Monday, June 22, 2009

France Trip, part 2

Yes, thank you Jared. That was a lovely post about your new truck. It is actually very exciting to have two cars again. I went to Target today just because I could and not because it's fun to schlep two squirmy babies around town by myself. Anyway, I decided to finish the post about our trip today if it killed me, so here it is.

After we left Normandy, Devaun, Jared, and I went to Mt. St. Michel. It is a medieval monastery and has enough stairs to get Friar Tuck in shape. I kept imagining all the very thin monks who must have lived there. I honestly still have remnants of a blister from that part of the trip. But look at this picture- it's worth all the trouble.
And here's the sheep that were crossing the road as we were trying to leave.
After we left Mt. St. Michel, we drove down to the Loire Valley, which has a lot of castles. Unfortunately, two of the three we went to were under construction. Here's a picture of Chenonceaux with the lovely scaffolding that has been painted to kind of resemble what the castle should look like. We saw these everywhere there was construction. I don't see the ugly construction anywhere. Do you? Ha!
This is a picture from farther away where you don't notice the construction as much.
This is a picture of the way up to the castle. It really was beautiful.
Next we went to Versailles to stay with my sister Darla, who lives there with her family. We didn't actually get a chance to see the palace at Versailles because of time. Instead, we met up with my other sister Chanda and all of us went to Monet's house at Giverny. Look at this picture people. It's pretty much straight out of a Monet painting.
All my sisters were there. And Jared of course. He had a harem that day. Look at the poppies- we're in another Monet painting.
My hair seems kind of poofy. Maybe I'm crazy. Anyway, we spent the last few days of the trip in Paris, where I was pretty much all pictured out. I can only take so many pictures before I am el finito. I did take this picture on the last day though. We went to Sacre Coeur, which I can honestly say was the pits. If you are planning a trip to Paris and think "Wow! Sacre Coeur sounds cool." Think again sweet cheeks. It is not worth it, and this is why.
Among other various violations of my personal space, I think I must have been sweat on by at least 20 other people on the way up to the basilica. It looks cool from a distance. Keep that distance between you and it and the hundreds of people who like to hang out on the steps.

All in all, though, it was a fantastic trip. We had a great time hanging out with my family and seeing the sites, but we were also happy to come home and see our silly babies.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Addition to the Family

Greetings to all of Jessi's loyal readers. I'm her husband Jared, and if you haven't guessed by now I have hacked into her blog to make an announcement. (Drum roll please....)

I bought a truck. Now for those of you who don't know me very well, believe me this is astonishing news. In fact this is momentous even. For the last 7 years of our blissful marriage, poor Jessi has had to hear me tell the story thousands of times, about how if my Dad ever sold his truck I would buy it in a heart beat.....then put power steering in it. You can't get more patient than her. She grimaced and suffered her way through 7 years of hearing me pine over the fact that I had a little Geo Prizm, and how I wished I had a truck. Of course now she gets to listen to me say how happy I am I have a truck for the next seven years, so I don't know which is worse.

For those of you dying to hear the specs, the wait is over. This baby is a masterpiece of Japanese engineering. The 2008 Toyota Tacoma comes standard with a 2.7 L engine and pumps out an awe inspiring 150 horsepower @ 5200 rpm. The truck has a 5 speed manual transmission, 2 wheel drive, manual windows, manual door locks, a stock radio, basic wheels and gets 20 mpg city and 25 highway. On the splurging side of things, I do have AC, power steering (woot), a bed liner, and a tow hitch.

I know what you are thinking, that is one nice looking truck.

Whelp, thanks for reading, I'm sure Jessi will get around to posting the rest of the France pictures, and maybe some new ones of the girls once we finish getting settled here in Georgia. It is amazing how much work is involved in getting comfortable in a new home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trip to France

Hi everyone. So Jared and I went on a trip to Europe for a week and a half to see the sites and visit two of my sisters and their families. Both of them live in Europe right now for their husbands' jobs. For all of you who are wondering- no, we didn't bring the girls. We are baby ditchers. Jared's parents and my mom and dad watched the girls for us. Thanks guys!

Anyway, we started the trip in Normandy where we saw all the D-Day sites. This picture is us in front of one of the troop carriers at the Utah Beach museum.
After Utah Beach, we went to the American Cemetery. This is a picture I took at the museum there. It's amazing how peaceful it is there when you think about all the carnage that occurred there 65 years ago.
There are just over 9000 Americans buried at this cemetery, and it covers 172 acres. The rows and rows of white grave markers are completely overwhelming.
We also visited Pointe du Hoc that day. Ok, I didn't know about this place. It is a cliff right between the Omaha and Utah beaches. Apparently, the Germans built a lot of bunkers at the edge of the cliff but moved their big guns before D-Day. The Allied commanders knew the guns had been moved but felt the fortifications had to be taken anyway because there was still German artillery there. 225 Army Rangers were specially trained to climb up the cliff and take out the position. They took the bunkers with surprisingly few casualties but then had to hold them against a German counter attack. There were supposed to be about 500 reinforcements, but the signals got crossed and the others went to Omaha Beach instead.
The Rangers who were there had artillery support from air and sea, and you can still see the huge craters left here. Only 90 Rangers survived the German counter assault, but they held the fortifications.
I couldn't believe it when I saw this cute little bunny in a huge crater next to a half-destroyed bunker. It was once a place of great destruction, but now there are bunnies there. It was surreal.The last day we were in Normandy was rainy and cold. My brother-in-law (WWII buff and our unofficial tour director), my nephew, Jared, and I were the only ones who ventured out. We were looking for a museum but never found it. Instead we found the Big Red 1 monument site on Omaha beach by accident. The Big Red 1 is the Army 1st Infantry division. It was tasked with taking the German fortifications on Omaha Beach. The seas were really rough that morning. Some troops didn't even make it to shore because their landing crafts were totally swamped. The men who did get to shore had to run up the beach from the landing crafts with their full packs and guns while the Germans rained down gunfire from the top of the hill. They got pinned down on the beach for hours. Over 1000 men died, and they considered a retreat. Eventually, though, reinforcing troops turned the tide, and they were able to take the bunkers. At the end of the day, around 2400 men had died on the beach.
We climbed down the hill and explored all the German fortifications as we went. This picture shows only a few of the ones that are there.
This is what they look like up close. That's Jared and my nephew Braden in the picture. The opening where they're standing had a gun that could shoot down the length of the beach. We're talking a couple of miles people.
Then we went down to the edge of the water and looked up the beach.It is hard to imagine the amount of courage that it took to get out of the boat and run up that beach when you stand there at the edge of the water and look up the hill at the German bunkers looming over you. It would have been terrifying. People say this all the time, and it gets to be old hat, but those men truly were heroes.

That's it for now. I'll continue this later. Although the D-Day sites are solemn, there is a grandeur to them that is awe-inspiring. I'm glad I got to see them in person.