What do teachers do the week before students arrive? One would assume that these diligent instructors are busy making bulletin boards, photocopying worksheets, planning lessons, and making name tags. A teacher has to find time to do these wonderful things, but not in the nine to five the week before school. No, the fare for the week is meetings, meetings, meetings. Meetings to pump us up to go teach. Meetings to decide who has bus duty when and when do my students have lunch. Meetings to decide how we will collectively help our students do well in reading and math. Meetings to learn how to use the new science kits. I could go on, but you are already bored, and that is from just thinking about what the meetings are about. I am anxious for next week to start, and the real action to begin.
All good things got to come to an end, same with the Bulthuis road trip. We made the long I-5 grind with two stops. The Country Buffet in Medford seems to always be the ticket for a big meal between Sacramento and home. The 'Harry and David's' market provides a short diversion before getting back on the road and taking turns napping. That mattress in the back of the van is great! The other stop was the new Ikea in Portland. Esther wanted some particular spice containers only available at Ikea. The store was packed. I always feel like I am in a labyryinth. The mazes are maddening! - especially in a new store finding one item. It was good to get home, but sad to say goodbye to summer heat.
The final feature of our road trip was visiting Ellen in Sacramento. After a leisurely and nauseating (Esther) drive past Berryessa dam we met Ellen at her school as students were dismissed. It was good to see the buildings and people who are often in her stories. We ate at a restaurant on the river in 'Old Sac' By evening the 100 degrees had cooled off for a comfortable walk. We grateful to share the evenings' lodging with Ellen's 'kids' Charlie, Ebony and Princess.
Sometimes, all you need is an undisturbed parking spot for eight hours. Sometimes, you need the convenience of unlimited toiletries next to your restroom. Sometimes, you would prefer your McDs breakfast without a morning drive. Sometimes, you want good directions to the closest Starbucks in a strange town. Sometimes, you prefer not to pay a dime for your evening’s lodging. Walmart – ‘Sometimes’
We finally decided to visit the wineries. One was at a sparkling wine maker with views of the valley. For lunch we found one with a deli and picnic grounds. Our final visit featured a veteran politically incorrect tour guide with coached tasting. We learned a lot as we obviously don’t know much about wine. Next it was off to explore Marin county. We were determined not to cross the bridge into SF, since we have been there many times. We explored the picturesque towns of Tiburon and Sausalito. The cool down of the bay from the valley was drastic and we quickly donned sweat shirts. The sunset on the Golden Gate from the Marin headlands was worth braving the wind and chill. We called this our day ‘on the cheap,’ since we ended up getting two free wine tours with tasting, a picnic lunch, supper at In and Out Burgers and lodging at Walmart parking lot.
A place must be special to keep these two from moving on. We decided to stay another night in Sonoma and poke around. We started at Jack London's estate in Glen Ellen. The famous author lived here most of his adult life as he cranked out the fiction. It was fascinating to learn of his love for farming, and his attempts in experimental horticulture. Most impressive was the ruins of the 'Wolf House', Jack's dream house that burned down just after completion, but before occupancy. He died three years later at the age of 40. Our next stop was Sebastobol on the western slopes of the valley. Esther read that 90% on the gravenstein apples were grown here, so it was off to find a fruit stand. Next we browsed the antique shops in Petaluma before returning to Sonoma to relax by the pool. Supper was shared with half of the town in the town square as farmer's market and the pinewood derby drew in the crowds.
We are enjoying the heat of the California summer. We even went swimming this afternoon; and for Esther to go swimming, you know it has to be warm. Ninety degrees plus, but it cools down very nice in the enening. We drove through the Napa Valley today and crossed over to the Sonoma Valley this afternoon. We had no idea that the two valleys were so competitive. Even though we drove past hundreds of wineries today, we haven't taken a tour yet. We found a nice inn in Sonoma and are pampering ourselves for sleeping in the van earlier.
One of my two sailing vessels is a Venture Newport 23. For years, I have browsed websites of fellow owners. The most impressive makeover that I have seen is a boat in Eureka named 'Skallywag' I have long admired her brightwork and custom rigging. I mentioned to Esther that I would like to stop at the Eureka marina and see if I could find it. I not only found one, but two Newports, one of which was the jackpot. Esther watched as I drooled over them and emptied two rolls of film (just kidding - I love digital photos) I wonder if it will be enough to spur me to restore my Ellen Maria. After spending the morning on the dreary coast, we made our way in the afternoon to the sun and warmth of the Mendocino valley, settling on a Motel in Ukiah. Yeah, after two nights in a rest area, we figured we deserved it. We enjoyed an evening walk through Ukiah, even catching some local flavor at local music festival.
In true Bulthuis fashion, we started on our road trip at 9pm Friday night. We weren’t looking forward to wasting the better part of the daylight on the I-5 grind. By 1:30am, I was getting tired and we would soon be embarking on unfamiliar road. We pulled over at a rest area and cozyed into our ‘bed’ in the back of the van. A fairly good night's sleep was ended by sunlight and the idle of eighteen wheelers pulling out. The McD breakfast sat well on the road to the coast, despite an hour traffic jam due to a highway fatality. We arrived in Bandon shortly before noon and took walks to the end of the jetty and through old town. Lunch was fish and chips on the wharf. Our impression of Bandon was that it was a slightly a-bandon-ed tourist town. The surroundings were impressive enough with plenty of sea stacks and surf, but the town lacked the charm that we had anticipated. Maybe we are too accustomed to the Cannon Beach atmosphere. We are now in the town of Brookings, just above the CA border. This town seems to have a little more to offer and has an arts and crafts fair going on. We opted not to pay the high price for the available dumpy-trumpy in town and plan to spend the night in a nearby rest area. We rented ‘Wild Hogs” and will watch it tonight in the comfort of our van – a rare movie night for Esther.
Every summer I spend a little time doing construction projects, usually for the same neighbor. Since I have already built decks which totally surround the octagonal house, Jim wants me to pour cement slabs under all of the high decks. The house is built on a hillside, so this necessitates some hefty retaining walls. This past month I have been recalling basement foundation techniques from my building days and putting the boys to work on mixing and moving cement. Because of the inaccessibility of the pour site, we used all dry bags of cement and mixed them with a mixer. All in all, we hauled over 200 bags of cement from the lumber yard, through the mixer and shoveled into the walls. I have done enough damage for the summer, and Esther and I plan on taking a 'bulthuis road trip' before starting school. Stay tuned for the blow by blow.
It is always fun to renew old friendships as the years pass by. This weekend, two friends from childhood and high school spent the weekend. Ed Heutink was a childhood buddy in Lynden from as early as elementary school. We ruled the streets of Lynden with our stingrays and minibikes. Ed and Tanya now live in Ferndale with an active family that ranges in age from 24 to 2. Rick Doughty became a close friend in high school as our home was a home away from home for this Mt. Vernon native. Our friendship in college developed around theological discoveries and he was the best man in my wedding. Rick and Sally live in Beaverton, Oregon with their three teenage children. It was a great weekend of sharing each other's life journeys.
It was great to have so many friends make it to the wedding. The 'came from the farthest' has to go to Candy and Corbin Collins from Tuscon. They were our former neighbors, who started an expresso business in Arizona. Corbin spent much of his childhood with our boys, and every summer comes for a week to visit. He stayed with us after the wedding and hung out with Calvin and his friends. He starts a new school on Monday. Good luck, Corbin.
Bjorn and Jenny returned from a week in Cancun at the Grand Mayan Resort. They spent the week relaxing and enjoying the resort. Their biggest chore of the day was making the daily spa appointment. As soon as they returned, I helped move them up to Lynden, in time for Bjorn to start his job at Trinity on Wednesday. They will be temporarily living on the Eide compound (Esther's parents' house) until they find a place.