Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Place

I took these pictures while we were still unpacking but I wanted to get them up. Jackie working hard on unpacking the dishes. She threw the garlic cloves in storage bin and the garlic stunk up the entire car. We couldn't quite put our finger on it but we thought our car smelled like we had left some Italian food in it somewhere.

Northwest view from our balcony
Northeast view. You can see the Miami Heat arena on this side of the water, just before the bridge. 6 blocks away.

The best part about a studio apartment is that a TV goes a long way...
you can watch a movie in bed...
watch the game while in the kitchen...
and best of all is that you don't have to wait for the commercials to use the bathroom. Livin large.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Epic Journey

I hesitated to title this blog post what I did, especially since we listened to Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, but I'm not going to change it now. No doubt there have been greater journeys, but Jackie and I feel pretty good about the one we just took. 

Technically, you could say we started our journey in Chimacum, Wa, a city even further North and West than Seattle. We drove 4 hours on Saturday, January 3rd to attend Jackie's cousin Ruth's wedding reception and then a little under 4 hours to get home that same night. We got home at 1:30 am, packed our bags, then I slept for a couple of hours while Jackie continued getting ready before I got up around 5:45 to get to the airport in time for our early flight back to Provo.

Sunday night we slept at my brother's house and then drove into Provo on Monday, with the intent of running a few errands and then heading back to Midway to have dinner with John and Beth. The snow began a little after noon and it didn't stop until about noon the next day. We tried to head back when the snow slowed down a little around 10:00 pm. We got stuck on the first hill in Provo canyon and had to reverse down the hill until we could cross the median and return to my buddy Ryan's house. He graciously allowed us to keep our things in his extra bedroom so we actually slept on our own bed.

Tuesday we waited for the snow to stop but it kept coming for awhile. Around noon we got out of Ryan's house and went to Barnes and Noble to pick up some books on CD, Marley and Me and Into the Wild. As we came out of the store, the snow was picking up so, instead of running a few more errands, we drove straight to the canyon to try our luck again. We got up the first hill OK this time but almost got stuck on the next hill by the Falls. We slid all the way across the lanes but we were able to keep enough speed to make it to the top. 

Wednesday arrived with clearer skies, enabling us to finally get out of Utah. Beth made us pancakes and I ate four, a record for me. We finished packing all of our stuff in time for lunch at the Dairy Keen. 
Good-bye snow

We were able to get Jackie's keyboard into the car...
...as well as her spice rack

We started the journey with my winnings from the poker game on Jimmy's birthday. Enough Airheads, Nerds, Starbursts, and Twix to get you across the country.
The purple route isn't exactly the one we took but I thought it was a cool picture.
Neither Jackie nor I realized the sign says "Welcome to Colorful Colorado" until now. If you would have asked me to use 50 adjectives to describe Colorado I don't think I would have even come up with colorful. Maybe cold or something like that.

If you look at the above picture again you might notice me in the lower left. Try tilting the screen a little bit. We conquered this summit. One of the top 7 proudest moments in my life is when we got out to take this picture. Here is the quick version of the reason why:

When we first got into Colorado there were signs throughout that read "Chains required, all commerical vehicles, Vail Pass MM 180. I had been checking the weather in Colorado and they hadn't had the storms like Utah had and all of the roads we had driven on had been cleared. I figured the warnings must be a day or two old and even if they were current, it only said commercial vehicles. 

We got to mile marker 179 and all of a sudden there was snow on the road except for the black parallel lines carved by the tires. I figured if it continued like this we would be perfectly fine. If only. MM 180 arrived and we passed about 40 semi's on the shoulder all putting chains on their trucks. We continued on and went around the bend. As the turn straightens out, we see the start of the hill and the flashing sign that read, "chains required on all vehicles when flashing". D'oh! Too late.

We don't have chains so I'm trying to go as fast as I can to make it up the hill. There is about 2 inches of solid snow/ice on the road. We make it up the first little hill, it straightens out, and then we make it up the next little hill. #6 on the CD is playing and it is "Get Me Away, I'm Dying" by Belle and Sebastian. I comment, "seriously" after the song's title is sung and Jackie responds with a nervous laugh. Up ahead we see flashing lights and trucks starting to pile up on our side. It scares me because I know we can't lose our speed. 

I pass a truck in the left lane on the downhill because I was trying to gain my speed. The uphill begins again and he begins to pass me on the right. Two SUVS pull up right behind so I'm boxed in and I'm losing speed. I slide to the right towards the semi and come pretty close. The car behind finally realizes that I'm all over the road so he backs off a little. The semi gets ahead of me again and we slide over to the right and lose all momentum. 

The sign a little ways back read $500 - $1,000 fine for not obeying chain rule. There was no way I was going to pay that so I decided to try our luck pushing the car up the hill. When I explained to Jackie the plan, she looked at me like I was crazy. Looking back now, I can't blame her. I convinced her to get in the drivers seat because I was going to get out and push the car. To my surprise, it actually worked. 

We got the car going and I was able to run behind it for about 25 yards. I yelled to Jackie to keep driving and to try not to lose her speed. She took off and I was left behind to walk the rest of the hill. I ran, or rather, slowly jogged, for then next minute or two. I came up to the highway patrol car that was helping with an accident on the other side. The tow truck guy behind him sees me and yells at me, "Hey boy, are you lost!?" to which he gives a little chuckle. As I'm about to respond, the patrolman whips his flashlight in my direction and screams, "Hey! What are you doing!?" His very unsympathetic tone caught me offguard but I pointed up the hill and told him I was chasing my car. He had other things to do so he backed down a little bit. He left me with something like, "Well, you're going to kill yourself out here!"

After jogging/walking for the next twenty or so minutes, I caught Jackie. Unfortuneatly, she wasn't at the top yet. She was on the phone with AAA but I told her I thought it was close and wanted to give it another shot. She had stayed in the right lane with the thicker snow. At this point I told her I was going to push her into the left lane and that I didn't care if she blocked the other cars or slowed them down. It was more difficult to get the car going this time but we did and it worked out. I was only able to run with the car for about 10 yards this time. 

I was fighting a little cold and it didn't help that I haven't done any athletic activities for about a month a two. I had spent the past two weeks watching about 25 movies in a basement in Oregon and now I was pushing cars uphill in the snow at 10,000 feet. Jackie got to a point where I could hop in (a few yards from the summit)  and then I took it to the top. I saw the sign and didn't really want to stop, I wanted to get as far away from that place as I could. However, I decided to stop and take a picture for memory's sake.

When I got back in the car and turned the music back up, #5 on the CD was playing and that one is appropriately titled, "Fox in the Snow." Almost the entire CD had played while I was out there. Our misadventure in Vail, CO set us back an hour in our quest to find Elder Emmett in Aurora. We pulled into town at 10:30 and decided to try and contact Michael in the morning. We stayed at the Super 8 and Jackie has informed me that we will never stay at a Super 8 again.    

We called the number we believed to be Elder Emmett's cell phone 4 times, twice on Jackie's phone and twice on mine. No answer, only answering machine that said, "this is an answering machine, leave a message." We knocked and knocked but no answer. I took a picture of Jackie knocking because I didn't think they would answer the door. I at least wanted a picture to show Michael that we had been there. As I was about to take a few more pictures of the house, his companion opened the door.

"Hi, is Elder Emmett here?" 
"Um, ya."
"Ok...so...um we have a package for him, we wanted to drop it off"
"Oh ok."
"so...is he availabe?"
"Oh definitely, ya come on in"

I can't really blame the Elder for acting a little weird, they don't have many visitors. He invited us upstairs but Michael was in the shower so we just waited a minute downstairs. He hopped out of hte shower and threw on some pants and a shirt. He greeted me with a hug and then as I tried to introduce his new sister-in-law he had already exclaimed "Jackie!" and opened his arms to give Jackie a big hug. The family they live with was gone somewhere so he invited us to sit in the living room. 

We talked for about an hour and had a good time. My favorite part was seeing the missionary in Michael. If he felt Jackie was being alienated from the conversation, he would engage her with a question. "So, how is the trip going for you?" or something like that. He also carried on the conversation with questions like "so what do you think about..." or "how do you feel about..." He spoke more clear and concise than I remember.  He's the man. 

2 seconds after this picture was taken a trucker waiting in line to have his cargo weighed yelled over at us, "There's not much to see in Kansas!" and gave a little chuckle. I smiled and tried to think of something to say but all I could come up with was, "...Yeah!"

Jackie did most of the driving through Kansas. I slept while she kept herself entertained with the 5 hour Pride and Prejudice on DVD. We stopped at the Sonic just passed Hays, KS at 2:05. Within the next 10 minutes about 20 cars came through. That seemed like a lot because the town could not have had much more than 20 people. We then saw the sign for happy hour between 2 and 4, drinks half off. I could recommend the drinks, however, not the chili dog.

We jumped over Missouri and landed right in Illinois. The stinking sign for Missouri was too hard to get a picture in front of. 
We stayed with Uncle Jake and Aunt Lesa in Charleston, IL. We got in very late but we were able to spend the morning chatting it up. They made us pancakes in the morning and I ate 4, tying my personal record that I set earlier in the week. I'm not really a pancake guy. A big thank you to the Illinois Emmetts.
Kentucky may not be the land of Lincoln like Illinois, but he was born there! 
In Kentucky, we stayed at the "Harper Hotel." Shara Harper is one of Jackie's good companions. They live in Murray, Kentucky because Shara's husband Trevor attends school there. We showed up and she had set out our towels, bottles of water, toiletries, and everything else you would expect in a fine hotel. 

They took us into Paris, Tennessee to show us all of the sites 
like the mini Eiffel tower
and the fine dining at Knott's Landing, home of the best catfish in the land

Jackie opted for the catfish
while I set my heart on the fried chicken

This is Jackson, Shara and Trevor's 7 month old baby
Going over the bridge to "The Land Between the Lakes" in Kentucky
It rained through most of the journey this day but we still got out to take a picture when we got to the Georgia sign. You actually go into Georgia, come back out, and then cross back in again. This picture is from the second sign.

Jackie wasn't feeling well after the catfish that day so we stopped in Perry, GA. We didn't get as far as we wanted to get but it all worked out. Once she got it out of her system she felt a lot better

The next day we had success in getting to our destination. It was a beautiful day as we drove into Florida and then along the eastern coast. I'm sitting on the rooftop pool right now because that is where the free internet access is. Pictures from Miami to come soon.

A few from Christmas

With the abundance of snow in Portland, we spent Christmas afternoon making an igloo. Portland was almost unrecognizable with all of the snow they had.
My body was already a little sore because two days earlier I had moved all of our heavy furniture out of our apartment with John.
This is a picture of it the next day. After Christmas day it starting raining and didn't stop. The igloo soon melted into a "puddle of love"
On January 2nd we gathered at Charlie's house to celebrate Jimmy's birthday. 
"Baby Jimmy", as Jackie often refers to him, is now 19 years old