Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I would like to take a moment to specifically thank certain people in my life who have made my entry into Peace Corps possible. Nearly everyone in my life has been very supportive, so I know that I am going to miss some names. My apologies in advance if I miss you. Know that your support is very appreciated.

Brett Dayton - You were the first person I talked to about the Peace Corps. Your encouragement is a huge reason why I decided to go through with it. So if it ruins my life, I blame you first. Thank you for all of your prayers, words of encouragement, and for writing me a letter of recommendation. I love you and will miss you. I'm disappointed that I won't be able to hold your baby before I leave!

Bobby Blackwell - You procrastinating bastard! You had me so worried that I would not get all of my letters in on time. But you came through for me and got it in on time. Barely. And I know that you probably wrote a very glowing letter for me, so thank you!

Dr. Newman - You taught me how to manage people. Leadership is a natural trait, one that I reluctantly see in myself, but management is something that must be learned and practiced. You pushed me outside of my comfort zone and made me grow. You also told me to choose a career that I am going to be passionate about. Thank you for everything you taught me and thank you for the letter of recommendation.

Mykel and Kim Pickens - You have given me your support in so many ways, not only in the last year but also throughout my life. I admire you as role models.You provided me with so much more than I ever expected. You lifted a lot of weight off of my shoulders. I love you guys. Thanks so much!

Jubal and Holly Schneider - My sister, always the voice of reason, you made sure that I thought all of this out before taking the plunge. The two of you have supported me financially beyond any point that I ever expected. Thanks for everything. I'm going to miss you and the kids a whole lot. See you on video chat!

Jason and Jennifer Pasimio - Your pride in me is almost palpable. Thanks for putting up with us for two weeks when we took over your house! I will miss you and the kids. I'm glad I got to hold Natalie before leaving! See you on video chat!

Grandpa Burnidge and Toni- Thank you for providing me with luggage! That was a total life saver. I appreciate it so much. I love you guys.

Mom and Dad - So I stayed at home a bit longer than I ever expected I would. Thanks for having me and supporting me. You've opened up a lot of possibilities in my life. I love you and I hope I make you proud.

Thank you to all of my friends and family, the AVBC College Crew, all of the ladies (and gentlemen) at Union Bank, everyone who came out to support me at my party, and anyone who has said a prayer or spoken words of encouragement to me. I love all of you guys and will try my best to keep in touch with everyone.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vacation Part 2

I'm home from vacation! Today was a lazy day, recovering from the long drive home. I have lots of pictures to share, so I'm going to post them as albums. Enjoy!

August 15

We browsed downtown Mount Vernon and strolled the River Walk. It was a beautiful sunny day.

August 17

We went to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Sadly, my camera battery died early in the day so I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked. Taking photos of the animals was great practice with the camera.

August 19

We hit downtown Anacortis for lunch at a popular local deli. We worked off lunch with a hike around Whidbey Island. The island is on the other side of Deception Pass, so called because Vancouver had mistakenly thought that Whidbey Island was a peninsula. The area has an interesting history. The route was used by Ben Ure and Lawrence "Pirate" Kelly to smuggle Chinese immigrant laborers. Ben Ure would tie the immigrants up in burlap sacks to hide them. If customs agents approached, he would throw the sacks overboard. The bodies of the immigrants would float up into what became known as Dead Man's Bay.

August 22

Seattle was a lot of fun! It was a guys' day with my dad and my brother-in-law. We walked Pike Place Market, I got to see the first Starbucks store, and there was a very talented couple of street performers, or buskers. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the pier and then finished the day with a few races at K-1 Raceway.

August 23

We visited downtown Fairview, which is the old part of Bellingham. Plaques line the sidewalks describing intriguing historical notes. One of the plaques reads "Unknown Dead Men Displayed Here 1901". Apparently this corner was used to display the bodies of unknown dead people.

August 25

The guys got together again to hike Little Mountain, but this time we took the two older boys along.

August 27

We headed home on Saturday morning and started our 20 hour drive.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It has been awhile since I have posted an update, so here it is.

I got information on my orientation, which will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania next month. My flight and hotel room are already booked. After spending a few days learning about my expectations as a volunteer, going over safety procedures and getting the last of my vaccinations, we will be departing JFK airport for Rwanda with a layover in Brussels. It is going to be a hectic and exciting week. But until then...vacation!

My last day of work was on Friday. It was also somebody's birthday, so we had a little potluck. As always, my homemade bread got devoured. The ladies at work pitched in together to get me a case and light for the Amazon Kindle that my parents got me for my birthday. It was a bittersweet day in that I was excited to be moving on, but sad to be leaving all of my friends at work. It hasn't really hit me yet that I don't have a job right now. I feel like I will be waking up on Monday to get ready for work.

My Kindle in its case with light

I am typing this right now from the living room in my sister's house in Washington state. It was a 21 hour drive from Southern California to Northern Washington. The long drive was good conditioning for all of the long flights that I will be on in the coming month.

My favorite cities to drive through on the way up here were Portland and Seattle. They are both very clean and pretty cities. I was the driver when we came through Seattle, so no photos until we go back for a visit, but here are some photos I snapped on the way through Portland.

Washington is a beautiful state. I have seen ferns for the first time! This place is a stark contrast to the brown color of the California desert. I snapped lots of pictures during a short hike we took up a mountain near my sister's house. We even found a couple of geocaches! Photos from our hike up Big Rock - only a couple hundred yards from my sister's house - follow.

The trail head is a local secret, hidden behind a wall of foliage.

The trail makes its way up Big Rock under a thick canopy of trees. The soil is a rich brown color, the trees are covered in moss, and the ferns on the ground are shaded by the umbrella of trees that grow above.

Sometimes a fallen tree will grow a young tree within its trunk.

The upper portion of the trail took a steep grade up to the summit.

Views from the top.

From the geological survey.


Berries grow wild up here.

The pub at the end of the road - also the end of a round-about.

I stitched together a panorama at the top of Big Rock. Unfortunately, it is too big of a file to upload. [edit: the panorama can be viewed here] Hopefully the rest of these photos do the view justice enough. All of the photos are from a new camera, so I apologize if they are not the best of quality.


Washington is so green!
Washington is so grey!
Everything is better after you travel. Food taste amazing, sleep feels great, and just showering and brushing your teeth makes you feel like a brand new person!
God's creation speaks of His majesty no matter where you are.
My brother-in-law was showing off a knife to me. Like any sane person would do, I tested how sharp it was by filleting my thumb.
God's blessing overwhelmingly abound in my life. I am thankful to be able to visit my family before leaving the country for two years.