Computer is Down

I'm sending a quick post from Tye and Amy's computer---our computer crashed this week, so we have been forced into a computer and internet fast for a few weeks while we wait for it to get fixed. All is well--we had a great Thanksgiving at the Pfaffs' house with many of the other athletes. Today we are headed to Tye's Dad's ranch in Sonora for the night....cows and horses for Rowan!

If you need to get a hold of us for anything, cell phones are going to be the best bet. We may check e-mail occasionally when we can borrow a computer...but that will be unpredictable. Hope everyone is well.


Los Angeles

Rowan and Saraya do Disneyland!

We had the good fortune of seeing old friends this weekend in Los Angeles. Some good friends from Jonesboro, the Hewitts, were in the LA area visiting family. And I have a good friend from high school, Jenny, who lives in LA with her husband. So Rowan and I drove down on Thursday (easy to make that decision with free fuel) and left Joe stranded for the long weekend here with no car. He was dependent on rides to practice and was a good sport, but it definitely makes us discuss getting a junker car so that we have 2 set of wheels.

Rowan and I went to Disneyland with the Hewitts on Friday. Saraya is a year older than Rowan, and one of her best buddies. They were so excited to see each other, and had a blast being at Disneyland together. Two thoughts on Disney: more strollers per square mile than anywhere else on earth, and exhausting. Rowan was a bit freaked out by most of the rides, but I was proud of her for at least trying some of them. The highlight for her was the Christmas parade...complete with princesses, Buzz Lightyear, and Santa Claus. The highlight for me was hanging out with good friends, and watching Rowan and Saraya reconnect.
James and Dana ride It's a Small World

We spent our nights at Jenny and Mick Montgomery's apartment in Culver City, right in the heart of LA. On Saturday we just lounged around and talked and talked and talked with Jenny...took a walk into town for gellato and a park...then ordered yummy Chinese take-out for dinner. A primary motivator for driving down to LA was that Jenny and Mick were performing in a play called "Once Upon a Park Bench" in North Hollywood. The play is a series of 9 short pieces that all take place in the same location at a park. Mick wrote 4 of the pieces, acted in 3 of them, and Jenny acted in another one. So I got to drop Rowan off with James and Dana for the evening and go to the play by myself! I needed a break from Rowan, and it felt so good to be on my own in the city for the night. Plus, Rowan had a great time playing with Saraya again (thank you James and Dana for babysitting on your vacation!)

Mick and Jenny are very talented people on many levels--and I am particularly proud of Jenny, who started taking acting classes 5 years ago for fun and for a challenge. She has gotten really good, and it was a kick to watch her comedic timing in the play. It was interesting to talk to Mick and Jenny afterwards...about the writing process, directing, selecting actors for roles, what makes a good actor. Their passion for acting and writing is contagious--I'm excited to see what they next few years holds for them. They have both been blessed lately with some small roles in TV and feature films...go Mick and Jenny!

Joe and I filled the tank of veggie oil to the brim before we left for LA--and we easily made it there and back (6 hours each way) on that tank. It felt a bit strange to not have to stop for gas or oil collection that whole way!



I didn't really mean to, but I have not taken pictures in about a week. I go through that phase sometimes. But it doesn't mean that things aren't going on! We had some really great social stuff happen in the last week. Rowan and I met a family at Story Time at the local library last week--they have a daughter exactly Rowan's age and a baby. Daniella and Dustin are the parents' names...and they invited us to supper and a Bible Study at their house last Friday night. We got to meet a few other young families, and Rowan got lots of kid time. We also attended their church (Dustin is a pastor) on Sunday morning....a small church in nearby Rio Vista, full of energy and eclectic people. We loved it! Then Saturday we drove over to a town called Pinole to visit with the McMullen's at thier son Chase's first birthday party. Phil McMullen competed in the decathlon, so he and Joe have known each other for a long time through that. It was an evening of great fellowship with Phil, his wife Tracy, and Tracy's sister and brother-in-law. And again, Rowan got some good kid time. On Sunday afternoon we went up to Sacramento for a "welcome baby" party for my good friend Edye's new daughter, Ellyn. Rick and Edye have some really cool friends, and again, Rowan got to play with some kids. So we've been busy! But I didn't take pictures of any of that. Aren't I bad?

Tonight we got to have Uncle Yoo and another pole vaulter named Jeff over for dinner. Yoo Kim is really like family to us (we've known him since our first weeks in Jonesboro 8 years ago, he has lived with us on and off, and lived in our garage apartment for much of Rowan's first year)..and we are pumped that he will be spending time training at Tigerbar. One of the things we love best about Yoo Kim is how much he loves Rowan. When he was seeing her on a regular basis, he would gloat about her accomplishments as though he were a parent. We have wondered whether Rowan would remember Yoo or be comfortable around him again--it's been 10 months since we have seen him. That's a lot of time for a 2 year old. And Rowan has been particularly shy and hard-to-get with this new group of people...she's pretty stand-offish when we go out to the building.We shouldn't have worried. Poor Yoo spent his whole evening being playmate to a toddler...I don't think I have ever seen this child warm up so fast to anyone or want someone to engage her as much as she did with Yoo (Grandpa is close competition). It was fun to watch her laugh so hard that she hiccuped, and want to keep doing things over and over with him. Yoo doesn't really get it---but Joe and I kept looking at each other like "what the heck?"

So I was finally motivated to take some pictures, because they were just too cute.

I think this last one sums up how Rowan feels about Uncle Yoo. Us too. There are a few more pictures (just a few) at Flickr if you click here.

I need to encourage Joe to write an entry about his training---it's going great, he's dog tired every night, learning a lot, and loving working with Dan. He needs to fill you in on more details!


Truck Stuff

We wanted to give a little update on our truck and veggie oil. Things are going well with the veggie oil. We (that's the royal we, as this mostly pertains to Joe) definitely had to work some kinks out and get some experience under our belt with collecting oil and using the system, but since we overcame a few hurdles, it's been great.

Joe got permission from 3 places in nearby Rio Vista (a Mexican restaurant with fabulous food, a local grocery store, and another local diner) to put our own 55 gallon barrels behind their places...that way we have a continual supply without having to scout new places every time we need oil.

Joe has dreamed of having a place to store a bunch of oil (several hundred gallons)...and then be able to do a big day of collecting and just have it ready for several months ahead. When we got here, he started looking on Craigslist for those big 250 gallon square industrial containers...they run between $150 and $250. One day we were driving and we passed a farm-like place with a bunch of trucks and equipment, and those big containers. Joe convinced me to stop so he could ask where they got them...and sure enough, he got to talking to the guy who owned the joint and he told Joe that he could take whatever he wanted! So we got THREE of these big containers, plus 3 55-gallon barrels, for free. This kind of stuff always happens to Joe.

He also scored 3 more free 55 gallon barrels at a local bait store...ones that have tops that completely come off, so he can put these behind the restaurants.

One of the nice parts about having all this storage is that once the oil is collected, it can be left to settle and filter down a lot of the junk...and we therefore use less filters when we pump it into the tank. The filters are the only cost involved with running the truck on oil--there is a filter on the tank in the bed of the truck, and then a filter in the pump system. Each filter costs between $10-15....and they last for varying amounts of time. When we pulled the 5th wheel cross-country, we had to change the tank filter every 500 miles because the engine was working so hard. Since we've been here, we've gotten at least 1500 miles on a filter. The pump filter lasts from between 100-200 gallons, depending on the quality of the oil.

We collected about 150 gallons of perfect oil this week at a KFC/Taco Bell. Go figure. The common wisdom is that fast food joints have cruddy oil, but Joe still occasionally checks them. Apparently KFC had a lot of bad press in the last year about how unhealthy their food is, so they switched to using soy oil...which is really good. And this particular restaurant changed their oil frequently.

Usually when we start the truck in the morning and stop the truck at night, we have to run it for a few miles on diesel. When we start it, the engine has to heat up enough for the oil to be the right viscosity. When we're getting ready to stop it for the night, we have to run a few miles worth of gas through it so it's ready to start on clean diesel the next morning. Hopefully that makes sense. Last week Joe plugged in the block heater on the truck at night, hoping it'd stay warm enough to keep it running veggie oil all the time. It worked! So now we're really just running on straight veggie...and only switching to diesel if the truck is going to be parked somewhere (other than the RV) for more than a few hours. This saves us even more money because we're using less diesel.

I posted a few more random photos of our week and the building to a set at Flickr--click here to see them.



It's been about a week since I last posted. It doesn't seem like too much is going on, mostly just trying to figure out what our routine will be and getting used to the new rhythm of each day. We are all finally healthy, although Joe only did partial workouts this week because he never felt 100%. He'll start back full force tomorrow.

This week we took Rowan to a Halloween party at a church in Stockton, then visited that church for worship this morning. Our good friends (more like family, really) in Jonesboro, Dave and Rebecca Matthews, lived and worked in Stockton for several years about a decade ago. Quail Lakes is the church they attended while they lived here, so it came with a great recommendation. We really enjoyed the service--it was lively, and as diverse of a congregation as we've seen in a long time.

I just overheard Rowan telling Joe that we left something in Arkansas at "our house that couldn't move." Interesting to hear a 2-year-old's interpretation of living in an RV. Speaking of Rowan, we're not sure if it is move related, or just 2 year old testing related, but she has been a handful the last few weeks. Some of it was being sick, but since then, she's been pushing limits and has been super whiney. She doesn't want to take baths and she doesn't want to go to bed. Now that she can get up out of her bed, she finds a myriad of reasons to do so. And this from a kid who doesn't nap! You'd think she would fall asleep exhausted at the end of the day. Not so. The one saving grace in the sleep department is that she's been sleeping in past 6:30 AM....sometimes even giving us the luxury of 8:00 or 8:30. I'm not crazy about early mornings...so the extra sleep has been fabulous.

This afternoon we got to spend several hours out on Tye's boat. Another pole vaulter who lives and trains here, Tommy, has a boat too. So they took a bunch of us out, and several folks even braved the cold water to wakeboard and "surf"....a boat sport I've never seen, but looked like a lot of fun. They used a surfboard and surfed in the wake of a fairly slow moving boat...even did it without a rope for quite a distance once they found the "sweet spot." You can see some cool photos by clicking on the link at the end of this post. It was gorgeous out today (the locals are amused by our continual enthusiasm for the beautiful weather--apparently it's always like this, but we think they take it for granted!) and we had a lot of fun being out on the water. There are endless waterways around here, so there will be more to explore. We ended the day by sharing a nice dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.

Another highlight of the week was meeting a young family at our RV park. One of my main concerns about this year is that Rowan would have adequate (as in, any) playmates. She had such great friends in Jonesboro; I wondered who she would play with here. This family is here for 6 months...the husband is an iron worker with the union so they move around. They have a 3 year old daughter, Zaylie, and an infant son. Rowan and I just went and knocked on their door this week (hey, you have to be bold, right?) and the girls played outside together several times already. Yeah!

I've added some photos to Flickr, a random assortment of Halloween, the building, Rowan on the computer, and today on the water. Click here to check them out.