Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Retirement, Vacation, or just being gone for a while?

Given that my last day of work was January 29, Max decided that we needed to do something to celebrate my new status.  I wasn't sure that celebration is exactly what I had in mind for being unemployed, but given that I had officially retired from P&G when they sold Pharmaceuticals, and that my "new company" only needed my services for 3 months, and that I did get a nice separation package, I suppose I can accept the word celebration for at least some of those events.

Since this family is so large and spread out, our usual vacations tend to involve visiting children and grandchildren in various locations around this country. I think there's a real possibility that in our "retirement" we can travel about- just from home to home to home of family and friends.  This trip certainly was that sort of vacation. 

First to Twentynine Palms, California to see our Marine son and his beautiful family.  I was excited about seeing the "BABES" but didn't expect much from Twentynine Palms.  Boy was I wrong!  I'm surprised it's not everyone's vacation destination!  At first glance it appears that there are now more than 29 palms in Twentynine Palms.  In fact there is a whole lot there than most people can imagine.  First of all, it is the largest Marine base in the Corps.  There are over 30,000 Marines there and the numbers are growing given that this climate is fairly close to that of Afghanistan - dry, hot in the summer, cold in the winter, very rugged, rocky and mountainous.  Consequently it is a great place (if there is one) for training Marines for deployment.  In fact, Clint is there for just that reason as he will be deploying in the fall.

But we arrived bearing gifts!  We were a tad late for Reeder's- and a tad early for Hayes.  So does that make us right on time?  Not sure about that- but believe the BABES were excited when we opened a suitcase filled with presents just for them!  This was my carry on baggage.  Max was not about to let this bag get lost.  All of those round wrapped packages were "a few" dresses and PJ's for Reeder.  Word was that she had outgrown her old dresses so Max decided the economy needed a boost and did the best she could by getting a "few" new dresses.  It's a bit hard to count in this pictures, but a "few" seems to have inflated to 13.

Clothes for Reeder- New pajamas (G-G's) were the favorite!

And Thomas for the Hayes!

Need I mention that Hayes has an obsession for ALL THINGS THOMAS!

But then Reeder and I proceeded to the kitchen to bake cookies.  You know that if Grama has arrived it's time for COOKIES!

But I must tell you this:  At this desert home an awful lot of dough never makes it to the oven.  In fact one night Clint actually scooped cookie dough into a bowl- rather like the rest of us do with ice cream!

But there is no resting for the newly retired (or is it the newly unemployed!).  On our first morning Marianne is cracking that whip and we're loaded in the car (well rather two cars- we won't all fit into one car) and headed for Joshua Tree!  Amazing!  Beautiful!  You have to see it for yourself.  But until then enjoy the pics we took!

Note that Joshua Tree is not a forest of Joshua trees, although in some areas there are a lot of them.  This is more of an interesting geological landscape.  This enormous boulders were formed well below the surface as molten granite and then pushed up to the surface over the eons by movement of the shifting plates of the earth.  Once to the surface they were eroded by wind and water to form these rounded "big" rocks.  I guess big is a bit of an understatment in this case.  These formations protrude above the surface on this high desert landscape among varieties of cactus and Joshua Trees.

So much to explore!
And we were ready for an adventure!
Note that we really don't look warm and this was before we started the hike.

We actually started up this hike with a stroller, but given that it was more stairs, than trail, we abandoned the stroller early and Clint hauled the baggage.

It was not a pretty day.  Think wet, windy, and cold.
Both Clint and Hayes were much happier once we got back down.

But this day was cold and blustering!  And windy!  And wet!  And after we'd hiked awhile the boys turned back- but not the girls.  We kept on going and going and going...  To add a bit more explanation.  It was windy, cold and raining.  Clint was carrying Hayes (all 35 pounds of him) up this mountain and we were climing about 1000 feet over a distance of 1.5 miles.  So a lot of the hike was rocky stairs.  Max got some extra clothes, but I just had on my light jacket so the wind, the rain, and the cold made this hike fairly uncomfortable for me.  Clint seemed to be fine carrying Hayes, but Hayes was cold too, so with great wisdom, the guys headed down while the girls, seemingly wanting to express their fortitude, continued a bit farther.

So our mantra became "GIRLS RULE; BOYS DROOL!"  And as you might imagine that does tickle the funny bone of our 4 year old Reeder.  But here are the RULING GIRLS!

Now we did a second day in Joshua Tree.  Marianne and Clint were off the next day to try their hand a rock climbing so Don and I decided that we'd take the BABES for a rock climbing adventure of their own!

Hayes and Reeder were both real troopers.  Hayes keep us moving with his one word sentences:  "Hike"; and "Climb".  As you can see, this day was much better suited for being outside and exploring these big rocks.

Now we did have an "at home" day.  Marianne was still working to clear up the matter of her "arrest" when she tried to enter the base.  So we spent Monday touring the Marine Base of 29 Palms (doesn't take very long- 15 minutes tops)- lunch at the "O" club (without Marianne who was working to "clear" her name). Then when Clint went to work and Don and I were off to the park with the BABES (without Marianne who was still working to "clear" her name). Post Script:  Marianne's name is now cleared and she can now drive the BABES to storyhour on the base whenever she wants (and also to the commissary et al).
So here are the pics!

Hayes does like stickers

And did I mention that MAJOR SURGERY was needed for George...

And then we went to Pappy and Harriets (  for a wild evening of music and food and dancing!

And we got to go to BALLET class!

then we can't forget the picture of Clint's NEW CAR.  I think maybe we ought to count votes on how many of our readers think that a primary appeal for this car was that car seats for the BABES just won't fit????? 

PS:  We still have one more day of this adventure- a trip to Palm Springs and a "taste of winter" at the Air Tram.  But Don says enough- the blog needs a rest- So we're taking a bit of a break and will continue after we catch our breath.  This adventure isn't over yet!


Amber said...

love the pictures and details of the trip! an tell don he had a month break from the last blog post! good grief, get to work!

Liz said...

It looks like you had so much fun! I can't wait to hear about more adventures!

Don said...

Amber, I did have most of this blog done almost two weeks ago until your mom accidently erased almost all of it. It was tough to get started on it again.

smathis75 said...

looks like a great time! Don I want to see even more joshua tree park pics please! I can't get enough of them :)

Brandy said...

Great pics! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time!

Sandra Needham said...

You really didn't need to explain so fully why the guys gave up on the hike and the women's all right, Really.
All joking aside, the trip was a great idea to kick off your new status!