Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cowabunga Dude!!

Surf's Up!!
Saturday we became members of the Project Surf Camp family! 

I had heard about this camp from my friend Gretchen a few years ago, but never got Evan involved.  I guess I just thought it wasn’t really for Evan.  This year, I decided to call and tell them a little bit about Evan and see if it was possible for him for participate.  I explained that he could not stand and was told that was not a problem they would love to have him come out and surf!  So, I signed him up.  What was I thinking?!?  

Other family members are invited to participate and April agree to give surfing a try too!!  It made me feel better to know she was there also!  What an awesome, sister!!  

On camp day we drove up and got him signed in.  We were meet by some of the most enthusiastic positive people you could ever possibly meet!  

You need to know that Evan has lived a mile from the ocean all his life.  Surfing is kind of a way of life here!  Evan’s peers at church surfed!  A lot!  I was all of a sudden flooded with memories.  Memories of Evan being on the sidelines.  Actually, one particular event where Evan was, well, I guess you could say uninvited to his young men’s (church youth group) activity.  They were going to the beach to surf!  I just wanted Evan to be able to watch.  But, everyone wanted to be in the water and no one wanted to sit with him on the beach they all wanted to be in the water surfing.  Talk about being excluded.  

So, when Katy, Project Surf Camp director, said, “Evan WILL surf today!”  I was hit with unexpected tears.  I shared with her the experience of being left behind, and she said, “You are a part of our family now!”.  Wow! Really, a family!  Katy said, don’t worry, we cry every day here!  We are here to support you!  Really!!  

Evan was lovingly fitted with a wetsuit!  Try putting on a wetsuit in a wheelchair!  It didn’t phase these people at all!  In no time at all they had that wetsuit on him and he was ready to go.  

The plan was for Evan to sit on the surf board and someone would hold him from behind.  That was Hannah, a high school student.  (Young people sometimes get a bad rap these these days, but I want you know there was a whole slew of awesome young people volunteering their time to help people with special needs that day.)  There was also someone behind the surf board and two spotters on the side making sure the surf board stayed straight and to grab Evan in case he fell off.  April got to be one of his spotters.  By the way, Evan NEVER fell off!   

Emotions flowed watching Evan catch that first wave.  He had a great big smile on his face!  I can’t tell you how many waves he caught!  He had a blast!  And we were thrilled.  

Project Surf Camp’s motto is changing lives.  Thank you for changing ours.  

Surfers and Instructors in front of the famous and beautiful Morro Rock! 

Getting ready to have some fun!

Instructions and Stretching 


Look at that big smile!  Evan was completely trusting of people he barely meet! 


I was getting a little worried how far they went out, but it didn't phase Evan at all.  


Catching more waves. 

Just taking a break to warm up a bit!  That's Hannah and Caleb, I can't say enough about how awesome they were!!

Smiles are something you see a lot at this camp! 

Of course you can't be at the beach and not build a sand castle!  

Look Ma no hands!! 

April even got a go on the board with Evan!! 

And she got to catch some waves!

More big smiles!!  
Check out Project Surf Camp's Facebook page here.   Make sure to "like" them!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Today my sweetie and I  took a lovely drive up the coast. We stopped along the way at different sights.   Not to brag or anything, but we live in paradise just in case you didn't already know it.

The water at San Simeon Bay was such a beautiful color and so peaceful and calm.

We saw creatures big and small. 

We decided to walk along the beach south of the pier at San Simeon.  These elephant seals looked like rocks from far away.  As we got closer we realized what we were seeing.  They are humongous!!  They were actually several miles from the thousands of sea elephant rookery just below Piedres Blancas Lighthouse. 

What a life the elephant seals have just hanging on the beach all day!  They yell at each other and throw sand around.

I was so excited to see this little guy.  I had not seen a banana slug in quite a while.  They are kind of gross but cute at the same time.  What do you think?

This egret was just hanging out watching the sleepy waves.

The ocean was a beautiful deep blue color.  There are sea otters and sea elephants swimming out there. 

The fog was coming in and out all day making the sun play peek-a-boo!

 We hiked out to the shoreline at Harmony Headlands State Park.  I do believe there is a just a tinge of green on the hillside.  It is interesting to see such brown hills in February next to an ocean full of water.  

We ended the day at Morro Bay for a yummy dinner at the Great American Fish Company.  The sun was beautifully setting below the fog at Morro Rock.  What a great Valentine's Day with my best friend and forever companion!  Thank you, Mike. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Moonstone Beach and I Madonnari

Team Evan is doing great! We are working hard at getting in as many "steps" as we can.   Evan gets to convert his rolls into steps!!  

Anyway, yesterday Evan had a Joyous Voices practice in Atascadero and it was hot, hot, hot.  So, after practice we headed to Cambria to Moonstone beach.  We love the boardwalk right along the ocean!  It was foggy, but still very beautiful along the shore line.  We had fun walking and rolling and goofing off.  

The board walk is up on a bluff from the ocean. 

Even though it's summer there are still some flowers in bloom. 

There is beauty in the dry thistle too!

This is a Central Coast poppy.

I was surprised to see this green moss on some of the rocks along the ocean.

Evan is always a happy roller.

This cute little fella decided to pop up from under the board walk to say hello!! 

"Hello, little ground squirrel.  There are a LOT of you here!!  You must procreate like rabbits!!

On the way home we decided to stop in San Luis Obispo.  It was time for the annual IMadonnari Street Painting Festival.  It has become a tradition for us to stroll Mission Plaza and admire all the beautiful chalk painting.  Here are some of my favorites from this year!!  There were not all done,  which was kind of cool to still see them in the process of being finished. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How is it that Evan is so famous?  His handsome face just keeps popping up all over the place.  Here is the latest addition:

This came as a postcard to my house much to my surprise!  I had never seen the bowling picture before. I don't even know when or where this picture was taken!  It was also in a local weekly newspaper, The New Times.  

But it doesn't bother me.  I am happy to support United Cerebral Palsy.  They do much in our community for people with all types of disabilities.  We appreciate their support of Evan's power soccer team the SLO Dragons

So we are going to be doing lots of walking and rolling the next month.  Mike, Evan and I along with our friend and Evan's former teacher Karen Beatty have formed a team for UCP's World Challenge.

World CP Challenge - Every Step Counts

The challenge is exercise an equivalent of at least 10,000 steps a day.  This could be cycling, swimming, wheelchair rolling, yoya or whatever.  It will help us to be healthy and support UCP at the same time.  Yesterday our team put in 43,907 steps!  I think that is a great start.  To start your own team or to donate you can click here or the logo above. 


Friday, August 9, 2013


 Don't you think that a 40th wedding anniversary deserves something special?  Mike and I have been talking about going to Hawaii for several years now.  We just kept putting it off.  Partly, because of my fear of flying across the big ocean.  And, partly because, well, we didn't quite know when to go.  It gets a little complicated for us to be flying off to places with Evan.  When we realized that Camp Harmon (a special needs camp, Evan has attended the last few summers) had an eight day camp session available this year we decided this just might be the right time for us to actually go to...

So, on July 31st, we dropped Evan off at camp and headed to the San Francisco Airport.  I had to pray really hard not to let my anxiety get the best of me. Luckily, the flight was smooth and I didn't embarrass myself or my sweet husband.  We got into Honolulu, fairly late at night, and settled into a nearby hotel for the first night in Hawaii. The next day we would head up to stay on the North Shore.  We actually had found a little vacation rental right on the beach in Laie!!  I knew I wasn't much for the big city and Waikiki didn't really sound that fun to me, so Laie seemed like the perfect spot!

Before heading to the North Shore we decide to check out Pearl Harbor.  Wow, is there a lot to see at Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.  We started with a tour of the battleship the USS Missiouri or "Might Mo".  This ship is massive!! We were able to tour the deck and the interior. Talk about getting lost.  It would be easy to do in the belly of that thing.  I only have admiration for the men who served on board that ship especially Captain William M. Callaghan. A Kamikaze pilot tried to attack the "Mighty Mo".  His plane crashed into the side of the "Mighty Mo" causing a fire, the bomb was a dud.  Luckily, no one aboard was injured.  But, the body of the Japanese pilot was found aboard and the sailors were just going to throw him overboard before the Captain stopped them. He said that he was young and serving his country just like they were. He ordered a traditional burial at sea with military honors.  What a wise Captain.  I was very touched by that story.

"Mighty Mo"

Next we went on the USS Bowfin, a World War II submarine.  I don't know how anyone can survive in a submarine.  I would have claustrophobia. 

USS Bowfin

Some of the Bowfin equipment

A telescope aboard the Bowfin

The ships bell.

Right by the Bowfin there was an submarine museum.  We wondered around for a while and then were surprised by this display about U.S.S Halibut.  This was the submarine Mike served on in the Navy.  Except, it was decommissioned and then recommissioned before Mike served on it.  It's an interesting submarine because it was used for spy missions.  Of course, I didn't know that when Mike was on it. 

Then it was on to the U.S.S Arizona Memorial.  This was just a very somber experience. 

 This memorial can only be visited by boat. The memorial floats over the remains of the sunken ship with it's crew still buried underneath. 

There are but a few parts of the ship that are about the water.  

The United States Flag flying high about the memorial. 

We left Pearl Harbor and were excited to drive to the another side of the island.  We really hadn't seen the pretty part of Oahu yet.  It didn't take long before were were driving through the green mountains.  And then before we knew it we were on the other side of the island.  We found our little rental and settled right in!  Before the evening was ended though we headed across the street and Laie's little theater. There we meet up with some old friends of ours from California who run the theater.  it was great to catch up with the Neilsen's again. 

Every morning while in Laie, we woke early and took a walk on the beach.  This was the sunrise the first morning. 

 The ocean here is a very different color blue than the beach near our home.  And the water is much warmer. 

 There were always beautiful pillowy clouds in the sky. 

 The water was crystal clear and shallow in many places.  We were surprised how far out the waves would actually break.

 This is an area called Sunset Beach which is a few miles up from Laie.

Our first full day in Laie we decided to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  This place did not disappoint.  We had a tour guide TJ who was so funny!  He made it so enjoyable and we learned a lot about the culture of the different islands too!

 We made a fish by weaving leaves together. 

 My favorite Island show was at the Aoteraroa Village.  The warrior dancers were scary with their eyes bugging out and they stuck out their tongues.  We were able to play games they would play on the island and participated in a ritual ceremony.  

 These actually represent different people, kind of like a family tree.  Very interesting, indeed.

 Scary warriors.

For dinner we attend a Samoan Luau.  The fire twirler was just a young teenager but he was phenomenal.  We decided to just enjoy and not take pictures, so you will just have to believe me. 

The evening show, "Ha, Breath of Life" was just awesome, they had fun with fire there too!  I would highly recommend the Polynesian cultural center if you are ever on Oahu. 

The next morning we were up early again.  Something, about still being on Pacific time, I think.  Anyway, we were treated to beautiful skies again. 

This morning we were off to the Laie Temple, just up the street from where we were staying. 

Three things surprised me about this temple. First, it is a rather small temple.  Second, it is old, it was dedicated in 1919!  And, third, it has progressive ordinance rooms, with beautiful murals.  We enjoyed our time inside this beautiful, spiritual building.

 Our next excursion was to Waimea Valley to see the waterfall and the botanical garden. 

 Mike was the brave one to swim out to the waterfalls. 

 It's kind of dangerous so they make everyone wear life vests and there are lifeguards on duty.  I decided being photographer was a perfect job for me. 

We had lunch at the park with this pesky little visitor. 

Mr. Peacock tried hard to get some of our lunch.  We did NOT let him succeed!

There was a beautiful botanical garden that actually we walked through to get to the waterfall.  I got  just a little carried away taking pictures of the beautiful flora and fauna.  Some of the flowers were so unusual.

This was called a pineapple ginger plant.

These trees span out like umbrellas covering the meadow.

This tree had about seven different parasite plants growing on it.

I love how the ivy climbed up these trees.

These looks soft to me at first but were prickly.

When we were finished at the Botanical Garden we decided to drive to the Dole Plantation.  But, it was Saturday and there was stop and go traffic. Yes, on Oahu!!  So, we turned around and went back to the rental to just play in the water and walk along the beach. It was a smart move!

It was fun to see the kite surfers.  They didn't have to wear wetsuits like they do here in California.

 Sunday dawned bright and early and we were treated yet again to the beautiful sunrise.

 The beach was filled with these fast tiny little albino looking beach crabs.  You have to look closely to see them. 

 After early morning church service we drove to Honolulu to meet up with my brother Tim and his sweet wife Marina.  They were both off today so it was great to spend some time with them.  They were great tour guides even though they have only been living on the Island for six months. 

 They took us up to Pali Point Lookout for an incredible view of the windward side of the Island.  

 It was very very windy, but the view went on forever. 

I could not believe how steep the mountains are that rise to the sky. 

 The trees here were rather strange.  Marina called this "drippy". I think it's a great word for how the tree's roots just kind of drip right over the cement wall.

And this tree had roots that reminded me of ribbon candy.  


We drove to another point, and found this crazy hand glider.  Boy did he ever pick up some speed.  It kept looking like he was going to run into the mountainside.  


 It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's crazy!!

We enjoyed just visiting with Tim and Marina and driving around the sites of Oahu.  On the way back to Laie it rained just a little bit on us and then we were treated to this beautiful rainbow.  What a great way to end a day! 

Our last full day in Hawaii, saw us up early again.  How we loved those early morning walks on the beach.

 You can't dress like this early in the morning back home in California.

 In the distance is Goat Island.  We were told you could walk out there during low tide.  But, it still looked a little dangerous and we are not strong swimmers, so we decided to look from a distance.

This morning we had lots of choices of things to do.  We decided after breakfast to just stay at the beach and play.  The sweet owner of our rental unit had left fun things for the beach including snorkeling equipment.  So, we gave that a try and what a great morning we had!!  

Under this ocean there was lots of beauty.  I was so happy to have a underwater camera.  See, those cute little fish there!! 

Here are some of the stripped fish.  We found most of the fish hanging out near the rocks.

 Mike got pretty good at snorkeling.  I was better with just the mask.  I just didn't have my head under for so long, but did get to see lots of cool things.  It was very relaxing to just swim in the ocean and enjoy the beauty.  Most of the time we had the beach and ocean just to ourselves.  This is a morning I will remember for a long time. 
There is a cute little spotted fish there near the bottom.

Can you spot the sea cucumber?

 We decided after lunch to go back to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  The tickets we had bought on Friday allowed us one day of general admission for FREE.   So, we could wonder to our hearts content and see the shows we missed. I am so glad we did! 

The flowers and gardens here were just as beautiful as the Botanical gardens. 

This is Hannah who taught us about Hawaiian dance.  It's not really the hulu. 

This was a traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony.  It was very interesting.


 This is the scary warrior dance.  I just had to go back to see the Aoteraroa show again. 

 These sententials were  standing guard over the Polynesian Cultural Center.

 Our last morning in Laie we were up before the sun.

 We would soon be saying, Aloha to Hawaii.  We packed and headed to Honolulu to have a late breakfast with Tim before heading to the airport.  We had a great vacation.  Everyone should probably go to Hawaii at least once in their life.  It is a magical place indeed! 


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