Sunday, September 25, 2005

We all climbed this beauty! Mount. Whitney

Beginning of the trail up the tallest Mountain in the 48 contiguous states.

Our group on the way up.

The first day we hiked to trail camp, which is 6 miles up. The last mile or two I remembered well from last year, it was very challenging. It was very rocky and stair-like, it seemed to be a bit more difficult with 30 lb. bags.

At this point I could not help but have a huge grin on my face. This was worth it all and the view was breathtaking!

The As soon as we got to trail camp we found our flat land for our tents set them up and started dinner right away. The trip was wonderful up until this point. We were starving, tired and cold. It was so frustrating setting up our tents, we had 30 mile an hour winds whipping through the ravine between the peeks, it was about 30 degrees and we were also posting our tents on rock with maybe about 1-3 inches of gravel/sand. Our space was also not flat; we had a 4inch drop for a diagonal quarter of the tent. This made for interesting sleeping arrangements. We couldn’t get our stove started, our fingers were so numb and it was so windy our matches kept blowing out. Finally, after Matt and Brooke were done cooking they let us use their stove.

This was the longest night of my life! I thought it would never end. I was absolutely freezing, the wind was terrible, and I was also terrified and thought I was going to die. This is why; Tuesday they had a storm, so there was 3-4 feet of snow on the mountain. Much of it was still there, we were sleeping near patches of snow. This was not the worst part. We could see snow blowing across the trial we were supposed to take the next day. The wind would whip around our rock shelter and thrash our rain tarp violently (the tent itself is screen so it came right in swirling around Rachel and I and straight into our sleeping bags). Now, tent material when cold gets a little stiff so as it lashed around us it sounded as though people were marching in the rocks with heavy boots around our tent all night long. As our tarp whipped in the wind, it also felt like we were in a tornado and going to take off at any moment. It was also incredibly loud, we had pinned it down the best we could with large rocks but it still was thrashing brutally.

I thought for sure it was the end. Our tent was also closest to the trail, where we cooked dinner and all of the bear canisters. Yes, bear cans. We found out that bears know how to crack the lid open. I kept playing in my head over and over what to do if a bear came after us for dessert. We certainly would not hear him coming. I was trying to figure out if it would be best to throw the giant rocks we had inside the tent (to keep it from blowing away) at him before he tore open our tent or after. I knew if our tent was this loud a bear could get us without anyone else hearing over their tent whippings. We were glad to know Matt and Brooke's tent was just above ours.

Lets just say it was the most uncomfortable, freezing, loud, terrifying and longest night of my life. We went to bed right after dinner, so it was about 6:30pm, tossed and turned all night, we both felt so nauseous from altitude sickness, and begged God to stop the wind and speed up the sun rising, we laid in bed until about 8am (once it started to warm up a bit.)

The decision not to summit in knee high snow, ice, slush and drifting snow, at 30-50 miles per hour, was agreed on by all. Feeling quite content with our trip and not wanting to relive another sleepless 14 hour night we began our trip back down. And again it was a beautiful day for a hike.

I mostly took up the rear, which was bad for conversation with the group but great for picture taking! I won't bore you with all of the backside views of my fellow hikers. But here are a few.

It finally happened. I think my right ankle rolled or slipped, I caught myself with my left leg, hence left hip giving out. I toppled forward on my left knee and pushed myself back up with my right pole sending me falling backwards on my pack. The only damage was a bloody knee with gravel/dirt in it. Brooke was right there like the nurse holding the first aid kit and handing the surgeons, Matt and Ryan, whatever they needed. So, I am fine it was thankfully only a flesh wound and nothing internal.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. The weather traveling up and down the mountain was great! The company was also wonderful! Rachel and I were able to better get to know our new friends Matt and Brooke. It was fun to share meals and work together to purify our water, share oatmeal and hot chocolate. I also had a wonderful time with my sister, I am so glad she is living with me and sharing this part of her life by my side. I am so very blessed!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rachel and I have been running around like crazy...
We are backpacking Mount. Whitney this weekend...
it might snow! Yikes... how fun!
Tomorrow at 4:30 am we are leaving...
I am excited but already exhausted...
Needing sleep desperately...
Will update when we are finished.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I just got off the phone with heath…He is just so precious! I really am the luckiest girl in the world to have such a fabulous husband! He is starting to get into a good routine, and has moved into the barracks close to his trailer-office. This will help him get into a routine and get better adjusted. It was strangely humid there the other day but mostly stays at a dry 120-130 degrees.

I have wanted to post about his great farewell gatherings but have been overwhelmed with all that has been going on and have been afraid I wouldn’t be able to do a quick post and give justice to how amazing our friends are and how great our time was before Heath left. So I thought I would post a little at a time so this is not new straight off the press. Think of it like old-fashioned mail, it takes a while to develop the pictures, hand write the letter, and send it snail mail. It is still always good to hear what is going on.

My multi-talented husband has picked up the art of sushi making and it is the best sushi ever… everyone loves it…well almost everyone! So before he left for Kuwait he thought he would make sushi for everyone as kind of a last hurrah type thing. (Little did he know we all had something huge up our sleeves, none-the-less we still humored him and let him treat us to his delicious cooking) It was such a wonderful time. I laughed so hard all night, that even after everyone left we were so wound up and kept saying over and over what wonderful friends we have.

Here are a few highlights from the night.

Heath our talented sushi chief

Everyone enjoying great sushi, Japanese beer, and good company

Tam, Nyoka and the little one (Heath works with all three of these fine people)

Ryan, Matt and Brooke

Matt and Sake

Sake shots

Holly and Rhianon

Jess has tried sushi before and not been a fan. She toughed it out and tried Heath’s; not even the soy paper, no fish, no crab, no seaweed roll did much for her. But her husband Jake still smiles as he watches her choke it down. They are so cute!

More to come later…

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I just talked with my adorable husband. We have only talked three times since he has been in Kuwait and it is always shorter than 15 minutes but it always makes my day. It has been hard to communicate well on email as well as a challenge on the phone, I get all flustered trying to figure out what the most important things to talk about are. Anyway, he does have access to the blog there so hopefully soon we can figure out how to get him to be able to share with you all directly.

I told him i would post the latest pictures...I hope he likes them...

Is my hair really that long?

He knew this was coming. Rachel, my sister, just finished cosmetology school and I have been wanting to give my hair to "Locks of Love" to make wigs for children who loose their hair. It was bound to happen. Locks of Love, here it comes.

Hope he likes it

Monday, September 12, 2005

Heath is in Kuwait…

He got in sometime late Friday night (our time.) He is 10 hours ahead of us here in CA and only 7 hours ahead for those of you in Michigan. He is having a hard time adjusting to the time difference; wants to nap during the day and stay awake all night. He called me at 4am his time (6pm here.) This could be great if he continues to be a morning person and call in the mornings.

Getting off the plane he felt like tons of hair dryers met him face first. I heard today Kuwait City is the hottest city in the world. Heath says that soon it should be cooling off a bit for the rainy season. For now he is excited that his bunk is directly under the air conditioner.

The food there is great, said he could come home a porker, but the gym there is huge and will keep him busy. He also said people there say that 6 months will fly by.

He should send his email address soon
Keep him in your prayers…
Me too…I really miss him!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I finished my gigantic test! Hopefully I have passed.

I have completed one more piece of the puzzle for my California Teaching Credential. By December 16th I need to be “No Child Left Behind” compliant in order to keep my job. So I have had three huge CA tests to complete and pass. If I pass the test I took today then I will be done with tests and only have my CLAD classes to complete. There are four-30 hour video classes I have to complete. This summer I almost completed classes 1-3 between our Thailand and Seattle trips. Before I knew it I was back at school, we were preparing for Heath to go and spending as much time together as possible. So studying for today’s test and finishing up my classes was put on hold.

This week has been interesting; with Heath gone I have had to spend all of my time cramming for this huge test, while my sister has no choice but to fend for herself and take care of me. She has been absolutely fabulous; cooking, cleaning, helping me look things up online, massage the kinks in my back and comfort me when I have been sad!

As far as the update with Heath…last I talked to him was last night, they had just arrived in Germany and were getting ready to travel again. There were no specific details because it is top secret when transporting that many troops. It has been so good to be able to talk with him all week; it has allowed me to focus on studying and not on his absence.

Friday however was a tough day. This was peace week at school and Friday we wore red, white and blue in remembrance of 9/11, the troops serving and events with Katrina. This was also the day Heath flew out of CA, so in his honor I wore his white and blue.

I shared tears with one of my students who has been letting me know quite often that he doesn’t feel good. This time I realized that there was so much more to this than just a headache. When I asked him about things at home he began to sob and told me his dad had died 4 months ago and he was having a rough day. It was so good for me to comfort and care for him. Every time I get emotional with Heath's absent I am reminded of all of the positives, all we have to be thankful for and that I am needed here.

But man I sure do miss him. I have just been so distracted. Now on to the next distractions...right?

Monday, September 05, 2005

So it is official, one day shy of two months anticipation, Heath is off. He is up north until Friday doing the same training that he did back in June. We are bummed that he will be so close but unable to visit or have visitors. He does have cell phone service up there and has already called me tonight.

Good byes were hard but very quick. The commanding officer of the hospital gave me his card and many other service members convinced me that if I need anything at all to contact them and soon they will be in contact with me about all the inside info on Kuwait.

Rachel and Chase have been fabulous! They are taking great care of me, giving me lots of hugs, sharing tears with me and enjoying giant bowls of ice cream whith me. Aren't they great? A sister couldn't ask for more.

Before we dropped Heath off we went out for Heath’s favorite dinner… you guessed it…Sushi. Heath really wanted to share this food adventure with Rachel and Chase. I was proud of their attempts. I think they liked some of it, Chase more than Rachel.

Using hands to push in what the chopsticks couldn't

You go Chase...Taking it like a champ

Just a little too much for Rachel; too big and too many textures

Yum... I love this stuff and am getting better at devouring the large rolls

This morning we also ate at Heath’s favorite breakfast place; Beach Break CafĂ©. Our friends joined us, prayed for us, got Heath’s great big hugs and said their “see ya later’s”. Again I have to brag about our wonderful friends.

Soon to come…highlights from the surprise party and sushi party

Sunday, September 04, 2005

It's about time I am able to get a good signal to get online and update...

However, I also have not been updating the past few weeks because my attention and all of my time has been spent with Heath.

In fact we still have a few more hours together to finish up packing his bags and doing the last of the laundry. I drive him to the hospital where he will meet with his team, get on a bus and drive to Camp FHOTC for a couple days of training before he actually flies to Kuwait.

So, updates will come on the adventures of the last few weeks of fun sometime soon.

Thank you all who are praying, it has been a bit emotional around here lately.