Author Archives: raesive


So we flew home expecting to be sent to Phoenix on our return to California. However, two days before our flight back to Vegas we were told we’d be going to Hallock, MN instead. It’s funny- apparently they were going to send someone else from the Cali job there, but he threatened to quit, so they sent us in his place. Stupid games you can play in this company. From all the stories I’ve heard, if you threaten to quit when you don’t get what you want, chance are they’ll give in to your demands. The problem comes with the possibility that they’ll just reply “ok, nice working with you” instead. We’re not ready to risk this job just to go to Phoenix for a month. The downside with Hallock is that it is essentially in the middle of nowhere. Also, the population is roughly 950 people. Everything we’d heard pointed to it being really hard to find a place to live, so I was not looking forward to this move.

So we got back to Brawley and got all our stuff packed up. We ended up leaving on the afternoon of the 4th. We got as far as Holbrook, AZ the first night. It was really late when we stopped, and the first hotel actually kicked us out. It was so bizarre. We went into the office, and the guy asked for an address. I questioned back “why” and he basically went off on us, saying “haven’t you ever been to a hotel before” and some other stupid questions. I tried to hand him my ID so he could have the address, but he apparently would have rather had me tell him or something, and said “get out”. One of the craziest things to ever happen. So… don’t try to stay at the Travelodge in Holbrook, the dude is nuts. After that we got back in the car and drove across the street to another hotel, who seemed to be fine with us.

The next day we drove all the way to Colorado Springs, to stay with Dan’s aunt and uncle- Gina and Jason. We got in around 8:30pm, and basically had some food and talked for a while before heading to bed. The next day we decided to stay in the area, as my car needed an oil change and Dan’s alternator had been giving him trouble. So we took care of those and got to spend more time with everybody. We went to supper with his other cousin, Carmen who also lives in the area. Then we came back to Jason and Gina’s for dessert and played a game with them called “Wits and Wagers”. It was pretty fun.

The next morning we headed out again, and drove to Omaha, NE. Dan’s other cousins- Bill and Lacey moved there recently, so we found their apartment and stayed with them. We grabbed dinner at a nearby brewery then came back to the apartment and talked until way later than we planned to stay up. In the morning Lacey made a yummy peach french toast casserole. We hit the road again and headed east a bit more to find another of Dan’s cousins, Jeremiah.

Apparently he lives on a farm east of Omaha, and we needed to drop off his motorcycle, which we had rescued from a storage unit in El Centro. We found the place, met three of the dogs that also live on the farm- a retriever, a basset hound and a St. Bernard. We unloaded the bike and rearranged some of our stuff to balance the weight and were off again. It was a long day of driving, and we didn’t make it to Hallock until about 11pm.

We drove around town a bit, getting a feel for the three hotels there. Two are pretty run down and junky, but the third seemed decent. The price wasn’t too bad for a couple nights, but they didn’t offer weekly rates, which worried me, since most of the leads on housing seemed to come up empty.

Thankfully, Josh was able to find a two bedroom apartment in this 8-plex that a few other guys were living in. It’s nothing fancy- pretty dated, the carpet has lots of stains, and I even had to clean all the counters and scrub the shower tiles before we moved everything in. However, it’s a place to live with a kitchen. There is no way we’d be able to live in this town without a kitchen- there’s only two restaurants plus a gas station to eat at. That would get really annoying and unhealthy.

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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


end of 2011

I’ll start off with Thanksgiving. We ended up holding a gathering at Amy’s, (Zach’s girlfriend) house in Brawley. Tim fried a Turkey, and everyone else brought food and drinks. Everything was delicious and we hung out until pretty late at night. We sort of watched some football, but it was really nice outside, so most of the time we just sat around and talked out there. After it got dark, we mostly played beer pong and continued talking. It was pretty surprising to see Amy’s 17-year-old daughter playing beer pong too, but I guess since it was supervised, it wasn’t a huge deal. Definitely not something that would have happened at my house, but oh well. It’s interesting seeing how other people live. One of the cool things about all the travelling with this company.


December was a rollercoaster. It started off with the superintendent for the Brawley job encouraging anyone who wanted to take time off for Christmas as everyone was expected to stay thru January. Then about a week into the month, things changed. We were told that as soon as we returned from our vacation, we’d be off to the next job. Very stressful when they wouldn’t pin down where they wanted us to be. Dan had talked to another superintendent who was running a job in Ohio about heading there and he seemed like he wanted Dan on his crew. So we planned on that for a while. Then, soon before we needed to fly our drive out, the office told us that we’d be going to Phoenix instead. That was tough. It looked like we’d be close to home for a while and then instead they decided to keep us essentially on the West Coast. So we packed up some things, then got ready to fly home for Christmas out of Vegas.

On Thursday, December 15th, Dan finally got his appointment for the tattoo he’d been wanting with Corey Miller of Six Feet Under Tattoos. The appointment was for 7pm, so we hauled butt over to Upland as soon as Dan got home from work. We “checked in” at the shop then went to get some food. He ended up not getting to the back room until around 9pm, but finally he was getting prepped. Corey was nice, and quick. Dan’s whole tattoo took right around an hour and a half. He got an eagle feather with the initials “J” and “S” for his grandpa John Smits. The significance is that Dan was the dark-haired, dark-eyed grandkid among all the blonds of the rest of the family, so he called Dan his “little indian”. After it was done, we had to drive the 3 hours back to Brawley and get some sleep in preparation for our trip home the next night.


On December 16th, Dan got out of work a bit early, we finished packing up our suitcases and loaded the Civic and drove to Vegas. When we arrived it was a bit early for the flight, so we got dinner, figured out parking at the Luxor, where we’d stay after we flew back. Then we took at taxi to the airport, got checked into our flight and went through security. By this time it was probably 11pm-ish. Our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until about 1:30am. Eventually we boarded and departed. I assumed I’d be able to fall asleep- not the case. I could not find a comfortable spot, and Dan only got sporadic naps. Finally we arrived in O’Hare after what felt like the longest flight ever, even though it was only around 3 hours. Before we could land, we got placed in a holding pattern due to a bit of snow hanging around. 

From O’Hare we found the train terminal for the Blue Line into downtown. We rode that until we were at a stop close to the Millenium Station, and then hiked the few blocks to there. It was snowing some large flakes now, which were pretty, but the wind was chilly. Definitely not used to the cold weather, coming from the warm desert! Finally we were able to board the South Shore train to Michigan City, where Sheena picked us up. Still not much sleep, though I got maybe a half hour on the train. We went with Sheenz to a restaurant for lunch, then headed to her place to hang out for a while. Around 5ish my parents drove down to get us, and we drove up toward G.R. On the way we decided to surprise my grandparents and aunt, which was fun. They definitely weren’t expecting us to show up like that. Then we left and got some supper with my parents. By the time we got home and settled, it was probably 10pm, it’s hard to believe we made it through the whole day with so little sleep. The bed felt amazing once we fell in.

The rest of the Christmas break was great. We got to see several friends, and both sides of my family. I dragged Dan to Brewery Vivant for drinks, which was fun. We also went to Craig’s Cruisers with my family- played laser tag and went on go-karts. The day after Christmas we went to Fred Meijer Gardens with Dan’s family. It was the first time we’ve been since the wedding, so that was cool. It was a nice sunny day, so we did a good amount of walking around the sculpture park.



On the 30th, Dan’s brother, Josh drove us first to the Livery in Benton Harbor for lunch, where we dropped of some beer for my friend, Sawyer, who brews there. Then we went back to O’Hare airport for our flight back to Vegas. It was delayed a bit, but in the end it was a decent flight. Still not fun because I had a bad cold and my ears wouldn’t pop, but finally we were back on the ground. We got back to the Luxor and headed up to the room which we were sharing with one of Dan’s coworkers and his girlfriend. After getting some food I passed out and Dan went to hang out with the other coworkers who were also in Vegas. 


 We had a fun New Year’s Eve. In the afternoon we drove over to go see the Hoover Dam. They have a cool new bridge that has a pedestrian area which overlooks the dam. Then we went over and actually walked on the dam itself and checked out the giftshop. It has some really cool examples of the art deco style of architecture and design.
We went to see Zumanity (one of the Cirque du Soleil shows) in the evening, then met up with the guys at a place in the Excalibur called the Lynyrd Skynyrd bar. At midnight they passed out leis and noisemakers and champagne. It was fun and thankfully the extra sleep the night before helped me feel almost normal again, though I still managed to butcher my feet a bit by wearing heels again. I really need to just not pack any when I go to Vegas. 
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Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized



The rest of September flew by. On October 8th, Dan, Will, and I drove to Upland, CA to go check out Six Feet Under tattoo shop which is owned by Corey Miller, a well known tattooist who has been on a show called L.A. Ink. Dan really wants his second tattoo from him and was hoping that he’d be around that day. His schedule is pretty up in the air, and he wasn’t even in. However, the shop manager said to get his design printed out so it would be on file. Then he asked if me or Will wanted a tattoo. I had come prepared just in case, and I guess Will was finally ready too, so we both went for it. We first had to make a trip to Kinko’s to print out our designs. (In my case make an enlarged copy of my reference). Will had been talking for years about getting pinstripes on his arm like he has on his hot rods. He and Dan had even made a deal to get tattooed before they left Washington, though Will never found the right person to do his.

So we got back to the shop and handed over our references. Mine is from all the Harry Potter books I have- on the top of every single page around the chapter titles are three little, unique stars. A set on either side. I went for just one set of three, on my wrist. I love it, though it sure hurt at the time. I don’t know if it was the location or what, though Dan says I have the worst pain tolerance of anyone he knows. My artist, Neil, was quick and friendly. One of the things I really like about this shop is how much more welcoming and friendly everyone is, especially compared to the place Dan got his at.

Will’s artist, Tu, ended up repositioning the outline for his at least 6 times before deciding it was following his arm right. It was funny. He had been called back at least a half an hour before me and mine was finished before she even started on the outline. That’s all he got done that day. The rest was finished just this past Saturday, and it looks amazing. All the artists seemed really impressed with the design, which is pretty cool. Corey was even around that day, though he was still busy. Dan will have to keep on calling in hopes there will be a free day.



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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized



My trip home was great. The drive there was long, but fun. I stayed the night at friends’ or family’s houses the whole way home and it was great to see people I haven’t seen in a while. I even got to meet Dan’s newest niece, who was adopted in 2010. Hopefully we’ll both get to visit them again sometime soon so Dan can meet her as well.

Dan flew in for Labor Day weekend and the week following. We had fun hanging out at Holland State Park with my family. We even went swimming in Lake Michigan once, since it was 90 out and the water was pretty nice. After Dan went back to California, the weather in Michigan started turning fall-ish. I was just getting used to the colder weather when I had to head back to the 90’s and 100’s. Thankfully it’s been cooling down now to the 80’s and low 90’s for highs.

Part of the reason I stayed so long in Michigan was so that I could check out Art Prize. It was pretty cool, getting to wander around downtown GR which I love at any time, plus lots of interesting artsy things to check out. I went with my parents one night, with Josh and Jodi another, and I met up with Elizabeth and Abigail my last night in town. We even got to watch Wood TV’s live news room and were shown in the background. Nerdy, but fun.

My parents rode with my on the trip back to Cali. We stopped in North Platte, NE and again in Las Vegas, where Dan surprised me by showing up at the same hotel. It was great to see him after almost 3 weeks of separation. He had found a really cheap flight in, so we all smushed into my little Civic for the last leg of the drive back.

Dan was working nights at that point, so we got home just in time for him to leave for his shift. In the morning he met us for breakfast then went home to sleep while I drove my folks to Riverside to pick up a rental car for the rest of their trip in Cali. I said goodbye and they headed north to San Fran and Yosemite. Hopefully Dan and I can get up there sometime, but it’s a pretty long trek from the far southern part of the state.


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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 years!

Today is our 3 year anniversary. It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by already! We’ve lived in 7 different states and visited several more. It has been a fun three years, and I’m looking forward to many more.

Last weekend we visited San Diego for the first time. The weekend before, Little Dan had been walking home from a bar in Brawley, and got hit by a car. Amazingly he survived, and has even been recovering quickly. We met up with 8 of Dan’s coworkers in the early afternoon at the rehabilitation center at one of the hospitals to visit him. He was in between therapy sessions, so the group of us and Little Dan’s parents sat out in a courtyard waiting to see him. Eventually he wheeled himself out to us with one of the nurses, and said hi briefly. He looked pretty good, considering. He’s got a long way to go, but they say he should make a full recovery. He was definitely a bit overwhelmed seeing all of us at once, but managed to joke a bit before heading back to his room. They plan to get him rehabilitated enough to manage a 5 hour flight back to Spokane, where he’s from, hopefully the end of this week.

After seeing Little Dan, we split from the rest of the guys and went to check into our hotel and figure out what to do for the rest of the day. We ended up trying to go to the beach, with not such great results. We could not find anywhere to park. It’s crazy how many people were out and about. We might have had better luck with the Civic, but we had the truck, so it’s a lot harder to find spots to fit into. After quite a bit of driving and several stops and starts, we ended up at the San Diego Brewery for dinner. They were more of a tap room, which was nice. I had a blueberry beer that was tasty. After supper we met up with the boys again at an Irish Pub not far from the hotel they were staying in. It was a cool bar, and later on they had an Irish Punk band playing. They had some great songs, and Will and Kevin had a great time dancing much to the amusement of the rest of us.

On Sunday Dan and I had a quick brunch at a bagel place close to the hotel and then went to the San Diego Zoo. The weather was gorgeous- mid 70’s and mostly sunny. I could definitely get used to living with that…
It’s a pretty cool zoo, there’s a ton of animals. Apparently it’s a botanical garden as well, and they had a lot of cool plants, some of which are endangered.

This week I’m getting packed and ready to drive toward Michigan on Sunday. It’ll be a long week of driving next week, but should be fun seeing a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a while. Plus, it’s going to be great being home for almost a month. Can’t wait to camp with family Labor Day weekend.

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized



After way too much time of slacking off, I’m finally getting my butt in gear to try to lose some weight, and at the very least, get more healthy. A friend of mine was asking how my earlier attempts at keeping a workout routine was going, and it was pretty poor. I had a pilates DVD that I would pop in on occasion, and the pool here is great, but I wasn’t really sticking to any schedule or working that hard with either of those. He had had success with P90X, and so have a few other people I know, so I got ahold of the videos and started looking into what it all requires.

Let me just say that it’s definitely not an easy program. Which is good, because otherwise I’d probably just keep slacking off. There’s a definite schedule to follow, and it even has great suggestions for eating better. That’s one of my hardest things, is giving up the junk food. Dan has jumped on board with the food for the most part though, and we went shopping on Sunday and filled the fridge with fruits and veggies and good meats (fish, chicken etc) Dan cooked up a big batch of brown basmati rice to which he added some carrots and broccoli. It even tastes good. 😛

So… onto the workout portion. I just finished my workout for day two. Day one was abs, and a variety of pullups and pushups. (I definitely need improvement in the pushup area)  Today (day 2) I woke up stiff and sore, but managed to loosen up enough to start Plyometrics. I wasn’t able to get through everything on that video only about 40 min of 60, but I definitely got a good workout in regardless. Next week I’m going to make myself stick it out the rest of the way. It feels good being able to put an “X” on the calendar. My before pictures are pretty much a good motivation for sticking with it. Yuck.

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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


vegas and earthquakes

Dan’s first week of work in Brawley was nice and short. He started on a Wednesday and they got off a bit early on Friday. That weekend was Fourth of July, so a bunch of the guys decided to go to Las Vegas. We figured we’d go too, though we got a room in a different hotel.

Vegas is a pretty interesting city. It’s just as hot there as it is in Brawley, which surprised me, but probably shouldn’t have. Our hotel was off the strip, but we decided to walk there and check it out. Unfortunately my feet did not appreciate all the walking in my sandals and I got a few blisters. Not fun. When we made it back to the hotel, I changed to my only other pair of shoes, which are comfortable, but heels. After the initial walk we decided to use the monorail system that they have for some of the major distances. It helped, but my feet were shot. On day two I hunted up a pair of cheap sneakers and they helped a ton. Was able to enjoy the trip a lot more without feeling like I was limping everywhere.

I’ve never been to a place like it before. It was almost like one giant resort… you buy a drink in one place and can carry it pretty much wherever you want, including onto the monorail. Bizarre. Everything is connected, or very close to. You just walk from one place to the next. Then as you walk on the sidewalk between casinos there are all these people handing out little cards for escorts. That was probably the thing I hated the most. They were everywhere, and they’d smack the cards to make noise and try to hand them to everyone walking past. All around on the ground were the cards that people just tossed. What a waste.

Some of the decor is just amazing. I think my favorite place to walk around was Caesars Palace. It had Roman architecture, and was just plush and expensive looking. Their mall had tons of fancy stores and the ceiling was painted to look like the sky. Just gorgeous. The canal in the Venetian was also cool, though it didn’t have quite the same impact. The Bellagio Fountain was moving. Some of the songs gave me chills when mixed with the water show. Dan and I stood by the fountain for a good 45 minutes and heard a bunch of songs, though my favorites were “Simple Gifts” from Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, and “Con te Partiro” sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman (incidentally, that’s the song I walked down the aisle to, and is already a favorite).

It was a fun weekend.

Before we moved down here, I had known that the area was supposed to be prone to earthquakes, but was hoping we’d skip out on it. Not so much, though I am still hoping that they stay small. I’ve felt 4 so far. Two were very brief, only about a second long where it felt like a large truck had driven by. The other two were a few seconds longer, and I actually felt sustained shaking. Could even see my glass on the ottoman swaying. It’s really eery and creepy. I will be glad when we get to move to a different area.

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Uncategorized