Monday, December 21, 2009

Stuck in Northern VA

Most of you probably have heard about the huge snow storm that hit this area. Don't think less of me because of this, but I hate snow! I love watching it fall and don't mind playing in it, but when it interferes with my plans and causes so many problems I just get so irritated...

I was supposed to leave Saturday morning for GA to spend Christmas with my folks, but due to the snow I was stuck...we had 11 inches by about 9 am after only about 12 hours of the storm about 12 more to go...

I was feeling desolate and upset about the whole thing. I had spent about 30 minutes on the phone with my folks about 6 am on Saturday morning, honestly trying not to cry I was so upset, but having experience driving in the snow I was not foolish enough to try to leave. Northern VA isn't equipped to deal with that amount of snow ever, let alone when it all falls within 12 hours. But thank goodness for great roommates and good friends. We laughed, watched movies, made cookies, s'mores, ate pizza and played in the snow and played games. It turned out to be a great day. Full of fun and troubles forgotten.

(Note: I pirated these pictures from my roommates since my camera died and I didn't have extra batteries...)

Michelle showed up at our house unexpectedly about 10 or so. She decided that she wanted to go for a walk in the snow and figured we lived close. We watched Muppet Christmas Carole and drank hot chocolate and measured the snow (very scientifically of course :P)

Michelle left about noon and shortly there after we saw a poor guy trying to get his car out of the snow. We dressed warmly and headed over to try to help. we were able to get it to the side of the road out of harms way, but not much farther. On the way home we made some snow angels, following Emma's example.

Up until about 2 Emma's was scheduled to work at the mall at 3, but after trying to help the guy move his car we told her (for about the 100th time) that her going to work was suicide...if we could even get her car out of the driveway. She called her manager again and thankfully she was told that they were closing their store early and they would take the fine that Tysons Corner mall would give them for not being open, but it wasn't worth it to endanger the lives of their employees...That's when the real party began!

I felt so much better that Emma didn't have to work. I was thinking about going with her to work if she had had to go so she wouldn't have to try to drive alone, but gratefully she didn't have to work.

The Onley boys started pelting our house with snow balls about 2:30 or 3. They were trying to hide behind our snow covered cars but we knew it was them and we invited them in. Andrew stopped by too...We made hot chocolate, cookies, bread and finished watching White Christmas.

After the cookies were made we decided to go deliver them to Michelle and to Steve, Dan, Brad and Ryan's house. We bundled up again and headed out...we took our time. Everyone kept ending up in the snow bank...odd I know...
We collected Michelle and headed over to Steve and roommates' house. at some point it was decided that we could go to the Onley house to make s'mores, pizza and play games by the fireplace. We convinced Michelle to come with us, even though the other boys weren't interested. We stopped by Safeway (which was open, but didn't have ANY milk or eggs) to get s'more makings. John and Scott had headed off earlier to start the pizza and fire. The rest of us showed up about an hour or so later.

Stomping through sometimes knee high snow is tiring about 9:30 we were about ready to fall asleep on the couches and decided we should head home. We took a 'short cut' through the park and ended up in more knee high snow and Emma ended up chest high at one point...

In the end we ended up with about 20 inches of snow. Beautiful, but dangerous. Sunday morning my folks called about 7:30 am to see if I was going to try to leave...I looked online and the VA department of transportation still showed not just the secondary, but even the primary roads (such as 495 and 95) in sever conditions. I told them no at first, that I would wait, but the more I thought about it and the more I looked at the traffic cameras and saw the freeways moving that I decided that IF I could get my car out of the snow and make it to 495 I would head down to GA only a day later then planned.

My car Friday night at the beginning of the storm
My car Saturday night....I swear it's there :) somewhere....

I was shoveling my car out when my roommate's brother showed up to see if he could borrow our shovel (which we borrowed from the Onley House). I basically told him that I was trying to get my car out and if I could get it out he could have the shovel. We had a well devised plan (remember...I have snow experience and so does he, unlike some of those people we were pushing out of the snow banks on Saturday) It only took us about another 20 minutes or so to dig my car out and I parked it (probably illegally) in a wide spot on the road so I didn't get stuck and headed back to the house. I showered, finished packing and called Reed (who's flight had be canceled and rescheduled for Christmas Eve he thought, but couldn't get a hold of anyone from the airline to confirm it) to see if he was going to come with me to Atlanta and try to find a flight from there...he still wasn't sure what was going on so he decided to stay in DC and tough it out (good news! I just heard from Reed...he made it home :)).

I left about 11 when all was said and done. Driving on 495 was a harrowing experience at times. Just because I know how to drive in snow doesn't mean others do...I saw 5 or so accidents/disabled cars between when I got on to 495 at 66 until I exited to of them on 95 right were those from 495 were trying to merge onto was a MESS! At times we were forced by snowplows or disable vehicles to move more into the unploughed areas and lets do the math; 20 inches of snow compared to the height of the bottom of a Chevy Malibu...hmmm lets think about that one...I was a little worried I was going to get stuck, but thankfully I didn't. Someone was looking out for me and I think my roommates, parents and my prayers were being answered.

After about Stafford, VA things started clearing out. The roads were even almost dry. After that it was basically smooth sailing. I turned off of I-20 West onto GA-441 about 8:30pm (about an hour from my folks house) and met my folks there and my mom drove me the rest of the way through the dark twisted roads of rural GA and my dad followed in their van. I'm SO happy to be in a place with no snow :) and to have made it 'home' for Christmas only a day late thrills me to no end.


Our Virginia Winter Wonderland

Monday, November 30, 2009

TNT 2009

Annually the Langley Ward holds a Thanksgiving Talent no Talent event. Affectionately called TNT by the ward members. We have a potluck Thanksgiving type dinner followed for talent acts by our favorite people.

This year was great. There were some amazing acts.

Some of my favorites were The Sloppy Joe song, Baby it's Cold Outside, performed by Kendra and Josh and the Harry Potter Puppet Pals.

A new addition to this years festivities by our table was our table art. Mel and I had been helping Jess put together baskets for the DC foster Care program and had been drawing Hand Turkeys and however that didn't fill my Hand Turkey need and I started drawing some of our paper table cloth and then insisted that Reed, Brian and Melanie draw some as well. Unfortunately the pictures were lost...  We shall have to try to recreate them at some time...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Day we Didn't Die

Veterans day - November 11 2009

Reed and I had the day off today. We decided to go visit Melanie at work...not to rub it in the we had the day off and she didn't, but to take her to get lunch with us.

We went to Pei Wei...good food, good times and fun company. It was getting late and we decided to head back to Melanie's work. It's important to note that it was raining.

On the on-ramp to 66, Reed decided that it would be fun to hydroplane into 360s (if you want to know how many degrees we actually turned around you'd better ask Reed or Mel...they figured it out...I believe it was about 640 degrees or something like that)

It could have been a LOT worse. We just turned around and were facing the wrong way on the on ramp. Mel and I talked about it later and were a little surprised to realize that both of us had kind of the same reaction...a kind of detached attitude. My thought process went something like this. "Oh we're turning...Look a light pole...I really hope we don't hit the pole. Oh good we missed it. Shouldn't I be more freaked out by this?" (yes I really thought that). Reed, based on observation, was a little more freaked out...but he was the driver.

So we ended up facing the wrong way on the on ramp and that's when other cars started showing up. The first two just went by not waiting for us and the third one kindly waited for us to get turned the right way keeping other cars from coming upon us suddenly.

And that my friends is the day we didn't die. Like I mentioned could have been a LOT worse. We were VERY blessed. Our guardian angels must have been working overtime.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The National Museum of the Marine Corps

My friend Mel, as you know from previous posts, just finished a Masters in Military History and has been wanting to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps forever and finally the stars aligned and the fates agreed that it could happen and we headed down to Quantico.

I will say. I was impressed with the museum. Interactive and informative. And I'll be honest, one of my favorite parts was the open space and natural light in the middle of the museum (the lighting in museums give me headaches and it's nice to get a break from the headache inducing lights and therefore enjoy the museum more.) I also really loved the helicopters...I LOVE helicopters. Ask my family. I lived near Fort Hunter Liggett as a kid and would have to point out every helicopter that went by, and usually loudly as only a little kid can do.

Melanie and her plane - Okay...she doesn't own the plane, but she wishes she could. The corsair is one of her favorite planes.

And in her own words, a brief history -
"The Vought F4-U Corsair, the bent winged bird, or the “Whistling Death” according to the Japanese was used extensively in the Pacific Theater of WWII & during the Korean War. The Corsair was built around a powerful 3 blade 13 ft 4 in propeller to take full advantage of the Pratt-Whitney Double Wasp air-cooled radial engine. Given the size of the prop, the engineers were faced with a dilemma: either shorten the prop or lengthen the aircraft’s landing gear. If they shortened the prop, they’d lose much of the engine’s power & therefore much of the plane’s speed & climbing power, but if the landing gear was too long it wouldn’t be able to withstand the forces placed upon it during a carrier landing. The engineers solved both problems with the Corsair’s distinctive inverted gull-wing design, which raised the nose of the plane & allowed for both the large prop & the short landing gear. To make additional room on the carrier decks the wings also folded up. Once in service, a new problem was found. The raised the nose of the airplane caused the pilot to lose about 12◦ of the horizon which made carrier landings hazardous. The Navy therefore gave the bulk of their Corsairs during WWII to the Marines, who operated them off island air bases. The British Navy actually figured out how to land the aircraft on carriers using a curved approach which allowed the pilot to see the LSO (landing signals officer) & the deck until the last possible moment. This was quickly adapted by the USN & Corsairs operated off carriers throughout the end of WWII & the entirety of the Korean War. They were a favorite of the soldiers, providing close air support, & were particularly appreciated during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. "

One of Mel's favorite Marine quote "Retreat Hell! We've Just Got Here!"
(Attributed by MajGen Ben Fuller to Col Frederick M. “Dopey” Wise, CO 2d Bn., 5th Marines, 2dDiv, AEF in France, whe told that the French troops were retreating and advised to do likewise)

Mystics Game

Kara had a few extra tickets for the Mystic basketball game. She gave me 4. Mel and I invited Slade and Reed to come with us.

We went to 5 Guys before.

Slade got an Everything Regular Hamburger. WOWzer!

I think the home team lost, but we had fun anyway.
Doesn't it look like we're having fun....?

Most definitely!

Ward Campout - We're SO Cool!

Our ward made its way to Maryland once more for a little weekend getaway.

The weather didn't completely cooperate. It rained a little, but the morning fog sure was impressive!
There was a small miscommunication regarding the kitchen implements available and so those of us with Breakfast detail were a little surprised to find we had no mixing bowls, no utensils...basically nothing, but never doubt the determination and ingenuity of hungry campers.

We found a plastic container that had had brownies in which to mix the pancakes up and cut up a cardboard box to use as a flipper... Yup! We SO cool!

And it worked really well too! And people ate and where happy :)

Good times!

Halloween 2009

We didn't go all out this year for Halloween, but we did dress up :)

Mel went as a page boy and me as an artist... Mostly I wanted to wear my beret.

Reed came over for a little while....guess who he is? Ron Weasley? good JOB!
Isn't she cute?

Mel and I stayed home and handed out candy and watched some fun Halloween movies. Hocus Pocus and The Legend of Sleepy Hallow to name two.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Visiting Sister Sarah

As mentioned in a previous post, while we were in UT we made a fun little trip to visit with Sister Sarah.

It was SO wonderful to see her. She's looking good.
Sarah took us on a tour. We even got to go on top of the conference center.

I personally don't know if I would have handled having my family visit me while on my mission, very distracting, but she seems to have handled it well and part of that may have to do with where she is and the fact that the possibility is greater of her seeing family then it ever was for me.

June 29th - Phantom of the Opera


Just so cool! Giddy would be a good way to describe me. The anticipation was immense!

We found a nice Italian place near the Majestic Theatre for dinner before the show. It was a lovely atmosphere.

After dinner we walked towards the theater, taking our time and shopping along the way. We lined up for the show and waited. I kept feeling surges of giddiness come over me. Despite the long line once they opened the doors it didn't take us long to get inside. Grandma and Laura were taken to lower seats since they didn't have an elevator up to our seats. I personally loved our seats. The first row on the balcony...lots of leg room (a definite plus for me)

The inside of the theatre was beautiful. As part of the show they had the buttress's covered at first. I didn't even realize until the pulled off the fabric when they raised the chandelier. BEAUTIFUL! We snuck some pictures (NOT during the show of course...PLEASE! We have much too much theatre edict to do that!)

We also may or may not have sent gloating texts to various family members and friends before they asked us to turn off our cell phones ;)

The show itself was amazing! stated before. So lovely! I forgot how much I love plays. Movies are great, but live comparison. The atmosphere, the trill and's just indescribable.

After the show Mel, Valory and I made our way home. Valory made a great find! Several street vendors were set up outside the theatres waiting for people to come out. Valory found an amazingly fun purse.

Overall is was a fantastic, amazing, thrilling, fabulous day!

June 29th - Ellis & Liberty Island

This is the second time I visit Ellis and Liberty Island.

I LOVE it!

It's an amazing place to be for those who love history.

In random order. Some of my favorite pictures.

Random find of an amazing staircase. I actually really like the architecture of the old buildings.

The sorting room - Again, love the architecture.

The view from the ferry.

SO much fun! I love boats/ships and being on the water.

As you can see it was an absolutely perfect day. I was worried about a long line, but we got there earily enough that we hardly had to wait at all...and got great seats on the ferry!

Lady Liberty -

We all aspire to be like her...

June 28th - Wandering Sunday

We spent essentially the entire day just wandering around.
We managed to find a church on Queens, not far from our hotel. Unfortunately for everyone else the service was in Spanish. Personally I enjoyed it a great deal.
After sacrament meeting we went back to the hotel and changed in to 'street' clothes and Laura, Hilda, Valory, Mel and I set out for some major wandering...from Downtown to Uptown...all over the place.

We visited the WTC site. Even almost 8 years later there isn't much to see. In some way I feel that says more then any memorial.

We stopped by Trinity Church and Wall Street

We then made our way Uptown. We went to Central Park and up 5th Avenue to the Guggenheim Museum and then down 5th Avenue to Tiffany's're not supposed to take pictures in Tiffany's...I didn't know that when I took this one, but the security guard informed me...fortunately he didn't make me delete it.

We went to Juniors for dinner and bought a Cheesecake to take back to the hotel to share.

Look at those hamburgers...bigger then my face!

The Cheesecake was huge! Bigger then we anticipated, but amazingly good. Even Mel (who doesn't care much for Cheesecake) was convinced to try the cake top part.