Saturday, July 21, 2012

Magical Week at Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp

 Do you know is so great about this line up of empty wheelchairs??  

The kids are all in the swimming pool!!  YEAH!!

Monday through Friday this past week we commuted from our home to Santa Barbara (about an hour and half south) to volunteer our time at the Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp held at UCSB. The long days were so incredibly worth it!! I was uplifted and inspired, as I knew I would be at this awesome camp. Evan had participated many years at this camp. And both Mike and I have volunteered before. When he aged out of camp three years ago I kind of went through withdrawal. I really missed the smiles and joy from the kids at camp! There is magic that happens between the kids and the counselors. All wheelchair users. 

So, a few months ago, I contacted the director and asked if Mike, Evan and I could volunteer. They were happy to have us and said they would find something for Evan to do. He was able to be a volunteer for the older group of campers under one of our favorite counselors, Bill Balles. You can read more about Bill here.

The adult counselors and coaches at this camp are such great role models for the campers.  And the campers are so inspiring and willing to try to new and scary things!!  It was just a privilege to be a small part of helping it all to happen.

We were asked not to post pictures of campers so I respected that and didn't take many pictures at all.  However, if you would like to learn more about camp.   I KNOW you do.  Here is a video of the local KEYT news story. You will be amazed at how well spoken the campers were!!  And just look at those smiles!! 


Click here for an article in a local Santa Barbara paper.  And here for a slideshow of pictures.  And one more webpage from Big Wave Dave right here.  He captured some great smiles!!

I hope we can volunteer next year.  Maybe you can too!! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fourth of July Week Fun

July 4th this year started bright and early in the morning for us.  We were helping to serve at the church pancake breakfast in Santa Maria!   Before we left for the activity, I sent a quick text message to Rachel to find out where she and Joey were (they were coming to visit and were planning on leaving Mesa, very early in the morning.)  I was surprised when Katie sent a message back and said, "I'm at home!".   Wait, how did Katie get that text??  Did I sent it to the right person?  Did my phone have a weird glitch?  So, I sent Katie a text back, asking if I had really sent her a text.  Her reply..."apparently".  Oh, my!  So, then I asked Katie to call me, and as soon as I said hello, it hit me!! Rachel was at Katie's house. They got me good!!  Rachel and Joey were smart and drove Tuesday evening to Katie's house.  They had spent the night there!  They were going to the pancake breakfast and then head to our house, four hours north. 

We enjoyed our pancake breakfast and program. It was fun and great to see many old friends.   We came home for lunch and soon Rachel and Joey were there!  It was so great to see them!! 

 It was such a beautiful day.  We headed to the Bob Jones Bike Trail. 


Man, is Evan ever fast!!   Can you tell we are having a hard time keeping up!!

This is the San Luis Creek which flows along the path.  It was so pretty that day!! 

There are great trees for climbing!! 

We decided not to fight the crowds at the beach or pier and head up to middle school on the hill to watch the fireworks.  Here is our vantage point. 

Isn't the sail on this boat pretty.  

 Rachel is all bundled up for the cold!! 

Evan, me, Mike and Rachel.  We just enjoyed chatting and nibbling snacks waiting for the fireworks!!

The next day we headed up to La Cuesta Encantada otherwise known as Hearst Castle.  W. R Hearst was the famous publisher who built this the huge home on property in San Simeon.  We took the Grand tour.  This place is amazing and is now consider a museum with lots of ancient art work on the walls.

 This is the dining room. 

 Hearst actually considered this a ranch not a castle.  He was very informal and the condiments would be on the table in their original containers.  It looked rather odd around all the art work.  

They are doing things a little different now at the castle.  After your tour you can just wander around the gardens until your heart is content.  I wish I would have know that before I got tickets.  I would have planned a little better.  I was expecting to complete the tour in time to head back down the mountain for a picnic lunch.  We wandered in the gardens though for quite a while taking in all the beauty we could until hunger gave in.  Here is some of the beautiful scenery and flowers. 



This is the indoor pool.

The front of one of the cottages.

This is the view of the ocean from the castle. It was simply stunning!!

We also had fun going to the Great American Melodrama and just playing games at home.  Wii tennis was especially a blast with four people!!   When Joey and Rachel headed home to the desert on Saturday we followed halfway and went to the Los Angeles temple where Katie and Brad met with us.  It was great being in the Temple with some of our children.  It reminded us that families can be forever!!

When the Cats Away...

the mice do play.  A couple of weeks ago,  Evan went to Camp Kelley Creek.  Mike and I decided play.  We enjoyed ourselves up at Big Bear Lake for a few days. 

It was very beautiful and relaxing up there in the San Bernardino Mountains.

One end of the lake is set aside as a bird sanctuary.

  There was a nice little boardwalk to help you get a better view. 

 It was very peaceful. 

The second day we decided take the Scenic Sky Chair Ride at Snow Summit.  

Being up so high wasn't quite as spooky as I thought it would be. 

Once at the top you can hike to your heart's content and take in the beautiful scenery!

The sky was so blue and trees so green and the temperature was perfect. 

We thought this tree was very unusual. 

And the flowers were so colorful!

At the top we had views of the San Gorgonio Mountains on one side

And Big Bear Lake on the other.

This rock seem to need some help from the tree.  All I could think of was the song "Lean on Me".

I loved these ski chairs in front of a building at the top.

The view down was incredible!!

 Later in the day we took a small nature hike on the opposite side of the lake.  We spied these little creatures and flora.

I am not sure the name of these floating flowers, but we saw this all over the place. 

Here is a close up.

This is Boulder Bay.  Thus the big boulders in the middle of the bay.  The water was so blue!! 

This cute troll greeted us outside of Trolls where we ate lunch!! .

Big Bear Lake has a small rescue zoo.  Isn't this eagle just gorgeous?  He was missing a wing and his other eye was blind, but he was still magnificent! 

This isn't the best picture, but this box turtle was actually sitting in a cardboard box!!

The last day there, we took a tour on a pirate ship!  This was a lot of fun.

Here's a dummy pirate just hanging around.

This house belonged to the late Andy Griffith. 

This house belong to Mel Blanc voice of Bug Bunny and many other Looney Tunes characters!!  His grandson lives there and came out to greet our tour. 

We really enjoyed Big Bear Lake.  We thought that it would be really crowded up there in the summer, but it was NOT at all.  One waitress we talked to said the economy has really affected the summer tourist season.  We hope to go again, it was a beautiful and delightful place to be and the air was clean and fresh.
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