Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DAY 3...Yosemite.....Pictures, Big trees and Rehearsal

Again, with the waking up at 5:30 am.

What in the world?????  Today, Kip and Brandon are going to go on a photo shoot with Tyler and Ashley Herrinton, the photographers we have summoned from Virginia.  Kip met Ashley on the World Race a couple of years back, and we (notice how I include myself in this) have stayed in touch, and Ashley married Tyler a while back, and we all have been soooo super impressed with Tyler's photography that it was a NO brainer asking them to come and snap the big event.

My kids braving the cold for the view

Lacey wasn't about to be left out of one more thing, so she and Tyler got up out of bed, and left with the couple at 6 am, as they hit the road to take some fantastical engagement pictures.

Lacey took some pictures too.... I always love to see the Behind the Scene pictures my crazy daughter takes...... so very wonderfully funny.
Now, wait, HOW are we supposed to stand??

The upside to being up at 6 am on a Sunday is one is able to stand in front of the tunnel view road and take a picture.  Normally that road is filled with buses full of Asian people that want selfies.

Oh so very beautiful.  I love that Lacey got some of the photographer, taking photography pictures.

This didn't happen that morning, but I ADORE this picture of the rock you have to drive through if one comes in the CORRECT way into the park.  I never saw this rock until I was leaving, following people who knew where to drive.  It was very very cool.
We had to take one of "these" since Lacey missed the picture taking on Saturday.
I think this should be in a magazine selling deodorant or "Find Love in Yosemite" campaign.  They could be rich.

Or how about this suave, dapper fellow?  Male model material all the way, don't you think??

Tyler H. was absolutely committed to getting the very best shot, even laying down in the extremely WET grass to make sure that every angle was covered.  He is magnificent.

The photographers weren't above showing the short bus couple how to pose in slightly awkward poses that look really great when caught on film.  This pic was one of my favorites too. 

I think they liked the kissing pictures the best.

BUT, I think my favorite one was this one, though..... So totally them, no touching of foreheads, no awkward poses, just Brandon and his Kip.

And Lacey behind the photographers, grabbing another great picture...

What great fun!!!

They got back to the Cabin about 10:30, and the Halls and their new daughter, Hallie Hall,
were packed up and ready to head to the hills to hike and hike and hike.  Brandon threw on his hiking shoes, and so did Tyler, so Hallie was in heaven, had both of her brother in laws, in tow.

If you look really close, you can see three little dots waving from the bottom of the falls.  That's them.  Yep.  I'm glad she has boys to go do things with, she would have NEVER talked any of her sisters, or me into doing that.

On the home front, Lacey drove us over to the Mariposa Grove, so we could look at some big dang trees.

Now that is a tree when you stack 8 people in front of it, and you don't even cover up the bottom. (And thanks to the random man that volunteered to take our picture)

The grandmas were convinced this was a handicapped sign, and none of us wanted them to know any different, so we just let them think what they wanted.  They thought they were really funny, posing by the hiking trail "Handicapped" sign.

This represents about a 12 foot ARM spread of girls to show how magnificently huge these babies were!

This picture is captioned  "I just wanted to hug my sister who is getting married, in front of a big ole tree"

 Hallie had a lot of fun that evening, picking up Kip and showing us how strong she was...
 Kip tried to return the favor, and almost dropped her younger, larger sister on the floor.

 Here are the moms, just doin what they do....

 Then Hallie decided she needed to carry Lacey around.
They were all super cute in their tshirts Kip made for them.....

And we practiced the ceremony a couple of times....just a run through, so we would all know where to sit and such....

And then Tyler did this, and reminded me why I love him so much.  He is truly kin. Even Aunt Nancy thought he was funny. 

Tomorrow we will be here and have the real ceremony...... for now, it's lights out....... End of Day 3.... what a fun and joyfilled time.....

And the Snow Clears....Day 2 in Yosemite

Day Two and Three were much more enjoyable in the Yosemite 2014 adventure.

When we awoke on Saturday (5:30 am, and headed for the windows to actually SEE where we were (arriving so late the last evening), I found myself in a snow drenched fairy land.

It was light at 5:30 and everything was glistening.  It was GORGEOUS.  Lacey & Tyler were expected late afternoon on Saturday, and the photographer and his wife, Tyler and Ashley Herrinton (Ashley was one of Kip's teammates on the world race) were due in early evening, so the gang was just about to be all here.
Our lodge where we stayed

Let's review who was there.

Brandon's family.... Don and Pam are his parents.  Just about the most fun things I've ever met... Don is a huge prankster, and Pam is the only female in a family of men. They are great.

Don & Pam with the apples of their eyes, Levi and Savannah (Gbabies)
Brian is Brandon's older brother, and flew in from Ethiopia (where he runs a camp for kids, awesome fellow, with his wife Laura, a nurse) with his son, Levi, Brandon's nephew.  That cutie patootie is 2 1/2, and he rocks my face off.  He is SO smart, and just cracked me up every second. Brian did the ceremony and WOW, well...more about that later.

Then last, but certainly NOT least, is Brad, Brandon's younger bro, and his girlfriend, Brooke, who may be the most organized lass on the planet.  Seriously.  She gives Lacey a run for her money.   Her title for the weekend was "Wedding Coordinator" and "Hallie's supermodel newest bestie".   What a doll.
Brad, Brooke & Duke
 My Aunt Nancy and Uncle Lonnie, drove up on Saturday from Redding and brought food galore and coats for the thin skinned Okies that didn't think to pack a coat.  Who knew it would be snowing in April???

As soon as the sun came out, and it was proving to be a terrific day, everyone started making hiking plans.  Where they were going, and who was going, and what was happening.  We left the lodge and made it to tunnel view...let me just say, Brandon took high honors that day, by staying back with the oldies and Kip, and hanging with us and driving us around while we played tourist on Saturday.  He even got a mani out of the deal, (Kip worked him over).  He didn't like it, but he likes his bride, so he hung in there until she cracked out the emery board, then he was done.  Hallie went with the Hall's, hiking, and decided then and there that she wanted to become an "honorary Hall".  She and Brad became solid besties, and ragged each other all weekend. 

We got magnificent pics that day.  The snow was still on the ground, and the fog came and went,  and it was just gorgeous.

Deaton Crew

Seriously beautiful

Grammie & 2 of her girls


Sister Selfie

 About the time I started uploading pics onto facebook (this was one of the only areas in the park with WiFI), Lacey commented and said, "STOP, you have to go to ALL THESE SAME places when I get there!!!"   We didn't listen.

 We were quite amused at the vast number of Asians at all the turnouts.  Especially Asian Men taking Selifes.  It was really too too funny.

 Then more than Asian men were taking pics.   My question is Why are we all Leaning??
 And the reason we were all make these single people a Mr. and a Mrs.

 I especially like this picture, we aren't leaning very much and what a view behind us!!!!

 All that picture taking took a toll on Kipster, so she grabbed a nap back at the cabin with the "HELP" of grandpa.

And before we knew it!!!!!

Pam asked me if I was a "crier", and I said,  "Naw, not really" and as the words eeked out of my mouth, I needed to go have a good cry.  All weekend I was on the verge of tears.   Happy, sentimental, sweet, mad, love....... all of it delicious.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rain, Sleet, Hail and Snow.... Day one of Yosemite or Bust 2014....

This past weekend I have ran through every emotion, like a rollercoaster on speed.

Kip got married.

Last Friday, we loaded up Grammie and Hallie and her guitar and three extremely heavy suitcases, headed for the airport, where we met Carl, Evelyn and Ann and Walter, and jumped on a plane to take us to San Francisco.  Wheelchairs reigned supreme, we were treated like disabled royalty, and not one hiccup happened the first 4 hours.

As we left Oklahoma, it was warm and very sunny.  Hallie was wearing shorts and a tshirt, and I had on a light jacket and jeans.  All good.  When we landed in San Fran, it was drizzling and about 50 degrees.  Not horrible, not great.

The wheelchair royalty in San Fran (had their own Pushers)

Grabbed our identical Chevrolet impala rental cars  (White for the bridal party) and promptly got lost trying to get back to the airport (from the offsite rental car place) to gather up the waiting wheelchair royalty.  Grabbed Gram & Hal and ran down to Stanford to check out the university and get Hallie her own Stanford Volleyball tshirt.  There ya go.

It started raining as we hit the campus at Stanford, so I knew we had a 4+ hour ahead of us to drive, to get to Yosemite and I had chosen the quickest route off of Mapquest to get to our cabin in yosemite.

Mistake #1.

Never EVER trust Mapquest.   I went through the most random towns, and two lane highways I have ever seen.  Plus, the drought ended whilst we were driving and sheets of water were on our windshield.  SHEETS of water.  I felt like we drove into a Tsunami.

Little did I know that that rain was the least of the excitement of the day.

I got major sleepy, since I had woken up at 3:15, before our travel day started at 6:30, and decided I would just stay up and pack and repack the same crap over and over in two different bags.  So, about 2:30, I was nodding off at the wheel, in the tsunami.

I decided that if we stopped and bought umbrellas at a Target store in one of the small towns we were whizzing through on that God Forsaken route that mapquest was sending us, it would ensure that it would NOT rain on Monday, Kip's wedding day.   Plus, I thought Gram could take the wheel for 30  minutes so I could take a power nap.  Got in Target, and the bottom fell out of the sky.  Hail, more hail, sheets of water so strong I thought the roof was going to fall off of the Target store.  But they did have a snack bar, and while everyone in that town was standing at the door, admiring rain (drought for months) I totally passed out on a snack bar table and took a 20 minute power nap, while Hallie ate through a box of Hostess cupcakes and Gram had Target popcorn.

Four hours later, I was so thankful I had gotten that power nap.

We finally started driving into what I call, GOD's COUNTRY, and about that time, I got a text from Kip and it said that the Hall's (Brandon's parentals) had just arrived and they were required to put on chains (unless they were driving a 4wdrive) and it was SNOWING at the cabin.  SNOWING.  I'm in a Chevy Impala,  and beginning to wish I had invested in the "INSURANCE", as I had already been hailed and rained on, now it looked like we might hit some snow.  We are stopping and taking pictures with Hallie on the side of the road in her shorts, and it's not cold.  Hit some snow, schmow.  No way.

If you've ever been to Yosemite, you know that the roads are extremely winding and turny, and for a directionally challenged middle aged woman, toting a senior citizen back seat driver, and a 15 year old permitted, knows EVERYTHING about driving side seat was just more fun than I can put into words here.   When we finally got to the entrance of the park  (Found out mapquest sent me on the world's worst route ever known to man), they halted us at the gate and required us to put chains on our front tires....and HEY, they just happen to have chains right ahead for the bargain basement price of $89, and a happy man standing in the rain will install them.  This is about 4:30 pm.  As we are sitting there, griping to each other about the audacity of chains in the rain, it starts to sleet massively, and by the time the very wet installer has put on our chains, the snow is coming right down.   I ask him how far to our destination from where we are sitting, and he says, "Oh about 30 miles".

30 miles.  EASY.   Midwest City to Shawnee.  25 minutes.  Piece.  of.  Cake.

Come to find out that math class problem that always plagued me in 8th grade......'How long will it take to go 30 miles,  traveling between 10-25 mph, in elevations of 5000-6000 ft,  as the snow comes plummeting down? '

The answer is about 5 hours.

Five freaking hours.  It was fun at first. I thought I liked snow.   I was in control while the snow was wet, and those chains just worked their magic.  Then as we got higher elevation and the fun, fat, wet snow, turned into a slick sheet of ice on the road, and the side of the road I was traveling was sitting on a mountain ledge that dropped 3 million feet off a ledge with no railing or anything to stop the sliding Impala to keep it from going airborne....all the sudden I'm spelling cuss words in my head, and things are NOT so fun.

Oh, it's funny now, that we lived through it, but at the time I was NOT amused that Gram was in the backseat just whispering prayers over and over and over, and Hallie, when she gets nervous, resorts to Knock Knock jokes, and "Mom, RELAX and ENJOY the NATURE" speeches, which were NOT appreciated as I rapidly approached nervous breakdown status as the road got SLICKER and slicker and more precarious by the second. 

It is now dark.  We have lost our maps on our phone, since yosemite has NO cell reception.  My worthless piece of crap Mapquest map has been trampled under my foot, and I am past the tears and nerves stage, when a snow plow whizzes up behind me, and I am able to let him go by and follow Jesus in a 4 wheel drive with a bucket on the front.  (Gram takes full credit of this, all those whispered (cough) prayers.) 

I know Kip must be FRANTIC, and even while I am driving in my car, reduced to a whimpering mess, I vacillate between wanting to kill her for EVER picking Yosemite as a stupid wedding place, to just praying that God finally gets us there.

So God showed up, because about the time that snow plow shows up, Hallie's dot on her map wings back into action, and we are able to find the lodge, but not before Hallie has to jump out of the car and pee on the ground, and we have no idea which house is ours.  (I envisioned one lodge in a remote area, not 100 in an RV setting).  I got the idea that if I just HONKED, my people would hear, and would come.  So I drove up and down these houses, just HONK HONK HONKING, and nothing.  Nada.  Not one welcoming flash of porch light.

Another snow plow came by, and took immense pity on us, and lead us to our lodge.  A tearful, frantic Kip came tearing out of the house (OH SURE, NOW SHE comes when I honk), lamenting,  "I can't believe it!!!!!!!!" and wanted to know why I was just sitting in the car, gripping the steering wheel, unable to move.   "I may or may not have messed my pants, and I just need to breathe a second" I tell her, as she pulls me out of the car, dangerously close to tears herself. 

But we are finally to our destination, and while our chains kept us on the road...Carl and his crew, weren't required to get chains, and their Impala dumped them off the side until they were rescued.  Not the one million foot drop, because Carl is much smarter than I and actually came the RIGHT way in, and just barely beat us there at 8:30.  So we are all, shaky, exhausted messes. 

I'm afraid I wasn't very social with the Hall's that evening, I was still a desperately overwhelmed, "What just happened" freak, and just needed to go sit in a corner and suck my thumb.

Day one is complete.    The Lodge is BEAUTIFUL and we are FINALLY HERE.  P.S.  I don't drive another second until we leave.  Truth.