Monthly Archives: September 2017

Beaver Dick

And here’s where our summer picked up a bit.  As we did last summer, we teamed up with our friends, the Sheffields, and hit the road in this bad boy.

This would be our home on wheels for the next 10 days.  At the time Benjy picked us up from the airport, we were completely oblivious as to how true that statement would be just a few short hours later.

Benjy and Jen are the planners on the trip.  Those 2 personalities are plenty big for any one group, so the rest of us just sit back and go along for the ride.  I barely knew what our itinerary was before we left and I rested easy knowing that those 2 had everything under control.

The launching point for Memory Maker II was Spokane, WA.  Benjy’s and Jen’s grand plan was to drive “until we got tired” and then find a motel and sleep for the night.  Our destination, Grand Teton National Park, was a 9 hour drive and we knew we didn’t want to drive the entire way in one afternoon.  Around 10:00 pm we had reached our limit, so we decided to start looking for a motel.  At our first stop, the place was completely booked, so we kept driving until the next exit.  We stopped and that motel was also completely filled.  At the third stop, it was the same result.  Finally Benjy asked, “what is going on that every hotel in the area is booked?”  Turns out that Brigham Young University – Boise was having their graduation…on a Tuesday night…on July 18.  Well, that was unexpected.  We get back on the road and started making calls.  We quickly discovered that all motels within a 2 hour radius were booked.

We then pulled over at a Best Western motel at about 1:00 a.m.  There was one room available, but the lady at the desk told Benjy that it was reserved.  Benjy tried to convince her that whoever booked it isn’t showing up at 1:00 a.m., but she wouldn’t budge a centimeter.  She said to Benjy, “I really wish I could help.  You’re the first person tonight who hasn’t cursed at me.”  Then a light bulb went off in her head.  “There is a camp ground about 45 minutes from here where you can stay.  It’s called the Beaver Dick.”  She said it just like that. With a straight face.  The Beaver Dick Campground.

So Benjy climbed back in the van and announced to us, “We’re going to the Beaver Dick Campground.”  I said, “Wait…What???  Beaver Dick? Did that lady know we have children in the car?  What kind of place is this?”  But, there was no point in protesting.  We were a half step away from all of us sleeping in the van in the parking lot of Walmart. Our options were very limited and less than ideal.

We arrived at the Beaver Dick Campground around 2:00 a.m.  We circled about 3 times waking everyone in the park as we hunted for an empty spot.  We finally found a place that looked sort of like a camp ground space.  Benjy parked the van and pulled out our camping gear.

The boys immediately set to work.  They were like a NASCAR pit crew and had the 2 tents up in 10 minutes.  Trouble is that the 2 tents only hold a total of 4 people and we had 8 people.  Benjy made the command decision that the boys would sleep in the tents and the girls would sleep in the van.

So daylight breaks and this is the scene of the crime.

The van is parked all askew; tents barely standing, strewn in a space that in the light of day doesn’t really look like a camping space at all, but rather a gravel parking spot next to some woods.  If you had walked past us that morning you would have thought to yourself: now that there is a camping trip gone terribly wrong.  I didn’t get pix of the girls, but the scene inside the van wasn’t any better; and of course we all felt even worse than we looked.

Did we really spend the first night of our vacation in a campground called Beaver Dick?  What in the world?  And then we saw this.

OHHHHH!  So Beaver Dick was a MAN.  It was not, as we so wrongly thought, the private part of a large male rodent.  Nor was it the venue of some salacious, hermaphroditic outdoor experience.  Beaver Dick was just some guy.  Named Dick.  Who was a fur trapper back in the day and apparently trapped beavers and other game.  He’s well known in these parts, so I guess that’s why the lady at the Best Western talked abut him so nonchalantly.

We even found a photo of good ‘ole Dick himself.

Beaver Dick Leigh.  Now that’s a name!

You just can’t make this stuff up!

The Big 1-3

While we were in the U.S., we celebrated this girl’s 13th birthday.

I don’t know how it’s possible that she’s 13!  What a lovely, intelligent, fearless, determined, friendly, inquisitive young lady she is!  To celebrate, mom and the birthday girl took a trip to Savannah, Georgia, all by ourselves.  Just us girls!

Dad booked us a room in a fancy hotel, close to shopping and restaurants.

And this guy guarded our room 24/7.

We did lots of shopping and eating, completely uninterrupted and unhindered by the male contingency of Team Woods.


Savannah is a charming southern city.  It was nice just strolling around enjoying the parks and architecture.

Webs and I took a cooking class while we were there.

It’s tough to mess up bacon cooked with brown sugar, though.

So this is what we ended up with.

And we rolled ourselves out of there and back to Jacksonville.

Happy birthday my beautiful girl!!

The Summer of 2017

Well, it was a long summer!  We left Hong Kong for the U.S. on June 1 and we got back on August 22. For me, it’s always like climbing through a wormhole in the universe, traversing between our life in Hong Kong and our life in the U.S.  The 2 worlds rarely intersect, especially on the U.S. side.  We get on an airplane in Hong Kong, where just about everyone is Asian and speaking Cantonese.  Seventeen hours later, we pop out on the other side in Dallas where just about everyone is white and speaking English.  It’s surreal and it takes me awhile on both ends to adjust.

So we landed in Hong Kong and were greeted with the city’s hideous heat and 100% humidity.  The very next day a typhoon level 10 hits (T8’s are the norm).  Welcome back!  Now, I’m staring down the abyss of another school year.  This is my 5th year homeschooling.  All I can say is….wow.  We’re all still here…alive…and still (somewhat) sane.

Anyway, we covered a lot of ground while we were in the U.S. (both literally and figuratively), so there’s a multitude of pictures to share and stories to tell…some not always so great (more on that later), but never dull and mostly a blast.

So, I’ll start at the beginning of our summer which included a lot of family time.  We spent some time with Benjy’s mom and her husband, Rob, at their house in Gulf Breeze.

Then the Filipino side of Team Woods converged on a beach house my sister rented on Pensacola Beach.

My cousin, Maya, and her family joined us again.

This time we also had a visit from my cousin Michael and his 2 handsome sons.

The last time I had seen Michael is when I was 15 and my mom and sister and I had traveled to the Philippines to visit my grandparents.  This is a picture taken during that visit.  In it are my grandparents and most of the Malonzo cousins alive at the time.

Michael is the oldest cousin and he’s standing on the far left.  My sister, Gay, is standing next to him and that’s me to the right of her.  Maya is on the left sitting on the floor holding a kitten.  This was taken at the house in Zamboanaga, Philippines where my mom and her siblings grew up.  My Lolo has passed away, but my Lola still lives there.  She is 106!

So we did all the beach-y stuff.

Aaron, of course, went fishing with Lolo and did quite well.

He also fished off the pier of the beach house every opportunity he got.  We were required to enjoy the bounties of his labor,  no matter the size or genus.

True to Filipino form, we did a lot of eating.

and hanging out

We had a great time!