Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day Four - State Hopping to Florida

This mornings sunrise

Today we again started early by getting up at 5:30 am.  We're becoming pros at this getting ready, loading up the vehicles and getting on the road stuff!!  We are however really feeling all these days of driving.  Sore muscles, tired backsides, tummies that could deal with a bit less fast food and just ready to be done with all the driving.

Feeling a bit like this character : )

We began our morning in Baystown, Tx and finished crossing Texas to enter Louisiana, the State that desperately needs some highway upgrades and maintenance.  By far the worst roads we've had on this trip!!  After Louisiana we passed through Mississippi and then the very bottom edge of Alabama.  All 30 miles of being in that State, before we entered Florida!! 

We travelled on to Pensacola and arrived at our destination far earlier than we had originally expected to.  We're staying the night at the La Quinta Inn here in Pensacola.  We celebrated our early arrival by Kevin and I getting take out salads from the Denny's restaurant at the end of the parking lot and ordering Domino's Pizza delivered for the family.

Everyone has decided to head to bed early tonight, the girls have VOLUNTARILY put themselves to bed already!  I think they are really excited about tomorrow arriving and the prospect of seeing our new home.  I am too as I haven't actually seen it live and in person myself, only pictures.  Kevin and Cameron both assure me it's great since they were both there last August to see and work on it right after our purchase.  So this will be a new adventure for me as well as the girls.

We've managed to make it through in good time and with few real incidents, just a handful of truly ignorant drivers, mostly today, but that's part of such a long drive.  The weather has been good for us and today was  really beautiful.

So after about 7 hours of driving tomorrow we will arrive at our home in Deltona, Florida.  Am really excited, but find it hard to believe that the day is finally almost here.

Will post again once we are at our destination.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day Three Florida Road Trip

We started the day bright and early, 4:30 am I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep.  So at 5 everyone was up and preparing for the days travel.  Had a quick breakfast at the hotel, then headed out for the beginning of another long day of travel.  The moon was behind us and was full and gorgeous - unfortunately my official photographer, as I was busy driving, failed to get the picture of that.  He will remane nameless, uh hem Cameron (smile) .  He did manage to capture the intense sun we were heading into that really made seeing the road a challenge.

The view through the windshield, intense and hard to see!!

We made good time again as we drove through San Antonio and then onto Houston where due to rush hour traffic we were a little slow.  Arrived at Baytown, Texas around 5:30pm.  After making dinner from the supplies we brought, I bathed the girls and took a long hot shower myself to try to work the kink in my left shoulder out.  It got really sore late this afternoon after all the driving, so Kevin was sweet enough to stop into a store and pick me up some Icy Hot to rub onto it to try to help. The girls thought the stuff "smells great"!!

Cameron entertaining himself with music and a game on his I pad

Hotel for the night in Baytown

They busied themselves coloring and telling stories about their artwork until it was bedtime.  I have both in the room with me tonight along with Doc the cat.  Kevin and Cameron are sharing the other room with the 3 dogs.  Bea's been a bit out of sorts with all the travel and missing her buds, so we decided to switch the arrangements tonight to see how these would work.

Girls coloring and telling stories about their drawings - no lack of imagination here!!

We plan to be up early again tomorrow and finish the day in Pensacola, Florida.  The weather seems to be cooperating as the severe weather alerts have ended and the storm over that area yesterday has dissapated. YAY!!!!

I'll finish this up and get to bed early myself - so goodnight for now.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Day Two Travel to Florida

We began our day bright and early 4:30am California time, 5:30am Arizona time.  We had a nice breakfast at their complimentary buffet, packed everything and everyone up and we were on our way.  It was COLD!!!!  The temperature sensor on my car read 27 degrees - BRRRR!!!!  Add the wind and we were anxiously waiting for the vehicles to heat up.

We made good time traveling, with stops mainly for gas and letting the dogs out to go to the bathroom.  We left Arizona, passed through New Mexico and entered Texas at El Paso.  With the exception of a couple larger cities most of the scenery was relatively flat and WIDE open.

Entering an area that was a bit more hilly

With the cold weather the girls were still bundled in their big coats, so at one stop I picked up some warmer tops that kept them warm with a lot less bulk.  The air was cold and dry and the static electricity literally had Lauren's hair standing straight out.  I didn't manage to get the picture of her when she was waiting to get in the truck and it was flying out in all directions around her head. You can get the idea from the shot I took once she was seated inside.

Girls in their new tops

Lauren's hair standing up from the static

We've stopped for the night in Fort Stockton, Tx and are staying at the La Quinta Inn.  It's a quaint little place that seems quiet enough for getting a decent nights sleep.  We'll be doing our usual getting up early tomorrow and continuing across Texas  travelling another 500 miles to Baytown, Tx where we'll stop tomorrow night.

The side our rooms are on

One of the rooms we're staying in

Are making good time and staying on the schedule we'd hoped to keep to.  Will post more as we go.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

First Day Florida Bound

Amber and Eddie stopping by to say farewell

We were up at 5 and packing up the last of our things to get on the road.  We took a final look around the house to make sure we had everything, took some more pictures and then after Amber and Eddie stopped by on their way to church to say farewell, it was time to load up the passengers.
Animals first and then people:

Doc in his travel container ready to go

Bear and Nala set

Bea on her bed and Hannah and Lauren getting strapped in by Cameron

Once settled we were on our way with just a quick stop to add air to the tires and gas.  Gas was $4.57
in California, and our last stop before the hotel tonight was $3.59, almost a dollar a gallon difference!!  At least it's moving in the right direction price wise as we travel : )

One of several dust storms we encountered that rolled across the highway

Everyone travelled really well after some initial whining by a couple of the dogs, and we made great time.  It was really windy in several areas across the high desert in California and then later we encountered a couple dust storms, but nothing too significant in Arizona.

Entering Benson

Best Western There - Pet Friendly!!!

Kids room - Cameron, Hannah, Nala and Bear are in here

We are all settled in for the night now here in Benson, Arizona.  Everyone, including animals are exhausted and fast asleep despite it only being  9 pm.  Since we plan another early get up I'll add my pictures and get ready for bed myself. 

We're off to a great start and looking forward to the next few days going as well.  Good night for now.


Moving Day

Wow it's finally here, time to get in the vehicles and hit the road.  Everythings packed, finally, the route is set and off we go!!! 

Had a chance to say our farewells to family last night as Amber and Eddie put together a wonderful meal for all of us over at my brothers home.  My parents, my sister and her kids, Eddies sister and Karlas dad were all there.
Erika (Eddies sister) watching as Amber and Eddie make dinner
Hal (Karlas dad) with my mom, my sister Anna and my brother Roger

All the Grandkids for my parents

My brother Roger, his wife Karla and Son Roger, Jr.

My parents with my sister Anna and her daughter Clara and son Jared

My parents and their 3 kids

My family, too bad there were too many cameras and none of the shots on mine got all of us looking okay. This was the best

It was really enjoyable, but with all of us needing to be up early for our various schedules we made it an early night.  Once home we completed the majority of what we needed to do  and only had breakfast things to complete before it was time to take off on the first leg of our journey to Florida.

We plan to make about 500 miles a day, so our first stop will be just outside of Tucson, Arizona in a place called Benson.  Will try to post as we travel.  Can't believe this long awaited day is finally here!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Countdown to Move - One More Day

Can't believe we've finally arrived at this point in time after all the months of planning and preparations!!  This is my last day of residency in Southern California (decided to word it this way as my last day of living in So Cal sounded too ominous).  Unlike the past few days that have bordered on the boring, today will be pretty packed full of activity.

We began our prepacking of the truck and car in preparation for Sunday's departure, only to find we were a bit ambitious with what was still left to take - uh oh.  So today we'll be making a couple more trips to Goodwill with items that just won't be making the Florida move with us. A bit disappointing, but with all that we've given away over the months it's become pretty easy to just say we can live without this.

We'll also be dropping off Hannah's Barbie Jeep at Goodwill as the people we had offered to give it to never quite got it together to pick up, which they insisted they wanted to do despite our having offered to deliver it weeks ago.  This one is a bit irritating, but I guess that's life.

Hannah spent the night last night with big sis Amber.  Originally Amber was going to take both girls, but with Lauren's tantrums due to all the upheaval in her world, we felt it best to just keep her routine as close to normal as possible for now.  Besides this will be a time for these two to enjoy time together.  Amber's an incredible big sister and Hannah has really missed her company since she moved out and then later married. 

This evening we go to my brother's home and will enjoy time with extended family as we spend our last night here.  The plan is to get up early in the morning to give our furry family members a chance to eat and do their business before packing them in for the drive as well.  Part of the reason we have less space for carrying stuff, is the space needed to take these extra family members.  That's 3 large dogs and a very old (17) cat, that are making the trip with us.  Bea our Bassett Hound will have her own seat in the truck by the girls.  Doc (the cat) will be in his carrier in the truck as well, and these are the arrangements we made in the back of the Vue for Nala and Bear:

Cameron and I will be up front and the dogs have the back area along with two fuzzy padded cushions we've added.

With all the padded seats and the furry cat bed, these guys will probably be more comfortable than us!!  : )

SOOOO,  now that the sun is coming up - let this day begin!


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Countdown Continues

Two more days before our move!!!  Amazing.  Life has been such a whirlwind of activity for so long that the past couple of days since our final pod left have seemed to drag because other than cleaning up the house and organizing the last of our items for the trip there hasn't been this rush to get stuff done.

We're filling the time with schoolwork , cleaning, dental appointments and the like.  Kevin completed our tax paperwork for family and his business and so we wait.  The TV's are packed and on their way so we've used the few online streaming news sources to stay up to date with what's happening in the world.  I kept out a collection of DVD's for the girls primarily to watch in the truck on the cross country trip, but have some we've put on my computer to watch as a family during this time.

Have finally had time to devote to a couple of books I've been meaning to read, but in truth it's all just to pass the time until we leave.

It will especially be good for the girls once we are on the road.  Though they've been a part of this whole move from initial planning to seeing all the details play out, they really don't have a clear understanding based on experience.  And the experience they do have, especially for Lauren is that I lose everything that is familiar and gave me some security.  As a result we've been dealing with behaviors that range from Hannah's moodiness and following us around like a lost puppydog, to Lauren returning to the tantrums she displayed when she first arrived from China.  Regression with behaviors is quite common in situations like this and even though Kevin and I understand the whys, it doesn't make living with it any easier.  So as we deal with these, we anticipate that when the activity of actually being on the way arrives and they are still with us and experiencing new sights and sounds with their family still there, life will settle into a new normal.  Even the dogs. all of whom are rescue dogs have been displaying their abandonment issues as the furniture has dissappeared and their routines have been thrown into such dissarray.  Cameron understands far better, but he's had his ups and downs as he says farewell to friends - SOOOOOO, needless to say I am looking forward to being on the way and past this limbo stage we are currently in.

One event that is still to come that I'm looking forward to is the family farewell gathering, Amber is having for us at my brother and sister-in-laws home on Saturday.  It will be a chance to spend some time with family before we leave early on Sunday morning.

I've been trying to take a lot of pictures to document all the changes to home and property we've made since we've been here for my photo albums.  I'll show some of the progress to the barn being made by the new owners in my next post.

In the meantime our travel route is mapped, we've booked our first two hotel stops and the last of our Goodwill dropoffs and the like will be completed in the last remaining days.  Supplies of food and water for the family and the animals are purchased and organized and so we're ready.  At least I believe we are  : )


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MWD Tour

On Sunday with all our packing done, we headed over to Metropolitan Water District for a tour of where Kevin has worked all these years.  Lauren has never been there and it has literally been years for the rest of us, so to see the changes was really interesting.

Diamond Valley Earthen Dam and Pump House

We began at Diamond Valley Dam and Lake, which are the newer additions to the MWD area and projects.  Kevin was very involved over many years of construction and then operation with one of his offices located near the pumping plant there.  It's an earthen dam that on weekends has a view point for people to drive or bike to.  The lake is open to fisherman and is stocked with fish for this purpose.  This Lake was added as a large reservoir for the dry and thirsty Southern California area.

Kevin and Kids with Diamond Valley Lake in background

Walking up the trail to the lookout point

Top overlooking Lake and Earthen Dam

Cameron and I at the viewpoint

We drove to the parking area then took the hiking trail to the top and enjoyed beautiful views from the lookout point.
Overlooking pumphouse and Diamond Valley

Afterwards because of Kevin's access we were able to tour the pumphouse and it's massive equipment.  Very impressive.

Looking at the monitor system at the pumphouse

Massive Equipment for powering the pumps

Hannah by a sample of one of the pumps steel turbines

The water pumps that move an enormous amount of water to be processed for drinking water

After touring this area, we drove a few miles up the road to the Lake Skinner Filtration plant.  This is where Kevin originally started and still spends a good deal of his time in the large area his position required him to cover for environmental compliance and emergency response duties. 

Lake Skinner Filtration Plant Entrance

We visited inside the main building and saw all the offices he's had there over the years.  Also saw the control room and labrotory, then spotted the retirement wall with it's open space awaiting Kevin's picture.

Empty spot on retirement wall for Kevin's picture

Next we took a tour of the grounds and after going up to the filter modules to look in the area that can process 150,000,000 gallons of water a day we went down underneath into the water quality tunnel that contains the chemical feeds and water analysis equipment.  This tunnel feeds water down to San Diego.  Once in there we were down about 50 feet with 30 feet of water over our heads.  It was nice and cool in there and the kids thought this was great.  Many movies have used the MWD tunnels for their filming needs.

Exiting the tunnel - see the light at the end where the door is?

From here we went to the Ozone Building and saw the massive pumps and Ozone water filtration rooms.  They had one of these rooms empty for cleaning and maintanance so we could peek in and see the rows of oxigen stones used to push air through the water.  Kevin made a great tour guide!!

Our tour guide

We then got back in the truck and headed to the Dam at Lake Skinner.  It's a smaller earthen dam than the one in Diamond Valley.  You are able to drive across the top of this dam and as we did we spotted a large bird next to the road.  As we slowed we realized this was the bald eagle that lives in this area.  Kevin had seen him at a distance before, but never this close.  He took off and circled over head then landed by the waters edge and sat staring up at us.  It was a nice sort of farewell shot for Kevin to see this.

Bald Eagle on the side of the road on top of the dam

Flying down towards the waters edge

Sitting and staring intently at us

The final stop on our tour was Kevin's Lake Skinner Office at the end of the Dam in the Survey Building.  We stopped in for a picture at his desk and a chance for him to take the phone off forward to his cell phone.  Then he took out his name tag from the door and it was off we went.

Survey Building

Kevin's office

Exit Gate as we bid farewell to Lake Skinner

Great day, and a nice farewell to the place that has been such a part of Kevin's life for so long.