Moab UT

Moab UT

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The loneliest highway in America

From the sisters we headed east across the Nevada and Utah desert, then south-east through New Mexico and on into the great state of Texas.  We took highway 50 which has earned the name "The loneliest highway in America".  It's pretty desolate out there, but well worth the trip.  The topography is quite diverse and quite beautiful.  Typically there were charming old towns nestled in the mountains where people still live.  We were never bored.  

An this concluded our trip back home.  

We thank God for this wonderful time with family and friends and of course with one another.  I highly recommend taking road trips with your family.  We have great fun, excellent conversation and we see the beautiful U.S.A.  What a glorious country we live in!  Check it out!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Sisters

Of course, we couldn't go anywhere near Northern California without stopping to see the sisters at Our Lady of Kazan Skete in Santa Rosa, CA.  They are truly precious.

The first time I visited the Skete was maybe ten years ago.  My dear friend Nina and I went on a trip together.  I remember my heart sank when we pulled up to the monastery situated in a neighborhood.  I had only read about monasteries at that point, so in my mind I envisioned driving out into the  middle of nowhere to find the monastery behind huge iron gates.  

It was very late at night when we arrived, but we were greeted by a beautiful smile.  Sister Patricia has since become a very dear friend to both Nina and me and her smile is still as warm and inviting as it was that first night.  This was the first of many visits to Our Lady of Kazan Skete for both of us, and each time is more of a blessing than the last.

Although the monastery is in a neighborhood, when you step foot on to the grounds you truly leave the world.  Mother Susanna, and the sisters, by the grace of God, have created a very holy place.  As one visitor said while we were there, "I feel like I'm on an ark here".  I know just how she felt.  

We had the great blessing of being there for their Patronal feast day.  Bishop Benjamin was in attendance along with other area clergy.  Fr. Justin also served.  It was a beautiful day with Liturgy and a huge feast afterward.  

The pictures are of the procession around the monastery, some of the clergy and of our most beloved Mother Susanna with the girls.  (I don't think I breathed once while the girls processed around the monastery THREE times with those eggs!)

Heading Home

After two lovely weeks we headed home.  We left Washington and headed south to Oregon and California.  The Siskiyou Mountain range is glorious and Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake are truly breathtaking.  I could spend much time there!

For the next three days we stayed at the Monastery of St. John the Wonderworker in Manton, CA.  Have I used the word beautiful and glorious too much over the last week?  OK, I'll work on new adjectives, but I have to say that it was beautiful and glorious there.  Abbot Jonah and the brothers are very hospitable and try very hard to make everyone feel welcome.   I love monasteries, and I thank God that they are growing in number in the U.S.  They are critical for our spiritual well being-particularly here in the U.S.  

I want my girls to grow up visiting, praying for and financially supporting monasteries.  I must say that I would consider it a blessing if any of my three children were called to the monastic life.  May God's will be done.  

Here is a picture of the outside of the main building of St. John's, the chapel and the girls with the monastery goats.  

Family Reunion

While we were there we had a wonderful family reunion.  It was so nice to spend time with family that we so rarely get to see.  

We spent the day eating, swimming and playing tennis, and ended the day with a cookout on the beach.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Time on the Island

As the week progressed, we all began to acclimate to the cooler temps and it warmed up a bit for us.  So, we filled our days with going to the pool and the beach, reading, napping, talking and eating Grandma's delicious food.  Seems Katya and Thea were more interested in the pool, and Zoe and me liked the beach.  She and I would head for the beach and just walk up and down picking up everything and exploring.  

A couple of the evenings we built fires on the beach and had hot dogs and smores.  OK, I think that the smores are a bit over rated, but one "Mrs. J." contends that the quality of chocolate is imperative.  I suppose I'm willing to give them another chance.

...and on.

After the party we went to a great 4th of July parade.  One of the best I've ever seen.  I loved the parasol jelly fish!

We watched the parade with family that have a house on the beach and the parade was in front of their house, so afterward we ate hot dogs and burgers and watched the girls play on the beach for hours.  

The day ended with an amazing fireworks show.  You could see fireworks going off all up and down the beaches in the Sound.  

What a great day.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And the fun just continued on...

Then there was the 4th of July!  What a party!  Grandma and Grandpa Ocean live in a community where there is a party with games the morning of the 4th which included the two legged race, egg in a spoon race, balloon toss, tug of war, diving for coins in the pool.  Did I  forget anything?  

Anyhow, the girls scored a couple of ribbons.  Note that Thea and I took first place in the water balloon toss.  I think I was more excited than she was!  

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vacation 2008 Chapter Two - Happy Birthday Thea!!

After traveling through the rest of Montana, Idaho and Washington, we finally arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  One of the the first orders of business was to have a birthday party for Thea.  Her birthday was actually on the first, but she wanted to postpone her party and have  "A party on the beach with cupcakes".  So, we celebrated her birthday on the third and we didn't have to pay for any entertainment.  The fireworks (those who couldn't wait for the 4th) and the airplanes (practicing the the 4th of July air show) were awesome!

Here are pics of Thea with her cupcakes and gifts.  Notice the warm jackets.  It took us a few days to get used to the cooler N.W. temperature.  

Vacation 2008 Chapter One

OK, so we left on the morning of June 30th at about 4:00a.m. headed to the N.W.  Our plan was to make a great big circle around the NW and SW until we ended up back home again.  We left Texas and went through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.  We stopped along the way and saw friends in Bozeman and Butt.  The traveling was beautiful, going through the mountains.  The girls loved it and Katherine kept saying "Can't we just stop and climb a mountain for awhile."

Montana wins the best rest stop award.  Their rest stops are equipped with play grounds and nice picnicking areas.  Of course the scenery was perfect.

Here are a couple of pics of the girls cooling their feet and climbing the bridge in one of the rest areas, as well as a scenery pic.