Thursday, December 27, 2018

Airports Visited - 2018 Update

Evie 1st Flight: SAC - MDW
All Time List of Airports Visited:

Chris- 114   Kellisa- 55   Lisa- 45   Laurel- 39   Evie- 5

At the end of last year, we created a post with the number of airports we've visited. 2018 was a slow travel year for us with three trips back to Chicago as our main destination. Kellisa and Chris went on a few hiking trips which added new airports and we flew to Southern California to pick up the newest member of our family, Evie. Since Evie went on all our flights back to Chicago, she was the big winner with 5 new airports visited.

Evie: Sacramento, Oakland, Denver, Chicago- Midway, and Indianapolis. Kellisa's new airports: Spokane, Kansas City, and Little Rock. Laurel: Ontario and Indianapolis. Lisa: Ontario. Chris: Spokane.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Rugged Access for All - Update #2 (November 2018)

Volo Bog, Illinois
 Back in November, Kellisa and I added 4 more states to our current goal of finding some of the best pushiking trails in the United States. Our plans to visit a few states in the middle of the country changed at the very last minute when I found out that I was needed in West Virginia (for my job) on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I had planned to take the entire week off, but we rearranged everything so I could take care of my work responsibilities. The family joined me on this trip and graciously waited in the hotel while I worked. All was not lost, we completed this weird loop where we pushiked in Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois. We also got to visit family in Ohio and spend Thanksgiving day with grandma in Chicago. All in all, November worked out extremely well.

Stats: November - RAfA Totals

States: 4 - 7
Miles Pushiked: 11.3 - 23.1
Elevation Gained: 679 - 1,513 feet

Flights: 2 - 6
Miles Flown: 3,866 - 8,136
Miles Driven: 1,539 - 2,279

Places Pushiked:

County Park- 1 (IN)
National Preserve- 1 (KS)
State Natural Area- 1 (IL)
State Nature Preserve- 1 (OH)
State Parks- 3 (AR-MO-WV)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Rugged Access for All - Update #1 (October 2018)

Back in October, Kellisa and I started our latest adventure...finding the best pushiking trails in the United States to share in our book, Rugged Access for All

Our first trip for this project had us enjoying a few amazing trails in Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas over a long weekend. The chapters may not be finished, but we're 6% towards our goal of hiking in all 50 states (again) to find the best mix of trails to include in our book. 

Stats from the trip:  

States: 3
Miles Pushiked: 11.8
Elevation Gained: 834 feet

Flights: 4
Miles Flown: 4,270
Miles Driven: 740

Placed Pushiked:

National Preserves: 1
State Parks: 2


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Far Reaching

  Kellisa's Path blog has been online for more than 7 years and it still surprises us that 49% of the people reading the blog are from outside the United States. Second place historically belongs to Israel with Russia, France, Ukraine, and Germany rounding out the top 6 places where viewers originate. India, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom round out our Top 10 countries.

As we approach 150,000 views, I thought I'd check our "stats". Most of the recent views come from the United States, but then Vietnam comes in second. With China, Indonesia, and Cambodia coming in 4th-6th respectively, it's exciting that Kellisa's Path is somehow growing in this part of the world. 

We are very excited to be reaching new corners of the globe and as always, appreciate everyone who finds Kellisa's Path. Hopefully, more than a few have been inspired to go out and find a trail.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rugged Access for All - Overview

Rugged Access for All is the working title for our book project under contract with Rowman & Littlefield. 90,000 words are due to the publisher on November 1, 2019. One question we've been asked is about the book's content.

There are thousands of hiking books on the market (and we own hundreds) that cover just about every topic: guides, reference, how-to, memoirs, best sellers, books made into movies, narrative non-fiction, hiking with families, hiking with babies, and even a few are written about accessible trails.

The only thing missing is a book written for families who have a member that uses an all-terrain jog stroller for toddlers and families with a child or adult in a wheelchair who use special mobility chairs designed for trails that don't meet ADA requirements.

With Rugged Access for All, we intend to fill this gap considering there are millions of families in the United States that fall within this all-terrain jog stroller and mobility chair category. Pushiking (One person pushing another in an all-terrain jog stroller or mobility chair while hiking) is the word we like to call our hobby. 

Rugged Access for All will be a mixture of trail guidebook w/pictures and maps, how-to for those just starting out, and a little narrative non-fiction mixed in to make the book a little more personal.

Even though Kellisa has traveled and hiked in all 50 United States, we didn't hike those trails with the intention of writing a guidebook. Therefore, we will be heading back out across the United States to find the best rugged trails for wheels to include in the book. From mountains to oceans to deserts to swamps to forests to canyons...the United States offers just about every kind of wilderness experience you can imagine. The trails will range from easy to extreme and everything in between. Some trails will be short, while others will be long. We might even backpack a few. We'll hike in all four seasons and in all weather conditions. At the end, we hope to include a little bit of everything our beautiful country has to offer those who want to get out and pushike!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Harney Peak

South Dakota

October 2006 

Highpoint Elevation: 7,242 feet
Elevation Gain on Hike: 1,550 feet
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 6 miles

After summiting North Dakota, I drove south towards Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota. I decided to take a detour to see The Devils Tower. I decided to go for an evening hike and noticed a couple of climbers high on their route. They ended up spending the night on the side of Devils Tower while I had a comfortable evening spent in my tent in the shadow of the famous rock formation.

The following day, I enjoyed a couple roadside waterfalls on my drive to the trailhead for Harney Peak. The hike to the summit tower was uneventful, yet beautiful as the trail weaved around and over countless boulders and rock spires. The views from the top were endless, including the backside of the rocks that were carved in the shape of four United States Presidents. 

After, my third highpoint in three days, I spent my last couple of hours sightseeing. I drove the Needles Highway, passed through Custer State Park, and ended my day with a quick trip through Badlands National Park.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Eagle Mountain


October 2006

Highpoint Elevation: 2,301 feet
Elevation Gain on Hike: 650 feet
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 6 miles

My itinerary called for flights from Jacksonville, FL to Minneapolis to Duluth after work, but my second segment was canceled and rebooked for the following morning. I was on a tight time frame with a lot of miles to cover, both driving and hiking and I couldn't afford flight delays. I changed my rental car reservation to start in Minneapolis instead of Duluth and despite the late evening hour, I started my drive north. I stopped just short of Duluth around 2am to sleep in the car at a rest stop. It's been 12 years, but for some reason I did not have a hotel reservation for that night. The cold woke me up several times and I used the car's heat to warm myself. Despite the lack of sleep, the cold made it easy to get an early start on my drive to the highpoint of Minnesota. Along the way, I enjoyed the sun rising above Lake Superior and I stopped at several roadside waterfalls. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

White Butte

North Dakota

October 2006

Highpoint Elevation: 3,506 feet
Elevation Gain on Hike: 406 feet
Round Trip Hiking Distance: 2 miles

12 years ago...I had the opportunity to get away on a solo hiking trip for a few days. Back in 2006, I only hiked a few short trails with Kellisa and had no idea what the future would hold for us. Kellisa spent from her birth (May 23, 1999) through early 2006 as a very medically fragile child with only a few outdoor adventures. I had been afraid to leave Kellisa for such a selfish trip, but finally felt comfortable enough to recharge my batteries on a quick trip to reach the highpoints of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

I had the entire trail to myself on White Butte except for one prairie rattlesnake that was blocking the path. The snake was not afraid of me or at all intimidated by my presence. I even tried unsuccessfully to use my trekking poles to convince the snake to move. I really didn't want to go off trail in the high grasses where I was convinced even more snakes lurked, but I had no choice if I wanted to continue.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When does the fun start?

Since I'm new to this whole writing with a publishing agreement thing, I thought it would be all fun, planning, pushiking, traveling, researching, writing, and clear sailing to my deadline.

I was wrong. It's still new and exciting (I'm still on cloud 10), but also scary and intimidating. I have to have 90,000 words (others will want to pay to read) completed by November 1, 2019. That's a lot of words since I currently have exactly zero written.

In addition, I thought it would be easy after signing the 6 page publishing agreement, but I have a lot of homework to complete for Rowman & Littlefield before I can focus on my writing. I have to complete a 4 page Author Questionnaire, study and follow a very detailed 11 page Manuscript Guide, learn about permissions and artwork specifications, and create an Art Log. Nothing too hard, but I need to balance this with family, my career, and sleep. If I have to give up one for my new endeavor, guess which one it will be?

I'm not complaining, just sharing the next step of this whole process since it's all so new to me and maybe it will inspire others to pursue or continue their dream to write professionally.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Pushiking Contract

It's been 7 1/2 years since I started down the path of seeking a publishing contract to write a book about Kellisa and I finally realized the dream by signing with Rowman & Littlefield. The journey has been long and filled with a lot of hard work with few results. I considered self-publishing in this modern era of dwindling book sales and therefore fewer deals for authors, but I was driven to go big or not publish at all.

I'd say I received hundreds of rejections, but most of the time you don't even get a reply from the literary agent or editor on the other end of your email book idea pitch. I've spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours over the years on pitches, queries, and proposals. I'd like to say I never gave up, but I did several times, but always came back with a new determination because I felt strongly in Kellisa's story of survival and breaking stereotypes. 

My book idea grew to include Laurel over the years and I would change a few slants to the story each time I tried to find a publisher. I always imagined a non-narrative book weaving between the medical history and outdoor adventures. I would question myself every time I was ignored. Was I crazy? Was I the only one who thought we had a story worth sharing?

Lisa pitched the idea of writing a guidebook for pushiking many years ago and while I loved the idea, I always saw that as a follow-up book after laying the foundation with more of a memoir style book. I had given up or at least blocked the idea of publishing a book out of my head for close to a year when it started creeping back into my head earlier this year. 

But, something was different this time. I started to embrace the idea of writing a guidebook. I have dozens of files from my previous efforts, but pitching a guidebook was almost like starting over. I convinced myself that this would be my last attempt and if I couldn't find a publisher, I would either put this book madness out of my head once and for all or maybe I would self-publish something. 

As I was bouncing ideas through my head, I did a little research and sent off one quick query email to Rowman & Littlefield. Because I wasn't expecting a response, I broke the number one rule- sending a query without having a completed book proposal.

While this query was hanging out there, I came across a post on Facebook from a friend back in Chicago who was making a major change in her life and was looking to start a business that included editing. Up until this point, I was doing all the writing and most of the editing and proofreading myself. I knew that if this really was my last effort, that I needed to give it my all and that would include seeking outside help. 

I reached out to Gin and pitched my book idea and what I might need as far as help. Gin immediately liked the idea and we discussed a plan. To my total surprise, within a couple of weeks, I received a response back regarding my query and it was my worst nightmare- they wanted a full book proposal.

I was embarrassed when I had to admit I didn't have a finished proposal (this rookie mistake is often a deal breaker in the publishing world), but I was given some time to complete it. With Gin on board, we were on an incredibly tight timeline. I had just a few weeks to create the perfect book proposal. Sleep would have to wait. Gin was huge in keeping me on track by seeing the big picture of the entire proposal and helping guide me with the perspective of someone removed from our story. In the end, we had a completed proposal of over 8,000 words and submitted the book proposal on June 4, 2018. 

It was a long summer of not knowing if this would finally be my big break. Then, in mid-August, I heard back that it was looking like the book might have a chance, but a little more time was needed. It was hard to sleep or function knowing I was close and this would be it, one way or another.

September 5th rolled around and I received an email from Rowman & Littlefield with an attachment...a contract offer. It was six pages long and I read every word on my tiny cell phone screen (I was traveling for work and eating lunch in a Chinese restaurant). I was so excited, I was ready to sign right there before the offer could get away. But, I thought I should print it out and really read every word when I could see them clearly and also have Lisa look it over. 

I would have signed just about anything at this point, but I had a few questions. We went back and forth and I was able to sign my first publishing contract on September 15, 2018. 

I could go on and on, but I have a book to write!

Don't worry, I'll be sharing more details about the book in future posts.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Photo Session at 7,000ft.

Summit Lake
Lassen Volcanic National Park

July 2018

Kellisa's friend Jenny, is also professional photographer Jenny Sloan. Our mountain lake swim turned into a photo session in a breathtaking natural studio. Look at these amazing pictures and if interested (especially our friends and family in NE Florida), Jenny's work can be viewed on Instagram at @julyfifth1957.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Summit Lake

Lassen Volcanic National Park

July 2018

We were hoping to get the chance to go for a swim in a natural body of water during our visit to Lassen National Park. As we were sightseeing through the park, we passed by Summit Lake at 7,000 feet above sea level. It was a small lake, so we were hoping the water wouldn't be ice cold.

Jenny was the first one in and Laurel was right behind her. I felt the water and it was freezing which killed my interest in going in the lake. Usually I'm up for an ice cold dip, but wasn't feeling it for some reason. I pushed Kellisa to the edge of the lake and she splashed around with her hand.

I was hoping the water would be too cold for her, but I was wrong again. She desperately wanted to join her best friend and sister IN the water. I wasn't thrilled because I would have to change her into her swimwear and carry her in the water. How could I say no to Kellisa's smile and bossy finger pointing to the water? I couldn't and after a few minutes of getting ready, we were both in the water. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Devastated Area Interpretive Trail

Lassen Volcanic National Park

July 2019

Kellisa's "best buddy" from Jacksonville, Jenny visited for a few days and going to a national park was high on her list of adventures. Yosemite was closed due to forest fires, so we headed north to spend an afternoon in Lassen Volcanic National Park. We visited the park and this trail back in July 2014 on our vacation to northern California, 18 months before we would move across the country. This would be Lisa and Jenny's first visit to this beautiful and surprisingly little visited gem in the national park system.

Jenny was more than happy to push Kellisa along the trail. It was nice to watch Kellisa have so much fun with her friend. This opportunity to see Kellisa as strangers see her on the trail confirmed everything I always believed, it's beyond obvious that she is having the time of her life with the non-stop smiles and giggles that resonate through the deep forest.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Foresthill Bridge

Auburn, CA

July 2018

Out of the blue, my phone started alarming with notices from the Sacramento Bee. There was a traffic situation in Auburn, approximately 20 miles from our house. The police had blocked traffic around the Foresthill Bridge because there was a jumper situation. 

We had driven across the bridge and even hiked under it, but until I received the alerts, I never realized the bridge towers 730 feet over the North Fork of the American River, making it the highest bridge in California and 4th highest in the United States. 

Two days after the jumper situation had the bridge closed for 4 hours, Kellisa and I had a few hours with nothing to do. It was only 81F outside, so we wanted to be outside, but didn't have enough time for a trail. My thoughts went back to the bridge. We've flirted with the idea of walking across bridges in the past, but many don't have lanes or walkways for pedestrians. The first and only bridge we've crossed was the Francis and Mary Usina Bridge back in St. Johns County, FL. A quick Internet search revealed that you could walk across the Foresthill Bridge on both sides. We now had a plan.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Three Senses Trail

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

July 2018

We found the Three Senses Trail closed for renovation. Instead of driving to a sporting goods store to buy a BB gun because someone owed us an explanation, we decided to peacefully return once the trail is opened.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

North Grove Trail

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

July 2018

Our second hike in Calaveras Big Trees State Park was the North Grove Trail. It was little longer Beaver Creek Trail and far more scenic. The trail is rated as accessible and except for one short narrow section with a few rocks that could be easily negotiated by most people in a wheelchair or jog stroller, this trail was perfect for pushing Kellisa. 

Sometimes we want a challenging trail, especially Kellisa since it usually means more struggle for me and more bumps, but it's also nice to be able to push Kellisa on a longer trail without too much worry. And it's a huge bonus when the trail is highly scenic and the North Grove Trail did not disappoint as it weaved through many "big trees". 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Beaver Creek Trail

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

July 2018

It was 101F degrees in the central valley of California. Too hot for hiking, especially considering that excessive heat is a trigger for seizures in Kellisa. We wanted to go on a hike, so we headed up into the mountains to check out Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

The park sits at an elevation of roughly 5,000 feet above sea level and there's a general rule that it cools off approximately 3 degrees for every thousand feet of elevation gain. Since the temperature reading in the car varied between 84F and 86F, the rule proved accurate.

We stopped at the visitor center to gather some information before deciding which trails to explore. It may seem odd to some, but the mid-80s temperature seemed a little "cool" under the shade of the big trees. 

Normally we look for non-accessible trails because they're usually longer and a bit more challenging. A quick look at the trail guide revealed three accessible trails and with our recent struggles with accessible trails in Idaho, we decided to attempt all three trails while scoping out the regular trails for future opportunities. We decided to start with the Beaver Creek Trail because it was the shortest and farthest from the entrance. We thought it would be a great warm up while getting a quick feel for the entire park from the main road. The trail was short, but 100% accessible. We weren't disappointed.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Driving into a Horror Movie Scene

The dead-end road to the Settlers Grove of Ancient Cedars was long and rough through a deep forest in northern Idaho. Kellisa loved the rocks, potholes, and overall "bumpiness". We spent maybe two hours on the trail and enjoying a snack back at the rental truck after our hike before we returned to the forest road. We didn't see another human the entire time on our adventure to see the ancient cedars. As I was driving out, I came around a corner and came to a sudden stop. We were next to an old pickup partially blocking the road and maybe 10 yards in front of us, a tree was blocking the road and there was a man with a chainsaw. We were behind him and he couldn't see or hear us. 

My heart starting beating out of my chest. There was only one way out and a tree and chainsaw wielding mountain man were blocking the way. I watched the man saw a few sections of the tree and when the saw powered down, I called out a friendly, "Hello" while smiling and waving from the safety inside my truck.

He waved back. I decided to get out and offer help. I was banking on the fact that this tree had fallen over and he was just clearing the road. At worst, I was hoping he was poaching a tree and wouldn't see us as a threat.

He told me that he was on his way to hike the same trail we just completed and he found the tree blocking the road....and he just happened to have his chainsaw with him ready to go. Maybe this is normal for the area, I don't know? As he cut the tree down to manageable pieces, I helped clear the road by rolling the pieces off to the side. As soon as we had a clear path, he told me that he could handle the rest and we could go on our way. We had our way out and he didn't have to tell me twice. 

If he wanted to use the chainsaw on us, our bodies would have never been found. I don't know if the tree spontaneously fell, but I do know his pickup was between the tree and the trailhead. Since he said he was headed to the trail, if the tree fell spontaneously, it would have had to fall after he drove past. I suppose it's possible it fell and just missed his truck or maybe he saw it fall in his mirror. 

I will never know for sure if the tree fell on it's own and he magically appeared with a chainsaw. There was a sign at the trailhead warning about limbs and trees falling because of recent fires. We were many miles from cell service and the nearest anything. We would have been stuck for probably a very long time if the tree did fall on its own and he wasn't there with his chainsaw. If he was poaching a tree, I'm thankful that he let us pass without any trouble. 

Even in black and grizzly bear country, I'm a little more afraid of encountering other humans and this experience did nothing to change my mind. We cashed in some karma for sure, we just don't know how much we spent.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Settlers Grove of Ancient Cedars

Idaho Panhandle National Forests

June 2018

I'm beginning to think the state of Idaho has a different definition of "accessible" when they use it to describe trails as you can see by the picture to the right. For the second day in a row, Kellisa and I drove a great distance to hike a trail that by all accounts is accessible. Previous hike found here.

The trail started out as a wide, hard packed surface mostly flat through a dense forest, but the ground quickly included mud, rocks, roots, and narrow sections. The trail crossed a creek several times with nicely built bridges, but then there was a crossing of large rocks piled across the creek. I'm not sure if the bridge got washed out or burned in recent fires, but even if you could use a standard wheelchair on this trail, I can't imagine a wheelchair making it across this rock bridge. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Myrtle Falls Trail

 Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

June 2018

The Myrtle Falls Trail in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge was the main reason Kellisa and I made the long drive. Waterfalls remain mostly elusive for people who use wheels to go down trails. Very few have ADA paths and it's been our experience that due to the topography surrounding waterfalls, it's very hard to push Kellisa down non-ADA trails to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a waterfall. 

We were silly to believe that the trail would be accessible all the way to the waterfall just because they have the little blue and white wheelchair sign hanging with the Myrtle Falls Trailhead sign and the website leads you to believe the trail is accessible. 

The trail starts off accessible for the first .15 of a mile. You can't even hear Myrtle Falls, let alone view it when the trail becomes a rugged path not developed for wheeled devices. Once the accessibility ended, the trail started to switch back up the side of a steep hill. The trail was barely wide enough for Kellisa's chair. Since the sun was setting, we were a tasty treat for all the local mosquitoes. I wanted to buy some bug spray on our drive, but forgot and we both paid a heavy price. We didn't let the mosquitoes or lack of accessibility stop us from reaching the viewing area for Myrtle Falls. We exchanged high fives, snapped a few pictures, and quickly descended the trail back to the waiting enclosure of our rental car. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Auto Tour

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

June 2018

Kellisa and I recently found ourselves in the far north of Idaho where we spent a beautiful early evening exploring the wild Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. We observed many birds (including an eagle- picture below) and turtles. Despite being deep in black and grizzly bear country, we did not see any bruins. We originally had the thought of hiking the gravel auto tour road, but our late in the day arrival didn't allow enough time and we had to be satisfied with a nice little drive. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Laurel's Birthday and Total Inclusion

June 8, 2018
aka Laurel's 9th Birthday

Roseville, CA

Laurel woke up excited to be a 9-year-old early this morning, but it's what she did to make this day special for someone else is what really melted my heart. Today is her last day of third grade and her teacher said she could bring in a birthday treat. Laurel was concerned because a classmate can't eat gluten. The teacher told us not to worry about doing something extra (I think they would have provided a gluten free treat), but that wasn't good enough for Laurel. She wanted to get a treat that every kid could eat...100% inclusion for her birthday celebration. Lisa helped Laurel taste and purchase gluten free birthday cupcakes earlier in the week for her class to enjoy today. Just after Lisa delivered the cupcakes, the teacher asked Laurel's class if anyone knew, "why it was a special day?" Laurel's gluten free friend was the first to raise his hand and his answer was, "because there's gluten free treats for everyone"? I couldn't be more proud of Laurel and her staunch advocate heart.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Born Too Soon

May 29th

Another sorrow filled day for the Kain family. It should be a day of crazy celebrations because it's our first born, Everett's birthday. We never celebrated a birthday with Everett because he passed away from an extremely rare heart defect when he was only 6 months and 9 days old.

Everett's birth defect was explained as a 1 in 10 million births in the United States. He bounced around hospitals before we found a leading cardiologist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The doctor performed two heart surgeries and was hopeful that he would be able to save Everett, but his surgeries couldn't correct the defect. Everett spent approximately half of his short life in hospitals.

Lisa and I have seen and been through more than any two people should ever endure and be expected to survive. I'm sure some people wonder how we do it and I don't have an answer, I guess we're just adapted to endure.

Through everything, nothing compares to watching Everett slowly earn his angel wings as Lisa held him for days as we knew there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We had hoped to donate his organs so other babies could benefit with parts of Everett living on, especially his big beautiful blue eyes, but he was too weak at the end to donate.

Kellisa and Kirsten's complications are not related to Everett's and the girls are their own and separate 1 in many millions. Before adopting, we consulted with a doctor to learn the odds of a third pregnancy being completely successful. Since both of Lisa's pregnancies were unrelated and neither were hereditary, we were told that any future pregnancies had the same odds as any other healthy couple our age. The doctor wanted to place odds of two 1 in millions pregnancies happening to the same couple, but he couldn't come up with a number high enough, he left it at incomprehensible.  

I think the doctor could tell that we weren't really comforted by his information and green light to proceed, so he offered another fact. He told us that if Everett would have been born in 2007, doctors would now be able to perform successful surgery on his heart leading to a long and healthy life. Again, this did not comfort us and was devastating before we realized through hopeful reflection that Everett may have helped future babies with his heart defect survive by the experiences of his two surgeries. We like to think he continues to save 1 out of every 10 million babies born in the United States with the same heart defect.

We purchased two gravesites after Everett passed away with the plan that he would spend eternity over Lisa. We had no idea that in less than 10 years, Kirsten would be spending eternity above me and next to Everett and Lisa. About 10 years ago, we purchased the site directly before my spot for Kellisa. 

Everett's Statistics: 1 state (Illinois) and 2 hikes (Starved Rock State Park and Chicago Botanical Gardens)

Wednesday, May 23, 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!