Week 10-  Oct 31 to Nov 6 Week: San Fran and the Valley

Our tour of different churches continued this week as we went to a San Francisco inner city church called Glide.  It is well known for its humanitarian programs including serving meals to homeless, providing education in just about any subject, and a host of other wonderful services.  The congregation is diverse in every respect, as they emphasize that everyone is welcome, an admirable goal.

The service provided another opportunity to demonstrate to the kids that it is important to search for truth and application of the Bible in our lives.  It was soon apparent that while love was rightfully stressed, the service never mentioned Jesus once.  God was mentioned in a very generic way, but the pastor himself basically said that it doesn’t matter what religion you are, or what your life choices are; inclusion and self realization are most important. 

We later had a good family discussion that our faith has to be two-pronged…  one, loving God by knowing him and striving for biblical personal holiness, AND two, reaching out and loving others.  The contrast was also good to apply to our own church, as we can lean too much toward the knowing God side, while sometimes doing less reaching out and loving all people! 

We went right from church to the wharf to take an Alcatraz tour.  The audio tour through the cell block makes the experience.  Each visitor has a separate headset unit that directs them through the prison as former inmates explain what you are seeing!  A busy Sunday was topped off with the kids trick or treating with their cousins.  With the homes so close together, they realized a candy-to-walking ratio unparalleled to their neighborhood back home and came home with huge bags of loot!  Climbing lots of stairs was the only challenge on the flip side… 

While the cousins were in school, we did our schooling and some sight seeing.  We drove to the Silicon Valley and spent most of Monday afternoon in the Intel Museum.  This outstanding display had creative interactive areas covering the history, science, and, fabrication of computer processor chips.  That evening, while the kids enjoyed their cousins, Brenda and I had a chance to have a real anniversary celebration by going out to eat downtown!  Other parts of our visit included an ocean-side bonfire and other forays into town, including a girls shopping trip in town. 

Our San Francisco visit was great in so many respects.  Of course, being with family, and kids, was a highlight for all.  Staying at the Betton home right in San Francisco also gave us a good feel for living in a bustling city.  The visit was a good balance of enjoying being settled in a home with family and getting a feel for the area without running ourselves ragged.  Leaving on Thursday morning was tough for all, but Harvey’s maintenance work was done and we had to head on.

Hansel’s RV in Petaluma was great to work with, and they worked through our list as we enjoyed San Fran.  It appears that they even solved our ongoing issues with our onboard GPS system Gwendolyn, as we call her.  So far on the trip, she is great when she works, but she has often lost location for periods of time making it impossible to rely on her for navigation.  We moved back into Harvey and headed to Lodi, a valley town where GMI has a plant at which I have spent many days.  On the way, we stopped in Fairfield for a quick tour of the Jelly Belly candy factory.  The candy production tour was great, but the mosaics made completely of jelly beans were even more of a highlight. 

We made it to Lodi in the early evening and the family got to meet my friend Cliff with whom I work at the Lodi plant.  Midday Friday, he gave us our best tour yet, a personal one of the Cheerios process.  It was especially meaningful to me for my family to see, close up, the process that has been such a big part of my career. 

Because of the early snows in the mountains, we were hesitant to drive into the Sierras with Harvey.  Cliff graciously let us leave our RV outside of his house while we drove the van to Yosemite Friday afternoon.  We stayed in a national park cabin in Yosemite village as yet another way of experiencing one of our great national parks. 

Saturday was our day of hiking as we explored Yosemite valley and the kids completed another Junior Ranger Program.  The higher altitudes had snow cover which added to the beauty and helped the falls to be running during a time when they are normally dry!  Yosemite was probably our favorite of the big national parks we have visited so far.  Being off season kept the crowds down in a park that I have heard can be too busy during the summer.