I Choked at My Interview

No, really, I choked at my interview!

As most of you following our blog know, our adventure started as a result of a blessing in disguise. My job was eliminated, we sold our house super fast and hit the road on our adventure. We’ve seen lots of national treasures and I’ve continued the job search process.

The search process is a tedious one. It’s months worth of communication with recruiters. Emails followed by phone calls followed by video interviews followed by initial on-site interviews followed by final on-site interviews. One position I have been working through this process for is at Centura Longmont. I first learned of the position late October/early November, so I’ve been working on it for a long time.

The day had arrived. I was in Longmont for my final interview and it started out great! Interviews don’t really make me nervous, I just show them who I am so we can both determine if there is a fit. I was able to connect with the different constituencies in great ways. One of the board members was even a fellow Bison while one of the other execs was a Gopher! Much of the process was being led by Martha H. (external recruiter) and Sue F. (internal recruiter). They participated in each session and helped to keep things moving along.

Lunch was scheduled to be one hour with me and the recruiters. Basically a working interview lunch. Needless to say, we were about thirty minutes behind at the time. We were talking a fair amount and the two of them were asking questions. I, of course, wanted to be able to answer as much as I could. I was chewing a piece of meat when I was asked a question. I wanted to answer and swallowed before I had completed mastication…and choked. At first I thought it was just an esophageal constriction and a little water would help. Then I realized I wasn’t moving any air.

My paramedic self kicked in. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been on choking calls. Usually with bad results. I gave the universal sign to Sue and she could see the panic in my face. She stood up as I did and came over to me. I think the immediacy of the need to help was a bit overwhelming and she yelled for help or a nurse. Now mind you, we are in the hospital cafeteria! No one was coming quick enough for me. I grabbed her hands and wrapped them around me. Together, we did the Heimlich and freed the food. I was shaken and my voice would barely crack. I excused myself for a couple minutes and walked off the adrenaline. Sue had saved my life!

The rest of the interview continued without a hitch. I was able to sneak away and buy Sue some LifeSavers at the gift shop. The next day was a great interview at the corporate headquarters. Centura is a great organization with great people. I hope I get the chance to work with them, but I know I’ll never forget this interview!

While choking at an interview is a crazy story all by itself, there is more. When I was able to tell Maureen what had happened, she teared up. Not only was she scared for me, but she had also been reminded by Facebook of an event 6 years ago to the day. Exactly 6 years prior, I had successfully performed the Heimlich on a guy at a dinner at church. Call it Divine intervention, karma, a sign or whatever you want. I think it was a another reminder that as much as I want to be in control, I’m not.

You never know when others will need your help. Help them when you can. You never know when you will need others help. Accept it when you can!


Today we went to Yosemite National Park, one of the first national parks in our nation. As we entered the park we saw spruce, pine, and sequoia trees all around. There were rolling hills all around and some snow scattered on the ground. Our first stop was Bridalveil falls. This giant waterfall was like one long line of water.

By the road we had a great view of El Capitan, one of the well known points in the park. Next, we went to a bridge where we had a great view of the Yosemite Falls where we would hike to later that day. In Yosemite Valley we learned about the park and it’s history. More than 100 years ago naturalist John Muir invited Theodore Roosevelt to the park to inspire him to make it a national park.

We also took a hike to mirror lake and on the way we saw some rangers working. They were cutting down dead trees and when one got cut down it was so big you could feel it hit the ground. Once we got to mirror lake my brother and I got in the chilly water along with our dog, Gunner.

On our way back home we got to see the sights again, from the half-dome to the crystal clear rivers. We also saw a turn off for a helipad. I wonder what they might be doing with that. I suspected they may use it as a base for search and rescue operations.(AT)

Flying to Colorado

All along this trip, Jesse continues to interview via email, phone, skype, and also in person. He has been asked to Longmont, Colorado for another in-person interview for the CEO position at the hospital there, and there’s an invite for me and the boys to join him to check out the city’s schools and houses. Logistic challenges for all of us to be able to just up and leave the trailer and dog all fell right into place. Gunner was staying at a kennel with a view of the Livermore, CA wineries, and the camper needed a few updates so we took it into a shop to get fixed. We had been having a small leak on the toilet (clean water -haha) and so it was in good hands at an RV Shop in San Jose. We had an early morning flight out of San Jose so we’d need a hotel room but the silicon valley is seriously the most expensive real estate in the world. A room at a Courtyard by Marriott was about $800 and even with that there was not a lot of availability! We ended up staying at at a crappy Motel 6 and that even cost $150! The boys will have stories to tell from this stay for a long time, we’ll just keep it at that. Here’s a picture of Andy outside the motel chugging a gallon milk before it went bad. He’s a good sport!Andy drinking milk Motel 6

family RMNPColorado is beautiful! Longmont is just north of Denver, and it’s along the front range of the Rocky mountains. There is the most beautiful view of Longs Peak, a tall peak among the mountains from just about everywhere in town.

My dad actually met us in Colorado, he was missing the boys a ton and it would be good for him to be with the boys while I looked at houses and joined Jesse with some of his interviews. He was going to help us find some great restaurants too. We had success with that for sure, we hit up a couple of great local establishments, and some of those were on the Food Network’s Diners, Dives and Drive Ins – always winners! Samples, The Post Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues were hits!

Jesse had a couple of interviews over 2-3 days, and I know he did great! I was able to meet the board of directors and I can tell they really liked him as well. House tours opened my eyes to the high cost of real estate in the “silicon mountains”. We are only 10 minutes from Boulder here with a lot going on, but there’s also a LOT going on!

Another bonus of visiting here and the possibility of living here is we would be close to family! My Aunt Marlie lives in Littleton, about 60 minutes south of here and my Aunt Margie and Uncle Denny (and cousins Renee and Tessa) live just north of Longmont in Fort Collins! We were lucky enough to meet up with them at their awesome place in rural FC, with a beautiful view of the front range as well. It was fun chatting with Margie and Denny – we could talk for days!  We had supper at a super trendy joint downtown Fort Collins called Union Bar & Soda Fountain. My cousin Renee was gone on a cruise ship called “Semester at Sea” for her counseling job with CSU but my cousin Tessa joined us for some tasty food! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her and I’m glad the boys got to spend some time with her too. I hope we get to see a lot more of all of them if Jesse gets the job!

No Tischer trip could be complete without a visit to….A NATIONAL PARK! Longmont is super close to the Rocky Mountain National Park and it was a gorgeous! We went for the day and while not all of the park was open due to the snow – we saw the glorious views and learned so much about the park. One of my favorite stops was the visitor center. It was unique, but Andy was the first to say it looked like a Frank Lloyd Wright building. I agreed and guess what – IT WAS! I’m so happy that I took the boys to the FLW Taliesin West in Scottsdale – I love that they love FLW like me! Another fun memory was that after Woody was presented with his Junior Ranger pin for learning so much about the park, the ranger, who was a cute old grandma, made an announcement to the entire room that “The Rocky Mountain National Park has a new Junior Ranger! Please join me in congratulating him” and the whole room clapped for Woody. It was pretty special and the only park to do that on our trip! (MT)

San Francisco Day 2

While we saw so many top sights yesterday in San Francisco, today we were going back to see a bit more. This time we were taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) into the city. I was worried about finding parking for the truck and plus how much it would probably cost! The train was quite easy to take, it picked us up in Dublin (ha!) and dropped us off right at Embarcadero Street, right near the Port of San Francisco. We had our walking shoes on, so we took a nice leisurely stroll by many of the Piers. Most of them have become touristy with restaurants and other things to do. We spent some time at Pier 39 where we saw lots of restaurants, street entertainment, views of the bay and knick-knack shops. We also had yet another bread bowl filled with clam chowder. We’ve had this a couple of times now and it will always remind us of the central coast of California!

The experience we were looking forward to the most was going to Alcatraz – the “Rock”. The boys (all 3-ha!) were so excited for this. What is interesting and unique about Alcatraz is that it is a National Park Monument, falling under the umbrella of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. So yes, you guessed it, Woody was bound and determined to become a Junior Park Ranger at Alcatraz!

What surprised me the most was how not scary or creepy the island was. In my mind, it was going to be like a scary ghost story, but it was all just pretty educational telling the history of the island and how it came to be. Originally the island was home to the Native Americans. During the civil war, the government put a fort on it to protect the Bay Area. The gold in the area was very important to protect during that time. At some time, it changed hands to become a high-level prison, housing the worst of the worst. I don’t think it was a prison for much more than 30 years, and at some point, it just became too expensive to keep open. When deciding what to do with it, it became seized by Native American activists that occupied it for around 2 years, demanding the US government give it back to them. This occupation, while not successful in returning Alcatraz to them, did spark a huge shift in treating Native Americans and their reservations more justly and fairly.

On the ferry out to the island, it was cool to see Alcatraz get closer, and the view of downtown was so neat. The city almost looked Mediterranean with the colors and the hills and the piers and boats.

Woody’s Junior Ranger program really does help not just him but the rest of us learn more about the Parks we visit. There were neat trees, flowers, birds and buildings to check out. The main tour was through the cell blocks. They gave everyone their own headphones to do a listening tour for the different cell blocks. It kept people moving through the building, gave great history and told great stories of the inmates, workers and families of workers that lived on the island. Did you know that kids who lived on the island took a boat into the city every day for school? How cool?!

When we were finished with the tour, they really do corral you out. But Woody was pretty sure he saw a set of stairs we could take from within to see more. He asked an employee about them who directed us to a park ranger, who directed us to a volunteer docent. That docent happened to be taking another family to a private area where they took the Alcatraz prisoner’s mug shots. We were able to take our own mug shots in the exact same place! After that, Woody inquired about the steps he thought he saw, but somehow the docent mistook them for another set of stairs that led to the basement/dungeon/Citedel. (what’s funny, is that Woody never did figure out where the steps his original question was about, but by now it was ok because he knew something even cooler was happening!)

The docent was apparently very excited to show this private area off because once the idea had come up, he then led us on about an hour of a private tour! First off, the boys got to use an original key, and it was HUGE(!), to unlock a gate to get into a different part of the cell block. We then went down stairs, and at the bottom we all needed to put on hard hats. In the past 10 years or so, they had put over 30 million dollars into rehabbing and updating the basement as parts of its foundation was crumbling and becoming unstable. This was the foundation of the old citadel, which was originally 3 stories, but they had gotten rid of the top 2 floors and left the basement. Here we saw where they had at times left prisoners in a dungeon like atmosphere -the docent turned off all the lights for us so we could “see” what it would feel like to be stuck down here! YIKES! We saw other places where they stored equipment and where soldiers may have lived. It was quite exciting to be down there. Woody’s curiosity had come in handy!

We had spent all afternoon at Alcatraz. Yes, Woody did become a junior ranger and got a pretty cool wooden badge for doing so. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to stay overnight there so we hustled onto the last boat of the day!

Our tummies were grumbling for chocolate (why yes that’s a thing!) so we made our way over to the Ghirardelli Chocolate factory area. We shared a gigantic ice cream sundae with a view of Alcatraz, it was a tasty memory.

Last on our to-do list in San Francisco, and it should be on everyone’s, was to ride the cable car. We had a short walk to the beginning of it, and though we waited a bit to get on, it was fascinating to see how they turned them around with man power. Originally, I had wanted to just sit on the open end, but the only spots available for us 4 were to stand on the outside ledge and hold on! The bells ringing and the brakeman working and going up really steep hills and going down steep hills was unbelievable. We had gotten on right at dusk, and the Bay Bridge was lit up twinkling just for us I think! At one point we were told to make sure our feet were totally inside the car, as we were inches from lane dividing cones! Talk about holding on tight and sucking it all in!

I’m pretty sure we had huge smiles on our faces the whole cable car trip. To have this little taste of the olden days was certainly the cherry on top of our time spend in San Francisco. (MT)



San Francisco

Today we packed up into the big F250 and drove into San Francisco! Honestly, I’m getting to a point where I only research the places we’re going briefly and flying by the seat of our pants from there. That’s exactly what happened in San Fran and it worked out great! I knew Andy wanted to see Chinatown, Woody wanted to see the Full House houses, we needed to see the curvy Lombard Street and we wanted to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.

First stop was the $5 toll to go over the Bay Bridge. They still take cash right there! It looks like there is a toll to go over any bridge INTO San Francisco, but no toll to take a bridge out of SF. We found Chinatown after driving around the skyscrapers for a bit. It was super interesting, and we found many restaurants to come back to some day. Next was Lombard street. This is known as the curviest street in America, and while I didn’t actually think we’d drive it – we totally did and it was a rush! Jesse can handle the big truck wonderfully! He also did a great job going up and down the super steep roads. It’s a good thing it doesn’t snow here – Yuk!

Finding the Painted Ladies (the Victorian houses on the intro to Full House) was a trip! You can’t see the houses the best from the road, but the park on the other side of the street has a steep hill that gives you the best view of them and the rest of San Fran. It brought flashbacks of watching as a kid. Woody and his cousins have gotten into the show recently too, it was fun to facehttps://youtu.be/7dfxcdIPIYg

We then drove to the Presidio, which is an old military post turned super cool area. All buildings have been renovated keeping their look but with amazing views of the Golden Gate bridge! The Presidio is a part of the National Park system, there are actually many areas in SF that are NP areas including the Presidio, the Golden Gate park, Fort Point and Alcatraz, all places we hit up! Today there was actually a big picnic on the Presidio Parade starting, they would have it reoccur every Sunday until the fall. The weather was gorgeous, food trucks were all around and there was great music. It truly was a great day to stop here!

We also drove the Fort Point, which was the first fort made on the west coast during the civil war. It is seriously right at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, we walked up the embankment and walked to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge. That was so cool. so special and again gave great views all around, the bridge truly is stunning. It will be a memory we will all have for a lifetime! (MT)

Bay Area Family

When starting our journey, Jesse had every intention of keeping his distance from large cities! But as we continued on, we realized that we have a lot of great relatives in the Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. Today we visited my cousin Mike and his wife Val. Our mom’s are sisters, and if i’m not mistaken, Mike is my oldest cousin out of the 20 or so that I have. He and Val have lived at a great house in Alameda for 20 years. I know this because of a address book my mom gave me for our wedding 16 years ago. There’s is about the only address that hasn’t been crossed out and changed!

Mike and Val love to sail, so it’s no coincidence that they have a little channel behind their house. They live in the East Bay of San Francisco in Alameda and they both work very close to home. They took us to their beautiful sailboat, the Red Sky, and it very similar to our camper! They look forward to the day they can sail around Mexico like we’re driving through the states. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating for us to sail in the bay – believe it or not I was WISHING for wind!

We ended up driving around the old Alameda Naval base. It has been closed for a bit, but they are renovating large buildings for things like breweries, trampoline spots and even a crossfit gym. It was right down the boys’ alley to check all of this stuff out. The Hornet, an old aircraft carrier, has been turned into a museum and we were able to check it all out. It was very interesting being in every part, from the sick bay to the pilot’s ready room to the top of the “island”! There were fantastic views of San Francisco from here as well.

A bit of embarrassment for the day for me is that I forgot to wear green as it was St. Patrick’s Day and I am 100% Irish. (well almost…) I was nervous we wouldn’t eat any corned beef too as Jesse and I have made so much over the past years hosting fun parties and celebrations with family and friends. Well- Mike certainly saved the day! He made the best corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots I have ever had.

It was great day to celebrate with family!(MT)

Pinnacles NP and the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Today we went to Pinnacles National Park. We went on a hike through tight crevices in a cave with beautiful views. Pinnacles is also home to the California Condor. It is the newest national park, the 57th one. President Obama turned it from a national monument to a national park in 2012.

After that, we drove by all kinds of Dole fields where they were growing lettuce and many other kinds of plants like cauliflower, broccoli, pimentos and grapes. We also drove by a couple of factories where they cut up those plants to turn them into prepackaged salad. I thought that was cool because we don’t really see those types of crops being grown very often. The nickname for this area is the “Salad Bowl of the World”!

After that we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is the second largest aquarium in the United States. The first thing we saw was the kelp forest which looked just like a forest except there were tons of fish swimming around. My favorite part of the aquarium was when we got to touch animals in the touch pool. My favorite touch pool animal was the decorator crab which covered itself in plants for camouflage.

After the aquarium we went on a walk to the Coast Guard Station nearby. They had a large complex that was all fenced in but we got to go on the pier where they had 2 47′ Motor Lifeboats. These are deemed basically unsinkable and they can withstand waves of 20 feet, winds of 85 mph, and they can self-right themselves in less than 10 seconds if they are tipped over. That was pretty cool to see. (AT)

Hearst Castle

Today we ventured up the coast on Hwy 1 to Hearst Castle, a former getaway residence of William Hearst, a newspaper mogul. It was very overcast and rainy which made things seem extra spooky.

The first thing we saw was the giant Neptune pool that was being renovated outside. It was being tiled with a mix of white and blue tiles. We then went into a large sitting room in the main building. The sitting room had priceless sculptures and tapestries from centuries ago. Next, we went to the dining room which had a very long table and Italian horse racing flags to give the room some color. Some of the guests to his lavish parties were Woodrow Wilson, Charles Lindbergh, and FDR.

Later we went to an elephant seal rookery where we saw hundreds of seals. Most were sleeping but some were very active. One made it up the ridge and onto grass very close to us. We saw males roaring and scaring off other males.

We checked out the tiny fishing village of Morro Bay. It was very foggy and overcast, much different the yesterday when my parents visited and it was sunny! We went into a fish market and I bought some Thresher Shark. I ended up pan frying it at home and it was fantastic!

Later tonight we went to a local brewery for trivia where we ended up finishing in the middle. The toughest round for us was one with Irish related action films. Everything else we did great with, it was a good team effort for the game and the day.((AT)

Surfing the Waves

Today when my brother and I woke up our parents gave us the option to learn to surf. At first I was so excited that I was going to learn how to surf . My brother on the other hand was tired and didn’t want to surf, but my mom made him come along to watch. It was a short trip to the beach that we were meeting the instructor Jonny, our RV park was right on Pismo Beach! When we got there we saw his truck but didn’t see him. Then right when we got there he drove up. He had all our equipment ready. Then Andy decided he wanted to learn to surf too, he had woken up enough now. When we had our wetsuits on and our surfboards at our sides we walked to the beach.

Before we could get in the water we had a quick lesson on the sand. We mostly just worked on getting into the surfing pose. I was struggling so much with it.

Then we went into the ocean. Our wetsuits kept us warm in the freezing cold water. On my first time trying to get up I fell into the water and I got the salty water in my eyes and mouth . This happened over and over again until I kind of got it. I was standing but on the edge of the board so I was turning to the right constantly. Then my brother and I switched boards because mine was thinner and his was wider. I continued to fall over and over again until I got it. I got up and made it all the way to the beach and while I was surfing I was thinking “I am actually surfing”! It felt so cool and at that moment I understood why surfers loved surfing. By that time it was almost time to go. When we got on shore I filmed my vlog that you can check out here:

What I learned is that hard work and persistence pays off.-(WT)

Great People Make for a Great Trip!

Our adventure has been a patchwork quilt assembled on the fly with pieces of National Parks, American treasures, fun sights or activities and family and friends. We made it further up the coast of California following our departure from LA. Pismo Beach is the “home base” for the next several days as we explore further up and down the coast. We picked Pismo because as Maureen looked at the map she recognized that we would be near one of her old co-workers, Brent, from the Minneapolis Metro North CVB. We were able to meet up with Brent and his husband Dean and their niece for dinner last night. We had a great dinner on the beach and enjoyed catching up after 14 years as well as a great sunset, tasty clam chowder and some tasty drinks!

At dinner, Dean offered to escort us on a winery tour if we wanted. Of course, Maureen and I willingly took him up on it! We met up with him this morning and we hit the road. The first stop was at the Chateau Margene tasting room in Morro Bay. We enjoyed walking around the harbor/Bay Area and then had a great tasting with Steve. He took his time with us and walked us through what we were smelling and tasting. We enjoyed several wines and ended up with a couple in our possession!! If I had really known what was in store for us, Chateau Margene was just the warm up!!

Morro Bay is on the coast and the next stop for us was in the Paso Robles area of the region. Paso is close to San Luis Obispo (or SLO) for those following us on the map. To get to Paso, we took a winding back country shortcut through the hills. Dean navigated the turns and twists while Maureen and I had the chance to see vineyards, olive trees, avocado trees and even a shepherd and his goats grazing the cliffs (he even waved to us)! Just about the time Maureen kicked her nausea bracelet on to high, our drive was done!

We arrived at Epoch Estate Wines and began an experience I will never forget! Unbeknownst to us, Dean has a good friend who works at Epoch. When we arrived, she had us set up for a private tasting in the cellar room (even Dean was surprised by this)! She gave us a glass and our first sample and then walked us around the property some while explaining the legacy of the property and buildings. Epoch was founded in 2004, but comes from roots that date back to the late 1800’s. The original location for Epoch was on land once used for a winery by Polish pianist and Prime Minister Ignasky Paderewski. Paderewski was perfecting his winemaking in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, at the same time as the first bonded winery was in full production on York Mountain. Andrew York and Paderewski became friends and the Paderewski grapes would often become wine on the York Mountain Winery. In 2010, Epoch was able to acquire the York Mountain property as well and has been restoring it back to its glory (along with making some tasty wine).

History aside, Katie became our wine educator for the rest of the day. I’ve done wine tastings that take 20 minutes, but we were with Katie for over 2 hours!! She walked us through whites and reds as well as bottled wine and wine straight from barrels. I learned some of the basic ways to evaluate color, clarity, nose/smell, palate, structure, finish, and so much more! We talked about what it takes to make great grapes for even better wine. Most of the wine around the Paso region are blends of different grape varietals. Additional different types of casks are used for fermenting, including steel and concrete. Aging occurs in new and secondary use barrels. Katie really was fantastic and really helped us appreciate everything we were enjoying!

When we set off on this adventure, I knew we would see great sites. I even knew we would enjoy some great time with family. What I didn’t realize is that by reaching out to our extended family and friends, those we haven’t seen in a long time, they would help to enrich our travels. Friends and friends of friends have helped us have joy. One of our real lessons: be nice to people!!