Tuesday, August 30, 2016

June 3rd - Arizona Day One

Cruising into Arizona, our first stop was at the welcome sign for a picture of us.  Another couple arrived about when we did, and we took their pics and they took ours.  Right there at the border is a huge water power plant on the Colorado River.  Great view.  Just a few feet up and across to the other side of the highway, was a geocache location.  We now had Arizona.  We drove on through the desert to the town of Williams.  We've been here before.  Williams is at the junction of I-40 and the road that leads to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We stopped and obtained a hotel room, dropping of our peace lily which travels everywhere with us.  Then we headed to the canyon 20 miles down the road.  It was evening, and we took a tram out to the west viewpoint to catch the sunset.  Normally, when you take pictures of a sunset, it's the sky and the sun as subjects.  Here, it's the eastern walls of the canyon and how the fading light creates shadows and colors against the walls.  If you've never seen the Canon, pictures won't do it justice. If you have, I'm not sure most pictures are anything more striking than the ones you've seen. 

Afterwards, we drove back to Williams and had dinner outdoors at a nice restaurant with a local boy singing and playing guitar.  Tired and worn, we went to our room and crashed, planning on returning to the canyon the next day.

Power plant on the Colorado River


A local

Saturday, August 27, 2016

June 1 - 3, 2016 - Goodbye California

"Well I never been to England, but I kinda like the Beatles
Well, I headed for Las Vegas - only made it out to Needles
Can you feel it?
It must be real it feels so good
Oh, feels so good"
 - Hoyt Axton

Home from TAPS, we had a couple of days to get packed and on the road.  On the first, we stopped in to Alesmith's new brewery and tap room.  Much nicer and spacious than the old place.  Alesmith is one of the premier brewers in San Diego. [alesmith.com] The brewer has a deep love of San Diego especially San Diego baseball.  They honor one of San Diego's biggest sports heroes, Tony Gwynn.  Tony set records as a player and they brew the San Diego Pale Ale .394 as a tribute to his highest batting average.  Alesmith has opened a Tony Gwynn museum on the taproom premises.

A little more noodling around, and we left, heading up Interstate 15 towards Riverside California.  As we had planned to stay with Laurie's Mom this trip. we had driven out in our Jeep rather than the truck and Travel trailer.  This made our pack a bit tight, but allowed us the mobility of an SUV.  North to the sleepy (because it's so hot!) town of Barstow where we made a right turn and took I-40.  A while later, past the southern border of the Mojave National Preserve, up to the Arizona border and the town of historic Needles.  We stopped for a bite to eat and then, before traveling on thought we'd get a quick find there.  I never imagined I'd be geocaching in 115 degree heat.  But, there we were.  A quick Park and Grab and on the eventually cooler climes.  But hey, it was a dry heat...

Alesmith's new brewery and Tap room.

We would have looked around more if it wasn't as hot.  I love heat, but there are limits.

There is a cache here somewhere.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

May 26 - 31 - Memorial weekend

Flew back to SD on Thursday.  We made a stop downtown at this pub she had heard about.  It is called Bolt in honor of the San Diego Chargers.  While there, a number of team members and a small news crew came in to say hello and get people to sign a petition to keep the Chargers n San Diego.  That was fun.  From there, on to a favorite Mexican taco shop and home for dinner and to pack.

Friday, very hectic. Susie helped us get our selves and luggage to the airport.  Had an issue because storms had closed Chicago where we had a connecting flight.  Eventually, we were re-routed through Phoenix.  We had been given first class tickets, but it looked like one of us was going to be flying standard to Phoenix.  We had to talk to two different people at American Airlines counters in San Diego just to get our re-route. They were all very nice.The final guy was at our gate and was sorry because one was getting bumped into standard for a stand by passenger.  He didn't think it was right but only said he'd bring the policy up at the next meeting.  On the plane, apparently, he did something, and I got moved up to first.  In all, I was more impressed with the customer service at American than I have ever been with an airline.  The trip was fun, and first class was a blast.  The only disappointment was because of going through Phoenix instead of Chicago, the two parts were uneven in time, with the first part being short and the second, really long.

Landed in DC, got met by Chaplain Scott, who we all call Chappie.  Shuttle, hotel, room, meeting, bar, boom.  Great to see our friends from around North Dakota again.  Especially Frenchy and Bernadette.

All the usual seminars and happenings. Great time. sightseeing, insight, reflection, outreach and just being with people who understand what it's like to go through our lives as Survivors.

Back in March or so, Laurie and I had stopped at a favorite spot for a quick pint, but that location was closed. We opted for our least favorite place in Santee, Pacific Island Brews, or PIB.  When we got there, some function was going on.  It kinda looked like a reception.  People said we were still welcomed to come in.  Once there, we realized this was a memorial reception for a girl who had served in the military.  We sought out the parents and introduced ourselves.  Nancy and her husband were wonderful people and I thought it was good they had all these friends and family surrounding them.  I knew it was too early and fresh to tell them much about TAPS, but made sure we had contact information and gave them space.  At TAPS, I had to share their story with some people and hope I can get them out to DC soon. Olivia, the daughter, seemed to be an amazing woman.  Mother of two and veteran of the US Air Force, serving in Afghanistan with the Air Force weather service which tracks the conditions for flight missions.

On Saturday night, we have the big banquet.  Our guest speaker was Robert Patrick the actor.  He started his talk by reading a letter from a friend who echoed the thoughts of many Conservatives and then spoke of his career, his love and honor for the families of the fallen, the heroic members of the United States military, and his love for the greatest nation on earth.  He told us of his intentions of riding in Rolling Thunder on Sunday.  He drove his old Harley from Hollywood to DC in only four days!! That is some hard riding. 3000 miles in four days.  We got pictures with him which was fun.  Although he is currently on TV with a series now (Scorpion) and has done many roles, he is most remembered as the T-1000 terminator.  Great guy.

Sunday was Rolling Thunder and once again, Frenchy pimped us out to her biker friends from Pennsylvania. We had the honor of being introduced to a veteran who was a survivor of the cowardly attack at Fort Hood by Nidal Hassan. 
Every year, there is a Marine who stands on the traffic island at the corner we turn during the run.  In full dress uniform, he stands at salute as the bikes take hours to go by.  Tim is not just a veteran, but he was stationed at the Pentagon when 9/11 happened.  Injured himself, he helped pull friends out of the burning rubble.  He has physical issues now from that day but manages to stand for hours every year in honor of others who served.  This year he was engaged and the marriage ceremony took place, you guessed it, right there on that traffic island during the ride.  His new bride stood with him to honor the servicemen.
The ride ends at the National Mall, and it is always a zoo with tourists, but more so this year as Donald Trump was there to give a primary speech. afterwards, we walked a bit, found a Virtual geocache at the Museum of Science and Arts. and made our way to the subway to the hotel.

On Monday we decided to catch a couple of finds so we could get our souvenir for Virginia as we had gotten DC the day before.  We got one, but Laurie and I started to fight.  It was because it was Memorial day and after the emotional weekend we were thinking a lot about Jeremiah.  We took a break in the shade.  I was on Facebook, and found one of Jeremiah's battle buddies was on live.  He was filming himself and his daughter walking around the Fourth ID memorial at Fort Hood where both he and Jeremiah had been stationed when they lost Jeremiah while deployed to Iraq.  It was touching and brought us back to reality.  We continued our searching and made a few finds.  a couple were very cool.  Later that afternoon, we had lunch with some of our North Dakota group.  There were tow girls there who were cousins and around 10 - 12.  Laurie told them about geocaching and when we left to walk to the hotel as a group, we covered some of the same area where we had been earlier and Laurie directed them into finding a couple of the caches. It was pretty fun watching kids hunt for them.

Tuesday morning, said goodbyes and left for the airport.  Still flew first class, this time routed through Dallas.  In the airport, we met a young woman from San Diego who had lost her husband and was at TAPS.

Finally, after all that, we arrived in San Diego and had a few days before we began our journey home.

Jefferson David Highway seen from our room

The Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA is just beautiful.

Opening night dinner

The Military Band performance at Marine Barracks One.

Robert Patrick and us.

Laurie's biker


Tim, the Saluting Marine and his new bride. Congrats


Streets of Arlington. There is a geocache here

Beautiful water park

Incredible design, very serene here...

and a geocache.

Our lunch party.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Welcome To My Nightmare

I think you're gonna like it.

When we last saw our traveling heroes, (sudden tense change) I had gone to Fargo to help with my daughter's kids.  After that two month exile, I returned to California, went to TAPS, and then we drove home for the summer.  The summer has been very busy.  trying to fix and maintain the house, both of us working, and some weekends with our grandkids visiting.  I have not had a chance to get this poor blog caught up, so I am going to try to catch things up before we hit the road again.

March - April Fargo
My daughter was living in a three bedroom apartment in town.  I left sunny San Diego to fly into Fargo airport during a snow storm. Yeah, I left my coat in California.  We pushed the three kiddies into the one bedroom so I could use the futon in the other room.  It wasn't the worst place for them, except some repairs were needed.  Mostly, things like blocked drains and a broken dryer, and such got taken quickly.  I became a full time care giver, so my daughter could work her crazy hours and get some sleep.  The kids took some time to settle into the routine I tried to impose.  There were often tantrums where they wanted to insist on having Mommy be involved or they wanted to kick doors and walls.

We got past that and I (with previous help last year from Laurie) taught them about time out.  Routine ensued with them awake and ready for trouble at 5 or 6 am.  Jeremiah finally started school, and so, he'd go to his bus every weekday and I'd put the other down for naps.  Then their daycare opened and all three would be gone for part of the day.  It was all about routine. I did the best I could with it.  With the daycare, and eventual good weather, they got more exercise and it settled their sleeping habits better.  On a couple of occasions, I was able to get them to go on a walk around the block with me.  That was a lot of fun.

I was not able to get to my house very much, and honestly that wasn't why I was in North Dakota.  We went there once to get my truck.  A second trip to straighten the house and access the damage from the winter.  I hooked up the water meter and had the guys come out to check it and turn the water on.  On my third trip, which was a couple of days, I was able to repair the couple of issues and basically have the house ready for our return.

I have a jump drive with music in my truck, and once I introduced them to the "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" song, it made the short drive to daycare fun.  At times, I didn't know if I could hold up, but things came to and end and it almost seemed to short a time with the angles.


I now have a through grasp of Dora, Little Einsteins, Blue's Clues, Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol, and even Peppa Pig.

The time ended, and I flew back to Cali, knowing the next day we were to fly out to D.C.

It feels good to be able to blog again.

checking out the property, I found this spent robin egg.

Typical ND sunset

Full moon seen through the tree break