Well, I’m back at work after two weeks off, and what a two weeks off it was! Read the below post about the beginning of the vacation and the Las Vegas bowl where the Cal Bears beat BYU! This post picks up where that one left off.
After the game in Las Vegas ended around 9 PM, Brian and I went to my Uncle Rick’s desert ranch outside of Yucca, AZ. Uncle Rick and Aunt Garnette had come up from their vacation ranch to watch the game with us and we caravaned to the ranch with them. I would tell you how to get there but it’s WAY back (like 20 miles back) off some gravel roads from Yucca. I made sure to get GPS coordinates for the place because I don’t know if I could find my way back without them!
The route to Yucca, AZ from Las Vegas took us over the Hoover dam, another place I’d never been. I was surprised just how narrow the canyon the dam was in. From that standpoint the dam was pretty small. However the depth of the dam is AMAZINGLY deep. We didn’t stop, but from the Car not only could I not see the bottom of the canyon, I couldn’t see the lake’s water (which I’m told was low) from the top of the dam. It was a very impressive canyon. I was also suprised by how deep in the canyon the dam was. We were probably a good 200 feet (heck, maybe 500) below the top of canyon when on top of the dam. Finally, it is clear that dam puts out a LOT of power. The power lines coming out of there are as big as the power lines coming out of a nuclear power plant. I’ll have to go back there sometime during the day and walk around to see the entire facilities…
We arrived at my uncle’s ranch at about 11 PM and since it was dark, I couldn’t see much other than what was inside their small vacation house. When I woke up in the morning, what I saw was amazing. There were Joshua trees everywhere and TONS of cactus. One always stereotypically thinks of the desert as miles and miles of sand with a cactus every couple hundred yards. That was not the case here. Not only were there tons of different types of vegitation it was as dense as a redwood forest. Of course, most everything here is under 10 feet tall so it doesn’t have the enclosed feel of a redwood forest, but there really was that much vegitation. We were only there for one day (two nights) but we managed to take a hike up to a nearby hill to see the entire valley, play a round of frisbee golf (uncle Rick has a full 18 hole course, all that is missing are cart paths and a score card), and visit with some of their neighbors who live there year-round.
That evening we got a call from my wife Wendy. She had been called by the Yucca fire department saying they were towing my car. I had left my car at the empty lot right next to the fire station and uncle Rick drove Brian and I into the ranch in his really nice truck. Since the roads to the ranch were all gravel and somewhat bumpy, we thought it best to leave a Jetta in town. Well, apparently the fire department didn’t take to kindly to that. After talking with Wendy we realized that they were only threatening to tow the car and it may still be there. Nevertheless when uncle Rick and aunt Garnette drove us to pick up my car to head home the next morning (now the 24th, the game was the 22nd, we spent the 23rd at the ranch) there was some question as to whether the car would be there. Both Rick and I were somewhat confident that the car would be there because Yucca is such a small town that it would be a hassle for them to tow it and they wouldn’t do it for a few days. Thankfully we were right.
Brian and I made the 9 hour trek back to Roseville (interestingly, although Yucca is two hours from Vegas, since they are off of I-40 and I-15 respectively and those two freeways meet in Barstow which is where one cuts over to Bakersfield, the driving distance from my house to either place is about the same) arriving there about 5:15 PM on Christmas eve. Sadly because of some miscommunication between Wendy and I, she wasn’t expecting me back because of the towed car incident and had stayed at her parents place not expecting me until late at night. I was pretty exhausted, so I slept in Roseville (Brian drove home to Oakland) and drove the hour and a half to Oroville to meet up with Wendy and the boys in the morning. We had a nice Christmas day, including Mass at the small Parish in town (more on this in a later post), in Oroville and came home in the evening after dinner.
Think that was the end of my travels? As Al Pachino says, “I’m just getting warmed up!”
The following day (the 26th) we all got in the car and drove to Yosemite. It is somewhat of a Christmas tradition for my Mom to take me and Brian to Yosemite around Christmas time. We haven’t gone for the last few years because of having little babies both inside and outside of Wendy. This year with our youngest being nearly 1, we decided it was time to go again. Yosemite usually has light snow in the valley and heavy snow on the top of the walls. This year it was BONE DRY. It even rained for a day while we were there. We took Gregory and Andrew up to Badger pass so that they could play in the snow but despite the fact that there was snow up there, it was raining and the boys didn’t have any fun. Thankfully, Gregory loves bus rides so the trip up to Badger pass wasn’t a complete loss.
We stayed in Yosemite for three nights and then drove home. For those counting, I’m now up to 31 hours of driving (9 to Vegas, 2 to Yucca, 9 home, 1.5 to Oroville, 1.5 home, 4 to Yosemite, 4 home) and I had only been off of work for a week! Thankfully I got a full 6 days at home to relax, watch football (stinking USC and Oregon killed the Pac-10 bowl record!) and catch up on some ToDo items.
But it wouldn’t be any fun if that’s where it ended, would it? Last Thurday, Wendy, the boys and I got back into the car and made the 6 hour trip to Oxnard (in Southern California between LA and Santa Barbara) to go to my brother-in-law Tim’s wedding. His fiancee’s (now wife) family is from Oxnard. We had a fun time down there and the wedding, particularly the reception was a lot of fun (more about the ceremony in a later post). But the driving, particularly after a week of so much driving took its toll and after the 7 hour trip home (we took a route up the coast to Pismo Beach to have a little more scenery) we were all (particularly the boys) very glad to be home.
For those counting I spend 44 hours, more than a full work week, in the car on my Christmas break. That was a bit too much but the trips were a combination of fun and important and was glad I went on them all. Tune in next month for my update: the month stayed at home.
(Actually expect a couple more posts, as indicated above, soon)