September 9, 2005

Pacific, Atlantic, St. Louis, Washington Mountains and Ohio

we got to fly my stunt kite on ocracoke island
Greetings from Tennessee!

It's been several months since my last update and I've been busy. I'm still enjoying my new job where I have been learning a lot about a wide variety of things, most of them computer related. I've spent time working on network monitoring tools, router configuration, email/web server administration, troubleshooting various Internet problems and many other things during the past months. I enjoy the variety and certainly don't have to worry about getting bored at work since there are so many things going on.

On the weekends I've been keeping busy with fun activities and events, many of which are organized by the active young adults group at the church I have been attending. I've especially enjoyed playing sand court volleyball on Sundays and going hiking and/or exploring on Sabbath afternoons. I've also enjoyed several weekend visits to my Grandparents house which is less than 2 hours
debbie, devaunt, me and brenda at the beach
from where I live. Other fun weekend activities have included back packing, bonfires, water fights and potlucks. I have also enjoyed getting to know one Sabbath school member in particular. Her name is Brenda and we have been dating now for more than 3 months. Brenda recently graduated with her Masters degree in counseling and she works in a public middle school as a guidance counselor.

In May I took an extra day off from work over Memorial Day weekend and we drove to North Carolina to visit Devaunt & Debbie who I went to college with. Devaunt is stationed in North Carolina where he is learning to fly Harrier jets in the Marine Corps. In addition to just relaxing and visiting together we also enjoyed some time at the beach. One of our days there we took a ferry to the outer banks where we got to drive on the beach, swim in the ocean and fly kites. The car ferry took over 2 hours each way but it was a relaxing way to spend the day.

In June we attended a wedding in Collegedale and enjoyed an outdoor Newsboys concert in downtown Chattanooga. The concert was part of a week long festival called Riverbend. They had all kinds of booths, activities and performances throughout the week but we just went to the Family Faith night. The main stage was on a river barge so the audience sat along the riverfront to watch the various performers.

Also during June we enjoyed seeing Braden & Johanna who I first got to know in Cambodia where I had a couple of fun visits
on the rafting bus
to their home in one of the more remote provinces. Since Braden also happens to be Brenda's brother, we got to see him and Johanna quite a bit during their time in the US this summer. I enjoyed catching up on news from Cambodia and getting to know Braden & Johanna better.

The first weekend in July we stayed around Collegedale but managed to stay quite busy. On Friday evening we went on a hike to a waterfall where we enjoyed a picnic supper before watching the sunset from an overlook above Chattanooga. On Sabbath we had a relaxing afternoon and evening after church and then on Sunday went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. The rafting area is about an hour from Collegedale and they have some very good rapids. In fact, the 1996 Olympic whitewater events were held on this river. I think the most unique thing about rafting on the Ocoee is that there are very few calm sections of the river. Nearly the entire trip is spent in rapids and that makes for a very fun ride.
st. louis arch
On the way back from rafting we stopped and got a few bottle rockets, sparklers and other fireworks which we had fun lighting off with the neighbor kids. Later that night we drove in to Collegedale just in time to watch the fireworks show which was very good. On Monday the 4th we enjoyed a day at the Six Flags water park in Atlanta. The park was not very crowded, probably because most people were having a traditional 4th of July picnic or barbecue. We decided to have our lunch at a picnic table by the parking lot and had a good meal complete with grilled big frank hot dogs, potato salad, chips and cookies. We ended up staying until the park closed at 8pm and enjoyed going down all of the bigger waterslides at least once. Needless to say, by the time I crawled into bed Monday night I was definitely ready for some rest.

The following Thursday Brenda and I left directly from my office to drive up to St. Louis for the last weekend of the GC Session. Since my parents were attending the session we were able to stay with them for the weekend. On Friday we joined my Grandma from Oregon and my mom's sister for a trip to the top of the St. Louis Arch. It was fun to ride the unique elevator that keeps passengers level as they ride all the way to the top of the arch and the view from the top was superb. One of my favorite things about going to a GC Session is seeing so many friends from all over the world. I enjoyed reconnecting with friends from Guam, Sri Lanka, Russia, Cambodia, Cyprus, Maryland and many other places over the weekend.
mt. rainier from the plane
It was also fun to wander through the various booths in the exhibit hall. There were booths sponsored by a wide variety of organizations ranging from health food companies to musical groups to universities to television and radio ministries. On Sabbath it was an amazing experience to attend church with somewhere around 50,000 other Adventists in a full sized football stadium and on Sabbath evening the same number of people gathered again for the parade of nations. During the parade of nations representatives from every country of the world took turns marching across the platform and then around the stadium dressed in their national costumes and carrying their country's flag. It was quite a sight to see people from all over the world united together in their beliefs. Finally, to close the session Wintley Phipps gave a powerful rendition of Amazing Grace. On Sunday morning we drove back down to my grandparents house in Tennessee where we enjoyed some
lake above leavenworth in washington state
family time with my parents before going back to work on Tuesday.

The following Sunday we attended a wedding shower and helped my neighbors Bryan, Penny & family move down to their new home in Georgia which is about 3 hours from here. It has been nice having them next door, especially since I knew them already from when I was in Cambodia. I'll miss having them next door but the time was right for them to move on.

After work on Friday, July 22 we flew out to Seattle, Washington to spend ten days with Brenda's family. We had a very full trip with lots of fun activities and plenty of visiting with Brenda's friends and relatives. Since we got in late on Friday we spent the night with some of Brenda's relatives who live near Seattle. Incidentally, I already knew one of Brenda's cousins who we stayed with since he is a school teacher in Guam and had arrived there a few weeks before I left. On Sabbath we enjoyed church and lunch together and then headed into the mountains for a hike. It was really nice to hike in real mountains and we especially enjoyed the excellent view of Mt. Rainier from the fire spotting station on Red Top Mountain. After our hike we drove on to Wenatchee where Brenda's parents live.

On Sunday we ran some errands and visited several fruit stands where we loaded up on the wonderful local peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots. We even got to pick several pounds of cherries ourselves, which was especially fun.

rainier cherries that we picked
Monday afternoon we drove down to Walla Walla where we met Braden & Johanna and spent the night at Braden & Brenda's grandma's house. In between spending time with Brenda's family we also got to visit with my relatives Gary & Tami over lunch on Tuesday. It was fun to catch up with everyone and it was hard to get on the road again Tuesday night for the drive back to Wenatchee.

On Wednesday we spent some time in Leavenworth, Washington which is a picturesque mountain town with lots of touristy shops and restaurants. In the evening we visited with some of Brenda's relatives.

Thursday we got together with Matthew and Kathryn who I know very well from Guam. It was especially fun to meet the newest member of their family who is named Micah. On the way back we stopped at a fruit stand and replenished our fruit supply with more excellent cherries, plums and watermelons. In the evening we got together for supper with more of Brenda's relatives.

On Friday morning we got up bright and early and started our weekend trip to the Olympic Peninsula. The route we took involved two car ferries and the wait to get on the ferries was rather long. By the time we made it to our hotel in Forks, Washington it was pretty late but we enjoyed a
blackberry pie for my birthday / olympic national park rain forest
clear day and some very nice views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier along the way.

Sabbath morning we visited the Hoh rainforest which gets an average of at least 140 inches of rain per year. Luckily for us we were there during the driest time of the year and were blessed with blue skies. After exploring one of the trails that winds its way through the forest we headed back to our hotel for lunch. We spent the evening walking and relaxing on the nearby beach. Since the Pacific is quite cold on the Washington coast, we opted to stay out of the water on this trip but it was still fun to spend time at the beach.

Sunday we loaded up the cars and headed back to Seattle with several stops along the way to walk on the beach. We also
washington coast
enjoyed a picnic lunch by a scenic mountain lake before returning to civilization. We spent the night at an airport hotel and then caught our early morning flight back to Chattanooga.

After a short week at work I loaded up my car and drove down to Hilton Head, SC. Brenda wasn't able to come since she had a work conflict, but I met up with some of my friends at their house on the Atlantic coast. On Sabbath after church we enjoyed a good meal together and then spent some time at the beach. In the evening we went on a bike ride and then went out to eat at a Greek restaurant. Sunday morning we enjoyed the beach and pool some more before driving back to Tennessee. On the way back there was a bad accident that closed the interstate so I got in a bit later than expected but still got some sleep before going to work Monday morning.

During the next week we enjoyed some peaches which I picked up in Georgia on the way back from South
check out this ohio fungus (mushroom?) / picnic in olympic national park
Carolina. We were even able to put a couple gallons of peaches in the freezer to enjoy during the winter months. The next weekend we took a short trip up to my grandparents' house to pick blueberries and eat blueberry pie. We were able to freeze some of the blueberries and earlier in the summer we picked and
waiting for the fireworks to start
froze strawberries so now my freezer is well stocked with fruit.

For Labor Day we drove up to Dayton, OH where we enjoyed spending time with some of my cousins and friends from college. On Sabbath we went on a hike by a river and then visited a dairy farm where we pet the goats and cows before eating some fresh ice cream. On Sunday we played a couple rounds of miniature golf and then headed into Cincinnati to watch the Labor Day fireworks. Before the fireworks show they had a couple of military jets fly over the river. The best part was that a Harrier jet flew by a couple of times at high speed but then it came in more slowly and gradually slowed down and finally hovered over the water near one of the bridges a few hundred feet from where we were sitting. While hovering the pilot gradually rotated the jet around in a circle and then stopped completely for a few seconds before turning and
fireworks in cincinnati
flying up and away at about a 45 degree angle. We thought the show might be over but the pilot then brought his jet back once more and repeated the same maneuvers a second time before flying back to his base. It was very loud and impressive to watch such an amazing airplane perform at such close range. The fireworks show lasted about 30 minutes and they had six barges loaded with fireworks. They also launched some fireworks including two waterfalls of fire from two bridges. The grand finale was very impressive with an almost constant barrage of light and noise. After the fireworks show we got some ice cream to help pass the time before traffic thinned out a bit so we could more easily drive back to Dayton. Monday morning we slept in some and then got together with my cousins to eat breakfast and play games before we headed back home.

Well, I think I've covered the highlights of what I've been up to for the last several months now. As you can see I've been keeping busy since I last
wrote. I've been having fun though making new friends and getting settled into my job. I'm looking forward to more fun trips and activities in the coming months including a quick trip to Maryland in a couple of weeks.

Until next time,


As usual there are more pictures in the gallery.

Posted by andrew on September 9, 2005

Looks like a gigantic puffball mushroom.
Those are yummy when properly slice up n fried.
Not that much flavour on their own, but hold it fairly well.

Posted by: nemo on September 9, 2005

There were actually two of them near the trail but this one was larger. They had already been 'picked' and the stick was already in this one when I picked it up. I had no idea they might be edible though!

Posted by: Andrew on September 9, 2005

Hi Andrew,

My names is Gabriel Grimsditch and I work for the IUCN Marine Programme (based in Gland, Switzerland, see We are interested in using one of your coral photos from Guam for a report of ours concerning 'Coral reef resistance and resilience to climate change'. Would you be willing to share this photo with us? Please write to me personally if you have any questions.

Gabriel Grimsditch

Posted by: Gabriel on October 3, 2005

Hi Andrew,

My name is Gabriel Grimsditch and I work for the IUCN Global Marine Programme in Gland (Switzerland). We are interested in using one of your coral reef photos from Guam for our publication 'Coral reef resilience and resistance to bleaching'. Do we have permission to do so?

Gabriel Grimsditch

Posted by: Gabriel Grimsditch on October 13, 2005


Thanks for contacting me about the coral reef photos. I have responded in more detail via email.

Posted by: Andrew on October 13, 2005


It's been awhile but finally caught up with your website again which I found originally since you had lived in Agat, Guam. You live such an interesting life & it is wonderful that you share your pictures and events with others. Keep up the good work.


Posted by: Susie on November 6, 2005