A Photo Recounting

Hello, Friends;

Well, we're back! Saturday night around midnight or a little after we rolled back into our driveway after an incredible week up North. Instead of simply telling the story, I thought I would intersperse my narrative with pictures from the week. I'm working on a DVD with footage of the trip, but, until then, this will have to suffice.

(Remember, two days before this all, I was arriving home from Texas!)

We left for Sacramento on Thursday morning/afternoon/sometime around there.

The trip was very pretty! For all of the exposure I've had to "green" over the last few months, it was good to remember that the desert can be beautiful as well.

Going through "The Grapevine", we saw a lot of windmills.

We were going to be scouting out Yosemite and camping spots there for a trip with our aunt and her family next year, so we drove halfway up and stopped in Fresno that first night and then went into the Park the next day. I'd never been to Yosemite before, and it was beautiful.

The scenery, even along the road, was breathtaking.

We stopped for lunch at a place called, "Bass Lake" which is about 60 miles outside of Yosemite Village.

At the area where we decided to go camping, we took some pictures. I got a very nice profile picture for my cell phone at this same time.

I think Jay had a fascination with the Canadian Geese that were at Bass Lake; the video footage we took has a great deal of coverage for them. :)

We continued on to Sacramento, getting in a little after midnight. Here you can see the Capitol.

We helped with conference setup; here you can see Em and I doing inventory of CD's.

Danny and Mally contributed, too; they're sorting caribeaners and sundry other items for the Cadet department.

We took an afternoon trip to go see my mom's cousins in Pleasant Hill; they really enjoyed seeing us. They love chinese food, so we went to Panda Express and brought enough food to feed an army. It was surprisingly good.

Saturday we went to a Train Museum in the afternoon; we all really enjoyed that.

Sunday a very comical thing happened. We decided to visit my mom's Aunt Mae who lives on the outskirts of Sacramento. She has dementia or alzheimers or something like that so we called an hour ahead to let her know that we were coming. When we got there we called, rang the door bell, pounded on the door....all to no avail. We called again and again....still nothing. Last time we'd done something similar, we'd arrived and she hadn't been there-----she'd misunderstood us and assumed that we expected her to provide lunch for us instead of the other way around, and had gone to the store to come up with some food for us. Unfortunately, she's not allowed to drive and could easily get lost. Therefore, when we pulled up on Sunday and she wasn't there, we got a little alarmed. We decided to wait, hoping that she'd come back soon. Jay wanted to check and verify that she was indeed gone, but he couldn't get into her garage (to see if her car was there) without intruding on her backyard.....and being in the direct presence of her very intimidating Doberman Pinscher dog, "Koko".

So, we waited.

And waited, and waited, and waited. We all sprawled out on her front lawn, had conversations with eachother, and let all of our food (including our ice-cream) get warm on the sidewalk while we were there for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Finally, Jay decided to get some action going. He found that her bedroom window wasn't locked and decided that he could possibly enter the house there. Mom meanwhile decided to try to call Aunt Mae's kids, to tell them what was going on and that we suspected that she'd left her house and had gone to get food or something like that....and had probably lost her way.
Dad got to work pounding on the door, then he and Jay decided to face off with Koko and look into the garage. They came back a few minutes later with an announcement. "Her car is here."
We pounded again, and within a few seconds the door opened and out came Aunt Mae. "Who are you?" she asked my dad.
"I'm with Carol," he said, "I'm Mike."
She reacted strongly, both astonished and ecstatic. "You folks didn't even tell me that you were in town! What a surprise! What a surprise! You should have called and let me know that you were coming!"
We put our things in the fridge (or freezer, as the case may be) and enjoyed a great supper with her. She kept repeating questions over and over, and it actually became quite fun near the end; do you know how you'll often think of a cute quip to a question several beats after you've already answered it? When we thought of such witty replies, Jay pointed out, we only needed to wait until the next time the question came up to answer it in our preferred way. :)

Here's Jay, Mally, Dan and me

We regaled her with songs as a family; here we are singing, "I'm Upright, Inright, Outright, Downright Happy In the Lord", clearly at different stages of the song. ;)

Aunt Mae loved Whitney!

....and Mally.

Here's a picture of Dad, Jay and me when we were waiting outside of her house waiting for her to......come to the door. :D

The conference started Tuesday. Whitney and Mally did a great job in the Family Viewing room; mom said it was almost "supernatural" that they behaved so well.

Whit and me

The Blakes had a huge picnic for us, their annual "Pre-Sac Party".

John Blake and John Bragonier do some "trick photography" to appear like John has been decapitated.

We had fun reuniting with the LeMasters, who had just pulled in from their trip to Alaska.

Most of the group gathered for a group shot.

Thanks to the Blakes for their great hospitality!

Tuesday morning bright and early I was working on Registration!

Em and I helped serve meals during the Conference. The meals were done in a big truck pulled up to the loading dock, and it was so hot in that truck! We had an assembly line where we made meals quickly and efficiently.

Jay had the special needs squad; he did a great job and I was (obviously) very proud of him.

Jay's Unit Leader was John Erickson, an ALERT guy that he really admires.

Richard Shoemaker, who works with Cadets and who my family got to know quite well during the week; it was fun introducing friends of mine from ALERT to my family!

I went on stage twice in five minutes to receive the Presidential Service Award and my certificates for completion of the Faith, Virtue and Knowledge Journals.

Hannah Blake did an excellent job of watching Whitney all week. One day they were both dressed in denim; it was really cute!

Danny had fun in the Children's Institute; here they're getting ready to do their parent presentation!

While the ALERT Cadets wait to go in, Josh LeMaster talks on his walkie-talkie to someone....

Emily and her good friend Esther Blake

Mallory kept reminding Nathan of our trip to June Lake last year, and they posed for another picture like one they'd taken then.

Here Jay is getting ready for the ALERT Cadet presentation at the end of the night. Our video camera ran out of batteries right before they were supposed to go on; I was so disappointed. Somehow seeing him up there and seeing how quickly he's growing up, and what a great man he is....I burst into tears. It was terrible, because my entire row kept looking at me like I was losing my mind, which, who knows, I maybe was. :) Thanks to Bonnie for being there and for cheering me up with her usual hysterical quotes and encouragements.

After Sac, we enjoyed a loooooooong night at the Boy Scout Camp and had tons of interesting things happen, including (but by all means not limited to) a skunk hunt, a fire-extinguishing adventure, ultimate frisbee, and the endless antics of John Blake when he did so many things to sabotage me including stealing my cell phone and dumping mayonnaise all over my food. It was very, very, very enjoyable.

On the way home we drove in tandem with the LeMasters & Co.

We arrived back around midnight. What a special trip, with great lessons, fun projects, extraordinary people and a God who spoke well when He said, "Behold! How good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity!"

I can't wait for Sacramento 08.