Friday, February 29, 2008

Old Town, San Diego, CA (Thur.2/28)

We're picking up the pace a little bit as we made it to the west coast, 1 ½ months after being at the east coast.

Our first look at the Pacific Ocean

The Old Town in San Diego is the “birthplace” of California. It's the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions.

We learned the history of the Wells Fargo stagecoach

Wells Fargo is special to us as they provide us .15% APY interest on our savings account, yeah dog!

For the history side: It's restored Historic buildings. Of course it has what follows the people: restaurants, hotels and shopping – we saw the historic buildings.

end of the day, bagels and juice boxes in the back of the truck downtown San Diego...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Grandparents, Mesa, AZ (Sun.2/17-Wed.2/27)

Kim and Mars in front of the big Class A – sweet ride (although there was no riding for the Nelsons or Boraas' – just lots of eating, card playing, Price is Right watching, sleeping, etc.)
We partied in here – special celebrations prepared by Bobo & Grandpa for the Jan, Feb, Mar. birthdays. They took the boys mini golfing – only needing to lift a boy over the fence to retrieve errant golf balls a couple times -- Kim and I had a date night.

It's pretty fun playing Catch Phrase with Shae as he is still learning to read so he doesn't always get them right:
*Actual word: Governor, Shae trying to get you to say: Garden
*Actual word: Sid Caesar, Shae trying to get you to say: Second Chance
*Actual word: Rapier, Shae trying to get you to say: Rapids
*Actual word: Vietnam, Shae trying to get you to say: Vermont
*And our favorite: the hint is “ I like it but it gets stuck in my teeth” Actual word: Beijing, Shae trying to get you to say: Beef Jerky

We went to church at the “center” two times, and that's how we know when we've overstayed our welcome as we have to wear our same clothes again (our only Sunday clothes).

No matter the weather (we did have a few cool days), the boys wanted to swim. Luckily, they didn't discover there were TWO open swim times per day until a couple days before we left! Grandpa and Dad were the regulars in the pool with them.

We played a lot of card games in their RV like Hand and Foot, 31, golf, chase the ace. One or more of the boys was always up for a game of something with Grandma Bobo.

Lee played a lot of softball: 2 to 3 times/week – what a nice way to spend a few of the coldest winter months. It's fun rooting for “grandpa” at his games as it covers almost everyone on his team.

What a great time with Bobo and Grandpa: when seven days wasn't enough, we made it ten, which wasn't enough either - lots of pure grandparent time! Thanks so much for your love and hospitality!

Arizona Hiking (Sat.2/16-Tue.2/26)

Mountains! I'm a mountain guy (mountain man has some connotations I may not be able to live up to). We got a number of hikes in the Phoenix area: Usery Regional park: “Wind Cave”, Merkle nature trail, Lost Dutchman state park, Tonto national forest – Saguaro Lake

The boys love hiking... well most of the time. If the trail is paved or even dirt that is too uniform – it doesn't count as true hiking for Shae and Kobe and thus they are suddenly too tired to move. If it's small, twisty, and especially if it's dangerous, then they run and argue over who's going to lead the way.

2 of the truths I've learned, and believe necessary to good living with boys, are

#1) what doesn't kill you makes you stronger

This is an old one, that of course isn't always true, but it's close enough.

#2) Bleeding is good – it heals the wound.

I reviewed these rules with Mars/Bobo before our Lost Dutchman hike and we were actually able to put them in action.

If you saw the report that the boys did on desert plants, the Chain Fruit Cholla was one of the cactus that were featured. Shae went off the trail (and it was already a small trail) ran right into one of these guys.

Shae by his arch enemy

It stuck through his shirt and stuck into his belly, then detached from the rest of the plant. A great protective move for the cactus but a bad move for Shae. As I pulled on his shirt, I was amazed how hard it was stuck through the shirt and into Shae's skin. After removing the main part from Shae and his t-shirt, the 2nd phase began of removing the individual spikes from Shae's belly – at least a dozen or so. After some initial hysterical screaming, Shae did quite well and held still for Mars and I to pluck them from his skin.

after Shae stepped on the section that was lodged into him

We still like hiking. Shae did vow to never go off the trail again – though I know he's forgotten the vow, he has some memories of the Cholla to be sure. I believe that he is #1) stronger and #2) the wound was cleaned – another hiking success.

AZ fam&friends (Sat.2/16-Tue.2/26)

Uncle Al & Aunt Nancy – part time Minnesotans, part time Arizonans

Fountain Hills is very beautiful and appropriately named with lots of hills and one big fountain. We got to see Al & Nancy's great place with an even better view. When Al's not biking or playing disc golf, he's probably hiking. He took us for a few miles through great scenery. After hiking we drove, getting a quick tour of the town. One highlight in the town (other than the fountain and the disc golf course) is Maytag Matilda. $50k for this horse made of junk – we like it. For this neighborhood, that's $50,000 well spent. We worked up an appetite to have pizza back at their place. Thanks Al and Nancy!

Maytag Matilda

Uncle George and Aunt Janet

We often don't get to see our family in western Minnesota – so meeting in Arizona seemed like a good alternative. With seven grand-boys of their own, they were incredibly patient with our crew. They took us out to Organ Stop pizza for fantastic music and good pizza. Thanks George and Janet!

Uncle Gary & Aunt Jane

Not much for pics, but we sure enjoyed Thumbs-up Gary and M&M Jane. You could hardly keep the kids from jumping all over them. Boys, Gary is not a jungle gym! We got to see several softball games as Lee and Gary are on the same team. We love you guys and we love how our kids love you guys! Thanks Gary and Jane!

Gary at talent show

Vern & Karen

Our good friend's family is like, well... family. Vern and Karen were very hospitable as we gave them a couple hours notice before we crashed their joint. We got the tour of their two places – even getting to see Brent's old room – well Brent, things can only get better, after having the closet for your bedroom. Hope to see you in Minnesota. Thanks Vern & Karen!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Desert Plants project, Mesa, AZ (Fri.2/22)

(an official assignment for Levi and Elan -- pictures and text are theirs -- description follows pic)

For our family, it was a big change from the cold, even harsh, Minnesota winter to the 70
degrees in Arizona's deserts. We managed. We had a very fun, beautiful hike up a small
mountain with our grandparents. We took some plant pictures (below) but mostly we
were just enjoying the amazing desert that surrounded us.


The Ocotillo is not a “true” cactus because it grows real leaves. It only grows flowers and leaves after it rains. It is mostly pollinated by bees and found in the Sonoran Desert.


The saguaro is the state flower and they can be 50 feet tall a and live to be 200 years old. It has 3 in. oval, green fruit that ripens just before the fall rainy season. The Saguaro is home to many small animals.

Prickly Pear Cactus

This cactus is found in all American Southwest deserts. They produce red yellow or even purple flowers. Their pads, fruits, seeds, and flowers are all edible. (side note -- we got to try prickly pear fruit ice cream!)

Teddy Bear Cholla

The teddy Bear Cholla can be 3-5 feet tall and prefers to grow facing south below 3000 ft. Its spines help keep it cool and protect the cactus from animals. Yellow-green flowers bloom in spring. The plant is native to Arizona,California and Mexico.

Chain Fruit Cholla

The Chain Fruit Cholla is a shrubby cactus and lives in dry sandy soils. You could find pink and white flowers on this plant. It can grow 15 feet high and it's “chains” can grow up to 2 feet. It is found in the Sonoran and Chihuahua Deserts.

Barrel cactus

Barrel cactus's can grow to be ten feet high and can live to be 130 years old. Flowers grow at the top of the plant and it's fruits can be eaten. It has a shallow root system but it is spread over a large area.

Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ (Sat.2/16)

I like the desert: very diverse, often colorful and very pretty. The highlight has to be these Saguaro cactus guys.The nature center video was telling us how they look like people and they might be our ancestors and thus we should treat them with great honor and respect. I think they are just cool cactus, but they do get a one point deduction for not being phonetically spelled (ironically the word phonetic gets a huge deduction as well...)

You look at these things and they start to look all the same...

all the same...
some are a little different...
quite different...
some are downright disturbing...

More Pics

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

White Sands National Monument, NM (Fri.2/15)

We went out of our way a bit to see the White Sands. We did not see the Trinity Atomic test sight nor did we get any Trinitite (glass from the heat of the blast), but we saw the big sand dunes of New Mexico.

They move eastward about 30 feet a year so if you're patient you could see the caves and white sands at the same time or maybe the caves will be filled with white sands by then, well anyway. In addition to my “stop continental drift” campaign maybe we'll take this one up as well.

Chaos Captured

Throw me again dad!

Kim met 4 sisters... 3 still living in Minnesota – pretty cool. We did not capture the video of them spinning down the dunes, however.

Gravity, boys & sand