Thursday, May 24, 2018

An Evening of Train Rides





May 23, 2018

aka Kellisa's 19th Birthday

Sacramento, CA

We went all out for Kellisa's 18th birthday last year, so we didn't plan anything crazy this year. In fact, we didn't really have a plan until Lisa suggested taking Kellisa for a ride on Sacramento's Light Rail System since she loves trains so much. The plan evolved to riding the train downtown where we would find a place to eat dinner, have cake, and then ride the train back. Since her birthday was a Wednesday and it was also a school and work day, we planned her train adventure for the evening.

Kellisa's birthday started with getting ready for school in her birthday dress before catching her bus. A little later, Lisa dropped off a dragonfly birthday cupcake so Kellisa could celebrate with her teachers and classmates. Even at 19, it can be hard picturing Kellisa going off to school and living a huge part of her life without mom and dad. This hit home when Kellisa's teacher sent a picture of Kellisa taken at McDonald's for a birthday lunch. We had no idea she was going to McDonald's for lunch. A little mind blowing when we think about it.

We didn't really have a plan, just drive to the nearest light rail train stop closest to our house and take a ride downtown. We'd pick a spot to get off and hopefully find a restaurant close. Since this was our first ride, buying tickets from a machine was a little confusing, especially not being able to really see the screen due to the glaring sun, but it all worked out when we hopped on the train at Watts/I-80 West. We got off at the Cathedral Square stop in downtown Sacramento.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Kellisa's "Day of Flight" - One Year Ago Today



Lisa Marie Kain
On May 16th, we spent an entire day flying around the country to celebrate Kellisa's 18th birthday.

By now, you may realize that Chris is a bit extreme when it comes to travel. Several months ago, he started talking with Southwest Airlines (his carrier of choice) about the potential to fly as many commercial flights as possible in one day. At that point, he had been working on the plan for a while but realized he needed their help to perfect the route. They were very supportive. A route was selected, and tickets were purchased. I was informed of this plan after the arrangements had been firmed up with Southwest. Chris knows I do not like to travel and gave me limited information about what the day would entail. When I decided to participate, I told him I did not want to know the specifics because I could not handle the truth. If I had any idea, I never would have gone on this trip, but I am so glad I did.

On Tuesday morning, we boarded "our" plane in Tampa, Florida just before 6 am Eastern time (3 am for us West Coast folks). At that point, all I knew was that we would be on that plane all day, and that our plane would travel to 8 destinations. I never expected what would happen over the next 21 hours -- or even that it would take 21 hours!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day on the Refuge

Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Glenn County, CA


Lisa wanted a picnic lunch in nature and asked if we could go to a place with wildlife. We debated a few spots, but we chose Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge for a few reasons. It's not that far (90 minutes) from our house, this would be Lisa's first visit, and it's always had an abundance of wildlife from our previous visits.

Most of the water in the refuge was gone, although there were still a few ponds left from the rainy season. We observed many birds, but they were difficult to photograph for one reason or another (loud kids, radio, Evie, lighting, etc.). In addition to the birds, we saw a squirrel, two deer, a few rabbits, and four lizards. We enjoyed a short walk to the picnic area where we devoured sandwiches made by Lisa. We planned to hike a short trail, but the bugs were just coming out, so we made our way back to the car. Sadly, we didn't think to take a picture with Lisa and the girls until after Kellisa went to bed.

The best pictures are below.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park



April 2018


Laurel woke up on Sunday and asked if we could go panning for gold. The last time we visited the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Site, we bought two mounds of gravel where Laurel found about 75 cents of gold after panning for an hour. We didn't have plans and thought it would be nice to have a picnic and see how Evie does in an outdoor setting.

Kellisa slept until almost noon, so it was mid-afternoon before we arrived at the park less than an hour from our house. Lisa made a nice picnic lunch that we enjoyed upon our arrival. Then Laurel and Evie started wandering while Kellisa wheeled around like crazy.

By the time we made it to the gold panning area, it was closed for the day. Laurel was disappointed because she was convinced it was her day to strike it rich. As she was processing the letdown, Lisa thought she saw a good friend of Laurel's from school. I turned around and sure enough it was her friend and his family. Laurel quickly forgot all about her lost gold while spending an hour exploring with her friend and his younger brother while prancing Evie around the park.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Chicago "Grub"

Taco Burrito King
Harlem & the Kennedy
Chicago, IL
April 2018

Lisa and the girls recently joined me on my business trip to Chicago to visit with Grandma. Laurel had heard food referred to as "grub" several times on this trip and she didn't understand the meaning. I'm not sure if it's a Chicago or Midwest thing, but I tried to explain it to her. On our last day, we were stopping by Grandma's one last time before catching our flight and as we drove by Taco Burrito King, Laurel asked if they had Chicago Grub. When I answered, "It looks like they would," Laurel asked if we could stop for some food. 

Lisa and Kellisa weren't hungry and I wasn't about to pass up an opportunity for a promising meal, so we dropped Lisa and Kellisa off while Laurel and I went back for some grub. Right away, Laurel thought it was odd that we entered the restaurant from an alley. In fact, the idea of an alley was foreign to her and she was disturbed by the garbage and smell. Anyway, I ordered a burrito bowl (which was amazing) and Laurel got a burrito. We didn't want to leave Evie in the car while we ate, so we carried our food back to the car. That's when Laurel saw a Rat Warning Sign on a telephone pole. She lost her appetite and was convinced that her burrito had rat meat in it instead of chicken. I assured her that while rats were common in Chicago alleys, her burrito was indeed filled with chicken. Laurel believed me once she took her first bite and proceeded to devour her burrito. Even though this wasn't Laurel's first Chicago Grub meal, it was her first lesson and as her teacher, I would rate the entire meal experience A+.



Saturday, April 28, 2018

On the 9th Day

Evie's 1st Flight

Sacramento, CA to Chicago- Midway

(Evie did great on her 1st flight despite the little vomit upon the sudden stop on the landing at Midway...
and the diarrhea on the jet bridge leaving the plane. I am happy to report no body fluid issues on our return flights.) 


Evie walking in Illinois (3/50):



Saturday, April 21, 2018

Evie


Laurel and Kellisa meet Evie
Evie Laurel Kain

April 14 & 15, 2018

Our family grew by one when we flew down to Ontario, CA to pick-up Evie, a Miniature Pinscher/Basenji mix. Lisa found Evie at a rescue in Hesperia, CA. We got very lucky that Lisa found Evie online shortly after her photo and information was posted and we were the first family to submit. Fortunately, our application was accepted.

We spent a couple of hours getting to know Evie before everyone felt comfortable. There were two spots to sign the paperwork and after Lisa signed, we let Laurel sign as she promised to love and take care of Evie. We decided to drive home instead of flying since we didn't know how Evie would travel. Kellisa and Laurel loved having Evie in the back seat and I think Evie enjoyed all the attention!

We decided to take the scenic way home through Owens Valley on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. Our first stop was after two hours at a small, rundown gas station in the middle of the desert. Kellisa stayed in the car, while I went inside to buy some drinks and snacks. Laurel took Evie for a short walk and Lisa watched from a distance. Just as I was about to pay, I heard Laurel screaming like I've never heard before and when I stepped outside, I saw her crying and holding the leash. You might have guessed, Evie was not on the other end of the leash.

I looked to the south and saw Lisa running across the desert about 100 yards away. I told Laurel to stay at the car with Kellisa and I went running in Lisa's direction. After sprinting maybe 30 yards, I saw Evie running out of the brush towards Lisa. At this point, I could hear Lisa calling Evie and she ended up returning and Lisa was able to pick her up. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Kain Family Grows

We told the girls this morning, so we are comfortable in telling the world that the Kain family will have a new member in the near future. More information and pictures coming soon.



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lake Clementine Trail


Auburn State Recreation Area

March 2018

It felt good, real good to get out on a trail that was not blazed for wheeled mobility devices. It's been awhile.

The Clementine Trail starts out for the first .18 of a mile as an old paved road and it just gets rougher and narrower from there to a trail filled with rocks barely wide enough for Kellisa's Hippocampe in some areas high above the North Fork American River. We also encountered some minor, but challenging elevation changes. As always, the bumpier the trail and more of a struggle for me...the more Kellisa loves it and she had a great time.

Several hikers who passed us mentioned how they noticed Kellisa giggling during the roughest sections and shouting for more when the trail leveled out a little. Most offered words of encouragement to Kellisa, "Love it" and "You're awesome" are two that I remember.

I always brag about how well Kellisa is treated out on a trail and love the compliments that fly her way, but my favorite quote from our hike belongs to an exchange between a mother and her young son (in a picture below). We had been leap frogging them along the trail and as we passed just before our turn around, the mother asked her son, "Do you need a break?"

"NO! We need one of those!" as he pointed to Kellisa's Hippocampe Mobility Chair.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dave Moore Nature Trail


Dave Moore Nature Area

March 2018

This trail has been on my radar for at least a year when I first read that it was at least partially accessible. It's a 1.1 mile loop trail with the first half being accessible down to a beach area along the South Fork of the American River. The trailhead is only 33-miles from our house. Kellisa and I have been desperate to hit a trail, especially after driving to a different trail yesterday, only to find the park closed due to a special event.

The nature area and trail is named after a Ranger Conservationist for the Bureau of Land Management who was diagnosed with MS at 35-years-old and forced into an early retirement due to his disability. The trail was dedicated on June 4, 1994. We were hoping to be able to pushike the entire loop, but quickly found the accessible trail to be far from what we expect when out on an accessible trail (pictures below).