Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Route

Everyone else goes to Beijing via Vancouver or Los Angles. Not me. In an attempt to use my air miles before the system implodes, I have taken another route: Seattle to Vancouver, BC to London to Beijing. Yeah. It takes two days rather than one.

I actually made these reservations in November of '07. I had confidence that Melanie would make the Olympic team.

I am in Heathrow Airport right now. It is really a huge shopping mall. You don't see the cute shops like we have at Sea Tac. This airport has a Herrod's and high end clothing stores, perfume stores, and handbag (Prada) stores. We have really cool "shops".

And, while landing this morning I was struck by the fields defined by centuries old hedgerows. They have no rhyme or reason in their boundaries and, while beautiful, remind one of a badly done quilt. Nobody squared up the pieces. (Score one for property rights.)

Then here we are, actually the more organized cousins after all. It is kind of ironic that when the Brits fly over the United States they see long straight field lines defined by fences. The only curved field lines we have involve a river! Yanks have things pretty organized after all!

I will fly to Beijing in a few hours and then immediately board Philippine Airlines for Manila where I will be visiting with Lakewood residents Dr. Expedita Castro and her husband, Jessie, who made a career here as a lawyer. The Castros are giving back to the very poor people in the country of their birth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Foot Out the Door

Today I met with Alex Borromeo and Ruben Del Valle, the president and vice president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce. (I want to be able to pass on some fresh info about our state and the Philippines.) Alex had just returned from Manila and he warned me to take an umbrella. The Philippines is my first stop and it is the monsoon season.

I leave tomorrow (July 29th) around noon. My check list includes the usual but a few extra items were on my list. I have packed four 12" American flags to wave during the events. I will take my "Rascal Flats" cowgirl hat. (Add an extra 10 degrees if you are in the sun without a hat.) I figure this hat is as American as you can get. Or, is that git?

My toenails are painted flag red. I am also taking/wearing my summer '08 tan. For years I worked in an office all summer. This is my retro-skin. I grew up in San Diego.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friend and Firefighter... Chief Dan Packer

This is Sunday and I just learned that a very good friend and a very good person, Dan Packer, has died. Chief Packer led East Pierce Fire and Rescue. He was in large part responsible for its creation.

But, when a friend dies you focus on other things. You remember the times you talked and the times you worked together.

In May, our family called Dan in hopes of having a gathering at the Bonney Lake firehouse to view the televised (one week delay) Atlanta Olympic Women's Weightlifting Trials. He was so gracious and so happy to be of help. He came to the event and stayed for the entire broadcast. He was so proud of Melanie.

Earlier this month when the "Today Show" came to Bonney Lake he worked with Mayor Neil Johnson to welcome the television crew. Melanie road to the grandstand with Dan's department honking their unmistakable firetruck horns. On the side of the firetruck was a huge banner: "Firefighters Support Melanie." He always went the extra mile.

As the president of the Wa State Fire Chiefs Association, Dan was also a lobbyist. He was a man of great compassion. Over a period of a year, two college age girls had died at Lake Tapps. They drown as victims of asphyxia. One was "teak surfing," and the other was just holding on to the transome of a boat while it was idling at a dock. Dan came to my office in Olympia as a leader among his peers. By the end of session the bill we worked on was signed into law. My name was on the legislation, but the bill was Dan Packer's. I will miss working with him.

Thank you for your service and for your friendship. You will be remembered by many and missed by me and my family. God bless your family during this very difficult time.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And, I Would Never Miss This!

I get some really cool magazines. Both my "National Geographic" and "Smithsonian" have cover stories about China so I am reading all this. Same thing with my "Economist." These may be the only publications in America without Obama on the cover.

Here are the two most important facts about China as I come to know them:

Number 1: Beijing in August averages 87 F. with 90% humidity. It "feels like" 105 degrees.

Number 2: "...a world away," says the Smithsonian, "is Beijing, where seven million spectators are about to converge for the Summer Olympics."

Let's see... 105 degrees and 7 million people plus the 15 million that are already there! I will not be deterred. And, for the next 30 years I will sit proudly at our Thankgiving table knowing that the daughter-in-law across from me knows I was there. "Go, Melanie." "Go, Team Roach!" We are in this together.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Melanie Leaves for Beijing

Melanie is on her way to Beijing via San Jose, CA. She called this morning from SeaTac Airport to say good-by until we meet up in ten days.

The whole USA Olympic delegation gathered at San Jose University for a briefing, outfitting and processing. They will all be traveling on the same plane. It has got to be a real rush to be traveling with and be a part of America's best athletes. Spirits are unbelievably high!

Little did Mel know that "The Governator," Arnold Schwarzenegger, would be there to send them off. The world's most famous bodybuilder, turned actor, turned politician was the highlight of an exciting day! Melanie and teammates, Carissa Gump and Natalie Woolfolk had a chance to talk with the governor about lifting and the two handed press. (OK, I admit it, I haven't got the slightest what that is. But, I didn't know what the "snatch" and "clean and jerk" were either until I met Melanie!) This was a meeting just with our lifters. They presented Governor S. with a Team USA jacket.

Our Team USA was outfitted, too. There was even an alterations department. Nike , Calvin Klein and Polo were very generous. From the report I got it sounds like there is much more than they will ever wear. Problem: Melanie is 5' and 117 lbs. I am 5'5'' and....well...I guess I won't even bother to get in line for any overflow.

Melanie showed up at San Jose University with a 93 lb. suitcase. Teammate Carissa Gump teased her. "What? Are your kids in that bag?"

After years of training you don't change the winning combination. The bag is full of food. The American grown food that fuels the body. There have been too many articles about food quality. There is too little leeway in meeting weight. There is too much at stake to change anything now.

Our USA Team leaves tomorrow, Saturday, on a non-stop flight to Beijing, China. The trip of a lifetime.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Upcoming Asia Trip

With the 2008 Summer Olympics just weeks away our plans are coming together for our trip to Beijing. I will leave on July 29th and arrive in Beijing on the morning of the 31st. Just two hours later I will board Philippine Airlines and five hours later will land in Manila for a four day stay. Traveling to a very rural and poor part of this pro-American country I will help at a hospital set up by a Lakewood, WA doctor and her husband.

On August 5th I will travel back to Beijing and meet Rep. Dan Roach and grandson, Ethan (7). Together we will board China Air and fly to Chengdu. Guests of Children's Hope International (CHI) we will explore efforts being made to restore Sichuan Province in the aftermath of the May earthquake that devastated the region. CHI is working to house and care for orphaned children.

Representing Gov. Gregoire, on August 7th I will present the leaders of Sichuan Province, our sister state, with the promise of a new, privately-funded school building. Chengdu was largely spared, but the very poor rural area was hard hit. Hundreds of schools will be rebuilt.

The main purpose of our visit is to support daughter-in-law/wife/mother, Melanie Roach. Melanie will be competing August 10th (aired Aug. 9th in the states) in the Women's Olympic Style Weightlifting event. We were finally able to secure tickets! We will catch up with the Sumner High School Band which is playing in the opening ceremonies, climb the wall, and steam in the "feels like" 105 degree heat.

To watch Melanie go to and look for the 53Kgs. weight class. She will lift in either the A or B session.