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Houston, Texas

September 12, 2011

We have done a little site-seeing here in Houston.

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Chicago, Illinois

August 12, 2011

We completed our trip around the globe and are now back in Chicago. Unfortunately the return to Chi-town didn’t begin well. Our flight landed at 12:30 AM and we didn’t get downtown until 2:00. As we walked to our friend’s apartment we saw a bunch of police cars and noticed that the street was roped off with yellow tape. Thats when Angie saw a body in the street. There had been a bad auto-bicyclist accident and sadly a young woman lost her life. It was a haunting reminder of the fragility of life. Very sad. This was not the first time we had walked by a scene like this in Chicago.

Sadness is a good way to describe our last few days here. It’s hard to say farewell to our home of 4+ years. We love beautiful Chicago and will miss all the excitement of this wonderful city. But most importantly we will miss our great friends who we love dearly. We can’t thank you enough for your kindness and support.

Monday we are moving to our new destination. Stay tuned for the big reveal in our next post. . .

Mount Saint Helens, Washington

August 10, 2011

Mount Saint Helens blew its top in spectacular fashion on May 18, 1980. A few months before the eruption, there was a sizeable earthquake that opened a vent and the volcano began releasing plumes of smoke and steam. The vent also allowed magma to pool underground, which caused the side of the mountain to bulge. Eventually, the bulge became unstable and on May 18, without warning, the mountainside gave way. It was the largest recorded landslide in history, with earth and rock moving at over 150 mph.

The landslide freed explosive gases that had been trapped under the weight of the mountain. This resulted in a horizontal pyroclastic flow that shot boulders, hot ash, and debris at over 300 mph. This explosion came out of the mountain sideways, in the same direction as the landslide, and destroyed anything in its path.

Shortly thereafter the vertical plume erupted sending ash 15 miles into the atmosphere. In seconds glaciers that were hundreds of year old disappeared, the volcano became 1300 feet shorter, a quarter of the mountainside was blasted away, and almost 250 square miles of forests and structures were destroyed.

30 years later the blast zone still looks like Mars-scape because the silica and other harsh minerals stifle any plant growth. However, scientists are amazed at the progress that has been made. Many areas are now covered in lichens and some have been blanketed in wildflowers.

Since 1980, Mount Saint Helens has remained relatively active. A lava dome has been expanding within the crater and occasionally the volcano will release plumes of gas. It will erupt again; it is only a matter of time.

Portland, Oregon

August 8, 2011

Chicago was never the same after the Arnells moved to the Pacific Northwest. Especially since they took our goddaughter with them. We miss them and have been planning a visit for a while now. A couple of months ago they welcomed a new baby, Brilya Angela Arnell, so we headed to Portland to meet her.

Portland has been nicknamed “the City of Roses” for over 100 years, but no one knows the exact origin of the moniker. It probably began when the city began hosting rose festivals, which quickly became world famous. The Portland climate is perfect for roses so royalty and dignitaries from across the globe attended the rose festivals.

Portland still hosts these rose festivals and there are numerous gardens open to the public. We visted the International Rose Test Garden where new roses varieties are displayed for visitors. The top roses are sold for distribution and the others are destroyed. The place was gorgeous and the sights and smells were breathtaking. A definite must-see if you are in the area.

Other highlights included: Eating at food pods, going to the farmers market, visiting waterfalls and parks, berry picking, and an excursion to Mount St. Helens. I’ll post about the volcano tomorrow.

Houston, Texas

August 5, 2011

A warning to anyone who invites us to stay – we may take you up on the offer. . . .

We met Lee and Barbara on our Mediterranean cruise and loved hanging out with them. Barbara is a recently retired Spanish teacher and Lee works for the DoD in Afghanistan. They have a son serving in Afghanistan, another in Iraq and two daughters who live in Austin.

Angie and I had never spent time in Texas, but Houston and Austin were both on my short list of places to live, so we jumped at the chance when Barb invited us to visit. Barb took us everywhere! She was a wonderful host. We visited Galveston, Houston, San Marcus, and Austin. We LOVE heat and humidity so the weather didn’t bother us a bit.

I’m sold on Texas, but Angie isn’t so sure.

Your opinion counts

July 31, 2011

Salt Lake City, Utah

July 31, 2011

The Utah stop was unanticipated, but we were grateful for the chance to see family. The funeral services were excellent and a great tribute to the life of Angie’s stalwart grandpa. He was 91 and had lived a full and faithful life. Of course he will be missed, but we trust that we will be with him again, and are thankful for the legacy of faith that he left behind.

While we were in town, we tried to spend as much time as possible with our nieces and nephews. It is amazing how fast they all grow! I hadn’t been to Utah since Christmas and was happy to finally meet my new nieces Alice and Audrey.

Now that we are back in the States, the pressure to find a home and jobs is mounting. Thanks to everyone who has offered their home or couch for us as we try to figure things out. You may regret it!