Container Park

container park sign

We were pretty close to downtown Las Vegas so we visited container park. I have always thought it would be cool to build a modern style house out of shipping containers so the idea of an outdoor mall made out of them seemed really cool. My kids bought in once they found out that there was a 2 story slide in the playground.

Container park slide

The layout was really cool. There were 2 to 3 stories of containers built up around an interior common area. The playground was awesome and there were bands playing on a stage the whole time we were there. We don’t usually go to shopping malls since we live in an RV and we don’t have room for stuff even if we want to buy it. This one was worth going to because of it’s unique setup.

container park shops

Luckily, Mason survived the attack by the giant praying mantis and we all lived to shop another day.

Container park mantis(1)

~Michael~

Ronald McDonald House

Ronald Family

While we were traveling from Morgan Hill to Las Vegas we stopped in Bakersfield for a few days to break up the drive. We had some extra time so we decided  to look up our favorite service site justserve.org. The local Ronald Mcdonald House needed some help while we were there. I contacted the house director, Scarlett, and she said we were welcome to come over.

According to their website “The Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House is a place where the families of Kern County pediatric or NICU patients can go to take a break from the hospital environment. It serves as a “home away from home” that gives the non-hospitalized part of the family a sense of normalcy in a time when their world is upside down.”

We helped prepare handouts for various fundraising activities that they were going to do at the local schools. We also spent some time addressing envelopes to send to local businesses.

It was a fun time and the staff were amazing. You could tell that they really liked their jobs and loved helping the people at the house. We had a nice tour of the facility at the end and I was really impressed  by the service that was offered. The only downside was that my family is horrified by Ronald Mcdonald. It felt like the paintings and the statues were watching us wherever we went.

Ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald houses raise money locally so I encourage you to contact your local house to see what you can do to help. They score well on charitynavigator.org as a non profit that makes good use of the donations they recieve.

One last piece of advice, if you are scared of clowns like us, don’t look Ronald in the eyes.

Ronald High five

~Michael~

Find Solutions, Not Excuses

tunnel 2

How many times have I felt inspired to do something, only to stop trying once I have any adversity show up? This is the thought that kept running through my head as we walked along the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail in Lake Mead National Park.

We met up with our friends the Boynton’s while we were in Las Vegas and they said they were going to “The Tunnels.” We like tunnels so we decided to tag along.

tunnel group

When they decided to construct the Hoover Dam they found a perfect spot for it but it was out in the middle of nowhere. They were going to need enough cement to make a road 16 feet wide and 8 inches thick that would stretch from San Francisco to New York City. That’s a lot of cement to get to the dam, not to mention all of the other parts and equipment that needed to be transported.

If I was in charge of constructing the Hoover Dam, I might have focused on all of the reasons that building the dam might not work, including how would you get materials to the dam. If the Hoover Dam was one of the projects in my life it might have never been built.

The men who worked on the dam didn’t let it stop them. They built a railroad to the dam. They had to blast through rock and make tunnels before they could even work on the dam. The trail we walked along is where the railroad used to be.

tunnel 1

There were beautiful views of Lake Mead and the desert landscape all along the hike.

tunnel lake mead

It was only 1 mile to the first tunnel so even Madelyn was able to walk it without too much trouble. Luckily we weren’t here in the summer or we might have died.

tunnel sign

I have started to try to live my life more like those that built the Hoover Dam. I’m not perfect at it but I am striving to change. When I come across obstacles, I try to push forward instead of turn around and give up. We can accomplish great things if we push through adversity and find solutions instead of excuses.

tunnel hoover dam

~Michael~

An Open Letter to Old Faithful

Dear Old Faithful,

I just wanted to write you a letter to let you know that I have found another fountain. I know we grew up together but it seems that over time we have started drifting apart. This letter might be painful for you to read but I feel like it would be irresponsible for me to lie to you.

I wasn’t looking for another fountain. I was just in Las Vegas minding my own business when someone introduced me to the Bellagio Fountains. They said they would be there every 30 minutes and that they dance to music. I was skeptical because of my experience with you but I was in the area so I stopped to see if they were as reliable as I was told they would be.

lv belagio fountains

Sure enough, at 2:30 PM on the dot the fountains started up. They didn’t give me a time window like you always did. They respected me enough to show up when they said they would. I didn’t have to wait around wondering if they would shoot off. It was so liberating to be respected in this way.

There was also music. The fountains danced for me. They Danced! You have never danced for me. Maybe you were too shy or self conscious, but without even knowing me well the Bellagio Fountains danced to music. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of their willingness to be so vulnerable.

The fountains weren’t scalding to the touch either. So many times I have l reached out to touch you only to be burned by scalding hot water and to have my nostrils filled with the stench of rotten eggs.

In addition, the Bellagio Fountains are just across the street from the Eiffel Tower.

LV Eiffel

They are also down the road from New York…….

lv new york

and the Statue of Liberty……..

LV Statue of Libery

and a jelly bean Statue of Liberty……..

LV Jelly Bean

and these cool buildings.

LV building

The funny thing is, I like your neighborhood better than the Bellagio’s but we’ve grown too far apart. I don’t want to hear any promises that you will start showing up on time or that you will stop smelling like sulfur. I think we both know that you are too old to change. We can still be friends and I will still visit every once in a while, but it’s over. I hope you understand and I wish you the best,

Michael

What is Your Good Story?

The theme of our blog is living a good story. This is a theme that is quite open to interpretation. Our intention is not to convert people to our current method of living a good story, but rather to inspire people find what their story is and feel the joy of being a creator in their story, whatever it is.

Currently, our good story is living in a fifth wheel and traveling as a family. This will not always be our good story. The amazing thing about a good story is that it always changes. It is fluid. About a year ago we started to feel like we needed to make changes and do something different that would help us grow, change, and participate with our maker in creating the life we live.

From the outside it might have looked to people like we were already living a good story before we embarked on our trip. We weren’t necessarily living a bad story but it was far from a good story. We weren’t changing or growing. Life was acting upon us instead of us acting on life. Would you want to read a story about a character that doesn’t have any kind of story arc? Good stories have characters that change and become different over time. We were stagnant.

We were inspired through prayer and inspiration to do something drastic. We had no idea at the time why we were doing such a crazy thing. I quit my job which reduced our income in half. We rented out our house. We ripped our kids away from their friends. We left a neighborhood and friends that we love. The thing that drove us forward was that we knew we had a new purpose, and that we needed to learn and grow. We knew that we had let the winds of life blow us where they wanted, instead of us living life with a purpose. It was time for us to take part with God in creating our story.

I know a lot of people who are living a good story that might not think they are. If you are fighting through mental and physical sickness, and you don’t give up that can be a good story. Your good story could be working hard and providing for your family. You might have the calling in life to brighten others days with kind words and a smile. I can’t think of a better story than sacrificing for your children and raising them up with love and knowledge. You might see someone in need or something that can make this world better and do it.  Many of you are already living your good story. Many might not be.

I am not the judge of who or who isn’t living a good story. I think that is up to each person to determine for themselves. While I have had periods in my life where I was living a good story, I have a had a lot of times where I wasn’t. I think that there are things I can do better to make sure I am living a good story. They might apply to you as well.

Purpose: Do I have a why for what I am doing? It’s hard to have a good story without knowing why we are doing what we are doing.

Intention: Am I intentional with what I need to in order to live a good story, or do I expect a good story to just fall into my lap? It’s hard to live a good story when we aren’t tying to create it for ourselves.

Focus: Is my focus on myself or am I focused on what I can do for God and others? My opinion is that a good story involves others. Very rarely can you live a good story when you are focused only on yourself.

Growth: Am I growing and changing for the better? It is hard to live a good story when you aren’t  improving and moving forward.

If you feel like you are being blown about by the winds of life ask yourself these questions and see if you can find ways to improve your own story. You might find that you are already living a good story but you didn’t realize it. You might find that your story is good but it could be better. As your own story improves, it will improve those of the lives around you and we will all lift each other up.

~Michael~

The Great Clam Chowder Hunt

When we were in Winnemucca, Nevada we had the best clam chowder we have ever eaten in our lives. Since then, we try clam chowder whenever we get a chance to see if we can find better chowder.

At the Fisherman’s Warf in Monterey, California, all of the restaurants have clam chowder samples outside their restaurant. We walked around and tried a bunch. Watch the video below to see if we found a new winner.

 

Return to Carmel Beach

carmel beach

On our last day in Morgan Hill we were going to spend time at home. Marisa had a lot of work to do and we wanted to get ready to leave the next day. Our plans changed when we found out it was going to be 80 degrees. We didn’t know when we would have a chance to see the ocean again would so we packed up and went to Carmel beach again.

carmel 2

The weather was perfect and Marisa made a nice little workstation right on the beach. Jada was her assistant for the day.

carmel workspace

I amazed the boys with my athletic skills playing football in the ocean.

carmel fun

It’s fun to see our kids having fun together despite there age differences.

Carmel 1(1)

We stayed until sunset. We had planned on staying in the campground and getting work done. I am glad that we took the opportunity to spend the day together as a family and enjoy the beach. I haven’t stopped enough in the past and just enjoyed the time I have with loved ones. It’s a cherished blessing and gift.

carmel sunset

I know everyone’s life is busy but my challenge to you is to slow down a little. The next time you have the opportunity to spend some time with someone you love, or do something that helps you live your good story stop and do it. You won’t regret it.

~Michael~

Ballet at the Senior Citizens Center

We have had a lot of requests from our followers to show a video of me doing ballet(no we haven’t.) At long last the video is available for the world to see above.

As we travel we like to try to do service projects wherever we go. In the past we asked locals and called churches to see if they had service and sometimes that would work, but often it wouldn’t work. I kept thinking that I needed to create a website that would allow one to put in a city name and  then it would show service projects that are available. Like all of my good ideas, that website already exists.

If you go to justserve.org you can type in a name of a city and service opportunities will be listed, with information, age restrictions and contact info. I love this site and it makes it so easy to find service opportunities.

I registered on the site and gave them my email address. Now I can sign up for the service projects through the website and then I get an email that gives my the information I need for the project. It also contacts the organization that is in charge of the service opportunity so they know we are coming.

The video above shows our service project at the Lieburn Senior Citizen Center in the Las Vegas area. We set up tables for a dinner they were going to have. It wasn’t a lot of work and we probably goofed off as much as we worked but we had fun.

Leave me a comment on what you do to find service projects in your area.

 

The Tree Had It Out For Us

Yesterday the two youngest and I were at the pool during a windstorm. Our friends the Boyntons were there with us. Despite the wind, the kids were having a good time. We are used to high winds after living in Eagle Mountain, Utah. Apparently the tree at the pool isn’t used to high winds because it came crashing down right next to us.

Right before it came crashing down Madelyn says she had a feeling to get out of the hot tub so she went and got in the pool. The Boynton’s youngest also got out of the hot tub to play with Mason. Our friend Jourdan was sitting across the pool from me and she got up to tell me that she was going to take one of the kids to get some food. Literally 5 seconds after she got up this happened. The tree fell over into the hot tub and on the table Jourdan was at moments before!

tree 4-1

Here is a picture of what it looked like from the other side.

tree 2(1)

It trashed the recreation center as well.

tree 3

It’s amazing that no one was hurt. We were truly blessed and protected. There have been times in the past when this would have caused me to feel fear and even think that I am cursed. My perspective in life has changed a lot. Today I am full of gratitude that we were protected and watched over. I spent a lot of time last night on my knees thanking my Heavenly Father that my children and friends were watched over. I feel extremely blessed!

~Michael~

Spelunking on the San Andreas Fault

If you are like me you have never heard of Pinnacles National Park. It is located 80 miles southeast of San Jose, California right on top of the San Andreas fault and it was created by an extinct volcano. There is a nice campsite there with a lot of hikes. It is probably most famous for it’s rock climbing.

Marisa was in Long Beach for business meetings the day we went which meant we weren’t as prepared as one might expect. Although I know there were caves I forgot to bring a flashlight. Luckily Madelyn brought one along with a first aid kit and binoculars. I constantly felt like someone was watching me and when I turned around she was watching me. Queue spooky music.

pintrail

We hiked the Bear Gulch Trail and it was a great hike for our young one. Madelyn insisted on wearing flip flops and she did the full 2 miles on her own. The hike was great because of the diversity of landscapes. We started in the forest.

pintrail-1

Next we moved on to some Talus caves. For those of you that aren’t speleologists, Talus caves are made up of a series of boulders that have fallen on top of each other to form caves.

pinmoss

Madelyn is doing an impression of what I looked like while I worried about spelunking caves that sit right on top of the San Andreas fault. Maybe there is a reason I haven’t heard of Pinnacles. No one lives to tell the tale.

pincave

There were a lot of waterfalls inside the caves. We wouldn’t have made it through without a flashlight.

pin 91

After the caves we climbed some stairs and reached a higher elevation that looks a lot more like a desert environment than the earlier forest.

pinstairs(1)

There was a nice reservoir.

pinreservoir

I couldn’t get any great shots of the pinnacles as there was a lot of shadows in the late afternoon.

pinnacles

Madelyn got her Junior Ranger certificate and we actually survived without any cave-ins. What a great day.

~Michael~