July 8, 2003

Maryland, Tennessee, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon

taking a walk above timberline with my great uncle elvin

I took the following road trip between June 10 and July 3. During that time I covered over 4000 miles with stops in McMinnville, TN, Lincoln, NE, Buena Vista, CO, Grand Teton, WY, Yellowstone, WY, Walla Walla, WA, Columbia Gorge, OR and finally the Portland, OR area. I was driving a diesel Volkswagen New Beetle for my friend Ann who wanted to move it to the Portland area. It was a nice little car and averaged 46 miles per gallon for the entire trip.

coasting down cottonwood pass
After picking up my luggage and clearing customs at Dulles International airport near Washington, DC I made a couple of phone calls to find out where my sister had parked her van the day before. I barely missed seeing her since she flew out the day before I arrived, but she left the vehicle at the airport so that nobody would have to drop her off or pick me up. It took a little longer than expected, but I did find the van and drove myself directly to the General Conference office, with a quick stop at Taco Bell to satisfy some cravings. In the office I visited with a few different people including the person who had the Volkswagen New Beetle that I would be driving across the country. I arranged to get the vehicle later in the evening and then headed to the small basement apartment in my parents' house to repack my bags. I left much of the stuff I had carried from Cambodia in Maryland since I would be coming back in a few weeks. After getting the Beetle and taking a refreshing shower I finished sorting my stuff and then went out to eat with several friends.
my great aunt esther playing the piano in church
By the time we got to the restaurant it was 10:00 pm and I hadn't even had a nap yet since landing at Dulles around 11:00 am. We had a nice meal and then I crashed at a friend's house for the night. On the plus side when I'm that tired I can sleep through the night so I didn't wake up too early in the morning due to jet lag.

Wednesday morning I got caught up on a little email and then headed over to visit with some relatives (Monte, Jackie, Miranda, Aubrey, Summer and Amber) before hitting the road. I left Maryland early in the afternoon but still hit a little bit of the rush hour traffic. It wasn't too bad though and once I got off the beltway the rest of the trip went fairly smoothly. I got to my grandparents house in McMinnville, TN quite late and collapsed into bed.

view along the road in colorado near tennesee pass
In Tennessee I mostly just relaxed and visited with my grandparents who of course spoiled me with lots of good food that I had been missing from the US. On Sabbath we went to the McMinnville church and saw some old friends there and I hit the road again on Tuesday.

The drive to Lincoln, NE took another long day but since I started earlier in the morning I arrived well before dark. The drive was also easier since I got caught up on my sleep while in McMinnville. Along the way I drove through St. Louis and had a nice view of the arch, although I didn't stop this time. In Lincoln I stayed with some friends who lived in Russia when I was there with my family. It was fun to catch up with them and some other friends who also live in the area.

on the border between colorado and wyoming
On Wednesday my friends took me to see the Union College campus where I looked up a few entertaining photos in the old yearbooks. After lunch we visited the Nebraska state capitol building which is one of the tallest state capitals in the US. The building is quite striking and is full of symbolism from farm life including lots of corn. They also have a lot of intricately carved and painted furnishings. The Nebraska state government is unique in that it is unicameral, meaning that they only have one law making body. Most states have both a Senate and a Congress, but Nebraska just has one smaller body to do the same job.

my campsite with a view of the teton mountain range
On Thursday I drove down to Buena Vista, Colorado where I enjoyed spending time with some relatives. Friday I drove up Cottonwood pass with my great uncle and took a walk. There was still some snow on the ground and I wasn't used to the thin air at over 12,000 feet on top of the pass so we kept the walk fairly short. On the way down the pass I rode a bike while my uncle drove the vehicle down behind me. There wasn't really much effort involved on my part though since nearly the entire ride was downhill. It was a lot of fun to coast through the beautiful mountain scenery, while enjoying the fresh mountain air. On Sabbath we went to church with my great aunt who just had her 90th birthday. She played the piano for us in church and after church we all went for a drive to the top of Independence Pass which is on the way to Aspen. At the top of the pass we took another short walk and enjoyed spotting and photographing some mountain wildflowers.

hot spring pool near old faithful
Sunday I packed up and drove north through some beautiful country to Grand Teton National Park. It was getting late by the time I arrived at the park entrance, so I got directions to a nearby section of national forest that the rangers said would be a good place to camp for the night. After following a small road into the woods I wound up on top of a hill with an excellent view of the Grand Teton mountain range as well as the valley below. I couldn't have asked for a better spot to spend the night. Before drifting off to sleep I enjoyed a warm campfire and beautiful sunset accompanied by the distant howl of wolves.

two geyser eruptions that I saw while waiting for old faithful
On Monday I drove through Grand Teton National Park, stopping several times to admire the views. In the afternoon I continued on up into Yellowstone National Park and spent a couple of hours watching several geysers erupt, including Old Faithful. I stopped by one of the ranger offices and got an overnight permit for backcountry camping at a site about 3 miles from the nearest parking lot. After stopping to see a few more sites along the way, I hiked out to my campsite. On the way to the camp site I passed several bison, a dear and a few thermal features including a bubbling mud pot. At the camping area I set up my bivvy sack (kind of a sleeping bag shaped tent) right on the rim of Yellowstone Canyon. I could hear the rushing river far below me from my bed and slept quite peacefully in the cool night air. I didn't fully realize just how cool that night air was until I woke up the next morning to the awesome sight of falling snowflakes. It continued snowing well into the morning, although it didn't stick in the area where I was camping.
my campsite on the rim of yellowstone canyon
After packing up my gear I hiked back to the car and continued driving north through Yellowstone. As I drove over an 8,000+ foot pass the snow began to stick just enough to dust the trees, green grass and blooming wildflowers with a thin coat of white. It was a truly beautiful sight and I was thrilled to get a little winter weather after spending over a year in the tropics. After stopping to visit a few more thermal pools, hot springs and geysers I headed into Montana and out of the park.

waterfall in yellowstone national park
I spent the rest of the day driving through Montana and a very scenic part of Idaho before eventually making it to Walla Walla, Washington a little after dark. In Walla Walla I stayed with my dad's cousin and his wife and mainly just enjoyed visiting with them. I also spent some time catching up on email before leaving on Thursday for the Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Oregon.

At a boat launch area on the river I met up with some friends and headed out to an island in the river for a fun evening of camping. The next day we were able to do some wake boarding and a couple of us also climbed to the top of a rock island. We then had fun jumping back into the river from some ledges on the lower half of the rock formation. In the evening I drove the last couple of hours in to the Portland area and arrived at my grandparents' house just in time for supper.

snow covered wild flowers
On Sabbath I got to see both of my mom's sisters and spent the night with one of them on her boat. Sunday we all went for a cruise to downtown Portland and back on my aunt's boat, which was both fun and relaxing. When we got back to my grandparents house we picked raspberries and cherries from their garden, both of which really hit the spot. On Monday I got some plane tickets sorted out and basically just had a day to catch up on things. In the evening I met up with one of my old room mates for supper and had a nice visit with him and his wife. Tuesday I went up to Mt. Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument with my grandparents since I had never been there before. We enjoyed the exhibits about the eruption that took place back in 1980 and also enjoyed a picnic with some excellent views of the mountain. On the way back we met my mom's two sisters for supper. Wednesday morning we went and picked fresh blueberries for me to take back to Maryland and then I packed my bags.
rock island in the columbia river gorge
In the evening I drove over to my other Aunts house and spent the evening with her. In the morning she drove me to the airport and I flew back to Maryland with a stopover in Denver, arriving in Baltimore just after midnight.

Overall I had a great trip and really enjoyed catching up with so many people that I hadn't seen in a long time. I had originally hoped to visit a few more national parks and at one point even wanted to drive up into Canada, but ended up spending more time visiting friends and relatives instead. I guess I'll just have to visit some of those places another time.
with my grandparents at mt. saint helens
I learned that I am much better at driving long distances without getting too bored than I used to be. Perhaps I've gotten more used to long waits from my travels in Asia, although I suppose the books on tape helped make the drives seem shorter too.

That's it for now!


October 30, 2004

Hawaii, Yosemite, Colorado and Washington DC

guam coastline from the air
Greetings from Oregon!

I am writing this update from my grandparents house in Hillsboro, Oregon where I am spending some time with family. Unfortunately the reason for my visit is not a good one as my grandfather passed away recently. We had burial and memorial services for him this past weekend and now we are resting and spending more time with my grandmother. I plan to return to Tennessee on Monday.

Well, my last update was about my trip to Palau so I'll pick up where I left off. My flight back to Guam from Palau had one short stopover in Yap, but I didn't even get off the plane there. I arrived in Guam early in the morning, got a ride back to my apartment, slept a few hours, finished packing and headed to an Italian restaurant for lunch. I enjoyed visiting with friends over lunch and then some more at the airport before I finally said my goodbyes and boarded my flight to Tokyo. In Tokyo I had a short layover before boarding an
a beach in hawaii
overnight flight to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Since I crossed the International Date Line on the way to Hawaii, the time change was rather drastic at about minus 20 hours. This meant that I got to spend Sunday in Guam and then arrived in Hawaii bright and early Sunday morning. A friend from college who is living and working in Honolulu met me at the airport and she took me directly to Pearl Harbor to get some tour tickets for later in the morning. After a quick stop at her apartment we returned to Pearl Harbor and enjoyed a ferry ride out to the USS Arizona ship wreck and memorial. From Pearl Harbor we drove north to the Dole Pineapple plantation for a quick stop before continuing on to the north shore of the island. We got some lunch along the north shore and then drove along the coast, stopping at several beaches to walk around and take pictures. Eventually we headed back
view from glacier point
towards Honolulu through a winding road that cut through the interior of the island. At the top of Pali Pass we enjoyed a beautiful view of the ocean, mountains and city far below. Our next stop was another scenic overlook where we enjoyed a panoramic view of Honolulu. Finally we drove down to Waikiki where we got smoothies, caught the tail end of the sunset on the beach and watched a traditional Hawaiian dance performance. By the time we left Waikiki we had just enough time for another quick stop at my friend's apartment before she dropped me off at the airport so I could catch my flight to Los Angeles. It was a very short visit to Hawaii, but thanks to my friend I got to see a lot of the sights and thoroughly enjoyed my layover there.

After spending my third night in a row on an airplane I arrived in Los Angeles very early Monday morning on Labor Day. I was met at the airport by my grandparents from Tennessee and another relative who lives in California. From the airport we went to a restaurant and had a nice breakfast before walking down to the beach where we watched the surfers for a bit. Our next stop was at a cemetery to visit the graves of my great grandparents before we headed back to Calimesa. My grandparents from Tennessee had already planned a road
colorado aspen
trip to California before I made my travel plans, but the dates lined up nicely so that I was able to meet them in California and travel back to Tennessee with them. We first spent a few days in southern California visiting friends and relatives and collecting my belongings that were stored in the area. We also shopped for and eventually bought a trailer which we towed all the way back to Tennessee.

Our first stop after leaving southern California was at Wawona youth camp in Yosemite. We went to the camp to attend a weekend celebration of the camp's 75th anniversary. My great grandfather found the land and started the camp 75 years ago so the weekend was especially memorable. We arrived at the camp Thursday night then spent Friday enjoying Yosemite. We first went to see the Giant Sequoia trees in Grant Grove and then enjoyed the fantastic view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. After a picnic lunch at Glacier Point we drove down to the valley floor and watched some rock climbers before we headed back to the camp for supper.

Friday night and Saturday we enjoyed several meetings and then finished up with a late night ice cream feed. Sunday morning we drove through Yosemite, over Tioga Pass and out of the park. For the rest of the day and most of the following day we drove east towards Colorado with an overnight stop along the
cottonwood lake near buena vista
way. We also had a few sightseeing stops in Utah to enjoy some of the desert vistas.

In Colorado we traveled through the town of Aspen and made it to the top of Independence Pass just after sunset. All along the way we enjoyed the golden Aspen trees which were at their prime just in time for our visit. Not long after going over Independence Pass we arrived at our relatives house in Buena Vista where we enjoyed a good supper and comfortable night's sleep. Over the course of our two days in Buena Vista we took a couple of trips to see the Aspen colors and even took along a picnic lunch on one of them. On Wednesday we loaded the trailer with some additional furniture items and then on Thursday we continued our trip to Tennessee. The first day back on the road was a bit slower than we had expected as we had to stop a couple
cloudland state park in Georgia
times to make adjustments to the trailer load, but we finally got everything secured after which we made better time. After spending a night in a hotel we then traveled the rest of the way to my grandparents house in Tennessee.

After my arrival in Tennessee I got settled into my apartment, registered my car and got acquainted with the area around Collegedale and Chattanooga a bit better. I've enjoyed visiting downtown Chattanooga as well as a couple of parks in the area. I also enjoyed camping on Lookout Mountain in Georgia a few weeks ago and briefly visited Fall Creek Falls another weekend.

A couple of weeks ago Melissa and I drove up to Maryland for a long weekend to visit my dad who was in town for some meetings. We also got to see lots of my family and friends and even spent Sunday doing touristy things in downtown Washington, DC. We visited several of the museums, most of the monuments, Union
the capitol
Station, and even went inside the capitol building to watch the Senate in session for a while. I especially enjoyed visiting the new World War II memorial which I hadn't seen before. After having supper with friends we visited several more memorials after dark and concluded the evening with some rollerblading.

A few days after getting back from Maryland I got the news about my grandfather so started making plans to travel out here to Oregon for the services. As it turned out I was able to make last minute reservations using miles that I earned on my trip back to the US from Guam and arrived here in Oregon last week.

Well, I think that is pretty much all that has been going on with me lately so I'll go ahead and get this posted.

Until next time,


More pictures in my gallery.

April 11, 2005

Changes and a Roadtrip

boston skyline from the river
Greetings from Tennessee!

It has been several months now since my last update and a lot has happened since then. Spring is in full swing here so I'm enjoying excellent weather, the colorful tree blossoms, and the flowers that are starting to come up. I was in the tropics for the last 3 springs so I guess I had kind of forgotten how nice spring is!

Since my last update there have been a couple of significant changes in my life. The two biggest ones are that Melissa and I are no longer dating and that I got a
grave of benjamin franklin
new job working at EPB Telecom. I have been enjoying my job which has kept me busy learning lots of new things. EPB Telecom provides Internet and phone services to businesses in the Chattanooga area and I am working primarily on the Internet side of things.

Over the last couple of months I have enjoyed several weekends at my Grandparents house since I live so close to them. On one weekend I drove down to Alabama to visit my Uncle and Aunt and have spent others here in Collegedale.

I also enjoyed a long visit from my friend Jonathan who is from Germany. He and I worked together in Cambodia and he had some time off from school so decided to come to the US for a visit. The timing of his visit worked out well so that we were able to go on a road trip before I started at my new job. In fact, the road trip got under way a day earlier then planned when Jonathan's flights were cancelled due to snow at the Paris airport. The airline rerouted him
skiing in new hampshire
through Washington, DC so rather than having him continue to Atlanta as scheduled, I drove up to DC and met him at Dulles airport instead. This last minute change in plans ended up working out for the best since we had planned to drive up to DC the following day anyway.

After spending the night with friends in Maryland we spent the next day driving up to Boston where we stayed with some of my relatives. We arrived in Boston on a Thursday night and then spent Friday seeing the historic sights of downtown Boston. We visited the grave of Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere's house, Boston
temporary world trade center memorial
Common, the USS Constitution, several old churches and many other historic buildings and places along the Freedom Trail. On the weekend we enjoyed spending time with my friends and relatives and got to do some snow tubing and skiing with them before we traveled further north to Maine. In Maine we stayed with some more friends and enjoyed another day of snow skiing. The day after we went skiing we had around 6 inches of new snow so we waited until afternoon when the roads were mostly plowed to head back down to Boston. I enjoyed playing in the snow and even strapped on some cross country skis for a few laps around the back yard in the snow storm.

After getting a good night's sleep in Boston we drove down to New York. Jonathan was very excited about his first visit to Manhattan where we spent the day walking from Central Park all the way down to the southern tip of Manhattan. Along the way we visited many famous landmarks including Times Square, Wall Street and of course the site of the World Trade Center. We also
arlington cemetery & washington dc
visited a temporary September 11 memorial consisting of a mangled sculpture which used to be in the WTC lobby. At the end of the day we rode the subway back to where we had managed to find a free parking spot about a block away from Central Park. From New York we continued south to Maryland where we collapsed into bed at my friends' house.

After sleeping in due to our late arrival in Maryland we spent Thursday afternoon visiting the General Conference (SDA Church headquarters), Columbia Union College and the ABC (Christian book store). In the evening we drove up to Baltimore for a quick visit to the Inner Harbor before returning to my friends' house for the night.

On Friday we spent the day exploring downtown DC with quick visits to the Holocaust Museum, the FBI (unfortunately the tours weren't running though so we just saw the outside of the building), the Natural History Museum, the Air &
little river canyon
Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Capitol, the Whitehouse, the Lincoln, Jefferson, World War 2, Korean, Vietnam and Roosevelt memorials, the Washington Monument and JFK's grave in Arlington National Cemetery. It was a full day and we had definitely had enough walking by the time we headed back to my friends' house.

On Sabbath we enjoyed visiting a couple of churches and then spent the rest of the day catching up with friends and relatives before loading the car for our drive back to Tennessee. We had a smooth trip back on Sunday and then on Monday I started my new job while Jonathan finally got a chance to relax.

this picture was taken in my backyard
The following weekend we stayed around Chattanooga for church and then drove down to Little River Canyon in Alabama in the afternoon. It was a beautiful spring day so we enjoyed visiting the waterfall there.

The next weekend we went to my grandparents house where we spent time visiting, played dominos and of course found time for several games of Croquet.

Now Jonathan is back in Germany and I am starting to get caught up with things that I haven't had time for lately, including writing this update.

Well, I think that's about all the news from here for now.

Until next time,