Friday, September 06, 2013

School has started - sort of

School finally started for the girls on Wednesday - Sept. 4th.  It's been a long, long time since my girls started school after Labor Day weekend.  I believe it was Preschool?  Everyone else we know started by at least the last week of August - my sister's kids in Hawaii started the first week of August.
And then they had yesterday, Thursday, off for Rosh Hashanah - Jewish New Year.  Which would be great.  If it didn't follow the first day of school. They are back in school today, Friday.  Although we found out that other school districts with higher Jewish populations get today off too.  
So in my mind, school really starts next Monday - September 10th.  Which has made this summer just a little extra long.  Moving to a new place and waiting longer than we are accustomed (IA, Switzerland and CA schools all start earlier) to get into the normal routine has been trying at times.  As I explained to the girls, we are all feeling a little out of sorts and snippy with each other because we're tired of being one another's sole source of company and entertainment!
High School Sophomore!!!
7th Grade at the Middle School! 
See - finally downloaded pictures.  I'll share more eventually but have to sort through everything.

One might think this move would be easier than Switzerland but it wasn't.  Switzerland was supposed to be temporary, CA was supposed to last a while.  So a lot of choices were made based on that - furniture, appliances, investment in the property, etc....  We rented in Switzerland, owned in CA and now in NJ.

We thought CA was full of ridiculous bureaucracy but NJ is definitely more so.  Example:  CA school district accepted the medical physical reports required with the Swiss Dr.'s signature.  NJ would NOT accept the physical reports signed off by a CA Dr.  So even though the girls had physicals under the 12 months required and vaccine's are the same - we had to go get new physicals so that a NJ Dr. could sign off.  For these purposes I'm glad the job change included an insurance change - otherwise we would have had to pay out of pocket for physicals to meet the signature demand.

OK - blowing off a little steam?

Hmmm - air conditioner had to be looked at.  Three gas valves on our range were leaking so we are still (6 weeks later) waiting for those parts to arrive so cooking is still on limited basis (we manually open the gas line to the stove when needed and open the windows but my fear is I'll forget to close the line and what if?? ).  It's humid.  Property, although nicely landscaped, not nicely weeded and most of our lawn is field weeds/crabgrass so we will need to do work there - it was ok to have a weedy lawn in Switzerland but is a mess here. Barbeque is half working.  It's humid.  Needed to re-line furnace chimney.  Sampled and have rugs on order so that Eiger reduces his risk of strains/sliding on the hard wood floors.  Rachel is still on a mattress on the floor until her bed comes in.  Kendra's still waiting for a dresser/desk so her things can get off the floor. It's humid.  My stuff is still on the floor even though my clothes chest has arrived because I need time.  Estimates, quotes, Dentists, Orthodontists - all of these things take up so much time.  It's humid. So it's not so much fun when you move. 

But we are getting there.  And I am really OH SO THANKFUL for : good recommendations for Doctors, Dentists and Orthodontists. That my husband made the decision to have the whole interior painted before I arrived instead of the 3 rooms/ceilings we initially planned on - that was such a gift to me!!! The AC is working fine now.  I can use my oven and since it usually takes me about 2 months to get back in the cooking groove after moving (seriously, I'm not kidding!) I figure I have a couple more weeks and by then the stove should be 100% operational. We are getting someone to help with the lawn.  We did not have to camp in the house like we did to and from Switzerland.  That in spite of the crummy job the movers did on both sides, not more was broken or damaged and we have managed to find most of our stuff in one box or another.  That we have found a great kennel for Eiger when needed - not cheap but it is working out really good.  The furnace chimney is relined and found that our regular chimney flu is leaky so get to have that fixed too - lucky us!  The floors are beautiful and creaky(I like the sound except when Eiger gets up to pace at night - we might have to crate him again) and we are only waiting on 2 more rugs.  We have awesome water pressure here which CA did not.  Internet is super fast here and not interrupted constantly like in CA. 

And I love my new little old house!  Not that it's soooo small but seems so compared to CA.  We went down about 500 squ ft and from 3 car garage to a 1, very tiny, car garage.  CA house had 9' - 25' ceilings depending on the room and large open spaces while this house has 8' ceilings on 1st flr, 7'5" on upper floors and 6.5 - 7' in the basement.  Kendra's CA Youth group leader is 6'9" - John would have a hard time being comfortable/concussion free in our house.  So everything fits a bit tighter here which in most of the house is great - I could see my stuff here.  Closets:  houses built in the 1930's did not have our 2000 mentality in mind and that's all we will say about that for now.  I will post a picture of his and her closets later.  They are NOT in the same room.  :) 

Oh, and much of what was in the 3 car garage must of course be stored in the house now.  I am very thankful for good attic storage space and the basement storage areas are working well.

So it is a lot of work but we are happy to have Bart home a lot (will change soon enough!) and if you could just pray the girls would develop some good friendships here.  They are probably our biggest item of prayer/concern.  Naturally, as parents we want everything to go well for our children.  We know there will be hurdles and just pray they jump over them with dignity and grace and when they fall (because they will and they actually need to sometimes), they will pick themselves up, brush themselves off and use what they learn to continue.

One more thing to be thankful for - very nice neighbors who have introduced themselves and brought goodies and wine and phone numbers and introduced their kids to us!  We didn't know what to expect but the neighborhood have been so welcoming and inclusive.  They even have an annual block party this coming weekend - another great chance to meet and get to know them more.

So I can blow off a little steam but really, the thankfulness will always outweigh the frustration.  Except if I ever post about driving here.  Honestly - is there anywhere you can go now where rules are followed?  :)

Thanks for reading this rambling post as I try to get back into the groove.  Have a great day!

Any guesses on what I will probably not find myself thankful for? Ever.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's try this again!

OK.  First, you should read the first and last paragraphs of my last post which apparently was written, May 18th. 


So what now?  Now we are in New Jersey.  And a lot of stuff has happened between then and now.  There's really so much that's happened since the beginning of 2013 that I will probably never touch a majority of it.  And that's OK.  Otherwise, I will feel even more behind than I already am.

There are no pictures today.  They are all still on my camera's or phone and I've not sat down to download anything yet.

I have to go pick up Eiger who is at a "5 Star" doggy kennel because we have no other resources here yet and it had an opening.

We spent a weekend in Minnesota 1)  visiting Bart's parents - very briefly as we had to drive up to Detroit Lakes and back within a 24 hr span (8 hrs driving, 8 hrs sleeping and the remainder trying to get in a good visit which is hard at a nursing home! and Barb is doing OK) 2) meeting up with some of his aunts and sister and 3) reuniting with a large group of expats who all have Switzerland, the International Baptist Church of Zurich and Minnesota/Iowa in common. 

Now we are back for a week full of school orientations, more orthodontist trips and preparation for school starting next week.  After Labor Day?  Yes, we actually start after Labor Day.  I don't think the girls have ever attended a school outside of Preschool that started this late.  With the move it's made for a long summer but they don't seem to mind too much.

I see a small light at the end of the tunnel - I may actually get back to some regular Blogging.  I miss it.  It's good therapy for me.  It's an easy way to share what is going on in the lives of the Olsons without competing with time zones.  And it helps document our life as I am woefully behind on photo albums - like since Kendra was 2.  She's soon to turn 13.

So Hello Again Bloggy world and will return real, real soon.  No promises.  Just a little new determination this time around as we settle once again.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dear Blog, Please accept my apologies

I am so sorry Dear Blog, that I've kept you in the dark and feeling neglected. Hah, there are days I feel that way too!

It seems that after all the thought and deliberation and finally being able to tell people what was going on (I'm sure many of you can relate to the needed confidentiality of changing careers, etc...), life went into warp speed.  There was no slow build up.  There was a schedule to maintain, a final couple weeks for Bart, a 5 week period of him being home (ask me whether we're ready for him to retire yet!), the start of a new job and getting the house ready to put on the market.

So I thought I'd share a little of the fun and a little of the work.

First, I left off right before Spring Break.  We spent it in Hawaii so we could have some vacation time and some family time (with sis on Oahu).  Short story is that we spent 50% of our time on the Big Island (Hawaii) with either Bart or Rachel in the throes of food poisoning.  We did get to go on our snorkel trip (awesome!) and then spent a day at Hapuna State Beach boogie boarding.  Although Rachel only had energy to bounce up and down in waves as she was still in recovery.  As the wife and mother of sick individuals, I was as sleep deprived as they were - but with a great appetite!  It was great to finally go to the beach our last day.

See?  I'm smiling - I caught some really good 'waves.' 

Bart had to fly back to finish out his days at the Firm while the girls and I headed to my sister's on Oahu.  It was great to see Deb, Neti and the kids.  We took them to the beach, got to watch their baseball games and the 3 older ones in a Tahitian dance performance at the Shell Amphitheatre in Waikiki.
Here's a little on their dancing.  The boys (older 2) are training with fire now and treated us to a routine in the backyard - hose on hand for emergencies!  They are very proud of this and take it very seriously.  Here's JT - he's 9!

That night was also prep night for the following evenings dance performance.  Artificial flowers are not involved.  They all gather Ti leaves and flowers from nurseries and around the neighborhoods (watch out bougainvillea's!).  They strip and braid Ti leaves for the boys head and neck pieces and girls flowers are sewn on and weaved in and - it's a lot of work for a show!  I can strip and braid a ti leaf now......Deb is working on a braid:
Here is the gang.  It was great to spend some time with them and oh, the twins are getting so big.

We got back from HI and went straight into full rehearsal mode and performances for Kendra who did "Pirates of Penzance" with the local Children's theatre (Rachel had chorus concerts before Spring Break).  It's a great program and I'm glad she got the opportunity.  She has the blue sash in the middle:
In between performance weekends, Bart and I went house hunting in New York and New Jersey.  More on that later but we will probably, most likely, almost definitely be New Jersey residents.  There will be a limit on the number of 'New Jersey Housewife' jokes I will allow!
So while Bart had some time at home (he also took care of me for something and then went to spend time with his parents in Minnesota), we had to work on some areas of the house as we looked toward putting it on the market.  Our realtor (and friend) kindly suggested we pack up the books and move bookcases in the garage to "de-clutter" the house.  Let me just say that de-cluttering and keeping things de-cluttered is a full time job.  With time and a half.  Except no one is paying me for it.  Except it may sell the house so I guess I do get paid???
Anyway, we have this bookcase:
And this bookcase:
And contents from this bookcase:
In the garage.  Not to mention the other one from Kendra's room and the two that we donated to Goodwill and the 15 boxes of books that accompany them and probably have 5 more to fill.

And here are 4 of the 7 bags of books we gave away.  Plus 2 boxes I'm sending to my sister.  It would really be nice to have a library in the new house but I don't think it's in the cards.
Near the end of Bart's "un-employment" we took a little time to get out of the house and enjoy some spring weather.  This was taken on a hot! April day and we chose to go to Point Pinole (on the bay in Richmond) as it would be a little cooler.  Per a request, here are Eiger and I - you can see how big he is now.
He's a sweet boy.  He is currently at a kennel for some board and training while we are showing the house.  The trainer said it would be a good idea as he is a good dog but because of his markings he needs to be better than the next dog; "if your dog and a golden retriever get in a fight and the retriever started it - your dog will be seen as at fault because of his looks."  Doesn't matter that he's 3/4 lab, the markings subject him to doggy discrimination.  A shame as I think he's beautiful because of his markings!  Additionally, dogs tend to slobber and shed so him being gone right now really helps with keeping the house in the "near perfect" state required for selling a house.  But look at that face:

Lastly, these two:
These girls keep me busy.  Busier than I ever thought.   I love them and they are my joy.

That's a brief on what's been happening in the Olson world and while I know it's not much, it's all I have computer time for.  This has been the "least easy" of any of our moves for various reasons and thus many days seem like fire-fighting days.  I'm still learning the many lessons God has for me - I'm so thankful He's patient!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving....

today....... Well, not today, but leaving "to be a part of it, New York, New York."
Starting May 1st the Hub will be working somewhere in that lower left quadrant of Manhattan.  Shocked?  

I am a bit (shocked) when I look at the pictures.  I haven't looked at them since I first downloaded them almost 18 months ago.  This next view is north an you can see Central Park peeking out at the top just right of the Hudson. 

This was our landing point when we came back from Zurich.  Via New York.  Living for 5 years overseas and then coming "home" via this vibrant city.  A city that my grandfather came through via Sicily in the 1920's.  My great grandfather through Ellis Island and then on to Chicago in 1917.  A city we've loved visiting.  Now a city that will be home to Bart's new job and I can visit via short train ride (from NY or NJ suburbs - we don't know yet).  Wow!  Was NOT Expecting That!  
I'm almost embarrassed to say I don't look at these pictures.  It was a tough leaving and Repatriation is just hard.  I love taking pictures to document life and yet, sometimes it takes me a while to look at them because of the emotion it invokes - in me - not necessarily everyone else.  I never blogged our actual return to the States - the pictures at Zurich Int'l with all our luggage or our fun days in NY before arriving in CA - so personal and it still seems like yesterday.  So I'm sharing a few as we are about to begin another chapter - again - of change in our lives.
This is what jet-lag looks like for the Olson's.  Rachel & I were almost out and Kendra is pretending as evidenced by her smile but, yeah, losing a night of sleep is losing a night of sleep. 
If we are leaving CA, at least we will be in a destination city.  So wonderful people such as these will want to see us.  The ballerina is drawn to this city and it will draw her family too. :)  And others!  It is hard to leave friends and family here in CA - it's hard to write this post. 
This too is my explanation for why the Blog has been quite silent for a while.  There has been a lot going on for the past 6 months.  Reflecting, talking, praying, discussions, researching - and keeping our family bound in a common goal - to love and support one another. 

Bart has had a great career in Public Accounting and we have loved being part of the "Firm" (yeah, has that John Grisham ring to it, doesn't it?) but a change has been needed.  It isn't a secret to most who know us that he's looked to go private in the past - the job offers/opportunities have always been East.  So we are going East - God works His way, not ours.

We are excited.  A little nervous.  A bit sad.  But moving forward with confidence that God is giving us a good thing.

Note to self:  Wear heels the next time R and R are standing next to self in picture. And, Kendra is now 1 inch shorter than self - she sprouted since we moved back 1.5 yrs ago!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Her homework, my homework, we all have....


Rachel has mucho English homework.  She said the questions were boring her to tears.  But, wait!  "You are reading "to Kill a Mockingbird."  How can that be boring?" I ask.

So I grabbed my copy of the book and we started on the questions together.  We find that when I read passages out loud and discuss the questions and their meaning, she has a better understanding. I find myself leading her in the right direction because these questions are pretty probing. She's having to learn to probe into literature and think in a clear, concise fashion. This isn't easy. What probably makes it more difficult? The generation reading this book in 9th grade today is farther removed from the truths expressed within and which hit hard the generation of which it was published.

I have to work hard at not doing the homework - just discussing the questions and helping formulate ideas and then telling her "I can't write the sentence for you, talk it out and then write it down."  We don't do this for all homework - just the occasional assignments.  But this is one I really like so I find it fun to explore together.

I'm a huge proponent of "it's your homework, you do it.  If you are having trouble with things, the teacher needs to be aware of it." 

This view is especially important with Math homework in our house.  Yes, you have two parents who are CPA's but please don't come to me with any more math work - it will take me an hour to relearn what I've forgotten over the past 30 years and oh, wow, they sure teach it differently now.  "I used to do it this way."  Which is no help to your child who is already frustrated with the assignment.

But the English questions?  I told her last night we should have done more analyzing of the books we read as a family at night.  On reflection, we did do quite a bit as I always stopped to make sure they understood concepts, vocabulary, moral dilemmas, etc.... We just weren't up to the level of digging required for her "Mockingbird" reading in elementary school. 

So I'm prepared to enjoy this particular homework journey with her.  I do like reading.  Just a little.  Which I once spoke of;postID=4223352394207311657;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=191;src=postname">here Please ignore my lack of skillz with html commands and links - Blogger and I have been at war with one another for a while.

Friday, February 01, 2013

On the piste again!

Hello! I'm back so soon! Miracles do happen.

Last weekend my two favorite girlies and I headed up to Sonora in the Sierra's to ski at Dodge Ridge.  Dodge Ridge isn't as trafficked as the Lake Tahoe area - Sonora is a smaller destination area (old gold mining days), the resort area is about 30minutes up the mountain from there and just past the turn-off for Pinecrest/Dodge Ridge, east of Strawberry, is the winter road closure gate for the Sonora Pass.  Soooo - less traffic.  It's also closer to us in the Bay Area and I was pleasantly surprised to see how they've expanded the runs and added more lifts since I had been up as a young lady  26/27 a few years ago.

We were so happy to be there! The girls have been missing the snow and we didn't get any skiing in last year as CA didn't have much snow at all until late February and by then our schedule was veering in another direction. It does take at least 2.5 - 3 hrs to get to a ski destination from our house so it's not as convenient as it was in Switzerland. Yes, we were very spoiled there.

Here they are the first morning up.
We did have a few equipment issues.  Last year we bought everything at the Ski & Swap meet for wonderful, low, low prices.  Then there was the problem of no snow.  Then certain people grew.  So Kendra was in her own boots but we had to rent skiis and poles and then Rachel could not feel her feet so we had to rent boots which then had to be set for her skiis.  A bit of an ordeal for mom at times but we made it all work.  
The clouds kept hugging the mountains that day.  I made an adventure out of it as much of the time I didn't know where I was going.  The runs however are very easy to follow and as I reminded the girls - every run will dead end into either a chairlift or the route back to the main lodge. 
OK Swiss folks - note the chair lift.  What's missing?
Remember - this is the girls first time skiing in the US.  We got on the first chair of the morning ( a triple) and Kendra looked and said "where's the bar? there's nothing to keep us from falling out!"
US skiing folks - In Switzerland, there is a front bar/foot rest that you pull down after getting on the chair lift.  It's great as you can rest your feet on it instead of your boots/skiis pulling your lower leg out of it's knee socket (those of us with cranky knees really appreciate this feature) and it gives added comfort to the fact that when you are riding 50ft off the ground over rocky terrain that you won't slip off easily to your doom.
The girls spent the weekend holding on to either the center or back bar of their chair. 
 Another difference was the lift tickets.  Switzerland uses a barcoded tag or scanned card method for entry at turnstiles for the chair lifts and gondolas.  Dodge Ridge still uses the 'old' lift ticket method so I showed them how to fix those onto their ski pants.  I told them the pants are best as in the event you want to ditch your heavy jacket, you still have your lift ticket on you - we tend to keep our pants on.......
 It cracks me up to watch them ski.  Look at that identical form.  They are very much in control and I admit I question the form of their skiing sometimes except they both do the same things that make me curious and I realize they've both been through the same system in Swiss Ski School.  It comes down to different techniques and I really shouldn't question it because we passed up the family who's kids were stuck on a black diamond run and my girls just kept plugging along and were ready to go back for more.
Not to say we are great skiers but we can get down a mountain without worry of breaking our necks.
The cool thing for Mom?  My knee can't ski as long as it used to and I make it a goal to always stop before it feels exhausted - it may not on the slope but it sure will by evening.  So - I can now send the girls off to make some more runs, I head to the car to dump my equipment, change shoes and grab their shoes/equipment bag and then - we meet at the lodge when they're done, they can dis-assemble and off we head back to the hotel or for home. 
We had a great time and I'm so very, very lucky to have girls who enjoy each others company.  Seriously - I'm realizing what a tremendous blessing that is in today's world.  There may be bumps to come as they continue to grow but I thank God for this good season.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Curve balls from God

This will be a short post.  I have another post coming on a topic of complete physical and frivolous nature - skiing! Love it!

In the meantime, many things in recent days (hmmm, months perhaps!) remind me that we aren't meant to get too comfortable.  There is much movement in our small world.  And while we are so very concerned with what is affecting us in the here and now, the bigger picture is seen by an almighty and all-powerful God.

Question I leave you with this evening ( I am supposed to be in bed but B is out of town so.....):

Do we really trust Him to be Almighty and All-powerful?

'Cause He is.  And we need to let Him be.

I'm not very good at it.  I desire to be.   But pray for all those making hard decisions and those being compassionate and those waiting for the waiting to be complete.

Good Night with love to all.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy New Year..........

Happy New Year from Mendocino!
What's that you say?
I'm a little late?
Why, yes, yes I am!  But I'm here and I have pretty, pretty pictures so you'll forgive me.  Made it back in less than a month - not too bad I think as we continue to "clean up" from the holidays, being gone and back to school and activities with full force.
All the visitors had left and I spent New Years Day taking down the Christmas tree and all the decor that came with the season - the house now looks quite plain.  The family agrees that it looks better with all the greenery and baubles.  However, I cannot live with permanent dust catchers and will strive for a decorative look that does not require reindeer and green boughs wrapped on every railing.
The next day we headed off to Mendocino to spend the rest of the Christmas break with my "since we've been 13 yrs old" friend and her family.  Her husband spent Jr High/High School years living there and it's a place they enjoy.
We decided - we enjoy it to. 
Mendocino the town is not what I remembered from a long ago camping trip up the Northern Coast of CA prior to kiddos.  It is a very small, Victorian era town that sits on a point.  The cliffs that extend out from where the town is situated are called the Headlands - where J used to run for gym during High School.  We were in awe a little at the thought of living there as a kid - one had to create their own fun - good or bad.  Outside of Fort Bragg, there's not much in the way of 'civilization' out there.  I mean, our cell phones hardly worked at all except when in town!  I could get used to that....
Most people hear about Mendocino and think "P-t (marij-ana) capital of the US."  That would be the reputation for the county - it gets its name from the tiny little town.  The county itself is very large and most of it uninhabited/hard to get to places.  That, combined with the climate, lends itself to this controversial 'crop' of which we did not see nor encounter during our visit.  I can head over to Berkeley if needed and buy from the store.....NOT!  Girlfriend and I are still on record as being of the few individuals from the 80's who never tried the stuff. 
The drive to Mendocino?  Not easy.  You are either on Highway 1 winding along up the coast or you have to take the few roads from 101 that cross over - all of them through redwood forests (beautiful!) on, again!, winding roads.  We took an alternate route home which was more windy than the route there.  Stopped midway for Rachel (not fully sick but close) but have to admit that even I who tends to have no problem with roads was a bit tired of the curves.
Each family had rented a house - we thought we were next to each other but found we were separated by a few coves.  Just north of town in the Point Cabrillo area.  We picked up the keys in town, got some groceries and headed to our home for 4 days.  This was the view that greeted us:
Can you believe we left to go to our real home at the end?  What a wonderful way to start out and we enjoyed every single moment of being on the edge of the Pacific.  We had a mix of days - sunny, cloudy and a little drizzly.  It was all good.  Including our first sunset:

We headed over to Van Damme State Park which starts along the coast where Little River runs into the Pacific and winds around the interior Redwood forest.  So many cool things grow in Redwood forests: moss, ferns, all kind of fungi and - redwoods. S is demonstrating the proper way to take pic's of mushrooms growing on the side of a dead redwood:
So I had to take a picture too.  I love it!
Here we girls are walking across the bridge courtesy of photographer B (S's son) - he and Rachel share a B-day (different years) and while they may not always care for it, there are times we discuss the similar traits of our Aug. -- babies.  This picture is missing a VIP - S (S's daughter) - who stayed at home as her arthritis was flared up.  It s-cks to be 18 and live with this disease.  Always praying that relief is around the corner.  And do we have enough S's to go around?  Do I look short?  I think I'm starting to look short....
OK - so B is really, really into skateboarding.  It's pretty much the focus of his life and not in a negative way - he's really good at it.  Competes and has won cash and product prizes, etc....  So I laugh when he says that we need to bond over skating because I won't be on a skateboard anymore - ever.  That time passed about 25 years ago.  So we enjoy discussing camera's and photography and messing around with pictures.  He was shooting film only this trip so was being very cautious.  I'm still learning on my new SLR so played around a bit with the shutter speed.  We both groused about not having a tripod when we should - so much to carry.....  This pic didn't turn out too bad:
Girlies on the beach:
Another incredible, yet different sunset:
Another state park, Russian Gulch:
Pretty hard to keep them on the ground if there are rock walls to climb:
Playing with the camera and all the art in nature items:
Hanging out on the deck in the incredible sunshine watching whales migrate by (saw them every day), the surf crash and a bit of reading:
Our last morning looking at the Point Cabrillo lighthouse included some heavy surf - pounding waves.  The sea can be absolutely mesmerizing.  This is Northern California on the coast.  Take a look at a map and see how much space is between San Francisco and Eureka (northern CA city before Oregon).  It's a lot of coastline and much of it is inaccesible - reminds you that not everything is at the tip of your fingers.  Not even in CA.  I like that.
We're definitely going to do this again!  And a huge Thank You to our friends (especially J) for sharing this place with us!