Friday, August 21, 2009

Mich's Visit

We've figured out what is going to get us through our stay in California: visits from family and friends. Our dear friend Michele flew out from Nashville to spend some time with us in the desert. We drove to Vegas to pick her up, and spent several hours walking the Vegas Strip. It's true what people say, "Things on the strip are not as close as they appear." I'm not exactly sure how far it is from the Flamingo to Mandalay Bay, but I definitely recommend wearing sneakers as opposed to flip flops if one opts to make the trek on foot. After our hike, we elected to hale a cab back to the truck, which at the time seemed like the best $10 we ever spent. Our trip back to the Mojave Desert, with one extra passenger, took longer than we expected due to traffic. According to the radio, there were too many cars on the road leaving Vegas for the interstate to support. Therefore, we spent an hour and a half in bumper to bumper traffic, making what should have been a 3 to 3 1/2 hour drive into an aggravating 5 hour road trip. On a positive note, Michele REALLY got to experience the desert.

The next day was a relaxing day with not much on our agenda. While Scottie was at work, Ali and Michele went to the pool. Michele got to experience first hand just how much stronger the sun's rays are in the desert, and how they make your skin feel like it's simmering on a skillet. Scottie got out of work early, which hardly ever happens, so we cooked up some chicken fajitas and enjoyed a nice dinner together. Later in the evening, we took Michele out to Joshua Tree to see the spectacular sights of the park.

On the next day, Ali and Michele ventured "down the hill" to the Palm Springs area. They visited a friend of Michele's family at the La Quinta Resort and Club and took part in a guided tour of the extravagant facility. They enjoyed a relaxing day which included lunch and shopping before they returned to the high desert for dinner and more R and R.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Michele had to return to Nashville. We thoroughly enjoyed having her as our first house guest. From what we observed, it is possible that she fell in love with the desert. Perhaps this is what will happen with our next house guests; they will come and never want to leave. Of course, it might not be just the desert that will make family and friends want to stay... it could be because we're great company. Just a thought.

Ali and Mich at the Flamingo Hotel

Stopping at a fountain on the strip

In front of the Monte Carlo. We had to walk off everything that we ate for lunch at PF Chang's.

One of the things we're really good at: holding hands.

Outside of New York, New York.

Joshua Tree National Park

Peaceful rock climbing

Big Horn Sheep

Barker Dam during the dry season

Watching the sunset

Proof why desert sunsets are the best

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Florida vs California

After enduring 7 months on the "Left" Coast, I finally made the trip back home to Florida to visit family and friends. I couldn't have picked a better city to fly into (Tampa), for I was overwhelmed by the beautiful combination of grass and water; two things of which we don't see a lot of living in the desert. In route to my parents' house, I'm pretty sure my mom and brother were growing tired of all my comments about the green and lush foliage.

Just before my trip, I found myself taking part in many discussions about the weather. Based on first hand research, this is the most common topic discussed at the gym. Most of the people I talked to insisted that the Florida heat is far worse than the Mojave Desert heat because of the humidity levels. This trip proved all of those people wrong, hence the title of the blog "Florida vs California", with Florida taking the win in the "More Bearable" category.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was spending time with my little bear.

Scottie's parents had me over for dinner. In this picture, Dad, our niece Trinity, and Trouble are all watching TV.

I also got to see our nephew and Godson John Robert. The little ones grow so much each time we see them.

Trinity and I relaxing in Dad's chair.

Another highlight of the trip was visiting Grace, our beautiful Goddaughter.

Here I am holding Alex, one of Bill and Tiffany's dogs. Alex is Scottie's favorite, hence why there is no picture of Emma and Morgan (the other two dogs). Scottie's partiality goes way back.

Scottie sent me an edible arrangement for my birthday. The chocolate covered strawberries were my favorite. I must note the bowl that the arrangement was in survived the trip back in my suitcase. Thank you American Airlines.

I spent several afternoons target shooting with my dad and brother. My brother and I are pretty good shooters. I guess my dad successfully passed down the sniper genes.

Here's the lake house we all grew up at. I miss spending every weekend on the water.

My 26th birthday cake. My mom ordered my favorite cake from Publix (yellow cake with whipped topping and strawberry filling)

Jen drove all the way from Brandon to spend my birthday with me.

I enjoyed spending a lot of time torturing my brother.

The Kircher Family

The coolest part of the trip was riding on my dad's motorcycle.

Like most vacations, the trip flew by and I found myself on a plane back to California. This trip has made me realize that Florida is my home, and I can't wait for us to return there permanently.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Griffith Observatory

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be an astronomer. The study of the universe was always the most fascinating subject for me in school. I can recall at the age of 5 sitting out in the yard and staring at the night's sky for what seemed like hours, wondering about all of the possibilities offered by the infinite beyond.

Even though I have always loved looking at the sky, now, I kind of have to. With approximately a year left before completing my master's degree, I still have an undergraduate class to complete required for my degree in education (Astronomy). Hence why Scottie and I just recently took a trip to Los Angeles to visit the Griffith Observatory, a destination recommended for anyone visiting L.A.

The Griffith Observatory is about 3 hours from our home in Yucca Valley. Of course the duration might be slightly less if the city traffic was less chaotic. I really do not know how people live in L.A. I told Scottie someone would have to pay me a lot of money to live there, and a personal helicopter in our backyard would be mandatory, because there is no way I would drive anywhere in the area.

The infamous Hollywood sign which is viewable from the grounds of the observatory.

The Griffith Observatory

We arrived at the observatory at 6pm and stayed until 9pm. The main point of the experience serving as a class assignment was to view the telescopes after dark. Before dark, we toured the inside of the observatory. The interior is full of pictures, videos, and crafted models dedicated to astronomy education. Also inside, we manage to see a planetarium show (one of our favorite parts of the trip).

Contemplating with Albert. I thought we should continue our tour to the right, but he was leaning more toward the left.

Waiting for the planetarium show, we toured the outside levels of the building. We managed to capture a nice view of the city. Just look at the smog in the background.

After the planetarium show, the sun had finally set and it was time for us to look through the telescopes. We saw a close up shot of the moon through one telescope and the beautiful rings of Saturn through another.

Here is a picture of me in front of the entrance of the observatory. Scottie is taking the picture as opposed to being in it because no one around us spoke any English (can you believe that), and I was apprehensive about crossing the communication barrier just to have a picture of the two of us.

Overall, the trip was a success. We had a wonderful time and walked away from the experience a little smarter.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

San Diego

It has been quite awhile since we have updated due to the fast pace and tight schedules we have endured. Ali has been working on completing her certification to be a personal trainer, as well as, finishing up the school year at 29 Palms High School. Scottie has been working many long hours and completing a class towards his degree. In order to decompress, we decided to take a mini vacation to San Diego.

We reserved a cottage on the beach aboard Camp Pendleton. Throughout the four day weekend, we enjoyed the beautiful San Diego weather, spending time at the beach, delicious Italian cuisine, tourist attractions such as the USS Midway, a harbor cruise, and the Air and Space Museum, as well as the company of good friends.

Here we are sitting on the patio of Sonny’s Pizza and Pasta in San Clemente. The homemade gnocchi was out of this world!

Most of Saturday was spent relaxing on the beach. We also ventured out onto the sea wall which turned out to be quite a hike.

This is another view from the sea wall overlooking the Del Mar Beach. This was Ali’s first trip to the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday evening, we visited some friends of the Fenenoz family and enjoyed great company and a variety of food. This picture was taken before the barbeque on the patio behind our cottage.

Aboard the flight deck of the USS Midway. The gentleman who took our picture was a sailor on the historic aircraft carrier many years ago. We had the privilege of his conversation.

The USS Midway and Downtown San Diego.

The Sea Lions sunbathing on a beautiful Southern California day.

On the stern of the harbor cruise.

The Coronado Bridge

Sunset on the beach

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mess Night

Last weekend, Scottie's company had a Mess Night in which all of the instructors dressed up in their finest to participate in the traditional ceremony, feast, and drinking fest. The event includes many rules and traditions, with one rule being no spouses are to attend. The Mess Night is simply for the Marines. Therefore, Ali was the designated driver and had the luxury of taxiing Scottie and Anthony to and from the Mess.

During the Mess, Ali hung out with Anthony's wife Amy and the kids. Anthony and Amy arrived in 29 Palms from Camp Lejeune the same time we did back in January. Ali and Amy spent a lot of time reminiscing about how much better Camp Lejeune is compared to 29 Palms and how they can't wait to move back!

There is nothing like a Marine in his dress uniform.

Scottie and Anthony before the Mess.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Close Encounter

Scottie came inside this morning and told me not to come outside for a while. Like a child, this immediately sparked my interest and made me want to come outside even more to see what was going on. A good reason for caution and concern, Scottie stumbled upon a snake.

Not knowing whether or not the snake was poisonous was not a primary concern. Scottie went to the garage, got an ax, and finished the snake off.

A gentleman from the road must have seen Scottie swinging his ax next to our house and walked up to see what was happening. He informed us that the snake was most likely a gopher snake, a nonpoisonous snake that kills rattle snakes. Oops!

So, that was our excitement for Sunday morning. Who knows what the rest of the day has in store for us?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend was nice and relaxing. Sunday, we took another trip to the Colorado River. This river surely trumps the swampy and murky gator infested Florida rivers. There is a sense of security in being able to see through the water and not have to worry about the presence of mysterious creatures that could attack at any moment. However, Scottie did happen to hand wrestle with a large carp. Unfortunately, the carp got away and I was unable to capture the excitement on camera.

One of the fads of this particular trip was floating down the river. We would walk up stream and then let the current take us back to the boat.

Scottie spent a lot of his time playing in the water with Jake and Jadyn. If I were a kid, I cannot think of anyone else who would be more energetic and entertaining. The kids absolutely adore him.

As for things happening at the hacienda, we have become avid rabbit watchers. After a couple months of scattering rabbit food in our back yard, we could probably film a documentary on rabbits. The most we have seen at one time totals five rabbits. They come to feed every evening and are gradually getting used to us watching them through the sliding glass door.

Sometimes it is frustrating because it seems like they are always there now, especially when we need to go outside and put something in the recycling bin or on the grill. In addition, the rabbit food also attracts chipmunks, squirrels, and numerous species of birds. Apparently, we now have a zoo in our backyard. What have we gotten ourselves into???