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Travel

Illinois Funeral

As I mentioned in the previous post, Grandma Martens passed away on Easter. I was very thankful to be able to make a quick trip back to Illinois for the funeral. It was a very memorable trip!

Buying last minute tickets means that you get to pay top dollar for the privilege of scrounging through what everyone else has left behind. My flight left at 6am on Friday morning and I was back by 10pm the next day. I flew out of the new Paine Field passenger terminal. I have never seen a terminal that looks anything like that place. It was so fancy! But aside from the luxurious surroundings, it was very nice flying out of such a small airport. Parking is easy and TSA agents outnumbered the passengers in line by about 10 to 1. Assuming the price was right, I’d definitely consider flying out of there again.

I was able to get a cheaper flight on United with their “Basic Economy” fare. The main differences were that I couldn’t choose my seats ahead of time and I was only allowed a small carry on that would fit under the seat (or a checked bag.) I took it as a challenge and did the whole trip with only a backpack! That was a little tricky since I wanted to bring a suit but I flew out there in my suit and hung up the jacket during the flights and it all worked out very well.

My flight connected through Denver and then went straight to Moline, IL. Both were small planes but having a seat assigned at the last minute worked out fairly well. I got an exit row one time and on the flight back I had an empty seat next to me on both legs of the journey.

With all the flights and layovers, I was very thankful for two tech gadgets:

  1. Anker 20100 mAh battery pack – We used this on our Disney trip too and even with rapid charging phones multiple times, it still has gobs of power left according to the meter.
  2. NordVPN – I signed up for NordVPN and while I think their signup site is a little shady in how it always implies that you’re about to miss out on a crazy deal, I do like their service. It’s very fast and let’s me safely connect to the internet on shady airport WiFi.

Once I landed in Moline, I was met by Mom and we headed straight over to the visitation. We had some time as a family before the doors opened and wow, once they opened it seemed like there was a line out the door for two hours! The final tally was well over 200 people in addition who stopped by. All four children were their with their spouses chatting with all of the visitors while the cousins milled around in the back catching up. Obviously it would be nice to catch up with everyone under different circumstances, but it was still nice to see everyone and since we were all confident that Grandma was in heaven because she believed that Jesus paid for her sins, the mood was not super somber.

After the visitation, the family split up and I was in the group that went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and I finally ended up back at Uncle Dean and Aunt Sandy’s. A huge thanks goes to them for letting Dad, Mom and I stay there in addition to both of their kids’ families! It was a full house but I slept very well after such a long day.

Saturday morning we headed over to Zion Lutheran Church in Taylor Ridge, IL. The weather was giving us all it had that morning with 30-40 mph wind, heavy rain and temps around 40 degrees. The forecast not too far away in Iowa was calling for 3-6 inches of snow!

Grandma had left lots of ideas for her funeral service and she picked some great topics and hymns, praising God for sending Jesus to save us and encouraging all of us to stay strong in our faith and join her in heaven.

I was a pallbearer along with some of the other cousins. We braced ourselves against the weather and carried he casket out to the hearse, followed it across the street to the cemetery and then brought it into the tent. As we made that trip, the church bell tolled once for every year of Grandma’s 93 years on earth. That tent looked like it was going to blow away but it held up for the graveside ceremony and managed to dump a bunch of water down Uncle Mark’s back not once, but twice.

We made our way back over to the fellowship hall/gymnasium for a luncheon put on by the church. Thanks to all of the families who brought food and put the lunch together!

Everything about the morning felt like it was out of a movie, except that while there was sadness, the overwhelming emotion was one of joy and hope. We’re thankful that Grandma was so active up until that last month, and it’s extremely comforting that she shared her faith every time we talked to her. There’s no doubt that she was welcomed into heaven with open arms because Jesus had saved her from her sins.

From the church, Mom took me back to the airport and I had an extremely wild ride up to cruising altitude for the flight back to Everett. I was very thankful to be connecting through Denver instead of Chicago because over 600 flights were canceled in Chicago that afternoon because of the snow. Our little plane got bucked around very strongly by the winds and hail but we made it out.

I was in Illinois for a little over 24 hours, but there were a lot of memories crammed into that small time frame. Thanks to everyone who made it happen including Tyla for staying home with Elijah and Mom and Dad for giving me rides while I was there. I’m so thankful I could attend! While I hope we have another reunion at some point, it’s hard to imagine ever collecting that much of our big family in one place at the same time.

 

Strata 2019 San Francisco

My company was nice enough to send me down to San Francisco last week to attend the Strata Data Conference. If there’s a bigger conference in my field of data engineering/science/analysis, I don’t know what it is.

I attended a big data conference four years ago, but going to Strata was a huge step up both in terms of the quality of the event planning and in the quality of the talks. I came away with a stronger vision about things I want our team at work to accomplish and how we can make a bigger effect on our business group.

I skipped all the social events surrounding the conference, but I filled both days wither every talk I could cram into my schedule. A couple were total duds, but there were a lot of great ones from Netflix, Lyft, Uber, Intuit and others.

Aside from the conference itself, it was strange to be traveling alone. I did spend one evening in a movie theater watching Captain Marvel, but otherwise I mostly hung out in my room. I felt guilty about temporarily forcing Tyla into single parent mode and leaving my team at work short-handed, so I spent a lot of my free time working on the laptop and trying to make good use of my time.

My hotel was right next to Moscone West where the conference was held and that was fantastic. I was able to get from my room to a talk in about 5 minutes. That let me hustle back to the room even when we had ~45 minute breaks to get away from the crowds and recharge a bit. It’s surprising how tiring it is to sit on your rear end and listen to talks all day. I felt like my brain was very full!

It was a great trip, and while it’s not something that I need to do every year, I hope I can go back in 3-4 years. Thank you Tyla for holding down the fort while I took this trip!

Leavenworth Condo

Last weekend, Don kindly let us use some of his timeshare credits and we all went over to Leavenworth for the weekend. Thankfully there wasn’t any new snow in the pass so it made the drive relatively quick and easy.

It was a quick trip since we arrived Friday evening and left Sunday morning. Saturday was our big day and we got things started with sledding. There was a great U-shaped hill right behind the condos. Even those the snow was hardpacked and icy in spots, we were able to find a gentle slope that was just right for Elijah. I figured he’d be bored after a couple runs but he must have made 20 or 30 trips up that hill by himself to come ripping down.

Later in the afternoon we walked around the shops and then we had dinner at Andreas Keller Restaurant. I’ve never been to German so I don’t know how authentic it was, but it sure tasted good! Watch out for the $10 draft beers though. That was a surprise when we got the bill.

Elijah really wanted to go sledding again so we did a little more on Sunday. Unfortunately the run had changed a bit overnight and it shot him off the side head first into a park bench. OUCH. Tyla and I were pretty nervous about a concussion but he showed now signs for the rest of the day and even got back on his sled and tried it again. Note to self: teach my son how to bail out.

It’s always a lot of work traveling with a family, but it was a nice weekend. Thank you Don for sharing your credits with us!

WELS Marriage Enrichment Weekend

Last weekend was a big one for Tyla and me. Mom flew out from Indiana and stayed with Elijah while Tyla and I headed to Hood River, OR for our church organization’s marriage enrichment weekend. This series comes to the Pacific Northwest every two years. When we heard about it a few months ago, we signed up to “force” ourselves to get there this year instead of putting it off again.

I had never been to Hood River. What a gorgeous area! The class was hosted at the Best Western right on the waterfront and our room overlooked the river. It’s not a big town but there were enough restaurants, shops and scenic sights to easily keep us entertained during our free time.

The Marriage Enrichment weekends consist of a variety of programs but ours was called “Simply Marriage.” It covered five topics:

Overcome frustration
Faith moves us from frustrated over God’s ways to curious about God’s ways. Become more curious and less frustrated with your spouse.
Appreciate incompatibility
We are all incompatible because we’re fallen. But incompatibility is grounds for marriage. Learn to put your spouse and his/her happiness ahead of your own; as Jesus has done for you.

Break patterns that destroy oneness
The two shall become one; but there’s an enemy. Learn how to break common patterns that war against your oneness:  escalation, invalidation, negative interpretation and withdrawal/avoidance.

Use words that work
Move from monologue to dialogue, learn how to initiate a behavior change request, cut the negativity and communicate appreciation.
Grow more intimate
Build your intimacy in ways that most couples can’t dream of: in your faith, in your friendship and in your sex and sensuality.

Those five sessions filled up an hour on Friday evening, 9-3 on Saturday and a couple hours on Sunday morning. The rest of the time was free for us to spend time together as a couple. We walked along the river, spent time in the hot tub, visited Multnomah Falls, and ate dinners at Solstice and Full Sail Brewing.

We didn’t have many expectations going into the weekend, but now we’re itching to go to the next one in two years! We met a bunch of great couples, learned a lot and enjoyed spending a weekend away together. It was obvious that the class has been offered many times because it went very smoothly.

These events are held all over the country so if you’re at all interested, check out the website to find one near you. Thank you Pastor Hunter for leading the class and we look forward to seeing you again in two years. Thank you Mom for coming all the way here to watch Elijah and thanks Dad for spending a weekend alone while she was here.