Saturday, January 31, 2009


Back to California

The first week of December found us heading back to California—this time to the center of the state. We flew in to Sacramento and then drove over to the Napa Valley the first evening. That is such a beautiful area—we drove back and forth between Napa and Fairfield several times—and it’s a beautiful drive—the road goes through some mountains. The only problem was is that it was a two lane road and bumper-to-bumper traffic. That isn’t any fun!

We visited a couple chapters in that area and then moved to the Oakland area where I visited some more colleges and then chartered a chapter at Heald College that was right in downtown San Francisco. The advisor there was quite an interesting fellow. He was the Director of the Learning Resource Center and was interrupted about every five minutes. It was hard having a conversation with him, because he was constantly talking to someone else and me at the same time. He had a student approach him and start talking in Spanish—and he answered back in Spanish. Then another student started talking to him—and this time he answered in Mandarin! He said he is fluent in six languages (he was originally from Uganda). And his first love is theatre—he’s been in several Bay area productions, done voice-overs, and a few small parts in TV and movies.

The next day we drove back to the Sacramento area and stayed in Yuba City. The last 50 miles or so, it was so foggy that we had no idea where we were. We tried programming the Fairfield Inn (our hotel) into Gertie, but it didn’t recognize the street that hotel was on—it said the closest one was in Sacramento. So we ended up calling the hotel. They told us that it was brand new and even on a new street—so the GPS didn’t have it yet. They also told us that there was fog like that just about every night—although that was the earliest (3 pm) that it had moved in.

The next morning, we got up fairly early and headed to Quincy (which is right on the Nevada border). Again, it was really foggy, so we were going pretty slow—then suddenly after we had gone about 30 miles—the fog suddenly lifted and it was clear! We also discovered that we were climbing into the mountains, so it was great that Bob wasn’t trying to drive those winding roads when it was foggy. The scenery was outstanding as well; although we did see where the fires had gone through the area last year. The road followed a river and had lots of bridges back and forth over the water. There were also several tunnels along the way. Those are our favorite kinds of roads!

One time when there was a passing lane, a car went around us and we noticed the license plate said “POETRY”. I joking said “maybe that’s Roger—since he’s an English professor”. Sure enough, when we saw him later—he confessed that was his car and he passes a lot of people—he said that he’s “POETRY in motion!”

I participated in the Leadership Summit at Feather River Community College in Quincy. It’s a beautiful campus—right on the edge of the woods, with mountains all around. They even had some snow on the ground and a small herd of deer grazing in the open area.

On the way home, we had NPR on our Satellite radio—so we could hear some of Prairie Home Companion, but we would lose it when we went though the tunnels or if we got into a valley with steep cliffs on one side of us. We again enjoyed the scenery, but were glad to get off the mountain before dark (and the fog rolled in again that evening).

We flew home on Sunday evening and had enough time in the cities that we could meet up with Ross and Richard for supper (and to celebrate Ross’ birthday). When we got home, we had about 6 inches of snow on our car that we had to clean off before we could drive home. It was funny, because that week, Jackson, MS got 5 inches of snow and closed everything down!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Thankful for Family!

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. Since we had decided to travel to North Dakota, I arranged to visit some chapters along the way—so Mom, Bob and I left Tuesday morning, stopped in East Grand Forks, and then stayed in Devils Lake that evening. Sandy had mentioned the Seafood buffet at the Casino at Devils Lake—so we decided to go there. They had a wonderful buffet—with lots of king crab legs—not the little tiny ones that are so hard to eat!

After a nice visit with the chapter advisor and several students, we went on up to Sandy and Al’s. After checking into the motel, we went to their favorite Pizza place for supper and then headed over to their house to start processing deer. This is becoming an annual event to process venison over Thanksgiving. We got some ready for jerky and cut and wrapped up some steaks.

We went down to Kevin’s in Minot for Thanksgiving. Ross and Richard and Kara and Paul had driven over on Wed evening and stayed overnight at LeAnn’s, so they met us there. We had a wonderful meal—with three kinds of meat (Turkey, ham and prime rib) and lots of extras and we had a wonderful time. It’s always so nice to spend time with that group, because they like to laugh and tell stories. We did the gift exchange where you can ‘steal’ gifts from each other and had a lot of laughs.

We drove back to Bottineau that evening, Kara and I ran over to the store to get some snacks and we found a whole row of Christmas decorations that played songs and danced around—like Santa/reindeer/snowmen with saxophones. Kara said “I’ll take the top row, you take the bottom and let’s see if we can get them all playing at the same time” And we did pretty well—it was really noisy!

Then we got in a game of cards and hit the sack so we would be ready for meat processing the next two days. And process meat we did! We ground burger, made sausage, stuffed the little link thingys, kept the dehydrator going steady, butchered a lamb, and Paul even hunted, although he didn’t see anything. Plus everyone had to play on Sandy and Al’s new Wii—we set some new records for them to beat.

Sunday, we all went different directions to head for home—we took the northern route, the kids all went to Grand Forks where they separated and went their own ways. We all got home between 7:30-8:30 pm, with coolers full of meat—we should be set for the winter!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Go Bama!

The people from Alabama are huge football fans! Even the women can quote you statistics and players from a lot of the southern teams. Last year when I was in Alabama at a conference, I noticed people leaving the session fairly often. I thought they were really using the rest room, until I realized they were going out to check on the football game.

This year, the conference was at a wonderful conference center that Kimberly Clark (the paper and cleaning products people) gave to a college. It has a huge living room area (with a fireplace), nice kitchen with a large attached dining room (with another fireplace), a conference room with a backlit screen and all the electronics, and about 20 guest rooms (some with two queen beds and some with one queen bed). And to make it even nicer—it’s way out in the woods and right on a lake. We had a glass sliding door that opened right to the lake.

We actually flew in to Atlanta and drove to Oxford, Alabama, where we stayed the first night. The next day, we had some time, so we wandered through the Cheaha State Park and Talladega National Forest. It was neat winding roads through mountains and lots of trees. Some of the trees still had some leaves with color left—so it was beautiful! It was fun wandering around through there, because we had Gertie (the GPS) programmed to go to the conference center, so we could just flip a coin to decide whether to turn right or left and then let her figure out where we were and how we should go to get to the conference center. Although when we got closer to the center, she gave up and said ‘the roads to your destination contain incomplete data’.

The center is near a town called Sylacauga which we never did learn to pronounce. We stopped there for lunch at a Chinese Buffet. They had really good food—a lot of seafood that was really good. That night for supper, they catered BBQ—there was chicken and ribs, baked beans, with banana pudding and chocolate cake for desert!

The conference was on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Saturday, we decided to move to the living room area and light the fire and talk around it. It was very comfortable and relaxed. It was funny, because one advisor asked if Bob could come and light the fire—both he and I laughed, because I’m the one who likes to start fires!

That evening, we drove back to Atlanta and stayed at Teresa and John’s. They love to play cards, so we were able to get a few games in. On Sunday, we went to church with them and then had brunch. That afternoon we went to the King Tut exhibition, which was really interesting—there were a lot of artifacts, but no mummy and no big gold case that held the mummy. A lot of other Egyptian artifacts were on display in addition to King Tut—it always amazes me how much ‘bling’ royalty would wear and even bury with them to take to the afterlife. Sometimes it seems like they had the attitude ‘how much money can I possibly spend’. A few of the necklaces and earrings were so big, that it would hurt to try and wear them for any length of time.

Terry and Pam were at a conference and came home on Sunday, so after going out to eat, we moved over to their place that evening. We had a nice visit with them and Pam showed us their Church and the area where they live. We left for home on Monday afternoon with a totally uneventful trip—except that we had time to get a bowl of noodles (my favorite) and Bourbon Chicken (Bob’s favorite) at the Wok and Roll in the airport.

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