Sunday, May 31, 2009

MIA#5 - Backpacking Trip

The final Monday in May is Memorial Day, a public holiday in the USA. Wanting to take full advantage of our time in CA and the day off, we went on a hiking trip with Dad and Matt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains – in Kings Canyon National Park.

After hiking in about 4½ miles (2 of which were up a set of switchbacks), we were looking forward to a bit of Canadian Club in a plastic bottle we’d picked up on the way up to the mountains. Andrew watched as Matt secured the bottle with 3 Boy Scout knots and then floated it in the rapid Bubb’s Creek (which looked far more like a river than a creek due to the snow melt). Sadly, the nylon rope loosened in the water and the current pulled all 3 knots free. When Matt returned to the river to collect the bottle, all he found was the untied rope floating on the surface of water. We quickly began searching the river just down stream of our campsite, working our way back toward the site, hoping the bottle had become caught in an eddy or fallen tree. As Matt carefully searched the shoreline of our actual campsite, he nearly stepped on one of the site's residents: a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake!

Dad, and Matt quickly jumped into action, grabbing sticks to pin the 2ft snake down. As Matt went for his hatchet, Dad's stick broke and the snake got free. Andrew was quick to jump in with two more sticks. He and dad held down snake as it writhed and bit at the branches holding it in place. Matt hacked off most of the head with his hatchet, finishing the last bit of the skin with his pocket knife and throwing the head in the river. Matt taught Andrew to skin and clean the snake and then we barbecued it, saving the rattle as a memento.

The next two days were less dramatic but great fun, as we hiked about 6 miles round trip with 2500 elevation gain up to a spectacular set of waterfalls. On the way out, we took a 4-mile detour to Mist Falls for a final lunch in the Sierras. The weather was perfect, the stars were abundant, and the food was great (including the snake)!

[View the full-screen slideshow]
all-photos taken by Matt's cell phone

Friday, May 29, 2009

MIA#4 - this desert life

Jessica's Mom's family took advantage of a homestead land grant the government was offering during the 1950's and got the ownership rights to a 5 acre property in Yucca Valley California (see map). A 600 sq ft cabin was built and has evolved over the years, being the outlet of many D.I.Y. dreams and experiments. Jessica's grandparents (Clyde & Sue), parents (Steve & Linda), brother Matt, uncle Dean, cousin Christina and us too, spent 5 days enjoying the desert life together at the "cabin."

red-neck? white-trash? or luxury in the desert?
(photo by Dean)

The desert is hot during the middle of the day, so some of us were up early to photograph the spectacular sunrise and head-out into the hills by 4WD on snake-hunts. The middle of the day was spent eating, snoozing and lounging in the cabin's latest amenity, a blow-up pool (Matt's initiative), which turned out to be luxurious in the dry dessert heat). The cooler late afternoons and evenings were spent exploring the near by Joshua Tree National Park and BBQ'ing as the sun set, eventually revealing a multitude of stars that are perfect to see from the clear skies of the dessert. With 7 of us sleeping in the cabin, 5 on the living room floor, the cabin was packed, but that didn't hinder all of us sharing in a really enjoyable week of desert life together.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MIA#2 - Ekklesia road-trip to California

As an end-of-academic-year celebration and escape, the Ekklesia group we work with embarked on a 1600km road-trip to camp at Pismo Beach on the central coast of California (between LA & San Francisco). Eighteen of us spent two days driving to Pismo, where we enjoyed a relaxed 4 days of camping together. With 8 Aussies in the group, plenty of beach cricket and slips catching dominated much of our recreational time. Ken spoke on Ecclesiastes and encouraged the college & career aged group to ponder what is fleeting and also meaningful in life. Jessica and I took the lead with the cooking, and turned-out some masterful open-flame/coal BBQ cooking, the highlight being a Mexican feast of carne-asada, tortilla's and all the trappings, including coal-cooked onions topped off with lime and Tapatio hot-sauce - everyone was well-fed! Our last night at Pismo was on fire, literally... see the pics below and check-out the 'fire-games' video on YouTube...

[View the full-screen slideshow]

Pismo Beach is a convenient 3 hour drive from where Jess' family live. As the convoy headed north to Vancouver, we were dropped-off and picked-up by Jess' Mom and brother to head to Bakersfield...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

MIA#1 - Regent College Convocation XXXIX

After being reported as "missing in action" by a good friend, we thought it was time to share a little of the last month... check the blog each day this week for a brief 'snap-shot' of what we have been doing...

#1 - After finishing the Winter semester and our Masters degrees at Regent College, we celebrated with the Convocation ceremony on April 27. I (Andrew) was awarded my "MCS" or Master of Christian Studies (Marketplace Theology). Jessica finished her thesis by semesters end, but due to the lengthy marking period, she will graduate with her MCS next April.