Day 35, May 29

Buenos Dias!  Today was a busy day.  Jacin was in the kitchen by 5:30, before Amalia even arrived (which is difficult to do!).  He helped with breakfast and lunch preparations, and the kids and I slept in yet again.  They are growing and need their rest, so I am more than willing to let them have it.  However, I am not sure what my excuse is.  There is only one way to grow at my age, and I am not interested, thank you very much!

We met the women and children from the Georgia group at the Dibujando orphanage to play with the kids before they headed off to their afternoon schooling.  After lunch, we returned to the orphanage to paint the dining room and kitchen.  We were thankful to have the Georgia women with us, because we would not have finished today without their help.  We are all pretty tired, but we plan to attend the Cruisin’ for Jesus service tonight as we did last week.  We absolutely love the guys there and want to support them any way we can.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers.  We are truly blessed to be seeing the inner workings of the ministry here at Puente de Amistad, and we are just praying that God will use us where he needs us.  We truly don’t know how long we will be here, and honestly we could stay forever and never feel like we’ve done enough.  But God knows, and we are trusting him with our time and finances.

Dios les Vendiga (God bless you all)!

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Days 33 and 34

It has been a jam packed couple of days.  Yesterday (Day 33) we basically finished sorting, cleaning, and organizing the new puppet trailer.  There are so many wonderful “tools” for ministry, aside from the 69 puppets.  There are costumes, games, bubbles – everything you need for a big neighborhood fiesta!  The Georgia group may use it this Friday to celebrate the end of their water line project.

Kathie and Toni took us to a huge wholesale outdoor market where we picked up 100 lb bags of rice and beans for a local ministry (more about it below).  You could buy just about anything there – meat, produce, spices, candy, clothing, etc.  One of my favorite sections had bins full of dried herbs, perfect for making custom mixed herbal teas, if only I knew more about the proper proportions and concoctions.

Later, Marcial took Jacin to a local repair shop to have the Tundra’s tires rotated.  I cost 100 pesos, or roughly $8.50.  The truck also has a “thump in its giddy-up” (please excuse the female description; there are so many GIGANTIC speed bumps here, and you can hear a thump every time we go over them), but it wasn’t the quick and easy fix Jacin was hoping for, so we will have to figure out how to handle it when we get back to the states.

Puente de Amistad ministers each Monday evening to homeless people at a place referred to as El Mapa.  This is where anyone who is deported and bussed out of the US is dropped off.  Often these people end up living there, in whatever makeshift “houses” they can gather together.  The majority of them end up using drugs and alcohol to numb the realities of being destitute.  There is a local rehabilitation house called Cruisin for Jesus (whose church we attended last Wednesday evening) who ministers to these men on a weekly base as well, feeding them and telling them about Jesus.  They encourage men to give up the drugs and alcohol and come home with them, where they use prayer and support to detox.  They provide bunks and clothing, as well as food (that they depend on God to provide) to the men.  In exchange, the men are contracted to work (many of whom have training in construction trades) for the community at a reduced rate, and the money they earn goes into the pool to support the entire ministry.  Cruisin’ for Jesus supplies several men each week to accompany Puente to El Mapa.  Last night we (along with the Puente leaders and the Georgia group) attempted the weekly trip, but several blocks were shut down (we heard rumors of murders earlier that day near the area we were going to serve, though this hasn’t been confirmed), so after an hour and a half trying to get out of the traffic, we finally got to the hospital and fed the needy there.  Often, when people are checked in to the hospital, their family cannot afford to stay anywhere, so they sleep in their cars out on the street.  For instance, we met a mother last night whose son had been in the hospital for the last 4 months.  She was with her young daughter, staying wherever she could.  Along with these unfortunate people, we were able to feed several homeless people who happened to be in the area while we were there.  It did not take long to clean out 150 hot dogs and oranges.  We were able to pray with people and minister to them, just loving them and assuring them that God was with them in their need.

Day 34

Jacin was up early for the second morning in a row helping Amalia with her breakfast and lunch preparations for the group.  Amazingly, the kids and I haven’t even heard people moving about, and we get up only to find the house almost empty.  It has been interesting sleeping so hard!  We did some more cleaning and basic maintenance around the base.  As it turns out, money that comes through Puente de Amistad is generally earmarked for other local ministries (which is truly the point of the ministry), so we are constantly finding that tools, kitchen items, cleaning, items, etc, are old, broken, or otherwise outdated.  We picked up a few things today for the base as we were out shopping for Juan and Alma.  Jacin took Justice back to the wholesale market in an attempt to pick up 50 lb bags of rice and beans for Juan and Alma.  They found out pretty quickly, though, that as soon as the vendors realized they couldn’t communicate well, the price increased – they were going to be charged as much for the 50 lb bags as we were charged for the 100 lb bags the day before.  So, they ended up finding a better deal at a local Sam’s Club.

We later dropped off the 100 lb bags of food (complements of Justice), along with donations of bread and eggs from Puente, to the Cruisin’ for Jesus rehab.  It is basically a small plot of dirt in a neighborhood with a few building on it.  The men have an outside shelter under which they cook over a wood fire, and just behind this is their makeshift laundry room – six buckets of water and a few ropes for clothes lines.  Carlos, who assisted with the feeding the night before, gave us the quick tour.  He has quite a story of his own:  he was a gang-banger in LA until he was put in jail and eventually deported.  It was through the Cruisin’ ministry that he came to know Christ.  Now he commits his entire life to helping others find their way.  He has three daughter in the US that he sees every now and then, and as hard as that must be, he is thankful every day for the way things turned out simply because he now knows the Lord and he is able to do God’s work here helping men who are walking in the shoes he took off not so long ago.  He is truly a blessing to be around.

After the Cruisin’ delivery, we made yet another stop at a shopping center to pick up shoes for Juan Sr.  We also grabbed a few shirts and other clothing items for Alma, just to bless a mother who puts the needs of her family first.  We also grabbed some eggs and fruit, then headed to their house.  We went through another round of charades, trying to communicate.  The kids never have a problem, as play time doesn’t seem limited by the language barrier.  Alma gave us a card when we left, basically voicing their gratitude (although I haven’t translated the whole card yet :)).  They are such a loving family with amazing smiles, and as hard as it must be to accept things they cannot always afford on their own, they did not seem embarrassed, but just grateful.  We have grown to love them so much, we could adopt them (perhaps we already have).  We plan to stay in better touch with them after we’re gone, and we hope to return again, with better Spanish under our belts, and be able to visit with them and really get to know them.

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(These pictures do not do this family justice.  They have some of the most amazing smiles!)

Last, we headed back to the base to help with dinner for the Georgia group.  Amalia never ceases to amaze us with her abilities to cook food for large groups of people.  It was also one of the group’s men’s birthday today, and she made a cake for him (with Justice on frosting duty).  After dishes, and some dishes, and then a few more dishes, we are headed to bed, looking forward to another early morning (at least for Jacin), and a busy day at Casa Hogar Dibujando Sonrisa.

Have a blessed night!

Day 32 – Seeing the need…

First let me please mention that there is much to be done here, but our resources, as well as those of Puente de Amistad, are limited.  We have had a few people ask about helping, so if you feel lead to help monetarily with anything we mention in our posts, or something else altogether, please feel free to contact us directly and we will let you know how you may be able to help.

Our day started with preparations for the group that arrived today from Georgia.  Amalia had Jacin make snicker-doodle cookies, and then he was on cleaning duty for the next hour or so.  I pitched in a little after getting ready for church, and we are pretty sure she could have kept us busy all day had we not told her we would be late for church.  We attended Templo Sion, the home church of Juan and Alma and their family, as well as the kids from Casa Hogar Sion (orphanage).  The worship was amazing!  We were familiar with most of the songs, and tempting as it was to sing along in English, they projected the words on the wall, so we did our best to sing in Spanish.  It was so humbling to watch the congregation worship with complete abandon, some kneeling on the tile floor simply because they were overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We often feel (self-inflicted) restraint at home, perhaps because we know everyone and feel as though we are supposed to act a certain way, or perhaps because we simply cannot detach from the worries of life and truly focus on God as we should.  Regardless of the reason, it is so refreshing to be truly broken before the Lord.  We understood maybe .02% of the sermon, but Jorge (the director of the orphanage) was so passionate we could not help but be moved.

Church ran later than expected, so we quickly communicated with Alma that we would have to visit later in the afternoon.  We headed out to the project the Georgia team will be working on – putting in water supply lines for a makeshift colony that was forced to move from their location near a government canal project.  Aleazar, the outreach minister of the colony, has been working for the last couple of years to educate children and feed the needy, and he is currently working on an elderly ministry, as well as setting up a beauty school for the young women so they can obtain employment. 

Running late, we rushed over to Juan and Alma’s to deliver the shoes and baby supplies.  Juan was home, so he and Jacin attempted communication (with lots of gestures), while the kids played and Alma and I enjoyed watching them.  We convinced them to tell us of their personal needs, so we will be heading to the store again to pick up a few more items (shoes for Juan Sr and groceries).  True to a mother, Alma did not request anything for herself, so we are praying that God will show us just the right thing to bless her with.

We then headed over to the orphanage (Sion) to deliver a load of toys that Nation bought for them, and to see what needs we may be able to help with.  They have several buildings on their property that house different ages of children (97 in all).  We were able to see everything and meet several of the children.  Jorge showed us the project he is most concerned with – leveling the concrete pad in front of the infant and toddler house so that they have a safe place to play.  He also wishes to put a roof over the area to keep it shaded.  Our quick estimate is $600 just for the concrete (we will be using the young men living at the orphanage to help with labor, both mixing and pouring).  We are in prayer about this project, as our finances are limited for buying supplies. We want to be able to help with more than this one project, so will have to budget time and money to have the most impact.

We headed back to base to eat and see what was needed of us. We had a visit with Oliver, a missionary pastor from Peru, currently working in Mexico.  Justice and Jacin met him last year while here, and it was great to reconnect with him. Off to bed, as we have to be up early to help with food for the day, before working on one of the projects on our list. 

Day 31

It was a down day for us, as there are two teams coming in back-to-back starting tomorrow that will keep the base busy.  We brought some gifts for the family whose house Jacin and Justice helped build last year, so we decided to attempt an unassisted visit.  It went well for not being able to speak the language much at all.  Juan and Alma have three children:  Juan Jr, who is about 7, Lizette, around 5, and their newest addition, Enoch David, who is roughly 5 months old.

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We played with the kids and their new toys for a little while, then played charades with Alma to try to figure out what the kids might need.  The only real question I was able to ask without too much smoke out of my ears was, “What time is church tomorrow?”, so we could meet with them again.  We then headed to the store to pick up diapers and other baby supplies for Enoch, and school shoes for Juan Jr and Lizette.  Alma had given us US shoe sizes, but the first two stores we hit listed only Mexican sizing.  The sales staff didn’t speak much English, either, but we were able to at least figure out comparative sizing.  Of course, when we finally found a shoe store with a good selection, they had US sizing.  After a couple of hours struggling to communicate, we truly appreciated the need to work on our Spanish.

At the shopping mall we saw a first: kiddie rides that weren’t attached to anything.  The children would sit on a large stuffed animal with wheels and drive it around like a 4-wheeler.  This mall definitely catered to a different class of people than we have been with so far on our trip.

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We then headed south to Rosarito for a quick touristy visit.  We didn’t consider that the Memorial Day holiday would bring so much traffic into Mexico, and that along with an art festival resulted in very busy streets.  Justice picked up a few gifts for friends in the alley markets, and we decided we’d had enough dickering for one day.  We headed back to Tijuana in a different direction than we came down, and poor Jacin had me to navigate, using only partial cell phone maps and streets with no signs, or with names different from those on the maps.  We are lucky that God put a GPS in his brain, because we would not have made it home otherwise.

It’s been a long day and we are headed to our twin bunk beds to hunker down for the night.  Thank you for your prayers!

Day 30 – Our first birthday on the road…

It’s official!  It’s May 24th, Jacin’s 41st birthday!  We celebrated by eating from local taco stands in Tijuana for two meals, and then horchata (and a complimentary ice cream) for dessert.  And the highlight was a fantastic traditional birthday song sung by Marcial (not Happy Birthday, aka Feliz Cumpleanos), who surprised us with his heavenly voice.  Truly an unforgettable birthday!

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It was another full day of work.  Jacin helped Marcial finish the trusses for two upcoming building projects, as well as begin measuring and planning for a few projects on base.  The kids and I worked on cleaning out a trailer that is stocked full of puppets, clown costumes, and various games to be used in outreach in local neighborhoods.  The trailer was a donation from another ministry and has sat unused for a few years, so there is much cleaning and organizing to be done.  We anticipate another full day tomorrow of just trailer work.  Over lunch, we were able to practice our Spanish with Marcial.  He is so patient and understanding, which allows us to ask questions that we may not otherwise attempt.

We also had an exciting adventure with the policia.  We were pulled over for looking suspicious, for lack of a better explanation.  Thank the Lord we had Marcial with us!  They asked so many questions, there is no way we could have possibly figured out how to handle it.  The policia patrol the local neighborhood, and they were not yet used to seeing our truck coming and going.  They eventually gave us (Marcial) a direct phone number for the Puente base to call if ever they had any trouble.  I think my elevated heart rate burned off at least one taco!

Catching up.  We feel like we have been

Catching up.  We feel like we have been moving non stop for the last couple of weeks.  Please  forgive us for such a long post!

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Day 13 We biked into town from the state park at Morrow Bay and walked around the shops, where the kids bought some sea shells. There was a great little aquarium that contained several seal lions and a seal, and the kids were able to buy fish to feed them.  Nation spotted several star fish near the boardwalk.  We then drove down the coast a bit to Montana De Oro state park, where we found a great little cove and the kids spent time collecting shells and sand dollars, and Nation found a sea urchin! We enjoyed the treasure hunt.

 

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Day 14 Jacin was up early and went in to do some laundry while Danielle and the kids cleaned the camper. Then we thought we should wander north on the coast a bit. We stopped at a town called Harmony, population 18. It’s neat to imagine when it was the only stop on the way for travelers. Now it has a couple of shops with pottery and glass blowing. We treated the kids to Iron Man 3 at a great little small town theater in Morro Bay, then back to camp for dinner.

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Day 15 Time to head down the coast to Carpinterea, home to our friends Matt and Sarah’s family. Sarah lives there now and hooked us up with a free spot to park in front of her grandma’s house, located on a great dead-end street with the friendliest neighbors you will ever meet. With a short 7-block walk to the beach and a great downtown, Carpenteria has that small town feel, even though it’s only a few miles from Santa Barbra.

Day 16 Lazy Day! We took our time getting moving and took advantage of the free washer and dryer. We even ate out for lunch and treated ourselves to gluten-free pizza (a special treat for Danielle, who doesn’t have pizza often).

Day 17 Moving again, this time to Oxnard to a dear friend, Laura Monica, founder of WholyFit. The Monica’s let us park at their house in the Channel Islands, directly over the channel with a view of the neighborhood boats. What a great place to stay! Were treated like old friends, even though it was the first time Jacin and the kids had met the family.

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Day 18 Mothers Day. Jacin and the kids went to church with Chris, while Danielle and Laura cooked and kayaked. We spent the afternoon with Laura’s parents, and then it was off to Long Beach to see Danielle’s sister Jessi. Even on Sunday we dove in 14 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Jacin’s first experience with L.A. traffic was in 36-foot motorhome, pulling a pickup. Nothing like learning the hard way. We made it safe and sound, and the RV park (complements of Jessi) was nestled between the ocean and high-rises. Wow! It was truly a blessing to have full hookups, as we have boondocked until today!

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Day 19 Went to Jessi’s to help her set up her new shop. She received some new equipment today and has a photo shoot tomorrow, so there is a lot to set up and organize. We worked until 10:00 pm. Long day, but her shop is sweet!

Day 20 Went to Jessi’s to finish some painting and cleaning. Left just in time for photographers to arrive. Jacin and the kids went swimming and visited with Dave, Roxie, and Ben Devries (Jacin’s family in for Adam Titze’s wedding) while Danielle worked and studied. Drove around Long Beach a bit to get groceries. Long Beach is great! It feels smaller than some areas, and traffic is not even bad.

Day 21 Went to Jessi’s to weld our bike rack. It wasn’t designed for the miles we are putting on. We all then biked south on Long Beach, enjoying the view of the oil platforms disguised as islands. Nice. Oh, and the Queen Mary ship is docked there. It’s huge! Jacin and the kids watched a movie and relaxed to end the day, while Danielle worked.

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Day 22 Jessi came to camp, and we all piled in the truck to scope out our upcoming camp in the Malibu hills. Jessi set  us up with a spot through a friend who has an empty lot. It has a bit tight of a road, but was in a beautiful location. Four miles from interstate traffic, it was quiet and had that lost-in-the-mountains feeling. Crossed over to find the wedding location, and stopped at the famous Neptune’s Net for lunch. Neat to see, and the food was better than expected. (You can have your food steamed instead of fried if you like.) We then took the kids to Hollywood Boulevard to see the crazies. We stopped at the Chinese Theater, which Nation loved as we had just seen it in Iron Man 3. He even got to sit and have a photo with Robert Downey Jr’s star, as well as Jackie Chan’s. We dropped Danielle at LAX for her flight to Denver (for her QEST class in Fort Collins, Colorado). Jessi joined us at camp for dinner and a movie. We were pretty worn out, but excited about seeing so much.

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Day 23 Jacin and the kids packed up and headed to Thousand Oaks.  Justice is becoming quite the navigator.  They got set up on the lot Jessi set up for us.  Before we knew it, Serg, a neighbor, was knocking at our door asking why we were on his lot.  Oops!  We had apparently parked too far back on the lot.  He ended up being very cool about it, filled us in on great sites to see in the area, and even invited us up for a visit to his house (mansion) later.  We basically veged that night, enjoying the peaceful beauty of the mountains.

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Day 24 We took our time getting ready for the day.  Justice slept until 9:00 – there have been too many late nights coupled with early mornings and endless activities for her growing body to handle.  Realizing that the attire for the wedding was “cocktail”, we headed to town to find something to wear that wouldn’t make us stand out like the hilbilly relatives we can be easily identified as.  Jacin’s love for Chick-fil-A lead the family to the local restaurant, and the kids loved the food (as well as the “eat mor chikin” toy cow that came with the meal).  Nation enjoyed the Rolls-Royce/Masarati dealer accross the street.  Quick stop at the post office to mail some of Justice’s postcards, the off to the wedding.  It was beautiful, with a broad view of the Pacific.  We had fun dancing and visiting with family.

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Day 25  Up early to move the RV to the La Mirada Camping World parking lot.  Thankfully traffic was light.  Spent the day with the Titze’s (wedding party and family) at Santa Monica Pier.  The long day called for a quick dinner, and Jessi came by to hang out at the RV.

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Day 26  Had to get kids moving to run to LAX to pick up Danielle.  Struggled with an ant infestation, which had the kids freaking out.  Nothing a good shot of healthy chemicals can’t handle!  Hit a laudromat, and Danielle took advantage of the free wi-fi in order to get some work done.  The girls went shopping with Jessi the rest of the afternoon, while Jacin and Nation hit a model store (cars, not girls).  Another late night.

Day 27  Time to head farther south, to El Cajon.  Jessi hooked us up with yet another friend to store the RV while we are in Tijuana.  We found a campsite for the night close to Greg’s house so that we could work (free wi-fi), enjoy long showers (out of water on the trip down, so no bathing this morning), and clean the RV up a bit before leaving.  We packed everything we thought we might need in Tijuana.  Jacin watched the kids swim while Danielle worked (late, since communication and wi-fi will be limited in Mexico).

Day 28  Up early to get the RV to Greg’s.  What an awesome guy!  After securing everything, we headed to the border.  Crossing was easy, and Jacin’s memory and human-compass abilities took us straight to the Puente de Amistad base (with only a few gasps from Danielle due to the “optional” stop signs).  We met Dave and Toni, new additions to the base, and were filled in on needs that can be met.  After unpacking and getting settled, Jacin helped Marcial (the base’s project manager and juan-of-all-trades) install a “new” washer/dryer in the shop since the one in the base died.  We attended Wednesday night church at the Cruisin’ for Jesus ministry (a sweet chapel/ car shop), alongside a 60s Lincoln and an old Mustang.  A Master’s Commission group from Oregon, staying at Puente, gave the service.  Great sermon, Audrey!

Day 29  Everyone but Jacin slept in, and even then he missed the construction materials run with Marcial.  Jacin started some work on a puppet trailer he bug-bombed yesterday, and Nation started sorting through the contents.  He found a puppet to match nearly everyone on base.  Jacin helped Marcial build trusses for an upcoming project, while Justice and Danielle cleaned and organized various rooms of the base.  After lunch, we headed to the Dibujando una sonrisa Orphange.  The resident children watched the Oregon group’s presentation intently, enjoying  laughs from the silly skits.  The Oregon group was quick to let Nation particiate.  We played with the children and their new toys (bubbles, crayons, coloring books, and stuffed animals), and arranged a painting project for our family to work on in the next couple of days.  There are enough projects already to last a month.  We stopped at Bodega Aurrera (a green, yellow, and red Walmart) for groceries.  We had a quiet dinner to ourselves.  Jacin finished the dryer project, then walked with Danielle to buy Horchatas for the kids (a delicious, creamy, cinnamony treat).  We’ve officially updated the blog and are headed to bed.  Will try to upload pictures tomorrow (and keep up with daily postings!!!).

Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Days 8 through 12, according to the boy…

{Please note that while this post is from Nation, it has been edited by his mother in order to fill in gaps where his tired little mind has left out fun or useful details.}

Day 8: Well, we stayed {Wednesday night} at a Camping World and Thursday we went to a Wal-Mart to try to see if we could stay there {closer to my upcoming conference} but then we figured out…  we couldn’t stay there!!! So we went back to Camping World. Then we (as a family) went to Los Gatos (the cats) and got mini bottles to put sand and salt in.  After that we dropped mom off at a conference {QEST, at the Presentation Center}, and went to Santa Cruz and saw the beach. And at 8 went to get mom.  Then we went to the camper.

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Day 9:  Dropped mom off and went back to beach {at Santa Cruz}; when we got to the beach we met 2 kids, we played with them all day and I found a sand dollar. The kids had a boogie board so we did that a lot. Then we went on a boardwalk and got to see sea lions. It was really cool, but one pooped on a different one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! {They were also able to enjoy some sand art – an alligator on the beach.  Justice also got fried in the sun after applying sunscreen to her brother and deciding she didn’t want to look foolish with zinc-white skin.} We went to get mom.

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Day 10: {After too many jam-packed days} we had a laaaaazzzyyyyyy day.  Mom was at the conference, and we went to a Laundromat and to Best Buy to have dad’s computer looked at.  {The hard drive had crashed, but they had the help of the most incredible Geek Squad-er ever!  Thanks to Brandon for getting us up and running!}

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Day 11:  We went back to Best Buy to {get some more help with} dad’s computer, and I got a mini race car that’s about 1 inch long and goes one-hundred scale miles an hour, and so did Justice…then we left to Morro Bay.  {We got our first campsite on this trip in the Morro Bay State Park with few amenities aside from the ocean so close by.  Sites in CA are VERY expensive compared to SD and compared to the parking lots we’ve blessed to find along the way.}

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Day 12:  Today we had a good time at the camp {gathering up bark from the Eucalyptus trees in the campground that are currently exfoliating}.   We went to shell shops and we fed seals and sea lions (yes there’s a difference) and that’s were I saw a eye off of a shark {in a glass jar}, and a sea urchin, both for the first time.  {This was at the Morro Bay Aquarium, which is currently being considered a site for a new hotel – we signed a petition against that one!  We then took a boardwalk hike through the Elfin Forest, home of 200+ year-old Pygmy Oaks, and the kids attempted to catch lizards.  We also watched a mama quail with her babies trailing her through the brush.}  We went to a beach {in Montana de Oro State Park} and I found a sea urchin {among other treasures.  We will have to ditch clothes just to make room for all the great things we are finding}!

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