Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday Dear Niece!!

Happy 9th Birthday, Lauren!
You've grown so much in 9 years. Here are a few pictures of you when you were little to show how much you've grown.

This was the first time you met Jack. He came to visit you in Minnesota.
A little trail of destruction followed you where ever you went. Here you are emptying the kitchen cupboards!
You were about 5 months old in this picture with mom and dad!

Boy you've grown, and we look forward to many more years of growing, and maybe you'll even grow taller than auntie Jolene!

We love you,
Uncle Case and Auntie Jolene

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Very Sad Day, with Happy Reunions, Auburn, CA

The church was full as people gathered to say good-bye to Sonja, a loving mom of my childhood friend Mari (pictured far right). My memories of Sonja are woven throughout my elementary school years and I am especially thankful for the time she took to organize and, along with a half dozen other moms, taxi a full car of us kids to and from school everyday! After our tears flowed, I had an opportunity to see childhood friends I had not seen in too many years.
I reminisced with my 1st grade teacher who has aged very gracefully in the past 30 years since I was in her class,

and caught up with my 6th grade teacher who is just as beautiful as ever.

The happiness of attending and connecting comforts the grief of loss.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tour of California, Stage 6, Solvang, CA

My one-and-only worked today, but I was looking forward to seeing the Tour of California, about an hour from home, under surprisingly warm sunny skies.

Following the race, I caught up with cousin Suzanne from Colorado. I joined in her excitement of having the top names in bicycle racing hang by her car window during the race. As well as hearing her story of driving behind leader and break away groups, driving like a race car driver, while following kamikaze bicycle racers, defying death, as they descend from high mountain passes.

Yes, Lance Armstrong was there looking fast at the finish line, but finishing 14th in the time trial. He stated he hoped to be in the top 15, so he made his goal.

These are the anatomically defined legs of David Zabriskie, the days 2nd place finisher,

and the scarred and bruised knees of Gustav Larsson, who placed third. It is a real battle to get to this prestigious level and participate in the elite world of cycling.

But Fridays stage 6 time trial, as well as Sundays overall victory and yellow jersey, belonged to Levi Liepheimer!

(Get a glimpse of flowers in the upper left corner of this picture.)

All the leaders of the Tour of California, following stage 6, from left: Robert Gesink, Best Young Rider; Francesco Mancebo, red King of the Mountains; Levi Leipheimer, yellow leader and winner jersey; Mark Cavendish, green Spinters Jersey; and George Hincape, blue Most Courageous.

Robert Gesink who finished the day in 13th, as well finishing the tour in 8th over all, tossed his flowers into the crowd and I was the lucky recipient.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nature's Beauty, Arroyo Grande, CA

Watching a storm blow in off the Pacific Ocean. Minutes after this picture was taken it began to pour rain.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines on the Big Island

For Valentines 2009, after a nice dinner, we returned to the little wedding chapel on the Big Island where we were married March 24, 2006.

We did Valentines on the 13th since Valentines night we took the red eye back home to Arroyo Grande, CA.

Friday, February 13, 2009

When the Cats Away the Mouse Will Play!

Group picture of the continuing education course Case is attending.
And while Case is in meetings I've decided it is time for a new hairstyle...
and I've gone very short! Over the last six months I've been occasionally considering going short again, and now I am very happy and hair free!
Case's opinion after a few hours of careful consideration was, "cute".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whale Watching, The Big Island

Betsy, Rod, William and Jennifer (pictured further in the blog) are also here attending the same meetings. This morning was a meeting free morning and we joined together for a boat trip and whale watching.

We started out under early morning over cast watching the clouds part and sun rays stream through lighting the island.
Along the journey we listened to whales sing, via a microphone in the water, scanning the water as humpback whales surfaced waving their tails toward us before diving into the bright blue depths.
Our guide was hopeful for an "active morning" of close encounters but today the whales stayed more in the distance playing in and around the sea kayaks. Note to self: rent a kayak next time.
Case catches up with Jennifer, whose husband William also attended the Phoenix meeting we attended in the past month.
A turtle comes to say good-bye as our journey ends and we return for lunch before Case returns to meetings and Jolene socializes with new acquaintances.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Exploring the Volcanoes of the Big Island

We started the day with a leisurely breakfast.

I am easily adapting to the concept of chocolate with every meal...
definitely a breakfast of champions!
Then we drove "The Saddle Road" on the flanks of Mauna Kea to the other side of the island. Mauna Kea reigns as the "tallest" mountain in the world, or so our ranger told us -- over 33,000 ft from the floor of the ocean! Everest is the "highest" mountain in world, since its measure of height begins at the continental plate, i.e. sea level.
Four wheel drive is advised attempt the summit of Mauna Kea, where some of the most sophisticated telescopes in the world are located. We settled for a glimpse of the sun through this telescope before continuing our journey...
down from the "saddle" between Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa with views of the clouds and the coast below.
At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Ranger Dean (who in a previous life was surely a stand-up comedian) informed us that the Hawaiian islands are drifting northwest 2-4 inches per year (along with the whole continental plate. Apparently, they're sliding over a "hot spot" in the earth's crust, so the next Hawiian island is already forming next to the Big Island down in the ocean depths to the southeast. (We're pretty sure there's a timeshare company somewhere that's already selling units "soon to be ready for occupancy" on this island.)
This side of the island earned it's reputation as "the wet side" during our visit. Also foggy. Looking into the crater of Kilauea, visibility was about 50 ft, with or without contraptions.
A sulfur vent was still hard to find in the midst of all the fog. We had to follow our nose.
The entrance of Thurston Lava tube.
Beyond the developed section of the Thurston Lava Tube an undeveloped section remains to be explored with flashlights for the brave non-claustrophobes who wish to explore another 334 meters of total darkness. We probed the quiet, lonely depths -- an eerie feeling for Jolene -- and turned off the flashlight to experience utter darkness.

Leaving the crater, we headed for the coastline where the lava from a side-vent on Kilauea flows into the ocean.
At most, we were expecting steam and an orange glow, so when we saw hot lava shooting into the air while still driving to the parking area, we were excited and impressed. A short walk by flashlight across the lava takes viewers to a closer view -- as close as the Hawaii Civil Defense, who staff the area, will allow, anyway.
We felt fortunate to be present for this display, as the locals told us this was the most activity they'd seen in 6 months. Steam hissed and popped as jets of hot lava spewed 300-400 feet into the air and waves pounded the coast. It looked like the 4th of July.
Here we stand on young lava. It was a fun but long day, and we returned to our digs looking forward to sleep!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Big Island of Hawaii

Packed in like sardines on the airplane, but we got lucky, the middle seat between us was empty!
Are we there yet?!!!! The trip was a bit longer than usual since we ended up going Santa Barbara to Kona, via Pheonix with a two hour lay over.

This is one scary picture. We'd rolled out of bed at 2:30am and then sat on airplanes and in airports for 12 hours.

There it is!! The Big Island with snow on top!

Our Audi Celebrates a Birthday!

A little belated but our 1995.5 Audi celebrated a milestone, quite literally. We've been babying her along with trips to the shop, but (or perhaps "so") here she is at 200,000 miles and still ticking over. We've been inspired by the Consumer Reports magazine reporting a Lexus at 500,000 miles. Now Case has his sights set on 250,000. We love this car; she's more like a family member. Her most recent repair was a new suspension (replacing a 2007 botch of the same repair). As Case says, "Our Audi is isn't getting older anymore. With all the new parts the mechanic keeps putting in, she just gets a little newer every year."

Monday, February 02, 2009

It's a BIG Anniversary!!!

Today is Jolene's parents 40th wedding anniversary!

Ivan and Cheryl Bauer

This picture was taken at Huntington Beach Hyatt, September, 2008. This happens to be the same hotel where Case and I had our California wedding reception coming up on three years ago.