Mercedes/Camera Trade

I've been intending to blog about our new Mercedes for weeks--finally getting to it! So here's the story. For the last few months, we've been talking about getting a second vehicle for this last push to the Trials. It was fine to have one vehicle, but it was definitely a lot of extra coordination...and was especially tricky when something had to be fixed on the truck. Joe had to plan ahead and really depend on me to get anywhere...and I could sense that it was an extra stress that he didn't need. So we decided to look for a car for less than $2,000...with the plan to sell it at the end of this journey, in the hopes that we could still sell if for over $1,500...and essentially have the convenience of a car over the next several months for a few hundred bucks.

Joe started his massive research effort and not surprisingly, he paid attention to diesels and anything already converted to run on veggie oil. It's not that hard to find veggie oil cars here in the Bay Area, but they're usually a lot more expensive. Joe came across an ad on Craigslist from a really cool guy from Santa Cruz who buys, converts, and sells diesel Mercedes as a hobby. He mentioned in his ad that he would be interested in trading something (like a camera) for a car.

It's a 1981 Mercedes, over 200,000 miles on it, converted to run off of veggie oil already, and when we sent him the details of our camera (a Nikon D200 which we have had since Christmas of '06)...he wanted to do the trade! We knew it would be a good deal for us because we could replace my whole camera set-up for around $2,000. There is no way we could have found a veggie oil mobile (at least one that didn't require all kinds of work) for under $2,000.

We drove to Santa Cruz, gave him my camera (and lens, bag, batteries, memory card!), and left with a new car! Within the next week, we bought a new camera...and because Nikon had just issued a $300 rebate on their D300, we were even able to upgrade! So we got a cool new car, AND I got a sweet new camera! Digital technology keeps getting better and better...and even a year and a half makes a huge difference. We are both loving the quality of the new camera. Kind of strange to think that the car is worth the same as a camera!

Getting a new car came at an especially good time because of all the hassle with the truck. The truck is still in the shop and we're trying to figure out what to do with it right now. We'll keep you posted.

Joe is planning to compete in a decathlon at Claremont College outside of LA on Friday and Saturday. The hamstring seems to be doing well--but pray for continued healing and strength for this weekend.



On Thursday, Suzy Powell and Amy Acuff encouraged Joe to see an acupuncturist that they worked with in L.A. while attending UCLA. Suzy got Joe an appointment and we headed over to her office on Thursday morning. Our plan was to have that appointment...then head back up to Stockton. It turned into a whole day of treatment...first muscle tests and a round of acupuncture, then she called in a physical therapist friend who was amazing and more than just a physical therapist...then there was another round of acupuncture...then we headed back to the therapist's office for an amazing tape job (you can see a photo of it at Flickr here). Phew! Both of these doctors were skilled, generous, and enthused about working on someone so in tune with his body! We didn't end up leaving L.A. until the early evening...and arrived back in Stockton very late.

Joe was amazed, baffled, and thankful for the effects of his day of treatment. His hamstring truly felt better and he couldn't believe the range of motion achieved in just one day. On Friday he did a warm-up at the building, then went down to Modesto to see another one of Suzy's guys (a chiropractor) who did several hours of body work and adjustments, trying to get to the root cause of his hamstring pull (which also may be related to the achilles thing he had several weeks back..both left side of the body). So lots of progress has already been made.

Joe found out about a decathlon at Claremont Colllege in L.A on May 2 and 3...just two weeks away. Provided his hamstring continues to heal as it has, the plan is to compete at that meet. It seemed like finding a meet was going to be tricky...so he's thankful for this one coming up so soon.

I put another set on Flickr...a lot of random photos from the last month, and a few from the decathlon (the 100 meters at least!) There are several photos of Rowan, including the one below after a swim and a serious girl in a pretty new dress. Any other random photos I put explanations of on Flickr. Click here to see more.



Today did not go as hoped. While Joe did recover from his illness yesterday, he was still very fatigued...but felt at peace and excited about competing today.

He ran the 100, the first event, in 11.43. That's about what he's run it for the last few years...so there was some disappointment that it wasn't faster.

Then during the warm-ups for the long jump, he pulled his left hamstring. Not a horrible strain...but one that he didn't want to aggravate further by continuing to compete. So he scratched the long jump and pulled himself out of the rest of the meet.

The hamstring injury shouldn't take long to recover from....had he continued to compete, he may have blown it up and really been in trouble. Nevertheless, he is very bummed.

Needless to say, we are both feeling pretty low this afternoon. Now to figure out another decathlon to do...and get healthy in time to do it.

Thanks for all your prayers and interest in Joe's season and progress. We'll keep you all posted.


First Decathlon

Joe will compete in his first decathlon of the season tomorrow at Azusa Pacific University outside of Los Angeles. It's part of the Mt. Sac Relays...just held earlier in the week and at a different location than the rest of the events!

We had a bit of a rough start to the travels yesterday. The plan was for me and Rowan to travel down to LA with Joe, pulling the RV. Then I woke up with a nasty stomach bug. I spent all day in bed (with frequent visits to the bathroom). Joe left for LA late afternoon...and Rowan and I stayed behind in the hopes that I would feel better by this morning and could come today. A few miles from home, the truck wouldn't go. Joe managed to limp the truck and RV back to the house...then decided to just leave for LA in the Mercedes (our new car that we traded our camera for!) and get a hotel. Unfortunately, Joe got sick during the night last night. We're praying that he feels better by tonight and can get some food and sleep and be ready for tomorrow! Being sick the day before a decathlon isn't exactly the ideal.

I feel much better today, and luckily, our roommate Yoo was going to LA as well...so Rowan and I are riding down with him this afternoon.

The dec starts at 1:00 tomorrow....I'll post results tomorrow and Thursday--so stay tuned!


Mom and Dad Visit/Yosemite

This post has been a bit delayed because of camera issues. This deserves a whole post, but we traded our camera for a car. Which left me temporarily without a camera (we ordered a new one that arrived a few days ago) for all the fun of my parent's visit. I had to take deep breaths and use their digital camera--a standard point and shoot (thanks for letting me wear that camera out, mom and dad!)--but it just wasn't the same as my camera. Proof positive that having the right equipment is a huge part of taking stellar photos! So anyways, I've been waiting to get the photos downloaded from their camera...and have delayed the blog-writing.

My folks arrived last Friday. Like my sister Jenny, they have made it an unofficial tradition to come visit us during the first part of their Spring Break. Saturday morning we headed out to Yosemite (sans Joe, who stayed back to take a true rest-weekend). Yosemite didn't disappoint. We took hikes that a 3-year old could handle (along with breaks in the back-pack)....and saw some awesome parts of creation. Yosemite Valley inspired much of Ansel Adams' work, as well as the National Parks movement. It's easy to see why. We stayed the night in a nearby hotel so that we could enjoy more hikes and views on Sunday.
Many of my childhood memories are of being outdoors and in the mountains with my family. We took long camping trips out west during many summer vacations. All six of us in one tent. What great memories! I love to be back in those settings with my parents. It was a joy to watch Rowan discover things as we hiked..and to have my mom and dad fully engage with her, teaching and enjoying the company as much as the beauty of our surroundings. My dad in particular had many conversations with Rowan on our hikes...and on the drive back to Stockton, he got stuck in the backseat with her as I drove. For over 2 hours, she just hammered him with questions. "Have you seen Cinderella grandpa? What are the scary parts?" and on and on with each princess she could think of.

Sunday afternoon we arrived back to Stockton, then spent a few days exploring closer to home. We had lunch at that crazy restaurant with all kinds of animal heads, went to a small but very well done zoo in Stockton (Micke Grove), played at a park, and checked out the Stockton's Children's Museum. On Tuesday, at pre-school, my mom read to Rowan's class. My mom is a fabulous reader (former kindergarten teacher and current reading consultant!), and she has started the tradition of reading to each grandchild's classes. Rowan was very excited and very proud to have Grandma there...especially because she is so animated and funny, all the kids just loved it! The photo below is underlit...it was taken while grandma was reading. Rowan's expression says it all. She was so pleased to have grandma read!Tuesday night my parents took Rowan to a movie and back to their hotel with them...so Joe and I could enjoy dinner, a movie, and a kid-free night! It was our first real date in WAY too long! Rowan did great sleeping over with them. It is so easy to leave Rowan with my mom and dad--I know she's going to not only get great care, but probably get better attention and learning opportunities than she does with me. Grandparents are just the best.

Wednesday we went to San Fran, which I talked about in an earlier post, and enjoyed both Ghiradelli's and some classic clam chowder in a bread bowl. My parents love to travel and explore...so it's fun to have a day without any agenda in a city as cool as San Francisco.

I'm always amazed how easy it is to spend time with my parents. The conversation flows easily, we laugh, relax, and always find fun things to do. I not only love them, but I really LIKE them, too.

To see more photos of our time together, click here.


Flower Girl

I took some photos of Rowan in this beautiful field of yellow flowers. They are probably technically "weeds"...they're growing all over the place. If you are a grandparent or an aunt, you can click here to see a bunch more photos from the field. Man, she's getting big!


Olympic Protests

To see an article that appeared on the front page of Wednesday's paper about the torch protests, click here. Joe and some of the other athletes are quoted.

We have indeed been watching the coverage closely. As you may know, the only North American torch stop was in San Francisco yesterday. It turned out that my parents (who have been visiting...full blog and pictures soon!) had a flight out of San Fran late last night, so we decided to spend the day in the city. We knew that the torch would be there...knew of the protests that were sure to happen. We didn't go expressly to see the torch, but thought it would be cool if we could get a view of it.

If you followed any of the coverage yesterday, you saw that the city completely changed the route at the last minute, dramatically reduced the length of the route, and changed the closing ceremony from Fisherman's Wharf to the Airport. Needless to say, we didn't see the torch. Apparently we were about 3 blocks away eating lunch when it passed by Van Ess...and we did get stuck in traffic while a bunch of cops on motorcycles were clearing a street (one cop literally hit and then shoved a car that tried to cross the intersection)...but no torch sightings. We were at Fisherman's Wharf when the closing ceremony was supposed to happen--along with a lot of other disgruntled folks, some who just wanted to see the international symbol, some there to protest.

I have an unusual vantage point for all the hoopla going on about the Olympics in China. I know many athletes who are training for a chance to compete in Beijing this summer. Everyday I witness the time, commitment, and sacrifice that it takes. But I also see the social justice side. China has been responsible for some horrible human rights violations. China's role in Tibet has taken center stage---and most people can see that China's occupation is questionable at the very least.

But why do we have to bring the Olympics into it? I get it--it's an international stage to draw attention to the political issue. But at what cost? I know that politics have often been intertwined with the Olympic Games...but that was not the intention of the Games.

The Olympic flag symbolizes what the Olympics are about. Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background. The five rings symbolize the five significant continents and are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained from these international competitions. The rings, from left to right, are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The colors were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world. It's about unity. It's about having a few weeks every 4 years to be on the same playing field with people from all over the world...to have equal opportunity to compete and win at athletic events that bind us together. It's about putting aside whatever differences there may be...and just sweating together, pushing bodies to the limit, trying to break records and bring home medals. The potential for goodwill and building bridges through the Olympics is tremendous.

This is the Olympic Creed:
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

My fear is that questions about the political side will in any way shadow the accomplishments of the athletes who make the Olympic Team. Or worse, that they will feel pressured to not take part in the Games as a sign of protest. My fear is that the will, determination, and inspiration of our athletes in all sports will not be celebrated as they deserve.