"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure."
- Peter Marshall
Hello all. How's it going? I am a little stressed right now. School is keeping me very very busy and I have a huge paper to write. I have 13 pages down so far and just another 40 or so to go. UGH! It's character building, right? Aside from that, I have some 1800 pages to read by June 2 and some other papers to write, so needless to say, this post will be short.
The last couple of weeks have been wonderful. First, the Escapees rally in Lodi was a blast. We went to hang out with fellow full-time RVers and with the Christian group. There were some 500 people at this rally and 32 from our Christian group. Man we loved hanging with them and enjoyed making new friends. God is doing some amazing things in their lives and we enjoy hearing their stories. We look forward to seeing some of them again at the rally we will be attending in Gillette, WY.
From there, we crossed the Sierra Nevada mountain range into Nevada. WOW, what a drive that was. At times it was a bit hairy, but the scenery more than made up for it. I wish we could have taken some pictures of the mountains, snow, and valley but we had to focus on the road most of the time and, since it was a two-lane road, we couldn't stop and take pictures because we had a line of traffic behind us. Taking that 40' fifth-wheel through mountain passes can be an adventure!
Anyway, we landed in Carson City and loved it immediately. We had an awesome view of some snow-capped mountains in our backyard and enjoyed that very much. Our first adventure there was Lake Tahoe. Talk about beautiful. I thought Yosemite was awesome, but this really was breathtaking. I think because it combines both mountains and water in the same scene. And speaking of water, this is the cleanest lake water I have ever experienced. You can see to a depth of 90 feet in this lake. Cool (literally and figuratively)! It is also very deep at 1600 feet and sits at 6000 feet in elevation. The mountains in the background are the Sierra Nevada's that we crossed over the previous day. Lots to do in this area in both the summer and winter and would make a lovely place for a family vacation.
Steve and I visited one of the casinos in Carson City and lost $120. Man, I just hate that. I feel like such a poor steward of the funds that God has graciously provided to us so we have vowed to not do that ever again. We will pay Bingo (big fans of that game) because it's entertainment. But the slot machines are off limits! We also visited the Del Webb community in Reno and loved that too. This is definitely an area that we will think about relocating to.
Speaking of Reno, we headed into the city to visit the automobile museum that houses Mr. Harrah's (the casino founder) collection. We loved this museum. The way they laid out the collection was by year and also included vintage clothing that came from the same era as the cars. There were also pictures from the same time frame. Very nicely done. I love old cars. They are more like art than machine to me. Especially the hood ornaments. Back in the early days of automobiles, there were tons more manufacturers than there are today and each one had a distinctive hood ornament. I wish we would have gotten more pictures of them because they were just spectacular. Next time you are at a car museum or car show, check out the hood ornaments.
Steve and I also like visiting old cities and experiencing some of the history. We had dinner in the town of Genoa one night. This town was established in 1851 as a stopping point for Mormon traders who were crossing the mountains into California in search of gold. Check out their website for more information http://www.genoanevada.org/visitgenoa.htm. We had dinner at the Tombstone Tap & Grill which is owned by the guy who started Tombstone Pizza (which he promptly sold to Kraft for oodles of money). Cute town. We also visited Virginia City. WOW was this a bit of history. The town is carved into the side of a mountain so the streets are different levels and very steep. The city was built to support those working in the Comstock mine. A good portion of the town burned down in 1875 but was rebuilt in 1876, and those buildings are still standing today. Fun piece of history to visit.
Well, that's it for this week. Steve and I are in Provo, Utah right now and will fill you in on those details next week. Until then, be good and I hear some good weather is headed to the Detroit/Toledo area. Also, if you wouldn't mind, please pray for me as I struggle to get all that I need to do completed. I'm in the home stretch of this Master's Degree. When I finish with these 4 classes, I have 3 to go!!!!
Yosemite National Park
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
― John Muir
Amen to that, John Muir!!!
What an awesome place - Yosemite National Park who's name has an interesting history. John Muir, the naturalist who is responsible for the preservation of both Yosemite and the Sequoia National Forest, also founded the Sierra Club which is the one of the most important conservation organizations in the United States. His philosophy is that nature, and being in nature, is as important to one's soul as food and water are to the body. I would wholeheartedly agree. Our visit to Yosemite was as much a spiritual experience as it was anything else. One cannot stand in the face of such incredible beauty without being humbled at the greatness of God. There were times when the scenery in front of me literally took my breath away.
We spent several days in this park and could have spent twice as much time. There is so much to do here and so much to see. Our first day was spent wandering among the huge Sequoia trees in the Mariposa grove. You just cannot imagine the immensity of these trees until you are standing among them. They are just massive and spectacular to look at. Sequoias take a long time to mature and some of the trees in this grove over 2,000 years old and still growing. HOLY COW! They also heal themselves in a cool way. The tunnel tree that was carved in 1907 has the bark curling around the sides to heal the opening in the tree's center. Cool! We were thoroughly taken aback with the sight of these trees and can only imagine what a hike through Sequoia National Forest would be like. Sadly, however, we did not have that in our plans this trip. Later in the day, we took a hike to the swinging bridge that crosses the Merced River. That was a nice hike and the river did not disappoint. I sat by the edge of it and just took some time to pray. The sound of the rushing water and the smell of the pine was simply heaven to me. We closed day one with a visit to the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. This was a fun place to visit. Steve enjoys old farming equipment (I guess you can take the boy out of the farm but you cannot take the farm out of the boy!) and I enjoyed the cabins and buildings that were relocated here from other parts of Yosemite. One of the coolest part of this village was the covered bridge, which was built by the Washburn brothers - - the same dudes who built all those covered bridges we photographed while visiting Vermont. This discovery sort of ties our east coast trip to our west coast trip, don't you think? Anyway, I love the log cabins and really would love to live in one in the mountains. We close the day with some shots of the Merced River that Steve took from the knotholes in the wood on the covered bridge. Our son, Terry, is an awesome photographer and we knew he would enjoy this different perspective.
Day two was spectacular and extremely exhausting. We begin with a couple of views on our way to the tunnel that takes you into Yosemite Valley. Then, once you emerge from the tunnel, you are hit immediately with the most spectacular view - - El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls - - all right there in front of you. The view is so overwhelming that it sort of made me a bit disoriented. The vastness of what you are looking at makes it hard for your brain to take it all in at once - - at times everything seems so near but really it is very far away. Know what I mean? We traveled to Bridalveil Falls first and hiked up to the base. Since we came at the end of Spring, the falls were very active so we were blessed with a lot of mist, and hence, wet clothing. But it was worth it. The water from this falls flows over a large collection of rocks which made for a great whitewater river. And since it is late Spring, there were three other falls that were active now that would be dry by summer - - Horsetail Falls, Ribbon Falls, and Sentinel Falls. In Yosemite Valley, Steve took the picture of the famous Ansel Adams shot. We had a very nice lunch there and Steve shared a few pretzels with two of the hugest ravens I have ever seen - - these things were chickens, I swear. Anyway, in 1997, Yosemite flooded after the melt of an unusually high snowfall in the previous winter. You can see him standing next to the sign that indicates where the water level would have been at the time of the flood. WOW! I cannot imagine how the valley would have looked with all that water.
Anyway, after lunch, we headed over to the east end of the park and took the hike up to Vernal Falls. This was a particularly grueling hike. First of all, we are at nearly 5,000 feet where we flatlanders have trouble breathing just sitting still. Then, couple that with a 1.5 mile hike that was at such a steep grade it made your heart pound. We rose 500 feet in elevation in the first .8 of the mile so you can imagine the steepness of that hike. This particular trail will also lead you up to the Half Dome hike which is closed at this time of year so we didn't do it. Yeah right! THAT'S the reason. Anyway, we got to the footbridge and took some shots of the Merced from there. It was extremely rocky and the water was flowing in quite the torrent, yet some kids decide to go out on the rocks anyway. Why are young people so stupid? I hate to be rude when I say that but seriously, one misstep and he would have been down the river and dead before anyone could have done something to rescue him. Anyway, Steve continued on with the hike up to Vernal Falls. I had to rest because my bad knee refused to go further and protested wildly when I attempted to further the climb. On the way out of the park, Steve got some cool shots of clouds covering Half Dome and El Capitan. He's got some talent for photography, don't you think?
Day three was a bit more relaxing. All the hiking we did was on flat ground, thankfully. We visited Yosemite Falls this day and Steve experimented with a bunch of different camera features. Feel free to use any of these shots as your screen saver. The last shot from this day contains a quote from John Muir that expresses the spiritual rejuvenation that one can feel from an experience in nature. It is etched on a bronze plaque that was erected in the place where John Muir built a cabin while living in Yosemite. It reads as follows:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
― John Muir
Can I get an AMEN!!!!
Later folks. This week is an RV rally in Lodi, California where we will be bonding with others of our ilk -- full-time RVers. Next weekend we head to Reno and Elko, NV and then on to Salt Lake City, so don't look for an update again from us until April 29.
San Diego Part Deux
"The be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world."
– Bertie Charles Forbes
Hello all. Sorry that it's been a couple of weeks without an update, but we've been busy with family visits and such. What an awesome time we had in San Diego!!!!
First, we had a lovely visit with Steve's mom, Connie. We began her visit by taking her to the highest point in San Diego - - Mt. Soledad. This is a memorial dedicated to all the veterans of the San Diego area and it affords you the most spectacular view of the ocean and surrounding La Jolla area. So beautiful! Unfortunately, it was a little foggy so the picture of the ocean isn't as clear as we would have liked, but you get the idea. Our next stop was to the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island. This is the place where my beloved Steve proposed to me some 14 years ago. It is the oldest wooden hotel in the United States and an absolutely gorgeous structure and surrounding gardens. This place has such old world charm and really takes you back to the good old days where women wore hats and gloves and men wore suits. They still have an elevator operator -- how cool is that? The woodwork in this building is unbelievable, too. And, because you know I am a huge fan of native flora, we snapped a picture of the most unusual tree - - The Dragon Tree. Isn't it cool. Lastly, Steve snapped a picture of the rocks that we sat on when he proposed. AHHHHHH, ain't that sweet!
Steve, Connie and I took a drive up to the Los Angeles area where Connie's brother, Frank, and his family live. What a nice time we had with them. It was fun sitting around and listening to stories of Frank's adventures in the war (he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam) and the crazy stunts he would pull with his planes. I especially enjoyed hearing the story of how he and Aunt Kiki met and fell in love. These two have been married 60 years and you can see the love between them is just as strong as it was when they first met - - they made cute faces at each other when telling us the story of their courtship and it just melted my heart. I also got to meet two of Steve's cousins - - Ann and Denise. They are two of Frank and Kiki's 8 children. One other daughter, Ann, and her husband, Pepper, and three boys had dinner with us one night. What a lovely family they are. Josh is a soccer player like our son Terry and is being reviewed by college coaches right now. I know that drill and it is stressful, so GOOD LUCK JOSH!!!!
We did some other things with Connie besides family stuff. We visited The Creation Museum here in Santee, California. What an awesome museum that was. It was dedicated to the 6 days of creation and went day-by-day in detail. http://creationsd.org/ The museum highlights the wonder of our universe and our planet earth, and even discusses the complexity of the cells of the human body. It all speaks to the notion that who we are and where we live is most definitely the result of what scientists are terming "intelligent design" and could not possibly be evolution. One really just needs to study the human body to grasp that fully. What an awesome God we have, don't you think?
Our last bit of fun with Connie was attending Easter service at David Jeremiah's church in El Cajon, CA. For those of you who don't know, David Jeremiah has been a teacher of the Bible for almost 50 years. He has pastored Shadow Mountain Community Church for most of that time and also has television and radio ministries. The Easter service was so beautiful and the song selection was magnificent. The entire service gave me chills. The best part of that, however, was when Connie met David Jeremiah. She was just thrilled.
Later that day, we gathered at Stevie and Aime's house and enjoyed Easter dinner with them, Connie, Aime's cousin Nick and his wife Ashley, Aime's friends - - Ashley and Morgan, but most especially our grandson Jeremiah!!! WOOOO HOOOO! He flew in late the night before so Easter morning was the first time we had seen him and man, has he grown! He is about 6 inches taller than when we were home in October. Aime did a lovely job putting Easter dinner together and it was nice to have so much family around us for this holiday. It was like being home, only warmer!!!
Connie left the Monday after Easter and we spent the next few days with Jeremiah. What a joy it was to spend time with this fine young man. He turned 16 while staying with us so we took everyone out to Slader's 50/50 for burgers. The 50/50 part of the name is for the hamburger patty that is 50% beef and 50% bacon. Yes. It tastes a good as it sounds. I cannot believe how quickly time flies. It seems just a short time ago he was calling me "Dramma Lauren".
Aime had to work and I had a paper to write, so the boys (Steve, Stevie and Jeremiah) got to go snorkeling by themselves and had an awesome time together. Listening to them stories afterwards was a hoot, but what a treat for the three generations of Anderson men to spend some alone time together and bond. They also went kayaking in the La Jolla cove one day and Aime fell in the water! She was not pleased but that also made for great storytelling later.
Our last adventure with Jeremiah was a visit to the San Diego Safari Park. What an awesome zoo that is. It is not the San Diego Zoo, although the two are affiliated. I believe they are phasing out the zoo (which is closer to downtown San Diego) and expanded their land holdings out in Escondido with this Safari Park. HOLY COW! It is an all day thing, for sure, and absolutely beautifully done. Jeremiah was the official photographer on this trip and I think he did a fine job. We had a great time and saw the brand new baby rhinoceros and baby elephant. Aren't they cute?
So, now all the family has gone back home and we are, once again, alone. We so enjoyed our time with family and already miss them terribly. The following Monday we headed up to Yosemite National Park, but had a bit of an adventure on the way. God really watches out for us because somewhere along Highway 57 we lost the right rear wheel on our trailer. Now when I say wheel, I am not just talking about the tire - - it was the entire stinking wheel. Apparently the things that hold the wheel on the hub all sheared off in the process of disengaging from the trailer. Thankfully, we had two angels who came to our rescue. The first was the man who drove up next to us on the highway to tell us that the wheel had come off. We had no idea and felt nothing so thankfully he let us know.
Secondly, once we got off the highway and into a Lowe's parking lot, a very nice man (and fellow camper) took Steve around to various auto parts and camper supply places to find a new hub and lug nuts. They were successful and we were back on the road with only 4 hours lost. If that angel hadn't come to our rescue, we most likely would have been stuck in town for a day or so waiting for parts. In the process of shopping for parts, Steve and our angel traveled back over the area of the highway where we lost the tire because we were concerned that when it came dislodged, that it may have hurt someone or damaged something along the side of the road. Thankfully, that was not the case as that stretch of the highway is bordered by ravine and empty space. Thank You Lord!!!!
So, now we are in Yosemite. A day late but we made it. Steve posted some initial pictures on his Facebook page so check those out. Watch for our blog next week as am absolutely certain it will contain pictures that will take your breath away!
Until then, we love and miss you all so much. Time with family is so precious for us but it always makes us sad when it comes to a close. Like the quote above says - - enriching the world should be our goal and to us, family is one of the things that does that for us. Precious people, our family.