Thursday, August 26, 2010

Camp Okizu - Northern California

I spent two weeks volunteering at Camp Okizu, a camp for children with cancer and their siblings.  I’ve been volunteering at this camp for seven years and I hope to come for many more.  The kids are amazing and inspiring, the admin staff and counselors are incredible, and the location is gorgeous.  This year I was privileged to work with the girls in Sugarloaf (girls ranging from 6-12).  The camp has so many activities to participate in:  fishing, boating, archery, art and crafts, ropes course, making ice cream, etc.  There were so many amazing moments.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Sugarloaf Spa Night - The girls loved the oatmeal masks, cucumbers on the eyes, and hand massages.  It’s never too early to teach a girl how to pamper herself!
  •  Campfire sing-a-longs and s’mores
  • Paying my friend Chelsie $10 to eat part of a live worm
  • Watching the amazing meteor showers that happened for three nights
  • Being “dunked” by kids at the carnival
  • Cabin chat

 If you are interested in donating money/supplies or volunteering as a camp counselor or a nurse, please check out or talk to me.  Camp Okizu will change your life!

Here are a few pictures of the counselors and grounds.  Unfortunately, we can’t post pics of the children online…..but trust me, they were there and they were adorable!

Land of sourdough and chocolates – San Francisco, CA

I have a weird fascination with bridges so of course our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was windy, foggy, and cold so we only made it about half way.  After that we ventured into the city and did all of the classic tourist activities:  drove down Lombard street, walked through Fisherman’s Wharf, rode a trolley car, got a free chocolate at Ghiradelli Square, ate some sourdough bread, and went to Coit Tower.  Later that night we met up with my cousin, Dan Snyder, for some yummy Thai food.  What a way to end a great day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Are we there yet? - Part 3 Calistoga, CA

We spent the day driving from Eureka to Calistoga.  This was my first time driving through wine country and let me tell you it is beautiful.  In fact, I had no desire to ever come to Napa Valley since I don’t drink but after seeing it firsthand, I want to come back again.  I’d love to take advantage of the spas and amazing restaurants.  So yes, Napa and Calistoga, you will be seeing me again.  We went to dinner at a Jerry and Phyllis Glanville’s home.  Jerry is a dear friend of the family that used to live in Rexburg.  The highlight of the meal was eating the amazing tomatoes Jerry grew in his backyard.  They were scrumptious!  We also had a great time listening to his pet parrot talk, talk, and talk.  He is truly an amazing bird!  We spent the night at the Mountain Home Ranch Resort.  This resort was full of cute little cabins in the country.  My mother was not amused when she was reading through the information packet and found out that there were rattle snakes around the property.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t sleep much that night. 

This land was made for you and me – Part 2 Redwoods, Northern California

Wow, the Redwoods are incredible!  We had so much fun driving and hiking through the Redwoods.  These trees are massive.  In fact, we found a tree that you can actually drive through in Leggett, CA.  So, as usual, the Sparhawk family decided to take things to another level.  We drove through with our luggage carrier on top of our rental car.  There was maybe an inch to spare.  We had quite the crowd of people taking our picture as we drove through.  What will we think of next?  We spent the night in Eureka.  We ate dinner at the Samoa Cookhouse (thanks Mark Pahnke for the recommendation).  This place used to be a mining cookhouse up until the late 70s.  The home cooked dinner was delicious and the atmosphere was awesome. 

Cruising Down Highway One – Part 1 Oregon Coast

After the reunion my family jumped in the car for a three-day trek down Highway One to San Francisco.  It was the first time my family had ventured south of Newport. We had a great time winding up and down the Oregon Coast.  We drove from Lincoln City to Gold Beach.  It was fun stopping at scenic lookout points along the way.  One highlight of the day was stopping for a couple of hours at the Newport Aquarium.  Don’t worry, we turned into a bunch of kids as we explored the aquarium.  Family vacations are so fun!

{fam-i-LEE} Reunion - Lincoln City, Oregon

We had an amazing Lee family reunion in Lincoln City, Oregon – approx 50 people came.  Yes, there were colored shirts involved.  It wouldn’t be a family reunion without them. We all rented beach houses in Lincoln City for the weekend.  For the first event, my Uncle Bill took my Grandpa’s 1959 Glastron boat out for a few spins around Devil’s Lake.  We were going to go water skiing and tubing but unfortunately it turned out to be a cold day so we just took turns riding on the boat. That evening we had a BBQ and played some games.   The next day a few of us went on a hike to a swinging bridge and some waterfalls.  The weather was perfect and the hike was gorgeous!  After the hike we headed over to the church for a delicious ham dinner and family program.  For those of you who don’t know, the Lee’s are amazing cooks and the food NEVER disappoints.  I think we all probably gained five pounds by the end of the weekend. 

One of my favorite moments was at the Safeway grocery store when the Sparhawk and Snyder children decided to have a special “Grandma Lee” party.  We purchased her favorite snacks: Chicken in a Biscuit Crackers, Easy Cheese, Coke Classic, and Hershey bars.  Oh, the simple things in life!  On Monday the Sparhawk, Snyder, and Young families hit up the beach, the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, and Blue Heron store.  If you are ever up this way you must go! The tour is quite fascinating and you can’t resist purchasing cheese curds, beef sticks, and of course ice cream.  I recommend the marion berry pie ice cream.  All in all Oregon was amazing!  It was great spending time with family in such a beautiful place.  Can’t wait for the next reunion!

Whirlwind Trip to My Two Homes - NY and Rexburg

After spending less than 24 hours in NYC (just enough time to sleep, go to breakfast with Liz Hansen and Jenn Wheeler at Norma’s, and pick up some clothes in my storage unit in Brooklyn) I headed back to JFK to catch a flight to Salt Lake City.  I had a couple of hours to kill at the airport before the bus arrived to take me to Rexburg so I sent out a desperate plea on Facebook for some generous person to bring me CafĂ© Rio.  A few amazing friends offered but good old Nancy Franz came through with flying colors!  I can always count on her to take care of me.  I had about five minutes to scarf down my delicious pork burrito before I had to load the bus.  After a five-hour bus ride I finally arrived in Rexburg at about 1am.  Here I would be for another less than 24 hours stint.  I slept, did laundry, and attended my little brother Andrew’s graduation ceremonies at BYU-Idaho.  As soon as his graduation was over, my family (everyone except Adam and Liesel) piled into a car to make the 14 hour trek to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion.