Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 5 of Traveling

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Last night Walker requested to be woken up early so he could swim “early in the morning”. Although his joy of swimming is strong, there was no waking him at 0800. He continued to snooze. Once up and dressed, suitcases packed and ready to go, then he decides to swim. A promise of swimming tonight in the next hotel was enough to suffice him. The Continental breakfast produced nice hot waffles with Bosenberry syrup. Most importantly, the coffee was good – hot, not bitter, not too strong, half-n-half – very good.! My 0730 walk this morning brought no exciting scenary – just the businesses and mall stores in the area. The sun was bright and warm and thankfully a nice breeze. The remainder of the day brought 300+ miles and a lot of it was in the middle of nowhere. Lots of desert mountains and cattle ranches. An interesting stop was in the small town or spot, I should say, called Kimberly. The store was part of someone’s home and the clerk served dual purpose of postmaster and cashier. This was the only store for miles and the only building in the “town”. The boys enjoyed the buffalo, elk, and deer that were mounted on the walls. The lunch/snack was limited to corn chips and bean dip. Ymm! Hunter has never had a “chili pie”, so some evening at home I’ll have to introduce him to this delightfully fattening dish – corn chips (preferably plain) topped with chili and then cheese. I like a few jalapenos on mine, but some prefer Texas Pete or even Picante sauce.. Sounds gross to some, but on a cold night, it hits the spot!
Our adventure today was a hike up to see the fossil hills. The scenary and the 97 degree weather at the peak of the day reminded me of Texas. Tim enjoyed and probably appreciated the “green” areas noted on the side of the mountains. We of course did not see nor find any fossils, but we gained a better understanding of what occurs. We then visited an interactive museum and saw Paleontologist working.
The rest of afternoon was seeing the countryside – however, the drive was slow due to all the curves and winds in the road. At times it seemed car queeziness was inevitable. Reading and writing were impossible, so thankfully Walker had much to say about nothing, but kept us occupied and filled the hours.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coffee please.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Had it not been for my phone ringing at 530am – (8:30 am in NC – Moore Regional hospital time), I probably would have not stirred until late in the morning. Nonetheless, my morning walk began at about 725am. Nothing exciting on this one mile walk other than the catfood and small water container that was randomly placed by the side of the road in an empty field – at least I assumed it was cat food. The weather was in the 80’s and not breezy, but not blistering hot, not yet anyway.
The continental breakfast the hotel offered was a delightful treat and much different than the muffins and bagels and donuts that my children had scoured for the last week for breakfast. Walker and Hunter chose Fruit Loops. I was happy they were at least drinking milk☺ Yesterday I had commented that my morning walk, a good cup of hot coffee with half-n-half, a nice huge cup of Sweet Iced Tea, a Big Hunk and a kiss under the mistletoe at the Geo-Cache site, just about made my day perfect. Today’s start was not so glorious. I enjoyed my walk, but the coffee was not hot enough to start my day. When we left the hotel, we ventured to a downtown Portland, Oregon Internet coffee shop called Stumptown Coffee. Tim needed internet access and I was in need of java! According to many, Oregon and Washington are known for its love of coffee. I was anxiously waiting for the wonderful flavor to touch my lips and taste buds. I had even psyched myself up to deal with whatever type of cup it came in. The line in the coffee shop was 10-15 people deep, so wow, it must be sensational. Not. I asked for a small cup for me, a medium for Tim and an Italian Ice for Hunter, I requested the house brew, preferably light. I wanted to sound like I knew what I was ordering, much like you see in the movies when they order all that mocha latte stuff. I was given the two cups – thankfully not styro foam- of the appropriate size and sent to the direction of a black coffee Thermos pump thing. There was only one to chose from and the name of the coffee was Kenya Timoliio. That was it. It shattered my hopeful heart, but I was still holding out for that great experience, but oh my! Yuk! It was bitter! My faithful dose of calcium in Half-n-half didn’t help it either. Tim thought his was okay and Hunter sucked down his Italian Ice, so I guess his won the prize for the best. As we drive away from the city, it is now going on 1100, so coffee time is gone. I have missed my morning fix! I shall hold out for something else to jump start my day!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A day in Oregon

Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday night was our night out of San Fran and spent in Crescent City, CA. Pretty uneventful. This was our ending destination after 300 + miles of driving. I slept sound and hard. The boys enjoyed the security of a floor under their feet and the glorious sound of a television.
Our hotel – Curly Redwood Lodge – was built from one huge Redwood tree, cut down in 1952. The Hotel being completed in 1957. Tim described it much like the hotel in the movie CARS – drive in, sort of feel. The rooms were sparce, ancient type of thermostat, 1960’s furniture, no coffee pot, no blow dryer and no ironing board – thus none of the more modern elements, a far cry from the Marriott in San Fran. However, the redwood walls and pillars under the carports was wonderful. The lady at the front desk was very nice and jolly. Our room was $90/night – the most expensive suite there because it had two bedrooms and could sleep up to six. At 930pm at night, we really didn’t care. A regular room would have been $59 – pretty decent price. This was the last room at this hotel and probably the only left in this city as we discovered after several phone calls and attempts to find a place to lay our weary heads.
My morning walk was a quick walk close to the peer and harbor. Lots of fishing boats. Then it was a bright purple thrift shop, then on the main highway, bypassing several full hotels to the corner convenience store. The coffee was fresh and hot, so my day would start right. A mile later I returned to our room. Tim also ventured out to enjoy the fresh air of 55 degrees. Showered, dressed, packed and off we went. 1030 am was a little later than we planned, but the time was perfect for our drive.
A quick stop for a photo opportunity found Tim and the boys admiring the carving of a Mermaid close to the harbor. She looked angry that we were staring, but Tim has a thing for Mermaids. I do not share his interest in MerMen!
More Redwood forest, beautiful rivers winding deep below the road we traveled kept us intrigued and entertained. WE stopped and picked wild BlackBerries on the side of the road. There was a stop here and there and some unique little spots along the way. A geo-cache in the middle of the field in the hollow spot of a tree was the next stop. At 12:45, we had only traveled 75 miles. Not making great time, but enjoying all that the day has to show!
As we pulled up to get gas, we were surprised to find that gas had to be served by the attendant. The process did not seem timely or efficient, but we abided by the rules nonetheless. Some interesting treats along the way was an 8x10 sheet of jerky. Ymm! Later, at a bathroom stop I found a Big Hunk. Not a studly man (I have one of my own) Its a candy bar. Tim nor the boys had ever had one. Chewey white nugget with peanuts. Surely not good for your teeth, but a sweet blast from my childhood trips to the grocery store in Knippa.
The Oregon scenery was not nearly as beautiful as that of the California coastline and Redwoods, but it was nice. Reminded me of West Texas near Alpine with the rolling hills and trees, yet dryness of the scorching summer sun. We pulled over to a Rest Area to stretch our legs and off the boys and I went to sight see. A nice river was a few feet away and a quick dip of our toes helped the 101 degree weather seem bearable. Walker “accidentally” slipped and off into the water he went. He, of course, would have loved to swim, but thankfully a small little water snake appeared and that was enough to keep us hurrying on our way. A picnic in the park was our dinner and then to the LaQuinta for our nights rest. The boys went swimming for a bit and then settled down to cartoons and a warm, comfortable bed. I finished up some homework that was overdue and was fast asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow at midnight.
330 miles was our final number of miles traveled this last Monday in July of 2009. Tomorrow brings a promise of more unseen landscape and adventures

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Touring Northern California

This morning was our time to set off from San Francisco and head toward the Pacific Northwest. We got a mid-morning start after checking out of our hotel and renting a prius for our trip. We squeezed and managed to fit our luggage into the prius and took off. After going across a fog shrouded Golden Gate, we took a detour to go into Muir woods to see the redwoods. Turned out to be a wasted detour as it was so completely swamped with visitors that we could not even park. So in and out and back on 101 north. After a couple more stops (coffee and ipod adapter), we began to put on a few miles. Lots of starts and stops, bathroom breaks and unscheduled walks through towering redwood forests further up the coasts.

And about the redwoods, let me say that they are unreal. They almost seem surreal or alien, from another place or time. Not only are they individually huge, they grow 300 feet tall and appear to be very large in diameter right to the tops of the tree. Instead of becoming slender until they branch out at top, the redwoods mostly seem to have a very large trunk diameter to the top and sometimes appear broken or dead in the very top. Also, you might think that trees big enough to drive a car through would be widely spaced, lots of room between them. Not so. In the best groves where the biggest redwoods grow, the trees are side by side or at most only a few feet apart. It fees like walking down a street filled with tall skyscrapers! Very magnificent, very enchanted. Amazing.

The first place we stopped to see the really big redwoods was at Leggett, Ca. They have a world famous, drive through redwood called the "Chandelier Tree". From what I can tell, this is the best of the drive through redwoods around. It was carved out in the 1930's and folks have driven through it ever since. It really is a magnificent tree, and the experience was worth the $5 it took for the ticket!

Here are a few more pictures from our trip.

Good bye San Fransisco!

Sunday, July 26th
Up early, packing for four after a week’s stay was challenging. We have rented a Toyota Prius – a Hybrid car. Tim, in his infinite wisdom, has determined that for the increase price for renting this car, it will pay for itself with the gas we will save. It is a smaller car, so one of the many bags we brought for a two week trip will have to stay behind. Business attire and dirty clothes are the easy choice to leave behind. The Marriott has graciously agreed to store this bag until we return on Friday.
To summarize our week long stay in the city of San Fransisco –
Hunter has seen some different cultures – homeless people, schizophrenic people on the public transportation system, China Town, Fisherman’s warf, Haight Ashubury – the place that was famous for hippies in the 60’s, the subways, the street cars that came to SF from other states when they stopped using them, the trolley car, the inside of a catholic cathedral,and the many steps to the top of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.
Walker’s highlight was the train (subway), the many parks and playgrounds we stopped at along the way, the Carousel at Golden Gate Park that was free for him, the heated pool and, most importantly, the elevator!
Tim reports his highlight in SF was the Mission district, along with all the others sites they visited.
The city was most beautiful at night with the lights of all the high rise buildings. We enjoyed many ‘hole in the wall” joints for eating – Chinese in China Town, Mexican food somewhere on a desolate street, Thai Food, Burgers, Pizza, great Eggplant Parmesan at an Italian restaurant, some hot fries and Root Beer at a local brewery, lots of Bagel places and good, fresh, cheap donuts and of course, my favorite – room service.
For as much is it fun to see different parts of the United States, the city is for visiting only. It is crowded, loud and so busy! There are tons of people. There was not peace and quiet. Even at the park it was busy! So, I’m glad we have come and been a part of the chaos, but I’m glad I live on a farm in the country.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday, Day 3 in San Fran

Thursday -
Today is the first day of the Health Leadership Summit. This is part of the reason I am here this week. Our opening speaker was Robert Reich. A great public speaker. He has set the stage for what we are dealing with in healthcare as well as Healthcare Reform issues. This conference is different than any I have attended before. This is not just about nursing, nor just about leadership. It has a focus on the bigger global picture of healthcare. Although not my biggest priority, it has helped me appreciate the more complicated issues at hand.
Our 2nd speaker must have had too much caffeine. This was Tom Peters. although a dynamic speaker, he was much too aggressive for me. He also tended to jump from one issue to another and at the end, I"m not sure what his message was, other than working hard to eliminate errors is important. Duh!!
My day did not start until the afternoon, so this gave the boys some time to just chill out in the room and allowed Tim some time to venture out solo. He enjoyed the Revolutionary Cafe for a mid-morning breakfast. He then traveled to the Mission area, Valencia street. He treated us to lunch when he brought back some Foccia bread, Hummus dip with cucumbers and a pizza from Lucca's Italian restaurant. (The pizza was not hot - intended for city folks to take home and heat - no microwave for us :( Nonetheless we enjoyed the picnic in the hotel room.
We joined later to travel to Fisherman's Warf = quite commercialized. Our dinner destination was a burger joint called "In and Out". A cheap, good, standing room only place where you could get a hamburger and fry and drink - nothing else on the menu. The best part was the price. We all ate for less than $15. The highlight of the evening was riding the trolley car. We now can appreciate the Rice'a'Roni commercial! As we waited for our ride, a street person played his horn for tips while his pet Rabbit hopped here and there. Walker decided he wanted an orange rabbit as a pet and he would call him "Pet".
Another full day for all of us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 2 - sightseeing in SF

Wednesday -
This is day 2 of my AONE fellowship. The morning was filled with information on lobbying and polilitics in Washington D.C and how it affects nursing. After lunch, we had a great speaker who challenged us to publish articles. Fun afternoon!
For the boys - they went to an Oakland A's game. Hunter is very into baseball these days. A professional game vs a simple farm team like the Grasshoppers in Greensboro, seemed much more exciting. Tickets for the noon game were only $10. 16 to 1 was the final score with the A's winning and gaining a greater respect from Hunter! :0 Hot dogs were only a $1, so they enjoyed the try experience of a baseball game! Walker ran out of steam and napped for a couple of hours - in the cool wind, I might add - but a great day for them!
Our evenings as a family had a focus destination of places to eat. Tonights adventure started out to be across the road from the Marriott. The kids played in the park, bowling was considered until we saw the price, Mo's hamburger joint had been recommended, but we declined. So off we went in blind search of something good to eat. Our steps found us back in ChinaTown eating in another hole in the wall place. I enjoyed my dish, but Hunter's was not as good as he anticipated.
A purchase of a very nice wooden Samurai sword for $8.99 and a smaller plastic one for Walker seemed to make the many steps worth the trip.
REturning to the room at 8;30pm again found me exhausted. My 0530 am wake up, my early enjoyable walks in the busy streets of San Fransisco prior to class seem to limit my wakefulness to 16-18 hours a day. The boys, however, seem to get re-energerized with the SF air. Tim seem to be enjoying seeing all he can see. He is quite the adventurous, curious type. We are missing Brittney! She too, would be soaking all the different cultures and sightings in this big city.
Thank goodness he has mastered reading a map and the public transport system of the city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day one sightseeing in SF!

Tuesday -
We have the privilege of being on this trip due to my participation in the AONE fellowship. My days this week will be filled with meetings and listening to presentations and speakers. The boys, however, will be free to roam the city!
Today, was a great day for me- connecting and networking with fellow nurse managers and leaders. Getting education on being a better coach and mentor was this mornings fun. The afternoon was filled with interesting information on how the boards of nursing function within the scope of nursing overall. Great insight.
The first day sightseeing for the boys required a quick stop at Goodwill. It seems as though we missed the Internet reference to the awful weather in downtown San Fransisco. It is in the 50's and 60's - windy and damp! Not sure the shorts and short- sleeve shirts I packed are sufficient. I did pack a couple of pants for the boys and a light jacket for the plane ride, but I was prepared for this weather. Burr! And I hate the cold! :(
Hunter was quite amazed at Chinatown! He had never seen so many Asia people. quite an experience. And then there was all the walking. The Streets of San Fransisco has a much appreciated meaning now - not just cops in a TV show chasing bad guys! Walker was a trooper though. He kept up with his big brother and dad every step of the way.
We joined that afternoon at the hotel pool and hot tub! We then dressed and rode the "train" as Walker put it. It is the subway - the Bart. An interesting journey to a Mexican Food - hole in the wall- joint. Typical of a Tim place to eat. It was unique and interesting. The food was good - just tacos and burritos were offered. Walker about fell asleep at the table, but rallied again as we returned to the Hotel. AS usual, I'm the first to slumber. It was 845pm - still a little light outside, but my internal clock said otherwise. We all had a good day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A day of travel

Whew! My body says it is midnight, but the clock on the bedside table says 9pm. Three hours difference from the East coast to the west is something to think about. The boys seem to still be feeling the excitement of today and Tim has not slept but one hour - he worked this weekend, Sat and Sun night, getting home this am at 0800. And then our big day!
Up at 5am, each kids room cleaned, clothes put away, then clothes packed, a few toys packed, items to pass the time on the plane and in the hotel room. Tim is up, clothes packed, the fumbling for all the techno gadgets - Garmin, GPS for his Geo-caching, I-Touch, I-pods, portable DVD, laptops, Game Boys, Nintendo DS, plugs for everything, batteries, cameras and so on! We really are a techno dependant family! (I did throw in a magazine or two, a coloring book and a book for Hunter - just in case, of course.) At exactly 11:45am, I looked at my empty suitcase and decided I better throw in a few items for me. You would think that we would be better organized since we have known about this trip for months. Na! What is the fun in no pressure or deadlines? Nonetheless, we were locking our door at 12:20pm and away we went.
The Charlotte airport leaves something to be desired. Not my favorite. Going through the security check was an adventure. Everyones' shoes, Tim's belt, hat, wallet, pocket items, three computers, the DVD player, a 3 year old, an 11 year old curious fellow and then the bag check. It seems as though a Power Ranger toy was suspicous of a gun. Oh well. I'm glad they are looking for things! Timing was great. To the Bathroom, to the gate, early boarding, and then 10 questions about are we flying in the sky yet? Fortunately, a three hour nap allowed us to entertain Walker for only 2.5 hours. :) We arrived safely to SF. A $42 cab ride for all four us and four pieces of luggage and 8 smaller carry on items, the Marriott was a welcome destination. We ordered room service pizza and salad and the day was complete! San Fransisco --here come the Martins!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vacation time!!

Preparing for a family vacation is quite a job! Work is always busy - getting everything organized and followed up on. You'd think that that would help the return to work go smoother, but unfortunately for me, the work will be placed on my desk, waiting for my return. Ahh! And then there is the planning the trip, the weather, the clothing, what all we will need for each section of the journey. And then there is the preparing for everything to be covered at home - the farm, the dogs, the fish, the plants and the list goes on. Makes you wonder if going on a vacation is really worth it. THe definition of a vacation is a leave of absence for rest or recreation. Hmm? Preparing for the vacation is definetely enough work to make you want to relax. Nonetheless, the weekend was spent cleaning and washing and getting the house organized, just to start the packing process. I'm tired! REady for a vacation. :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer VBS

After a busy, yet not feeling so productive day at work, we settled in for a nice end of the week presentation at Vacation Bible School. The theme was Boomerang Express with a hint of Australia throughout the week. Nancy (sis-in-law) did a great job, as always, with the decorations, arts and crafts and the helping with organization of the week. The men of the church were drenched with sweat as they helped cook hot dogs and hamburgers after the closing ceremony. Everyone enjoyed the gathering and fellowship. The nice thing about summer VBS is that it draws out the children and people in the community. The children played and laughed. The adults enjoyed the summer evening while catching up on each others happenings. Great fun tonight!