Yosemite Hike - 2011

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swim For Gold

By guest Blogger: Sydney Fortune (11)

Yesterday was an early start to get to day 3 of the Olympic swimming prelims. Syd and Scott up at 6:30 am, walk to the bus station, bus to the train station, and on train at 7:00 am for the hour ride to Olympic Park.

Passing time before prelims starts.... GO USA!!!

The Aquatic Center was packed with people and even for three prelims there was at no shortage of excitement. The British definitely were having a great time, screaming their heads off for every British swimmer!

The American swimmers all filled their expectations with strong performances. Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin both made semi-finals for the 200 free. Then, Tyler Clary and the Baltimore Bullet (Phelps) in the 200 fly, again making the semis, both in the top five. Lastly, the 200 IM women Ariana Kukors and Caitlin Leverenz swam well to secure their place in the semis.

It was quite cool to see the swimmers in action in person. I've watched them on TV, read all about them in Splash magazine (a swimming magazine). So to see them in person at the biggest swimming competition of their life was.... amazing!

Phelps "flapping" his arms before his race

Missy Franklin gets a GOLD!

Fortune Four regrouped for a trip to the Tate Modern Museum with Gma & Gpa and friends of theirs and a quick lunch after. Then we were off to the USA House for shopping which proved to be overpriced and made us thankful for our last minute Old Navy Olympic t-shirt purchases we made before we left home.

Scott & Syd off to evening swim finals, Jana & Shelbs heads home for quiet night at home. Unfortunately the tv wasn't working so Jana & Shelbs couldn't watch anything Olympic coverage so they headed to the grocery store where a) Jana drove them and b) they watched some swim finals in the electronics department of the store.

The car ride went well once Jana read the manual to see how to get the car in reverse. Did a few laps around the neighborhood to make sure we were ready for the open road, then we were on our way. Strange figuring out space on the left and also looking over right shoulder when in reverse.

The view from the other side of the car...

Outside the local grocery store. Very user friendly, clean and lots of good food!

Same But Differents found by Shelby:

To use a shopping cart, you must put a pound in the slot which then unlocks your cart from the others. When you return the cart, you get your pound, approximately $1.50, back. They might be onto something, there are no random courts anywhere other than where they are supposed to be.

Shelby noticed they don't put years on their expiration dates on food packaging.

An S.O.S. email to Gormans for help with the tv as we've lost ability to watch Olympic coverage.

Shelby: Cuddling with Mommy
Sydney: Being at swim finals and seeing Missy Franklin win gold
Jana: Driving with Shelby and cheering on USA in the grocery isle
Scott: Swim finals; 2 golds & 2 silvers

Location:Tangmere Grove,Kingston upon Thames,United Kingdom

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Out and About in London

Lazy morning at home and off to meet Barb & Kevin, friends through USA Vball from Spokane, for a visit of the Tower of London complete with torture chamber, many of the Queen's Jewels, a catapult and more! Strange to think what life was life for the people that walked these grounds.

Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. The castle was used as a prison since at least 1100, although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. The Tower has several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. There were several phases of expansion, mainly under Kings Richard the Lionheart, Henry III, and Edward I in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Catapult anyone?

Brown bagging in London!

London Bridge behind us. Never tire of the "O" Rings - so majestic!

Off to Men's Indoor Volleyball, USA vs. Germany. U.S. won in 3 sets pretty easy. Jana bought a cute little gin & tonic for Gma Dorothy and forgot it was in her bag so had to dump or chug before she could pass through security. Way to represent! Fyi, Syd was embarrassed by this.

Exiting Earl's Court, the Men's Vball venue. Jana loved that spectators were held back in groupings to alleviate a stampede getting to the train station across the street. Scott didn't like it one bit.

Next up, Beach Volleyball where Todd Rodgers/Phil Daulhauser and Ross/Kessey won. We left at midnight to beat the train crowds and keep Shelby awake! The beach volleyball venue is happening and the beer and wine are flowing a lot!!!

Spectators got a kick out of this guy...

And this is how you dress to get on t.v.

Enjoyed the full moon over the courts and then an amazing view of Big Ben lit up as we walked to Westminster Station for the train home to Richmond.

We figure we've walked an average of 6 miles a day on this trip. Needless to say, there's been some long days. No. 1 rule, at least one person has to stay awake so we don't miss our stop!

Shelby: Seeing Kevin & Barb and watching volleyball
Sydney: Learning the history of the Tower of London
Jana: Time w/Kevin & Barb, picnic lunch and seeing good Vball
Scott: Seeing the Men win in 3

Location:Tangmere Grove,Kingston upon Thames,United Kingdom

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Royal Deer and Tennis

To date everyone has welcomed us from San Diego, thanking us for bringing they sunny weather with us. Today our luck ran out, as it was a planned day to ride bikes through one one London's largest park, Richmond, on our way to Wimbeldon for tennis.

Needless to say, finding four bikes that fit were difficult to come by. Slight drizzle as we started on our 7 mile bike ride. Ten minutes later poncho's a must as the downpour began. Our route was thwarted by the women's road race, but despite bouts of rain and open skies we embarked on paths through the park to legendary Wimbeldon.

A nice ride through the park, where every Brit say you must see the royal deer. Tons of deer in huge packs, but not sure what makes them royal, but quite glorious. Oh deer, as a huge buck crossed right in front of our ride.

The most direct way was through the park, although it included a lot of dirt roads good for the mountain bikes, not so much Jana's cruiser complete with basket. A hour and a half later, few directions here and there, we made it in a downpour to Wimbeldon. Great to see the majestic grounds, but with the rain all the grass courts were covered with tarps. The ball boys and girls have a dual role besides running down balls, pulling the tarps on and off the courts.

Pulling back the tarps...

Amazing seats on Court 1, although rain. The only tennis matches that were being played was in Centre Court, as they have a roof. A little lunch and drinks to pass the time as the rain passes. Needless to say, one cider did Jana in and I was feeling royal with a huge Hieneken.

Luck of the draw, we were able to see #1 in the world, Serbia's Novak Djokovic vs. Italy's Fabio Fognini. We were 25 feet from the court and being so close to Novak, definitely kept Jana awake after the cider. Amazing how small the court seating actually is and quite quaint. We saw the first set tied at 6-6, and the tie break was 7-7, before the rain dumped and ended our tennis viewing.

Djokovic serving

A little tea and then explored Wimbeldon and all the courts. We were hoping to sit or even stand in the two rows that surround the outside courts. Would have been amazing to see top tennis so close, but got a good feel at Court 1.

Road through the town of Wimbeldon in a downpour and decided to cut our losses by taking a train to Kingston. With early evening and clear skies, we had a beautiful mile ride home along the Thames and run to the store to prepare dinner and relax watching swimming finals on the TV.

Three days in London and we have officially seen 15 seconds of road cycling and one set of tennis that ended in a tie. Tomorrow is a new day and a lot of time is spent planning the day via events, transportation, and sites to see.

Shelby: Riding to Wimbeldon and watching Novak Djokovic
Sydney: Seeing tennis from great seats and watching Dana Vollmer on tv, break the world record
Jana: Bike ride to Wimbledon, seeing great tennis & ride home along the Thames
Scott: Seeing the grounds of Wimbledon

Location:Tangmere Grove,Kingston upon Thames,United Kingdom

Move In Day!

Today is the first official day of the Games and the day we meet The Gorman's and move into their house for the next 10 days. Unfortunately all roads to their house were closed because of the Men's Road Race so we had to wait until after 5pm. Plan B) walk to the road race to see the riders whiz by, then head to the city for sight seeing.

The girl's reaction to Vegamite at breakfast...

Shelby, Scott & Jana head to road race while Syd stays at hotel to watch swimming prelims and read. Speaking of reading, we discovered Sydney smuggled 5 BIG books in her suitcase breaking the two book limit we have the girls. Time to up the Kindle allotment!

Shelb's in great position to film the riders come around the corner!

Amazing rush from the crowd as the riders came through

Waterloo Station & Taking the Tube

We met Grandma & Gpa at Trafalgar Square, in the heart of London, and one of the city’s most vibrant open spaces. It is a landmark in central London enjoyed by Londoners and all visitors alike. It is a lively place indeed and Home to Nelson’s Column.

A big map for a little girl. Bless her heart she loves to try and figure out how to get us places.

A visit to the National Gallery for Van Gogh, Picasso, DaVinci, Monet & more!
Everyone enjoyed and Syd was in heaven. We got bold and broke off into groups to go separate ways for a bit. Unfortunately the plan for Jana and the girls to meet Scott in front of Buckingham Palace didn't work well as once again plans thwarted by the Men's Road Race.

Happy to report that Jana, Syd & Shelb's managed to find their way back to Richmond via the tube and reunited with Scott there. Proud of the girls for staying calm and helping navigate back to hotel.

Finally off to meet The Gorman Family at 2 Tangmiere Drive. The taxi driver had a tough time finding it and words of optimism forums, "hopefully they won't trash your house!". Thanks dude, we hope not too....

Quick introductions, walk through of the house and they were off to Vegas. Within minutes Scott had laundry started, and Jana dinner, and relief set in that home exchanges really do work!

Shelby: Watching the bike race, going to Gorman's
Sydney: Seeing famous paintings at National Gallery & meeting Gorman's
Jana: Bike race, the girls and I finding our way out of the city and meeting Gormans.
Scott: Seeing the road race and the house really existing!

A great quote on the side of a taxi..."Solutionism... the new optimism"

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Location:Richmond, United Kingdom

Friday, July 27, 2012

Eye See London...

Finally a morning to sleep in and hotel's buffet breakfast; yogurts, muesli, croissants, baked beans, grilled tomatoes & mushrooms and a cappuccino/coffee maker at the ready.

Train from Richmond Station to Waterloo to see Grandma & Grandpa Fortune at their hotel in the city, via walk along the Thames seeing all the vendors, hoards of people and feeling the Olympic buzz. Hard to know if a city this size is always this busy or the crowds are due to the Games.

Viewing screens along The Thames

Saw these bikes just outside the station that you can rent cheap and return at locations throughout the city. Something we hope to do but need to get used to being in a big city first.

These two Olympic Volunteers were kind and asked if we had any questions. Everyone has is so helpful!

Lunch at Grandma & Grandpa's hotel

Grandma & Grandpa off too Opening Ceremonies so us off to the London Eye, where pleasantly surprised no lines! Amazing views of the city and beyond, so smooth cant even tell you are moving. Great opportunity to get bearings and learn about the different landmarks.

The car above us on the Eye

Syd's token MVY t-shirt photo with Big Ben in the background

Dinner on the run in the Fresh Food Farmers Market where every nationality
Represented; Sydney - Pierogi w/meat & veggie, Shelby - Crepe w/Ham & Cheese, Jana - Sampling of Greek, Scott - spinach & feta strudel and tastings of salads. Everything so beautiful and yummy.

Race back to hotel via Underground, surprisingly slower than the train, to watch Opening Ceremonies.

Not that is was important, but everyone wanted to know how London was going to try and match the $300M technology driven Beijing opening ceremonies. They pulled off a good down to earth people driven ceremonies that featured a lot of British history and music.

The kids and I were hoping that they would have had Daniel Radcliff, Harry Potter, fly on a broom stick to light the torch. Nothing spectacular as seeing first hand the arrow light the torch in Barcelona. Now, not sure where the cauldron is going to be as it is currently in the middle of the stadium. We need our usual Olympic picture of us "holding" the torch. Stay tuned....

Token London pics -

Same but Different:

Ambulances are yellow and the sirens are extremely loud. They come in varying sizes too.

Taxis most often look like this but of varying colors. Inside, they are roomy and have extra seats that fold down to hold more passengers.

Shelby: Seeing Grandma & Grandpa
Sydney: The London Eye!
Jana: Big Ben, people watching, London Eye & lunch with Gma & Gpa
Scott: London Eye and seeing my parents

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Location:Richmond, Upon The Thames, UK