Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 18

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I had a few things in mind for our time at Tahoe - like seeing and learning more about the Donner Party - but mainly I was looking forward to being in the same place for three nights, and a beautiful place, at that.  I wish now I had taken more pics the day we arrived, as it was sunny and gorgeous, but I was tired and assumed we'd have more time.  Well, we did have more time, but not much more sunny time.  Still, this morning dawned bright and cheery, and we decided to drive down to the south end of the lake, to see Emerald Bay. 

You'll thank me for refraining from posting yet another picture of all three boys sleeping in the van, because they all had their heads tipped back, and did you really want to see up all their nostrils?  I thought not.  But it reminds me that we had been on the go a LOT, and the time in Tahoe was a nice, relaxing counterpoint to the rest of the high activity and adventure part of the trip.

I love the rock around here.  We don't have much granite where we live - lots of sandstone and basalt.  The granite always seems so clean, somehow.

And though the mountains, lake, and forests seemed a lot more like home than the desert, still... it's beautiful in a very different way.

From a viewpoint above, we could look down on Vikingsholm Castle - the summer home of Lora Josephine Knight.   She also had a little teahouse built on a little island, right in front of the house.   I'd never heard of her, but apparently she was the financial backer of Charles Lingbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic.  The castle and island are part of Emerald Bay State Park now and you can pay for tours, but we had other plans for the day.

Also at the lookout... There is a rock.  We must climb it.

Also seen on our drive...  this baffles me.

Yes, we're all familiar with the BART - the Bay Area Rapid Transit, with its subway tunnel under San Francisco Bay.  (I've ridden that - a little creepy to be under that much water.)  But why-oh-why must everyone copy the name?  Really, could the Tahoe area folks not come up with a better acronym?!

Well, they're not the only ones to FAIL at naming their buses.  Back home, nearby Skagit County has labeled all their buses SKAT (SKagit Area Transit).  Don't they get the the homonym - scat?

Moving on...  Squaw Valley, just west of Lake Tahoe, hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.  Gorgeous, amazing location, but not much going on in the shoulder season.  We had hoped to ride the tram to the top of the ski area and visit the Olympic Museum, but weren't surprised to find it not running this time of year.

No problem!  Because we had an alternate activity the boys probably enjoyed way more - a trail ride!  Alpine Meadows Stables closes down this time of year, but stayed open one more day to take us out on a private ride.

The boys were thrilled to be "in control" of their own horses - rather than being led around - though the horses didn't need much in the way of guiding.  Gunnar informed me that Deedee was an American Quarter Horse.  She - and all the horses - wanted to stop and munch on the grass, and had to be 'encouraged' to keep moving, but they were all gentle and calm.  Perfect for beginners like us.

The forest has a different feel than at home.  Much drier and less undergrowth.  It looks and smells different.  I was enjoying the view and the scenery.  The boys, being boys, were amused by watching the horses in front of them perform various bodily functions.

You may have noticed that everyone is bundled up, and the boys have hats on.  A few sprinkles of rain didn't spoil our fun, but we were starting to feel a definite chill in the air.

We spent the last night at Tahoe, tucked cozily in our rooms, enjoying the view (out the windows on the other side!), playing games, and watching Dirty Jobs.

Day 18 Miles : 74          Total Miles : 3893

Homeschool Bennies #42

This is the last one.  Why forty-two?  I don't know.  I could probably keep going all year, but I won't.  Maybe I'm tired of looking at the melty crayon picture I chose to mark these posts!  Also, I'm not writing these to try to convince anyone to homeschool, but to encourage those who are already in the trenches.  To remind you of why you're going to all this trouble.  Because it is trouble.  Well, it's work anyway.  A lot of work.  But it's worth it.  And you know that :D

So, lastly,

Segregating people solely by age creates
a strange and artificial environment.

Nowhere else in society, (except perhaps for organized youth sports -hardly a model for living), are people grouped strictly by age.  Disconnecting children from their brothers and sisters, their families, their home and their faith, and clumping them in a soul-less institution with a powerful agenda that often is opposed to their values and beliefs doesn't seem very healthy, nor does it produce the kind of fruit we're cultivating.

I'm not saying it's never appropriate or we'll never do it, but that's not what we want to characterize our lives.  And we have a choice.

This has been a fun ride for me, and I'm sure I'll be referring back to these to stiffen my spine on days I'd rather quit.  Hope it encouraged you, too.


Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work ... is finished.
                         1 Chronicles 28:20

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grasshopper Days

 Grasshopper Days

For Today, October 30, 2011

Outside my window...   this is my office window, and the dogwood outside.

This is the mystery tree next to the garage (not sure what it is.)  Pretty all by itself...

... and more dramatic with dark rain clouds behind it.

And we have plenty of rain clouds today.  And that gorgeous tree drops big, sloppy, wet leaves right outside my back door.  But the boys cleaned them up after church :D

I am thinking...  I just realized I forgot to do this post last week, and how are you all holding up without a weekly infusion of the utterly mundane details of our lives?!  (/sarcasm)

It's taken awhile to get back in the groove as well as dealing with the inevitable interruptions to said groove - like hunting season, sickness, or whatever.  Real life.

And I realize that with all the Homeschool Bennies and vacation posts, I'm feeling a bit disconnected - not posting about current things going on with us.

And that it's traditional to do these entries on Monday, but that's my busiest day of the week.  So, all three (five?!) of you faithful readers are probably spending today with your families, rather than reading blogs, but I might as well post it now while I have the time.  Then you can ignore it at your leisure ;D

I am thankful for... 
* my family - imperfect as we are, we're better together than we would be apart :D
* my church - faithfully preaching and teaching God's Word, and having a great time, too (50's theme potluck and game night last night!  Green-bean casserole!  Fried chicken!  Jello!  And... spam!)
* the internet - yep, technology, because it has brought me new friends.  On our trip, we met three families in person that we initially connected with online.  And all three of them I would love to have for neighbors, or in my church.

I am praying for...  wisdom for raising the boys, right priorities, and wisdom,  friends/missionaries soon to come home from Zambia, health, and more wisdom, workforKerry, and did I mention wisdom? ;D  James 1:5

I am wearing...  jeans, (nice) white t-shirt, Fair-Isle-type cardigan sweater from... Goodwill (woo-hoo!), and my blue Danskos.  I know, I know.  I'll buy a five buck sweater at Goodwill, and then expensive shoes.  Crazy.  But I've had them for years and they're still like new, and they keep my feet happy.  And I'm on my feet a lot, like most moms, so that matters.

I am going...  to get all the laundry folded and clean sheets back on the bed, and (tomorrow) to figure out where I need to send the boys brand new Air Force Blues uniforms to exchange them for a larger size.  But, Mom, we want to wear them and they fit!  Oh, yah, boys are hilarious.  They barely fit.  And the way those boys are growing?  I give it two months.  No deal.  We're trading up.

I am hoping...  Tate gets a deer.  Deer season closes tomorrow, so he's almost out of time.  And he knows that lots of people don't get one their first year out.  Or on any given year, for that matter.  And he's really being cool about it.  But I'm still hoping.

I am hearing...  boys - mine and neighbors - around the house.

I am remembering...  how it seemed like we waited so long to go on vacation (and it really wasn't that long) and then we were in a total time warp.  Weird.

From the learning rooms...  sentences, run-ons, and fragments; graphing, slopes, and intercepts, Jacques Cartier; standard and metric measurements; voyageurs and hivernants;  James Madison, Benedict Arnold, and Indian captives; and - of course - Martin Luther.

From the kitchen...  ooo, it's Reformation Day tomorrow, so if I was on the ball we'd have last year's menu - Papal Bull (meatballs) and Diet of Worms cake, but since I'll be gone at Messiah rehearsal, the boys will be having... leftovers.

Around the house...  love my fall decorations - pictures soon :D  (That's for my readers with matching chromosomes.)

Something I want to remember for later...  I saw this prompt on Felicity's blog and wish I'd thought of it when the boys were younger!  But now?
The way Gunnar makes "I love you" into a contest.  I love you more!  No, I love you more!  I loved you first!  etc.

On my mind...  Tate is going out hunting first thing tomorrow (Monday) morning, Gunnar has recovered from whatever was ailing him earlier in the week, Kerry has a little more work to do (more manna, thank the Lord), and Wyatt is persevering under a heavier (school) work load this year.  But he doesn't like it.  There are times I wish I could give him a whole year off of school.  But only if that meant he could work... really work.  At a real job, like for a contractor.  And (in my perfect world) a good Christian mentor-ish man.  Probably wouldn't fly.  But it's tempting.

Noticing that...  what??? Only one more day of October???  How did that happen???

Pondering these words... 

For it is by grace you have been saved, 
through faith—and this not from yourselves, 
it is the gift of God— not by works, 
so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

One of my favorite things...  only one?  Hot chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  dinner at my parents' tonight, Messiah rehearsal tomorrow night, CAP Tuesday night,  a little birthday shopping, a PTO day Friday (yay :D ), and the usual round of school work, meals, laundry, and cleaning.   I'm always reluctant to say it sounds like a calm, ordinary week, for fear that something will explode... but I'll take my chances ;D

A picture I'm sharing...
A lot of changes in four years...

... or in this case, more like twenty.
(If you're confused, we were inspired by Gary Larson, and The Far Side.
We're cockroaches, going to a fancy ball.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 17

Monday, October 3, 2011

My early riser had a hard time in some of the hotel rooms - no way for him to get up and start his day without disturbing others.  But here, at our resort in Kings Beach (north Lake Tahoe) not a problem!  We loved this place - the Ferrari's Crown Resort.  That sounds a lot fancier than it was, as you can see from the picture.  The resort is older, and has been owned by the same family since the 50's.  It was clean, family-friendly, and right on the beach.  Kind of made me feel like being in Gramma's kitchen.  And it was such a delight to have a suite.  Kerry and I had our own bedroom, the boys had two queen beds in the 'living room', and the kitchen could be closed off - nice for early risers :D

And this is the view from our window... aaahhhhhhh.  We have definitely gone from summer to autumn as we came up into the mountains, and found the pools closed.  No problem.  Lots to do.

Just a short drive from our lodging brought us to Donner Memorial State Park.  For my foreign readers, the Donner Party were a group of emigrants traveling west to California.  They met with tragedy trying to cross the mountains too late in the year, back in 1846.  They became trapped and had to spend the winter high in the mountains, for which they were very ill-prepared.  Only 48 of the 87 survived, and many of the dead were cannibalized before rescuers arrived in the spring.

The memorial statue here marks the site of one of the party's cabins.  Do you notice the pole?  Actually, that's not a pole, but a tree trunk, cut off quite high.  The height of the base of the statue matches the height of the trunk.  The winter of 1846-47 was unusually harsh, and that was the depth of the snow.  They cut the trees off at "ground level" for firewood.

The park has a wonderful museum full of interesting dioramas and artifacts.  Only one problem:  it was so dismally underlit I wished I had brought a flashlight or headlamp.  Why???

We loved the trails, though, wandering through the pine forest.

This rock was used as the back of another of the cabins, with the fireplace right up against the rock.

Of course, boys being boys, the rock must be climbed.

And this one, too.  I bet in the summer people swim here, in the Donner Creek (River?).  I bet you can jump off the rock into the water below.  There was a campground in the trees, just beyond, but with the nights getting cold I was glad we stayed at the resort.

Fresh pine-scented air, fall colors, and clear water.  Happy sigh :D

We drove on to Donner Lake and looked up toward Donner Pass.  No question but that the weather was changing...

Still, back in Truckee we still had sunshine.

We were glad to find Jax Diner :D

Our hotel was bracketed by wonderful public parks and beaches - King's Beach and Moon Dunes -  practically deserted this time of year.

Wondering how big Lake Tahoe really is?  Here ya go.

Somebody in town has a sense of humor...

And here's the kitschy sign for our comfy lodgings.

Of all the boys, guess who insisted that they must go into the lake?

My youngest explorer and adventurer - Gunnar.

These two were quicker to head for the hot tub, though Kerry and Gunnar soon joined them.

Had a much-enjoyed dinner at Jason's Beachside Grill and called it a day.

Day 17 Miles : 44          Total Miles : 3819

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 16

Sunday, October 2, 2011

None of us were sad to be leaving Fallon, and we didn't have too far to go today.  Heading west across Nevada, I don't know that I've ever seen so many trailers and pre-fab homes in my life.  At least some of them looked well cared for, but many were obviously abandoned.

We knew we had plenty of time for a detour, and Kerry had an idea.  Do you see that little white "V", way up on the hill?  That's our destination - Virginia City.

The drive up began pleasantly enough as the road wound its way through these hills.

But Good-Golly-Miss-Molly, do you see that little yellow sign?  The one that says 15% Grade?
Yah.  They are NOT KIDDING!  And it just kept going.

Though it looked like a ghost town when we first arrived, the crowds soon followed.

We poked around a bit while we waited for some of the main attractions to open up.  The Silver Dollar Queen's dress is made of real silver dollars.

Virginia City was a mining boomtown that sprang up with the discovery of the Comstock Lode around 1860.  Apparently they took about $400 million in silver and gold (mostly silver) out of the mines over the next 20 years, earning Virginia City the title "America's Richest Town"... until everything went bust.  Now it's all for the tourists.

Kerry, of course, loved the architecture.  See the "V" up on the hill to the right?

St. Mary's in the Mountains, Catholic Church, with the morning sun behind it.

The main attraction for Kerry, of course, was the steam train.  And boy did we hit the jackpot.  Apparently this steam engine hasn't run for months, and they're only using it for two days before putting it back in storage.  (Probably they use a little diesel shunter the rest of the time.)  We just happened to come on the right day to ride the steam train!

The half-hour excursion runs down to Gold Hill and back up to Virginia City, right through the ruins of several old mines, and some still working.

Steam engines need water.  And what an experience.  We passed through a tunnel on the way down and thought nothing of it, but going back up the hill?  Oh boy, with that little steam engine working hard, it was pouring out smoke and steam.  Though we were in the tunnel less than a minute we got a real feeling for what it was like to travel by steam train.  Hot and stinky.

Virginia City is a National Historic Landmark, but it's also a living town.  I love the huge rain gutters... and the satellite dish.

We also lucked out in that we were in town on a very special weekend.

Yep, it's the 2011 Outhouse Races.  The two cowboys above are unrolling the T.P. for the finish line.

The boys thought this was absolutely hilarious good fun, and it was, except... guess who the much-promoted sponsor was?  See that guy in the black pants, white shirt, and white hat - bottom right?  He's there representing the Must@ng R@nch.  Yes, prostitution is legal in Nevada.  Yuck.

On to better things... we toured the old Best and Belcher Mine, right under the Ponderosa Saloon.

Turns out we had a private tour from a very authentic and friendly guide.

And we watched the Wild West Show, with old-time gunfighting.  Usually, the good guys wear the white hats...

... and the bad guys wear black.  Though this guy was a real crack-up.

Still, we had to cheer when the Sheriff shot him 'dead', with much drama, and no blood.

Virginia City's heyday was during the Civil War.  Trust Tate to find the soldiers in town!

After a few hours, poking around town, and a much-appreciated lunch (the boys have discovered French Dip Sandwiches) we were ready to head east and up into the Sierras to Lake Tahoe.  Pictures, tomorrow :D

Day 16 Miles : 116          Total : 3775