What Grandmas Do

When they are not doing other things (and there are quite a few other things to do), Grandmas care for and play with their grandchildren!  And “Gramma Jan” has opportunities to do what Grandmas do fairly often with two of her six grandchildren – Stephen and Meagan’s son Ryan and daughter Erin – living not too far away.

Erin, at six months, is learning all kinds of new “tricks” – like push-ups.

And perhaps she is already apparently into pondering some deep thoughts.

Is she off to an early start with concern over the appearance of her hair?

It appears that she may already be giving some thought to carving her first pumpkin.

Ryan enjoys being outdoors – and helping Grandma with the yard-work.

And he enjoyed tossing glow rings over pumpkin stems in the back of our car at our church’s Fall Fun Extravaganza – among the other fun activities.

Grandma Jan is having a good time doing what Grandmas do!

And Grandpa Dave is in on the fun as well because – in addition to the crowns on some of his teeth – Proverbs 17:6 says that “Grandchildren are the crown of old men”!


Along the Way

Because they knew their drive to and from South Dakota and Wyoming would be a long drive, Dave and Jan made it their aim to stop along the way for some breaks in their summer travels in July (2017). Thinking that they had five days to arrive in South Dakota, and calculating that four days would be enough, they planned a stop for two nights of camping and a day of exploring in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Driving north on California’s Highway 395 they arrived in the Twin Lakes area just west of Bridgeport, California.

The drive toward Twin Lakes from Bridgeport already presented some tantalizing views of the rugged terrain.

Dave and Jan found the view of nearby mountains from the Forest Service Crags Campground where they set up camp also very appealing.

The campground was shared with others who live there on a more permanent basis.

Tuesday’s hike toward the Matterhorn followed the route of beautiful Horsetail Creek.

The stream came crashing down the mountainside with a pretty impressive roar.

Though they were not overly abundant, there were very nice wildflowers to enjoy.

There were some very peaceful water scenes in the saddle area above the first climbs.

Farther along the trail the Matterhorn began to come into view on the horizon.

We are told it is possible to climb to the top, but that will have to wait for another day!

The Twin Lakes region clearly deserves more exploration, but it was a refreshing stop “along the way.”  Dave and Jan never cease to enjoy the expansive beauty of the Sierras and the many other displays of God’s creative genius in the world around us!

Where Buffalo Roam

You have probably sung (or at least heard sung) the song “Home on the Range.”  But have you ever wondered where it is that the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play?  Dave and Jan have enjoyed seeing them all in the states of South Dakota and Wyoming.  On their recent vacation trip they enjoyed seeing some of each – along with other animals not named in the song “Home on the Range.”  Driving south of the Tetons they saw some impressive specimens of Buffalo.

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One of the things Dave and Jan enjoy doing is seeing wildlife during their camping and hiking experiences.  This year was particularly interesting in that respect during the time they spent with Andrew and Alissa and family at the cabin in Wyoming’s Big Horn National Forest.  Deer sightings were a frequent experience without leaving the cabin.  Dave watched this young doe foraging in the field directly in front of the cabin.

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Just a short drive along the main road to the cabin there were many animals to be seen.

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We even got a good look at Bambi – or one of his close relatives anyhow.

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Also in the area there were antelope for the deer to play with.

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There were herds of elk grazing on the hillsides during our evening drives.

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And the family especially enjoyed seeing the moose grazing along the stream.

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True to the song, as we enjoyed our temporary “home on the range,” seldom was heard a discouraging word.  It was a special treat to see so many of our animal neighbors while we were enjoying time with our “kids” and our grandchildren.

“Dear” Sightings

The main purpose of Dave and Jan’s recent vacation trip to South Dakota and other locations far from home in Brea was to spend time with their family – specifically son-in-law Dr. Andrew Crandall (congratulations on the doctorate!), daughter Alissa, and four grandsons who live in South Dakota (far from Brea).  It had been a year since they were last together, shortly after the birth of Ephraim, so there had been some significant growth.  Ephraim, for example, is no longer a little baby!

It was fun once again to see these dear youngsters have fun at play – and even pose for a picture (left to right:  Ephraim – one; Silas – two; Levi – six; and Elijah – four).

Levi was always eager for another ride on the ATVs at the Wyoming cabin.

Among many things to do at Rimrock Camp there were scooter boards – like the one Elijah was enjoying when this picture was taken.

Elijah also got in on some playing by father Andrew – on his small guitar.

And “Annie Oakley” (aka Alissa) got in on the fun with the cabin’s BB gun!

Elijah, Levi and Silas enjoyed playing with art supplies as they created their own personalized bookmarks with Grandma Jan.

And Levi and Elijah also enjoyed some spelunking with Grandma Jan.

The trip was very enjoyable as a time of family fun.  Dave and Jan look forward to the next time they can connect across the miles with their “dear” South Dakota family.

Pastoral Perks

After Dave and Jan enjoyed a reunion with Andrew, Alissa and their four sons (Levi, Elijah, Silas and Ephraim) at the family camp held in the Black Hills just west of Rapid City, South Dakota (Rimrock Camp), the family drove on west to spend a few more days together at a “cabin” in Wyoming’s Big Horn National Forest.  Andrew routed us through scenic Black Hills forest roads by way of Roughlock Falls in a beautiful forested canyon in South Dakota.

Alissa had connected with the Shaffer family who own the “cabin” to which we were headed, making it available for the enjoyment of ministry families.  Leaving highway 16 we drove south around six or eight miles on a paved road, another half to three-quarters of a mile on a dirt road, then left around a mile on a smaller dirt road, then left again through a gate in the barbed wire fence and another half mile or so on a rutted dirt road to the “cabin.”  What a pleasant surprise!

Though it was in a remote location (electricity provided by a gas-powered generator, and water from a well), the “cabin” was anything but primitive.  It was clearly constructed by master-builders, with beautiful furnishings and fixtures and decorations.

There was lots of time for relaxation and recreation and exploration of the 84 acres which belong to the Shaffers.

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We enjoyed day trips to nearby points of interest – like the James T. Saban fire lookout . . .

. . . and Sheep Mountain . . .

. . . and Crazy Woman Creek . . .

. . . and there was more!  Much more!!  But, as you can probably tell, it was a beautiful week with the family.

Many thanks to Alissa and family for making the arrangements and sharing their time with us, to the Shaffers for sharing their amazing “cabin” and all of its amenities with us, and to the Lord for creating such beautiful places for our enjoyment and our discovery of more of His greatness in the Big Horn National Forest of Wyoming!

Long Time No See

Not having seen Andrew and Alissa’s family in South Dakota since the birth of Ephraim in June of 2016, Dave and Jan looked forward to a “family reunion” with the Crandalls in mid-July, beginning in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  After several days on the road, camping along the way in their tent-trailer, the family got together at a “family camp” at Camp Rimrock just west of Rapid City.  Left to right – Silas with Alissa; Elijah; Andrew with Ephraim; Levi; Dave and Jan.

Family camp included morning vesper service activities for those attending.  Son-in-law Pastor Andrew shared a lesson directed specifically at the children attending at one of the camp’s fireside settings.

Meals were prepared by an excellent chef in the camp kitchen and served either in the dining room or at picnic tables outdoors in front of the lodge.

Afternoons included a quiet hour following lunch, then free time for families to enjoy the camp grounds – including tubing on the beautiful stream which flows through the campground.

Even baby Ephraim enjoyed the water – in a kiddie pool someone brought to camp for the little ones.

There were some fun family games to play during the cooler morning hours on a forested hillside.  Andrew and Alissa worked at getting their family balanced on a small wooden platform placed on top of a log.

“Grandma Jan” joined the Crandalls in a time of close family fellowship on a much smaller wooden platform!

Elijah and Levi demonstrated their skill at hanging spoons on their noses during an evening “talent night.”

Dave and Jan pitched their tent-trailer next door to the Crandalls’ cabin for overnight accommodations.

Family camp was a fun time of family togetherness at Camp Rimrock – a camp which has served the needs of our family on several occasions now in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.  And the fun wasn’t over with the end of camp – because Alissa arranged for further family fun in an amazing “cabin” in the Big Horn National Forest of Wyoming.  So stay tuned for more . . .

Quick Camping Trip

While son Stephen and family were away from their home for a trip with Meagan’s family to Seattle, Dave and Jan decided to spend a few days camping in their tent trailer. The original thought was to head for the eastern Sierras, but the winter’s unusually heavy snow pack made that impractical.  Heading south to Cuyamaca State Park, east of San Diego, was under consideration until weather forecasts predicted near 100 degree temperatures in the area.  So cool weather predictions for the Monterey Bay area sounded like a winner – especially because Dave’s three sisters and their families live in the area.  Dave’s hope to land a campsite at the Veterans’ Memorial Park (known as Deer Flats when he was growing up in the area) at the top of the Peninsula was realized with a very nice site.

Just a couple hundred feet from the camp site is Huckelberry Hill nature preserve with miles of trails to enjoy – across the fence from the Monterey Presidio military facility. The hike to the top of the hill was aided by a series of 185 steps (by the count of park authorities) – good heart strengthening exercise.

Views of the city of Monterey and the bay from the top of the Peninsula were quite spectacular.

And there were even wild huckelberries to be picked and sampled along the trail!

Tuesday included a fun bowling outing arranged and paid for by Dave’s sister Jan.  We have no pictures to show because Dave and Jan’s camera stayed in the car, but sister Jan is an excellent photographer, and she was taking pictures of the group (Dave and Jan, sister Jan with grandchildren Conner, Cameron, Azela and Jaze and brother-in-law Steve, sister Susan and her son Jared, his wife Joy, and their son Daniel).  Back at the house where Dave grew up in Seaside we enjoyed a visit with the family and his sister Susan provided a meal featuring enchiladas and blackberry pie!

Wednesday’s activities included an enjoyable hike and visit with Dave’s sister Jewel, her husband Rick, and their granddaughter Alexandra – from the Seaside beach to New Monterey’s Cannery Row along the bike and pedestrian trail which extends from Pacific Grove to north of Marina along very scenic coastal views.  Jewel, Rick, Alexandra and Jan posed at one of the bay views atop the famous Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey Bay.On Wednesday evening family members enjoyed a dinner meal at Seaside’s Googie Grill where Dave (joined by Jan this time around) enjoyed his second plate of the Danish dish “Frickedeler” (meat balls and gravy, mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage, a small serving of cranberry sauce, and plenty of french bread) – a tasty specialty at the grill.

Thursday began the drive home with an overnight stop at the county campground at Santa Margarita Lake.  It was a very enjoyable, quiet, scenic stay in a campground nearly empty and apparently not very known well – but well-worth another visit.


The trip was a very enjoyable camping experience – both in Monterey and at Santa Margarita Lake – and we always enjoy the times we spend with family members who live in the Monterey area where Dave grew up.  But it is always nice, following such a trip, to return home – this time to enjoy again the transformation which recently took place when carpet was removed and hard wood floors resurfaced in our living and dining room areas.

Dave and Jan are grateful to the Lord for the blessings of life and health and strength in their retirement years, with the freedom and resources to enjoy camping and family experiences like the recent short camping outing.