Friday, January 7, 2011

New Additions

Yesterday I was suppose to go for a run. I got distracted. Instead, I spent the day with Pat and Sara buying cat food and bowls for what would hopefully be new members of our family. Last year my cat, Fishbait, died. I had gotten her as a kitten when I was young and single in my hometown of Nevada City. She went with me to Carson City and then Reno as I began my career as a big-city firefighter. Eventually we ended up back in Nevada City when Pat and I bought a house here. All that time, Fishbait was there as my buddy.

Fishbait certainly had her adventures and I'm sure she used up at least 7 of her 9 lives. She managed to survive 2 dogs and 2 kids before succumbing to illness and age. We eventually got used to life without a cat but then the girls started asking for a cat. 2 cats actually, one for each of them. Made sense to me. But life was busy last year and the timing never seemed right.

But we got through the holidays and life has settled down as we begin the new year. The timing just seems right now so I drove out to our local animal shelter on Wednesday and scoped out the kitties. I immediately fell in love with one young adult and saw the possibilities in a couple others. Seeing those cats made me realize how much I missed not having a cat. I'd had one my whole life and I wanted another one as much as my kids did. Maybe more :)

It didn't take long to convince Pat that we should go kitty shopping. Actually, I wanted a couple of young adults. Kittens are so popular at the shelter that the older cats aren't as popular.

We picked up Caitlyn after school and headed to Sammies Friends at the Animal shelter. The grey was still there, a beautiful, healthy cat about 1-2 years old who had been abandoned by his owner. Caitlyn laid claim to him while Sara picked out a beautiful, healthy looking tabby female about 2-3 years old. Both cats had vaccinations and were spayed/neutered and they happened to be running a 2 for 1 deal.

After filling out the paperwork we loaded them up in carriers and headed home. We also have a dog and wondered how that would go. My plan was to bring both cats home at the same time so they were both strangers and wouldn't have any territorial issues. They spent the first couple hours checking out every room, windowsill, nook, and cranny before turning their attention to the dog. They quickly established that they were in charge. Yuba appears to be cool with that.

Ian (now Mittens) and Empress (now Taffy) quickly made themselves at home. No hiding, hissing, or fighting. They are both love bugs, happy with any lap that makes itself available. It's obvious that Mittens is a little younger due to his playful personality. Taffy is good for Sara because she's very tolerant.

So our family of 5 has become a family of 7 and we're very happy about that. Plus it's nice to know that we've saved the lives of 2 wonderful and loving cats.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas in Arizona

Happy New Year to all. But before I can move into 2011, I feel I have some unfinished business for 2010. I have a race report from Lake of the Sky, a DNS report from Lake Chabot, but most important, I want to do a little write up about our wonderful Christmas.

About 5 years ago when Caitlyn was just a baby, my mom and dad accidentally stumbled into Williams, Arizona, during the Christmas season. There they discovered thousands of children all wearing pajamas and when they asked what the occasion was, learned they were at the jumping off point for the Polar Express. Mom was thrilled and called to tell me that when Caitlyn got a few years older we just had to do this. Well, Sara showed up a couple years later so that pushed our plans back a bit but this was to finally be the year when it would happen.

The girls are 4 and 6 years old which we felt would be perfect. We started making plans and I mentioned it to my cousin who has 3 kids. She mentioned it to the rest of her family and before we knew it, we had 16 relatives all converging on the small town of Williams to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus.

Some of those from the second and third generations:

We all waited anxiously as the Polar Express arrived. We boarded, found our seats, and soon were headed north through the night.

First, cookies and hot chocolate were handed out,

Then the reading of the Polar Express by Chris Van Allsberg:

We had our own copy:

After making it to the North Pole and picking up Santa, we started heading home. Soon Santa came to our train car and was handing out bells. And I have to tell you, we must all be believers because we could hear lots of bells ringing.

Everyone wanted a bell, and got one: (even my cousins little girl Izzie)

It was a magical evening spent with wonderful family. It was fun to think that a plan hatched 5 years earlier had finally happened.

The next morning most of the family had to get back to the real world of jobs and obligations which left my parents, Pat and I, and the girls to board another train and make our way up to the South rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about a 2 hour trip which went by quickly as we enjoyed the beautiful views and entertainment.

Once we got to the canyon we had about 3 hours to enjoy the sites and have lunch before the train would return us to Williams. It was sprinkling lightly and chilly so we quickly made our way to the El Tovar hotel to get warm and make a plan. The hotel was splendid in its architecture and Christmas decorations.

We made our way back outside as the sun started peeking through the clouds which created amazing light and colors in the canyon. The views were stunning.

We had lunch at the Bright Angel Cafe and checked out the assorted buildings and history of the canyon. Way too soon it was time to get back on the train for our trip home.

To keep folks entertained, there was a train robbery that was quite fun. Well, for most of us. Caitlyn wasn't sure what to make of it but she tried to remain brave. One of the "robbers" even asked her for a hug. Before she realized what she was doing, she jumped up and hugged him. It was only after she sat back down that she started to have misgivings.

We watched the sun set through the amazing cloud formations as we headed south. Things quieted down and I think everyone was contemplative about what a wonderful few days we had just had. Even the weather cooperated. We awoke the next morning to 6 inches of fresh snow. It made a special place utterly magical.