Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17, 2009

Today is my dad's birthday. I sent him a flower arrangement with a teddybear in it. My mom has many stuffed animals to keep her company in her room at Mount St Mary Hospital and I thought my dad might like to have his own stuffy in his own room too.  Wednesday was our oldest grandson's birthday! He is 11 years old now. I think 11 is a perfect age and hope I will always be 11 in my heart. My dad used to say, before he lost most of his mind, that he still felt as if he was 10 years old. 

The last week has been very interesting and thought provoking. On Friday we drove from Peach Springs, on the Hualapai Res at the west end of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, to Twenty-Nine Palms near Joshau State Monument in south eastern California. The drive through the "ridges and basins" that we had been hearing about during our Elderhostel Program was very dramatic and beautiful. We had not realized that this is the high season for Joshua Tree - so there was no room in its many delightful campgrounds. We stayed instead in a nearby full-service RV Park - the usual gravel patch with a few palm trees - plus a swimming pool and hot tub. It was fine.

On Saturday we drove around part of Joshua Tree park and saw some of its many wonderful sights - including the joshua tree forest, (joshua trees are giant yukkas), the interesting granite formations and a steep, moderately strenuous hike up Ryan Mountain. There were tons of dessert flowers in bloom. It was astonishingly beautiful. We have come to love the dessert - the colours, the plants, the great distances, the dryness and the resilience of the people, plants and animals that live there.

Sunday was Easter Sunday. We drove through Joshus Park and through basins and over mountains to San Diego. It was so much fun to see every nook and cranny in Box Canyon filled with large Mexican American family groups celebrating Santa Semana with huge picnic gatherings. Later we saw people in a Vehicle Recreation area - where they were able to ride their quads (atvs) and motorcycles around on the dessert and up and over hilly mounds. We did notice that in the Vehicle Recreation area there were no cactuses for the quad drivers to crash into. (Ouch! I still have a few momentos of the cactuses I got a little too close to in the Grand Canyon.)

It was truly amazing to suddenly leave the dessert and climb up into the last mountain range before the coast. Cactuses gave way to grassy fields, california lilac, flowering fruit trees. It reminded me of the Shire in the Lord of the Rings - beautiful and more familiar to people like us who live on Vancouver Island.

We have stayed for the past 5 days in an RV park in La Mesa about half an hour from the Convention Center in San Diego where we attended the AERA (American Education Research Association) conference. The trip back and forth from La Mesa to San Diego was quite daunting as we flew from freeway to freeway follwoing the guidance of our GPS Emily. The RV park itself is on an "island" between the freeway and the trolley line. It is impossible to go anywhere on foot and there is a constant roar of the river of traffic.

We had a very busy time at AERA, attending many different sessions - all of them very interesting. We were trying to gather the latest ideas about research methods, online learning, and immersive environments. We can report that the paradigm wars between postmodern approaches (usually qualitative) and positivist approaches (always quantitative) are alive and well in Education. When we weren't too exhausted with conference attendance, we also worked on completing a 1 unit SJSU SLIS course on social networking - required before we can attend the SJSU SLIS Faculty Institute in the middle of May.  We finished today.

Also today, we heard back from JELIS (Journal ofEducation for Library and Information Studies) that our article proposal (which we wrote a few weeks ago - while on our trip) has been accepted. This could be a breakthrough for us. Our first publication. We are fired up with lots of new ideas from AERA and look forward to writing our joint article when we get home.  

Tomorrow we leave San Diego for Pismo Beach. We will have to get through or around Los Angeles somehow - more freeways probably. The next day we plan to go as far as San Jose and drop in on SJSU SLIS for Mike to do some paperwork. Then we will trundle on - getting back to BC, we plan, before April 26. 


We stayed in La Mesa 

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