on to the Redwoods tomorrow. I even got to read some tonight. I'm still working my way through "Lights Out".
It looks like Mark E. is following the blog now. Its funny, but Jennifer just asked me yesterday and again today if I had talked to Mark. I haven't but I sure hope everything is going well for him and his family in Atlanta. I'll be sure to call and check in with him when we get back into a cell phone area. We miss our friends from Florida.
Tomorrow we head out and into California.

Sisters to Diamond Lake

Its Sunday the 17th.
I'm writing from Diamond Lake RV Park, near, you guessed it... Diamond Lake, OR. Let me just comment about Diamond Lake Hitler Youth RV Park while I'm here. The location is nice, very close to the North Gate of Crater Lake National Park and there are full hook ups. The Fourth Reich is alive and well with these leftovers from the Third Reich running the place. The management and staff were passive aggressively rude. The sign at the front desk reads, "Be nice or leave." I should have left. The quote from the cart driver who originally showed us to our spot after going irate Nazi "PAPERS" on Jenn for not displaying her parking pass was,
"Its like the Department of Homeland Security around here." Well, they should advertise that so sane people can avoid this gestapo pit stop. To top it off the misquitoes are bad, not as bad as West Yellowstone, but bad nonetheless. If it weren't for the hook ups, which are in short supply in this area, we'd have preferred to stay elsewhere.
Diamond Lake is reputed to be the best trout fishing in Oregon. I had hoped to get some fishing in, but one rainy day wont be enough to even bother breaking the gear out. Seems to be our luck. The Salmon and Trout fishing at Crater Lake is fee free with no limits but the lake seemed
relatively inaccessible.
Back on Friday the 15th we were out adventuring. Paul, Claudia, Chris, Grandma Vi and we all drove up to the lava flow observatory. The observatory was made from lava rock. It had stairs and a castle type spire made from lava rock sitting on top of a lava rock hill.
We looked out over large lava flows that happened about 1500 years ago. After Claudia, Chris and Vi went home Paul led us to the obsidian flow trail. This was the first day the area was open to the public and there was still snow on the ground. We started hiking up the trail through more and more snow. Parts were clear but other parts were pretty rough going across large snow drifts. We weren't dressed for it, the kids were all excited but wearing the wrong shoes and the obsidian flow would likely be obscured by the snow so we turned around. It was getting late and Paul still wanted to show us the Sky Lite Cavern, which very few people know how to find. We headed out of the area and down back towards Sisters. Along the way Paul took a road that quickly turned to dirt. We stayed on that road and one other for about 10 minutes before we got to where we could hike in for about 100 yards.
The cavern was just sitting there in the middle of nowhere. There was a metal ladder down into the cavern, which we descended one by one. Down at the bottom we turned our lights on and headed towards the skylights. The other direction the cavern goes down deeper and darker than we had lights or equipment for. Paul had been down there with a tour and had to wear a hard hat. The direction we went was easier going, still dark and the ground very uneven, but the light required to navigate it was less. We got to the skylight area, took some pictures and headed back. I thought it was pretty neat. It would be scary at night. Apparently the High Schoolers go out there.
We returned to Sisters and met the girls at Takota's Restaurant. The restaurant was just getting up and running. Two young brothers were running the place. They were
expanding on their parents business in another town. Their dinner menu was basically lunch, and the waiter/owner commented that they just got a breakfast cook a week ago.
Afterward, we ate birthday cake back at the hotel.
On Saturday we woke up and got ready, ate breakfast and got on the road around 1 p.m.. Paul recommended we check out Lava Land National Park on the trip south, which we did. Pretty nice volcano park. Very impressive.
A couple of hours later we rolled into the RV Park at Diamond Lake (after missing the turnoff once) around 4 p.m.. We got set up and had dinner a campfire and Smores. We watched a movie, Harry Potter 1, to get us ready for the birthday movie on Shannon's birthday.
We did Crater Lake today (the 17th). More on that in the next post.

On the road again

We finished up all our visiting in Sisters with a fun trip to see the lava flows. We got some great pictures of everyone in the lookout made from lava rock. My Mom, Aunt Chis, and Grandma all came for the view. But afterwards,my Dad took Chuck, the kids, and I to hike to the obsidian flow. This is about a 1 1/2 mile hike. We made it a short ways and began to notice small mounds of snow. We debated on turning around, but the sun was shining and it was warm. A short walk later, the snow mounds became larger. We were enjoying the climb up and down snow piles until suddenly the mounds of snow were all that was left. A few of us were slipping and Jessica even sunk waste deep into the snow. Dad was losing track of the path so we turned before we could reach the obsidian. A nice man that had been hiking, with snow shoes, helped us find the path again. We were all quite wet and tired but we continued on to the skylight cavern. A place not well known, but DaD was able to find it. The kids loved climbing the ladder down into the cold cavern with flashlights until they found out that the cavern was formed by lava from a volcano. We all imagined being like Frodo or Bilbo from the Hobbit and took a couple of pictures.

We left the next day and drove to Diamond Lake, a campground near Crater Lake. Today we drove to Crater and got to oooh and ahhh at the view. The weather didn't hold up though, so we ate lunch and drove back to camp. It was amazing to see all the snow and to be wearing winter coats in the middle of July was odd.

We are now enjoying a movie and warming up with hot cocoa! Tomorrow we leave for the Redwood Forest.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Seaside to Portland to Sisters

After lunch with aunt Terry and Gigi at Norma's Restaurant we went to see Bop. Bop is at the extended care facility at the Seaside Hospital. He was doing well while we were there. He sure has a strong grip. When I gave him a hug I nearly threw my back out when I went to stand up and he wasn't done hugging me back! At 98 none-the-less. He is so encouraging with the kids, especially Thomas. He and Shannon had fun giving eachother the thumbs up sign. We took pictures with he and Gigi and then had them printed off afterward so Jennifer could leave him a set the next morning, which she did. After leaving Bop's we went by the store (my 4th trip to Safeway that day - 1st at 8am to get milk and bananas for breakfast, 2nd to get flowers for Gigi before we went there, 3rd to get flowers for Bop before we went there and last to get groceries and pictures printed before we went to dinner at Jeannine's.) The sunflowers did brighten up Bop's room.
Jeannine (Jennifer's cousin), her husband Bill, their kids Payton and Jordan (Whitney was at a basketball camp), Mitch (Jennifer's cousin and Jeannine's brother) and his boys David and Nathaniel, aunt Terry, uncle John, and Gigi gathered at Jeannine's house for BBQ dinner. The amount of food they put out would feed an army. Bill is a masterful BBQ griller, so the chicken, dogs and burgers were outstanding and the smoked salmon was a treat too. Jeannine took the day off from work, we like to think it was so she could see us. She works for Nike in Portland, which after making that drive in I would imagine to be one heck of a daily commute.
Bill and Mitch are both teachers at Seaside High School and had just finished a large basketball court project where Mitch's former construction experience showed as the court was huge, and nearly perfect. Mitch will definitely be getting a call if I plan on pouring some concrete. Mitch coaches baseball, and the little bit of rain allowed him to gracefully cancel a game so he could hang out with us. Bill coaches basketball and as four year old Jordan's shooting percentage shows (90% plus) he's a pretty good one. "Michael", Jordan's new nickname, couldn't miss and we had fun playing Payton and Sam in some pickup games. David is working part time for Nike at the outlet store during the summer, but is a great athlete and student so even though he says he'll try to work after school starts he'll be hard pressed to make all those things work. He's got scholarships written all over him and I know his dad is very proud. Nathaniel wrestles but likes other sports better. His dad (Mitch) teaches math (Calculus, etc) and so it was no surprise when he was spouting off the algorithms while solving the Rubics cube in about 30 seconds flat. When I asked where he learned that I expected him to say his dad and math, but it was Youtube. He told me I could learn it to if I wanted to. Ha. That might be a worthy endeavor for retirement.
We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone in Seaside. Jennifer's family is such a wonderful group of people. I am really glad they make sure reunions are every three years. The next one is in Lake Tahoe! That should be close for us. We didn't make it down to the beach due to the weather being kind of drizzly to rainy, but the kids are getting some serious mileage out of the Frisbees that aunt Terry gave them.
The next morning Jennifer dropped the picture off with Bop while the kids and I waited in the car. We were soon on our way to Portland to pick up Claudia's mom and meet Michelle for lunch. We made it through lunch at McMinimins uneventfully. Ryley and Kyle were there. Ryley talked the whole time seemingly very glad to have a new audience for his thoughts. He's extremely cute and bright. Michelle told us about the Gladstone Schools and the engineering and robotics courses would be right up Thomas' alley. Kyle is doing those classes next year as a freshman in High School. We missed seeing Jim again, but it was good to get one more chance to hang out.
Once we got back on the road we reversed our route coming out of Sisters when we headed to Canada, but this time Jenn's grandmother played tour guide for us. We learned a lot on the trek. Like how to pronounce the town of Idahna - try pronouncing it... (its I-don-a). She knew the names of the plants growing (wild peas), the names of rivers, lakes and towns and what they were like 30 and 40 years ago. Most of them were logging communities, shut down for the most part now in this part of Oregon.
When we got to Sisters we set up camp in the hotel. I checked the camper to find out the battery had completely died, which meant that the refrigerator had quit, and even though it runs on propane it needs electricity for controls, and all our food was bad. It stunk in there! Jennifer cleaned it out and I dumped it. My biggest regret is we hadn't cooked up Carie and Will's "Men in Black" burgers yet, and now we wont get to. :( Paul made Tri-tip on the BBQ. I ran to the store with Sam, and in addition to restocking our basics (for me that included Pinot Noir and dark chocolate - I've got to cut back on my new found vices) we got the ingredients for fudge, which Sam promptly made all on his own in the hotel room. Fat Gecko Fudge is born. I told I'll need a new battery for the camper and the Ford dealer told me I'd need new ones on the truck too. I think I'll wait for a bit on those. We should make it to Oakhurst without them.
Wednesday we got up and went to Sisters to finally walk the streets. We did the quilt walk, ate lunch at Slick's Que Co., a nationally known BBQ place that the president of the BBQ Association owns, and had ice cream at BJ's. This BJ guy gets around. A brewery/restaurant in Boulder and now ice cream in Sisters! Slick's had sweet potatoes as a side. Jenn got one for me with the "special" butter on the side. I used it sparingly to dip in. It was sooo sweet. Turns out it was brown sugar mixed into the butter. Wow.
Jennifer and I hit the store, but for the life of me I can't remember what we bought. We had Salmon and Tri-tip with curry veggies and the rest of the fixings. Red wine topped it off. When dessert time came Sam was right there with his fudge, but we had him put it away.
Paul and Claudia had planned a "Everybody's Birthday Party" so we could celebrate with them all the parties that they missed and will miss this summer. Vi had her party with us too. Jennifer gave her dad the picture of us with Bop in a frame. He seemed to like it very much. We had already given Claudia a T-Shirt from Victoria but it turned out to be too small. I'm not sure what we're going to do with that since she can't wear it. I told her 60 days of Paleo and it would fit fine. She just about wacked me. She's not heavy, but she's vertically challenged so shirts that fit her top look like dresses on her. Lots-o-Love Claw! Did you wash your hair today? The party raged on. The cake was huge and the icing huger, and some of it made it onto the floor. A big blue blob almost perfectly intact to be exact. The sugar highs were in full swing. Even Samuel was spotted rubbing his belly with over half his piece of cake still sitting on the plate. Everyone was sung to and each of the kids got gift cards from Grandma and Grandpa to Barnes and Nobles - which they love. Afterward, we prepared for the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2 by watching part 1 in the room. It was soon midnight and it was time to call it quits.
We woke up late. Jennifer and I made breakfast in the trailer after getting coffee and green tea at the continental breakfast and the kids still had to be woken up when we were done. They were tired. Jenn is at the store now getting stuff for lunch. Christie, Claudia's sister is here. We are hoping to go see the lava flows and a cavern today. Tomorrow we leave for Crater Lake. After two nights there we'll be two nights in Trinidad on the coast for the Redwoods. After that we'll likely make a pit stop at Travis AFB Fam Camp near San Fransisco to see Bob and Tricia (Jennifer's sister). Then it will be on to Oakhurst for Shannon's birthday party and Harry Potter part 2. That's all for now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A little family time

We just had an awesome visit with my family in Seaside, OR. The highlight of which was getting to see my Grandpa. I am pleased to report that he is just as much the fun Grandpa as he ever was. Although, he didn't sing "The Old Grey Mare", he did joke around with us about racing the halls with his walker and agreed to us "busting him out" if we could give him an hour to get out the door! We took some great pictures with he and Grandma and a blown up copy for him to look at. My Grandpa is amazing and I love him a lot.
Grandma is doing quite well living by herself. She does Grandpa's laundry for him and loves to play bridge.
We had a great lunch with her and Aunt Terry...thank you Terry for lunch. The clam chowder was awesome!
We were able to see my cousins Mitch and Jeannine at Jeannine's place. Terry and John and Grandma were there along with all the cousins, except Whitney because of basketball camp. Bill, her husband, bbq'd for us all and we played a few rounds of cornhole. I've never played on a half basketball court while the kids shoot baskets and ride skooters. Chuck and I did well until we played against Jeannine and Bill. I really think we were distracted by all the kids...so Jeannine should give us a rematch next time.

We drove back up to my parents yesterday and rought my Grandma Nasmyth with us. We ate lunch with Michelle, Kyle, and Ryley on the way out. It was great to see them again. We're looking forward to a little time with my parents before we head out on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rounding out Canada and back to Oregon via Washington

We have just arrived today in Sisters, Oregon (again) where we are visiting with Jennifer's mom and dad for the second time on our trip. We left our camper and my truck (getting repairs... again) here while we went to British Columbia. So on Saturday night in Victoria we had a great time looking around at the downtown area, the government buildings, the marina, the wharf, the bay and all the sites. We saw the Fairmont Empress, the exterior of the BC Museum and the government buildings. We hit the souvenir strip and got an idea of what there was. We walked across the drawbridge to West Victoria (aka WVIC) then back since it was really cool and windy. We didn't stay out late enough to see all the lights and called it an evening.
Sunday we got up slow and had lunch before we went out. I didn't have a plan so I suggested we go to the BC Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Bug Museum or the Miniatures Museum but nobody was terribly interested in any of them. As default we drove out into the country to the west of Victoria along the coast. We passed through Colwood on our way to Sooke. We went on a scenic loop and I actually saw a lot of property that was available, but if the previous prices were any indication it would be about $1 million per acre. With Canadian loonies at 93 to 100 USD's that would be about $1.05 million US. HA! Gotta love it when the Fed is devaluing your currency to try to increase exports at the expense of the general public's buying power. The kids and Jennifer were getting car sick so we headed back to Victoria via Langford and got some root beer floats at A&W. We decided to head back and make dinner in the hotel room. We went to Sav-on grocery store to get fixings for burgers. Afterward, we went out and dropped the van with all unnecessary bags at the Black Ball Ferry so we could secure a spot on the Monday 1030 ferry. Apparently, the ferry going to Port Angeles from Victoria is a good one to get reservations on. As it was we got on board, but had I known I would certainly have made reservations. After dropping the van off we souvenir shopped all the way back to the hotel. Jenn got me a blue Victoria Canada t-shirt and I got her some red girls boxer briefs with white maple leaves all over them. Smokin! (She was wearing her last clean set so I figured I could get away with it. We also picked up some Dramamine for Jennifer. Along the way we made a trip into China town (a really small couple of blocks in Victoria). We got to sleep relatively early so we could make it to the ferry terminal before 9 a.m. on Monday to clear customs. All in all the trip to Canada was nice. I now have an appreciation for the cities, terrain, the climate, the coastline and the people. British Columbia is beautiful and seems like it is much more untouched than our country.
Jenn took Dramamine so she did much better on the crossing Monday. We marched down to the ferry port and got there almost an hour early, which is better than being late I suppose. We did customs in line and then Jenn got picked to go stand in line and answer questions again. Her headache still hadn't fully gone away, but she kept right on moving. I would have been stopped dead in my tracks by a migraine. The crossing took 90 minutes, and since the MV Coho (the ferry) was considerably smaller and older than the BC Ferries ship we were on, it moved around quite a bit more. Thomas read an ebook (free on Kindle), Jessica slept, and Shannon and Sam played War with a deck of cards. I read a little.
Once in Port Angeles we were interrogated by somebody's grandma about our lives, again. What a waste of time. She actually asked me, "Are those prescription sunglasses?" I laughed as I pulled them down to show her my baby blues matched those in the picture. The town of Port Angeles wasn't much to look at, but Sequim (down 101 to the east) was quite a bit nicer. Supposedly they get 300 days of sunshine per year in Sequim (pronounced squim) and are the lavender capital of... North America I think. I could go back there. That would be a good place to farm.
Our mission on Monday was to make it to Seaside Oregon where Jenn's grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins live. We rolled into Astoria around 6p.m., and then in nearby Warrenton around 7 p.m. we got dinner at Doogers Seafood restaurant and bought some clothes for Jenn at Fred-Meyers. By the time we got to Seaside it was 8:30 p.m. so we crashed out planning to see everyoneon Tuesday, which we did.
After breakfast on Tuesday we made our first stop at grandma Gigi's. We visited until aunt Terry showed up then we all went to lunch at Norma's, where Terry bought lunch (thanks again aunt Terry). She's faster with her card than I am.

I'm starting a new post to finish this off since I didn't get anything down yesterday and it's Thursday the 15th now.


In Victoria and Back to Oregon

Hi! In Victoria we mostly shopped and walked around everywhere, It was a lot of fun. We had to take a ferry in order to get to Victoria, I got a little sick. While we were there we went to Butchart gardens, the most beautiful garden I have ever seen, they were so pretty. There were like five different themed sections, like the Rose garden, Japanese, The Sunken, and lots of others. I loved all of the hanging baskets. There were so many different kinds of arrangements and flowers in the garden, I almost cried. Everyone else liked it too, but not as much as I did. My favorite garden was the Rose garden. There were so many flowers besides roses there, but the roses were the most and the prettiest of them all. I am so glad I got to see such a magnificent garden, It will always be in my memories. Swoosh is feeling a whole lot better thanks to Grandma Claudia's loving care. Thomas and Sam had fun at the card shops there. They got a whole new deck. We toured around the city and visited the docks, markets, malls, restaurants, gardens, a church, and some older buildings around the city. When our time was up in Victoria, we had to take another ferry home to America (Washington) This ferry was not as pleasant if the other ferry was pleasant at all. I got so sick, but mom was fine cause she took medicine. I fell asleep near the end so it wasn't to bad. We then drove straight to Oregon to visit with Mom's family that lives up in Seaside. We got to hang out with Great grandma Gigi first. She was so happy to have us visit. Great Aunt Terri came over too and we all went out to lunch. After lunch at a local seafood place we all went to go see Great Grandpa Bop in the hospital. He was doing really good and he remembered all of us. I was really glad to see him and he felt the same about us. He got a little too excited and we had to leave, but we gave him some pictures, drawings and flowers for his room. We went to dinner at Jeannine's house and visited with, Nathaniel, David, Mitch, Jordan, Payton, Bill, John, Terri, and Gigi. We had a lot of fun playing cornhole and basketball on their new court. Today we picked up Great grandma Vi at her place and drove up to meet Aunt Michelle, Rylie, and Kyle for lunch. We all had a good time catching up and visiting. We then continued straight back to Bend to Grandpa Paul's hotel that he manages. So here we are with Great grandma Vi with us now and we will be staying here for two more days and then we are of to complete the last days of the trip.
-Jessica :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Canada and Connections

We have had quite the adventure, or skootcher, I should say. What is so amazing is how far we have traveled and all the places we have seen. Not to mention all the family and friends we have visited along the way. Our latest trip brought us to beautiful Vancouver and Victoria. What a gorgeous place Canada is. The people are friendly and these cities are some of the finest places we have been. Our children loved the sea air and learning about Canadian culture and history. And they can all tell you about looneys and tooneys. Canada to me was very much like the US. The people are much like us and they take pride in their country like Americans do here in the US. What was so different to me was the lack of family or friends to visit. So much of our trip has been planned around making connections with all of you. YOU all are what has made our adventure so memorable. Without all of our friends and family we wouldn't have anyone to share our journey with. Thankyou for the opportunity to share.
With that being said, we are now on the final part of our trip. I won't lie to you, we are all growing road weary. We all take turns, it seems, in longing for home and a sense of normalcy...and maybe even not having to share one bathroom with 5 other people or sleep in a room with maybe just 1 other person (not 5). As I write this, I am sitting in the hotel bathroom...it is actually quite nice and very roomy compared to the trailer. Everyone else is asleep and the quiet is welcoming...ahhhh the little things. On this last part of our trip we will visit both of my grandmas and my grandpa. My granparents actually took a trip around the country the year Chuck and I were married, except they traveled in their conversion van. It took them a year and and I know they made many lasting memories. Our children will always remember this summer and know that even though the world is a big place, people are the same...we're just looking for those connections.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Oh Canada

Hello all my adoring fans, Long time no blog. To start off with we went to see yellowstone and hooked up with papa Ben and grandma Darlene. While we were their we saw some awesome site's like old faithfull and some boiling pool's of acidic water. Then we went to Tim and Tracy's were we hung out with Miles and Molly. We went on a bike ride played wii and charades. After that we said goodbye and went to my grandpa Paul's and grandma Claudia.Were we said goodbye to papa Ben. After that we went shooting bow's and gun's with Patrick and had fun with my cousin's Kyle and Riley. We had the fourth of july a grandma's and headed toward's Canada . We stopped in Vancover checked out the site's and then went on a boat that took us to Victoria were I am reporting now. Keep being awesome. BYE!

Butchart Gardens Victoria BC

Hi hi hi! It has been a very long time sinced I have blogged. Sorry about that. I have been having so much fun I have forgotten to tell all of you (FYI, My adoring fans!!) about my adventures.
In Organ we hug out with G-ma and G-pa. Along with them we also saw Ant Michelle, Uncle Jim, Kyle, Ryley, and Uncle Patrick. We had fun with everyone. We went Shooting. My favorite was the bow. The first time I could not even keep the arrow on the bow. But after a wile I got the hang of it. In fact I killed the fake turkey! I also split an arrow so I gt to keep it. That was a fun day.
After that we drove into Canada. We ended up in Vancouver. It was a huge city. My favorite part was Stanly park.
Later that week we got on a ferry. Not much of a ferry though. It had a bunch of shops, restaurants, lounges, and lots of parking garages. It was fun.
Yesterday we got to Victoria. it is rely nice here. We have a suite room so we don't have to go out every day for every meal. I also found out about Nit Wits. They are animal hats. I like the koala one and the yeddi one. We also tried a really good waffle.
Today we went to the Butchart Gardens. It was very nice.
Having fun on the road,

Vancouver and Victoria

We finally have more than the two minute internet access at Denny's or Starbucks, but we're on the go. Figures. We are off to see Butchart Gardens today. We spent the night in Bellingham at the Holiday Inn Express on Tuesday, got out the next morning and headed for the border. I refused to get gas at $3.99 a gallon after having passed up gas at $3.49 (cash only) at Arco and ended up paying $5.35 a gallon in Canada ($1.33/L!)
Wednesday the weather was beautiful. Sunny, warm, light cool breeze. Wow. We made it to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver and ended up eating at Red Robins for lunch. We walked Robson street (foo foo shopping) in Vancouver after lunch. Then we drove over to Stanley Park on the recommendation from our waitress at RR. Stanley Park is gorgeous and looks like a fun place to explore on bike, roller-blading and running. We saw totem poles from First Nation (native north Americans) or Aboriginals. There is more awareness of the original native population here than in the U.S.. The park sits on a peninsula and has some gorgeous vistas and paths. There is a sea wall (not unlike Iwakuni's) protecting it that allows walkers and joggers free access for the 8km (5 mile) loop. In Canada we've had to start speaking kilometers, grams, and Celsius. Who says Canadian isn't a whole other language or country!? Needless to say, I'd like to hang out in Stanley Park some more on another visit, but I think Victoria and the surrounding area is higher on my list.
For dinner we ended up searching high and low for a pizza parlor/restaurant for the kids, which we eventually found about 10 blocks away. It was a hole in the wall, but while the kids ate a slice we had a cheese pizza made and then we took it back to the hotel. Jenn and I went to dinner at the Cactus Club and it was really good. The chef is an award winning "Iron Chef" who lost business when the recession occurred and went mainstream. The Cactus Club was Vancouver's #1 restaurant in 2009. Afterwards Jenn and I went to a market and got some food for the kids to have breakfast in the room.
The second day in Vancouver found us driving around in the rain. We went to Denny's in North Vancouver then over to Royal Park shopping to find Samuel some long pants. We crossed the Lions Gate bridge three times trying to find our way. I got some answers about cell phones and using a local sim card here. Best Buy Mobile said they'd sell me a Telus card to $10, then I could add minutes. My phone wasn't unlocked so I didn't bother. We started to drive out to Surrey via the Burnaby route to check out new houses and got bogged down in traffic. We ended up aborting and going back to the hotel. I've noticed that a basic house in Vancouver will run you $400k starting. Too funny.
We decided to go to an area called Granville Island to see the sights and get dinner, however it was very pricey. Granville Island had a great fresh market with some cool shops that Jenn and the kids really liked. Shannon found a new KnitWit hat there. It was a Yeti. We ended up going back to the hotel for dinner where we found the Moose Down Under restaurant nearby and had a nice, and not nearly as expensive, dinner as a family. There was a group of 60 from New York slowing things down, but I got to watch Cleveland beat Toronto 5 to 4 in the 9th after being down 4-zip at the top of the 9th! We took the kids to the market to pick out some desserts and Jenn and I picked out a local wine (Nichol 2008 Pinot Noir).
Friday we got up and checked out of the hotel. We ate breakfast at another Denny's on the way to the ferries. This is where we typically got our internet access in addition to the Starbucks in the shopping area attached to the hotel. They wanted $15 per day for internet access at the hotel while places like Best Western and Holiday Inn Express give it to you for free. Makes sense, yes? In Canada our phone plan charges us extra to make calls or use data, but if we use internet calling we don't incur those charges. Jenn woke up with an ocular migraine going so she was basically miserable all day.
We got to the Tsawwassen BC Ferry port around 1205, missing the 1200 ferry, and started the waiting for the 1 pm ferry. We parked our car in the line and got out to look around. There was shopping, eating and of course coffee galore. More importantly, restrooms. I noticed that the person who sold us the tickets overcharged us by one adult so I got a refund then we proceeded to load up the car and shortly after we drove onto the Spirit of Vancouver Island ferry. This was pretty cool. It was standard procedure for everyone else it seemed, but I was enjoying the experience. We went upstairs to "view" the trip in comfort. Turns out Jenn was very uncomfortable and nobody else really cared about the trip. We ended up back in the car for the last 20 minutes of the trip just waiting to pull in. It was pretty cool seeing the GPS show us driving in the water. I did however get to see a lot of the crossing from the bow on the vehicle deck. It was amazing and the weather was beautiful.
When we pulled off the ferry we had a 45 minute drive to Victoria from Sidney (where the boat docked). We checked into the Best Western Carlton Plaza where Jenn's dad, Paul helped us get a room. It has a kitchen and a living room. Wow. This is great. We're on the sixth floor but there's not much of a view from this part of town. The first thing we did was head to a market in walking distance. The prices weren't to Jennifer's liking so we got just enough for dinner. We proceeded to make dinner at the hotel then the kids and I went out looking around on the streets below while Jenn rested. The street was a treasure trove for the kids. Thomas and Samuel were checking out all the gaming stores. They even had a Magic the Gathering tournament going on across the street. The boys found cards they've been looking for $.10 each. They loaded up. Shannon found more KnitWit hats but the store was closed. We met the owner of Wannawafel, a franchise of street corner Belgian waffles coming to a city in America near you soon. I would love to jump on that franchise. The Wannawaffles (the kids report) are outstanding. At $60k its cheap for a franchise, but I don't believe in gluten based anything. Somebody will get rich selling those things.
After we got back to the room we put Jessica in charge and Jennifer and I went to a Sav-on grocery store where the prices were much better. We even got a local Pinot Noir by Cherry Point (2008). We brought breakfast food and desserts back from the store. The kids got ice cream.
Saturday we got up on our own schedule, ate breaky and headed to Butchart's Gardens north on the Saanich peninsula near Brentwood Bay. We spent about 3 hours and ate lunch there. The gardens were magnificent. The Sunken Garden, an old limestone mine, is fantastic. Jessica liked the Rose garden and the Hanging Gardens. Thomas and Sam seemed to like the Japanese garden. Afterwards we came back and went to St. Anne's Cathedral, the original Victoria church from 1858. Very beautiful. I know, pictures. We took a scenic driving tour along the coast then headed back to the room for dinner. The curry chicken and vegetables was some of the best I've had on the trip. Jenn did something special with the curry and garlic. Yumm.
Next, we're headed to the warf for the evening light show.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In Canada! again...

Hi everyone, We have already toured around Vancouver and had a blast. Our hotel was so nice and we shopped a lot. We visited Stanley park and I nearly got run over by a biker, there were a lot of them biking around the park. There were a lot of roller-bladers too. I liked looking at the wild foxglove which were really pretty. One night, we ate at this really cool restaurant called the Moose down Under. The sign had a funny moose and a really cute Koala was riding on him. The place was really packed when we were there though, it had 60 high school students from New York. Weird right. I really enjoyed myself though, I had really good meatloaf and salad. Today we came over from Vancouver to Victoria on A FERRY! We drove our car on the ferry and it took us over the water. It was like an airport inside, it had a pet room, a massage therapist, a coffee shop, a gift shop, a restaurant, a kid play area, a viewing deck and all sorts of other stuff. Mom got sick though and she had one of those ocular migraines again. Bad day for Mom, she had been resting ever since we got to the hotel. For dinner we went to a little grocery store down the street and made up some dinner. Then Mom rested while the rest of us checked out some of the cool shops down the street. The boys and I like the game shops, with Magic the gathering and Warhammer. Then we went into the Market square and a nice man, who turned out to be the owner of Wana-wafel, let us try some of his delicious wafel, it tasted like a doughnut. Shannon found Hat heaven and nearly had a Cardihat arrest. There was a fox hat, a mouse, a dog, a sock monkey, a cat, a wolf, and a buffalo. She was so excited. Then we came back and Mom and Dad went out and shopped for more groceries, while we hung out in the room. Mom and Dad brought ice cream back! Now we are going to bed

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The 5th of July

We started out on our way to British Columbia from Sisters today. I'm typing while sitting in a Red Robin's in Salem, Oregon. On the way out of the mountains we visited the Willamette National Park ranger station for Sha's passport stamp book.
We left our trailer and my truck in Oregon with Paul and Claudia. The truck's transmission is still being worked on but may be finished as soon as tomorrow. The trailer is dirty and in need of some TLC soon. She's been taking very good care of us. I replaced the half time oven so we're back to full functionality for now. We will be back in Sisters on the 13th and spend three more nights with Jenn's folks.
Yesterday, the 4th of July, we spent getting ready for the next leg of the trip and hanging out with everybody at the hotel (Pat, Michelle, Jim and kids included) and then we went to Patrick's house in Bend and made dinner. Afterwards we went to a nearby FedEx parking lot to watch a fireworks display launched from a butte near town. The music on the local radio station was supposed to be in concert with the fireworks, but it would have been better just listening to the radio and noticing the coincidences in timing than what they did. Oh well.
On Sunday I took Jessica, Shannon and Thomas to shoot bows with uncles Patrick and Jim and cousin Kyle. Kyle had a new kids compound bow and I brought Thomas' bow with us. The kids had fun, especially Jessica and Shannon. We also took some guns along and blew up some soda cans in an old gravel pit outside of town. Hanging out for me on the 4th consisted of cleaning guns. I don't think Patrick has cleaned his yet.
We're done with lunch now. Instead of ordeing everyone their own burgers like we always do and it costing $60 or more, and since Sha and I don't eat the buns, I ordered Thomas a cheeseburger and then three extra patties (one for Sha and two for me). We added on bottomless sweet potatoe fries and we were set. Thomas can go through a half pound burger in about two minutes these days. Anyways, the patties were $1.99 each as add ons. The bill was $35 for all six of us (water for drinks)! The waiter was nice so I tipped him like we had spent $50.
This part of the trip should be nice and relaxing since we're in the car together and not towing the trailer. We're looking forward to Brusharts Gardens in Victoria and seeing what Vancouver is like. Tonight we'll be staying in Bellingham, WA since the rooms are a lot cheaper than Vancouver. We aren't scheduled to get in until after 8 p.m. tonight. So I am posting this while stuck in traffic on the I5 in Portland.

Time with family

We have made it to Oregon and are so thrilled to be with my family. My Dad had everything ready for us. Ben and Darlene even got a nice suite right next to ours. Thanks Dad for everything. The kids are loving the all the space of our suite, the free breakfasts, and the llamas. In fact, they are so cumfy that I don't think they want to leave. It is nice not having to drive anywhere for a few days.
We are getting to spend lots of time with Michelle and her family and Patrick. Chuck and all the kids except Sam got to go to the archery range with Pat and Uncle Jim and cousin Kyle. They absolutely loved it. Sam, Grandma, and I went into downtown Sisters and shopped and ate homemade ice cream at a local favorite called Sno Cap.
For the 4th we spent the day at the pool and played ladder ball. Ryley and I won the ladder ball competition...go Ryley! Afterwards we went to Patrick's place in Bend for pizza, cornhole, and fireworks. Thanks Pat for an awesome time. And those cornhole boards you made were awesome!
Today we drive without the trailer to British Columbia. We look forward to a mini vacation on our vacation.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Yesterday was a lot of fun, Thomas, Dad, Shannon, Kyle, Uncle Jim, Uncle Patrick and I all went to shoot our bows and the guns. I did not really like shooting the guns much, but I really enjoyed doing the bow and arrows. I was actually pretty good at it too. I shot Kyle's compound trainer bow and Thomas's re-curve bow too. I think I liked them both pretty good. Uncle Patrick brought his bow too, It had like a 60 pound draw on it though so it was way to heavy for me to even try. I only shot the 22 four times and I still didn't like it, guns are weird in my opinion. Today we have been just hanging out and swimming that kind of thing. Swoosh is feeling just about the same, but Grandma thinks she found what the problem really is. It might be a kind of paralysis in his back legs that needs a special kind of medicine. We are going to call the vet tomorrow and see what we should do. Since Swoosh has improved a lot, I decided I will be going to Canada. Swoosh will do perfectly fine with Grandma Claudia, she is very good with animals.
Still pray for Swoosh-
Jessica :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fun in oregan

After leaveing montana we went to oragen and got a cozy hotel and we had fun with my grandparents witch live right next to our hotel room. We went to sleep then I woke up and asked grandma to feed the chipmunks. She said yes so I went and fed them but I stood still enough that the chipmunks walked on my toes. Then I got ceral and then I talked to everyone next we ate at uncle patricks then we went to the hotel with our cousin and partied and ate dinner then our cousins left then we went to sleep.

Here at Sisters Oregon

I am sure dad has filled you in with all the wonderful details of us getting to Sisters, so I will leave that part out. When we got here it was a little late but not much, we had just enough time to set up and get ready for bed. I really liked seeing grandma and grandpa again, even Molly and Mittens (their dog and cat) We had not seen them since last summer, which was when my hair was way shorter by the way. The next day Shannon and I went to breakfast. When we came back, something was not all right. Swoosh was sick. I fear it is somehow my fault that he is feeling so bad. We took him to the vet as soon as we could. The vet wanted to have us syringe feed him because he would not eat or drink, and he was to ill to move. We got him all wrapped up in a blanket to get his temp. up too because he was a little bit cold. We said goodbye to grandpa Ben, grandma Darlene and Rookie, I am sure he is going to be lonely now without the attention. We then went over to meet grandpa Paul, grandma Claudia, aunt Michele, her husband Jim, and our cousins Kyle and Rylie at the seafood restaurant that our uncle Patrick manages. I was a bit to upset to enjoy myself fully, I could not bring myself to even really talk. I did have a nice lunch though and after I ate I felt a little better. When we got back to the hotel room we fed Swoosh cuddled him and gave him lots of blankets. Everyone except me went swimming. I felt like I could not leave him, so I took a quick soak in the bathtub instead. Swoosh began improving a bit right around dinner time, so I felt good enough to join them. Rylie played as a waiter with an Italian accent and everyone started calling him Luigi. :) It was really funny. We had really good steak with the family favorite, Pappy's seasonings on it. Yum! Swoosh began feeling even more better as he was eating some of his red pepper, but he had started walking funny, like with a limp. He is doing better with the food this mourning, but worse with his legs. It kinda looks like it hurts for him to walk on both hind legs now. I think I might be staying here in Sisters while everyone else goes to Canada and stuff. Please send your prayers that he gets better soon.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Sense of Humor is Necessary

Dad and Darlene departed from Bend, Oregon for Crater Lake today. We've been together for 11 days. I'd like to say things went smoothly, but everyone reading already knows different. We sure did enjoy being with them and their tagging along on our skootcher. It was great. We have some new memories together that dad can tell stories about now. Let me explain.
Wednesday was rainy. I had wanted to go see Bigfork, and Darlene had wanted to go back to Glacier for some hiking, but neither happened. We ended up cooking kabobs (steak and veggie) on the grill at the camp site with Tim, Tracy and gang. Tim, dad, Darlene and I got to sit out and solve all the worlds problems while the girls took the kids to Cars 2. By the time the girls got back and started getting all the kids ready for sleepover in the camper it was just Tim and I. We had it all worked out, let me tell you. We even wrote it down... on a napkin. Now where did I put that napkin? We shared stories over cigars and brandy and enjoyed what turned out to be a crisp, lovely late Montana evening. Nothing wrong with that!
On Thursday I had problems backing my truck up in the morning to hook up to the trailer. We still needed to get Jenn's Honda van back from the shop, return the rental car and get prepped for the road. Miles and Molly stayed overnight, so Tracy came over in the morning and picked up the kids and took them all with her back over to their house. Then she was nice enough to make lunch for us while we were working on getting out of the park. One of my four jack stands refused to come up so we had to use a bottle jack to raise it. Something else that will need to be replaced. Its wired closed for now.
We parked our trailers at Walmart (near Tracy's), where Darlene replaced her notebook computer with a new Acer (very nice). We went over to Tracy's and ate lunch (she made almond encrusted tilapia! one of my faves), then Jennifer and I ran some errands and picked up her van. The van looked pretty good and it was clean for the first time in a month. She sure was happy to get it back and to get rid of the Chevy Impala we were "renting". I told Jenn no more wrecks just to get her car washed. She didn't think it was funny.
We got on the road around 3:30 heading down the west side of Flathead Lake. Montana sure is beautiful, but it is very sparsely populated and feels very (too) remote in a lot of ways. Bigfork is a place I'd like to see still just due to the growing season and climate there. It's supposedly special in the region, being much more temperate than the rest of the area. Whitefish was nice and Kalispell was big enough to have anything you need on a regular basis. It was a very nice area all told.
We stopped in the middle of nowhere to get gas and I almost crunched my trailer, but I was able to stop in time and successfully back up. This was the last time I was able to back up with my truck. Bessy gave her all for that. We headed on and ended up in a tiny town in the middle of Silver Valley, ID eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I proceeded to burn the roof of my mouth on the veggies that were way too hot. (Law suit?) After that we got back on the road and pulled into Spokane around 7:30 pm. I called ahead and talked to a nice lady, Judy, at the Fairchild AFB outdoor recreation center at Clear Lake, WA. This was a very nice, functional water recreation site. It looked like trout was the big attraction. It took us until about 8:30 before we got there. Dad parked and I went to back my trailer into a site near his and it wouldn't go into reverse! Here we go... right?!
So after failing to get into the spot, Judy noticed my predicament and invited us to the top of the hill where there was a pull through spot with electricity but no water or dump. We parked there and put our three jacks down, but didn't bother unhooking. We planned on leaving early the next day anyways. I was sure the transmission, since it had only about 10-15K miles on it, would be fine and that it was only something simple. I serviced the engine and tranny and noticed that the water was running about 2 inches low in the reservoir. When I checked it I noticed the seal around the new water pump was leaking. I filled it up and kept an eye on it. It only leaks down to that same level even after extended use. Not sure what that means.
After a nice little breakfast with dad and Darlene we got the kids up and got on the road about 9:30. It cost a total of $12 to stay at Clear Lake! Very nice, especially considering we didn't reserve anything.
Our expedition to Oregon was under way. We made it to Kennewick, WA before we stopped for lunch. I should have bought the extra set of radios I've been wanting there, but instead I restocked the red wine. Priorities you know. We pulled out of there and stopped in Biggs, OR at the Pilot travel center to use the restroom, but I had enough gas to get to Redmond and dad's truck gets better mileage than mine (by about 150%!).
We pushed south along some pretty desolate stretches of road (Interstate 97 if you care to look at a map). People were in a huge hurry, and sometimes a bit rude since it was Friday before the 4th of July weekend (I'm assuming). There were no gas stations at any of the towns along the way. We were pushing for Madras and even though I thought I could make Redmond I figured dad must have been getting low on gas. (Can you see it coming?) There was little to no cell service between Biggs and Madras and Jennifer and I were the only two holding radios. We passed a rest area and merged with the 197 when Jennifer called on the radio saying to the effect, I don't see your dad behind us anymore. Then she called again and said she saw him. I decided to continue up a hill in front of us slowly allowing him to catch up. As we went up the hill, which afforded a really good view to the rear, Jennifer called on the radio and said, "I don't see them anymore." We got to the top and waited about five minutes. They didn't come. I told Jennifer to turn around and go look for him and if she didn't see them by the rest area to meet me in Madras. I pushed on since my truck would be a liability on the road not being able to back up.
I arrived in Madras and started getting diesel when my phone received a message. "They are out of gas. We need to get them gas... your dad is waiting with trailer... 20 miles back." I finished filling up and I filled my second gas can with diesel. Just after I finished parking across the street from the Safeway (where we got gas) Jennifer pulled up. I traded keys with her and Darlene and I took the gas and headed back out on the 97. We found dad along side the road about 15 miles out. The truck had completely run out of gas, which is really bad in any fuel injected vehicle, but can be really bad in a diesel. They were in a bad spot since their phones didn't work way out there. We are fortunate yet again to have had an extra vehicle. We got the fuel in the truck (about 6-7 gallons), primed it and tried to start it. It didn't work. An Oregon Highway Patrolman showed up and threw his lights on to warn oncoming traffic. He was a really nice guy and gave us the suggestion that we might need to reset the computer, which we did by disconnecting the batteries and pumping the brakes. After doing this it only took two tries and we had the truck running. Dad was a bit timid for a while with the truck, but I encouraged him to get rolling so he could make it up some of those "larger" hills ahead.
Once in Madras we got dad filled up, refilled the extra cans, rounded up the forces, parked the campers together across from Safeway and on Grandpa Paul's suggestion, headed off to Black Bear Diner in Madras for dinner. It was a much needed break and frustration relief valve. There was a perceived pressure to make it to Grandpa Paul's hotel for dinner, but there was no way we could do that after the latest road escapade. We arrived in Sisters prior to sunset and Paul led us into town to avoid the traffic jam that a fatal car accident west of town had created. Jenn's van and Dad's fiver were not a problem in the hotel parking lot, but I rode ahead with Jenn to make sure I could get our trailer in and out without having to use reverse. It worked and I was able to park just outside Paul and Claudia's room. Paul was very generous and had rooms for us in the wonderful Ponderosa Lodge (Best Western). I think this saved the day since my dad's patience was on its last thread. Dinner at Black Bear had helped a lot, but he had to wait until Saturday to get a beer.
This morning (Saturday), we got up and had breakfast. Dad was headed to Crater Lake through Bend, which is where we needed to go to get the Microwave Convection Oven (at Walmart/China Box), my truck looked at (the Ford dealership) and Swoosh needed a Vet to check him out at Petsmart. Swoosh slept in the trailer last night and it got pretty cold. He wasn't feeling too good this morning, not eating, however he was drinking a lot. The Vet thought he might be having kidney failure but he seems to be doing better tonight. He's inside the room with us now. We had lunch at McGrath's Fish House in Bend, where Patrick (Jennifer's brother) is the manager. Great food. Thanks Patrick! We also met up with Michelle (Jennifer's sister), her husband Jim and their kids Kyle and Ryley. We got to catch up with them at lunch and tonight at dinner. After saying good-bye (for now) to my dad and Darlene we headed north back to Sisters. This is when I called and talked to the technician at Ford. Apparently the "new" transmission that the Ford dealer in Jacksonville had put in back when we broke down there (nine months ago) was already disintegrating. The reverse and forward pressure plates and gears, to include overdrive, were burned up (toast) and there were metal shavings all through the transmission fluid. This will require a total rebuild and over a week just to get the parts. LUCKILY, it is under warranty! Whew! And, get this, we had planned on leaving the truck and trailer here until the 16th of July while we traveled north to British Columbia, Washington and coastal Oregon. If I hadn't had the extra warranty that came with the "new" transmission I'd be out $3500.00 again. Painful just thinking about it. So needless to say, everyone was amazed that the new transmission was dead already. My dad said the transmission must have been defective and I'd have to agree. I wasn't abusing the truck and it's rated to pull a lot more than I have strapped to it. After we get back and leave on the 16th we only have three more legs into Crater Lake, Trinidad and Oakhurst on the way down.
Tomorrow we hope to see Patrick, Michelle, Jim and the cousins again. Patrick wants to go shooting bows and possibly firearms in Bend. We're looking forward to somewhat of a down day tomorrow before we hit the road again on Tuesday.
This is a dry area, not unlike California, so the fireworks on Monday will probably not be all over the place. Hopefully they'll have a display we can watch somewhere nearby.
Thanks for reading.

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