Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roadtrip SATURDAY pics

Julie & I in Death Valley

me & Julie in Death Valley
at the Salt Flats


sunset in Death Valley
dinner in Lone Pine

Motel 6 in Carson City

Roadtrip FRIDAY pics

grand canyon

julie and i at the grand canyon

fountains at the bellagio


dealertainers at imperial palace

Roadtrip Thursday PICS

dinner in Albuquerque at Little Anita's

Miraculous Staircase at Loretto Chapel

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Santa Fe Capitol

Roadtrip to Cali . . . SATURDAY

plan- drive to Fresno late Sat night, Sun all day in San Francisco

Wake up in Vegas!!

Julie and I decide to stay in Vegas most of the day seeing more hotels and casinos and just relaxing. Julie has been to Vegas many times before and I have only been once before. Wander the Flamingo hotel and see all the flamingos outside!! Over breakfast Julie and I look at the maps and decide maybe we'll go to Death Valley then over to Fresno.

On the road again . . .

While driving to Death Valley my Aunt Zanne calls and asks how we are doing and if we would be interested in staying at their time share in Napa Valley. I told her that we were planning to sleep in Fresno tonight but thanks for thinking of us. After getting off the phone and pulling over to get more gas before going into the valley Julie and I discussed a new plan.

Why were we going to Fresno tonight?? It had never occurred to us to not spend the night there. So we looked at the maps again and decided that we could just drive to Sacramento via Carson City and Lake Tahoe and spend the night there then enjoy all day in San Francisco without waking up super super early. Going from Death Valley to Sacramento would be a long drive but we would stop in Lake Tahoe area at the gas station to get t-shirts and magnets. Just so we could say we had been there.


I know it might sound like a huge desert with nothing to see but Julie and I decided that if it's a national park there MUST be something to see there! And we were right, its absolutely beautiful!!! Mountains, deserts, hiking trails, sand dunes, salt flats, and more mountains.

Did you know??

- Death Valley is the driest and hottest spot in North America.
-- Less than 2 inches of rain annually
-- Recorded high of 134 degrees
- Death Valley is the lowest point on the continent
-- 282 feet below sea level
- Over 1 million people visit each year

After spending several hours in Death Valley we made our way out of the 3.4 million acre park and headed towards Lake Tahoe! Driving out of the park was a 9 mile stretch up the mountains at 11% grade followed by a 11 mile stretch down the mountain at 9% grade . . . lots of brakes!!! After coming down the mountain we stopped at the salt flats.

Continuing to drive out of the park we noticed these giant mountains all around us. It seemed like every minute there was a different view and bigger mountains. We stopped to watch the sunset over the Sierra Nevada Mountains- it was beautiful.

Lone Pine, California

Dinner at local diner. It was only once were here did we realized that the mountains we had been driving though were home to Mount Whitney- the tallest point in the continental US at 14,494 feet. After dinner and a quick stop at a souvenir shop we headed towards Carson City, Nevada.

Driving through the mountains at night was uneventful. We could see the giant trees in the darkness and snow covered mountains but we knew that if we wanted to spend Sunday in San Francisco we had to keep driving! All the roads were clear, no ice, no snow, and not much traffic but our late night in Vegas caught up to us.

We decided to stop in Carson City, Nevada to get some much needed sleep and then we would be able to see Lake Tahoe during the day!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Roadtrip to Cali . . . FRIDAY

goal- see the Grand Canyon

Julie and I enjoyed continental breakfast from the hotel and were off to the Grand Canyon!

Grand Canyon
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
Located in northwestern Arizona is the Grand Canyon. The canyon is 277 miles long and averages 10 miles across. Elevations range from 1,200 feet on the canyon bottom to 9,000 feet on the north rim. Yearly over 5 million visitors come to the Grand Canyon.

Arriving just after 11am we were both surprised to see only a few other visitors and empty parking lots. The weather was perfect- few clouds and sunny and the grounds were covered with snow!! First stopping point was the Yavapai observation station, which was really cool!! They had binoculars inside and maps of the canyon everywhere as well as tons of information about the canyon, rocks, and the Colorado River. Next we made our way to Market Plaza to get souvenirs and I got a t-shirt for only $9!!! Then we tried to make our way towards the watchtower but got lost inside the park and ended up near all the lodges and Kolb studio. So we got out and took a couple dozen more pictures and then headed in the right direction. The Watchtower was built in 1932, is 70 feet tall and built from stones in the canyon. From the top there are excellent views of the river, the canyon, the desert, and the forest!!! Just wonderful!!!!
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
After 6 hours we had seen enough and taken hundreds of pictures we headed out of the park.
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

Williams, Arizona

Population 2,842 Elevation 6,752 feet
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Dinner on Route 66 at the Route 66 café and it was wonderful!! Over dinner we discussed our next route and plan. It was decided that we would drive to Las Vegas and stay either downtown on Fremont Street or on the strip. After calling several hotels and all having available rooms we decided we would just figure it out once we got to Vegas.
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->

Hoover Dam

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Built from 1931-1935 in Black Canyon on the Colorado River for flood control and water storage, it impounds Lake Mead- one of the largest man-made lakes in the US.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Population 478,434 Elevation 2,174 feet
<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <!--[endif]-->
Highlights from the night
<!--[if !supportLists]-->* <!--[endif]-->Fountains show at the Bellaigo
<!--[if !supportLists]-->* <!--[endif]-->Dealertainers at Imperial Palace
<!--[if !supportLists]-->* <!--[endif]-->Margarita at Margaritaville at the Flamingo
<!--[if !supportLists]-->* <!--[endif]-->And the rest stays in Vegas!!

Finally made it to bed around 3am and slept at the Flamingo hotel & casino!

Roadtrip to Cali . . . Thursday

Adventures to Fresno California from San Antonio Texas with Julie (Andrew's mom). After returning from Kenya I knew I only had a limited number of days in Texas before moving and with Andrew not able to drive with me to Cali I just figured I would be on my own. Yeah, sure my friends wanted to come with me and travel the country but they have jobs, responsibilities at home, and limited budgets. So after talking with Julie over hot tea she asked if she could join me. At first I was shocked and then excited to have a driving partner. Everything worked out perfectly and within 4 days we were off for our journey!


Goal- drive towards the Grand Canyon

Lots of driving towards the West. We departed San Antonio at 5am through the fog until the sun came out. Stopped for breakfast in San Angelo at McDonalds (not my fav place) but I had a McGriddle and it was pretty tasty. Then we kept driving and stopped in Roswell for lunch at Wendys (not my fav place either) and happy to report we were not attacked by aliens :)

Then we made our way to Santa Fe!

Population 62,203 Elevation 6,989 feet
fun fact- Oldest capital in North America and the second oldest city in the US
--Loretto Chapel is home to the "miraculous staircase" which has two-360 degree turns and no visible means of support.
--Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi was founded in 1610.
--State Capitol building is designed in the shape of the Zia sun symbol, the state's official emblem.

Dinner in Albuquerque!!

Population 448,607 Elevation 4,957 feet
fun fact- Dried chili peppers called ristras are hung for good luck and to welcome guests
-- Old Town is the city's original settlement and was founded in 1706. Also here is San Felipe de Neri Church which was founded in 1793.
-- Little Anitas has awesome Mexican food and that is really hard for me to say being from Texas but its true. If you are ever there I would recommend this place!!

Sleep in Holbrook, Arizona.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Amazing SPURS game with Mrs. Garcia

Manu signed my Jersey :)

I love Manu


Amazing Mrs. Garcia & I

I'm Lovin it!

Go Spurs Go!

Player of the Game
Roger Mason


Sunday, January 10, 2010


new hair cut!!
donated 9 inches to Locks of Love

Braids out- Thanks Megan, Vickie, & Emily

time for braids to come down :(
-took 2.5 hours

mom and me

Braids from Kenya
- took 4 hours to complete

Friday, January 8, 2010

Reflections of Africa

Here are some memories I will always cherish from my time in Kenya . . .

-- Visiting my WV children in their village in Lokori. It was a priceless moment that will stay in my heart forever. Touring the village, talking with the families, reading a story together, sharing a meal, and seeing their faces smile was just absolutely amazing and wonderful!!!!

Even though the sisters father was persistent about needing my address I didn't let the ruin my time or my view of him and his family. I hope that one day he will realize that I am not the answer to all their problems and he & his family will be able to overcome their poverty.

Being able to see Kailale face to face and eye to eye was a dream come true. Having sponsored him the longest I was most excited to see him and his family!!! For being 14 years old he is not taller than me and has such a beaming smile!!! His mother was wonderful and loving and soft spoken and a woman of God.

-- Safari!! DUH! I love to travel around the states to zoo, aquariums and other exhibits with animals and to have the opportunity to see them in the wild and up close was AWESOME! Driving through the Mara (game park) and seeing the many many animals just going about their day was amazing. Since there is not hunting in Kenya most of the animals were not afraid of the safari vans but we did not venture outside the van for safety. I mean, they are still wild animals! We were fortunate to see baby animals of almost every kind . . . elephant, zebra, giraffe, impala, lion, warthog, buffalo, hippo, meerkat, and more. Watching an African sunset, hearing a lion chew on a dead cow, getting sunburned, trying new foods, sleeping in tented camps, and just experiencing the safari and soaking up each moment made it soo amazing.

Sidenote-- the tented camps. . . well totally not like I had imagined. Think of a large canvas tent with a hardwood floor and a concrete foundation, big enough to hold a king size bed, a little desk off to one side with a coffee pot, electricity, and they even put warm water bottles in your bed each night. Oh and the bathroom- toilet, sink, and shower- in each tent with hot water that is heated by solar power. And each tent came with a dudu (bug) zapper!!!

-- Before going on this adventure I talked with Emily and told her that 2 things I really wanted to do were the safari (and she said we were doing that already) and to visit my WV children (all the details put together by World Vision). After doing those things so early on in the trip I was able to just relax and enjoy African life! Some days we would just stay home spending time with Emily's family and one another. In the moments where nothing was on the calendar I learned the African way of life.

Spending quality time with people is far more important the money in your bank account. Going to some one's house for coffee and tea is their way of serving you and your presence is a blessing to them. And showing up not on time is not a big deal. Its not the quantity but the quality!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bon Voyage San Antonio

pringles lips

chrsitmas at the beltons

so funny!

julie and me

james and me

collins and me

ottis and me

last meal @ Alamo Cafe

dinner #3

popo and joe

grandma and me

Pictures from my last night in San Antonio before KENYA!!

STL pictures :)

candy cane lane :)

aunt betsy

just me

penguins at the zoo

awesome ice lights


christmas lights at the STL zoo :)

fried ravioli

aunt betsy & me

Pics from GTs in Milwaukee

me & andrew

me & mallory

wonderful present from Mallory & Andrew
digital picture frame (holds up to 4000 images!!)
Thank you both so much

freezing in milwaukee

Milwaukee Art Museum

playing monopoly city :)

me & andrew with blue slushie
(that moments later was split by andrew!!)