Week 11-  November 7 Week: Hollywood, Shmollywood

Our weekend in Yosemite ended with a beautiful drive out of the park with many photo opportunities on Sunday morning.  We headed back toward Lodi through Crane Flats, a part of Yosemite at higher altitude.  There was plenty of snow where we stopped and the kids enjoyed throwing snowballs with short sleeved shirts on!  We also took a side trip to Calaveras State Park to see some of the giant sequoias and the stump of one that was once used as a dance floor for over thirty people! 

When we made it back to Lodi in the evening, the kids enjoyed more time with my friend Cliff and his wife Lisa.  Cliff has built many vehicles from the ground up in his garage, and his shop fascinated the kids.  As another part of the multi-faceted education they are receiving this year, he taught them how to solder as they made wire bracelets. 

We headed out early Monday morning to make the trip to LA area and ended up in a beautiful RV park east of the city, up on a hill overlooking a lake with mountains to the north.  We were braced for tight and urban accommodations in such a large metropolitan area, so it was a pleasant surprise.  A hike down the hill led to a large lakefront park where we got a chance to use our new bird book for a science class.  The tame waterfowl made it ideal for their close observation and identification.  The kids also got their first close-ups of Prickly Pear cacti.  Leah invented a new craft where she dyes paper with color from their fruit to make bookmarks, tags, and stationery. 

Coming off of Daylight Savings Time has had an emotional impact we hadn’t expected.  With sundown about 5:00 pm, the flow of the day is changed as we can’t do outside things in the evenings the way we have been used to.  (Although we are finding that it affords longer evenings together for family games, reading, etc)  Besides the adjustment to feeling the isolation of darkness in the evenings, a component failure in our satellite system was even harder mentally.  It is almost scary how much we have come to depend on a fast internet connection for weather, trip planning, communication, education, documentation…  Being without the internet this week was especially painful for me! 

Speaking of troubleshooting broken things, that has probably been one of the biggest surprises for me in the lifestyle of our adventure.  It seems that there is always something to troubleshoot- some component of the RV, the computer systems, changing trip plans, and even relationships.  While it has been one of the most tiresome aspects of our adventure, it also has been good to demonstrate tenacity in the face of challenge to the kids.  In the area of relationships, it also has been very important because we have to work out issues as a family immediately, we’re too close together not to. 

While LA has a huge list of attractions, we didn’t push too hard during our stay.  We made time for seeing my cousin Lydia who lives close to where we were staying.  We also went into the city to see a dear friend from Nigeria who moved to the US last year to work as a nurse to help support her husband’s evangelistic work back home.  It was fun to see her again and take her out to lunch at a local establishment called “Granny’s Soul Food.” 

We went into town a couple of times during the week, mostly planning around rush hours so we wouldn’t have to deal with LA traffic.  We, of course, took a couple of  tours during the week- the LA Times, and an olive processing factory.  Yes, we saw the Hollywood sign from a distance, but none of us had any real interest to go any closer! 

To avoid driving in rush hour one evening, we planned to spend some time in the new downtown LA library.  Unfortunately we forgot that it was Veterans Day, and arrived to locked doors.  I was so looking forward to getting on a fast computer and had brought mine along so I booted it up in the terrace outside and found a free WIFI connection!  You can picture the rest as we each took our turn huddled around the computer outside in the middle of downtown LA. 

On Friday, we finally found a way to get our satellite system repaired in nearby Anaheim.  I drove the RV there while Brenda and the kids used the van for the afternoon.  The component failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it resulted in upgrading the most cumbersome part of the system.   

The folks at RV Satellite Systems were great to work with and fit us in on the day we called them.  Their sister company next door sells Segway personal transporters, those futuristic two-wheelers balanced by gyros.  The technician with whom I was working brought out a couple of units and we all had a chance to ride them when the family joined me later in the afternoon.  Again, Nate was in heaven, as he is driving anything with wheels. 

Saturday was our day to shift down to San Diego area, a pretty short trip so we didn’t break camp until mid afternoon.  It was a luxury just to hang around the RV that morning and do typical Saturday-type chores that we would normally do at home.  Simple pleasures…