Southern California

We have been in Southern California for the past couple of weeks catching up on school work and some projects on the bus.  Just wanted to share a few photos with you.  We toured the Queen Mary, went to a Christian concert to see some of our favorite art artists, went to the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa, had seafood at Neptune’s, stayed on the pacific coast and stopped by the mission in Santa Barbara.

Cousins and Baseball

Baseball games are one thing Marcus and I haven’t been to a lot. We’ve been to a little league game, but about 6 years ago. So when our cousin invited us to spend the day at a Padres (for those who don’t know, Padres is the San Diego team) game, we readily accepted.

On Sunday we woke up and drove the 2 hours to the stadium. We walked around for a while, then met our cousins outside. We squished into the stadium with the crowd, then took our seats. We were in the top of the stadium, so we could see the whole field from our seats.

They started the game without any delay, and we watched. Okay, maybe we didn’t just stare at the field. Mom and her cousin talked about things, and the rest of us chatted. Surprisingly, the stadium wasn’t that full maybe because it was a bit cloudy that day, but it was a perfect temp.

Mom and I posted a selfie and were on the screen, and to me that was one of the highlights of the game.  Our cousins made some awesome rice krispie treats too.

There were only 2 injuries, as one guy ran into the barrier between the stadium and the field. The second guy flipped over the barrier into the seats. Both caught the ball, and were only a little hurt.

The game was over in a few hours, Padres-1 to Colorado Rockies-3. Oh, well.
It was fun to see a baseball game and cousins. Maybe next time the Padres will win!
-Cali

Goodbye Phoenix, Hello Cottonwood

We left Phoenix early on Saturday morning, hoping that all the weekenders had already left the city. It was our first long trip in the bus, the longest before this being an hour. We made it out of valley and arrived in Cottonwood 2 hours later. We pulled into our site, then went to go meet our Uncle and Aunt for lunch. We wandered around Sedona, looking in shops and being tourists, as we don’t normally.

On Sunday we went to hike West Fork of Oak Creek. This hike had been recommend to us by fellow volunteers at Usery. The state park was super-duper busy. We expected it to be busy, but not ten-car-line-to-get-a-parking-spot busy. We saw people walking down the road and asked them if there was another parking lot. No, there wasn’t, but we could park along the road and walk back. We pulled out of line and parked up the road half a mile. We walked back down and paid our entrance fee.

The path started as a side walk, then turned into a dirt path. We first walked through an apple orchard, then along Oak Creek, as the name of the hike suggests. We crossed the creek 13 times on the way there. The state park very much reminded me of Zion and Yellowstone. The hike was around 8 miles, including the walk to the car. We then made our way out of the park. After a 3 mile line out, we made it into Sedona, then drove the hour back to Cotttonwood.

Monday we spent with our Aunt and Uncle. We cooked out and hung out. Isn’t that what most people do on Memorial Day?

Tuesday we visited Montazuma’s Well. Montazuma’s Well is a large limestone sinkhole filled with carbon dioxide rich water. Scientists aren’t sure how deep it is, as no one can swim down to the bottom. The deepest a diver has swam is 55 feet. From then down they can’t go any deeper because of springs that push up clouds of sand. They assume the Well to be 120 feet, but aren’t sure. The only living creatures that inhabit the Well are leaches, because of the large amount of carbon dioxide. Along the rim the Southern Sinagua people built pueblos. It was the perfect location, so near to water. The only down side was that the water has a large content of arsenic, but of course the Natives didn’t know that. The Sinagua lived in the area from 1125-1400. At one time, around 125 people inhabited the pueblos. The Sinagua also created canals to water their crops. The walk was around 3/4 of a mile. Also in the area is Montezuma’s Castle and Tuzigoot, but we saw both on a visit a couple years ago.

Wednesday was spent on school work, then a drive to go to Slide Rock. The threat of impending rain detoured us from doing slide rock, but it was a pretty 2 and a half hour drive. Thursday we were able to do Slide Rock, along with hiking Doe Mountain. Our Aunt and Uncle had done the hike the previous day, and posted pictures on Instagram. Mom thought it looked like a nice and easy hike so we did it. Round trip it was 2 miles and had some amazing views from the top. While we were sweaty and hot we moved on to Slide Rock. The water is melted snow, so it was literally ice cold. Refreshing after our quick hike. As we normally do, we followed the “Ladies first” rule (also know as the “Bravest First”) . I slid down. It was a shock because it was so chilly, but I went down and had fun. Marc was waiting for a report, so I told him how great it was and then went again. Marc and Dad followed shortly. The end tally was:
Cali-19
Marcus-16
Dad-7
Mom-0
That’s right, Mom didn’t go down. She has no idea what she was missing. I do not think she fancied getting bounced around by rocks in ice cold water. Oh, well.

Our two main goals to going to Cottonwood were to see Uncle Bill and Aunt Krysta, and to visit Slide Rock. When we had competed both, it was time to go. This morning, Friday, we took off. Currently it is 4:30. We left at 8:45 this morning. Originally the trip was supposed to take two days. It is 99 degrees inside right now, as we can’t turn on the air conditioning. One more thing Dad needs to fix. We are nearly to our stop outside of San Diego.

Cali

Wow Two Weeks Flew By

Cali wrote this post a couple weeks ago……..

At the moment we are sitting at the airport, waiting for the plane. But, I must finish telling my recounting my story.
In exchange for going on the last sales pitch, we got free tickets for Tulum, Mexico. The tour was smaller this time, only 12 of us in a small van. It was tight, but we were okay. Our first stop was a jewelry factory, then a tequilla shop. We had 45 minutes in the first one, and 30 minutes in the second one. That was way more time than needed, but some things got confused and we left quite late. I slept on the next leg of the trip, wanting to get to Tulum even more. The van pulled up to the curb and we all got off. I was a long walk to the ruins in the buggy, humid, sweaty, weather. It was so incredibly hot, I don’t think I can describe it. We walked around the ruins. The bugs were biting me like crazy. I already had lots on my legs from the ants at the beach. Funny thing is no one else had gotten any previously. Except me, of course. They bit and bit and shortly I was scratching everywhere. Grammy and I sat down in the shade while Marcus and Mum and Dad looked around some more. When they showed up again, they were excited. They had seen a coati and had photos of it eating. Back in town, we went to Subway, because the trip had given us free lunch there. It wasn’t a nice Subway, not even clean, but we were hungry and the place was air-conditioned. We ate then went back to the van. Homeward!!!!!
The next days until this time we hung around the resorts. One day we went paddleboarding, and sailing the next. Yesterday, the last day we spent in Cancun, Mexico, we took the bus up to one of the sister resorts and snorkeled, paddleboarded, and swam in the ocean. We had a buffet breakfast. Our plane is boarding shortly, and we need to gather all our bags. Goodbye, Mexico. But we will be back.
-Cali

Cancun Part 2

So the next part of our trip starts.. ..with another sales pitch. At least this one was quite a bit more relaxed and Marc and I didn’t have to listen to half of it  because Grammy was there.  We  left with her after breakfast. We had packed our swimsuits and swam in the ocean.  It was a woman presenter this time trying to sell us on the timeshare. I liked it much better because I spoke sewing and fashion with the Australian presenter. She had gone to collage for fashion, I was glad to talk with her about it. We spent the whole day on the beach and in the pool. Marc and I even got our pictures taken with a toucan. When we arrived back at the hotel we discovered that we had burnt our faces. The next day was spent inside. We didn’t even get in the pool!
Today rain was predicted, and sure enough it rained. But we swam in the ocean despite that, after church. I just finished my shower. Everyone is enjoying the cooler weather brought by the rain and we are sitting on our balcony, looking at the ocean. Beautiful.
-Cali

VaCaTiOn TiMe: Mayan Ruins and Turquoise Centoes

Sunburned faces. Pool side card games. Palm trees. Turquoise water. Sugar beaches. One word sums all of that up. Vacation. To be more exact, one on the Caribbean Ocean in Mexico.

Our whole vacation idea got into our head in February. Our faithful dog had just passed, and we hadn’t been on vacation in a little over 3 years. Some of you might be thinking “Isn’t your whole life a vacation?” In a way, yes. But we wanted to go someplace tropical, somewhere new. Our first idea was Hawaii. Why not? We loved it when we had gone before, and maybe we’d try a new island. Dad called, to see if there was a room there in May. At first the women who answered the phone was a little puzzled. “Next May?” she asked politely. “No, this May,” Dad answered. “Umm… The rooms for this May sold out about 9 months ago.”
Alright, we weren’t going to Hawaii. When we searched again for someplace to vacation, we found Cancun, Mexico. It looked tropical and one of our friends had gone not long ago. She encouraged us to go, saying that it was beautiful. Might as well try it. We had never been to Mexico. First we invited Grandma Red, then booked a room for 2 weeks. Grammy Red, after being layed up all winter with a shattered wrist, was glad to take us up on the offer.
The time before the Mexico trip passed quickly, with all our work at the park. We were to leave on Saturday. On Friday we moved Nigel over to a glass workshop to leave him there so the windshield could be resealed. We spent the rest of Friday with our friends the O’Donell’s (Check out our fun Utah trip with them here).

We awoke early on Saturday, and finished our last minute preparation, and left Nigel at 9:30 in the morning (after a early game of cards). We drove the car to the  parking garage, and took the bus from there to the airport. The bus dropped us off, and we made our way towards security. Right before going through, we stopped, because we were early. Mom and Marc grabbed two burgers for us to share, then we went through security. We went to our gate and sat down, 23 minutes early. We boarded the plane. Our seats were in the furthest back row, near the restrooms. They didn’t recline and they had the worst windows. Well, that’s what you get when you buy the cheapest tickets you can find. Turbulence was quite bad on the way out. They showed a movie, Hidden Figures, on the plane. Great movie, by the way. We arrived in Mexico in 3 hours and 50 minutes. Our passports were checked and we filled out multiple forms, about immigration and such. After lots of check points, we were almost out. Then we were pulled over to podium, to talk to a guy about our travel plans. I didn’t really listen to him, but turns out Dad signed us up for a sales pitch for timeshares. We already own one in Key West, Florida. In return for our time, he would give us a free trip to Chichen Itza and a bottle of tequila. Oh, and breakfast. It was a late night, as Marc and I stayed up late watching Karate Kid with Spanish sub-titles.

Next day we just hung around the pool. I haven’t mentioned Grammy Red yet because she didn’t arrive until the 9th. On Monday we went to the sales pitch Dad signed us up for. If you’ve ever been to one you know what I mean when I say it was BOREING. They were upset when Dad said no. They kept trying again and again to get us to buy a timeshare with them. If we said no to one guy, they would go tell us to talk to someone else. When we told that guy, they moved us on to someone new. Ugh. At least we got that free bus trip. And don’t forget the tequila. 😉

Back at the hotel we hung in the sun, swimming. On Tuesday Grammy arrived. All morning we were anxious for her to get here. She finally did. The rest of the day was spent pool side.  Wednesday we rented a little Sunfish sailboat for the morning. Dad and I went out first, then him and Marcus. Next Grammy went out with Marc. I won’t say it was a disaster, but I don’t think Grammy will be going out with Marcus again. They sailed away from the dock just fine, but then the wind died. After 30 minutes of tacking (for those who don’t know sailing terms, tacking is going in a zig-zag pattern to make it up wind), they weren’t any closer to the dock. Then the man who rented the boat to us, Robert, said he was going to go out and check on them, make sure they were okay. Dad was a little worried, so he said he’d go with and sail the Sunfish in. The rescue boat was called for. I do not think that Robert had much need previously to get the boat out. He rammed it multiple times into the dock. I thought it was going to break.   They motored up to the sunfish. Marcus got in the Rescue boat and Grammy and Dad sailed it in. Everything was just fine, but it was quite funny, seeing Marc in the rescue boat.


By now I think I should mention that lots of people speak English. But then many don’t. Some are nearly impossible to decipher what they are saying. They really do try though. Everyone is really nice, so far at least. Another thing I think I should mention is the money system down here. Mexicans use Pesos. And that means all the prices are in Pesos. When ever we want some thing, we need to mentally covert it to American Dollars. There about 20 Pesos to the American dollar, in case you want to know.

Now, on with the story. Because we had gone to the sales pitch, we got free ticket for a bus trip to Chichen Itza. So far the best thing about our vacation, the trip. It’s going to take a while to explain the excellent trip, so please stick with me here.

Our bus arrived at the hotel at 7:20. Early, but necessary to get to the ruins before 2 o’clock. The trip had many stops, and the first one was at a small village store and for lunch. In a large blue building were local goods made by the local people. We looked around a while, then had a nice Mexican lunch. It may sound weird, but my favorite food there was the pineapple. We ate, then boarded the bus again. For the whole trip we kept the same seats. I sat with Dad, Marc sat with Grammy and Mom sat with the backpack. Next stop, Chichen Itza.

The large yellow bus stopped. “Everyone off. You have 2 and a half hours to explore. Be back on the bus by 3 o’clock.” We unloaded, leaving most of our stuff on the bus. We walked through a large, open air pavilion, then pushed trough turnstiles. They checked our ticket and introduced us to our tour guide. The whole bus was to be on the same tour. We walked through a tunnel of trees, booths filled with Mexican goods lined the path headed towards the center of everything, a tall pyramid shaped structure called El Castillo.
Our tour guide was very good, but he was very into the gory side of the Mayan people. He liked to talk about the human sacrifices they gave to their gods. The Mayans are considered a modern civilization, because the men and women were of equal status. A women could be the ruler of the whole city, as could a man. The Mayans are known for their trapping skills, along with their skill in a Ulama. Ulama is an ancient ball game using a 1/2 to 8 pound ball. Because the ball is so heavy, the only part of the body that you could hit the ball with you hip bone. It’s the only bone that can take the weight. If you hit it with your wrist or ankle it would shatter the bone to a million pieces.

The stadium in which this game was played also has great acoustics.  Popular singers, like Jennifer Lopez and Elton John, have sung in the stadium. The only singer they have refused was 7 month ago, and it was Justin Bieber.
Our tour was soon over, and we had only scratched the surface of the history of the place. Marcus LOVES history, so he soaked everything in like a sponge. As I am writing this, if I have a question about all that I just wrote, I ask him and he knows the answer.

Before this point, I haven’t mention the heat. But it deserves a sentence. It was HOT. Not the dry, oppressive heat in Phoenix, but drippy, sticky, disgusting heat. After being outside for and hour and a half Grammy and I were sick of it. Marcus wanted to explore everything, see all the ruins, understand all the history, so Dad and Mom walked around with him while Grammy and I sat on a rock in the shade and people watched. Soon it was time to head to the cenote. Do you know what a cenote is?
Because the whole flatland is made of limestone, it just soaks up all the water on the ground. If you where to cut open the Yuactan area, it would look like swiss cheese, with holes throughout. Sometimes one near the surface will open up and form a deep water filled hole.

I fell asleep on the 40 minute trip to the cenote. We arrived, payed a dollar to rent a life vest each (they were required) and headed down into the hole. We followed wooden step down to a dock-type structure. I took my shoes off, then climbed a set of steps, to jump into the deep pool below,  about 17 feet. I was to be the first one to jump, as Marcus likes to follow the “Ladies first” rule in these situations. I was a little nervous, if I must tell the truth. But I had good reason to be. I was jumping into 140 foot hole filled with water. The Mayans used to take there human sacrifices, load them up with jewelry (to help them sink) and drop them into the cenotes. Divers have found the bodies and jewelry.
I jumped. My stomach dropped. After a second I hit the water. I bobbed up to the surface and called to Marc, saying it was great. Dad was next, the second tester for Marcus. He hit the water with a huge splash. Marcus’s turn. He kind of just fell of the platform, not totally ready. He thought it was awesome and ended up the one who jumped the most. I only jumped about 6 times. The last time I hit the water weird and decided that I had enough. We stayed down there for around 20 minutes, then changed from our swimsuit into clothes. We boarded the bus for the 2 hour ride back to Cancun, Mexico. Only one stop left.

None of us cam remember the name of the town we stopped in, but we saw a cool old Spanish church and wandered around a Mexican department store. Grandma bought chocolate, and we ate the melty chocolate on the bus. Our trip back was uneventful and we were back at the hotel at about eight o’clock.

We had been gone for around 12 hours. We took quick showers and fell into bed, tired. But we were up early the next morning for another timeshare sales pitch. Spoiler Alert: That sales pitch was much better than the first. I think I have spent enough time talking about our trip. Maybe I’ll go put my swimsuit on now and jump in the pool.
-Cali

The Great Trip

April 13th
Our plan to take a trip with some close friends of ours was formed several months ago, but we just left Phoenix this morning. The parents formulated a plan to take a 5 day Easter vacation up to Kanab, Utah, to visit Bryce and Zion National Park, and had a great time. We are going with out great friends, the O’Donnells. They are a family of 4 like us, Mike, Joy, Norah and Coleman. As none of our cars are big enough to acc0mmodate all of us, we rented a large 12 passenger van for the days we are up there. Dad and Mike are in the front, taking turns driving. Mom and Joy are next back, reading and catching up on work. Norah and I are in the middle, she is sleeping as I type this. Coleman and Marcus are in the back, playing video games. I believe when we arrive we will swim in the indoor pool, then go to dinner.

April 16th
Our first two days here in Kanab were very full and I didn’t have time to document them, so I will now. First, Happy Easter!! As Kanab is a small town, and there wasn’t a church we wanted to go to, so we watched Real Life Church in California on the computer at some friends recommendation.
On the 14th we visited Zion National Park. The O’Donnell were in awe of the beautiful park. If you’ve been, you’ll know what I’m talking about. We walked around 7 miles, hiked to multiple waterfalls, saw the whole park by bus, and admired the views. The next day was designated for Bryce Canyon National Park. Mom had always wanted to revisit the park, and this was the perfect chance. We hiked the canyon, then had a picnic, and drove around the park, stopping at multiple scenic pull-offs. The photos I took can’t exactly capture the redness of the rocks, but they are very close. It is one of the most shocking and inspiring park I have ever been to (and I have been to over a hundred).
Zion used to be my favorite park, but now I am not sure. I think I liked it because both times we have been before we hiked the Narrows. The Narrow are a slot canyon and the bottom in covered by water, so its like hiking in a river. The water is was always Carribean Blue when we hike it, but this time all the water water was dark brown and flowing fast. It was also cold, another reason not to hike it. We ended up hiking to the Emerald  Pools-
Up above I had to cut my story short, because the Easter Bunny called. Really, he did. The front desk called up to say that Marcus and I had a letter down stairs. They also called Nora and Coleman. We met in the lobby and read our notes. It told us to hop to the park. When we arrived, the field was covered in colorful eggs. Our parents said “Three, two, one!”
We all ran, bending over to pick them up. I think Nora or I won. I’m not sure. After eating cany, we played a game of kickball, parents v.s. kids. At first the parents were 3 points higher, but then Coleman kicked and got us all home. We won by 2 points, 7 to 9. Then we walked next door to the playground. We went to lunch at Escobars, a Mexican place. It was our second time, we went first on the 13th, after the long trip.
Now I am sitting in the hotel room. Marcus and Coleman are downstairs, playing on the computer. I will probably talk more on the trip home tomorrow. Until then.

April 17th
We just started our trip back to Phoenix and home. On the way back we are stopping to hike a slot canyon. By the time we get back home, we’ll have hiked just under 17 miles during our vacation. Quite a busy vacation if you ask me.
The hotel we stayed at was a great hotel. Within walking distance of all the restaurant, and the park, it gave us more chances to walk everywhere. It had an indoor pool and breakfast. Muffins, waffles, yogurt, coffee. We just ate, so it is fresh in my mind.
I may write more later on in our trip. Bye…
Later
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The slot canyon were a vibrant red color, and we saw lots of petroglyphs. We went out an awful dirt road, but it was worth it. It we hadn’t we would of had to walk 4 or 5 miles. Mum had always wanted to see them, and she was so happy to see it. It is in her top 10 best places we have visited. We are headed home, and we should be home around 5 or 6 o’clock.

April 18th
We got home around 8 o’clock last night. We had a great time! It was our first trip like that, so that made it even more exciting. Can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

-Cali

Our New Home

It’s a funny thing, being able to see from one end of your house to the other. In our old Cypress camper there were doors, walls in your way. And in most houses it the same. You only see one room at a time. In the new (old) Newell (that we happened to name Nigel) it’s like all four of us are living in one big room. Sure, if you want to have privacy, you can open up a door and block the passage way, but you can still hear the conversation your brother and mother are having at the kitchen table. Marcus and my bunk beds are pretty much in the kitchen. You turn the water pump with a switch over my 30 inch wide berth. Sometimes I knock it in my sleep and you can hear it starting. Then someone (Dad) has to come and shut it off so we can get some sleep. I can open the refrigerator door while laying down. Handy for midnight snacks, but not really ideal in a bedroom, if you can call my small area a bedroom.
The day my parents saw the Newell, they knew it was to be our forever camper. It was love at first sight. After getting the beast home, there was a lot of work to be done. At times it was regretted, their purchase, but we pulled through together. You can read all about the work on other posts, so I won’t explain all of that. Months of work finally paid off during our first test drive. Mom, as some of you know, was extremely excited. Marcus and I weren’t so much. Don’t get me wrong, we love our new home, but just a drive in a 33 year old bus just wasn’t going to get us excited. It was a short drive, but our next one was even shorter, only about a mile, moving campsites.
Some of you know we were car-less for a few days. We had a rental car after we sold both truck and car to loving new owners. It took 2 days, 12 car dealerships, and 6 private owners along with 13 hours of car shopping to find the silver PT Cruiser we now own. After some worrying about the Service Engine Soon light that came on the day after we bought it, we straighted things out (we hope).
After a little bit of worrying, much work and lots of excitement, everything has been going smooth (so far). We love our new home (so far) and I hope we will be able to travel soon.
-Cali

Skiing

Skiing was awesome. We went up to Flagstaff on a Monday after Mom and Dad got off work. Mom read a wonderful book called Wilderness Seasons to us. We got to stay in a hotel that had continental breakfast. The first day we got up and went to the slopes really early. It took us about an hour to get back in our groove. Mom and dad hadn’t skied for over twenty years. After that we started doing bigger slopes. We never did anything bigger than blues. The next day was very similar. After two days our feet were hurting so we decided to visit the Riordan Mansion State Park I will right another post on that. Skiing is very very fun and tiring. Thank you Grammy red for getting us the gift cards for Christmas.

M. W. Perry

Arizona from Above

Amy and Paul from Mountain Flying Service spent there winter down here in Arizona, staying in the park campground. As they came in and out of the park, Mom and Dad became good friends with them. Dad, in his earlier years, was aspiring to be a hobby pilot, so he was very interested when Paul said he was redoing the engine in his 1950’s Dehavilland Beaver. After the engine was complete, Paul asked if our family would like to accompany him on a flight. I believe Mom was a little nervous about going up in a smaller plane, but she soon got over it. Paul really cares for his plane. Everything was in tip-top condition.
Once in the air you could really see how sprawling the Mesa/Phoenix area is. IT IS HUGE. Bigger than you can imagine. We cruised over Usery Mountain Regional Park and into the Goldfield Mountains, then glimpsed the Superstition Mountains and Weavers Needle. After being in the air for 45 minutes we headed back down to the small airport. Dad and Marc looked around the plane while Mom and I talked to Paul. After a while we said our deep thanks and headed home.
If you are ever in Haines, Alaska or Skagway, Alaska, I very much recommend taking a flight with Mountain Flying Service.
-Cali