Friday, May 3, 2013

2013 Bankson Road Trip - Part 4

Park 4

In the afternoon of Friday April 12th, we moved south (~45min) to Pismo Coast Village RV Park.  This is our 3rd time staying here and we love the location and amenities.  Pismo is a great little town with a beautiful beach, pier, and shops.  Friday night we ate outside and then had our first real campfire with reeses smores – yum!
Saturday we visited our old stomping grounds.  We spent most of the day at Cal Poly SLO recalling memories, looking at new buildings, and explaining college to our kids J.  We were amazed by the huge new building they are finishing up where most of the spider building was, as well as the luxury health club they built to replace the old rec center., leisure pool, bbq pits, sand volleyball and all.  It was a perfect day in SLO and we really wore the kids out.  That afternoon we went for a nice walk on Pismo Peir.  It was so nice to hear the ocean and enjoy the scenery. 
Sunday morning, after some delicious cinnamon rolls at Old West in Pismo, we attended church at First Baptist SLO, where we attended most of college and where we were married.  Pastor Tom (who married us) is still the senior pastor and spoke on depression and suicide.  It reminded us how real FBC SLO is and how we miss it.  It is a very small church filled with people who love the Lord and don’t rely on fancy things or eloquent words to get Gods message out – they rely on Him to show up and teach us and love us.  It is definitely a place that will always have a special place in our hearts. 
After church we spent the afternoon at Pismo Beach enjoyin g the waves and building/digging with the kids.  It got a little windy so we didn’t last too long but we had fun.  We walked back to the camper and Reid and Misty Zeller and their kids stopped by for dinner.  They are on staff with CRU (aka Campus Crusade for Christ) and it was fun to catch up with them and their happenings.  We enjoyed some burgers and dogs, played at the park and just relaxed together.  A very successful vacation day.
Monday Jasen resumed work and the kids and I got things back in order around the “house”.  Which means: Blake and Kylie played at the park outside our window and Lily and I cleaned up and prepared food.  It was very windy so we hung pretty low.  When Jasen finished up work we all went on a walk/kid bike ride around Pismo Beach State Park.  I think we like this campground better but they don’t have hook-ups so you need a generator  - maybe next time.  Beautiful area – wooded, spacious, green, next to the beach and butterfly habitat. 
Tuesday Jasen when and visited with a few clients in the morning and the kids and I walked the campground and just played around. It was very windy again so we didn’t venture too far.  Tuesday night we drove up to Templeton and went to the Wallace’s for dinner.  Jasen and I attempted to make cream cheese pound cake to take with us and it was disastrous.  First the recipe was kinds made up of several we found online to suit the ingredients we had available in the camper, then we tried to cook it but the pans didn’t fit in the oven and hit the top and burned the bottom, then Blake was carrying one of the pans in from the truck and the cake fell out on my foot, we put it back and gave him a second change and he accidently dropped it upside down in the entryway by Trego’s feet when he opened the door – we couldn’t help but laugh – at least there was ice cream.  They made us a delicious dinner of tri-tip and gnocchi and the kids had a great time playing.  Thanks Wallace’s! 
Wednesday Jasen went to a coffee shop in Pismo and the kids and I walked from the campsite, thru town and met him there to say hi.  A little later we all had lunch at Brad’s fish and chips.  We chose there over Splash CafĂ© this time because they had a nice outside patio.  We ended the night with more smores which Blake and Kylie were very happy about.  Thursday, though it was a little chilly I took the kids swimming at the campground.  We had fun until their lips turned blue then we cuddled in our towels, had a snack, and called it a day.  That night we met Charles and Lauren at Mitchel Park in SLO.  They are good friends from college who have a little girl about Kylie’s age and a darling new little boy.  We grabbed dinner with them at Farmers and hung out on the steps – fun evening with friends and good food.  We also picked up some fresh produce for the week: strawberries, carrots, broccoli, oranges etc. On the way home (yes it was late – already 8:30) we stopped by the train station and the train was just coming in.  It stopped under the pedestrian bridge and we climbed up the bridge and explored from above.  Blake loved it and Kylie was very enthralled as well.  Choo Choo.
Friday already – our last day on the central coast.  Jasen took most of the day off and we went to Avila Beach.  Us, 3 kids, 2 bags of sand toys, 5 towels, stroller, diaper bag, lunch, drinks, etc.  I’m sure it’s a site to see but we had a great day teaching Blake to throw a frisbee, watching Kylie shriek at the sand crabs, and teaching Lily not to eat the sand.  We also built a few castles for Lily to step on, jumped in the waves, walked the pier, and relaxed (oh wait we didn’t do that – too much else going on).  Jasen did a quick Costco run (yes they have one is SLO now) and we packed up, Jasen worked while kids napped and we finished the day off by grilling some steak and packing up for our early move the next day.  Another wonderful stay in Central California – it never disappoints. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 Bankson Road Trip - Part 3

Part 3

Morro Rock, what a view, what a place...

Camper Set-up at MBSP
We pulled into Morro Bay State Park late Monday night, April 8th.  This is one of our ver favorite places and a beautiful campground.  On Tuesday, while Jasen worked, the kids and I went for a bike ride around the campground and down the road to the Natural History Museum.  It’s up on the hill and overlooks Morro Rock and the coastline.  It also has a lot of fun stuff for the kids to do (videos, games, puppets, etc) and lots of cool info about the surrounding estuary.  Jasen had a rough work day so after dinner we went to the rock and watched a gorgeous sunset then back to camp for some hot cocoa. 

Blake loves his camper bunkbed and so does clifford and blue blanky

First day playing in the sand at the beach!

Happy Bday Lil!
Rock climbing  at
Los Osos Tidepools
Wednesday April 10th: Happy 1st Birthday Lily! I dropped Jasen off in Morro Bay at Coffee Cottage, a nice coffee shop on the water, and the kids and I went down the street to the beach by Morro Rock and played in the sand for a few hours.  The weather was good, sunny and 70, good for sand and splashing in the water but not swimming (I was glad b/c I don’t know how I’d watch 3 kids swimming in the ocean).  I have to confess I gave Lily her first sunburn:(.  I took her sweater off after I applied sunscreen and didn’t get her little arms.  She never complained but I still feel bad.  It aslo took her a few mouthfuls of sand to figure out she didn't really care for it, we'll see how that comes out later...sometimes w/3 kids they have to learn by doing.  Jasen finished up work at 5 and we headed out to the tidepools in Los Osos.  We discovered starfish, sea urchins, crabs, snails, and tiny fish among the shale rocks.  The kids had a lot of fun climbing, Lily included.  Blake, Kylie, and I especially liked it when Jasen got splashed by 2 waves that came through a little cave by the tidepools – he was soaked!  We topped off the day with cake and ice cream for Lily and many birthday songs. 

This is where Jasen took me
to dinner the night he proposed
to here we are 11yrs
later, all 5 of us.
Thursday morning we visited SLO County Health Department and Lil Bug got her 12month shots – so hard but so important.  Afterward we went to Firestones for lunch, famous for their tri-tip sandwiches- YUM!  That evening we went back downtown to Farmers Market, watched some street performers, picked up fresh fruit and veggies for the week, and Blake and Kylie played on the big blow-up slide.  We ran into 3 people we knew, which was fun, and really enjoyed the throwback. 

Blake orchestrated a dig the
whale out rescue mission :)
Friday morning we went down to Pirate Ship Park on Morro Bay to enjoy a picnic on our last day in Morro Bay – wish we could stay longer here, it is so beautiful and laid back. (Note to self: make reservations several months in advance to get desired dates).  Kids loved the park and made many new friends.  Blake coordinated an effort to dig the cement whale out of the sand as only his tale was sticking up.  For anyone reading – definitely stop in Morro Bay for a few days if you ever drive down Highway 1 for vaca.  

2013 Bankson Road Trip - Part 2

Part 2
We arrived in Santa Rosa at about 5pm Wednesday April 3rd and set up camp in front of my parents (The Burns) house.  The RV fit nicely and it worked out great to be so close.   That night Great Grandma June (my dad’s grandma) came over for dinner.  It was nice to see her and although she is battling cancer, she looked well and is still very sharp and upbeat. We had a fun dinner BBQing and catching up. 

The next morning I went with my mom to 24hr Fitness and accompanied her to a TRX and Cycling workout, where I found out just how hard she works out – go mom!  That afternoon I met with two high school friends Tanya Hebron and Lesley Soekland for a play date at the play area in Coddingtown Mall.  We were hoping for an outdoor play date but fought with a little rain this week here and there.  Jasen got most of a day’s work in and then we made some fish tacos for dinner and shared a meal with ‘Nana and Papa’.  On Friday Jasen and my dad worked a ½ day then my parents and all of us went to Bodega Bay to see the Tall Ships on display.  The pirate type ships were pretty cool and the kids loved using Papa’s spyglass and binoculars.  Then we headed over to shell beach to check out the tide pools. Dinner was at my parents where my sister and her boyfriend Nick joined us.  It was the first time we met him and he was very nice.  We are excited to see my sister doing well and growing in her faith in Jesus.  It was a good day with family.

Saturday April 6th, after some yummy donuts, we (us, Nana, Papa, Aunt Brandi, Kona, Buddy, and Batman) went on a beautiful hike in Windsor.  Such amazing, vibrant colors in Santa Rosa right now.  The kids hiked fairly well and we all really enjoyed the hike.  After nap time we ventured out again with my dad to Fountain Grove to do some fishing.  The kids had a fun time fishing even though we scared all the fish away.  Lily used the time to practice walking which she is really excelling at.  Saturday night Nana and Papa watched Blake, Kylie, and Lily and Jasen as I got to go on a date!  We had a nice quiet and enjoyable dinner at the Thai House in downtown Santa Rosa – great food and conversation.
Sunday morning my Mom, sister, Jasen, the kids and I went to Spring Hills Community Church where we hear d a great message on the Holy Spirit.   After lunch we went up to Safari West where we got to see giraffes, cheetahs, flamingos, monkeys and all kinds of other safari animals courtesy of my mom’s massage connections. 

That night we had a big dinner with Grandpa and Grandma Burns, Uncle Rick and his girlfriend Deborah, Brandi and her boyfriend Nick, my parents, and us.  A fun, delicious cook-out of steak, chicken, salmon, scalloped potatoes, salad, cupcakes etc.  It was really nice to see family we hadn’t seen in a while and let them get to know Blake, Kylie, and Lily.  Blake and Kylie shared their many song and dance skills learned from CBS and Awanas courtesy of the energy they got from the large amount of cake they consumed.  Monday morning, April 8th, Jasen put a half day of work in before we grabbed lunch and headed south.  On we go…

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Bankson Road Trip - Part 1

2013 Bankson Road Trip
Part 1: 
We left home on Wednesday, March 27th at 1pm and drove to Farmington Utah.  The drive went well, and the kids hung in there well.  We stopped at McDonald's in Green River WY for dinner, which tastes less like food every time we go there, but it had a nice new play area which gave the kids a much needed play time.  We pulled our RV into the Wessmans' roomy driveway and slept great.  All day Thursday Blake, Kylie, and Lily enjoyed playing with their cousins Kaden, Landon, and Jaxon.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent most of it outside playing in the sand box, riding bikes, and just hanging out. It was also a good day for Jasen to get some work in.  Thursday night Paula fixed us all a wonderful steak dinner and David Alder and Tony came over too.

Friday morning (Good Friday) we packed up and headed down to Murray Utah (quick 1/2hr drive) and met Ranee and Ray Larsen at Murray Park for a KFC picnic.  Again, the weather was beautiful, high 60’s and sunny.  Kids had a great time playing and the Larsen’s brought Blake a new Lego set and Kylie and Lily new dollies, which they love.  We are very thankful for our social kids as they have quickly warmed up to so many people they don’t know well, talking, singing and giving hugs and kisses – so sweet to watch and share. We didn’t get to go to church that evening but loved our time that day with family. 

After lunch we headed down the street to Great Great Grandpa and Grandma Houser’s house.  Kylie and Lily attempted to nap while Grandma, Blake and I worked on his Lego's and dinner, and Jasen got some work in.  It was so good to see Grandpa and Grandma, though they are getting older they seem to be doing well, seeking God and smiling as good as ever J.  They loved the company and I encourage any family that has the chance to head over and pay them a visit.  Kylie and Grandma had an especially good time as they played house with Kylie’s doll and Kylie wanted no one but Grandma to take her and her dolly Grace potty  We ate a yummy chili dinner and headed out of town at about 7:30pm.  I have so many great memories with them and in their house, the visit really brought me joy.  We left G&Gs house at 7:30pm and drove till 2am when we arrived in Winnamucca, NV.  The drive was long and the kids only kinda slept, but we all slept in the next morning and got a nice slow start to the day.  After lunch we drove to Auburn, CA (~5hrs) then stopped at a beautiful park to relax and went to El Portal Taqueria for dinner which was pretty good. 

Brian and Jen Rickards
Eric and Melissa Rickards with Lily
Then we finished the drive (~1/2hr) to Roseville where we parked the trailer in front of Brian and Jen Rickards' house.  The next morning, Sunday March 31st, we went to Bayside Church for Easter (a busy, fun, CA mega-church) then back to Brian’s house to relax and prepare Easter dinner.  Eric, Melissa and Hannah (2), Brian and Jen, Parents Jim and Wendy, and Grandma Terry came over and we had an Easter egg hunt (200+eggs) in the backyard and a wonderful ham, pot, veg dinner with carrot cake to top it off It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful day celebrating the Resurrection of our Savior.   The next day we took it easy; Jasen worked, I cleaned up and took the kids to the park.  Being April 1st, the kids (with our help) hid some Easter eggs for Jen and Brian in their houseJ.  Then we went over to Eric and Melissa’s for dinner.  They had us, Brian and Jen as well as Chad and Melanie Linnenbrink over for tri-tip.  It was great to catch up and watch our kids play together. 
The next morning, Tuesday, we packed up and headed down to the Sacramento KOA for a night to regroup and for Jasen to do to RallyZoo meetings.  We stopped for lunch at Chick-fil-a, which is worlds better than McDonald's food but crazy busy that day.  That night the KOA had a hot-dog campfire, which was an easy, free dinner we enjoyed.  With the exception of Kylie coughing (we all seem to be holding on to a little cold) we slept well.  Wednesday morning, April 3rd, Jasen did some work and Blake and Kylie tried out the heated pool then we headed our after lunch to Santa Rosa.  There you have it, one week gone already!  Fun, very full, lots of driving and people.
koa neighbors showing B&K how to rope a wooden bull

PS - Check facebook for more pics!

Lil loving the koa old school playground

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Haiti - Day 7 - Work Day

Work day...again today we worked on our various projects and as we worked on getting some viruses off the computers around the office there were two things that came to mind: 1. Everything seems to get done a lot more slowly here as it relates to any type of work and 2. The problems that we dealt with were similar to some of the problems in society here where sometimes the issue didn't look like a real big deal, but the further we got into the project(s) the deeper the problems seemed to be. We were able to make good progress on our projects today and everything seems to be on track to get done over the next few days before we head back.

Tonight there has been a pretty good amount of rain. It started at dinner time while we were eating and was really coming down hard. Seems like in the tropics there aren't just misty rains or sprinkle rains...when it rains hard. While we were eating we could hear it starting to rain and there was a porch area out the back door of the house we were in. The porch roof had been damaged in the earthquake and had a crack in it that was substantial enough that the water gathering on top of the porch (a balcony) started coming through the crack in the roof into the lower porch area. It was like a shower causing flooding in the lower room. Not much that we could do about it as the house is rented and it's the owners responsibility to take care of those types of issues, but they just really don't and haven't done much to take care of these types of issues. This is a pretty common problem right now as many people rent and pay their rent up front for the year. After the earthquake they have been left stuck with no place to live. In this case at least the rest of the house was pretty much ok, but this was a pretty substantial crack in the ceiling.
As we left dinner we heard there was a problem with water collecting on the tent over at the clinic and they needed some help getting it off to keep it from getting too heavy. The clinic is built over a driveway area and also includes an area off the driveway (in the dirt) where cots were on both pieces. The whole yard is pretty much flat and really no drainage was planned when the house was originally built, so with all the rain a 'lake' formed in the front yard that extended into the hospital area. The patients had been moved to higher ground, but it was still VERY wet throughout the entire area. We knocked the water off the tarps as best we could, but it is continuing to rain, so hopefully the water doesn't get too high. It made us think about the people in the tent cities that are spending the night in the rain and flooding ground. This is only the start of the rainy season with the worst still coming. What will these people do? The tarps help, but the ground is flat and puddles form fast and easily. With this much gathering water along with all the trash and poor sanitation it just seems ripe for disease.
There is a little boy at the clinic who's name is Emmanuelle and had some scars from being hurt in the earthquake, but despite all this was a fun little guy that always seemed happy. It's great to see him doing so well and he is supposed to get some additional plastic surgery done on his nose soon. He is a great little guy.
We walked back to our place after helping and had to walk through ankle to knee deep water. The streets had turned to rivers. All the trash that is in the streets is now floating.
As we were walking back we were concerned about dirty water we were wading through and when we got back we rinsed it all off with a shower while others out there tonight are trying to figure out how to keep their family dry in a 10 x 10 tent area. What do we do about all this? What would God have us do?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Haiti - Day 6 - Visit to Pele

Early morning today. The lady that came in to have a baby yesterday wasn't making progress so they took her to the hospital last night for a c-section. When they got there the doctor was insulted because they hadn't brought her in earlier and he told them she couldn't stay. After negotiating with him he agreed to take her in exchange for sending two ladies in labor back to the clinic. This is healthcare in Haiti. So, about 4am 3 cars pulled up outside the house with two pregnant women to have their babies at the place we are staying. One of the rooms we're using is the 'backup' room and with two coming in they needed it. We quickly moved all the stuff out of there and re-arranged to make room. By this time most all of us were up and awake so we helped et some things together for the (they had been up all night already), water for the ladies... It felt like being an on call doctor...with no idea what to do when woke up from sleep in the middle of the night :) I managed to squeeze in about a half hour extra sleep before we starte the day off. Baby 1 (Belle) was born around 7:30am and weighed about 5 lbs (pretty normal for there) and baby 2 never came and mom was shuttled off to the hospital about 6pm tonight for a c-section.
Today Bill and I rode along with the medical crew that goes out to the poor areas and does some after-care treatment of patients injured in the earthquake. Many are still suffering from broken bones and severe wounds from being hit or trapped under fallen buildings. We went into a part of town called Pele where the team goes about 3 times a week. For a while they went everyday, but with fewer patients coming now they have scaled back. We brought along one of the armed guards that stands at the gates where we're staying for added protection. He is a really nice young guy and is from the area, so he knows a lot of the people down there which helps if things get tense because he already knows most everyone. One thing we noticed was that he was wearing a glove when we went down there today. We weren't sure why and we asked him as we left and he said that was his signal to the people there saying that he was carrying a shotgun. When we got there the medical crew starting taking care of the patients that came and lined up behind the truck to 'see the doctor' Our job was to entertain the kids. This was an experience like no other and a moment in life that I won't forget. The kids came running over to us and thought we were cool because we were white (everybody there is black) and american. They would hang on our arms and legs and hug us. We kicked a soccer ball around with them and played the hand-slapping game for the couple hours we were there.
Most all of them spoke pretty much no english, but loved playing and having their picture taken. Some of them would beg for money, but most all of them just wanted to play. They would run their hand up and down my arms because of the hair on my arms (i guess that's not common there :) ). It was a great time to just love on these kids (probably a lot of the orphans) and just see them smile. At the same time it was heartbreaking. The area we were in was an extremely poor area where everyone lived in a little 'house' made out of piece of corrugated metal. A lot of the kids ran around in just a t-shirt or no clothes at all because they don't have any. There was a ditch that ran alongside the road where they would just throw their trash and it also acted as their bathroom.
It's almost too much for words to try to describe the scene. Despite all this these kids were some of the happiest kids I've seen. They could have fun and loved to play. Wrestling through some of the thoughts today when facing the true reality and putting faces and people behind it made this one of the toughest days so far, yet one of the most rewarding. To be able to go spend time with these kids makes it a lot more personal and I believe started a life-changing mindset specifically toward orphans. I pray that God can help to show me how we fit into this picture as believers both here and once we get home. It is easy to get caught in the america bubble and ignore or just not care about what is happening in some of these other parts of the world, but i think it is wrong to do that. I haven't always felt this way, but after being here this week and specifically this experience with these kids my perspective is shifting. It's a work in progress and I think God will continue to work on me and show me how we should help.
It is amazing the work that is being done here through Heartline. They are making a huge impact in the community as it relates to orphans, injured, displaced and those who are unemployed. They have cared for them through this tough time the last few months (and years before) and are committed to help for years to come. They have set a great example of Christ and sacrifical love that really goes beyond what I could imagine.