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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Tour of the Ahwahnee and grounds

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

After a delicious breakfast in the Ahwahnee dining room, Mike and I went back to our cottage to take care of some business. We needed to do laundry. It has been almost a week since we left on our anniversary road trip, and we were in need of some clean clothes. When we reached our cottage, we noticed that the cleaning lady was already there busily cleaning our little abode. We told her we would only be there for a few minutes and then would be out of her way. Her name was Ann Marie, and she was from Jamaica. As we were preparing to leave, I heard her singing a tune that sounded very familiar. As I listened to her sing, I recognized the song. “You’re all I want, you’re all I’ve ever needed,” she sang. I went outside to where she was and began singing with her. “You’re all I want, help me know you are near.” These are some of the words to the song “Draw Me Close to You” by Michael W. Smith. Ann Marie turned to me and smiled. I told her that I loved that song and that we sing it sometimes at my church. A delightful conversation ensued. I was glad Ann Marie was our cleaning lady.
Mike and I drove over to the Housekeeping campgrounds near the river’s edge. We found the Laundromat and put our load in to wash. Then we headed down to the river to relax on the beach. We brought two folding chairs and our cameras, and for the next hour or so, we relaxed and took pictures. For the most part, we were the only ones there. From time to time, some rafters would sail by, and we would wave to them. By 12:20, our clothes were all washed and dried. That was the most enjoyable laundry mat experience we have ever had.
We drove back to the Ahwahnee and made it in time for their 1:00 PM tour of the hotel and grounds. There were about 17 of us who had signed up for this tour. Our tour guide was a friendly young lady named Megan. She first led us outside to view the hotel’s cornerstone. I had never noticed it before. It was inscribed with “A.D. 1926”. An elderly lady who was part of our group spoke up and said that she was born in 1923. Mike and I asked her to stand next to the cornerstone so we could take her picture. She was a spunky lady who was still quite spry for her age. This cornerstone reminded me of a greater cornerstone mentioned in the bible. Ephesians 2:20 says, “…Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” I’m grateful that one day over 30 years ago, I built my spiritual foundation on Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. The tour lasted an hour, and we viewed the hotel grounds, the solarium, the great hall, the mezzanine, the dining room and the elevator hall.
We spent the next few hours relaxing in our room. I caught up on some of my writing, viewed some of my pictures and did a little reading. Mike took a snooze, did some reading and went back to the hotel to check out the gift shop. At about 4:50, we went to the great hall to have tea and cookies. Every day from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, the Ahwahnee serves tea and cookies to their guests. When we arrived there, Christor was playing the piano. We first met Christor two years ago at the Ahwahnee. He had played “We’ve Only Just Begun” for us. This was the song that was sung at our wedding. It was good to see him again. Mike asked him if he would be there tomorrow as it was our 30th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, Christor is off on Tuesdays, so he would not be available. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel and go to dinner at another location in the valley, we ran into the O’Keefes at the Ahwahnee. Brother and Sister O’Keefe were missionaries to Sierra Leone in West Africa for about 25 years. They currently pastor a church in Pittsburg, CA and are friends of my sister and brother-in-law. They were staying for a few days over at the Yosemite Lodge and had just stopped by the hotel to relax and take in the sights. We enjoyed visiting with them. They are good, kind God-loving people.
We drove to the Curry Village dining pavilion for dinner. There was a long line, and we had to wait about 15 minutes before we could be seated for dinner. It was a rather enjoyable 15 minutes though. The reason for this was because there was a man and his son in line ahead of us. The man, we found out, was 94 years old. He did not look his age. His name was Michael O’Gorman. Michael is Irish, in case you hadn’t figured that out. He was studying to be a priest when World War II broke out. Instead, he joined the Air Force (U.S. Air Corps at that time). He was an animated man, and it was enjoyable talking with him. I think that part of what makes a vacation enjoyable are the people you meet and the moments you share. Today seemed to be one of those days.
After dinner, as we were headed back to our car, we noticed a bride and groom walking through the parking lot. We drove up to them and asked them if they just were married today. Kinda obvious, huh? They were all smiles and said that they had been married this day on top of Half Dome! The bride appeared to be Asian and was wearing a knee length dress that was rather modest compared to most dresses I’ve seen. She was wearing flip flops and was carrying her white pumps. We congratulated them and told them that tomorrow would be our 30th wedding anniversary. They congratulated us, and we then drove back to our hotel. As we were walking up to the hotel, we again saw this same couple. I asked them if they hiked up to Half Dome for the wedding. The bride turned to me with a big smile and said that they had hiked up to Half Dome at 5:30 in the morning. The justice of the peace also had hiked with them. We were amazed. Mike and Jeremy have done the Half Dome hike before, and it is no easy hike. It is eight miles one way to the top with many switchbacks. People have died on this hike. I’m glad they made it up and back with no incidents.

She's older than the Ahwahnee Cornerstone!

She's older than the Ahwahnee Cornerstone!

Ahwahnee Dining Room

Ahwahnee Dining Room

O'Keefes

The O'Keefes

kare relaxing by river

What a way to do laundry!

relaxing by the river

Mike relaxing by the river

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El Capitan

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

After a fitful night’s sleep, we arose around 6:00AM, quickly loaded the vehicle and headed for Yosemite National Park. The sky was blue, but clouds seem to be ever with us so far on this trip. We turned west onto Hwy 120 and made our way up Tioga Pass. We reached the entrance gate to Yosemite at around 9:00 AM. The elevation here was 9,945 feet. The temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit. There still was much snow at this elevation, and the mountain peaks even had some recent dusting of snow. We stopped at a small pond to take photos and continued on to the Tuolumne River where we also stopped. It was still winter in the high Sierras. Continuing on, we passed Lembert Dome,Tuolumne Meadows and Lake Tenaya before stopping at Olmstead Point. From there, we could see Half Dome down Tenaya Canyon. Many visitors were here as well taking pictures. We hiked down a short distance from the parking lot and were greeted by a couple of yellow bellied marmots. The first one I saw sitting on a rock. He was looking at me as if he were waiting for me to photograph him. Mike and I had fun taking their pictures. We hiked a little further on to a rise in the rocks and took more pictures of Lake Tenaya, Half Dome and the surrounding beauty. After we hiked back to our car, we had a lunch break, eating the sandwiches we had purchased in Bishop. We continued on and arrived in Yosemite Valley around 2:30. We stopped at a few of our favorite spots to take pictures and then pulled in to Camp Curry where we usually stay in the park.
Mike was going to the visitor desk to check on our rooms. I browsed in the village store. A few minutes later he was back, which was surprising to me. Usually there is a long wait before you can get your cabin keys. He said the rooms would not be ready until after 3:00 PM and suggested we go someplace where we could relax, like the Ahwahnee Hotel. The Ahwahnee Hotel has a great room that is like a gigantic living room. It has a couple of huge fireplaces and a variety of sofas and chairs. 97 percent of the furnishings in this room are the originals from when the Ahwahnee opened in 1927. It is a nice place to relax. We each ordered a beverage and went out to the veranda to relax and enjoy the scenery. As is common at the Ahwahnee, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, a wedding was getting ready to take place. We saw several from the wedding party going back and forth in preparation. It’s such an exciting time. After we finished our drinks, we took a walk behind the hotel. There are several cottages back there in the woods. We had stayed in one three years ago for our 27th anniversary and had really enjoyed ourselves. But this time, it looked like we were going to be staying in Curry Village, possibly in a tent cabin or a wood cabin without bath. Because of the rock slides last year in Curry, our original reservations had been cancelled. Mike had had a difficult time finding lodging for us in the valley. We passed by the cottage that we had stayed in three years ago. Mike was telling me that he had heard that some of the cottages actually had fireplaces in them. The one we had stayed in did not. We passed by a cottage that was being cleaned. We stopped to take a look, and it had a fireplace in it. The cleaning lady let us come inside and take a peek. The décor was Indian, with a King-sized featherbed and a good sized fireplace. The only problem with it was that it smelled smoky. Otherwise, it was a lovely spot to stay. The cleaning lady told us that a lot of honeymooners stay there. We continued on thru the forest and ended up at the river’s edge. It was so peaceful and tranquil back here. The river looked so crystal clear as it flowed through the forest. Mike and I took a few pictures. I noticed a bridge further down, and I told Mike I would like to go photograph it. He told me to go ahead and take some pictures. And then he informed me that we would be staying there at the Ahwahnee in the same cottage we stayed at three years ago. I was so surprised! All this time, I had thought we would be staying in a wood cabin without bath in Curry Village. I was not looking forward to a midnight trek to the restroom a stone’s throw from our cabin or waiting in line at the bath house to take a shower. But I wasn’t going to complain because I had stayed at the Ahwahnee three years ago, and I was grateful for that experience. But now, Mike was telling me we would indeed be staying at the Ahwahnee! I was surprised, happy and overwhelmed at the magnanimous heart of this man who married me almost 30 years ago. We both had an emotional moment of tenderness. We hugged and then Mike went back to the hotel to check us in and get our room keys. Still feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, I went back to the river’s edge, sat down and wept. As I sat there by the river, I began to pour out my heart to God and thank Him for his faithfulness and goodness to me.
When Mike returned, he told me there was a change in plans. The employee who had made our reservations apparently made a mistake. So instead of the cottage we had before, we would be staying in another one nearby. He took me to our cottage, and it was just perfect! It had a comfortable king-sized feather bed with soft, plump pillows. Outside our window we could see Half Dome smiling down on us. Everything was immaculate and tastefully decorated in the Indian style for which the hotel was named. What a wonderful anniversary gift to stay at this peaceful place. I am so blessed.

Our Patio

Our Patio

View from our room

View from our room

Our room at the Ahwahnee

Our room at the Ahwahnee

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DSC_0046Twin LakesWell, we are off on our 30th anniversary road trip. We may not have Internet coverage every where we go, but when we do, I will post some of our adventures. Here is day 1:

We pulled out of our driveway about 10:01am. The day was overcast, windy and in the 60’s. We have been having some unusual weather for June. It doesn’t really feel like summer yet. Within an hour and a half, we were in the foothills of Placerville. Seeing the pine trees and rolling hills seemed to have a calming effect, and we began to feel like we were on vacation. At times, we saw blue skies, but always the clouds were with us. Ascending down Echo Summit, Lake Tahoe looked glorious in spite of the clouds. Way down below, I could see Hwy 89 meandering through the hills. Soon we were on that highway where alpine meadows and towering, snow-capped mountain peaks loomed over us. As we approached Monitor Pass, we stopped to take in the surrounding view. The lilac-colored lupines were in bloom, and we had to capture a few of them on our cameras. Then we continued on down Monitor Pass. Although this is about our 4th time driving down this pass, the view never ceases to amaze us. Descending down from dizzying heights, we can see two mountain ranges with an alluvial plain between them. If we look at it too long, we can almost sense a vertigo feeling. Kinda scary. Sprawled out below us were the luscious, verdant meadows of the Walker Valley. Cattle could be seen grazing in the distance. What a pastoral setting. When we reached Hwy 395, we turned left and headed North to Topaz Lake. We had wanted to stop and see this lake, and since it was a short distance away, we decided to make the trip. We passed the Nevada border, and sure enough, near the lake’s edge was a casino. We stopped at the nearby Chevron to fill up our tank. At $2.74 a gallon, gas was cheaper than the town where we leave. We stopped and took a few pictures of the lake, then turned back and headed to our destination of Twin Lakes in the town of Bridgeport.

As we continued south on 395, the meadows gave way to hills and fields with nothing but sagebrush. Pretty desolate looking, but it had a beauty all its own. There were homes sparsely dotting the countryside. It was a no mans land, but for those who prefer solitude, I’m sure it is a paradise of sorts for them. We pulled into Bridgeport around 3:00 PM and turned onto the road towards Twin Lakes. Ominous clouds hovered over the mountain peaks surrounding twin lakes, and I wondered what kind of weather we had in store for us. We stopped beside the road to take some pictures and continued on to Twin Lakes. We were staying at Annett’s Mono Village at the far end of the lakes. This resort is a haven for RV’ers, and campers. But it also has cabins and a motel. After checking in, we moved our bags to our motel room and walked over to the café for a late lunch/early dinner. Everyone here is friendly and helpful. Mike ordered the meatloaf, and I ordered the chicken parmesan dish. It was quite tasty. After dinner we took about a 3-mile hike down the fire road. This led us to the trail head for the hike to Barney Lake. This is about an 8 mile hike round trip. We may do this hike tomorrow weather permitting. On the way there, it started lightly raining. The temperature was about 53 degrees. We located the trail head and continued on a little further to a small bridge that traversed the river that fed into Twin Lakes. Further on down the trail was a little fish hatchery. It had a high fence all around it as well barbed wire and warning signs advising not to harm the fish. The fish looked so cozy in their little hatchery. These fish are raised to stock the Twin Lakes. Fishing is plentiful here. There are boats that one can rent for the day or just for a few hours. It is a delightful place to spend a vacation. Peaceful and quiet with tranquil beauty all around.The Siberian Irises are in bloom, and we delight in gazing at their delicate beauty. After returning from our hike, we took a brief walk to the lake. Mike drew a heart with our initials in it. Outside the heart, he wrote the date of our 30th wedding anniversary, June 16, 09. It was so sweet and romantic. He took a picture of the heart so it will never get washed away. The wind had picked up, and temperatures were dropping. We took a few pictures and then retired for the night.

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blessed to be a grandpa

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

The month of May was full of surprises in the Mester household. About three weeks ago on a Tuesday night after church, we were walking out to our vehicle. We just happened to park next to Jeremy and Molly’s vehicle, and while walking out with them, Jeremy mentioned that he had something to give to us that he thought we would like. He went to his car, returned with a brown paper bag and handed it to his dad, who then turned it over to me to open. Upon opening the bag, I pulled out the sweatshirt Mike is holding in the picture. I knew that Mike had purchased this sweatshirt after he found out Jeremy and Molly were getting married. He had found it in a catalog, but could not find a grandma sweatshirt. Mike went ahead and purchased the sweatshirt. So why were Jeremy and Molly giving him the same sweatshirt. Well, I’m a little slow sometimes. Upon seeing the sweatshirt, I replied, “Oh, that’s nice’> Still clueless.

Mike turned to Jeremy and Molly and asked them if there was something they were not telling us. Jeremy replied, “There sure is. In January you are going to be grandparents.” Suddenly the light bulb came on in my brain, and it registered. “What!” I exclaimed. I then turned to Molly and asked her the question, “Really?” When she said yes, I let out a shout of elation! We hugged one another and some tears of joy were near the surface. We found out that Jeremy had visited our home that morning while we were at work and had confiscated his dad’s sweatshirt. What a cool way to break the news to us.

Yes! We are going to be grandparents, and we couldn’t be more excited! Thank God for the new little life growing inside our dear daughter-in-law. Just wanted to share the good news with everyone.

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50’s hat

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Today my beloved husband of almost 30 years turned 50. Jeremy, Molly and I threw a big surprise party for him at their home this weekend. Yes! We were able to successfully pull it off without him discovering our plans, which is an amazing feat in itself! Mike’s Mom even made a surprise appearance all the way from Chicago! There were about 40 people, a combination of friends and family, who came, and we had a wonderful time. Thank you to everyone for making Mike’s 50th a memorable occasion. And thanks to the Lord for blessing me with an amazing man who loves me, loves God and has such a generous heart.

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sacred marriage

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

This is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic of marriage, and I’ve read a few in my almost 29 years of being married. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is married or contemplating marriage. Thank you, Bob Oelke, for recommending this book to us! What a treasure! Here is a little description of what the book is about:

Is happiness the ultimate goal of marriage, or is there a greater purpose? Thomas helps you understand the Lord’s intention for matrimony-for husband and wife to reflect the character of Christ. See how God wants to use your marriage as a spiritual discipline to draw you closer to Him, who is happiness.

This is a book that looks at how we can use the challenges, joys, struggles and celebrations of marriage to draw closer to God and to grow in Christian character.

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