Monday, December 15, 2008

Let it snow

Brrrrrr - we can feel the cold even here in Las Vegas. It snowed almost all day, so much that it stuck. Now this really puts me in the Christmas spirit. And it's supposed to continue all week. Tomorrow morning will be difficult driving on the ice. My SUV is rear wheel drive (a pain in the snow) and I'll be dealing with people who don't know how to drive in the snow. I'm sure it will be pure chaos.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving in Utah

Thanksgiving was so wonderful. I drove up to Utah to spend time with family. This year was with my mom. We had fun preparing the meal with all the traditional foods. We were lucky enough to get Grandma this year. It is so nice to spend time with her, if not for her benefit, for mine. Grandmas just have a way of loving you no matter what. And I always remember the times when I was younger and staying at her house.
Mom got a quilt ready for us to tie. She found these 2 green sheets and we used brown yarn to tie with. It turned out quite nice and mom will donate it to the homeless shelter. It filled the entire living room the entire day, but we finished it! It's so fun to be with Gary and Ashley.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wendover Trip

I took a quick little trip out to Wendover with Lorrie and Wendi to see Wynonna in concert. It was a fun little jaunt there and back. We rode the fun bus, which was an experience in and of itself. On the way there we played bingo and had a complimentary soda. And then they give you a ticket for $5, a free cocktail drink and a free meal at the casino's buffet. We ended up eating at the Montego Bay and getting our 5 bucks and cocktail drink at the Peppermill. Since it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, the concert was a Christmas concert, but Wynonna did a good job combining in her music and the Christmas music. I of course got a keychain for my collection. We had a fun time just talking and being together; it was a fun girls night out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

UNLV Football Game

I was the lucky winner of four UNLV football tickets for last Thursday's game. I was thinking to myself, "boy, I don't have anyone to take to this game" (the loser/loner that I am) and so I thought I should take some students. The tickets were given to me by my school, so I might as well pay it back. Since I was going to take male students, I thought it best to take another male teacher, just to be on the up and up. So, I asked a fellow teacher (far left), Mr. Ridgway, to come with us. I took two boys who are at a turning point in their lives and hopefully this little activity will remind them of the correct choices they can make. Iban (student in white shirt) is suspected to be currently in a gang and is quite the tagger. He is very talented and skilled in his artwork, but is wasting it on vandalizing property. Abrahan (student in blue shirt) is a very nice young man and I don't want to see him join a gang or get caught up in that lifestyle. These boys are both in my honors math class and not doing very well, however very bright. They have such an opportunity to change their lives for the better if they just choose to get an education. We met at the school at 5pm and I took them out to In & Out Burger, which Abrahan had never eaten there before (how crazy). We made it to the game at 6:30 and stayed until the last 2 minutes. We had such a great time driving to and from; I think that was my favorite part of the whole evening. Then I dropped them off at their homes/apartments. Boy am I grateful for where I live. It was a wonderful experience and I'm glad that I was able to go.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tutrlehead Hike

Saturday was our November hike with the Bruin Trailblazers. We actually split up into two groups to accommodate the different skill levels in our group. I should have chosen the other hike!! I went on the Turtlehead hike, which is a very difficult hike (in my opinion). The trail is not clearly marked, basically just climb up where ever you want. Of course you have to go over giant boulders, around hills, and through washes to even think about climbing to the top. The bottom right picture shows the peak Turtlehead and you can see where it gets its name from. I didn't make it to the top, but got a good portion of the way up. And it was even more difficult coming down. That's where your whole body gets a work out because you have to use your arms, hands, and bottom to fall down (oh I mean get down) the mountain. Needless to say, I am sore from this hike. I haven't been working out as faithfully as I did in the summer, and boy are my muscels screaming at me now!!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Celebration

Thanks to Jan and Wendi, Paul and Brianna were able to come up to St. George for a few days. They drove down to Vegas to pick me up and then we proceeded to St. George to stay in dad and Jan's condos Sun night and Mon night. We had a great time just being with each other and getting caught up. Of course, we loved holding little Sydney and playing with the twins and Nikolus. We did have a little celebration for Grandpa and Paul to honor the soldiers in our family. Rand, Shauna & Paige came along with Brooke, Jesse & Tessa, and Grandpa & Dottie, and Kirk, Vanessa & Waylon. We had a full house, but boy was it fun. On Tuesday, we went to the St. George temple and took some pics of Paul's little family. Aren't they so cute? As we were finishing up, we walked through the visitors center and came across Mark Eubank - our very own local weatherman celebrity. He and his wife are serving a couples mission at the temple. It was fun to meet him.

New hair cut

So, it seems that each time I travel to Utah I get a new hair cut. And that's the truth. I have the best hairstylist that always does a fabulous job. I have had many compliments and it's so easy to style. New hair just makes life more fun!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ward Halloween Party

After the hike, I rushed home and started making chili. I entered the chili cook-off our ward was having. I grabbed a recipe from Michelle's Mad House and started throwing stuff into a pot. It turned out quite good, and none was left to bring home. So I would say that is a success, even if I didn't take the title. And as you are aware, ward party's are always memorable. I was coaxed into dressing up, even though I hand't planned on it. So in my moments of desperation, I dressed up as Cruella D'Ville from 101 Dalmations. I had worn this before, so there wasn't much scrambling involved, but I did add to my costume some little puppies, donated by my good friend Will (Strobel's son). As you can see, they really made the outfit!

North Peak Hike

Well, Saturday was another fun day of hiking. We met at Red Rock Visitor's Center at 9 am and did some 4-wheelin' and hikin'. I went with my fellow co-workers, the Bruin Trailblazers. This time there were only 14 of us, but 2 actually ended up on a different hike. Not quite sure how that happened, but they had fun nonetheless. Here's a picture of the group, minus the picture takers, Kaz and Will. If you're thinking that I can't even add because there's only 8 in the picture + 2 taking it, that doesn't really add up to 14 - well, we had 2 stay at the bottom and explore around there.

We've got pictured in the back Wyatt, Burden & Strobel. Then in the middle Jackson, Hoak, Nelson, & Katie and Poindexter in the front. This was a 2.6 mile hike there and back and not terribly steep. However, in my rush, I did get heat exposed and lost my color vision. It was like that song, "Dreamin in color and Livin in black and white" sung by Billy Ray Cyrus for you non-country listeners. So, I laid down on the ground and drank a lot of water. Here I am getting up.
The day was beautiful, not a cloud in sight and low to mid 70's temp. Just beautiful. Even with my little incident, it was wonderful. I felt so good after the hike and I felt so alive and active. For some reason I forget how good exercising really is. Anyways, here's a few shots of the beauty of Red Rock Canyon. Maybe when you come to visit me, we can go hiking!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Little Sydney Nelson

I am so happy to see and hold little Sydney. She is so cute and precious. She and her mom came to visit me on their way home to California after staying 2 weeks in Utah. Here, she is 3 weeks old and so perfect. She was awake the whole time she was with me. It was so cute because after she ate she got the hiccups. I felt so sad for her, but had to laugh in spite of myself. I'm so happy for my little brother, Paul. He's starting his own little family. Brianna looks so good; motherhood suits her well. They will be moving from Lemore, California up to Seattle, Washington next year. They'll be moving farther, but hopefully airfare won't be that expensive now that they'll be closer to a major airport. This is our first girl baby on the Nelson side. That puts me up to 5 nephews and 1 niece now. It's amazing - the first time I saw her I recognized both Paul's and Brianna's features in her. With any luck, she'll grow out of dad's features and pick up more of Brianna's (love you Paul!).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Year Later

Well, I was shocked when I got my new name tag this year. I couldn't believe the difference between the two. I think here a picture is worth a thousand words!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Door Decorating Contest

We have a class in school that's one hour every Wed and Thur that's called advisory. I, being the lucky person that I am, have been writing the lesson plans for this class for the entire school since the beginning. It has been quite arduous and trying on my creativity skills. But, thanks to my many years of teaching, and teaching at a wonderful school in Utah, I remembered that we did door decorating contests in advisory. October is drug and violence awareness month. So in advisory we discussed drugs and violence, which is quite prevelent in our school, with our students. Then the following week we decorated our door. My students were so creative! I was so impressed with them. They really pulled together to accomplish, what I think to be the best door in the school. We have Spider-Man hanging from the Stratosphere shooting his web. You can see the Luxor and Wynn casinos also. Then across the hall, we have the web. The words above the door say, "My spidey sense tells me. . ." then on the web it says, "Stop the Violence Stop the Drugs". My kids were so proud of the job they did and they are hoping to win this competitions. But even if we don't win, we accomplished so much. The students were working with each other and helping each other. They also brought in cupcakes, cookies, and chips on the second day for a little party. I didn't have to do anything but provide the paper, tape and markers. It was very student led with minimal teacher direction. I was up all night thinking about what a terrific job they did. I have a great group of students this year that I am growing quite attached to. It's almost reminiscent of my first year teaching. These kids are very special to me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Biggest Loser Update

Well, I don't have a picture, but wanted to post anyways to let you know what's going on. I am still eating healthy and have been drinking all my water. Just recently, I've been quite tempted to have a Coke, but have turned it down. I even got as close as to pouring a cup of Diet Caffine free Coke, but my good friends at school offered a me a water instead and drank my soda for me. It's nice to have such a good support system at school. I did get to the gym a couple of times with a friend from my ward, Andrea, and that was fun. But our schedules are so difficult (well, mostly mine) that we didn't get to go together as much as we wanted to. But, in the past 3 weeks, I've lost 10 pounds. That's more than my 5 weeks combined of bustin' my butt over the summer. I am so pleased that my weight is still continuing to drop and that I am getting closer to my goal. So, that makes a total of 17 pounds in 14 weeks. I guess I just needed a little time to trust the system of eating right and exercising more. I am more and more encouraged by this healthy way of living and know that it is a part my life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cathedral Rock

For the first time since arriving in Vegas, I went hiking. It was so wonderful to be out and away from the city. Mount Charleston is beautiful in its own right. The trail ended at the top of this mamoth rock at an elevation of 8600 feet. The wind was blowing and kept us cool while the sun was out warming us. It was perfect hiking conditions. I loved seeing the Aspen trees and they were already changing colors in some parts of the mountain. There were 14 of us from school that went up. I created a little schedule of monthly hikes and invited the school teachers to come. We are called the Bruin Trailblazers. It was so much fun getting to know other teachers outside of school. We met at Brinley, then carpooled up. Some actually met us on the trail. There were cut out little chairs and resting points along the trail - so cute, I had to take a picture.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Martha Mishap

Well, I guess even Martha has her days. Here is my most terrible cooking disaster EVER! I was making my own tortilla chips, and they literally turned to ashes. I lightly oiled them and salted them. Put them in the oven to broil. Proceeded to forget about them and soon enough, my oven was on fire (I have a gas range/oven). There were MAJOR flames coming out of my oven. It was the most horrific feeling I've ever had when cooking. I tried to blow on them, but that didn't help. I then reached for my fire extinguisher, but I didn't know how to use it. I guess you're supposed to pull the pin first and then squeeze. I then realized that I should turn off the gas, duh. It was like reaching through a ring of fire to reach the controls on the back of the oven. I had one burner on the stove on and I tried to turn that off as well. However, the fire was coming up out of the oven and engulfing the front panel. All the while, my smoke detectors were beeping loudly in every room. My house was filling up with smoke and smelled worse. My little cut, corn toritillas are burnt to ashes. They are all gray and have no substance to them and my pan is completely ruined. Next time I'll just buy a bag of chips!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

1st Week of School

Well, I survived the first week of school. For the first few days, I had them looking at number patterns and sequences in math and nature. I really had a fun time showing my students how patterns are everywhere. I had my dean bring in some pine cones from her back yard and then we looked at their spirals. It all relates to the Fibonacci Sequence and the kids were totallly into it. I have a great group of kids this year and I am very excited to be teaching them. For the most part I'm around 25 students, but one class has 43 students. We all just squish in the room and do our best. This year I didn't start with any rules or procedures, I just went straight into math. And I think that is the best way to do it. I can teach procedures as I go along. They don't need a full day of "do this" and "do that". For the most part, they know how to behave. I wanted to get them from the start doing math so they knew what my class was about - MATH. I haven't even given them a chance to misbehave because we've been so busy learning. Hopefully, that will set me up nicely for the remainder of the year. I've almost learned everyone's name (except my big class).
I've been staying late at school to try and get everything done and I haven't been to the gym to work out. That's been bugging me a lot. I did still manage to lose one pound last week, so that has kept me going through this week. Thankfully, I have Labor Day off and I can go in the morning like I used to. I'm still trying to work out a schedule so I can work out, go on my RS visits, and be an effective teacher. It's quite the balancing act!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Week 5

True to Biggest Loser, we had our make over day. We did this during week 4. We spent all day getting our hair colored, cut & styled. We had our eyebrows done and got new make-up. It was so much fun. I really like my new style. It is easy to work with and yet still keeps the length.

Well, here is the final weigh in picture. After 5 weeks of workouts, we weren't as happy with the results as we had imagined. I did lose some inches and a few pounds, but nothing like the show. I went down a dress size and am tanner, but other than that, not much has changed. We are at the part of the show where the contestants go home and try to keep losing on their own. We will have another final weigh in hopefully over Labor Day weekend. Lorrie and I are still working out on our own and are finding it much more difficult. We've both slacked off on our first week (I was in AZ, that's my excuse). We will just have to support each other from a distance. Your prayers are definitely welcomed.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Heidi's Wedding

I had a fun time being Heidi's photographer for part of the time. I took these pictures when we went to the Mesa, AZ temple. She was so easy to photograph, especially when she already knew what the poses she wanted. Such an easy bride to work for.

Arizona Visit

Heidi is getting married today. I've got a few minutes and thought I'd post. I came down to Gilbert, Arizona to be with her this past week. It is so nice to see her so happy; Bryce is an excellent man for her. It's been nice to catch up and have our girl talks before I lose her forever. . . to a man! Now all my girlfriends are married, and I'm left a lone single woman. Who would've thought? Anyways, we've had some good times this week. Some friends from her work threw her a bachelorette party. I've never blushed so many times in one night; it was so much fun. Needless to say, we both learned a few things that night. We also had a day of luxury thanks to Bryce. Did I say he was a great guy?? He paid for Heidi and I to enjoy a half day spa treatment. We both had 1 hour facial, 1 hour massage, manicure and pedicure. On my pedicure, I had a salt rub and hot stone massage. Very cool (oh I mean HOT). I've never stayed so long at a spa before; we were there for 4 hours. It was pure relaxation and contentment. Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brianna's Baby Shower

Since Paul and Brianna were up here in Utah, we decided to throw Brianna a baby shower. OK, not really me, but I helped. It was at Brianna's mom's house, Corby, and Brianna's family, friends and ward members showed up. It was so much fun and very simple, the best kind of baby shower. I helped and wrote down who gave her what gifts. Surprisingly enough, she only duplicated on a few gifts (she got 3 bouncers).
I think this is a great picture of all the girls in the family - starting from back to front: Wendi, me, Brianna, Jan and Lisa.

Copper Mine part 2

So here's everyone who went to the Kennecot Copper Mine (except Jan - she's taking the pictures). From left to right: Paul, prego-Brianna, Treyson, Amy, Jaxon, Nikolus, and Hunter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Copper Mine

Jan had promised her grandsons that she would take them to the copper mine. That would include Hunter, Nikolus, Jaxon and Treyson. She didn't want to go it alone, and asked if I would like to to go with them. Of course, I can never turn down good quality time with my nephews, so I went along. Kennecot Copper Mine is a great place for my nephews. There's tons of big trucks around, lots of machines and cool stuff for them to experience. The weather was perfect; overcast with a slight breeze. Jaxon and Treyson are so fun to put them in things, and they are so willing. Hunter is standing next to the life-size bronze statue of a miner. After visiting the museum and watching the trucks move a lot of dirt, we went to Subway for lunch and then back home. Paul and Brianna are in from California and they went with us as well. I would more pictures, but they are on different cameras. I'll try to get a pic with everyone posted soon.

Week 3

I haven't had the best results. This week, I gained 0.4 pounds. I spoke to a nutrition counselor and she assured me that I didn't gain any fat. There's no way I could with the work out schedule I've been maintaining. She looked over my food journal, which I've been keeping meticulously, and said that she is impressed. She thinks I might not be eating enough. I can hardly believe that!! I've added in some classes more and more which makes the work-outs fun and mixes up the different muscles I use. This week I went to the Dance Jam in the evening and then followed it up with a fusion class which uses Tai Chi. Trust me, I can still feel the sore in my muscles now 2 days later. The counselor recommended the cycling class, which I will try next week. I'll let you know. This obviously is a mental battle as well as a physical battle. After putting in so much hard work and not getting any results is difficult to keep going. I don't think I've even lost any inches; my clothes feel the same when I put them on. Lorrie and I are about ready to throw in the "sweaty towel" since we aren't getting any type of noticeable results. But, we get lots of encouragement from family. James, my brother-in-law, is always so positive and has lots of good words of support to keep me going.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Week 2

Week 2 has come and gone and still the weight loss continues to go slowly. I am very surprised at how hard losing weight really is. The good news is, I lost 1 more pound than last week, but that isn't saying much. My goals are out the window as to how much weight I was going to lose over this 6 week period. The good news is that I am feeling much stronger and more confident. I am definitely feeling muscles that I never knew I had before. I attended a dance jam class at the gym and had a great time. It was fun and worked the total body. I will definitely attend this class again. I went to this barbell class that literally kicked my butt. It was the hardest class ever and every muscle in my body hurt; for days after too. My sister, Wendi, recommended the class and I left the gym and went strait to her house and gave her a piece of my mind. I don't know if I'll take that class again, maybe when I'm stronger.

For our "challenge hike" this week, we hiked up to Ensign Peak. It is a short, steep hike with an amazing view at the top. They have a little plaza at the base of the trail with informative plaques describing why this peak is important to Utah history. I learned that the monument atop the peak is 18.47 feet tall, in memory of the year 1847. As we were hiking up, a young men's group came. They were from Las Vegas and some of the boys had attended Brinley Middle School (the school I teach at). It was fun to talk with them and their leaders. The stake president gave a little talk at the top of the peak and they invited us to join. It was a fun day. I enjoy hiking and am glad I have the opportunity to go while I'm here in Utah.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Week 1 of Biggest Loser

Well, after one week, this is where I'm at. Not much of a change except I feel better and stronger. Not much weight came off, but some did. It was very disheartening that I didn't lose more weight for the first week. It was very difficult to keep on going and I'm trying to have faith in this process. You see so many different lose weight quickly programs and you want it so bad. But eating right and exercising is the best way to do it. We've been to the gym 6 days doing treadmill, weights, bike, and swimming. We're usually working out between 1.5-2 hours each day. Hopefully, next week I'll have better news and have higher spirits.

We had a temptation this week, called life. We decided that our temptation for the week would be if we could eat right during all the BBQ's around the 4th of July. I had a BBQ on the 3rd with my high school friends (Dan & Jen, Debbie & Mike, Lorrie & Scott, and Kristen). Then there was a parade and BBQ in the morning and another BBQ in the evening with fireworks. There was so much good food, but I was strong. I didn't have any of the salads with mayo dressings (which was all of them), no chips & dip, no baked beans, no desserts, no soda, . . . nothing. I had hamburger with one bun loaded with lettuce and tomato, fresh fruit and vegetables and water. I tried to stay out of the kitchen to remove myself from the temptation of all my favorite foods. So overall, I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Our challenge for the week was to hike up Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon. You can see how it got its name, the water runs right into this hole and comes out a little bit further down. It was so much fun! Lorrie brought her whole family up with her, which made it even more fun (or funner as Alex would say). There's a little bridge that crosses the river, and Alex (Lorrie's daughter) was trying to get on the bridge through the water. Needless to say, she fell in. The water is quite cold from all the snow run-off and is quite high. Lorrie ran towards her and lifted her out single-handedly (it must be all the working out at the gym). Alex was soaking wet and quite scared.

We then, after being invigorated by the hike, decided to go up to Brighton and walk around Silver Lake. They have a boardwalk around the lake and it's just a short mile around. We ran into a small family at both places and they mentioned going over Guardsman Pass. It was a beautiful day and just perfect for a little adventure. Once over the top, we headed into Park City and drove thru Historic Main Street and stopped for lunch. Then down Parley's Canyon to Salt Lake. It was a wonderful morning of hiking and sight-seeing.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Biggest Loser is ON!!

After watching every season of Biggest Loser, I decided to do something about it. This is the summer I change my life; and armed with Bob and Jillian, I just don't think I can fail. I'm up in Utah for five weeks which I'm calling my Biggest Loser campus (mom's house). I've got my partner in crime, Lorrie, who is working out with me every day; so it's Biggest Loser Couples edition. We've joined Lifetime Fitness and have already gone each day since I've arrived for at least 2 hours each day. We're reading these books, writing in journals, keeping food logs, drinking gallons of water, and exercising a lot. We've set up different challenges, temptations, and rewards just like the show did and each week we will weigh in and will calculate the percent of change (that's the fun part!) every week. Hopefully each week you will be able to see a change and by the end of the summer I should be ready to start school as a whole new person.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My California Trip

After much debate, I decided, at the last moment, to take my tent instead of sleeping in my car. I was worried about setting it up by myself, but as you can see, I did it! I had great neighbors camping near me both nights and enjoyed their company. I took my guitar and sang songs in the twilight; it was so much fun. I have forgotten how much fun and how easy camping is. I took my little chimney and used that as my stove with one pot for cooking; I had stew for dinner and hot chocolate and cereal for breakfast. The nights were warm and the morning brisk and the days were in the 70's. Perfect temperature for hiking around.

Yosemite was just beginning to bloom. Just as this bee is gathering pollen, I wish I could have gathered all the scents and colors of each wildflower. These purple flowers dotted the hillsides while yellow and red flowers were in the meadows. To my Texas friends, do these look like Blue Bells? I wish this blog was more than just sight; if I could infuse the scents that went along with Yosemite you would have a better understanding of its beauty. The dogwoods were in full bloom and their dizzying sweet scent was everywhere. The entire time driving around, I had my windows down and sunroof open so that I could enjoy the sight, sound and smell of Yosemite.

Going on vacation alone does have its drawbacks, for example taking pictures of yourself. This is one of the best ones I could manage. I will have to practice more. Here I am sitting infont of Cascade Fall. I had driven this road at least 4 times perviously and had never seen this fall before. It was only on my way towards Mariposa Grove that I decided to stop and look around. I am glad I did because this beautiful fall trailed down the mountain side. I was hesitant on coming to Yosemite alone, but I am so glad that I came. I had a wonderful time and was glad I didn't miss it. June was the perfect month to go; all the waterfalls were in full force, the flowers just coming out and the temperature was ideal.

After my trip to Yosemite, I headed down to Lemoore NAS (Naval Air Space) to visit Paul and Brianna.

Brianna is pregnant and keeps the house quite cold, as you can see in this picture. j/k

I had made lots of plans and places that I wanted to see, but found that there's not much to do. I had wanted to visit 2 museums, one in Lemoore and one in Fresno. However, these museums were not open. I just didn't understand why they weren't open, but they said not enough people were interested. The only days they were open were Saturday and Sunday. Our Saturday was quite full already, and Sunday wasn't an option, so I missed both museums. Just a little frustrating to say the least. But we managed to fill our days and in the evenings. I had time to watch a few of their movies that I hadn't seen before. So, what did we do??

After dinner, Brianna and I would break out the puzzle. She had the edges finished, but hadn't started filling in the middle. But we soon remedied that. I must say she chose a difficult puzzle; the only colors it consisted of were shades of blues and browns with an ocasional red speckled throughout. Brianna worked the sails of both boats and I worked the water. By the time I left, we had at least 3/4 of it completed.

Now I was in the heart of California and fruit season has arrived. There were all different types of fruit stands popping up. As I drove down from Yosemite, I saw stands for peaches, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, plums, nectarines, and all kinds of nuts. They also offered fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions and varieties of squash. So why not take advantage of all this fruit. One day it was our goal to find some fresh fruit and make jam. I had never done it before and neither had Brianna; it was our "doing something new" day. We found a blueberry stand up the road about 15 minutes on hwy 41. The workers were out harvesting, so we knew the blueberries were fresh. I had never heard of blueberry jam before, but the lady selling (of course) assured me that it can be done and that she had just made a batch a few days ago. We bought some and continued on our way to the commissary to get the pectin and containers. It was fun and easy making freezer jam; Brianna was hesitant at the first sight of squished blueberries, but she got over it. If you're lucky enough, you might get a sample of our hard work.

Of course no visit with Paul is complete without the tour of his squadron and ops area (don't you love how I use military lingo with such ease?). Paul showed me around the hangar and parts of the F18 planes. I met his coworkers and they all love him; one of them even calls him Admiral Nelson. He is on the largest squadron on base and they are responsible for the most number of planes. The temperature is quite warm and it must add another level of difficulty to his job. My car temp gage read 113; quite hot for an outside job and it's only June. Can you imagine August?? Paul's work schedule is quite sporadic. I came to visit them specifically on this week because he thought he wasn't going to be working that weekend, needless to say he worked on Saturday. Some days he left at 5 am, others at 7. One day he was home by 2:30 and another day he was off by 10:30. Very difficult to plan things when you never know when he'll be around. And you know how I love to plan!

If you can see our faces peepeing thru, Brianna and I took a herb tour in Squaw Valley, at the foothills of Sequoia National Park. We learned about different types of herbs and different recipes and remedies (and can we forget the song with that same title?). We got to see, smell and sample different herbs and learned how to use lavender. I have always wanted a lavender plant and now even more. She made it sound so easy and so beneficial. Lavender is quite the plant. On our way back, we stopped at a fruit stand, of course, and bought the best tasting and perfectly ripe peaches, nectarines and plums. Paul loves plums and by the time I was leaving, there was only one plum and one peach left. I had peaches and cream later that day and was the happiest person alive.

Talking about things that aren't open, the Fresno temple is only open by appointment. So, we called ahead and made an appointment to do initiatory work. I had some names given to me from a ward member and was anxious to get the work done. Brianna hadn't done initiatory work, so it was a first for her. We left for Fresno dressed and ready to go. We were over half way to Fresno and I just happened to ask if Brianna had her recommend. Expecting her to say yes I was quite surprised when she gasped for air and threw her hands to her mouth in shock. She had left it sitting on her dresser at home. When we got to the temple, we explained our situation and they called for the temple president. We were able to go in and perform the work. It was such an amazing and spiritual experience and am grateful that we had the opportunity to attend together.
I also went to church with them on Sunday and met some of their ward members. They were very nice and I enjoyed worshipping with them.

So, that was my trip to California. I am very grateful to Paul and Brianna for allowing me to stay with them. Now for the fun facts:
  • I drove a total of 1520 miles
  • Average price of gas was $4.65/gallon
  • Highest price of $4.98/gallon in Yosemite
  • Average of 21.8 miles per gallon
  • Best gas mileage of 23.3 miles per gallon in Yosemite
  • Total of 9 days (driving days included)