We did this every day…… Is Marena in there somewhere?

Here is a cool pic from the plane when we were taking off from a layover in Phoenix. The entire trip was a wonderful learning experience for the girls. I’m so happy that we made the choice to take the trip.

Dear God, thank you for the wonderful planet you’ve created for us. Help us all have the courage and strength to help one another, to be patient with each other, and to have the energy to persevere when times are getting tougher. I pray for the many homeless people that we saw on this trip. I pray that opportunities present themselves and that they are prepared to respond positively to them. Amen.

Here is a coyote we saw along side the road when we were driving down from Mt. Hollywood. I guess the scaredy cats really did have a reason to be scared!

Sara and I shared an intimate moment when we climbed Mt. Hollywood. I said all along that I wanted to climb at least one mountain on this trip and when we drove most of the way up Mt. Hollywood on the way to Griffith Observatory, I realized this would be my chance. Tasha and Marena saw some sign about beware of coyotes or something and they got all scared. But Sara and I kept climbing higher. When we got to the top, and I was a little scared about climbing down because of the loose gravel, Sara reached inside her fanny pack and said, “Dad, do you want a drink of my root beer?” It was the absolutely last thing I thought I’d hear her say and I laughed outloud. I’ve never enjoyed root beer more in my entire life.

Here is a picture of my Uncle Connie’s house in Brea, California. We saw the impact of the wildfires that stopped within 1/2 mile from his house. He was explaining that the embers from the fire can travel about that far with the high winds that fuel the fire. So if just one ember lands on the wrong spot on a house, poof-its gone. I enjoyed talking with Connie, Sue, Chris, Randy, and everyone else. Thanks for the free lodging and the great hospitality!

There were just so many good pictures of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, Marina Del Ray, and Venice Beach. I couldn’t share them all. But on top of cool, they all shared one other quality – lots of people. I’ve lived in some major markets and have lived around a lot of people before. But this was so much more intense. In fact, it was M-O-R-E of everything. I came back to my house in Coldwater and my head was still spinning.

We stayed in a hotel down the road from Venice Beach. What a cool place. I rented a bike and rode from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica pier. The sun was just beating me down and I loved every second of it. I saw some strange people, and I loved every bit of it! I was smiling the whole way and I couldn’t stop whistling the Three’s Company theme song.

It was strange being in Malibu. It really was a gorgeous place. The sun seemed brighter, the houses were incredible. I kept calling Sara, Malibu-Sara, like the Malibu-Barbie. We played on the beach for hours. Racing the surf in and out. Taking pictures. Marena enjoyed her book. It was another awesome day. And tonight, we go to Hollywood!

It was dark, the kids were tired, it had been a long day, and we still didn’t know for sure where we were going to sleep. I even called back to my friend Caleb to run a hotel search for me. No luck. Finally, we saw a Best Western. We were on a budget and though a safe, affordable hotel was surely nearby, only luck would get us to it on the first stop.

We found it & we could afford it! The heated outdoor pool and spa was welcome relief in the dark evening when we arrived. We could hear the ocean breaking behind us. The view out our back deck in the morning was awesome. We saw the only dolphins of the trip this morning. Here is a link to our hotel.

Dear God, thank you for an awesome vacation. Thank you for giving me a family to share it with, the energy to work for the money to afford it, and all of the beautiful weather!

What an incredible place! There is the beauty of the big blue Pacific Ocean on the one side, and 10,000 foot peaks on the other side. It is like the Smoky Mountains on lotsa steroids. The cliffs were steep and scary. When I sing How Great Is Our God I have a whole new outlook!

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