Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harding's Hideout

We are having SO much fun in Utah with our family.  Really squeezing every ounce of fun that we can into this vacation.  Love it.

While visiting with my parents, we went to a place called Harding's Hideout.  

 A man has built this recreational spot for his family, but if locals call him, he'll let anyone come use it.  For free.  What a great guy!  We stayed almost four hours and I didn't want to leave. 

Here are some of the fun things we did.

Relaxed in the shade.

Hung out with our cousins.

Swung on tire swings crafted to look like horses.

Went down this big, steep waterslide that was so much fun.

Andrew even got in on the action.

You could ride down on these boogie boards.
They were FAST.
And the momentum would take you all the way across the pond.
Robby and I went over and over again.

We stood around in our swimsuits looking as cute as baby monkeys.

We rode in paddle boats.

Played in the sand.

Rode on rope swings.
One of which was VERY high and made my stomach sink.
In a good way.

Olivia napped.

Whit had fun with Uncle Robby on the teeter-totter swing.

I was so happy that my mom introduced us to this super fun spot and hope it becomes an annual tradition.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A smorgasbord of scenery: CO to UT

I was all excited for my favorite day of driving.  It ended up being a good day, but didn't quite go as I had envisioned.  You see, we've done this enough times now that I have a few of my favorite stops along the way.  One of them is a picturesque lake in Georgetown, CO.  I was so looking forward to stopping there again and snapping pictures of the kids on the shore and throwing rocks in the water.  But Caroline fell asleep about five minutes before we got there.  And I felt too bad to wake her up.  So here's my annual pic of Georgetown Lake:

Don't blink or you'll miss it.

We stopped at my favorite outlet stores in Silverthorne.  They have an Old Navy outlet where I found a replacement for one of Andrew's shirts that I washed with a tube of lip gloss.  Oops.  

Then it started raining.  I don't especially enjoy driving in the rain.  Then it started snowing!  I kid you not.  The van thermometer said it was 52 degrees outside, but there were honest-to-goodness flakes coming out of the sky.  In July.  Remind me never to move to the mountains.  Even if they are breathtakingly beautiful.

We packed a picnic lunch at Scott and Diana's house, so I was looking forward to finding a fun rest area and letting the kids run around while we ate and I relaxed with a good book.  Ha!  The rain changed those plans.  We sat in the van and munched on sandwiches while observing this sign:

Brandon and I decided that whoever was in 
charge of it did not change it regularly.

On Diana's recommendation, we walked around the little train car at Eagle, CO's rest area.  

The girls checked out the bunk area.

B attempted to walk on air.

The rain kept a-coming for a good part of the drive.  The kids watched lots of movies and played several video games.  

Then it stopped.

Caroline cried for 30 minutes straight because we ran out of Teddy Grahams.

Then she proceeded to fall asleep again.

Five minutes before we passed a beautiful reservoir where I wanted to go throw rocks.

Foiled again!

We passed through Rangely, Colorado, 
home of Colorado Northwest Community College,
where Andrew was offered a basketball scholarship back in the day.
But turned it down to go to Ricks.

Also home of a very large fish mailbox.

And we made it to Utah!
  Home of all four of my kids' grandparents,
three great-grandparents,
six aunts and uncles,
and ten cousins.
Most definitely worth the trip.

The kids got to meet their second new cousin of the trip:
Olivia Mae.
The sweetest little bundle of almost-three-month old joy.
With eyelashes that are meant to be coveted.

Here are the views through the windshield for the day:
The absolutely gorgeous Rockies.

A tunnel.
Taken just for Caroline.

Glenwood Canyon.

Love the contrast of the red rocks with the green vegetation.

Cool sunbeams.

And the driving day ended with one of the most 
spectacular sunsets I've ever seen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friends and Cousins

Had a great time hanging out in Colorado.  We stayed with some good friends from our college days,

 Scott and Diana, 
and their kids.  Brandon was in little boy heaven:  a wii, legos galore, a trampoline,

And three new friends to enjoy them with.

Loved exploring the Wildlife Experience.
Eight kids and two moms.
And we didn't lose any of them....
at least not for long.
The tanks of tropical fish were my favorite.

The kids loved climbing on this display.
I'm not sure if I should have told them to
"Get down!" instead of "Smile!"

This ball avalanche was a favorite for the girls.

In the evening, we were SO excited to go meet 
the first of four brand new baby cousins.
Beautiful little Carly with her parents who look
surprisingly spry for having a two-week-old baby.

Had a great, though too-short, visit with them.
I loved snuggling with Macy, who is sweeter than cotton candy.

We love cousins!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wichita to Highlands Ranch, CO

530 miles?  No problem.

*Drive through a skunk smell.  It has been forever since I've smelled that.  Do they even have skunks in NC?  Not a smell you can forget.  Peee-yooooo.

*While driving through the middle of rural Kansas, the check engine light comes on .  Noooo!  In all of the road tripping we've done, this is a first.  What do I do?

*Apparently I have my priorities straight, because we stop at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas before investigating.

Whoa.  Not sure what's up with that camera angle.

They had lots of models of dinos/prehistoric creatures.

The big kids thought they were pretty cool.
Caroline was terrified and insisted that I carry her.

Until  we found this baby.
She thought he was adorable.

*After our quick tour of the museum, found an auto part store to run diagnostics on the van.  They inform me that nothing is wrong with it.  But the check engine light is still on.  Hard to relax.

*Andrew makes some calls and the dealership says that they probably used the wrong diagnostic machine at the auto parts store.  Finds a dealer about 100 miles along my route who can do a more specific test.  We stop there.  Guess what was wrong?  Nothing.  Yay for not having to get repairs!  Boo on all the time and stress we wasted on that.  I guess if you let the fuel level get dangerously close to empty, which I tend to do, it can cause a problem with the fuel level indicator switch.  The guy resets it for me and says I shouldn't have any more problems with it.  So far, so good.  

*Roadside wisdom for the day:  Happiness is a crock of beans.

*Views through the windshield

A crop duster at work

A wind farm.

We've reached the Rockies!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Long Haul: Louisville to Wichita, KS

You know what?  It wasn't so bad.  Having a non-driving day before AND after made this long day bearable.  I think I would maybe even do it again.  The worst part was a fight that Brandon and I got into over a kick in the shin, stolen pink lemonade, and a lost iPod.  But after a couple of hours, I got over.  And we found the iPod.

*Passed a truck like this:

What is the Ronald McDonald Show?  I was tempted to follow him and find out.  But he was driving too slow.  We've got places to go, people.

*Caroline's new obsessions:  Water towers and bridges.  She points out every one.  And on the way out of Louisville there are LOTS of bridges to note.  Water towers used to just blend into the landscape for me.  But not anymore.

*Most festive city name:  Santa Claus, Indiana

*Worst names for businesses:  Feedmill Restaurant and Sirloin Stockade restaurant.  Is it just me?  I don't want to feel like a farm animal when I go out to dinner. 

*I'm listening to a great audiobook when the kids are occupied.  It's called A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel.  (Thanks for the recommendation, Nicolle!)  It cracks me up.  What a fun way to pass the time.  Only now I finished it.  I need to find another good one.  Quick. 

*Brandon is reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  He loves it and is almost done.

*City I would least like to live on based solely on the name:  Burnt Prairie, Illinois.  Um, I'll take the Prairie that has not been through a fire recently, please.

*Stopped at a fun rest stop in what I thought was Missouri, but turned out to be Illinois.  They had a cute little playground that was mostly in the shade.  Met a cute Mormon mom with her three kids (what are the chances?)  and bonded over road trippin. 

Tire swing--weeee!

The kids discover that the top of these plants 
function just like a magic worm.

And they're free.
They each take a couple for the road.
Discover that they shrivel up within a couple of hours.
But were fun while they lasted.

*Passed a home that had stryofoam cups in the fence creating the message:  Become my facebook friend I-70 Fence Lady.  

That's one way to build your friends list.

*City most likely to make me think I've taken a terrible wrong turn somewhere:  Mexico, Missouri.

*Also had a great visit with Marianne and Patrick in Wichita.  Loved going to church with no responsibilities and Caroline even went to nursery just fine, so I could go to my classes and listen.  Ahhhhhhh.

Played games.

Read books.

Popped party poppers just for fun.