Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yosemite

Our first night at Yosemite we stayed in a tent cabin in the valley. Finding our tent cabin at 10:00 p.m., after checking in at the park office and getting our keys, was a bit of an adventure. I found it humorous, but not everyone agreed. Keep in mind we had just been given many "bear-aware" warnings by the park rangers, as we began our trek in the dark to find our site. We literally found our tent using our cell phone lights. (A tent cabin is basically a canvas tent with a wooden frame, built up off the ground with wooden floors, with beds and one electric light.) I thought it was fine, but the girls hated every moment. That was a sentiment they had many times during the vacation, but that's a whole other post entirely.



What I didn't realize until the light of the morning, was that we were surrounded by the beautiful granite mountains that bring many people to Yosemite. I stepped out of the tent and saw this:


Half Dome.

And this:




I'm no Ansel Adams, but this is my shot of El Capitan with Half Dome in the background.

I was awestruck. Again, not everyone shared my feelings. After breakfast, we took a tour of the valley floor on an open-air tram...very nice and lots of interesting facts, but I was glad it was only two hours. We then left the valley and headed to our lodge which was right outside the park, about an hour away. We stayed at the Tenaya Lodge, which was just awesome. We were there three nights, and while there we rode horses, mountain biked (me and Alan - mostly Alan), lounged by the pool, hiked to see the Giant Sequoias (again, just me and Alan - Bailey and Keena were not wild about exerting themselves on this trip), and treated the girls to facials at the lodge's spa.


There's something about those big pink helmets that make the girls look 10 yrs. old.


This horseback ride was not your average, simple trail ride. We went over steep, rocky, narrow paths and crossed several creeks. It was pretty adventurous! We all agreed this ranked nearly as high as the rafting as the most memorable part of the trip!


We enjoyed one "dressy" night out for dinner during our Yosemite stay.




I had to take a picture of this bloody mary I had poolside. The best I've ever had!

One of the highlights of the entire vacation was the all-day whitewater rafting on the Tuolomne River. The girls and I had never been rafting, but we were big fans shortly after getting started. I could have settled for a half-day, but perhaps all the strenuous activities in the higher elevation were getting to me. I was pooped, and the rafting was hard work. My back is still not happy with me. Anyway, before we began the rapids we practiced some strokes and maneuvers and the ability to follow directives from the guide. We practiced one maneuver that the guide said was rarely necessary, but important to know. So I think our favorite part of the rafting was when we actually had to perform the maneuver to keep everyone from falling out in the middle of a Class IV rapid. It was exciting and kind of scary, but so fun afterwards! (This is not a picture of that maneuver!)


You can't even see the other rider in the front right of the boat. She's getting an ice-cold splash in the face.

We got back to the lodge around 7:30 p.m. to discover they were still having trouble with a water main break. Too bad, it meant we had no water in our hotel room and they had to move us to the luxury suite for our last night. Darn it. :-) This was a $700/night suite, so needless to say we were wishing the water problems had occurred earlier in the week!

The next morning we left for San Francisco, which I thought would be another highlight of the trip. What was I thinking?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Los Angeles

We began our trip in L.A., so that's where I'll start. Not long after we landed and found our hotel in Garden Grove (which we soon discovered was an inconvenient part of L.A. for us to stay in, yet cool that we've been where Sublime sang about!), we headed to Hollywood. Some things you just want to say you've "been there, done that," and that was the thinking behind walking down Hollywood Blvd, driving through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo, and seeing the Hollywood sign. It was cool and I'm glad we experienced it, but I can't think of a reason to go back. That sounds worse than I mean for it to.


I think this picture of Bailey and Keena was taken at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Just 'cause!


Rodeo Drive kind of looked like streets of Paris.

While in the L.A. area, we drove to San Bernardino for Alan to try hangliding. This is a picture of Alan flying tandem of course, and I could be wrong but I think they were about 2000 feet up? He's glad he tried it, but I don't think he feels the need to do that ever again. It was fun for us three girls to watch, though.


After the hangliding, we drove to Venice Beach. I don't even know a word to describe it - bizarre is the best I can come up with. I've seen and heard about Venice, but nothing on TV or in the movies could ever compare to actually being there. It's just so WEIRD. You spend the first 20 minutes or so walking around laughing, pointing, with your jaw dropped half the time. And then it just gets creepy, dirty, sad. (I don't have good pictures, because I wasn't about to pay anyone just because they were painted silver or walking around in nothing but an American flag speedo.) I think you have to keep a good sense of humor to enjoy it, but frankly I couldn't wait to leave and wash my hands!

The beach itself, however, was beautiful and clean.

Sunday we spent at Universal Studios Hollywood, and I think it's safe to say that we were all a little disappointed. Universal Studios in Florida last year was awesome, with lots of thrill rides, water rides, etc. The one in Hollywood had way more 3D and 4D experiences than a person like me who gets motion sickness easily can handle. There was ONE roller coaster, if you really want to call it a roller coaster, and ONE water ride in which we barely got wet. So really, I can't say a lot for a theme park that we gave $250 to (before food) and only moderately entertained us.

The next day however, we spent at Santa Monica Beach and had a great time! The beach was beautiful, and except for how bone-chilling cold the water was, it was too short a day:

Does Alan look cold? :-)

The girls played in the waves and tanned, while I spent a lot of time walking up and down the beach and taking pictures of Alan surfing for the first time. By the way, if we ever move remotely close to a beach, Alan's first priority will be buying a surf board. He's absolutely hooked:

video
So after a few hours at the beach, we packed up the car and began our very long drive towards Yosemite. I was ready to leave the city for the mountains, and Yosemite did not disappoint. I'll post those pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Aaaawww...

Hard to believe that this rotund, often grouchy and sometimes vicious cat...


...was once this sweet little kitten:


I found Junior's kitten pictures while going through some old CDs today. I took this when he was a few weeks old, before I had a digital camera, and when I was still retarded when it came to taking pictures.

When we first found Junior at around ten days old, I was taking classes at UTPB and had to drive home most days between classes to bottle feed him. We also had to teach him to go pee and poop, but that's another story. Anyway, one day I came home and couldn't find him. He couldn't walk yet and his crawling skills weren't great, so imagine how confused I was when he was missing. Finally I found him ON THE COUCH curled up underneath a pillow. I can just picture those tiny, razor-sharp claws digging into our couch as he climbed all the way up.

He'll be four years old this summer, but we have enough "Junior" stories to fill a decade. Many of those stories leave people wondering why we allow him to live with us! But if you had been there from the beginning, when he fit in the palm of your hand, and when he was bottle-fed and burped like a baby, you might be hooked like we are. And you'll probably never see it for yourself, but he really does have a sweet side. :-)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Good Beginning

We had a fun, relaxing time at DeeBee's in Oklahoma and came home on Saturday. I should be more clear when I say "relaxing," because what I really mean is lazy. I haven't sat and vegged that much in a really long time. It was nice and went by too fast.


Charles (Caitlin's boyfriend), Caitlin, and Bailey


Alan and DeeBee

Bailey left for church camp the day after we got back, so Alan and I are childless this week. This always leaves me with mixed feelings - glad for the alone time with Alan but somewhat restless when my "mom" duties aren't needed. I'm filling the time with household chores, cooking, yard work, a little swimming, and some reading if I can get into my book. I'm not very chipper this week, which I'm 99% sure can be blamed on hormones, but nevertheless...keeping busy is key. We've only been home two days, and I'm so ready to leave again for vacation.