Thursday

driving into Florida.

I don't think that we ever posted this so here goes...

By the end of the trip we were all getting tired of traveling and being on the road. Al tho it seems very glamours and all to travel and have a life of leisure. It actually can be very unsettling. At least that is how it felt for me. It was awesome and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to travel and see so many beautiful places here in the US. But doing that and not having a "home" that you know you will be going to is kinda hard on me. And I think for the girls too. I don't regret any of the time that we got to travel. Well with the exception of deciding to stay in Joplin, MO. But it sure was a relief to finally get to our destination state!
Here is what the girls did as we were crossing the state line!

And here is the odometer reading when we pulled into the Roberts home. The final destination of the entier long trip.
Yep that is nearly 7000 miles travel from Oregon to Florida with lots of wonderful stops along the way! So you can see now why the happy and excited looks on the girls and Al and I too. even tho I don't have photos of us. That is a heck of a lot of driving. and I will have you know that I did a good portion of that driving too. Even with the trailer on! I am no longer afraid to pull it. Just don't ask me to back the stinkin thing up.

Monday

It is a different world!

I knew that moving to Florida would be different for us but I really had no idea how different untill we got here. Our favorite saying seems to be, It is a different world here. We use it several times a day. Everything and I mean everything is different. the weather for instance. It is very warm here, as I am sure you all know but what we are lwarning is this is the reainy season. Every day starts out beautiful and sunny with maybe a few white puffy clouds in the sky. But everyday there are thunder and lightning storms. Most with rain several without. The dark cloude will just kinda move in and it will thunder and lightning like mad. It is really strange. And when it reains it really rains. It is usually for only 20-30 min or so of rain but it will just come down in buckets. And when it rains and storms here it dowes not cool down one bit. So it turns into this awfull steamy wetness all over. That is not so fun.
Another thing that is different here is the wild life! there are way more birds here and they are tons bigger. There are more frogs here that are loud! Just the other night we figured out that what we had been hearing was not a dog going nuts but frogs! They do not even sound like the frogs back home. Infact here is one of the little frogs here.
We have been told that they are called pee frogs, but I am not sure that is the real name. I don't think that these are the biggest noise makers. we have seen several much bigger kinds around out place. Thankfully I have not seen too many lizards and no snakes. I am not looking forward to that day.
And yet a nother difference. this one is a great thing! The beaches!! They are wonderfull! a couple of days ago we went to Tampa. It is only about 30 min away from us here. We drove over to the Gulf where we had been a few years back when we were visiting. It was wonderful!! We ended up gettinng to this beach inthe evening but because it never really cools off here it was still plenty warm to swim!
You know how when you go to get in the water somewhere like a lake, river or ocean you kinda hold you breath and brace yourself for the coolness. We that is just what I was doning when I went to get in the water here. I mean after all I was getting into the ocean. But the crazy thing is that the water was really warm. I don't just mean warm, I mean WARM like bath water! It was so crazy. I am not sure whatI really think of thatpart. It is nice to not be shocked when you get in the water But it is not that refreshing either. Kinda strange!
Here are a few photos of us from the Clearwater beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
Unfortunatly there was another storm moving in on us so we headed out just after sunset. I am sure that we will be back. Infact if any of you come to visit we will mostlikely take you to this beach as it is the best on the Gulf side!
Here is one last shot just before we left.
Well so here is some other news... I, Chris, got a job! I will be working at an emergency veterinary hospital. I will be working nights! I am not totally sure of my schedule as I am going in tonight for my first night and they will tell me about hours then. I am happy! It was super easy to get the job. I took in a resume and the following day they called me to come in and fill out an application. I did and the DR took me back right then and did an interview. They called a couple of days later and tonight I am goin in! YEAH!! It will be part time as all of the Tech they have ther are part time. It might could work in to more but we will see how they are first.
There is another emergency vet clinic here in town that I will take a resume in to as well. I think for a little while if possible I will try to work both places, part time, and see where I may fit in the best.
So with that I am off to get ready for work!

Tuesday

This is NOT us! - Just in case you were worried

Hi everyone,
You may have heard of 4 people being killed in a traffic accident with a train in Lakeland, Florida.

We were not involved. We're still here. We are still alive.
I've gotten a couple calls already, so I wanted to make sure you were informed.

Ironically, I did help a lady move her stalled van out of the middle of Florida Ave. yesterday. And we also got caught in a short traffic jam that involved an ambulance and a big pickup truck coming back from the store. So it looks like yesterday may have been a full moon, or some other notorious day.

Thanks to everyone who worries about us.
We love you!

Al


Lakeland Traffic Accident
Down towards the bottom are the names and ages of some of the kids involved.

The Destination

Hey everyone,
I've put it off long enough, and we have actually arrived at our final destination. So here is the latest on our journey's end...

Or maybe it's still just the beginning?

We rolled into Florida to shouts and elation from everyone. In all actuality it is super hot here, but I think I disliked the Missouri heat more.

Anyhow, we spent the first few days with the Roberts, at their house. They actually left to stay with Fonda's Mom, while we ransacked their place. I wasn't expecting them to just abandon their house like that, so I gotta say thanks so much to Dan and Fonda, and all the kids for letting us take over their house for a while. We appreciated it.

And then, after a few short days, we found ourselves in a lovely, new 2 bedroom apartment.

This picture is right inside the doorway. You look to the left to the kitchen and what is supposed to be a dining area. We will probably use the space next to the kitchen for a working craft and computer area.

Here's the scene from the front door.
Straight back is the main bedroom. Just to the right, inside the hall is the girls bedroom. And you can see the living room to the right of the picture there. Just to the right of the wall is a sliding door which goes out onto a little deck. It's pretty much so hot here we don't hardly ever go on the deck unless we're feeling freakishly brave.

And then this is the front room and entry way from the hallway. It's a nice, bright, cheery, white place. We're going to be here for the next 8 months, so it should be very exciting. And if you're sitting there falling asleep on me...

WAKE UP!
The next picture is the money shot.


Actually, I don't know if the view is that great, but it's still a very pretty sunset. This is the view from the deck / porch out the sliding window.


Talk soon,
Al

Amazing NEW Discovery - Evolution Proven Wrong!

As I wrote about a few days ago - I studied archaeology in college so I have an immediate and real interest in evolution. In fact I had many, many hour long conversations with my college professors about the validity of evolution, and the impact that theory has on a person's morals and beliefs.

If you are totally honest and 100% truthful, the logical conclusion of evolution is moral relativism. What does that mean? Whatever is right for you is right for you, irregardless of who is hurt by it. Now I know you'll want to say... no we all have to take care of each other, but you MUST admit that true evolutionary thinking leads to 100% moral relativism - END OF STORY!


Anyhow, here is the major teaching of evolution...
If you understand evolution, then you MUST believe uniformitarianism.

Uniformitarianism - the present is the key to the past - in other words we MUST base every thing we see from the past, by the natural processes we see today.


PROBLEM:
- At some point in the past fossil preservation occurred on HUGE scales, and today we have NO (that's very, very little) observable fossilization happening anywhere in the world.
- Frozen mammoth preservation CAN NOT be explained by any modern natural processes.
- Extinctions of strong, well-established groups of animals no longer occurs.
- Petrified logs are not occurring anywhere in the world today.
- Polystratic trees, or trees that cross multiple layers of soil, that should have decomposed over the time it takes to lay multiple layers of soil doesn't occur today.
- Ephemeral markings, things like rain drops and wave ripples, are no longer seen to be preserved because they are so short lived.
- Preserving of soft parts in fossil is unheard of in this day, because the tissue decays so fast.

What this means is that the BASIC underpinning of uniformitarianism is in complete jeopardy.

And I didn't even talk about radioactive decay and its problems (see pictures below). And believe me... there are problems.

I'm not going to say this proves evolution is wrong for you, but you have GOT to look at it a little more open-mindedly - because I'm pretty sure the things my college professors taught me didn't include any of the doubts I just told you about up above.

Check out - The Collapse of Evolution, by Scott M. Huse, and the Creation Museum in Lexington, Kentucky for a little bit more radical opinion on the matter.




Indianapolis - The love of the road at the Crossroads of America

Ever since we left Santa Fe, New Mexico our trip had seemed to hit a slowly sinking threshold of enjoyment. Almost like you might experience sledding down a monstrous mountain on a snow sled...

at first, it is amazing, exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and every moment is just like gulping fresh pure energetic oxygen.

But as you plummet down the steep grade your excitement quickly fades into utter and sheer terror as you realize you're travelling headlong, at 100 miles an hour, at those massive trees, immovable rocks, and no prospects for braking directly ahead.

In the same way, heading east across America had been a quick descent into terrible heat, humidity, sometimes unintelligible southern accents, and a host of other unknowns.

And that is why Indianapolis was such a breath of fresh air, and a last gulp of refreshment before we started into our new life. It was nice to finally see familiar and friendly faces, to stay inside of 4 solid walls again, and to feel cool air. But at the same time it was almost like a call to finish the trip as soon as humanly possible, because the thought of staying in the sticky, nasty, sweltering humidity another night became unthinkable.

Here are our quarters in Indianapolis. Provided, and deeply appreciate by us, by Gary's Father and Mother, Gary and Judy Reinwald. Gary Sr., or Judy, if you ever read this...
Thank You from the bottom of our hearts for such great friendliness and hospitality to all of us. Even though you don't really know us, you still treated us like family. Thank you!



Needless to say, after we left Indianapolis we tried to take the straightest and fastest route directly into Florida. We didn't pass go, and we certainly didn't collect $200. All we wanted, at that point, was to finally get to our final destination - Florida.

Sunday

The chicken coop connection

As many of you know, I've had a pretty successful chicken coop website for several years. You can find out more about it at...
ChickenCoopPlan.com

Anyhow, when we were in St. Louis, we dropped into President Grant's old homestead. Amazingly, his wife kept chickens there. And the national park service has kept the chicken coop as an example of how they lived back in those days, during the middle of the 19th century, before the Civil War.

Here's a few shots, from our visit, that really portrays some of the major considerations a chicken owner might face:

Here's an example of a raised nest box. Nest boxes are super important for your hens to be happy and able to lay their eggs.


Here's an exit door for the chickens to be able to leave the coop and roam (or 'free range') around the yard during the day.

This is an egg basket, similar to what they would have used back then. Ironically these baskets are still used today to collect eggs.

This is mostly just a personal update for anyone interested in the stuff I am doing on the side. I can, of course, use this information on the website to add a little more interest and historical relevancy to what I'm doing.

Al

The forsaken lands...

And then...

the Central and Midwestern United States

After Santa Fe, we started the LLLLOOONNNGGG, perilous journey into the central and midwestern portion of the U.S. And man did it suck.

Actually, Texas was short, Oklahoma was WAY greener and nicer than I expected, Kansas was okay, western Missouri (Joplin specifically) was the most miserable (God forsaken) state I've ever been to - pretty much all the land and the people are some of the worst, most inconsiderate, unbelievable people I've seen on the journey, St. Louis was actually really cool, Illinois was short lived, and our stay in Indianapolis was a total breath of fresh air from our life on the road.

Details...?

OK, here's a few...

Texas was really quite flat - just like I expected. Green though, not like I expected up in the northern part of the state. Also, we did not make it to Palo Duro, which happens to be the second largest canyon in the U.S. Seeing that might have changed my whole outlook on Texas.

Oklahoma was actually a very nice, very green, very clean looking place. I expected dry, parched, dead grasslands with rotting and disintegrating houses. Instead, it was totally nice. We stopped right outside of Oklahoma City. It was hot, but not nasty, humid yet. I do have to say, since leaving Oregon, OKC was our first, real highway traffic jam.

Joplin, Missouri was the most miserable night of the entire trip for all of us. Hot, muggy, nasty, sweaty weather. And for some reason the truck stop next door to the KOA campground is one of the noisiest places on the planet. Throw in a couple drunken, idiotic truck drivers playing with fireworks in the parking lot, and you have the makings of a disaster of a town. Of course the owners of the park don't bother mentioning that. Nor do they opt to put their clients out in the back side of the park away from the truck stop and the fireworks store right next door.
Do me, and yourself a HUGE favor. If you ever want to stop in Missouri for a night - DO NOT stop there. It's a dangerous combination of hillbilly, redneck, and who knows what other assenine adventures you might discover.

The Little House on the Prairie stops were very cool. I thoroughly enjoyed both stops. Unfortunately, both of them are privately operated ventures so there is very little of interest for the kids to really get excited about. And commercially, there is almost nothing that makes you want to just grab a bunch of memorabilia and support everything they're doing.
A hint for anyone running a place like that... visit a national park and see how to really market, and use the prestige of what you have to give visitors an AMAZING experience. The Little House in Missouri gets 50,000 visitors per year, and I can honestly say there was very little in their store that made me want to grab it off the shelf and buy it. And that's sad, because we fully wanted to get something, anything for the girls to remember that place. Besides pictures. BUMMER!

Here's a model of what they think the original Little House on the Prairie actually looked like. It's a small, little unassuming house out in the middle of nowhere. If the dang books weren't so popular, and so cool a person would be all too happy to just cruise right on by it. How do they know that's the spot? Good question. The picture below is why.

This is THE actual well that Pa and Mr. Edwards dug by hand in the book 'Little House on the Prairie'. Yep, by hand. Of course, they have the well capped off by bricks so you can't even look down into it and see what they saw everytime they looked down the well. In fact, the lady who now runs the place doesn't even know how deep the well was. Disappointing!

The second Little House stop wasn't too much better. However, because Laura Ingals Wilder actually lived at this house for a huge part of here life, and in fact wrote most of the books in the series here, they have way more memorabilia and period pieces here. Cool, right? Well, it would be cool. But guess what? You can't take pictures of any of it. I can understand they don't want you using a flash for pictures, but give me a break. You don't have to take pictures only with a flash. If they would let you take pictures inside the museum and the house it would be a much more enjoyable, memorable place. Oh, well. I gotta get over my ranting and raving here. Let me just say this... when you visit a national park you can take thousands of pictures of everything you see. Does that stop people from buying all the other memorabilia inside the stores? NOT AT ALL! Think about that. Being able to take pictures and buy the mementos is an even better marketing idea.

Ah, but amazingly, our camera somehow magically bootlegged a couple of slightly out of focus shots of 2 very important pieces from the museum (without flash I must add).

Pa's Fiddle - Enough Said!

Pa and Ma - notice the wild hair and beard - Pa's trademarks. I don't think you'll find this photo of Pa on any of their postcards, at least none that we saw. This picture is invaluable.

Finally, St. Louis was a very cool town. I'm not going to say anything about Indiana here because I'll probably cover Gary's wedding a little later. So we'll finish up with St. Louis here. First of all - it was hot and muggy here. Unbearable hot, in fact, so we spent a huge amount of time in the pool. How people in the south used to live without pools and A/C I'll never know.

The St. Louis Arch is very cool. If you make it to this town, you simply must stop and check this place out. It's free to get inside of the stores and museum underneath. To go to the top is not free though.



We took a boat trip up the Mississippi River. Here's a very cool little fact... When you park down by the riverside, it only costs $4 to park there all day. And when you park there you will be parking on some rather large cobblestones. Those stones were laid there over 100 years ago, and they paid the laborers $.01 each rock to lay those stones. Yep - $.01. It's pretty cool to park on top of 100 year old hand laid rocks. I think you'll be impressed when you see them too. They don't build stuff like they used to.

Santa Fe's Treasure Trove of History

We decided to stay an extra day in Santa Fe, which turned out to be a great central hub for some historical site seeing.

Unfortunately, the girls aren't as 'into' history as we adults are. So they could only take so much of the historical sites.

Never-the-less, we did visit several of them, including...

Pecos National Monument - an old centrallized, key location for an Indian pueblo, which was later re-built as a Catholic church.

Here, you're looking at an old Native American pueblo ruin. The raised sides on the left and right of the picture used to be Indian homes that were about 2 to 3 stories high.

And this... is the catholic church, or what remains of it. This was built by the Spanish settlers to help the Indians transition into their new religious background. The catholics usually recognized an important religious and social location and then built their churches there so they could solidify their dominant position.


Ft. Union National Monument - A huge central supply hub for the Union forces during the Civil War. The confederates (Southerners) - tried to move up from the south and take over this Fort, in order to better supply their western advances and fund their further fighting in the east. Honestly, I studied history in college, and I NEVER knew the civil war was fought this far to the west.



Bandelier National Park - More SWEET cliff dwellings, with a short 3/4 mile hike allowing you to see most of the important spots quickly and easily.


Here's a shot of what used to be the cliff dwellings. The small round spots are the holes where they used to have floor poles for their second, third, and fourth floor rooms. Pretty neat place!

Oh, this is an original, native rock wall carving of a 'parrot', or at least that is what they tell you it must have been. Obviously the natives carved a parrot into the rock. The fact that it doesn't have wings is apparently not that important. To all of us it looked a lot like a dinosaur. But that's not possible... RIGHT?