With planet exploration in mind, the Barcenas clan uprooted from its Walla Walla home in 2012 to embark on a grand two-year tour.
Summer Barcenas, 14, reports that she’s enjoying this pursuit with parents Dave and Nancy Barcenas and younger brother Luie Barcenas.
This would have been her eighth-grade year at Garrison Middle School and this is Luie’s first-grade year.
Dave was a physical therapist at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Nancy continues as a full-time mom.
The adults are writing books during the trip. Readers can tap into their family blog at www.4onatrip.com and Summer’s blog, www.summersadventures.com.
Learning as they go, Summer and Luie have e-textbooks and study the history of the places they’re visiting.
“We are doing tons of reading so having our Kindles has been very important,” Summer emailed. “We are also learning new languages as we go along. I am teaching myself guitar using downloaded lessons from the Internet. I’ve also started a blog and am writing and illustrating my own children’s books.”
Summer’s reading material includes “The Education of Millionaires.” She took eight years of Spanish in Walla Walla and during their time in Spain she translated for the family whenever necessary. She’s also learning French, and every morning works on math via a textbook on her iPad.
She enjoys swimming at any given opportunity, baking cupcakes and “making my own style.” She began creating jewelry after her ears were pierced in fourth grade, and mastered a technique similar to decoupage to decorate her fingernails.
“After experimenting and mastering the correct way, I had my friends over and did all their nails. I love teaching people to do funky new things, and that’s why on this blog I’ll be telling and showing you different arts, crafts, books, and things that I find interesting,” she wrote.
Her blog features photos that illustrate various ways to tie scarves, the fingernail process and more.
To date, one of Summer’s favorite places on this journey has been Gibraltar, where the family settled for at least three months “and absolutely loved it.”
The little Iberian peninsula off Spain is a British territory popular with tourists. “Gibraltar is the only place in the world where you can see two oceans meet, the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and see Africa. Gibraltar is at the entrance to the Mediterranean and has the second pillar of the pillars of Hercules,” Summer said
The “HUGE” rock is approximately 1,389 feet tall and is home to Barbary macaque monkeys, Summer said. They invaded downtown when her family first arrived.
“The police had to call the professional monkey catchers. Who knew there was that option for a career choice? Britain’s impact on the area includes red telephone booths, double-decker buses, strolling policemen with tall black top hats and fish and chips with mushy peas at nearly all restaurants,” Summer said.
The “at least two cannons on every block” gave Summer pause. She researched reasons for the plethora and found that “Gibraltar played an important role during World War II, because it would be almost impossible for ships to enter the Mediterranean without being seen. The cannons after being unloaded were just left around and you can often see little kids playing around on them.”
She hiked the rock of Gibraltar to climb the Mediterranean steps. “Let’s just say I was very happy I’m not scared of heights. It was absolutely beautiful! The views were amazing, you got to get really close to the wild monkeys, see such pretty plants and looking down into a secluded cove I was able to watch some playful wild dolphins! It was completely surreal.”
“I have learned through my travels the best way to truly experience a culture you have to be open to try new things no matter how wacky they might seem. If that means walking three miles to go to the grocery store, having Wi-Fi that barely runs, or even trying to force down Marmite, it’s all worth it. I mean, who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new about yourself. Or maybe you’ll just get a great memory.”
Walla Walla High School’s JROTC Precision Rifle Team topped the competition at the CMP Western Regional Championship in Alburquerque, N.M., according to Mark Mebes, team coach and a retired U.S. Army sergeant 1st class.
In addition to a first-place trophy and individual gold medals, the team was awarded a $5,000 endowment from Midway USA and a $1,500 cash award from the CMP for Walla Walla’s shooting program. The Blue Devil precision team’s first place finish will earn them an invitation to the CMP-Junior Olympics National Championship in Anniston, Ala., in July.
Precision team members Cadet Capt. Caitlyn Lasseigne, rifle team commander, and Cadet Staff Sgts. Andrew Jenkins, Sarah Jameson and Allison Juergensen, fresh from their national third-place win in Anniston, Ala., brought home the first-place trophy after a commanding lead over the other teams in the event.
“We didn’t really know what to expect at this match,” Sarah said. “All of the teams we have competed against this year have been other JROTC teams. This match was open to everyone, so there were a lot of athletes here that we have never competed against before.”
The competitors were not the only unknown quantity. They also vied with Albuquerque’s 4,500-foot elevation. “We had some significant challenges with the altitude and the hot, dry air,” Mark said. “It really affected our shooters. Several of our cadets had sinus troubles, which caused headaches, blurry vision and nosebleeds. It is hard to hit a bull’s eye the size of a pin-hole when you are having trouble seeing through your sights.”
Despite the challenges, the Walla Walla team pushed through and delivered a first-day score that had them in first place by a slim margin over the second-place team. Caitlyn held third place individually with a score of 581.
By the second day most of the shooters adapted to the conditions, and the team widened its lead to 23 points, finishing with a score of 4,610.
Top performers included Allison, who set a new personal best the second day with 578, and Andrew, who tied his personal best from a month earlier with 581.
Both shooters made it into the final where the top eight shooters are pitted in a 10-shot contest for top honors.
Allison began the final in seventh place and steadily moved into fourth with a score of 98.6 out of 109 possible points. Andrew began the final in a three-way tie for fifth place and managed to fend off the other two challengers to hold on to the fifth-place title with a final score of 96.8.
Despite being bumped from the fourth-place spot by his own teammate, Andrew “just laughed, shook his head, and congratulated her at the conclusion of the match.” The good sportsmanship is not an uncommon sight, Caitlyn said.
“We have come a long way this year as a team” she said. “The way we work together, even though we are shooting individually and competing against each other, has really been the key to our performance. It is really hard to master, but doing it has made us successful as a team.”
In the Sporter rifle class, all first-year shooters, Cadet Staff Sgt. Luke Hedine, Cadet Corp. Samantha French, Cadet Sgt. Tyler Bosworth and Cadet Pvt. 1st Class Evan Jameson qualified for the championship. “Garnering an eighth-place finish against the some of the top sporter teams in the U.S. is an accomplishment in itself,” Mark said.
“That they were able to win locally and make it here, then hold their own against teams that have been shooting together for 3 and 4 years is a noteworthy accomplishment in itself. They have shown the kind of mental toughness and teamwork that I look for in my top competitive shooters, and I am proud of their performance.”
This is the first time the Civilian Marksmanship Program hosted a Western Regional Championship that was open to all teams. More than 700 shooters competed in local matches for one of 150 seats at the regional event.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.