Tall Mountains and Kira

Well it’s been a very long while since I’ve posted on my travel blog!  Lots of highlights to get started on.  First, I had a wonderful time traveling back to the midwest and enjoying family at the Niebuhr Family Reunion.  A memory I’ll never forget from that trip is watching old films from past family reunions in the church basement where we held  the event.  Since the films always had a group photo of everyone that attended the reunion, I thought it would be fun to take a photo from this years reunion.

This is a photo taken from one of the films showing the Niebuhr family at a past reunion. (I am unsure of the date)

These are the people that attended this year.

Everyone really enjoyed coming to the farm where the original farmstead is located.  It was previously used as a toolshed, but was originally for the first family that came over from Germany in 1885  and housed 9 family members.  Wow! In our culture we think a studio apartment for 2 people is small, what about a 1 room house for 9?

The weekend after I returned from the farm Brice, Brandon and I went to Yosemite National Park for the weekend.  We had a great time hiking through the Nevada Falls trail on Saturday which ascends 2,000 feet and is 5.4 miles.  I have been fortunate and never suffered from elevation sickness previously, but I experienced the thin air there more then ever before.  The trail ascends up the mountain and basically is steep and uneven stairs in direct sunlight.  It was extremely strenuous for me and I started to panic partway from not feeling like I was getting enough oxygen.  But, I did make it to the top and the descent was much more pleasant as we took a trail that was a bit longer but not as many stairs.

Waterfall with Rainbow

At the top of our hike when we began our descent.

On Sunday, we were on our way to a trail when we saw a girl looked like she was in distress on the side of the road in a parking lot for a trailhead.  I asked Brice to pull over and we ran to her.  She was gasping for air and coughing severely.  Brice knew immediately that this was an asthma attack and asked her if she was carrying her inhaler with her.  Since she was not, he asked me to get a bag for her to breathe to attempt to control her breathing.  Meanwhile Brandon and I worked to try and get someone with medical background to attend to her while Brice was with her holding the bag for her to breathe in.   Brice and Brandon moved her away from the parking lot (fairly close to the road) and onto the trailhead area. We learned that her parents were hiking and that she had a key fob for a Mazda and no shoes on.  Finally, someone pulled over that just happened to be working for the park servie and was off-duty hiking with his wife/girlfriend.  He radioed for a park service vehicle and they came pretty quickly.   They gave her pure oxygen and worked to stabilize her breathing.  She told them that she was 16 and that is all they could get out of her since she was gasping so badly.  The park service called an ambulance but said that we were one of the farthest places in the park from an ambulance and it would be a while.   We knew that the park service had this issue handled, but I think we were all still so rattled from this experience we stayed there to make sure she made it to the ambulance OK.  We left with no sense of closure and I thought of her all day.  Was she OK? Who told her parents where she was?  Why did her parents leave her?  If she had severe asthma attacks, why was she not carrying an inhaler? Brandon gave them his contact information but was never contacted by park service.  We will always wonder what happened to her, and have to assume that we did the right thing in a stressful situation.

After that experience we went on a short (but steep!) hike to a small lake made by snow melt.  I had the same troubles with breathing and was overheated by the time we arrived.  Stairs at a high elevations in direct hot sunlight are not my thing while hiking.  I much prefer the canopy of the Big Basin forest where it is cool and damp.  When we arrived I was desperate for a cool down and feeling slightly delirious as I took off my hiking boots, threw my poles in the ground and started for the water.  There is just something about me that has an innate need to jump into water or be around water whenever I am in nature.  As I waded in I didn’t even feel the icy water around my legs and jumped fully into the water.  BAM!  It hit me similar to someone doing a polar plunge and as I exclaimed many profanities I lunged toward the shore.  As freezing as my dip was I felt amazing.  Like being able to breathe feeling sane again.  I sat in the sun and dried quickly.  We later found a sign that posted “water reserve, no swimming”.  Whoops. 🙂

The lake where I took my icy swim

Brice and I after I took the “polar plunge”
We actually saw a small patch of snow near here on one of the mountain tops. You can see here I look much calmer and happier.

The next excitement we have had here is adopting a little 3-month old kitten.  After countless searches and 2 applications later, we finally were approved, found a kitten we liked and decided on a date to adopt her.  We picked her up on Monday night from her foster home in San Jose and brought her right home.  The foster family was at the San Jose shelter picking out 2 kittens- none of them were our kitten when they heard her crying very loudly.  They added her to the mix because she was so desperate and took her home.  We don’t know anything else about where she came from other than then she was found on the 3300 block of Quimby Ave. in San Jose as a stray nursing kitten.  Her photo from the San Jose Shelter is heart breaking as she looks terrified in a too-small metal cage.  I saw the photo for the first time yesterday and don’t ever want to see it again.

When she arrived to our home she was very skittish and scared.  Since then she has blossomed into the owner of our apartment and snuggled into both of our hearts. ❤  In 3 days she has become an integral part of our family and as I type this is purring and sleeping soundly in my lap.  We named her Kira– which means “beam of light” in Hindi and “mistress, ruler” in Russian.  A very fitting name for our sassy kitten.   She is very intelligent we have enjoyed watching her play and explore new places in our apartment every day.

We built her a kitty castle from an enormous box we had from a shipment. She liked it so much we had to build it around her because she fell asleep in it.

She loves attacking her cat post.

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