Family News
(Click on any picture to enlarge it - click "back" to return to this page.)
Mike took Great-Grandson Colby over to Sausalito to visit the Corps of Engineers big Bay Model, and after a bite of lunch, they drove into the Marin headlands for a top-down view of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, etc.

Mike and Sandy have now been in their new apartment at Viamonte in Walnut Creek for almost three years. This is proving to be a great move! Although we have a nice kitchen in our apartment, we find for most nights that the broad menu in the dining room downstairs hits the spot just fine.

It's a little hard to describe Viamonte. It IS an upscale apartment building, but much more than that. It's seniors only, so it has enough activities and amenities to make a Rossmoor proud, plus a menu of a la carte Assisted Living services that can come to your apartment if and when you have need of any of them. There's also a wing of the building with memory care services, should that need arise. The location can't be beat -- within easy walking distance are 2 grocery stores, a Post Office, a UPS store, an Ace Hardware, a drug store, a nail salon, and dozens of restaurants. And we are much closer to family and volunteer locations, so we save gas too.

There's a great fitness center and pool, library, and various private rooms we can use. The building's decor and art work reminds us of Holland America cruise ships, whose hallways were always filled with art, etc.

Here's a series of pictures showing some of Viamonte, and our apartment. There are two courtyards, surrounded by the 4-story building. Our apartment is on the top floor, with a great view of Mt. Diablo right out our windows. (OK, we also see the roof of our neighboring Safeway store, but tilt your head up a bit!)

Mike and Great-Grandson Colby recently took a ferry boat across the Bay to San Francisco for a bit of sightseeing. They walked the big park built on the roof of the new Transit Center, saw the leaning Millenium Towers condo building that has been in the news, and took a ride on a Cable Car.
Mike and good friend Marv get their bikes out from time to time and go off for a ride. This time it was along the Bay front, including the Berkeley Marina, the area behind Golden Gate Fields race track, and the infamous Albany Bulb, a former dump that has become the haunt of "junk" artists. Most of the creations are from drift wood, but a few have lots more effort put into them.

Viamonte seniors this time took an all-day tour of the Presidio of San Francisco. It's bigger than we had realized, and now includes a new mini-park on top of the highway tunnels headed for the Golden Gate Bridge.

Great-Grandson Colby and Mike ventured over to Point Richmond where what is advertised as the largest model railroad layout in the Bay Area is located. It is indeed HUGE!

At Viamonte, it seems there's never a dull moment. During Fleet Week this year, a group chartered a bus, headed for San Francisco, and watched the Blue Angels show. Their vantage point was the San Francisco Belle, a big Hornblower event boat (originally built as a floating casino on the Mississippi River). Fog shortened the show, but a good time (and a big lunch) was had by all!

Great-Great Grandson Kaiden is now 3. He has some un-happy days, due to some ongoing medical issues, but otherwise is your fun little kid!

Viamonte has a sedate walking group, and a more adventurous one. Mike went with the latter recently on a hike up the slopes of Mt. Diablo to visit a mysterious labyrinth someone built several years ago. Curious, and beautiful views back across the valley.

Mike took their Great-Grandson Colby (now in Intermediate School) on an outing to the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills. They enjoyed all the exhibits, and a talk by a real live NASA Astronaut!

Sandy's birthday surprise last year was Great-Great Grandson Kaiden, born on her birthday. When Kaiden was one, it was time for Baptism, with Mom and Dad, special Aunt, and God Mother.

Mike and son-in-law Blake headed down (and then up) to Mt. Umunhum ("the Mt. Diablo of the South Bay.") From the summit, where an old Cold War radar site is located, you can look towards San Jose and Silicon Valley one way, and over to the ocean around Santa Cruz the other way. A little hazy, but a great experience!

You can see more here about previous Mike and Blake adventure trips.

Mike recently took Great-Grandson Colby (now 12) up to the Western Railway Museum, where they saw all the exhibits and rode one of the old Key System electric trains. (These ran from the East Bay over the lower deck of the Bay Bridge to San Francisco from the '30's until the '50's.)

Once Covid receded from the headlines, restaurants openws up, and we could resume celebrating birthdays! Here's son-in-law Blake, taking the guest of honor seat, surrounded by his wife Ginger (Mike's oldest daughter), and Mike and Sandy. They are at Vic's, one of the better known restaurants in Martinez.

There's nothing like a small child (or a puppy!) to take over everyone's attention. Sandy's Great-Great-Grandson Kaiden did just that when he turned one. (Kaiden was Sandy's birthday surprise last year, as he was born on her birthday!)

It's true Christmas was a bit odd during the Covid shutdowns, with social distancing, masks, etc., but 3 year old Addie thought things seemed pretty normal!

And in another branch of the family, Sandy's niece Erin, down in the Los Angeles area, had a 1 year old birthday party for her son Dylan. Both the birthday boy and the dog were tired of waiting for the cake!

It's easy to see that Mike and Sandy are getting a little older, as this holiday season, they only went to one big party, and even stayed home on New Year's Eve. This picture was at the Blackhawk Women's Christmas event, which had a theme of "An Evening In Paris."

Great grand kids Addison and big brother Colby got dressed up for Halloween just before Covid arrived, and had a great time!

Some 15 years ago, a group of ladies volunteered to buy and assemble "gift bags" which are delivered along with the meal on the birthday of Meals on Wheels receipients. Sandy is now the head of this group, which so far this year has put together over 1000 bags. Here's Sandy with some of her helpers at a recent work session at the MoW offices.

Mike and friends Marv and Jesse recently toured the HUGE Amazon "Fullfillment Center" in Tracy. In addition to seeing the massive building, and learning how they operate 24X7, we learned about their robots and quite unconventional inventory system. (On "Prime Day" last July, this particular warehouse shipped over 14 million packages -- that's about 165 packages per second over the 24 hour day.)

Mike has volunteered for a University of California-Berkeley study of how older people's brains change over time, with one of the goals being to figure out how to predict dementia before it strikes. Part of this involves doing various sorts of tests while inside an MRI machine. Mike talked the experimenters into letting him snap a picture of the computer monitors of his scans one recent morning after some testing.

The second study at UC Berkeley that Mike is participating in involves monitoring your brain functions while you are sleeping. Mike spent two nights in a make-shift bedroom in the UC Psychology Building wired up to the EEG machine. Of course all these wires and tubes complicated sleeping at all! Here's the front and rear view just before bedtime.

Grand-daughter Trisha had a birthday recently and is now moving to a new, higher level job, so congratulations were in order. Three of Mike and Sandy's 5 great-grand-children were present at the dinner.

All this cellphone talk about 5G is nothing compared to this 4 G(eneration) picture, showing Sandy, her son Mark, his daughter Trisha, and her soon-to-be-2 daughter Addison.

Sintaro Village, roughly in the middle of Ethiopia, is really poor, and Mike & Sandy's church is approaching the end of a 10-year project to help. A new well, storage tanks, and a fresh-water distribution system have greatly improved health in the village, and kids are showing amazing growth in the new school build in the village. The village disn't originally have electricity, and the project provided some solar panels on the school roof and a few LED lights for evening adult classes, while waiting for electricity. (Many of the villagers had never seen an electric light.) Mike & Sandy are providing scholarships for two boys now in the school.

Skipping the big New Year's Eve events at the end of 2018, Sandy and Mike enjoyed a quiet dinner with some friends in the neighborhood. While the men talked about cars, sports, and politicians, the wives talked about something else (maybe their husbands ?).

Mike and Sandy joined several dozen others from their church on a 6-boat flotilla up the Sacramento River for an over-night stay in Old Town. Sunday morning they gathered on a beach along the American River for services before heading back down stream and home. (Mike is easy to find, wearing his bright red baseball cap.)

While Sandy was focused on plans for her 80th birthday family gathering at Sun River, Oregon,

Sneaky Mike quietly worked for months organizing a big surprise party/brunch for her. (Yes, everyone there said 80 WAS hard to believe!) More than 60 attended, including neighbors, church friends, high school class mates, former Walnut Creek neighbors, friends from Sandy's charitable work, etc. And the giant chocolate cake was delicious!

Sandy and Mike were thrilled to be at the wedding of their Great Grand-Daughter Kerri and Alex recently. The newly weds moved to Guam, where Alex was serving in the Navy.

Mike and friend Marv have ridden their bikes onto the new Bay Bridge before, but now the bike path is finished all the way to Yerba Buena Island, so another adventure was in order. Here they are on the Island with the new bridge's tower behind them.

You can see pictures of some other adventures Mike and Marv have tried here.

Great Grandson Colby traveled with Mike up to Jamestown, where they rode the old steam train, and saw all the old trains in the round-house maintenance shop.

When Mike and Sandy's youngest Great Grand-child, Addison, had a BIG one-year birthday party, it wasn't clear that she understood the symbolism of everything, but really easy to tell she liked the birthday cake!

Mike and friend Gary went to the top of Mt. Umunhum near San Jose for amazing Bay Area views. This peak has a massive concrete building which housed a huge Cold War radar installation, plus the modern day radar site for the Weather Bureau (the images you see on the TV news weather reports come from here).
Mike and Sandy traveled to the Palm Springs area to see the big remodel job wrapping up at son Rick's condo, and to visit with friends who live nearby. In addition to touring the big windmill power generation operation out by the Interstate, they took in the Palm Springs VillageFest, a weekly street fair. Here's Sandy and son Rick.

Grandson Jon lived with his Dad in Roseville for a while so they had more opportunities to do some travel and adventures together.

Mike hasn't skied in about 10 years, but when his jury duty was cancelled, he decided to head to the mountains for a day of Spring skiing. Here he is at Boreal Ridge summit. And no broken bones!

Mike's daughter Patty is now settled in at her new apartment in Concord, and enjoying being closer in to town than at her previous digs.

Grandson Ryan had a birthday, but why stick with a traditional birthday cake when you can enjoy Grandma Sandy's famous cheesecake? Here's the birthday boy, with Dad Mark, sister Trisha, and nephew Colby looking on.
Son Rick continues his hobby of skateboarding (even though he could be called a "senior skateboarder" from several perspectives). Here he is at a friend's house, who has a swimming pool-shaped skate bowl in his backyard.

Mike went to Mexico for a week camping out with 210 teenagers (and some other adults) from Mike & Sandy's church to build new houses for 14 poor families. The project was in a "shanty town" area east of Tijuana. Here he's showing how wall framing is done. You can read more about the project, and see some pictures, here.

Grandson Ryan Darius recently married Courtney, expanding our family. The newly-weds just bought a house in Martinez, and like new home-owners everywhere, are repainting and tailoring it to their needs.

Well at least Sandy got into the Halloween spirit! Here's she's in costume heading out to a bridge group event.
Sandy's son Rick bought a 2nd home in Kernville, in the mountains east of Bakersfield, where he is a river rafting guide many summer weekends. Sandy was invited down to admire the new house, and Mike was invited dow to fix some things on the home inspection report. Here's Sandy and Rick overlooking the nearby Kern River.

Grand-daughter Trisha was the host for the Christmas morning brunch two years ago, giving Sandy a break. Son Mike and Grandson Jon, up from Bakersfield, got the "longest distance traveled" award. Here's everyone, except for Mike the photographer.

Son-in-law Blake chose an Italian restaurant to celebrate this year's birthday, maybe because of the yummy deserts they offer (which somehow got slid over in front of Mike).

Son Rick has a day job, but one of his loves is being a guide on river rafting trips. Here he is coming through the Grand Canyon on a recent Colorado River trip.

Mike convinced Sandy it would be great fun (just once!!) to join the New Year's Eve crowd in New York's Times Square. Here they are about an hour before the ball dropped, and the view down the street -- asupposedly about 1 million people there -- cold weather, but no snow. Along with friends Buzz and Doreen, they also took in the 9/11 Memorial, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, and other New York sights.

You can see more here.

Sandy used to be a regular performer in the Assistance League's "Show on the Road" troupe, which visits area assisted living facilities. In past shows, Sandy has played in a "flapper" in a Roaring 20's production, in a "Grease" -type show, as one of Snow White's dwarfs, as a lion, etc.

Mike was a volunteer for the 3-year complete rebuild of the San Francisco City Academy building in the Tenderloin area. The Academy, a Christian K-8 school, is very successful, with over 100 students now enrolled.
You can see some pictures of this big project, Mike's work there, and a little of its history, here.

Mike and Sandy recently joined a family party which saw Sandy and all 3 of her sisters together, a fairly unusual event, as the four live in different towns, hundreds of miles apart. Here's Sheila, Barbara (since deceased), Sandy (the oldest), and Carla, in a rare picture.

Sandy and Mike owned a lake house for six years. You can see a few highights of the good times there here.

Want to know more about Sandy and Mike? You can read their "bios" here , or you could read more about their grand-kids here.