Category Archives: Trips

Preston’s Senior Trip

We just got back from almost 3 weeks abroad. First, we spent 3 days in Amsterdam. We did a lot of time walking around the city. We toured the Van Gogh Museum, took a boat ride through the canals, and the highlight was Preston got to play poker in the casino.

We then flew to Kilimanjaro airport to start our trek in Tanzania. We met half of our group at the airport and drove an hour to the hotel in Moshi.

We spent the following day getting gear ready and then left for the Kilimanjaro National Park the next morning. The picture below is our full group that would do the climb and a map of the route we took (Machame).

The first day we climbed through a rain forest almost 4000 feet over 7 miles to the first camp at Machame Hut.

The 2nd day we climbed 5 miles and 2500 feet to Shira Hut. Most of the climb was a steep rocky trail that put us on a plateau above the clouds. I led a short yoga session to relief the aches in the joints.

The next day, we only had a 3 mile hike but the goal was to get us acclimatized. To do this, we climbed to over 15,000 feet elevation and then dropped back down to 13,500 feet at Barranco Hut. We passed by a stone feature called the Lava Tower. Preston couldn’t resist climbing it. I started up with him only to be caught by a guide that took him all the way up while I rested in the sun on a rock.

When we arrived at Barranco Hut, it was beautiful. We got a quick yoga session in and then Preston and I played frisbee. The next day was a short 3 miles to the Karanga Valley. The trail was rolling with a total climb of 1000 feet and a decent of the same.

Three of us separated from the main group and arrived in the valley in a dense fog. After about 30 minutes of wandering around, we found our camp site. The next morning we had the task of climbing the Barranco Wall. The wall is a rock face that the trail winds up. It’s basically class 3 scrambling for 1000 vertical feet. We needed to climb 2300 feet in total, but the distance was only 3 miles to the next camp at Barufu Hut.

We arrived at high camp, Barufu Hut, after climbing 2300 feet over 3 miles. The camp is on a steep slope so the tents had to be placed right next to each over. The following day we were leaving around 1am to try and reach the crater rim by sunrise.

The climb through the night went well. It wasn’t as cold as I expected and we moved well until about 17000 feet. We started to slow then so I put on my parka since I was cold. We arrived at Stella Point (rim) around 7:30am. Preston did great but he was a little light headed due to the altitude. We took the short walk around the rim to the high point of 19341 feet.

12 years ago I took a rock from the summit and gave it to Preston. His job was to put it back.

Because we slowed down, there were 2 members of our group that left earlier that were already on their way down and absent from this picture.

We hiked down to camp, had lunch, packed up, and hiked a few miles to the last camp. Preston and I played frisbee.

The last view of the mountain. Preston and I separated from the group and shuffled the 8 miles down to the gate. It took us a little over 3 hours to drop 7000 feet.

We tipped the 40+ people that carried our stuff, showed us where to go, and cooked our food. The next day we flew to the Serengeti for a safari.

After landing, we drove around for an hour or so and saw many animals. We then went to a temporary lodge that was comprised of several communal tents and then a tent for each of the guests. While it sounds rustic, every tent had running water, a toilet, and shower. The first night, I woke Preston up around 5am since there was a herd of zebra right outside our tent.

After spending two nights in the tents, we drove to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area which is a large crater that many animals flock to.

We saw an amazing amount of animals and birds. The great thing was one of the people in our group was an amateur photographer and with Preston’s young eyes spotting, we didn’t miss much. I added a gallery of the best animal shots below. The last night was spent in a 5 star resort halfway to the airport. The following day we left around 9pm for our long journey back to the US.

Last week in BV

Our 2nd week in BV was colder and we got a little snow.

Most of the days were sunny but the mornings were really cold.  We headed up to the mountains for a little hike, but ended up getting the truck stuck and had to be pulled out.

The dogs got lots of walks and the mountain air made them tired.

We visited the local distillery, Deerhammer, often.

The last day there was the BV Chocolate Walk.  We got a scorecard from the community center and walked the dogs all over town collecting stamps on the card and chocolate.  That evening there was a parade that started in front of our house.

The trip home was uneventful, but it still made Izzy tired.

On a sad note, Uncle Ed passed away this week.  He was a very kind person and will be missed.

Edward Benz Obituary

Edward Edward Benz passed away on Monday December 3, 2018 at the age of 92. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 71 years Lillian, son Charles, daughter Diana, two grandsons Ryan and Randy and one great grandson Ryan Matthew. Edward was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and one brother. Edward loved sports and will be deeply missed. According to his wishes cremation has taken place and no services will be held.

Published in Grand Rapids Press on Dec. 9, 2018

Back in BV

The three of us and the dogs drove to BV for the Thanksgiving break.  Preston had the whole week off of school so he had a full 6 days here.  He left this morning on the bus.  We are expecting several delivery of furniture next week so we’ll be here a little longer.

The weather has been awesome and we have been walking the dogs everyday.

We climbed Midland hill earlier in the work.  Darby had a couple adventures chasing deer.

Our neighbors in BV are also from Austin and they took us to an arch that is only a couple 4wd miles from the house.  We climbed up on top and the views were incredible.

The setting sun behind Jim

A short trip to Mexico

We took a short trip to Playa Del Carmen.  The weather was perfect everyday.  We didn’t do much but play in the ocean, sit on the beach, and run the coast.

I tried to be out every morning at sunrise for a run.  Tracy would follow 30 minutes later and meet me up the beach.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, but the view was nice.

Wrapping up the Summer

I’ve been wrapping up the remaining projects before Tracy comes in today.  Our master closet got an upgrade from the container store.  However, their website is really terrible and I ordered the wrong brackets for a shelf.  I called and get the new part number, and those were wrong also.  All that stuff is going back and I’ll just order another shoe shelf.

We have some artwork, but the shipment of frames were cracked.

I’ve perfected my “Campfire Salmon” over the summer.  I think I’ve found the perfect mix of vegetables, spices, and fish.

Darby and Izzy are as cute as ever.  I think they will be excited to get back to Austin, but will miss chasing all the critters here.

Everyday we do a walk along the river.  Both dogs can now be trusted to be off the leash and not get swept away by the river.

This is the view from the above the river on the other side.  Our house is just behind the hotel in the bottom right corner.

8 miles from the house is a section of the Colorado trail that climbs 2,700 ft in just over 3 miles.  I’ve climbed it a lot and have never been able to break the hour mark on the ascent.  Before my race, my best was 1:02.  Yesterday I went out and came up a minute short which really ticked me off.  Today, I went back and did it with 8 seconds to spare.  I also set a new personal record on the descent with just over 34 minutes.  The picture below is my on top looking towards Silver creek and all it’s orange Aspen trees.

 

We are in BV

Yesterday was a long day…. The dogs and I drove straight through from Austin to Buena Vista.  The dogs were as relaxed as ever – Darby on her bed and Izzy sleeping on the seat.

Izzy would sit up every time I slowed down to see if it was time for a break.

Darby just slept and barely opened her eyes.

In BV, I strung up a leash dog run until the fence gets put in.

We went for a walk along the River Park.  The dogs got to swim and play in two huge fenced in dog areas they put in.

End of April

Last week, Tracy had a work thing in Denver so I decided to go along.  We stayed downtown at the Ritz, and it wasn’t too shabby.   On Thursday, Mike and Tina picked me up and we went for a hike in one of the parks near the Front Range.

Way in the distance, you can see downtown Denver.

This weekend, Preston and I ran the 30k Tangle race.  Preston did great and my first two loops were fantastic, but I had nothing left for the 3rd loop.  Preston ran with a sprained wrist from football.

On Saturday, I have a trail marathon out at Reville Ranch.  This is usually a tough race, due to the exposure and warm temperatures this time of year.  However, the forecast looks promising this year.

On Monday, the dogs and I drive to Buena Vista, CO for the summer.  We are staying in the same house we rented last year.  I’m excited to climb all the 14k foot peaks in the area.  I found this cool map that shows all the summit trails.

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Christmas time

Christmas is here and we had a couple trips planned.  Before we left, Tracy finally finished a massive Halloween puzzle she’d been slaving over.  It took many hours.

On the 19th, we left for Michigan to visit my mom and two days after that we headed to Philly to visit Tracy’s family.

We had a great time visiting with Barb and her happy little dog Paddy.

We stayed in a studio apartment in mom’s joint.  It’s really convenient.   There had been a lot of snow and this was the view from our window.

Paddy doesn’t get out for a lot of walks, but we took him on a few.   Barb insisted he wear his jacket in the snow.  He looked funny jumping through the snow.

We are in Philly now and the lazy Tucker dog loves to be in the center of everyone.

Tracy couldn’t see our dogs on the camera at Hip Hounds so they sent her a picture.

A week of fundraisers and now relaxation

This is my view as I write this post

We are in Cancun now, but the last two weeks in Austin were very busy.  We first started with the Safe fundraiser (merger of Safe Place and the Childrens’ shelter).  Our friend Ann was getting an award so were were her guest.

The following Friday was the Literacy Coalition’s annual fundraiser, Reading Between the Wines.  I was the board chair for the event so it was a bit stressful but the event went off very well.  We raised a lot of money and one of my students was able to give a short speech on how the programs have helped her.

Also, our CEO is moving on so the board presented her with a going away present.  The picture below that is the entire board.

Here’s Tracy chatting with our neighbors, Ryan and Katie.

Just two days later, we were are the Planned Parenthood dinner.  Tracy and I always buy a table and we thought that it would be fun to take Preston.  Here we are all dressed up for the evening.

The next morning we left for Mexico.  We are in Cancun trying out a new resort.  So far, so good.  We walked around yesterday.  Here’s Tracy in the surf in front of the resort.

I thought this gull with it’s feathers all messy looked like our dog Izzy.

We walked to the end of the point and posed for a few pictures.

A couple days on Vinalhaven

After sailing, we walked from the schooner dock to the ferry dock and went to North Haven Island.  We were met on the dock by our friends’ Chris, Jenn, and their boys.  We then took their boat a very short trip across the thoroughfare to their family home.  The picture below is actually taken when we went through the thoroughfare from the Ladona.

Here is Chris is island gardening gear.

Both of the boys

We spent the next day hiking around the island.

The evenings were spent on the porch of the house.