Exploring Red Bluff

It’s amazing how you can take your hometown for granted, how you can completely miss the beauty of where you live simply because you see it all the time.

When I lived here I didn’t always appreciate the subtle things that make our area beautiful. The huge mountains are obvious and I love those, but there are so many things I appreciate now more with each visit.

One thing I love about Red Bluff is the abundance of oak trees. I went out today in search of a single oak tree in a field to photograph. I drove around for two hours and never found exactly what I was hoping to find, but I found some beautiful areas in the meantime. Here are some photos from my phone and my camera.

Continually look for the beauty all around you. God’s creation is diverse and amazing – there’s always beauty to be found.


The Road Trip that Almost Was…

In early January we purchased our plane tickets for ten days in California with my family and we were SO looking forward to being out there. We had planned to do so many fun things with Tori and added things to her bucket list.

Earlier this week, I found out from United that we needed to have a form signed by her doctor as proof that she requires continuous oxygen. So, I sent it over to Dr. Escolar’s office on Monday.

Yesterday, I still hadn’t received the form back so I contacted them. I was told that Dr. Escolar wanted to talk to me because she was very concerned about Tori flying.

Three and a half hours before we were supposed to leave for the airport I was told that it is extremely dangerous for her to fly. 

I was very surprised to hear her say this because we told them last month we would be taking her to California. Nothing was said about the dangers of flying.

She has hydrocephalus (too much fluid in the skull) and apparently the pressure from flying could have killed her. 

I told Brennan what had transpired and mentioned the idea of driving to California. It would “only” be 40 hours, afterall. He agreed and we were both excited to be spontaneous – we like to plan things thoroughly. We both enjoy traveling and adventure, and road trips are awesome.

Thankfully we had purchased the travel insurance – first time ever – so we knew we would get our money back in full.

What a perfect bucket list addition a cross-country road trip would be!

So, we hopped in the van and left Harrisburg at 5:45pm. We stopped near Cleveland to sleep – which proved to be impossible for me since I had so much caffeine running through my veins.

I laid there awake for hours and finally decided to get on Facebook to pass the time.

One of my elementary school teachers had commented  on our post about driving there that I-80 (our intended route) gets pretty high in elevation over the Rockies. I looked it up and saw that it reaches 8,900 feet – almost as high as the initial ascent when flying!

Around 5:30am I woke Brennan up and asked what he thought we should do, given the fact that I didn’t sleep more than two hours (and we were both too exhausted to drive 12-16 hours today), and the fact that Tori shouldn’t go up in elevation that much until we see a neurosurgeon.

We both agreed that we should turn around and drive back home (less than five hours). It’s not the fun decision, but it’s best for Tori. 

We are so disappointed for so many reasons, but we are going to make the best of Brennan’s time off and enjoy family time together.

The remodeling will still go as planned – we will just keep Tori in the basement away from the dust.

We are praying that we will get even one more opportunity to take Tori to California to be with my side of the family, but for now we are grateful for all the times she has already been there, and we’ll focus on that.

Tori’s Bucket List: Go To a Philadelphia Flyers Game

Any children of ours will grow up to be Philadelphia fans if Brennan has anything to say about it. Brennan loves the Phillies, Eagles, and, of course, the Flyers. This was an easy addition to Tori’s adventures!

A Team Tori friend saw this on Tori’s bucket list and not only contacted the Flyers about donating tickets (which they did), but she also surprised us and contacted Courtyard by Marriott to ask them to donate a room for us since the game was at night on a Tuesday (and they did!).

When we arrived at the hotel before the game, she had also brought us a bag of snacks, water, and a few other things, like the Flyers ornament in the pictures below!

Thank you, Victoria, for making this happen!

Another Team Tori friend had a headband made specifically for this adventure and we LOVE it! It was so perfect! Thank you, Brittany!

Special thanks to the Flyers organization for making special accommodations for Tori so that we could have the best possible evening with her. Michael in Ticket Sales ensured that we had accessible seats and then helped us have access to an outlet for Tori’s suction machine, which isn’t holding a charge lately. Our ushers, Sarah and Marti, were so sweet and kind to us!

Tori enjoyed the lights of the pre-game events and didn’t mind the loud music. It was very chilly where we were sitting because the air vents were blowing directly on us, so Brennan went back to the car and got a second blanket for Tori to make sure she was warm enough.

After the first period it was apparently nap time 😉

Even though the Flyers lost in a shootout, it was still a great evening! We’re so thankful for all who made this possible!

Tori’s Bucket List: Feed Giraffes (Philadelphia Edition)

As you know by now, the giraffe has become Tori’s mascot, so to speak. We have been told that whenever people see giraffes they think of – and pray for – Tori.

We were contacted by a Team Tori follower a couple of months ago about going to the Philadelphia Zoo to feed giraffes, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity!

Our expectations were shattered once the zookeeper came to facilitate the experience. We were RIGHT THERE with the giraffes, no huge fences separating us. It was amazing!

It was a perfect day – the weather, the fall foliage, the giraffe feeding, everything. We had such a great day as a family. Tori even got to experience face painting! 🙂

Thank you, Raynor Family, Danielle, and the Philadelphia Zoo for making this happen! ❤

Tori’s Bucket List: Meet My Great-Great Grandmother

While we were planning our Arizona experience we found out that my dad’s grandmother was going to be in Mesa (she’s a “snowbird” 😉 ) and we were so excited! It had been a while since we had seen her and our visit exceeded our expectations!

We got to introduce Tori to her great-great grandmother and had the most wonderful time with her. Tori was so comfortable with her and the love between them was obvious.

She showed us around the resort where she lives each winter and we were impressed by the activities offered (and by the cacti that were taller than the houses!). It really is a great place and she is so happy to be there.

We are so blessed to have Grandma Helen in our lives and I can’t wait to see her again! ❤

Tori’s Bucket List: See a Giant Cactus

If you go to Arizona, going down to Tucson to see the gigantic cacti is well worth the drive. This was a first for our little family – we had seen cacti before but not ones this large!

Our good friend Dannylle (pronounced Daniel) picked us up and drove us around Saguaro National Park and it was so good to spend time with him AND be amazed at these strange cacti together. This was a very unique and simple National Park and we really enjoyed it.

We learned that the saguaro can live to be over 200 years old, and they don’t grow arms until they are 75 years old. If their arms are pointed down that means that they had frostbite at some point in their life and the arm was injured. If I remember correctly, some of the saguaro are over 70 feet tall!

Tori was very alert, as you can see in the pictures, and it was so fun to show her these strange and beautiful cacti. We are so thankful for each and every adventure we are able to take her on ❤

Tori’s Bucket List: See the Grand Canyon

We had been planning for over a year to visit the Grand Canyon during our trip to Arizona, so this became an easy addition to Tori’s Bucket List. What made it even more special was that it was Brennan’s first time to see it as well.

If you’ve never been there, it’s truly a must. You can stand there looking for hours on end without becoming bored. Amazing that so many people come to see this gigantic hole in the ground!

This was the first stop for our Arizona experience. We drove from Southern California that morning and made it just in time for sunset!

We spent the night there and went back to the Canyon Rim the next morning, and we got some great family photos.

I am so thankful that we got to experience this with Tori. We don’t know how well she can see, but that won’t stop us from showing her whatever we can while she is with us. ❤

Thanks to the Miks family for making this possible! ❤️