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Family News (Short Version)
New Abode: It's our first move of 2004, but our fifth since Jan 1st, 2003! We've moved out of our little coach-house, boxed our belongings, left out only what is necessary, stored the rest, and are (once again) house-sitting the Pilley residence while they are away to England. It won't be for 5 months, this go-round, but only for a month or two. We've said it before and we'll say it again, "Moving sucks!" (but house-sitting is easy on the old wallet)! We think that Scott fractured his right thumb during the move (what a klutz)! We're now ensconced in the main house and busy updating our site from the 3rd floor office.
Trip to CA: Before we began boxing, hauling, stacking and carting ... we took a 1,200-mile trip down to northern California to visit Scott's folks at their ranch. It was a long trip, especially for tiny Alex. We left at 3:30 in the morning (so Oop could sleep). We crossed the border with nary a problem and drove and drove and drove and drove. (Okay, we stopped for breakfast at a Denny's and lunch at a Burger King ... Alex needed to get out of her car seat and Mom needed a fried potato fix). She was quite the little trooper (not one tear shed). We had a wonderful time at the R2 ranch. Grandma and Grandpa Kimler fell in love with their little granddaughter. What's NOT to love? She's such a happy baby, such an EASY baby! Below are some snaps from that visit.
Alex rode a swing for the first time, at the Pilley house, only day's before we left for California. She enjoyed swinging SO much, that at the last minute, we tossed the Pilley toddler swing in the back of the van. We're glad we brought it along, as she just had a ball, swinging under the patio at the R2 ranch. (We're a tad concerned that if she likes swinging at this young age, that Alex might grow up to be an 'adrenalin junkie').
While at the R2 ranch, Alex was introduced to a variety of farm animals. While she can growl like a bear, she hasn't learned the fine art of mooing like a cow. She got plenty of instruction from the big beef cows on the ranch, who - despite their size - were far more afraid of Alex, than she was of them.
Tricky Tranny: As easy as the drive down to California was, the drive back was even easier ... that is, until we got to Seattle. We stopped to spend the night with our Big Ride friend Dave (and his super girlfriend, Karen). The next morning, when we got into our van to come home ... NO POWER in ANY GEAR! Tranny GONE! We had to have the vehicle towed (thanks Dave, for having the premium AAA membership) to a garage across town. We hopped on a bus to Vancouver and managed to get home around 7pm. It was a looooonnngg day and (AGAIN) the Oop was terrific. (Even managed to make friends with several of the bus passengers with her quick smile and perky demeanor). Our van, on the other hand, is on our #%@#-list. Cost of repair? $2,675.00 So much for our "bargain" used car!! (A reminder to ourselves: NEVER, NEVER-EVER buy a used car off a lot.)
Moving Again: Oop's Canadian tour is now on hold. Van isn't powerful enough to tow the old fold-up camper. Neither Mom nor Dad can imagine car-camping for that length of time. Plans are up in the air. Rachel has not yet heard from the University of Calgary, but expects an acceptance letter any day now. We're leaning toward the University of Alberta (Edmonton) anyway. Perhaps we'll take a drive out to look for a new place, so that we can get settled before the term starts in early September.
Oop @ 7 Months: Hard to believe that our little girl is now 7 months young. Dad baked her a 1/2 birthday cake on her 6th-month "birthday". (It was a double-layer, half-circle vanilla-chocolate cake. It was quite cute and admired by all). Oop had her first taste of 'cake' and decided it was PRETTY GOOD! In fact, Alex liked it so much that she thought every fork-full should end up in HER mouth. None for the commoners, only the princess!
She's now gotten the hang of "solid" food and her repertoire includes: (pureed) peas, apples, bananas, carrots, rice cereal, oatmeal cereal, and various tidbits gleaned from the plate when mom and dad aren't looking! Oh yes, and CAKE! The BIG news for little Alex is, however, that she's MOBILE! We can't claim "crawling" yet, but it's a squirmy, rolling, pushing and pulling bundle of energy that knows no bounds. She's had a couple of disasters (pulling things down on top of herself), which result in tearful crying fits, but they don't dampen her spirit of adventure (5 minutes later she's off and into new things). We've now got our HANDS FULL!!
Gran Pilley gave Alex a "jolly jumper" for her half-birthday. What a wonderful gift (for BOTH Alex and her parents)! "Thanks, Gran," Alex says, bouncing between the door of the bathroom and the kitchen (darn near the only place in the house the bloody thing hangs from, because of the way the doorways are constructed). She growls, bounces and coos ... keeping herself happy and entertained for long periods of time. A great baby-sitter.
My first post in the "hisstory" category, this article discusses the road hazards one might come across in the Aceh Province of northern Sumatra, in Indonesia. I supervised two remote jungle seismic crews (over 1000 men on each crew) for two years, from 1985-1987, while working for Mobil Oil Indonesia. I kept a journal of my experience and am finally getting around to getting some of it posted.
Driving Hazards of Northern Sumatra
Both Real & Imagined
About This Article
For two years, from 1985 to 1987, Scott worked for the Field Operations Group for Mobil Oil, based out of Jakarta, Indonesia. He was the company geophysicist, working in the remote jungle region of the Aceh Province, at the northern tip of Sumatra, supervising two helicopter-supported, remote-jungle seismic crews. Each crew was made up of over 1,000 men. During this time, a National Geographic photographer visited and some of those photos are included in the August, 1989 National Geographic article "The Quest for Oil".
This journal entry was made during Scott's first 2-month tour (Scott worked a 2-month "on", 1-month "off" schedule and when he was "on" he worked from 6 AM till 6 PM, 7 days a week.
The journal topic for tonight is "Driving Hazards".
There are many driving hazards in northern Sumatra (Note: I am only talking about the driving hazards in the countryside. So far, I have little experience driving on the roadways of Indonesian cities, but from the little bit I have experienced - it's a constant hazard! Avoid city driving if you can!).
We have paid drivers that do all our driving for us. This is mostly keep us foreigners out of trouble. If an accident occurs, no matter who is at fault, all fingers (by mutual agreement) point to the "orang puti" (white man). He is the one with the most money! The police will back-up this policy. (Graft is alive and well).
Sometimes it's nice to have drivers, but it is hard to be a passenger in a car when you're sitting in the drivers seat! (Indonesians drive on the left-hand side of the road and because of this, most steering wheels are on the right side of the vehicle. "On the passenger's side," is where I describe the location of the steering wheel, to all those that will listen.) As a passenger, I am always - out of habit - trying to sit on the passenger's side of the vehicle, which is the driver's seat in Indonesia. All of our drivers think this is really funny.