Monday, May 31, 2010

Top Secret Florida Trip!

Well, I finally made it out to Florida to visit most of the Kramers, minus Eddie. So how was the first day? It rained the entire first day, so all we did was just hang around and talk. Oh, and one of the children beat me at the game of Clue. Morning came and night came, the first day.

Here are loading up the Huge white Van with all the kids, and heading off to the beach.

Their nice, big, beautiful house in Florida.

Nothing says, "You're in the South!" like a Waffle and Omelet House. I tried to convince my hostess to go to one, but was advised against it. I did get treated to Chick-fil-et (or however you spell it) twice, however.

Finally on the beach. Calm, clear water all around, no crashing waves. A good deal warmer than California beaches.

The best thing about going to the beach? Chips!

Kids at play on the beach. Insert your own Neville Shutte joke here.

Lots of big cargo ships passing by.

The infamous Potty Skittles.

Club La Vela. You can't see it very well, but there is a sign that is cut off on the right that said, "PARTY WITH THOUSANDS!." Why was it cut off? I got to go on a tour of the Bay in Panama City on what was called a Sea Screamer, a really fast boat. Ostensibly it was to see Dolphins in the bay, and there were quite a few of them. However, they were pretty fast, and was not able to get pictures of them. Panama City is known as a Spring Break destination, although it was starting to wind down by the time I got there.
Juan wants to come here next year and party with thousands.

Here is a picture of someone else doing something exciting.

New Pier being built in Panama City.

So of course every one has to wave at the construction workers. Neat thing about the boat tour, the driver let all the kids on board have a turn at driving the boat.

Margaret pulling a towel over her head. She looks like a cute little Russian Babushka.

Cupcakes! We had a Tea Party after Mass on Sunday, so some food was prepared.

The table was arranged with care, in hopes that Saint Ni.... Oops.
Here are some of the kids enjoying the Tea Party.
The next day we went out to this State Park that used to be the summer recreation spot of an Alabama Textile Company. and it was gorgeous, with clear blue water, charming little cottages, swooping dunes, and a big lagoon. And if my camera had not died, you would be seeing pictures of Camp Helen State Park. Hey, Kramers, do you have any pictures?
And so after a yummy pot roast dinner, my last day with the Kramers ended. The next day it was back home to California, where my family and huge piles of laundry awaited me. Hey, at least they were able to feed themselves. Barely.

President Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Lydia Bixby

Executive Mansion,

Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,--

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Sunday, May 30, 2010

You Flew In On That Thing? You're Braver Than I Thought...

As many of you know, I went to Florida a couple of months ago to visit Teresa Kramer, and ostensibly to help her out while Eddie was out here on the west coast. What follows in the next 50 posts is an excruciatingly detailed account of that trip.

Checking in at San Jose. Actually, I was already checked in, but I wasn't sure if my bag was small enough to carry on. My flight attendant, Kenny Rogers, assured me that it was.

Stage one: San Jose to Phoenix.

The family watches the plane take off from a near by parking lot. You can see a tiny little dot that is my plane. Afterwards, the rest of the family went to Fry's to check out the electronics. Meanwhile, on the plane, I was looking at the rest of my fellow passengers, wondering who would be in charge when we crashed on the Island.

About two hours later I arrived in Phoenix. This was about all I saw of the city.
Another look at Phoenix.

Not my plane.

Here is my plane to Atlanta.

I flew into Phoenix on US Airways. But my connecting flight was on Delta. I discovered that I had to leave terminal 3, go outside, catch a shuttle bus to terminal 4, and go through security all over again. Yay!! So, the plan in the foreground is my plane to Atlanta. See that building way off in the distance? That's the terminal I arrived in.

A zoomed in photo from the same spot. That was my plane from San Jose. Why all the pictures of planes? I don't fly very often. It all seemed exciting at the time.

An exciting picture of a concourse from just about any airport you've ever been in. Again, it seemed exciting at the time.

It's not a good sign when you ask the flight attendant at your gate in Atlanta where your connecting flight is, and she looks at your ticket, and says "oh, you have to hurry!" I was told to go down an escalator roughly a mile away, go past the baggage claim, and take the train to concourse D. Yes, they have a train. I went and ran the whole way, and got to the gate to catch this plane just as they began boarding.
How did I have time to take this picture, if I was just in time to board, you might ask? Well, I actually got this picture after the plane took off, then circled back to Atlanta and landed again.
Turns out there was some sort of instrumentation problem on the plane, so we had to go back to Atlanta. So during the 45 minutes it took them to get us a new plane, I had plenty of time to take pictures of it.
And here is the NOT broken plane they put us on. It was a tiny little plane that held about thirty or forty passengers. It was the last flight to Panama City out of Atlanta. It was getting late, and all the restaurants in the airport were closing. A few hungry, irritable passengers tried to talk the guy at the Burger King/Cinnabon stand into selling them something, but he was adamant that he couldn't re-open. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long to get on the new plane.

And so, at about midnight I arrived in Panama City. No, Panama City is not in Alaska, this picture was actually taken the morning I left for home. It's the only picture I had of that airport. Once I arrived, I found a friendly, extremely southern taxi driver who had no idea where the street the Kramers lived on was located, and did not know what happened to his map. His dispatcher didn't know either. So I had to call Teresa, and repeat her directions to the cabbie. Several weeks later, we arrived at the Kramer home, where I was greeted with banana bread, and chocolate dipped strawberries and pretzels. Since my last meal had been at ten thirty in the morning, it felt like the best dinner I'd ever had.
Join us for my next post, when I eat breakfast and brush my teeth.

Kramer Sighting! Fort Hunter Liggett Edition

That hard to find family has been spotted, this time in southern Monterey County.

Let's go to the evidence...

It seems like they have repainted their white van, although we cannot figure out why. It now appears to be of a beige colour. It also seems heavily armoured, and now has tracks instead of wheels.

Believability Rating: 57%. while this was a reliable sighting, it seems that this was not the Kramers. First of all, why WOULD they need tank treads on their van? Another reason this might NOT be them is that this vehicle seems too small and light-weight to be their huge van. It also appears to get better gas mileage. Is also appears to be an actual tank.

Tune in again soon for our next edition of Kramer sighting! Pictures of a secret trip to Florida reveals some suprising facts!

Friday, May 28, 2010

What The Heck?

What a difference a day makes...

Rain? Seriously?!? In May? Does the Weather Man know that this is May, and we are not supposed to get rain? Afternoon in the Salinas Valley, May 26th, 2010

24 little hours later...

Afternoon of May 27th, 2010. Zmudowski State Beach. Named after Mary Zmudowski, a Watsonville School teacher who donated the land for the Beach and the State Park. Must be nice to be a teacher I guess.

A view from the Beach of the mouth of the Salinas Valley, with Mount Toro in the center.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Tribute To Yakov Smirnoff

In Soviet Russia, Shark jumps you!!!

We dissected a shark for Biology at home, and well, decided to play around with it.
We had fun!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Golden Gate Bridge

Some pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, between San Francisco and Marin Counties. These pictures are from the Marin County side.

Tourists from all over the world come to visit. These people were with a tour group from Taiwan.

Although it was very foggy and sort of cold in the Golden Gate area, just to the north about 20 miles away, it was 25 degrees warmer and sunny!

Welcome to sunny California!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Old School Kramer Sighting! Angry Filipino Edition

It's another edition of Kramer sighting!

Right outside of Sacred Heart, Salinas recently after the Monday Latin Mass, we were surprised to see the old vehicle that used to belong to the Kramers.

Let's take a look!

Well, it looks like their old SUV, and it even seems to be the correct colour.

Believability Rating: 6%. While it was the right colour, this vehicle was a Chevy Suburban and not a GMC Yukon. It also took off around the corner while squealing its tires. Not typical behaviour. It also seems like the driver was a tiny little Filipino Woman. Neither of the Kramer adults is a tiny little Filipino Woman.

We're pretty sure about that.

Tune in again soon, for another edition of...


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Deep In The Heart of Northeast Texas

Every once in a while, I get to go visit friends out of state, while the rest of the family suffers along without me. In 2007, I was able to go to Texas to visit a friend from Junior High. Ready to visit the Northeast corner of the Lone Star State?

Let's go!

So one of the first places Juan tells me to go eat at is Randy White's BBQ.

Then my hosts ask each other, "Hey, didn't that place close last year?" It did. Here is the shell of a once fine BBQ joint.

St. Joseph's Chapel in Greenville. It's too small to have it's own priest. He has to come from a larger parish out of town.

Did I mention there were a LOT of Bluebonnets around?

Texans are very proud of their state, and seem to consider it a civic duty to display the state flag somewhere on their property. We don't know who these people are, but they went way above and beyond the call of duty by painting the flag on the side of their shed.

Don't know what these flowers were called, but I thought they were pretty.
This is an old cemetery in Greenville. Most of the tombstones date to the 1800's.
The cute little City Hall and the Fire Department in Pecan Gap, which was the nearest town to where my friends lived.

The busy streets of Pecan Gap.

An actual Storm Cellar!

Smaller population than the amount of people who go to Holy Mass at Mission San Juan Bautista.

Tornado Warning Siren.

The fun part of living in the country is that you get to have ducks.

My host's house (at the time, they have since moved back to CA.)

Check out the cowboy boots our Lord is wearing. Only in Texas.

Nearby is the town of Paris, Texas. As you can guess...
It has it's own Eiffel Tower, complete with a cowboy hat to top it off.
As posted elsewhere, my hosts took me for a one hour visit to Hugo, Oklahoma. The original plan was to have a day long drive to visit Shreveport, Louisiana; Texarkana, Arkansas; and a corner of Oklahoma.


The weather started to turn bad, and the weather reports were saying that there was a Tornado warning for the area of the country we were in. We did not want to get stuck several hours away from home, so the plan changed. We instead went to Hugo, Oklahoma, which you can see in the post linked above.

Dawn over Texas on my last day there.
Come back again for my Photo Essay of Uzbekistan!