Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Favorite Person

I know, it's been a slow week for me in blogging. Sorry about that! I was actually feeling a little under-the-weather for a few days, but am doing much better now, but have now been working the last couple of nights, which means no time for blogging!

I should be in bed already, but wanted to get a few new pictures for you (and me!) to see when we visit my site! These are pictures of my favorite person, who I have been missing a LOT this week! They are all pictures from when I was at home for just a few days between assignments and we were able to spend some time together.

What a happy kid!

Best Buds

"Hmmmm... I love looking out the window, I wonder what it's like out on the deck? I only remember seeing it covered in that white stuff, but it all seems to be gone!"

"Oh goody! All the stuff I like to push around on the INSIDE of the house work on the OUTSIDE too!"

The next day I saw in person what my mom had been telling me about on the phone. Check out the scenario!

"Hmmmm.... Wonder what Grandma has in here? Let's check it out!"

"I wonder if I can hold Grandpa's Coke and turn around all at the same time?"

"Nope, better set it down"

"Oh yea, I think I'm supposed to put this back."

"But, it seems more fun to walk away with it and hope no one notices!"

He is SUCH a great kid! I just love him to pieces!! I've been missing him like crazy and it seems like forever since I've seen him. Hard to imagine it was not quite three weeks ago!

I'm not sure when I'll be getting home again, as some plans have changed and I'm trying to figure out exactly what I'll be doing after my contract is up here (which isn't too long from now!). I'll be taking another traveling assignment, and my recruiter is looking for jobs for me in MN, CT, MA, MT, CA, and AZ. I have my profile out at a few different hospitals, had a great interview on Friday, but I'm going to tease you with only that information until I have a contract in hand. You'll just have to wait and see what happens!

Okay, now I really need to get to bed! I know the clock says 9:30 a.m. and most of you have recently woken up, but it's really late for this night-shift worker!

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Look

Yes, you've made it to the right site! I had decided a while ago that I would make the "look" of my blog match my location, since I like to change things around and wanted a subtle theme. The gray-blue I had before was to match both my time on the coast of Washington, and also the winter gray-blue look of Wisconsin from Jan-April!

Well, as you can see, I'm in the desert sand of Arizona, surrounded by cacti. On my computer screen, the color shows up as a realistic desert sand color, but if that's only on my screen, and it's actually too bright or too hard of a color to look at, will one of you, my friends, please let me know so I can make this as readable as possible! Thank you!!

Working Girl

Back to the working world! This transition between assignments was a little strange, though, since there was only one week off between jobs! (That was a busy week, by the way, with packing up and leaving LaCrosse, hanging out with family and friends, re-organizing from winter to summer stuff, driving across 8 states, and getting settled into a new apartment! Whew, no wonder it feels like that all happened a really long time ago!!)

This past week I spent quite a bit of time at the hospital. Banner Desert Children's Hospital is part of a large organization, and they do a great job with orientation. I spent parts of Monday through Thursday doing hospital (classroom) orientation and learned quite a bit about the Banner orgainization, specific policies/procedures, using their equipment, and learning their computer system.

Here are some things I learned about Banner Healthcare (also found on their website):

We are one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the country.
We operate in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.
We have 22 hospitals and health care facilities.
We offer physician services, hospice and home care.
We are based in Phoenix, Ariz.
We provide more than $64 million a year in charity care.
We are the leading healthcare provider in all the communities that we serve.
We are nationally recognized for our patient-safety efforts.
We employ more than 28,000 employees.
We admit more than 190,000 patients to our hospitals every year.
We deliver more than 32,000 babies and we treat more than 510,000 people a year in our emergency departments.

Banner Desert, the specific hospital I'm at, delivers over 7,000 babies a year. That's the highest number for any hospital in Arizona. Busy place!!

Both last night and the night before, I was finally able to work a couple of shifts on my unit. They went pretty well! It's a larger unit than I've experienced before, 34 beds total. The usual staff/patient ratio is 1:4 which is a number I'm very familiar with, so that helps it feel a little smaller. The thing that was very noticeable with a larger unit, is that it was pretty loud at night! I just came from a small, 8-bed unit with two staff and typically less than 8 patients. All 34 beds were full, so that meant 9 RN's, 4 CNA's, 2 HUC's, a Team Leader (charge RN) and they also have a Clinical Manager on both the day AND the night shifts! That meant 17 staff around!! That meant I didn't really get to meet everyone (there are two nurse's stations and I was pretty much just at the one), it was nice to have extra hands when needed, but it was also loud just because it's hard to keep 17 people quiet! One important thing for the patients, though, is that the rooms were pretty quiet with the doors closed so the patients were definitely able to get some sleep!

It was nice to see that the hospital had the same philosophy of caring for their patients and families that I have (not a disease-in-a-room but a person with specific needs, sometimes not even medical-related). They have a pretty amazing set-up with playrooms, outside play areas, a toy closet that the kid can shop in after any "bad" procedure (IV starts, lab draws, etc), Child Life specialists during the day, and a host of other things. I also felt like even if I'm still learning the hospital-specific ways of doing things, I could walk into the room and know how to care for my patients well. That's a great feeling! I know I'll see higher-acuity patients than what I'm used to, but I don't feel in over my head. All my patients this past weekend are patients I would've cared for in any of my last three hospitals. Whew!

I was able to get my schedule as well, and learned that it won't be like it was in Seattle, working 6 days in row then having a week off, but it's also not like LaCrosse, working 10 out of 11 days in a row. Here I'll have 3 shifts a week, and they're either all together and then have 4 off and start again, or I'll work 2 on, have a couple off, work one, then have another 1-2 off. So, it's not completely clumped together like I enjoy, but it'll also be VERY nice to have some time off to do a few things around here! And, next week I get to head to California to see some of my favorite people in the world! Yippee!!

Sorry that ended up being a longer post about stuff that might not be interesting to everyone, but I was specifically thinking of past co-workers wanting to know what my next job situation would be like. If you got this far in the post, thanks for sticking with me! :)

More pictures to follow, of the fun time I had seeing friends!

Friday, April 18, 2008

My, How They've Grown!

(If you read this earlier, I was able to add the other pictures I mentioned)

When I first moved to Arizona in 1999, I got to live with an amazing family! Paul, Dori, and their kids are generous people who not only opened up their home to me, but welcomed me into their family as well. I lived with them for one year, and then was able to "house-sit" for them when Paul's job took them to Malaysia for the next year. Although it was great to live in the townhouse with six/seven roommates, I'll admit it was nice to have a quiet place to go if needed!

Well, I got to see them again tonight!

It was incredible to see how much everyone has grown, and the three kids in the family that I lived with are now older siblings to the brother that was born a year ago! It was so fun to meet N! And amazing to think that K was his age when I lived there!

I have a TON of great pictures of lots of fun times with this family, but those are all back in photo albums somewhere in storage. I wish I had them here to scan in a few for you to see! I do have a few on this computer, though, so I thought I'd share some of the before/after pictures with you!

Here's a picture taken the same year I lived with them.

Those smiles were seen all the time on this happy family, and little K usually was smiling as well! One fun fact is that her 3rd or 4th word was "Kari" and she used to look for me each morning when she came downstairs. It was great to feel the love!

Agghhhh!!! I was able to experience the trip of a lifetime when they invited me to visit them in Malaysia, and none of those pictures will upload to Blogger! It says it's the wrong format! What?? Well... I'll describe them for you. Better than nothing, right? :) In one picture, it's me with the whole family and what I wanted to point out is that the son, R, is still shorter than my shoulders and the older daughter, L, is at my waist height-wise. The youngest daughter, K, is still small enough that her dad is holding her! (Yeah! Andy helped me get these pictures to work! -Thanks, Andy!!)

The next picture that won't upload is one of my favorite pictures of all times. It's of me, L, and K hanging out on Orangutan Island! This is an island that is only inhabited by Orangutans and there are tour boats that visit daily. I'm HOLDING HANDS with an Orangutan, trying to show L and K that it's okay! They weren't so sure about it... It was SO much fun, and a truly memorable moment. I emailed that picture recently and it worked okay, so I wish that Blogger was able to read it! (Again, thanks Andy!)
Oh yeah... The curly hair I used to have was frizzy in the 100% humidity of Malaysia!

Here we are the last time I was able to visit Arizona, in 2004. Even that trip seems so long ago now!

Well, here's a picture from tonight!
At first I thought "maybe I was squatting down a little in the picture" but nope, not at all. That's just how much they've grown and changed! Wow! R was 5 years old when I lived with them, and now he's in 9th grade. And is 6'1". Wow! L was 3 when I moved in, and then she turned 4 on my 24th birthday! Yes, we share a 5/14 birthday! It's super fun, and I loved having a "Madeline" party for my 24th birthday! We've talked to each other many birthday morning's since then which is always a fun treat! And K was 7 months old when I moved in and I got to watch her learn how to crawl, walk, and talk. What a blessing! Now it's fun to see how much they dote on little N -he's a lucky little guy!

I can tell which house I'll end up at when I'm missing David! Little N is just slightly younger than David and has some of the same great expressions!

L took this picture for us. Nice shot, L!

Here are "the girls". I would love to have them over for a sleep-over sometime while I'm here!

Thanks, guys, for the fun evening! I am really looking forward to hanging out more while I'm here!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Settled...

As promised, here are some pictures of my apartment! Click here for a picture of the layout, but it's actually a mirror version to the layout I found online. So far, it's a GREAT place to live! Like all homes in Phoenix, it's made out of stucco (with chicken wire and Styrofoam for insulation -no kidding!!) so the soundproofing isn't the best, but with the air conditioning going (which is fairly constant!) it's actually okay. It has a great feel to the place, with lots of windows, big overhangs so the bright sun doesn't shine in directly -a fact that's pretty important around here, and high ceilings. I haven't started a shift at the hospital yet, but I think I'd extend here just for the apartment!

Obviously, here's the kitchen. The front door is just to the left of the counter on the left side of the picture.

There, you can just see the front door.

This is the laundry room and one storage area, and I'm standing inside this doorway for the previous picture.

Standing near the bedroom/bathroom, looking out at the living room and dining room. I especially love the windows in the dining room, and you can see their shadows through the blinds. The ceiling above the table is also unique and adds some fun character.

In the dining room, looking back towards the living room. You can also see the patio, which is actually fairly large.

The living room. The fireplace is wood-burning, and I'm not sure I'll get any wood before leaving, so it might sit untouched. Also, I saw 101 degrees on the thermometer today, so I'm not sure that a fire sounds all that appealing! :) I REALLY love the built-in bookshelves. This happens to be the assignment where I've brought the least amount of stuff, and it has the most storage so far. I'm glad I didn't bring any more, but it would've filled the bookshelves nicely!

My bedroom, and yes, that's another door out to the patio!

When I first saw this view, I thought "what a strange place for a full-length mirror" and then I realized it's the door to my walk-in closet.

That walk-in closet. It looks a little funny in there, because I didn't bring that many clothes, and they really are only on one side of the closet. Come visit me, and you can have all the space you want!

The bathroom. It has a good amount of storage, especially when you add in the linen closet that's in the hallway. And, the bathtub is one of those bigger round tubs that will be great for bubble baths!

It feels great to be settled in. On Saturday Forrest and Julie and I went out for breakfast, then I got up here to my apartment somewhere around 11am. I'd say I'm about 20-25 minutes from my family/friends in Chandler when the traffic is moving along, and then longer if it's during rush hour. It didn't take very long to unload my car, and then Ronda, my cousin/friend who is a kindred-spirit, came over to help me unpack. It was SO GREAT to see her! We lived together for a year here in Arizona and even though we haven't gotten to see one another as often as we'd like lately, as kindred-spirits go, it's easy to just pick up where we left off! I am really looking forward to spending some good time with her while I'm here.

On Sunday, one of the things I did was head over to the hospital to make sure I'd know where I was going. It was easy to find and easy to park. On the inside, it's a little confusing, but I think I'm already learning my way around. It was great to see such child-friendly things as an outdoor play area in the Children's Hospital portion. It turns out that the Children's Hospital I'll be working at is a separate entity, but still attached to a "regular" hospital.

Then, on Sunday evening it was such a blessing to attend Rock Church! This is the church I helped start in 1999 when I moved to Arizona. Such fun changes since then! It's an active, growing, vibrant church with lots of young adults, a great group of people in leadership, solid Bible teaching, excellent worship, and a clear vision for ministry. It was pretty humbling to see the way God has blessed what started out as six of us young adults and three families struggling to come up with any way possible to invite people to an outreach event -to what I saw on Sunday! I'm looking forward to getting to worship at Rock Church on the Sunday evenings I don't have to work!

On Monday I was up bright and early for 7am orientation at the hospital. I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there during rush hour, but my 10 miles only took about 25 minutes, so probably not too bad for Phoenix. It was a good morning of meeting other travelers, doing paperwork, and touring around the hospital. I also learned that every other person there had problems with the online classes that have been the bane of my existence for the last two weeks, and we were able to get them finished. Yippee!! The tour of my unit showed that it's pretty large and a little confusing, but then I reminded myself that it always seems that way at first, and after no time at all it starts to feel like I've always been there. I have hospital orientation Mon-Thur this week for a few hours each day, then work Friday and Saturday 7p-7a for unit orientation. I'm looking forward to that!

One funny thing that happened is that I really only have met one hospital staff so far, the woman that helped us yesterday. Well, get this.... she's from the Elbow Lake/Wendell area of Minnesota, and she used to work at Lake Region Hospital!! Small world!! She's been in Arizona for about 15 years, so the people she remembered at LRHC are those that have all been there a while. It was such a fun connection for me!

Then on Monday evening, I got to do something I had been long waiting for... I hung out with Joel and Kathy! And I got to meet their little girl! She's beautiful, and such a good baby, and I got a great smile from her (she's still pretty little!). Kathy is another life-long friend that I've known for a while, but we became especially close when we shared a room in the 3-bedroom condo that Ronda also lived in. Joel is my second-cousin and I used to tell my friends that they should marry my cousins so we'd be family. Well, Kathy is one that took me up on that! :) They had a well-deserved weekend away, but otherwise Joel leads the worship at Rock Church so I'm excited to be there when the full band is back. Thanks, Joel and Kathy for the great dinner and fun evening!

Well, I'm off to swim a few laps in the outdoor pool, soaking in some sunshine, before my afternoon orientation session. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

3 Days and 8 States Later...

After 3 days, 8 states, and 1,792 miles, I've made it to Arizona! Yippee!! I pulled into town early Friday evening, safe and sound with absolutely no problems whatsoever on the entire trip! Praise the Lord!

I've spent today, Saturday, getting settled into my apartment and hanging out with RONDA, a cousin who is also a kindred-spirit friend. What a blessing! I'll tell you more about that, and show you pictures of my apartment, but it'll have to wait for now...

First I want to tell you about "our" last day on the road trip!

I woke up in Albuquerque, and after finding a grocery store to get something healthy for breakfast, finally hit the road. One of my favorite things about Albuquerque is driving west out of it, as you go up a huge hill and can see the entire city in your mirrors. I especially recommend doing it at night, when you can see the city lights. It's pretty spectacular! (And this picture doesn't really do it justice.)

After leaving Albuquerque, I drove through the rest of New Mexico thinking "Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it's all desert from here on out!" I was glad that I had seen so much greenery the day before!

After crossing into Arizona (nope, no video! I've crossed into this state many, many times before!) I remembered that there's a National Park not too far away, and that it's right off the interstate. Being that I'm a HUGE fan of our National Parks, I decided to stop!

Petrified Forest National Park is a park that has a visitors center one mile off I-40, and has 52,000 acres to explore. Since I was on a timeline, I only explored the one acre around the visitors center! Here's a little video to show you what "we" learned while we were there!

Petrified Forest National Park from Kari Swanson on Vimeo.

If you have the chance to visit a National Park (and EVERYONE should make use of these wonderful national resources!) I recommend picking up a National Park Passport. A friend of mine got me hooked a few years ago, and it's been pretty fun!

On the inside, you can see a listing of ALL the national parks, so no matter where you're traveling, you can see what's nearby. It's also gives inspiration for which park you might want to visit next. Then, like any good passport, you can get stamps to show where you've been! The book is divided into regions, so it was fun to turn the page again in the region I've spent quite a bit of time!

Another reason I didn't take the time to drive along this park's one road, is that the park ranger reminded me I would see much of the park from the interstate. She also explained that the national park was named Petrified Forest National Park, but that the geological term for what we can see is the Painted Desert. Here's the view of that painted desert.

After leaving that area, the rest of northern Arizona is on the slightly boring side, until you come close to a random town that has dinosaur fossils. To advertise, there are a few of these along the road:

Coming up towards Flagstaff, there's a little respite from the desert view, and there was still snow on Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona.

After stopping for gas in Flagstaff, I was able to turn south again. I chose to go on one of my favorite drives anywhere in the country, through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. It ends up being about the same distance versus taking the interstate, but I had forgotten that Friday afternoon traffic might be slow, and it was. But, with the beautiful scenery, it was COMPLETELY worth it!

Here we are heading towards Oak Creek Canyon. I really enjoy this road, surrounded by all the tall Ponderosa Pine. It's quite beautiful! I love tall pine trees! I opened my windows and breathed in that fresh pine smell.

You'll have to imagine a better picture, but here we are at the top of the canyon, and next we drove down to the very bottom where Oak Creek is located. The rest of that drive down is "two-hands-on-the-wheel"!

Here you can see Oak Creek. When I've gone on this drive numerous times in the past, it seems like the creek was more like a river. The water level must be down this spring so far, or my memory is fading...!

I saw quite a few of these trees, which looked like Albino trees to me! All of the bark is gone, and I'm wondering if anyone has an explanation for it?

At the end of the canyon drive, you pull into Sedona. Sedona is known world-wide for its red rock formations. There are actually many New Age beliefs as to what happened to form the rock formations, but we can just all know that God did a great job decorating this part of the country! Here's a small taste of what you can see. I'll head back to Sedona again sometime while I'm here, and give better explanations then.

After getting back on the interstate, it's time to start heading to lower elevation, into the Valley of the Sun (the nickname for the Phoenix metropolitan area). I love the different shades you can see from all the mountain tops!

Along that drive is also the first place you typically start seeing the Saguaro cactus in it's native spot. These plants are very slow-growing, and can take as long as 75 years just to grow one of their side-arms. They might live for twice that long. There are many transplanted to areas in Phoenix, but it's always fun to see them in their natural home.

Shortly after that "we" made it all the way into Phoenix, drove through evening rush hour traffic, but got to experience an entire new freeway since I moved away. I hope you enjoyed "our" last day on the trip!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I Made It!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know that I made it to Arizona okay, I'm staying at Forrest and Julie's in Chandler tonight. The drive went well today, and I'll post more pictures hopefully tomorrow after I get moved into my apartment. By the way, it was 83 degrees when I pulled into town, and the high tomorrow might reach 95. Wow! What a change!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Go West, Young Woman!

Hello from Albuquerque! I pulled into a Days Inn pretty late tonight, so I don't expect you to read this until tomorrow, but I wanted to show you what "we" did today! Enjoy the review!

I snapped this first picture so you could see how our day started as we left Wichita. It was raining lightly, and I was so glad it wasn't all the terrible weather that was happening just east of me! When I had The Weather Channel on as I was getting ready, I had to keep looking at the TV screen because I wasn't sure what counties in OK and TX I was going to be going through! Luckily the flooding, tornadoes and thunderstorms predicted for today weren't in areas that I was driving through.

South of Wichita, I was so excited to see GREEN! It really made it feel like spring, especially with the falling rain, the buds that were starting to bloom on the trees, and well... honestly... just the SMELL of spring in the air!

As I think I've mentioned, I've been blessed to be able to see 43 of the wonderful United States of America. That number of 43 has been the same number for many, many years. As I thought about it today, I couldn't actually remember the last time I went to a state that I haven't been to before. Since I grew up going on frequent family road trips, and then had 2-week-long band tours in high school, I was able to see many of our states during those times. I'm sure when I worked for Youth Ministries I got to a "new state", but I honestly can't remember the situation. So, knowing I would get to both Oklahoma and Texas today, both "new states" for me, I was pretty excited! I thought I'd share that excitement with you in a video. Granted, a little corny, but remember, it was an otherwise pretty uneventful drive!

Untitled from Kari Swanson on Vimeo.

I decided that the one thing I could take time for in Oklahoma was to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Wow! There are hardly words. I am SO glad I did this, even though it was hard to see. I can get choked up fairly easy (I like to call it being compassionate, not emotional...) and I didn't really prepare myself for what I was about to see. I also should have brought some Kleenex along and did not. The memorial is right on the site of the bombed building, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in downtown Oklahoma City.

I parked right on the street, across from this "gate" and then walked through and entered into the outside memorial.

Along the outside wall, there is still a chain link fence where people continue to leave things.

The reflecting pool, that has a gate at each end.

On one gate is 9:01 which represents when the world was still "normal".

The bombing happened at 9:02, so the other gate shows 9:03, when all the world was different.

The outdoor "Field of Chairs" which are individually dedicated to each person that died in the bombing, organized by where they were located in the building. Each chair has a name inscribed on it, and it was especially difficult to see the smaller-sized chairs that represented the children that died in the blast.

Amazingly, this tree survived the explosion, and is now called the Survivor's Tree. It's been around since the 1920's and though a little damaged during the bombing, with the right pruning it has flourished and has come to have a lot of significance for the people of Oklahoma City.

Looking out from the tree over the reflection pool and field of chairs.

A spray-painted sign on the building just next to the Murrah building, which now houses the indoor memorial and museum.

The Rescuers Area -trees planted in honor of all the people that immediately came to help.

The Children's Area, which was especially hard to see.

I also went around the indoor memorial area, without taking any pictures. It was really a good representation of what happened on April 19, 1995 and the days and months following the bombing. There was so much to see, that even though I spent longer than I planned (it's not something to do quick) I still wasn't able to read every word.

Back outside, there is this statue of Jesus with the memorial in the background, and at the base just two simple words, "Jesus Wept". Powerful.

If you are ever in Oklahoma City, I highly recommend going to the memorial, taking time for the inside as well as the outside. But, prepare your heart a little before you go, and put some tissues in your pocket. I think every American should see this at some point in their lives, as it was a great way to honor the people that died, and because it so clearly shows how in adversity, it really can be the best in people that comes out. The survivor and rescue stories were amazing.

After grabbing some lunch for the road, filling up the tank, and leaving Oklahoma City later than planned, I finally started heading west. The rest of Oklahoma was pretty flat and bare. The only excitement was seeing some more windmills, this time right along the road.

Since I took a video to show "us" crossing into Oklahoma, I thought one for Texas was appropriate as well!

Untitled from Kari Swanson on Vimeo.

Not too far into Texas, this huge cross was seen in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. I'd love to know what the specific story is about it, as it was so interesting.

I talked with my Aunt Barb for a while (it's her birthday today, Happy Birthday again!!), then finished driving all the way to Amarillo where I wanted to stop and pick up a spoon for my spoon collection. I know, some people might think that's a silly collection (who would think such a thing?), but I enjoy the fact that it can be a great way to get a souvenir from a location, and it won't take up much room. Except for the spoon rack on the wall, it's a relatively small way to show where you've been! While in Amarillo, I realized that I didn't have much to show that I had been in Texas, so I thought these Texas flags blowing in the wind would do nicely. It's also so my friend, Laura, can see a visual reminder of her home state!

As I got closer to New Mexico, the sky kept changing. As that was really the only thing going on, I snapped a few pictures. I love looking at cloud formations! It had been clear blue skies for a while, then I came up under this big dark cloud. It only rained a small amount though...

I love the contrast of the light and dark here.

I didn't take a video going into New Mexico since I've been here quite a few times in the past. In fact, I just remembered a night camping at a state park that was REALLY cold, and some people ended up finally sleeping in the car. I can't remember if I stuck it out in the tent or ended up in the car... Random memory...

Anyway, the only NM pictures are of the sunset I got to watch. It was pretty with the the clear sky seen behind the big fluffy clouds.

Overall, definitely a good day! It was fun to chat a bit on the phone (thanks for either calling me or being willing to chat when I called some of you!) and also listed to an audiobook. I started "Jane Eyre" yesterday, but with the bad rainstorms, I couldn't actually hear the words very well since the raindrops were so loud. Well, today was a pretty windy day all around, and again, I felt like I was missing stuff. So, I stopped Jane Eyre and went on to "The Greatest Generation". It's an excellent book! Tom Brokaw is the author, and also the reader. I've always enjoyed listening to him (he has such a deep, distinct voice) and his story-telling abilities are shining through in this book. It really is the Greatest Generation. It's a generation I've always admired (and secretly wished I had been a part of) and I bought the book for my dad when it came out. I wish I had known his dad, my Grandpa Swanson, who died the year before I was born (I was born on his birthday!). As a WWII veteran who served in France, he lived what this book is about. It's really a book to put on your list if you haven't read it already.

Well, that about sums up our day. I hope you enjoyed your trip! We'll leave Albuquerque in the morning, then have a shorter drive (only 480 miles, compared to today's 704) and arrive in Phoenix in time to see some fun people! I'm going to stay with my mom's cousin, Forrest and his wife Julie tomorrow night. Forrest is the pastor of the church I helped to start when I moved to Phoenix in 1999, and I'm excited to see them again! I'm sure I'll post fun updates of the changes/growth I see in the church since I moved away in 2001, but it's time for bed now!