Saturday, January 10, 2009

September 15 - December 15 - Scotts Valley

After leaving Wendy & Troys and traveling through So. Dakota, etc, we headed to California to spend time with the grandkids. Peyton had homework where she had to interview someone about their life growing up. There were numerous standard questions, but one of them was "What kind of telephone did you have?" Before I could answer, she pipped up and asked if it was a string with two tin cans. We laughed and I wondered where that came from -- how old did she think I was? I told her when I was growing up we had a "party line" and that when you picked up the phone to make a call, the operator would come on and ask "number please". I remember ours was 925M.

Peyton and I also got a chance to sew. She wanted to make a blanket for her bear. Now this is no ordinary bear. It was born in one of those make a bear outfits when she was 1 year old. His name if Fluffy and he goes everywhere. Poor thing is so worn that there's no fur left on him and in the neck area, you can see the stuffing on the inside. I've had to perform numerous operations on him to strengthen his neck with additional stuffing, give him a new nose and mouth, add fabric on the inside of the neck area hoping that the fabric will hold up. Needless to say he is much loved. Since the blanket was for him, she drew a picture of a bear and her drawing was the center of the small quilt. She chose the fabrics and how they would be arranged on the quilt. She helped sew it together and was very proud of her accomplishment.

Peyton and I carving a pumpkin -- she drew on the face and I did the carving.

We went to a Halloween Party -- I dressed up as Peyton!

During the first few weeks that school had started, Alec had a science project he was working on -- he had to create the components of a single cell and could not use any food items. We all offered different suggestions and the one he settled on was using soap making supplies, beads and embroidery floss. Melanie had a ball cake pan so half the ball was used for the cell. It was grandpa who helped Alec work on his project, melting the soap and pouring it into the mold. Alec came up with the idea of layering the soap so he could add the components of the cell. It came out pretty good and he got an "A" for his project.

The Fall months in Scotts Valley is lots of football, soccer and winter baseball. Alec and Griffin were on two different Pop Warner teams, but thankfully the practices were at the same time and at the same place. We spent every evening at the football field watching their practices and on the weekend to their football games. This was a very intense football time. Alec was a second string quarterback, Defensive End and sometimes Wide Receiver. He also held the ball in position when kicking to the other team during the game. He ususally played the whole game in one of these positions. He got the award for best defensive player of the year. Their team went into the playoffs and after winning a few games, were beat out for the top spot by another team.

Griffin played Tight End, Defensive End and sometimes Line Backer for his team and they had several wins, but did not make the playoffs. Melanie did administrative work for his team and was known by the kids as "Coach Mel".

Simultaneous with football was winter ball, which Griffin played. He would go from football practice to a baseball game changing his clothes in the car or bathroom. Luckily the baseball diamond was adjacent to where they were practicing football. Griff's a pretty good little player and can hit the ball. He enjoys both sports. In December he tried out for the 6th Grade basketball team, and made the team. He had never played basketball and didn't know all the rules, but he learned them quickly through practice sessions and with his dad taking him to the park. I love watching him play -- he was the kid on the court with the perpetual smile on his face.

During football season, Peyton was playing soccer and was on the "Green Dragons". What a stitch to see 6, 7 & 8 year olds play soccer. They would just as well pick dandelions or chat with their teammates, and do other things than pay attention to what's going on in the game. Peyton, however, was a pretty good little athlete. She's left handed and could kick with both her left and right foot. Coach placed her as Left Wing and also as Half Back. There weren't too many games, in fact I think only one, that she did not score. Her best game is when she scored 4 goals. She was one chosen to play in the all star game, was the first to score a goal and got the MVP award. She was so proud and so were we!

While there, Alec celebrated his 13th Birthday. The family took him to IFly, an indoor skyjumping place. Grandpa and I watched as the family got suited up and ready to fly. They were in the tube for a total of two minutes, but said it was a lot of fun.

We had missed so much of the kids activities, that being with them for these months has been terrific. We're no longer "the other" grandparents -- what a good feeling.

We had spent 3 months at Santa Cruz RV Resort in Scotts Valley -- just a 2 minute drive to Melanie and so it was within walking distance. Sometimes Melanie and I would meet half-way and then we'd walk back up the BIG hill to her house. Their house was up a good-sized hill and there was no place to park a 40 ft. RV so we were luck to have a park close by. We had stayed there so long, we began to know the local residents. There were 3 single men in the area who benefits from my baking -- they loved it.

Melanie and I also went to "Boot Camp" a couple days a week. This was an organized exercise class that consisted of using bands, running and cardio work. Seems there was always a lot of stairs involved that we had to run up. The classes were held outdoors in various locations throughout the area. We went mostly to local parks and beaches, which was my favorite place. We would be facing the ocean, sometimes seeing seals and dolphins at Capitola Beach. It was beautiful -- I loved it except for the stairs the instructors seemed to always find. One time, we ran trails in the woods and would lay on the ground staring up through a grove of redwood trees doing abdominal exercises. We would use trees and fences to wrap the bands around to do the strengthening exercises. Can't say I lost any weight, though I do feel much stronger and know it was good for my bones.

We left Santa Cruz RV Resort on 12/15 and moved on to Travis Air Force Base, which was about a 2.5 hour dive to Truckee, CA, which is where we spent Christmas. We were in Truckee from 12/23 - 12/27. We boarded Miss Kirstie at a place in Truckee where she would receive the care and be given her hyperthyroid medicine that she needs twice a day. There's nothing like spending Christmas with the kids and we had a ball. On 12/24 we got about 2 feet of snow and it was beautiful. Todd and the boys worked on the sled run.

Each year Todd tries to notch it up a bit. First he wanted a tunnel and fashioned one with plywood and draped with caution tape as you slid through. More snow came that filled in the run which then required more digging. Todd got the plow guy to stack snow at the edge of the driveway which was the starting point of the sled run. He also added lighting along the run. Neighbors came from all around to use the run. They used snow tubes, saucers and other flat things to go down the run. There were bumps built in and it was fun. I went down and I think the neighbors heard me laughing as I went down the hill. Patrice and Joseph, Todd's folks, came up on the 26th -- there was a snow storm still raging that they couldn't make it up over the pass until the next day. It was great to see them. While also staying at Travis, we drove out to their house and had a nice dinner and conversation. They live in Grass Valley, and have a beautiful spot with 5 acres, a horse and Shasta, their dog. We had a lovely time.

Making cookies for Santa!

Travis AFB is centrally located to Napa Valley and San Francisco. We went wine tasking one day and then on the San Francisco the next, riding the cable cars and having crab cakes and Rene had clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl on the pier. It was fun to people watch, walk the pier and enjoy the crowds and street musicians.

We left Travis on January 5, and are now at Vandenberg AFB, which again is in the heart of wine country. We also went to Solvang, a Danish-American community with its European architecture of shops and whatever else. It was 60+ degrees and a beautiful sunny day. I went back to wearing my sandles. We've met lots of people along the way and at this base, the campers around here have a "Happy Hour" everyday at 3:00 PM. We've gotten together with them a couple of times and are learning of places to go and what to see next. We expect to be here for another week or so before heading further South. Haven't got a concrete plan yet, we just know we'll be heading South.