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Crater Lake

September 20, 2014

Today we left Klamath Falls on a gorgeous fall day and toured Crater Lake.  None of us had ever been there.  Dad and Marla had tried in vein twice to go see it - but in the spring and fall often the park is closed due to early or late snowfall.  But there was no danger of snow today!

We were fortunate enough that we were able to have dinner tonight with Dave's cousin Marty, her husband John, and their two sons Andy and Johnny.

Klamath Falls

September 19, 2014

We left Point Richmond this morning, picked Dad and Marla up in Sacremento and headed for Klamath Falls.  Long day on the road, but when we reached the hotel we were lucky enough that Christina had packed our dinner - leftovers from Zachary's Pizza - Chicago Deep Dish. Mmmmm. Zachary's is the best!  Even better than what we had at Uno's in Chicago.  So we had a picnic sitting outside the hotel.  The hotel owner came running out insisting that we needed wine glasses.  But we told her that chateau de cardboard did not require fancy glasses.

Sonoma

September 18, 2014

This morning we left with Mike and Christina to head for Sonoma.  First stop was Gloria Ferrer for some champagne.  The poor gal serving the wine started to put a big tray with glasses on the table, and it was one of those slow motion things where the tray, not quite onto the table, started to tip over backwards.  Glass and champagne everywhere.  Ooops.  She was super embarrassed.  But soon all was well when a new set of drinks was served.

Next stop was Chateau St. Jean.  Their facility is quite elegant.  We decided to splurge and taste their premium wines - which were excellent.  But none of us had the stomach for $80 to $100 per bottle prices.

Then it was onto BR Cohn.  We were way less than impressed.  None of their wines was particularly good, and all had just silly price tags - particularly given the quality.  Yet the tasting room was packed and people were buying like crazy.  It was one of those "the emperor has no clothes" moments.  Just goes to show what happens when a name brand goes down hill - only the name remains and apparently that's enough to continue to convince people "it must be good".

We had reservations for 6:30 dinner and had time to kill, so we walked around the square in Sonoma.  We wandered past a sign advertising a "new generation" tasting room.  Wondering what a "new generation" tasting room was we stuck our heads in to find a modern plush room with couches - empty but for the gal behind the counter.  The winery was called Passaggio.  She invited us in and we asked what they were about.  She explained that their wine maker believed in crisp fruit forward wines - nothing aged in oak.  We figured it was worth a try.  Turned out to be really good and we bought a couple of bottles.  Their Chardonnay and Sangiovese were our favorites.  On some of their wines they give 5% of the sales to the fallen officers fund because the owner used to be a police officer.

Then it was onto dinner with Jerry and Carol from Angelina.  They live in Petaluma - so we were super happy to be able to see them while we were here.

 

Just call him Captain Dave

September 18, 2014

Yesterday we drove up to San Francisco, stopping along the way for lunch with Dave's Uncle Andy and Aunt Marie.  Then dinner with friends in San Francisco.  We arrived late at the home of Mike and Christina in Point Richmond.  Some might remember it was here on their dock that we stayed - precisely a year ago - on our way south through San Francisco on Apsaras.  Mike had a pitcher of sangria ready when we arrived.

Today was all about Dave studying for the US Coast Guard captain's written exam.  A month ago he started studying for the written test.  We purchased an on-line training package to help him study.  Purchasing the package was a bit of a fiasco though.  The school you choose will be the ones to administer the test, so we needed to find a school that would be giving the test in Seattle when we were home.  There was one school that claimed to offer a test location in Seattle and said they would schedule the test at any time.  Melissa sent email to request a test date while we were home.  They said they didn't believe he would be ready in 6 weeks time.  Melissa explained Dave's experience.  They sent him a quiz - supposedly to determine if he was qualified to purchase their $500 training course.  Dave completed the quiz.  Melissa then asked which test location she needed to put in the shopping cart - there was one for Bellingham, Friday Harbor, and Aberdeen, but not actually in Seattle.  Their response was, "if you need help figuring out how to operate the shopping cart then maybe an on-line class is not for you".  Seriously?!  We wanted to tell them to take a flying leap at that point, but they were the only on-line class with a test schedule that fit our needs.  Dave suggested that maybe we take another trip back to the US at some point when he could take the test in Florida or California or something.  So Melissa started trolling back through all the schools and when and where their tests would be given.  Low and behold, one school was giving the test in Richmond CA - less than 5 miles from where we are staying with Mike and Christina on the date that we had planned to be here anyway.  It would only give Dave four weeks to study and get ready though.  When we got to Seattle a few weeks ago we picked up the class materials and along the road Dave has been studying.  He actually only studied four evenings total for a couple of hours each night.  Then he did a bunch of practice quizzes today before the test.  And no surprise he passed with flying colors - passing two of the four sections with 100%.

What does this mean?  Well, getting his US Coast Guard captain's license is now only a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork away.  Getting his license means that he can carry up to 6 passengers for hire.  Not that we plan to start chartering our boat.  The most likely use for the license is that Dave might do the occasional boat delivery here and there for friends and some insurance companies like to see a licensed captain aboard.  None the less, it is a huge achievement to get this milestone behind him!

We were ready with a bottle of champagne and a new captain's hat when he arrived home!

San Jose

September 15, 2014

Today we left Melissa's Dad in Bakersfield to hang out with the grandkids and headed for San Jose to see Dave's cousin Judy and her hubby Robert. By sheer coincidence, Judy's brother Gerry was in town for training for a new job, so we got to see a "bonus cousin" tonight that we've not seen in years.  Knowing Dave well, Judy suggested a local burger joint for dinner.

Play Ball!

September 14, 2014

Yesterday we drove to Bakersfield CA where Melissa's brother and his family live.  We hung out and had dinner.  Then today we got to go to the kids' baseball games.  There is nothing cuter than kids playing baseball.

This is Logan.  Note the intense look of concentration as he swings, and unfortunately, misses the ball.

Eventually he was walked by the pitcher.  Note the levitating bat in the background.

And now the levitating kid.

This is Carson defending third base.

 

He was ready to make an out - had someone actually managed to toss him a ball...  It was confusing as both teams were wearing red shirts making it nearly impossible to tell who was who during the game.

Now up to bat.

Carson jumps out of the way as the ball hits the dirt at his feet.  A fairly regular occurrence.

Then it was back home for a big family Sunday dinner. 

Sedona

September 12, 2014

Today we drove around Sedona before departing for California.  The scenery was (yet again) breathtaking.

We then headed off westbound.  We went through a small town called Jerome, AZ.  It was a super cool little town with wineries and galleries.  If we weren't trying to get further west today we would have stopped for the night.  Further down the road we found Hualapai Mountain Resort.  We stopped for lunch, but decided to hang for the night.  Not crazy expensive and great happy hour.  What more do you want?  In the afternoon the waitress came down from the restaurant to tell us that an Elk had wandered onto the property.  Melissa grabbed her camera.  Isn't she pretty?

Grand Canyon

September 11, 2014

We headed out of Moab this morning across Monument Valley.  More amazing scenery all along the way.

 

We had planned to go to Sedona and then onto the Grand Canyon tomorrow. But looking at the map we realized if we just detoured 30 minutes off our path we could hit the Grand Canyon today.  Movin' movin' movin'.

Yeah, ok, nothing quite like the Grand Canyon for sheer grandeur.  It's ENORMOUS.  Staggering in size really.  But in truth there is more to see and do at Arches National Park.  So we get why people would choose to go there instead.  But still, the views...

Arches National Park

September 10, 2014

Late last night we pulled into our "Glamping" spot at Moab Under Canvas.  In the morning we awoke to a bit of fog.  The place is gorgeous.  Big king beds inside the tents.  The problem is that the place is located right next to a busy highway.  So that sort of spoiled the feeling of being out in the desert camping.

When the fog cleared a bit we headed for Arches National Park.  We had heard it was more beautiful than the Grand Canyon.  We've not yet seen the Grand Canyon (next stop) but we had to agree that the sights were amazing.

 We stopped for lunch at Sorrel River Ranch Resort.  A place we had spotted yesterday while driving down HWY 128.  Their lunch deck is right on the Colorado river and the views were great.  This is a super pricy place to stay ($400/night) but was the perfect spot to hand out in the sunshine.

While we were sitting there a blue heron happened by. 

Dave is a happy camper with a nice glass of chardonnay.

We then drove back up the highway to get some pictures that we couldn't in yesterday's rains.

We turned down a dirt road called Fisher Towers Trail.  At the end were these amazing rock formations.  As cool as anything we saw in the park.

 

 

We then took a jeep tour up the mountains to see the sunset.  Unfortunately we had no idea that the tour operator's son would decide that scaring us to death was fun.  So Melissa and Marla were pretty miserable the whole trip as the jeep slid across sheer rock faces, down vertical embankments, and up rocks you would swear the jeep couldn't possibly make without tipping over.  The guy faked brake failures just to get us to scream.  Here is more or less what the view out the window looked like - though this doesn't really do it justice.

And here is a picture of the other jeep that was with us going through the mud.

They did show us what they claimed were dinosaur tracks.  Though we wondered if they were put there just to show the tourists.

When we reached the top there was a cool view over the river at sunset.  But it wasn't worth the trip. 

 

 

Moab

September 9, 2014

We left Colorado Springs in the rain today.  Coming over the pass from Denver it rained and there was a ton of traffic due to road construction.  Oh fun.  But it was all worth it when we got to the cut off from HWY 70 onto HWY 128.  From there to Moab the scenery is spectacular.  The pictures don't do it justice at all.  If you ever get the chance you have to make this drive.

 

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