Friday, March 2, 2012

A Trip to the Desert, - or How I spent my winter vacation: Part Two

When you think of vacation places to visit, the desert in February sounds not so bad.   The last time we were in Twentynine Palms, CA, it was June and the temperatures were topping 110.  Clint had just returned from Afghanistan and we were helping him and Marianne settle into their new home on the Marine base.  This February trip was scheduled to see Clint again, this time before he begins intensive and constant training for a return to Afghanistan.  We believe he will be leaving sometime in April and are hopeful that his return will be earlier than scheduled given the news that the U.S. is preparing to be out of that country by 2013.  Clint is in line for promotion to Major, something that may happen while he is deployed.  His job will be the Operations Officer for his Battalion meaning that he will be planning the military operations for the 5 Companies of his battalion involving about 600 Marines.

It's always wonderful to see Clint- but I'll be real, real, real glad when the visits aren't planned around his coming and going to Afghanistan!

I'm going to mention right here- if you looking for a quiet, restful, relaxing- spa-like vacation- then going to visit Marianne and our beautiful grandkiddos is not the vacation choice for you.  For us it was perfect!  We were in for some real treats.  I do want to give a special thanks to Marianne for arranging a great suite at the lodge for bachelor officers on base.  SWEEEEEET!  And it even had a couch so Reeder and Hayes could have sleepovers!

We started out with a big SHOW!  We watched Marianne- and her Marine Wife Friends- play Kick Ball against a group of REAL MARINES!  Well those ladies sure showed the Marines how the game is played!

 Above Marianne locking in on a high fly  that she did catch for an out, and below showing the power in that left leg that got her a scholarship for soccer at Arizona State.

During the game I did sneak off just for a bit with Reeder.  Took this picture.  Don't you agree she's beautiful!

Our first full day there we packed the kids up in Marianne's car and drove to Palm Desert to visit the Living Desert Museum.  The temperature was in the mid-80's and not a cloud in the sky, a bit different from our home in Cincinnati where the temperatures had dropped to the teens.

The Living Desert Museum is rather combination zoo, botanical garden and discovery zone.  It is definitely a place you can spend a lot of time especially with kids.  And if the day is absolutely gorgeous- like this one was- you just linger and linger.
Now I probably should warn you in advance- this blog is mostly about the pictures- pictures of our time with Clint, Marianne, Reeder, Hayes and Weiler.  So sit back and enjoy!

The next day we kept the kids while Marianne attended a "Marine Wives" meeting before going to the parade field and watching an "OFFICIAL MARINE RETIREMENT".  So we were off to a morning at the park while Marianne attended the meeting.



And then it was off to watch Clint "retire" his Master Sergeant! It was really interesting to watch the ceremony- and an extra treat was to see "up close and personal" the LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) that Clint and his men are responsible for.  They call these "light" with respect to the Heavy Armored Vehicles, otherwise known as Tanks.

And then we took it easy until time to take Reeder to her Basketball Game.  As if we hadn't already done enough for one day!
Watching six year olds play basketball can be a bit frustrating  given that her team never made a basket and the referees were there just to keep the game from becoming a free for all.  I remember watching my own kids play basketball at that age and nothing seems to have changed. Now that of course is a so definitely the opinion of a basketball player.  For me the game was wonderful to watch!  After all- what can be more fun than to watch your grandchildren (even as you had watched your own children) do just about anything at all.  So for me watching basketball is in the same category as watching soccer- or track- or swimming- or baseball- or dancing- or plays- or concerts...  Only in the BIG LEAGUES does it actually matter to me who is actually REALLY playing the game...

On Saturday we decided to go hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.  This is absolutely my favorite thing to do at 20 Palms.  Joshua Tree National Park is beautiful.  Of course when we were there last summer it was much, much, much to hot to spend a day outside in the desert but for this day the weather was perfect for hiking- not too hot- not too cold- just right!
Taking three kids ages 6,4, and 15 months required a fairly short and fairly flat hike, mostly for the adults who would be periodically carrying one of those kids.  It is a good thing Marianne has an all wheel drive high center vehicle because our route took us over some "roads" that I wouldn't attempt with any car.
Now look at this next picture and tell me if you'd call what you're looking at a "road"...  Actually the picture makes it look  pretty good compared to what it really was.

We followed this path for miles- never sure when it would end- never sure if we'd get stuck or not.  Have I mentioned before that with Marianne there is never a dull moment.  Well Marianne was the one at the wheel- so there was no turning back!  And of course true to a Marianne "non plan" we arrived just where we wanted to go!

But we did eventually get there and it was a beautiful warm day.  Along the road we passed this Joshua Tree that was just getting ready to bloom...

And once we got to the trail, the desert was beautiful. Now we've been in different areas of Joshua Tree 3-4 times- but never have we seen such large, gorgeous trees.  This trail was a real treat!  The tree in the picture below is probably close to 35 feet tall.

I don't think the kids ever really got the idea about what a "hike" is supposed to be.

I was the only one of the "adults" not routinely "packing" some extra weight!

This big tree looked like it might have been hit by lightening because it was split into four different pieces, each pointing a different direction.  Great for climbing.


We finished the day at Pappy and Harriet's with of course a steak for Clint and Reeder!

Now if you're feeling just a wee bit tired, then you know just how we were feeling... So Sunday was quieter (well it was quieter for Clint, Reeder and me).  We went for Mani's and Pedi's!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that while I was soaking my feet, Don was digging holes in solid rock planting a backyard landscaping project with Marianne!

We spent our last morning just "hanging out"...

Don showed Weiler and Reeder some of his best basketball moves...

Then we stopped at the Officer's Club for lunch with Clint before we started our drive back to Vegas and then our flight back to Cincinnati...

Thanks to Marianne and Clint- and our beautiful babes for a wonderful time in the desert!