Tuesday, July 21, 2009

life, work and alanna wanna fanna

Life is good.

It's getting really, Really, REALLY hot now. And, with the monsoon season actually picking up a little, the past few days have been wicked humid...so it's been kind of like a sticky furnace outside. But life is good. We've been spending a lot of time hanging out with family, swimming, camping, playing with Lucy, relaxing, etc....just doing all of the things that you SHOULD do during summertime.

Work is.....uhhh.....work. But it is good, too. :o)

Some days are better than others (as is true with any occupation), but I am really starting to feel like I'm actually doing okay there. When I first started, I was totally overwhelmed. It's almost too difficult to explain in words, so I will just say that I knew I would get used to it, but it was a little stressful at first. Especially since we are judged quantitatively in several different categories - something that I have never experienced before. It's different, and started off a little rocky. Recently, though, over the past few months, I've been doing a little better and better with every week. And it has even gotten to the point where I was given an award (a fancy piece of paper) at an awards ceremony in front of 900+ of my peers in the Northeast Division. I'm not 100% sure of what the award was for, but it has something to do with not sucking. So getting that recognition for my efforts made yesterday a really nice day. Now I just have to start doing BETTER so that I get another award at the 4th Quarter awards ceremony (won't hold my breath, but it doesn't hurt to try).

And, finally...Alanna is AWESOME!!!

Alanna has spent the past 2+ weeks on her expedition with Project MARC in the island nation of Vanuatu, and is now in tourist mode in Australia. The expedition was supposed to last all month, but due to some certain circumstances (which I'm not fully clear about yet), the volunteers have completed everything they could and have finished the mission. Since the mission has ended ahead of schedule and my folks aren't flying out to meet her until the very END of the month, Loni has decided to take an inclusive guided tour around some of Australia's islands and up to the Great Barrier Reef. Her first stop, today, was at Fraser Island (pictured above) and I am seriously jealous of all the different places she has been seeing. What a neat experience to have!! It's a little scary because she's all by herself, but she's a big girl and I'm sure she's doing just fine. Plus, I kind of have this sneaking suspicion that she's having the time of her life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Camping Trip

We had quite an interesting weekend ! Here's a quick(?) recap.

Early Friday morning we left PHX and headed up to the Sierra Ancha Mountains. Our ride was uneventful as far as I can remember. Theresa drove first, then we switched just after Punkin Center, AZ. We got to FR487, off AZ288 around noon. Heading up towards the campground we wanted to stay at Workman Creek Falls. The first interesting thing we saw was a deer in the road (then another on the side of the road). Continuing up we saw an interesting sign warning us of abandoned uranium mines in the area. Finally we reached the campground, and although it wasn't full, people had parked on a few of the remaining flat spots we would have camped on. Since there were no spots left because of the people parking on empty spots, we decided to try to go further up the road towards Aztec Peak. This is where Theresa's panic attack started ! Apparently looking over the side of a significant drop off on her side of the road, the road going from bad to worse, plus my driving near the edge of the road worried her. We made it to Workman Creek falls 1 mile up the road and then almost got stuck trying to cross an old wooden bridge. Theresa got out and directed me so I wouldn't accidentally drive her car off a cliff, and I made a 20 point turn. We headed back down to AZ288 and found one open spot at the Rose Creek Campground. This was actually a blessing, because it was a much more private, quiet campground.

Saturday morning we got up early and decided to drive to Young, AZ before going hiking. There's not much to say about Young, The population was 561 at the 2000 census, there are two restaurants, one gas station, one convenience store, one church (Mormon), an auto parts store, a motel, a small medical center, a thrift shop, a library, and a refuse service. Young also has A resident deputy (one!) and a volunteer fire department. We got ice and water and got the hell out of there quickly. Heading back to Workman Creek campground, we parked there and attempted to hike to the summit. 3 miles. What we didn't think about was the fact we started our hike at 5200 feet elevation (roughly a mile high), and we heading to the top which is 7748 ft (roughly a mile and a half). Starting our hike we realized quickly how difficult it is to breathe when you aren't used to the elevation. Even Lucy was struggling. Even though it was close to 90 degrees, we made it about halfway, seeing some cool stuff (I got close enough to pet a horny toad, and did!), the 200ft drop of the "falls" (not really a lot of water in the summer, best to go in early spring or after monsoon storms) then had to turn around because we knew that we were not gonna make it back if we kept going to the top. I was pretty upset about not making it, there's a fire tower at the top the Edward Abbey (my new favorite author) worked at for 2 years, writing some of his books there and, supposedly, a stone living room I really wanted to find. Back at camp we were to tired to do anything except read. The skies started to darken, and we could hear thunder far off, but didn't think much of it (the same thing happened the day before and we never got the storm). The winds picked up, then it started to rain a little, followed by marble sized HAIL, and torrential downpours. We tried to wait out he storm under our EZ UP, but the combination of wind and rain were soaking everything. After a filming a video of the hail we dashed to the car and waited out the storm. Roughly half an hour later it wound down enough that we ventured out to the picnic table and dried off the seats. After a quick game of UNO (I destroyed Theresa) we made tacos and went to bed early.

Sunday morning we were packed up and out of there by 7:30 to head back and dry our stuff out. All in all it was a wonderful weekend. Here's some pics, enjoy !

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