Monday, August 15, 2011

Washington DC Trip - Day 3

Our friend Mary Beth set us up with a tour of the Pentagon on our 3rd morning in DC.  Robby Sudder is an army officer and gave us a 2 hour tour.  Just getting past the security was impressive--but we were also impressed at how the place is a city in itself with grocery store, drug store, restaurants, flower shop, barbers, book stores, etc.  I guess the people who work there spend so much time there that they need to not have to go into the real world for goods and services.  

From there, we took the metro to the Old Post Office Building and ate lunch at the food court there--nearly every kind of ethnic food you can imagine.  We went up in the clock tower for a great view of DC.  Then on to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where we saw the original Wright brothers' 1903 flyer, Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Luis," and the Apollo 11 Command Module.  

We met Mary Beth for supper at a restaurant called "Ted's Bulletin"--another well-known DC eatery.  

We finished the evening with the Friday night parade at the Old Marine Barracks.  You can see a video of the silent drill team here



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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Washington DC Trip - Day 2

On the second day of our trip to DC, we took the metro to the Smithsonian Museum of American History--way too much to see but we tried valiantly to see as much as we could in about 3 hours: Judy Garland's ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz, Archie Bunker's chair from All in the Family,c the presidents and their wives, old cars, trains,--even Julia Child's kitchen!  We weren't able to see it all, but we had fun trying.  

After grabbing a quick lunch, we met our friend Mary Beth Brednich at the visitors' center of Congress.  She works as an aid in the Senate and gave us a fabulous tour--walked the halls, stood in the House gallery, and saw more statues and paintings than we can remember!  One of the fun things about being with Mary Beth is all the insider tidbits and history that she knows and shared with us as we walked the halls of the Capitol.  Her job puts her in regular contact with all 100 senators--a wealth of knowledge--and a beautiful person!

Then...we went to "Ben's Chili Bowl"-- a famous Washington dive for hot dogs and chili cheese fries.  

We finished the evening off with a tour of Washington Monument--went all the way to the top for a beautiful view of the city.  There was a jazz concert nearby as we left. 



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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Washington DC Trip - Day 1

We just flew in today from an 8 day trip to Washington DC--a kind of family graduation/senior trip for Natali and Morgan before they go off to college.  Lots of sights, fun and memories.  

For the next few days I'm going to record what we did on each of the days there with a few of the photos--so we won't forget.  

The first morning, after buying subway passes for the week, we spent a few hours at the U.S. Botanical Gardens which are located to one side of the capitol building.  I think they have most every plant from every place in the world--have recreated different environments: desert, southwest, jungle, rain forest, etc.  

Afterwards, we had tickets to a Washington Nationals-Atlanta Braves baseball game at Nationals Park.  It was our first MLB game ever.  We had peanuts and hotdogs.  The game was rain delayed in the 6th--but we had a blast.

We ended the day with a visit of Lincoln Memorial--very impressive!



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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Plunged into Life in Texas

Its hard to believe that 2 months have passed since we left Mexico. Settled in to a farm house. Girls in school at Amherst Independent School District. Got some farm animals: baby chicks, an old horse for Ceci to ride, some baby heifers to feed milk. We feel over our head right now. Like a person must feel who jumps out of a helicopter into the ocean for an important mission of some kind. He comes up. Is breathing and alive...but still not sure which way is north. But figuring it out. And feeling good to be alive. I wonder what lies ahead!

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Iztaccihuatl - Climbing a Volcano with Friends

Last weekend, I joined 10 friends from Guadalajara and Mexico City for a 2-day climb of Iztaccihuatl, Mexico’s third highest mountain.  Almost 16 years ago, a few of us had climbed the nearby Popocatapetl volcano before it became active again.  We said back then that some day we also wanted to climb Iztaccihuatl.

Izta is also known as the Mujer Dormida, or sleeping woman because its shape looks like a woman lying on her back with at least 4 main peaks sticking up out of the mountain:  her head, her breast, her knees and her feet.  Our guides took us up towards the “rodillas”, which is the 2nd highest of the peaks at 5048 meters or 16,561 feet above sea level.  What an experience! 

After spending Friday night in Mexico City at the Pink House, the group of us from Guadalajara met up with the others and made our way to El Paso de Cortez at the base of the mountain.  We took the cars a little further to La Joya (3940 meters), got our gear organized (35 lb packs each) and began the climb at 1:30 pm.  Within an hour it began to snow (my friend Lad from Colorado called it “corn snow”).  For about 5 hours we made our way up through beautiful and rugged country—through snow storms, wind, rocks.  The temperature dropped dramatically.  About 6:30 pm we arrived at a rustic shelter called the refugio—a small shed with wood bunks for 24 people.  The altitude here was 4870 meters or 15,600 feet.  We were wiped out…most all of us suffering at some level from altitude sickness—nausea, extreme fatigue, headaches, etc. 

We ate and rested there until our guide woke us a little after 3:00 am on Sunday morning.  Visibility was severely limited by a fog and snow, so we postponed our final push.  But by about 5:30 am, after having eaten and dressed for the ascent, we formed teams of 3 and 4, harnessed ourselves together, and left the shelter.  We used snow axes and crampons to climb the remaining 961 feet to the “las rodillas” peak.  We arrived after about 2 hours of climbing at 7:30 am.

It would have been cool to go further and see la panza and reach el pecho of Izta.  But because of the snow storm and danger of lightning later in the day, we followed our guide’s advice and considered our mission accomplished.  By about 1:00 pm, we were back at La Joya, eating the best quesadillas and soup I’d ever tasted and celebrating our victory.  

It was cool to test our physical and emotional limits against the mountain.  It was super cool to do that together with such good and strong men.  

My friend, James Henderson, made this great video of our experience together: 

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Virgin Came By Our House Yesterday

Yesterday afternoon we watched as several thousand people paraded past our house with the Virgin of Zapopan.  It seems that this time of year the small statue is taken from her special cathedral in the center of Zapopan (one of the cities that make up the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara) to make a pilgrimage to all the Catholic temples in and around Guadalajara.  She (her statue) spends the night in each temple--then is carried with much celebration through the neighborhood streets to the next temple--where she spends the next night, and the process continues.  Folks believe that her presence brings blessing and protection to the neighborhood.

Yesterday was our neighborhood's turn.  Everyone started preparing the streets with decoration the day before--sweeping the street, laying a carpet of alfalfa leaves and hanging flags and balloons—excitement in the air. 

Then about 5:00 yesterday afternoon, as the video clip shows, the procession made its way down our street passing a few feet from the door of our house.  I was impressed to see so many people out on the streets to participate with the virgin.  I wondered what moved them to do this.  I wondered if the next generation will do the same. 

The Virgin of Zapopan on Vimeo

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Last Week in Mexico City

I spent several days in Mexico City last week—went over on Tuesday and spent the time hanging out with old friends and coworkers—and enjoying the “flavor” of Mexico City.  Although the time went fast and I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted, it was a great week and good for my heart to connect with so many friends who are trying to follow Jesus and incarnate Him in and around that huge city.  It was good to listen in on some of their stories of life there.  

I got to stay in the home of my good friends James and Erin Henderson and enjoy their hospitality.  From Tuesday thru Friday, I got to hang out with, eat meals with and drink coffee with the Holcomb and Jenkins families in Cuernavaca, Rodrigo and Rosi Mendieta in Yautapec, Morelos, the Brednich family in Tlalpan, the Torres family in Cuajimalpa, Filadelfo Monterrey in Santa Ursula, Abel Perez in Cuajimalpa, Pedro MarĂ­n in the center of Mexico City, Israel and Nelly Molina in Tlalpan, Ryan and Amanda Gray in Benito Juarez, and Jorge and Hilda Ortega in Tlalpan. 

As always, I was impressed with the enormity of Mexico City—nothing I know compares with it.  As I moved through the transportation system and walked the streets, I felt the pounding of its heartbeat—looked into the faces of the multitudes caught up in its chaos.  

And, as always, I was impressed with the faithfulness of my friends; their desire to participate with God and God’s mission there.  I saw lots of evidence of their perseverance. 

I felt proud that they are my friends.  

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Morgan and Natali Ran a 5K Race

This morning our 16-year old daughters Morgan and Natali ran their first 5K race.  They ran with a crowd of other women in a Mother’s Day Race at a park near our house.  They had lots of fun.  I was super proud. 

We started training for this race in March using a run/walk plan with the idea of running it together.  It was fun training together—watching them grow in confidence and arrive at being able to run the 3.1 miles without stopping.  

But then I found out that this race was only for women.  

I would have liked to have run with them.  But it was fun watching them run! 

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