December 27, 2004

Christmas 2005

Filed under: General — @ 11:31 pm

Kim and I drove back to Eastern Washington Thursday evening for Christmas with the family. We got in late and immediately went to bed. The next day was a relaxing Christmas Eve day. We viewed the first few hundred of my dad’s Kenya photos and lounged around.

We went to church service a little early to help put out luminary candles. There were already plenty of people to help, but we set joined in anyway for something to do. It was a nice service and I got to see a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in a while. Daniel Meade was there and I hadn’t seem him in 3 years. In talking we discovered an amazing coincidence: Daniel is living in the same room in a house by the freeway that I was living in 3 years ago when I last saw him. Daniel had never seen the house and it’s all different people there now. I think it’s funny that he’s even living in the same room since the room was an attic with low ceilings. Daniel seems a little tall for that room.

We all went to bed and Santa Claus filled the stockings. The next morning we opened presents and ate candy. After cleaning up all the wrapping paper we left for Grandma’s house. Sarah got a pogo stick and we all had to try it. It was pretty hard actually. Sierra and Sarah put on a play where they painted faces upsidedown on their chins and did a comedy routine. We did a white elephant gift exchange and I ended up with the gift that I brought, a backpacking snowshovel.

December 19, 2004

Japanese Day And Party At Jacob And Travis’s

Filed under: General — @ 1:31 pm

Gabe, a Japanese studies major, decided to have a Japanese themed day. This started off with all you could eat sushi at Todai’s in downtown Seattle. I definitely ate all that I could eat. In fact I didn’t eat anything else until the next day. The fresh sushi was too good to stop eating.

Gabe and a friend of his watched some samurai movies later in the day after we had napped off our food coma. I watched part of Lady Snow Blood, but then Kim and I left to visit Jacob and Travis.

Jacob, Travis, Waleska, Anna, Phil, Jesse, Deborah, Kim and I all drank and talked. Everyone seems to realize that we’re all much more mature at our parties now than we used to be. I think we realize this as we sit and talk about all the crazy stuff we used to do while we were together in college, and know that we don’t do stuff like that so much anymore. It’s probably a good thing, but it’s easy to miss the old times.

December 16, 2004

Visiting Kim’s Parents In Florida

Filed under: General — @ 6:20 pm

Kim’s parents, Ron and Joan, picked us up from Kim’s grandma’s on Saturday and we went to stay at a time share in Indian Rocks Beach west of Tampa. Over the next few days we were very busy sight seeing and having fun around Florida.

Sunday we went to an auction, saw the sponge docks, and bought some stuff at a gigantic flea market. The auction was fun though none of us bid on anything. It’s probably a good thing that Kim didn’t have a number or I think she might have started using it just for fun.

The only unfortunate part about doing all this is that we had to drive everywhere, and as everyone in Florida told us many times, traffic is terrible. The main problems are that lights are 3-5 minutes long and they’re everywhere, and too many drivers are either over 60 and pay no attention while driving along at 40 mph or they’re crazy and drive along at 70-100 mph (not a good combination). Thankfully, Ron did all the driving so Kim and I were spared dealing with all the traffic. He even managed to avoid a fender bender accident that happened right in front of us.

Monday Kim and I gave her parents their Christmas present, a kayak trip to see the manatees! Read more about that in my other post. Kim and I also opened gifts in the stockings that her parents had brought for us.

Tuesday we went to Myakka River State Park. We saw an amazing amount of birds including the roseated spoonbill, vultures, and many varieties of herons and egrets. We did a boat cruise of the lake and also saw alligators! They were basking on the river banks to soak up the sun and some of them are huge. We saw some swimming in the water and some walking on the land. I can’t get over how much they look like dinosaurs. After the chilly boat cruise we did a canopy walk where we climbed up a tower so that we could get a nice view over all the palm trees. On the way home we stopped at an injured bird sanctuary so we got to see most all the birds we had been looking at in the wild up close and then some.

Tuesday night Chip, a friend of ours from California, had flown into Florida to be with his family for Christmas so he met up with us and we went out with him and his brother Ray. We went to a cool Irish pub with a thatched roof in downtown Tampa. It was fun to catch up with Chip and meet Ray. On the way home Chip avoided an accident with a crazy driver who decided to change 3 lanes of traffic going 40 mph on the freeway with no warning and without looking to see that there were cars behind. Crazy people.

Wednesday we went to Ybor City, the old Cuban district in Tampa. We saw part of the museum and then went to find Cuban food for lunch but had a hard time finding it and settled for Italian.

Finally we said our goodbyes and Kim and I got on the plane to go home.

Swimming With Manatees In Florida

Filed under: General — @ 6:20 pm

Kim and I surprised her parents with a Christmas present of a kayak trip to see the manatees, also known as sea cows. We drove up to Crystal Springs and rented four kayaks. They didn’t have all their kayaks in so I ended up with a crocodile kayak. How cool is that?!

We paddled around in the calm waters of the bay for a while, watching the pelicans that dominated a little island. Then we decided to head out to find manatees! The open water was a little choppy and it was hard going. Fortunately, the series of canals where the manatees could be found wasn’t far away.

The manatees move out of the cold ocean waters and into areas with warmer spring water for the winter. They have zones surrounded by boueys that they can go in without being bothered by humans. They’re curious and social animals though and come out to see what people in the water are doing.

We passed the first spring and didn’t see any manatees so we paddled on to the second, and there they were. I immediately jumped in with mask and snorkel. There were three manatees in the area, a mother, her baby, and a grey one that did it’s own thing. The baby was especially curious and would come up to everyone who got in the water. The mother would always be just a step behind it. I rubbed the baby’s back and it rolled over so that I could rub it’s belly. By this time, Kim and her dad had had enough of watching and also jumped in. Kim’s mom stayed with the kayaks.

Kim swam with the manatees about a year ago, but they intimidated her at the time so she didn’t touch them. Manatees are harmless, with no teeth, but they’re very large and obviously more agile in the water than people, making them seem a little threatening. However, this time Kim worked up the courage to get close to them and touch them.

The water from three natural springs was pouring out of a stream nearby, so we waded up the stream to see the area. It was a beautiful, peaceful, secluded area with crystal clear water. After splashing around for a while we ate and headed back out to the open bay.

We were headed to another manatee spot, but the wind was making it choppy and hard to get anywhere to we turned around and went back to the springs. Kim’s mom decided to jump in at this point. She touched the nose of the baby as it came up to her and yelled and swam away. The baby started chasing Kim’s toes since she had painted them with sparkles.

The tide had changed enough so that we could get our kayaks into the stream where the springs were so we paddled back into the area to see the other sections. Finally, we decided to head back since we had already been out almost 4 hours and needed to return the kayaks.

We saw some more birds on the way back and got some fun pictures. We returned the kayaks, changed clothes and headed back to Tampa, hungry and a little tired, but having enjoyed the day greatly.

December 11, 2004

Visiting Kim’s Grandma In Florida

Filed under: General — @ 6:19 pm

We flew into Tampa and rented a car to drive to Sarasota where Kim’s Grandma Keane (her real name is Corinne Lavorgna) lives with her boyfriend Bob. Kim’s grandma lives in a manufactured home community for older people. Since we got to Florida at 6 in the morning traffic wasn’t bad. The car rental would have only been $20, but we aren’t 25 so it was $45. Lame.

Kim’s grandma worked the day we got there which worked out well because we just passed out in the sun by the pool and slept while the old ladies did water aerobics. Kim’s grandma came home and made us her famous lasagna (like Lavorgna, ha ha). It was vegetarian spinach lasagna, and Bob would have none of that so he at spaghetti and sauce with meatballs. After dinner we went to swim in the pool and sit in the hot tub.

The next day we went to Kim’s grandma’s favorite beach, Siesta Keys. It was really nice with white, fine sand. Then we went to the pier and there were dolphins jumping around in the water! Pelicans were flying everywhere and old men were fishing. I think the birds in Florida were one of the coolest parts of the trip. There’s so many birds everywhere! Grandma Keane took us to lunch on the water at Sharky’s and I had calamari.

Kim’s grandma wanted to take a picture of her and Bob in the hot tub and send it out as a Christmas card, so we pulled a palm tree behind the hot tub, put some ornaments, and took the picture at night. We developed the pictures at Walgreens the next morning.

Kim’s parents showed up that afternoon. They had driven down from near Daytona Beach. Everyone talked for a while and then Kim’s parents, Kim and I went to a time share condo on the beach near Tampa.

December 5, 2004

Snow Shoeing Steven’s Pass

Filed under: General — @ 1:31 pm

This weekend we headed into the mountains again for some snow shoeing. The drive was a little easier this time since we just went to Steven’s pass and started at the Pacific Crest Trailhead. It was snowing most of the time and very pretty, except that you couldn’t see very far with all the snow coming down. We hiked in until we had to turn around so that we got back to the car before dark. We built a snowman at the spot we turned around. Bridgid fell into a little stream while she was crossing a log, but only got one foot wet. Brian somehow wasn’t tired on the way back so he gave Kim a piggy back ride for a few dozen yards. That seemed to wear him out pretty quickly and made for a funny video. I spun some donuts in the parking lot. Kim even gave it a try. It’s actually pretty hard to spin out in an all wheel drive vehicle.