Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Casa Bonita, here we come!

Big Trip 2... Day 27... July 25, 2007... Wednesday

Started the day with breakfast at Chik-Fil-A. We ate then the kids played in the play area for awhile. Then I decided to go find an outdoor playground. I knew where there was probably a school (since I had gotten a speeding ticket in that area when I was in college and late for work at Burger King and my ticket cost extra because I was in a school zone). So, we found the school. Took the kids to play while I rested in the shade reading Ryan’s book – Scholastic Early Reader Classics, War of the Worlds. I have never read the original book but I did see the movie with Tom Cruise. The kids weren’t too interested in playing so we left soon after arriving. We went back to the hotel where we discovered Felisa (or was it Bella? I can’t remember anymore.) had left her cup at the playground. I typed a little for the blog then we went to the pool. When Ron came back from class we got ready to go to Denver. On the way out of town we went back to the school (at which point Ron found out about my speeding ticket story) and found the missing cup. Whew!

1200 Leave for Denver.

3:00 p.m. Arrive at Casa Bonita (the Pink Palace) for mediocre Mexican food, yummy sopapillas (I almost had to bribe the waiter to get him to bring me more baskets of sopapillas – what happened to the all-you-can-eat-sopapillas?!?), and great entertainment. Ron took the kids through Black Bart’s cave while I stayed at the table eating sopapillas. (Hmmm… wonder why I gain 10 pounds on vacation every summer!) Felisa and Bella were very scared and Ryan was scared just a little bit.

Our favorite parts of Casa Bonita:
Felisa – the princess in the water
Bella – Everything
Ryan – all the shows and the jungle
Ron – taking Felisa through the cave
Sheila – Black Bart’s cave (and the sopapillas!)

After lunch at Casa Bonita we drove over to Louisville to visit Dar and her family. We enjoyed Papa Murphy’s Pizza for dinner and Dar had the kids help her make cupcakes for dessert. Scott was able to join us also. The kids played well and we enjoyed a great evening with friends. Before we left Ron rearranged the car for the trip home. Then he drove an hour and a half back to Colorado Springs while the kids and I slept.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Good morning sunshine!

Big Trip 2... Day 26... July 24, 2007... Tuesday

The question of the day... did he miss us or does he feel guilty for not coming down for Seth's birthday? :)

Ron got up early for work. At 7ish he left and told me the dryer would be done at 0735. Which means he already did the laundry (he was trying to do it last night but someone else was ahead of him and not watching the time/moving their clothes from washer to dryer in a timely fashion. I joked that he just wanted me to do the laundry not him.). After I got tired of listening to the guest above us walking back and forth across their room 500 million times, I got up. I discovered on the desk a Starbucks mocha and an entire ginormous pumpkin scone. For me! Wow... I don't even know what to say.

Turns out I needed that scone for energy. My morning workout compliments of the Hilton...
Go downstairs and to the opposite end of the hotel to get the dry laundry. Turns out the laundry is not all the way dry and I didn't bring any money for the dryer. So I continue my exploration to yet another far corner of the hotel to see the pool. Then back all the way to the original far corner of the hotel and upstairs (the elevator is too slow so we've been using the stairs) to get money for the dryer. But I only have 3 quarters. So I go downstairs and out to the car to see if I have another one. When I get to the car I realize I forgot the car keys. So. Back upstairs to get the keys and back downstairs to the car. In which there exists not a single quarter. This time, though, I was planning ahead. I already have my dollar so I don't have to go upstairs before I trek to the lobby for change. Get the quarters and walk all the way to the ends of the earth, I mean hotel hallway, and re-start the dryer. Now, back upstairs and down the long hallway to my room. Phew. I'm tired. Good thing I decided to take my shower after I did the laundry!

1000 Went over the mining museum. Ron said he stopped in the other day while out on a bike ride and today they are having demos of the steam shovel. We arrived just in time. A lot of what was said went over the kids' heads (the girls for sure and maybe Ryan too) but it was still pretty cool to see the big shovel operating. We also got to see the trammer running as well as the different steam engines inside. We panned for gold, unsuccessfully once more, and tried on miners suits. Over all a pretty good visit.

Our favorite parts...
Ryan: single-jack handrock mining activity and the miner's suit
Bella: miner's suit/panning for gold
Felisa: her new rock
Sheila: steam shovel demo

12:10 p.m. Sonic for lunch then back to the hotel room.

After lunch we went to Mardel, a christian/teacher store. Big. Nice. Lots of selection.

Back to the hotel room. I tried to watch Back to the Future III while the kids played noisily around me. After the movie we went to the pool.

Ron came home and joined us for swimming. The kids had lots of fun jumping between us and from the side. Bella and Felisa demonstrated their newly acquired skill of putting their face in the water. Ryan swam freestyle the entire length of the pool without stopping and without putting his feet down on the bottom. Our constant swimming is starting to pay off. Hopefully we'll get a couple swimming playdates in next month and I'll have to try to be better about keeping them in swimming lessons over the winter. It's just expensive and a total pain to take them to the pool for 3 separate classes each session.

Grandpa F met us for dinner at Ted's Montana Grill where much delicious bison was consumed as well as the biggest pecan crusted trout I have ever seen (oh and mac-n-cheese for Miss Picky). After dinner a wild game of chess. I didn't think it would take Ryan and Ron so long to beat the girls and I. After all, I have basically no idea how to play and the girls aren't much better. After the game, we stopped in at Claire's. I guess they went there with Melissa a couple weeks ago so now Bella is in love with the Princess store. Great. Everyone got $5 to spend (Felisa did a last minute bait-n-switch and spent $6.50 but oh well - I was tired of waiting for them to pick something! They even had hot wheels for Ryan.)

We walked back to the hotel but Ron made us stop at the ice cream shop first. I had mentioned it but changed my mind. He made us go anyway. Under duress :) , we went inside. The girls got vanilla with sprinkles. Ryan got neon blue cotton candy with jelly beans and I got cheesecake with graham cracker crumbs. Yummy. Of course we had to eat it drill seargent style... the four of us sat on the bench eating while Ron paced up and down the line barking out commands... You're dripping! Use a napkin! Eat faster! Hold it up straight - it's dripping! Eat faster! Yummmmmm... I definitely recommend drill seargent ice cream!

Finally, back to the room and bedtime!

Monday, July 23, 2007

North to CO, Take 2

Big Trip 2... Day 25... July 23, 2007... Monday

Spend the morning eating my last NM breakfast burrito (thanks Grandpa!) and loading the car. As usual we have managed to accumulate lots more stuff than we started out with. Luckily it all fits. Elena brought Philip and Seth over for us to watch while she took Thomas back to the doctor for a quick TB test check. When she got back it was time for everyone to say goodbye.

1000 At the gas station... current tempurature is 80 degrees... total miles driven so far is 4300. Wowsers!

1012 Starbucks drive thru. We haven't even left town yet and they are already arguing over CD players.

1036 Past the casino and onto I-25 N.

1135 Amazingly I am able to find Scott's parents' house but unfortunately they are not home. Oh well. Better luck next time (and maybe a little advanced planning on my part would help!)

1158 Cop blows past me and stops the guy that just passed me. Good thing I'm not speeding.

12:00 p.m. The leapsters have reappeared. I'm surprised they still have a charge left. I don't think the kids have played with them since TN.

12:25 Las Vegas for lunch.

12:55 p.m. McD's food on board and movie set up. This stop took entirely too long.

2:01 p.m. Was that an ostrich?!

2:36 p.m. Colorado!!! (again!)

Things I like...
wide open spaces
old buildings
seeing history

4:30 p.m. Arrive at Travis' - finally. Today's drive seemed long. We had a yummy dinner and the kids had fun playing with Emma and her toys. Didn't get much meaningful adult conversation, thanks to the 5 kids in the house, but it was a nice visit all the same.

8:15 p.m. Headed to the hotel. Listening to School House Rock.

8:45 p.m. We made it! Home sweet home... for a couple days anyway!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Day After

Big Trip 2... Day 24... July 22, 2007... Sunday

Wake up at 0830... everyone is tired from yesterday's festivities. Coffee and pancakes for breakfast. Feeling lazy so decide to go to late church. Shower and get into my church clothes. Clean out the car a little so there is room for Grandpa and Grandma to ride with us.

After church everyone is starving so we come home and heat up leftovers from the birthday feast. Elena brings Thomas over for lunch on their way to Target. Thomas decides he'd rather go to the Dinosaur Museum with Ryan. Didn't we already go to the dinosaur museum? Why, yes we did. But Ryan decided that he should go again since he missed his favorite part, the planetarium. And Grandpa of course says yes. Mean Mommy says he should just live without the planetarium and go next time we visit. Grandpa wins. So the boys head off. Turns out the planetarium was closed so they watch the IMAX movie about Greece then go to Explora. Meanwhile, Elena and I go to Target. We bought the diapers on our list and a few other things as well because, well, it's Target. Elena drops me off to hang out with the girls while she goes home to unload and collect her other boys.

Dinner here... more BBQ and rice. And Elena said that whoever finishes their broccoli gets birthday cake for dessert. Yummy!

The kids are all tired. There is more arguing and crying than usual. Even Seth is an unhappy guy - very out of character for him. I made Philip sad when I told him we were packing to leave tomorrow.

8:00 p.m. The McL's head home for bed. I get my kids changed and ready. Most of them are asleep by 9.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Seth

Big Trip 2... Day 23... July 21, 2007... Saturday which 3 pool-deprived children turn into wrinkly, shivering prunes while causing their mother's toes to split... (but more on this later)

Wake up with a full house (from the sleepover the night before). Manage to get my coffee and post to the blog before the older 3 take over the computer for an hour of fun with Google Earth. They went to the Grand Canyon, Egypt, here, and our house in VA. Plus a lot of other places too. It's one of Thomas' favorite activities and my kids are willing travel-mates.

Elena came around 10:30 and the women-folk headed out to hunt and gather at Costco. I did not find the great green chiles that I found last year but I did get a new flavor of potato chips - Buffalo Bleu. Does anyone think I can get them home without turning them into crumbs or having them self-combust in a hot car? I also had a nice conversation with the sausage sample guy about how VA just doesn't offer such great flavors of Aidell's sausage. He had green chile and habanero as well as roasted red pepper and corn chicken sausages. In a big package no less (the standard 4 sausage package just isn't enough to feed my family of 5 you know!). We finished it off with a mocha freeze from the food counter then headed up to finish up the party preps.

Grandma and Elena did a lot of prepping while I sort of watched the other kids. I even got to hold Seth for about an hour right before the party. The kids asked at least 50 times if it was time to change for swimming yet. Finally, we headed over around 2:30. We got in about 20 minutes of swimming before the thunder arrived (who invited the thunder I want to know!). Spent an hour or so shivering and snacking in the clubhouse and telling the kids every 10 seconds that even though the rain has stopped, that doesn't mean the lightning and thunder won't still kill you. Finally at 4ish we got to go swim again. Grandma and Grandpa showed up with more food so we ate then swam. The girls got cold so I went back home to get dry clothes for them. And when I got back, they wanted to swim some more. So we swam. Then it was time for cake. We ate the super-yummy birthday cake that Elena made then ... can anyone guess what we did next? That's right. We swam. And swam and swam and swam. All the other kids were out of the pool, changed and ready to go and my pool-deprived children were STILL SWIMMING! Which means I was still swimming since I am the official floatie for Felisa. Finally we got everyone and all of the toys out. Finished cleaning the clubhouse. I walked back with 5, passed out snacks, and started a load of towels and bathing suits. By this time it is 8:00. Which means we were at the pool for 5 hours. Yikes! The good news is that it was cloudy so I didn't have to stress about sunburns. The bad news is it was cloudy so we shivered a bit. Lots of fun was had though either way!

Cousins headed home. Bella fell asleep immediately. Ryan was not too far behind. And Felisa sat in the kitchen eating more blueberries and chanting "I'm not tired. I'm not. I'm not. I'm not." She was definitely the only one! I finally convinced her to go to bed with me where I discovered that my 4th toe on each foot (next to the pinkie toe - does that make it the ring toe?!?) was split underneath. Ouch! Guess the kids marinated me for too long in the pool today!

And that's it. One successful 1st birthday pool party for my sweet nephew. He won't remember a thing but we'll show him pictures and tell him all about it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Fun with Grandpa

Big Trip 2... Day 22... July 20, 2007... Friday

Usual wake up and coffee time... got the kids ready and headed out for the museums with Grandpa. We went to Explora, the children's museum first. They didn't have the life-size lincoln logs out that Ryan wanted to play with again but the kids had fun doing everything else. I didn't particularly enjoy it but at least there was a second adult to help keep track of everyone.

Our favorite parts of the children's museum...
Ryan: the marble maze
Bella: the fountain
Felisa: the light one (I have no idea what she's talking about.)
Grandpa R: the electricity and battery activities
Sheila: the fountain

And since one museum clearly wasn't enough, we went to the dinosaur museum across the street next. That one was more fun for me, especially since I had never been before. The kids go everytime we visit, I think, but I usually escape to go shopping instead.

Our favorite parts of the dinosaur musuem...
Felisa: the horses (was it the horses on the wall or the horses Grandpa bought for the girls?!)
Bella: the cave
Ryan: well, we didn't do his favorite thing (the planetarium) so he had to choose another... the redwood trunk with the annual rings
Grandpa R: the dinosaur that made whining sounds
Sheila: the seismosaur's loooooooong tail

Last stop on our field trip was lunch. We went back to the winery/bistro place that I stopped at on Monday. Lunch was delicious. Felisa had to go to the bathroom four times during lunch. That girl ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom in the middle of a meal which drives me absolutely crazy!!! We would've only had to go twice today but her poops were stuck. Joy, joy. Guess we need to drink even more water than we already are here in the desert. And just once I'd like to go to a restaurant and eat my entire meal before having to escort someone to the bathroom.

Back home... Elena brought the boys over then went back home to finish decorating Seth's birthday cake. She finished in record time once all her "helpers" were otherwise occupied. Felisa and Philip managed to stay drive for about the first hour or so but Grandpa soon gave them hose privileges and all the kids were soaking wet. I was able to escape for a yummy dinner at Gardunos with Elena and Jared.

After dinner we hung out for awhile, eating Rice Krispie treats and planning the menu for tomorrow's party. Then Seth went home and the other two boys spent the night. I disappeared into my room to help Felisa fall asleep then just stayed here, out of the way, watching TV.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Swimming with a duck

Big Trip 2... Day 21... July 19, 2007... Thursday

0820 Wake up. Grandpa made french toast for breakfast. The kids and I decided that Grandpa could move in with us and cook us breakfast every day at home.

Bella says she want a french poodle party for her birthday. Pink poodles and Eiffel Towers... got it. She'd better not change her mind since I bought an Eiffel Tower statue at Hobby Lobby this morning! After Hobby Lobby I went to Learning is Fun, a new teacher store in Albuquerque. I must have been a teacher in a former life since I love to shop at teacher stores. They're right up there with office supply stores. What can I say... I'm weird.

Across the street from the teacher store was Schlotsky's - score! I had a BBQ chicken pizza to round out my annual Schlotsky's dining experience then stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I decided spaghetti would make a good easy dinner to feed everyone but I forgot to buy the italian sausage. Oh well.

Elena brought the boys over for the afternoon. Thomas had to go to the doctor for his Kindergarten check-up so the others stayed with us. The kids played nicely together for the most part. They completely rearranged all the pillows and mattresses in the bedroom and Double Trouble found the water (of course!). Grandpa got a picture of Felisa and Philip sitting in the fountain basin, up to their chests in water. What is it with those two and water?!!?

Elena and Thomas came back. More hanging out. Everyone wanted to swim but a storm was brewing so we decided to wait until after dinner. Elena and I made spaghetti, garlic bread bagels, and broccoli for dinner. Jared came over then Elena took Philip with them to run errands. Grandpa stayed home on nap duty for Seth. I took the remaining four kids to the pool. We had the place all to ourselves except for the duck who flew in and swam with us. He swam little then checked the pool deck for bugs to eat then swam a little more. I asked the kids why the duck was swimming in the pool instead of the duck pond outside the fence. Ryan said "I think he was kicked out of the pond club." Finally everyone was shivering so we got out, dried off, and came home. Hot shower and bath for everyone then popsicles for dessert. The cousins went home for bed. My kids decided on Pink Panther for movie time then fell asleep almost immediately. I watched TV until about 10 then went to sleep as well.

Another fun day with the cousins...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rats and Cousins

Big Trip 2... Day 20... July 18, 2007... Wednesday

0730 Wake up. Drink coffee with Grandpa R. We had a nice conversation about butchering chickens and alternative energy. (He's on my side and doesn't think I'm a crazy green freak like Ron does so there.) He also said he wants us to build a casita (guest house) so he can come stay with us when we move west.

0915 Grandpa goes to his meeting

12:00 p.m. Grandpa is home. Everyone eats leftover pizza then I drop Ryan, Bella, and Grandpa off to see Ratatouille and take Felisa shopping. We bought goggles, sunscreen, and tweezers at Target. I went to the Starbucks Drive-Thru because I can. We stopped at Hastings and bought some used movies then went to the thrift shop next door. I was looking for board games but they didn't have any. Felisa decided she wanted another dog so we also had to get one for Bella. Felisa said she missed Bella which further confirms my suspicion that she will be lonely this fall when Ryan and Bella are in school all day every day.

2:30 p.m. Movie is over. Pick everyone up and head home. It's hot again today and I'm feeling it more since I have been in and out of the car a few times this afternoon.

3:00 p.m. Elena and the boys come over. There is much rejoicing! All the kids are playing nicely since they haven't seen each other in over a week. Seth is still a little sick so he stays in "isolation" with the grown-ups. Felisa and Philip managed to get into the water and get all wet. Those two are Double Trouble, especially when there is water nearby!

8:30 p.m. Everyone is full of ice cream so the cousins go home for bed and I get my kids all settled into pajamas and in front of their new movie, Flushed Away.

I have no idea how late I was up watching TV... shouldn't have had that Starbucks yesterday afternoon... but oh well. That's what vacation is for, right?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wanted: Billy the Kid

Big Trip 2... Day 19... July 17, 2007... Tuesday

0830 Glory be... a sleep-in late morning!

Spend the morning on fun activities such as coffee and breakfast, making a file folder game, playing cards, and listening to Felisa cry about everything. Oh and attempting to remove a splinter from the bottom of Felisa's foot. I only got about half of it. I'm going to leave the other half alone and see if it will come out on it's own. If not, I'll invest in some tweezers.

Leftover Papa Murphy's pizza for lunch.

12:36 p.m. Leave the house, headed for the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.

12:55 p.m. Arrive at the museum.

2:18 p.m. We have completed our tour of the museum. It is 95 degrees today, very hot and most definitely sunny and so the walk through the sculpture garden was basically me torturing the children. I liked the sculptures. They were too busy complaining to notice any. We have two surveys from the musuem today...

From the Billy the Kid exhibit... do you think Billy is a hero or an outlaw?
Bella: hero
Ryan: Outlaw
Felisa: Hero
Sheila: I don't know... I was too busy coralling the girls to read most of the material presented so I can't decide. Although I have to say that before we went, I was unaware of the hero/outlaw controversy.

From the rest of the museum, our favorite parts...
Bella: the paintings
Ryan: making magnetic shape pictures/trying to grind corn (which is very hard by the way)
Felisa: no comment
Sheila: the wooden bike sculpture and the wooden dashboard sculpture. The 3 bicycles sculpture was amazing!

2:30 p.m. Stop at a winery/bistro up the street to buy more sweet wine for myself. I can't find what I like in the stores at home and who knows when our next wine-tasting day will be so it's time to buy myself some sweeeeeeet wine! I do feel a little awkward though when I come to these wineries with my three young children. What are people thinking?! I know what I'm thinking... I need a drink! :)

2:50 p.m. home again, home again, jiggity jig

Start reading a book... around 4 the kids decide it is time to go to the pool. Thunder comes quickly so it's a short swim today. Back to the house to change clothes and wait for Grandpa R to arrive so we can go to dinner. Yummy dinner at Chili's that we will be eating for a few days' worth of leftovers. Seth is still sick so Grandpa goes to babysit while Elena gets out of the house alone. Her destination... oh so exotic... the grocery store! I'm glad Jared will be back tomorrow to give her a break. And I hope Seth is feeling better soon so we can see the boys again. We spend the evening watching reality tv (on the lot and the singing bee) and playing cards (old maid and go fish). Then the girls fall asleep watching Fantasia. I leave Ryan and Grandpa to their own devices while I go to bed also.

11:30 p.m. Finish my book. Yawn!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Swimming in the rain

We're swimming in the rain... just swimming in the rain...

Big Trip 2... Day 18... July 16, 2007... Monday

Felisa woke me up around 7:30 this morning. I made coffee and gave the kids donuts that Grandma and Grandpa R had left for us. At about 9:00 I decided we needed to go to Target. So we did. Target and the bookstore (where I found some cute souveneirs for the kids back home) and of course Sonic on the way back. We hung around the house for awhile then we decided to go swimming. I forgot the pool key - again! - so we had to walk all the way back to the house to get it. Once we had the key, it started to rain. There was only a single raincloud with clear sunny skies all around and no lightning or thunder so we went to the pool anyway. It sprinkled on us off and on while we were there and stayed sunny as well. So we were... swimming in the rain!

Dinner was Papa Murphy's pizza... yummmmmmmmm!!! Then more hang around the house time and then bed...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Going In Reverse

Big Trip 2... Day 17... July 15, 2007... Sunday

0730 Wake up
1015 Off to church with the van all packed and loaded.
12:00 p.m. Drive by Grandma and Grandpa F’s old house and take pictures.
12:25 Stop at the hotel so Ron can pick up his car.
12:29 p.m. Schlotsky’s for lunch
1:09 p.m. Leaving town, headed south back to New Mexico.
1:34 p.m. A car just crossed the median. Oh $*%*!
3:17 p.m. Felisa says she has to go potty. Of course she does. We just passed Trinidad and are headed up Raton Pass with no where to stop.
3:22 p.m. Oh no, Oh no! Hurry! Go Fast!
3:27 p.m. Clearly we aren’t going to make it over the pass into Raton before we stop so… pull over on the next available shoulder (there aren’t many going up the pass) so Felisa can pee on the side of the road as the traffic whizzes by. I sure hope we don’t get run over.
3:30 p.m. Raton Pass, entering New Mexico.
3:43 p.m. There are Colorado Springs commercials playing on the PBS radio station.
6:28 p.m. Hit a tumbleweed.
6:38 p.m. Full rainbow arching over Albuquerque.
6:49 p.m. Arrive at Grandma and Grandpa R’s house.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

There be a growth upon thy chest, madam!

Best thee see the apothecary, inside to the left...

Big Trip 2... Day 16... July, 14, 2007... Saturday

0730 Saturday morning sleep in... glory be!

0830 Breakfast

Spent the morning playing cards and dice, watching Psych on tv (missed the new episode last night since we were at the rodeo!), and watching the girls play clubhouse in the closet.

1100 Grandpa F called... his phone had been accidentally silenced so he hadn't gotten my earlier calls until just now. He finally got tired of waiting for me to call and picked up his phone to call me to find out what exactly is the plan for today and lo and behold, there were two messages from me, telling him the plan and then wondering where he was and why hadn't he called yet. So there you have it, a morning spent, each of us waiting for the other...

1150 All loaded up and headed for the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur. I haven't been in years.

12:10 p.m. See a fireman at the post office, mailing letters. Bella says: "probably to his fireman cousins".

We had a hot, dusty, expensive but fun time at the festival. I was carrying Felisa as we were walking in to "Larkspurshire" and there were people standing overhead on the balcony greeting everyone. One of the guys told me I had "a growth upon my chest, madam" and I should head directly to the apothecary to have it treated. Heh heh. Pretty funny.

Our favorite parts of the Renaissance Festival...
Felisa: having a unicorn painted on her arm
Bella: the butterfly ride
Ryan: the dungeon museum (when he came out he was telling me about what he had seen and said there was some "pretty rough stuff in there") and the archery (he killed the turkey and hit a few of the farther targets)
Ron: the turkey leg
Grandpa F: jousting show
Sheila: costumes

Ron rode his bike home from Palmer Lake.

6:15 p.m. Meet Grandpa F for dinner at Pueblo Viejo. Yummy yummy mexican food!

8:00 p.m. Back in the room. Time to start packing again.

9:00 p.m. Bed time.

10:00 p.m. Ryan won't go to sleep. Why is this kid never tired?!?

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's Friday the 13th alright!

0645 Wake up

(Brief argument with Mom as she leaves to go home... hopefully things will look better as time goes on since we didn't separate on good terms. Divorce sucks.)

1015 Leave the hotel. Stop for lunch at Schlotsky's since I'm hungry and cranky already. After lunch, stop at Jiffy Lube for an oil change.

Hit the sale at School Crossing. VERY busy today but got a 20% discount on my entire purchase.

Scott called... he's going to be out of town for the weekend so we probably won't see him until we come back.

Now we're off to the Money Museum downtown. Have to do something productive and vacation-y today.

Our favorite parts of the Money Musuem...
Ryan: the daggers and swords
Felisa: the lion
(ummm... did anyone see any money at the money museum?!?)
Bella: the money
(ah, that's better!)
Sheila: the $100,000 bill

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Spend a torturous hour at the McD's playland while the kids get out some excess energy. I ordered an iced coffee then walked off without it. I guess that's a sign that I really did need the coffee... I was so out of it I forgot to wait for it to be ready. I did get to talk to Shani for a few minutes over the screams. Sounds like she had a good trip and now she gets some alone time at home - always nice.

5:00 p.m. Arrive at Grandpa F's apartment.

5:30 p.m. Dinner at Front Range BBQ... yummy!

6:30 p.m. Head across town to the rodeo grounds.

7:03 p.m. Park in a field and go down a steep hill to the rodeo area. That'll be tougher on the way back I think.

9:28 p.m. Back at the car... the rodeo is not quite over but the girls are getting very tired. Bella in particular doesn't seem that interested in the events.

Our favorite parts of the rodeo...
Felisa: the horses
Bella: the sheep and the horses
Ryan: the bulls and the horses and the sheep and the barrels and the buckin' broncos and the flags (but he didn't say the calvary which I thought for sure would be his answer)
Ron: the cowgirls
Grandpa F: bulls and the cow-milking contest (and the cowgirls but that answer was already taken!)
Sheila: the cowboys and the steer wrestling

10:15 p.m. Home to bed.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

All the Pretty Horses

Big Trip 2... Day 14... July 12, 2007... Thursday

0545 Shoot out of bed with a charlie horse. Ouch ouch ouch!

0645 Ron is in the shower. Time to get up for coffee.

0700 Back in the room. Ryan and Felisa are awake.

0730 Bella is awake but grumpy.

0800 Dressed and ready for breakfast.

0910 Room has been picked up and we're ready to go. Mom says Sherry's dog is sick so we may not be able to see the baby horse today.

0928 It's okay... we're off to see the baby miniature horse.

0950 Arrive at the house.

Favorite horse survey...

Felisa: the baby
Bella: the white one
Ryan: all of them
Sheila: the donkey
Grandma F: the one with the black mane/gray body

I have decided that I definitely need a couple miniature horses in my backyard!

1100 Stop for lunch at Quiznos

12:00 p.m. Head over to SuperTarget for an express shopping spree... baby shampoo, tide, and water.

12:30 p.m. Head back to the hotel. There's a rainstorm coming in over the mountains and I need to do the laundry again.

12:50 p.m. The kids are playing "Criminal Kitty" I'm not sure of all the details but it involves acting like kittens and being locked in the closet jail. An odd game but whatever... they're playing nicely together and not bothering me so I'm happy.

2:00 p.m. Laundry and movie time. I have to go to the car to get my camera cord so I can recharge. I almost ran out of batteries this morning when we were visiting the horses. It's also time to download another camera load of pictures to share.

5:00 p.m. Head out to dinner at Saltgrass. Felisa has a tummy ache and falls asleep on my lap.

7:00 p.m. Back home... another early night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dinosaurs, Ghosts, and Pottery

Big Trip 2... Day 13... July 11, 2007... Wednesday

0630 Wake up, get dressed, go downstairs for coffee.

0645 Start typing. I'm trying to get the blog up to date but at this point I think it's never going to happen! The drive from Memphis to Kerrville is stalled out near Dallas and I'm also behind on everything after Albuquerque.

0700 Bella is awake. "I'm the #1 kid."

0745 Ryan wakes up.

0815 Felisa wakes up.

0825 Bella is hungry but they can't seem to stop playing long enough to get dressed.

1043 Finally everyone is dressed and fed. The room has been picked up and the sofa bed folded away. We've decided where to go today and we're in the car, at the gas station.

1122 Arrive at the new Dinosaur Center in Woodland Park. This town, like everything else in Colorado has grown and changed since we were last here. I didn't realize that this is where we were heading. In my mind, we were headed for the Florissant Fossil Beds not this brand new place I'd never seen before.

12:48 p.m. Back in the car. Time for our customary "Favorite Part" survey.
Ryan: Prehistoric Planet movie and the build-your-own dinosaur with magnets activity
Bella: Digging for bones
Felisa: Jumping (she can jump as far as a rabbit)
Grandma Ford: watching the kids having fun
Sheila: looking at the ginormous skeletons

12:50 p.m. Stop at Taco Bell for lunch. I bought each kid their own order of nachos so they didn't have to share like they usually do. Ryan said it's because we're on vacation and we're celebrating.

1:37 p.m. Done with lunch. Time to head back down the mountain.

2:00 p.m. Arrive at the Ghost Town Museum. I have driven past this place hundreds of times but have never stopped.

3:30 p.m. Done with the Museum and the Van Briggle Pottery Place.
Favorite Part of Ghost Town...
Ryan: the shooting gallery and panning for gold ("Panning for gold is hard.")
Bella: Funny mirrors (like at the fair)
Felisa: Sitting on the sawhorse "horse"

My review... I was disappointed in the gold panning activity. It would have been nice to see a sample of the gold bits we were supposed to be looking for posted at the activity site or else have a staff member there to offer hints and instruction. So, if you go there, ask to see the sample gold before you go inside. It was cool though to be able to try it out and see how hard it really is.

Favorite part of the Van Briggle Pottery Factory:
Ryan: Frog statues
Bella: the tea sets
Felisa: the lady working on the pottery

4:01 p.m. Stop at the dry cleaners on the way back to the hotel. Pass what used to be Lone Star and is now being turned into Texas Land and Cattle Restaurant.

4:17 p.m. Back at hotel. Ron is home from his class but isn't in the room. Must be downstairs working out.

Free dinner at the hotel tonight is hot dogs and hamburgers. Apple pie for dessert. I take a short nap before dinner then after dinner the kids want to go swimming. I'm tired still and I want everyone to go to bed earlier tonight since the kids are tired too. Unfortunately, there is a downside to going to the pool right after dinner. Everyone else is at the pool then too and it is a total zoo. Guess tomorrow we'll be swimming at our customary 8:00 time.

8:30 p.m. Everyone is in bed. The kids are watching a movie and Ron and I are watching TV.

Blowing in the Wind

Big Trip 2... Day 12... July 10, 2007... Tuesday

0700 Ron wakes me up so I can get the carseats out of the rental car and back into my car. I am practically blown away as I step out the door. Where did all this wind come from?!? Ron tells me that Bella escaped last night. He heard a noise at about 1245 and figured out it was coming from outside the door. Looking around he noticed Bella wasn't in her sleeping bag anymore. When he opened the door, there she was. That girl is going to get herself into trouble sometime with her sleepwalking! She said she was looking for Melissa's bed but got confused. Guess we'd better double and triple lock the door tonight!

0710 Stop in the lobby to have coffee with mom.

0745 Head back to the room to get the kids moving. Get everyone dressed and head back downstairs for breakfast.

0845 Finishing up breakfast which is good since it is time to leave right now!

0900 Loaded up and ready to go. Everyone was shivering in the gusty wind so I dug the jackets out of the back of the car. The dashboard display in the van gives us an outside air temp of 55 degrees. 55 degrees + windchill = BRRRR!!! This my friends, is why I ALWAYS pack jackets and usually pack on pair of long pants per person when we head west. Even when it's 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity at home, I know CO has a tendency to throw an occasional cold day at us. The first trip or two I ended up heading to the mall to buy pants and sweatshirts but I've learned my lesson now!

1000 Melissa is through the security checkpoint at the airport and headed for her plane. I call Christy to "pass the conn".

12:00 p.m. Back at the hotel room after a stop at Walmart for healthy snacks. And a few other things that weren't on the list. Ron is home for lunch.

We spend a quiet afternoon at "home" doing laundry and making a list of the sites we want to see in CO. We called Grandma D to check in and see how things were going back home.

3:50 p.m. Headed to the pool. I think these kids have been swimming every single day since we were in Roswell. We have to get our fill now since we won't be swimming at all probably once we get back home. I do wish the pool was just a touch warmer though. Bella and Felisa get cold then want to sit in the hot tub to warm up. Once you get in to the hot tub though, you can't go back to the big pool because it feels like ice cubes compared to the hot water.

4:30 p.m. Time to get out. Ryan doesn't want to but the girls have been in the hot tub and won't go back (just as I predicted!) so it's time to get showered for dinner.

4:45 p.m. Christy calls to ask if I know anyone in Dallas. Apparently there have been a lot of weather problems on the East coast and Melissa may be stranded.

5:00 p.m. No word from Mom about dinner so we decided to eat the free food downstairs. Salisbury Steak and Mashed Potatoes.

5:45 p.m. The down side of our quiet afternoon spent in a small hotel room is that now the kids are bouncing off the walls. Tired, yes but sleepy, no.

7:00 p.m. Head for the mall and our favorite mall playground. Felisa of course falls asleep on the 5 minute drive over and Bella almost does. We are all very sad because the playground has been closed for renovation. So they climb in and out of the quarter rides (the ones where you get in, drop in a quarter, and the car moves back and forth for about 45 seconds) but we have no quarters since we used them all doing laundry this afternoon. We head on in to the bookstore and the kids each choose one book. I picked up 1000 Places to See Before You Die in USA and Canada. That I may actually stand a chance at. The worldwide original version of the book - not going to happen. I can't wait to start reading it! Ron came back (he had dropped us off then headed across town to the bike store) and we all walked through the Austin Antlers furniture store, drooling every step of the way. The kids liked the bed with the cow fur on it best. I just liked everything!

7:05 p.m. Christy calls. She is on the way to Richmond. Melissa may or may not have made it onto this flight. She has gotten conflicting reports from the airlines and Melissa's phone is not working so they haven't been able to talk to each other.

8:30 p.m. Back to the hotel. We bring our jigsaw puzzle and list of sites over to Grandma's room.

9:00 p.m. Melissa calls on Christy's phone - she has arrived safely and they are headed home. I told Melissa that her parents won't let her come with us again because it is too hard to get her back.

9:05 p.m. Felisa is hungry so Ron takes the kids back to our room to get ready for bed.

10:30 p.m. Well, mom and I finished the jigsaw puzzle while we were talking so we disassembled it, hoping the kids won't notice that it's not the way they left it. We also still haven't figured out a plan for tomorrow. Oh well!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Rodeo Preview

Big Trip 2... Day 11... July 9, 2007... Monday

0600 Wake up

645 Take Ron to work

0715 Talk with Mom at breakfast

0800 Wake up the kids

0815 Breakfast

0840 Melissa is reviewing the blog so far. Ryan and Felisa go with me to see Grandma F. Bella stays with Melissa.

0913 Leave for ProRodeo Hall of Fame. We're running late!

Favorite parts of the museum...

Ryan: Rodeo room (with clown barrels and audience surround sound)
Bella: trophies
Felisa: yellow chute
Sheila: seeing my brother

1038 Headed for a bit of shopping at Goodwill. Mom calls. Supposed to meet at the hotel at 1130 for lunch.

1135 Arrive with Sonic. Unfortunately I misunderstood my instructions. I was supposed to bring lunch for Mom and Jack also. Oops. :( Now I feel bad.

12:30 p.m. Driving around town looking for Western Warehouse. For some reason it's not where I left it!

12:45 p.m. Found it! Of course Bella and Felisa are asleep. They wake up when we open the doors so we all go in. The kids had fun playing with the toys in the kids corner while Melissa shopped.

1:30 p.m. Stop at School Crossing teacher supply store/toy store. I love this place!

2:00 p.m. Done shopping... do we go to the mall or back to the hotel? Hotel wins. We're all exhausted.

2:26 p.m. Ryan is reading to Melissa. Melissa says she's tired and wants to take a nap but is too lazy to take out her contacts.

2:28 p.m. Melissa: I'm going to sleep. Ryan: (without even a pause in his reading) have your contacts

3:00 p.m. Leave to go pick up Ron from class.

3:20 p.m. Back to the room.

Then the airport adventure starts... We decide that we probably have enough time to get down to the south end of town to the airport to pick up Ron's rental car before I have to be downtown to pick up Jack. We leave Melissa and the kids at the hotel and head out. We check out the rental car without any trouble and plan to meet alongside the road on the way out of the airport so we can switch carseats out of the van and into the rental car. The prearranged meeting spot turns out to not exist so we check in via cell phone and end up in a hotel parking lot a little further down. Meanwhile, Jack has called and is ready to be picked up. We switch car seats as quickly as possible (which really isn't all that quick - so many buckles and straps!) and Ron gets his bike down off the top of the car (guess he doesn't trust me not to ram it into an overpass!). Off I go, trying to decide what is the quickest way downtown. I'm unfamiliar with this side of town, especially since they built the new airport and changed the roads all around. I find my way towards Academy but there is a lot of traffic. So I decide to cut around and try to pick up 24. At which point I find even more traffic and a little road construction just to make it exciting. I'm finally downtown when Jack calls again. I tell him I think I'm almost there. Amazingly enough, I find the courthouse, and Jack, right away. He jumps in and we're off. Can we make it to the Denver Airport in less than 2 hours at 5 p.m. on a Monday??? As soon as I pull away from the curb, I realize that I have no idea how to get onto the highway from where I am. The exit that I always take is behind me, and it's closed for construction. Miracle of miracles, a highway sign appears before me and leads me to the correct path. And during all of that, Grandpa H had called to check in and see if I knew how the court date had gone. So... basically unfamiliar streets, cell phone calls, and construction blocking my path... and I still made it to the highway. The drive to the airport is uneventful. I deliver my passenger with plenty of time to spare so he can catch his flight home.

I enjoy a more leisurely drive home, even stopping to shop and get dinner along the way. Denver has really grown in the last few years. Meanwhile, Ron and the kids went to dinner at Ted's Montana Grill (yum- buffalo burgers!), played chess with the life-size chessboard, and shopped at the princess store (Claire's).

And that's all she wrote on this fine day in Colorado!

Monday, July 09, 2007

North and over the Pass

Big Trip 2... Day 10... July 8, 2007... Sunday

0650 Wake up.

0737 The kids are eating donuts for breakfast and talking about who is eating Arnie. "Who's eating Arnie?" "Not me!" "So-and-so is eating Arnie!" Then Ryan and Bella try to get Felisa to say Arnie.
Ryan: "Say Arnie"
Felisa: "I'm not saying it"
Bella: "Say Ar"
Felisa: "I'm not saying Ar either. I'm just saying nothing and eating my donut called nothing!"

0823 The girls are playing Hungry Hungry Hippos. When a new round starts, Felisa says: "Start your hippos!"

0845 Spa time... girls get their bangs trimmed, their hair combed, their nails trimmed, and their faces washed.

1007 Leaving Grandma and Grandpa R's house.

1009 Gas at Smiths... $3/gallon. Call Mom to update her on our schedule/plan for the day.

1020 Stop at REI to buy a bike rack. Ron decided there wasn't enough room in the van for all of us and a bike. Grandma and Grandpa R followed us over to REI with the bike in the back of their truck.

1021 I wonder if there is a Starbucks close by? I sure could use a Ice Mocha while I'm waiting for the bike rack installation. Melissa points out that there is an IHOP (which has been renamed the Intergalactic House of Pancakes since our visit to Roswell).

1051 Done. Bike is ready to go. Stop at Arby's for lunch before we hit the road.

1105 Leaving Arby's and on the highway headed for Colorado Springs. GPS says we have 386.4 miles and 5:32 to go...

1110 Melissa says she can't go back to McDonalds after eating all the good food we've had on our trip. Sonic, Jack-in-the-Box, even Arby's. All better than McD's, hands down.

1139 Ron says that our car is pretty good even though it's a minivan. Fully loaded it is going up the big hill north of Albuquerque without a problem. All of his other cars, the jeep, etc. all struggle a bit with this hill.

1148 South of Santa Fe... see some dinosaur statues.

1157 Passing the Robinson's house... Which reminds me... we need to call Scott, the Robinsons, Travis, Chipmunk, and Patricia to schedule visits while we're in the "neighborhood".

12:01 p.m. Letters from home is sung by... no one knows. (okay - I googled it. John Michael Montgomery)

12:30 p.m. Felisa: "My heart is itchy." Ummm... okay... scratch it?!? Turns out it's just her chest that itches.

12:41 p.m. Ryan is playing with the ring tones on Melissa's phone. Melissa's cell phone has been one of the favorite toys on the trip so far. What will we do when she leaves and takes it with her?

12:42 p.m. Ron: "Vegas Baby!" (passing Las Vegas, NM)

1:13 p.m. Movie time... Magic School Bus

1:19 p.m. We are about 2 hours from Pueblo.

1:23 p.m. One lone, lonely calf... I wonder why he's all alone out there in that big field?

2:08 p.m. Raton, NM... Ron's standard stop for this route is Arby's. Will we be okay if we don't stop. He says yes... the backup stop is Taco Bell in Trinidad.

2:09 p.m. The last episode of Magic School Bus is starting. How far can we get in 25 minutes? Probably not all the way to the hotel, unfortunately.

2:17 p.m. COLORADO!!!

2:20 p.m. My forearm muscles are sore. I've been typing blog entries for 2 hours! Ron: "Why? No one will read it." Sheila: "It goes in the scrapbook. Someday you will be old and senile and glad to have it. Until then, the kids and I like to read it."

2:30 p.m. Trinidad, CO... we both remember stopping at that McD's before with a crying baby. Ron: "Which one was it?" Sheila: "I don't remember. I think it was probably all of them at least once!"

2:36 p.m. Movie is over. Time to crack open the snack box. Good thing we replenished in Albuquerque.

2:37 p.m. Ryan offers a potential vacation title... Give a Mouse a Vacation, Continued.

2:48 p.m. Mom calls

2:53 p.m. Police car with blinking lights passes us. Wonder where he's going...

3:00 p.m. Looks like we might get our daily rain after all.

3:20 p.m. Bella is awake and all the others are asleep. Earlier Bella was asleep while everyone else was awake.

3:32 p.m. Okay, I give up. I have typed 13 pages for the blog and I just can't type any more.

3:33 p.m. Pueblo. 60 miles to go.

3:40 p.m. Oh wait... could it be? It is... it's raindrops! Not many - just enough to qualify as rain.

3:41 p.m. Billboard for ice coffee at McD's! Yippee!

3:43 p.m. Lightning!

3:46 p.m. Wind!

3:47 p.m. More lightning!

3:50 p.m. Bikini Babe Harley Girl rides past on her motorcyle, wearing nothing above the waist but a string bikini top and sunglasses. Doesn't look comfortable to me. Ron says that it's not even sunny so it's not like she's working on her tan...

3:53 p.m. Rain. Lots of it this time.

4:00 p.m. Pass Bikini Biker Babe waiting out the rain under the overpass.

4:01 p.m. Oh no - running out of gas. Looks like we'll have to stop after all.

4:07 p.m. Stop for gas in Fountain. $3.09/gallon. Ron says the pink blanket and the pink sleeping bag were hanging out the back of the luggage box on top - barely holding on! A couple guys were staring at us when they passed us a while back. Now we know what they were staring at and it wasn't Ron's handsome bike! I wonder how much longer it would've held on before it fell all the way out. Life lesson: Never put anything valuable in the roofbox!

4:19 p.m. Back on the road. About 20 minutes to go. Elevation now is about 5,900 feet.

4:47 p.m. Arrive at the hotel. Unload everything and get settled in. This will be our "home" for the next week.

6:15 p.m. Grandma Ford comes. Gives the kids a tour of the hotel then we head out for dinner.

6:45 p.m. Arrive at Black-Eyed Pea. Yummy dinner!

8:30 p.m. Back at the hotel. Everyone gets changed for swimming.

9:45 p.m. Back in the room. Melissa is in the shower so I take the kids to Grandma's "house" for a shower.

10:30 p.m. Watching Dirty Jobs on t.v. Trying to convince Ryan to quiet down and go to sleep. Bella is almost asleep and Felisa gets kicked out of Melissa's bed and sent back to sleep with Mommy.

10:42 p.m. Waiting for my turn on the computer...

10:47 p.m. Felisa is asleep now too. Ryan and Melissa are still awake.

11:00 p.m. My turn - finally!

11:29 p.m. I'm hearing voices. Melissa says I'm crazy. It's too dark to type anyway so I guess I'll go to bed.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hot Air Balloons and BBQ in Albuquerque

Big Trip 2... Day 9... July 7, 2007... Saturday

0730 Wake up. Breakfast and shower.

1000 Load up for the Hot Air Balloon Museum. Why is it so hard some days to get everybody ready and out of the house in a timely manner?

1008 Pull out of the driveway with 7 passengers.

1030 There is a baseball field next to the museum. Melissa is going through baseball withdrawal!

1142 Leaving the museum. Ron is riding his bike home. (We found out later that Lourna thought Ron's bike had been stolen from the garage and she even called the police!)

Our favorite parts of the balloon museum...
Ron - Atlantic crossings part
Grandpa R - the hot air
Melissa - Hindenburg exhibit
Ryan - testing balloon fabric for porosity and tear-resistance
Bella - the activities
Felisa - the video and launching the balloons
Sheila - seeing the different kinds of baskets used

12:07 p.m. See a prairie dog along the roadside.

12:08 p.m. A blue wheelbarrow is in the middle of the intersection.

12:10 p.m. Arrive home. Grandma is missing... wasn't she supposed to be making lunch?

12:15 p.m. Grandma is home from the store.

1:00 p.m. Postcards are done. Just waiting for Grandpa to finish cooking the BBQ so we can eat lunch.

1:30 p.m. Ron is back from his ride.

1:34 p.m. Lunch is over. Grandma R makes the BEST BBQ! Now it's time for Melissa and I to go shopping.

4:15 p.m. Home from shopping. The kids are being rinsed off in the bathtub after their trip to the pool.

4:41 p.m. Time to go to mass. Bella and Felisa stay home to help Grandma prepare dinner.

6:40 p.m. Home again after church and a stop at Best Buy and Sports Authority. Surprise! Elena and the kids are here!

The kids all enjoy some bonus playtime with the cousins (we weren't expecting to see them until we come back next week). We eat more BBQ for dinner as well as Grandma's noodles. After dinner we have Melissa's birthday cake and ice cream. There are exactly enough slices for everyone.

8:30 p.m. The McLaughlins head home to get ready for bed. It was so great getting a little unexpected bonus time with everyone.

Melissa heads upstairs to pack. The strap on her new cami shirt broke so I sew it back on for her. What a nice Mom I am! Ryan and Felisa build a playhouse out of blankets, pillows, and mini couches in the the living room while Bella reads to me from the Little People Easy Reader book. Her reading is coming along very well. I'm impressed!

Ron was watching the weather report on TV and they were showing the rainstorms headed our way. Less than 5 minutes later it is pouring down rain. Grandpa heads outside to bring in the swing cushions, wet towels, etc. and says "I thought it was just a forecast!"

9:45 p.m. Everyone has been sent to bed. I don't know about anyone else but I'm exhausted! It feels like at least 11:00!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Aliens and a Birthday

Arrived in Roswell, NM last night... saw a few aliens as we drove across town. Decided to swim in the very cold pool for an hour to burn off excess energy.

Today we are headed out to play with the aliens we saw last night. Should be fun.

Oh and Happy 17th Birthday to Melissa! What girl wouldn't want to spend her birthday with aliens? I think this definitely qualifies as the best present ever don't you?


Big Trip 2... Day 8... July 6, 2007… Friday

0700-ish Wake up and shower. I’m not sure what time it is because the clock in the room is gone and I don’t remember where I put my watch last night.

0740 Found my watch… head downstairs to get coffee.

0750 Back to the room. Ron wakes up and asks what I’m doing. Was I abducted by aliens last? I’m reported acting strangely.

0808 Open the curtains a little too wide and wake up Melissa. Oops. Um… Happy Birthday!!?!!

0817 Ron comes back with coffee and the newspaper. Kids have fun looking at all the aliens in the newspaper.

0830 Blogger hiccups and loses everything I just typed. GRRRR…. Guess I’ll have to wait until I get to Albuquerque to get more updates online.

0850 Try again. Get a couple sentences in then it’s time to go.

0920 Download Melissa’s pictures to the computer since her memory cards are both full. Input a new GPS route. Then wait for Melissa to finish getting ready.

1148 Done with our Alien tour of Roswell. I got a free magazine at the local Scrapbook store, Imagine That, because I am from out of town. This store was voted #1 in the nation in the Scrapbooks, Etc. magazine. I can see why – this place is awesome! We took lots of pictures with aliens around town. I was personally surprised by how much homemade stuff there was such as cards, bookmarks, self-published books, etc rather than the typical Made In China commercial stuff you see everywhere. Guess it really is a small town at heart that just happened to get a few alien visitors 60 years ago! Ron bought an autographed book written by an NPS graduate. The book is called The Second Ship and is set in Los Alamos. Ryan found a book about aliens that he bought with the rest of his money from Grandma D. Felisa bought a small stuffed alien with her money. I even bought some delicious alien wine for Shani!

Favorite Parts of our Alien Tour:
Felisa: Taking pictures (this answer was given under duress so I’m not sure how true it is!)
Ryan: Comics on the wall in the museum and seeing all the alien bodies
Bella: the end (guess the girls aren’t big alien fans!)
Melissa: all the testimonials in the museum
Ron: Meeting Richard Phillips, a fellow NPS grad and author
Sheila: the Roswell incident testimonials and the scrapbook store

1150 Sitting in the museum parking lot waiting for Ron to get a carne asada burrito from a trailer vendor. One of the gift shop workers recommended it.

1156 Ryan is reading his alien book Mythsolvers.

12:05 p.m. Sonic Drive-In without a drive-in part. It does have inside sitting and a drive-through which other Sonic’s don’t.

12:38 p.m. Ryan: “You can see for miles!”

12:50 p.m. Felisa is playing a game with the red hat fans we got at the museum in Pecos. “Hats for Sale” Ryan wants to buy all of them but Felisa says no, he can only have one. Ryan offers her a hundred million billion dollars but she isn’t swayed. One hat per person is her final offer. She also won’t take no for an answer – we must all have one. Then we have to give them back. Then she gives them back to us again. And so on and so forth for at least 5 rounds. What else is there to do in the NM desert anyway?

1:16 p.m. Movie time. Bella chooses Peter Pan.

1:33 p.m. Passing through Vaugh, NM. This place is like a ghost town… at least 20 boarded-up, deserted hotels along the road. They do have a nice new playground on the edge of town however. Why, I’m not sure. Maybe the ghost kids raised money to have it built.

1:35 p.m. Long freight train passing alongside.

2:11 p.m. Clines Corner, NM. On I-40 headed west to Albuquerque. 50 miles to Grandma and Grandpa R’s house.

2:19 p.m. See a horse pen at the rest stop. Definitely a feature of the Wild West!

2:26 p.m. Call Grandpa R to let him know we’re about 30 minutes away. Turns out he and Grandma are still in Los Alamos and won’t be in Albuquerque until 5:30

2:49 p.m. Kids are getting restless, Felisa especially. I think she probably needs to go potty.

2:52 p.m. Ryan: “Put in your New Mexico landscape memory file so we can see if we’re getting close.”
Bella: “Those sand dunes look familiar. I think we’re going the right way!”

2:55 p.m. Arrive. It’s like a home away from home. We just walk in and take over.

4:30 p.m. Kids want to swim. I don’t really want to take them but there’s nothing else to do since there is no cable or internet and the grandparents aren’t here yet.

4:45 p.m. Leaving for the pool. I forgot the pool key and have to go back to get it.

5:36 p.m. Leave the pool and head home to see if Grandma and Grandpa have arrived yet.

5:45 p.m. They’re here! Suddenly the kids are full of energy and go running up the sidewalk and into the house.

6:30 p.m. Ron and I are taking Melissa out for her birthday. She has chosen the top of the mountain restaurant. We can’t find the phone number in the phone book or on the GPS radar. Finally find restaurant at the bottom of the mountain so we call to get the number of the peak restaurant. It’s called High Finance. Of course. I don’t know why any of us didn’t guess it!

7:00 p.m. The only reservation time available was 8:30 so we head for Sandia Casino and do a little shopping while we kill time.

7:30 p.m. Headed up the tram for dinner.

Now, where to begin in our summary of our Mountaintop Birthday Dinner Experience? The tram ride was long... 15 minutes. If I remember correctly it is the 4th longest tramway in the world. Amazing views of the city and the mountain below. Distance above ground? Well I can't remember the distance in feet, but our tram operator did convert it into seconds for us. 7 seconds. As in, it would take 7 seconds to fall to the ground if the wire broke. Okay. Now I feel nervous!

Once we got to the top, we shivered our way out to the viewpoint and took a few pictures. Melissa had my jacket so I toughed it out in my tshirt. Pictures and shivering complete, we went inside and had an appetizer at the bar while we waited for our 8:30 reservation time. Melissa ordered a hot chocolate. The whipped cream was so good she asked for more whipped cream to be added to the cup. And of course talking about whipped cream had us laughing again at the Father's Day Incident of 2007.

The waiter was great. Very friendly. Melissa said he looks like the guy from the Oxi-Clean commercials but we decided we probably shouldn't mention that to him. He may be offended and what might happen to our food?! The food came at a leisurely pace which was good except for one small problem. There is no oxygen at 10,000 feet elevation. Okay, there's oxygen but not as much as there is at sea level. So by the end of our dinner, we were all feeling quite loopy and happy and giggly (well, Ron wasn't giggly but he was definitely happy!).

Time to go home. One little problem... it's dark now and there is lightning over the city. How are we going to get down? Well, the tram was still running of course. Apparently wind and lightning doesn't shut it down until it gets very bad. Great. I feel so comforted. Not! So anyway, we rode down in the dark and it really wasn't too bad except when we crossed over the two towers and started accelerating and swaying in mid-air! Yikes!

10:35 p.m. Made it back to the car.

10:51 p.m. Three cop cars have someone surrounded in the Smiths parking lot. The guy is on the ground and they have their guns drawn. Yikes!

11:00 p.m. Bedtime!

West Texas for Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles

Big Trip 2... Day 7... July 5, 2007… Thursday

0615 Wake up and shower. Head over to the house for coffee. Once I’ve had my coffee it should be time to wake everyone else up and start packing.

0815 Finishing breakfast… Looks like we’re not leaving at 8:15 after all. Which is exactly why I moved our scheduled departure from 0830 to 0815. This way we won’t be as behind when we leave late!

0845 On the road.

0855 Stop in Kerrville for coffee and last bathroom before we get on the endless highway of nothingness also known as I10W in West Texas. We were going to get a last Jack in the Box stop but it’s too early for cheese fries so I decide to skip it. Darn it! I only got one JITB stop on this trip!

0920 Speed Limit is 80 mph. Too bad the van only wants to go 75 with the luggage box on top.

0923 Melissa checks in with Bill. Apparently they had a tornado warning back home yesterday. There was also an incident with the fireworks. Something broke and the fireworks shot into the crowd instead of into the air. Lots of burn victims. Yikes! (We found out a few days later that it was a problem with that particular company’s fireworks and it happened in a few other places as well.)

0934 We had been testing the GPS on a “keep the direction of travel at the top of the screen” option. We both decided it was better to keep true north at the top of the screen. I felt lost because the screen kept flipping around and I had no idea which was I was headed anymore. I could see it being helpful when making a lot of quick turns in a town because I have a hard time imagining which way I am based on which way the arrow is pointing and then knowing which way to turn. Ron is definitely a true north all the time guy though.

0942 Movie time. “Everyone’s Hero”. Bella’s favorite part of this movie is when the talking baseball falls down the stairs and says “My head! My butt! My head! My butt!” all the way down. Consequently I will always think of that line whenever I think of that movie.

1034 Mile Marker 400, Sonora, TX. There is a rodeo, an airport, and a Sonic. Ptetty much everything a west TX town needs! Only 147 miles to our turn.

1040 Rest stop. Bathroom break for Ron, Sheila, and Bella. 275 miles to Carlsbad. 385 miles to our hotel in Roswell.

1119 Felisa: “When are we going to get there?” Mom: “Not for a long time. Texas is very big.” Felisa: “Oh rats!” And then she starts a chorus of “A long time. A long long long long… long time” for a couple minutes.

1157 Big windmills

12:00 p.m. The kids are all asleep now. Because it’s almost time to stop, of course!

12:05 p.m. Oil wells.

12:06 p.m. Vegetation is very cactus-y out here.

12:07 p.m. Thinking about things I would want in my house… graywater recycling, rain barrels, a garden, and solar and wind energy supplementation.

12:15 p.m. Turn on the GPS radar to find a Sonic. It lists Burrito Inn, Rosita’s, Mi Casita, Pepito’s and nothing else. Ron says, “Are you sure we’re not in Mexico? Did we take a wrong turn somewhere?!” (Earlier we passed by our “closest to Mexico” point in the journey)

12:16 p.m. Obituaries on the radio. Sure don’t hear that back home!

12:31 p.m. Found a Sonic on the GPS after all. Exit at Fort Stockton, TX.

12:35 p.m. Sonic. Sign says Bathrooms in the back so we went around to the back. We went in the door and wow – we’re in the kitchen! It’s like getting a bonus field trip!

12:50 p.m. Gas $3.25/gallon. Melissa lost her cell phone again and ends up practically standing on her head, trying to find it. Which she does… in plain sight near where she was looking originally. Too bad she didn’t see it sooner – could’ve saved herself a lot of effort!

12:54 p.m. Carlsbad is 136 miles away.

1:06 p.m. Random stop sign in the middle of nowhere.

1:08 p.m. Melissa: “This is the straightest road I have ever seen!”

1:20 p.m. Ron spies some good ranch hands fixing the barb wire fence on a hot Texas afternoon… they were driving a 4-wheeler instead of riding a horse but we’ll still give them credit.

1:30 p.m. If Melissa had gotten her permit before we left, she could’ve had a driving lesson. Where better to start than on the longest, straightest, emptiest road ever?!

1:31 p.m. The definintion in the clouds is so awesome out here. GPS says we are at 2600 ft. elevation.

1:32 p.m. Crossing Toyah Lake. But it’s dry. No flooding going on in this part of Texas, that’s for sure!

1:36 p.m. Pecos, TX.

1:40 p.m. There are more people at Walmart than there were at the courthouse.

1:41 p.m. Stop at the West of the Pecos Museum.

Everyone’s favorite parts of the museum…
Ryan: Gun Room and Pecos Bill room
Bella: Pictures of “Miss Pecos” through the years, lining the wall as we went up the stairs.
Felisa: “I don’t want to say my favorite part of the museum!”
Melissa: Green dress
Ron: the Saloon
Sheila: Crazy hair curler machine.

I thought the museum was very interesting. It was very local and yet covered most of US History. It showed how the history we all know applied to this particular town/area. For example, the historical event of television in the home was represented by a display of someone’s first TV table which held the first TV in town and told how the neighbors would all gather at that home to watch together. The World War II display held uniforms, letters, and other items that belonged to veterans from Pecos. It was fascinating to see this different perspective of US History. The Smithsonian Museum of American History has all the same events but on a grander, less personal level. Every item on display at the Pecos museum had belonged to a local resident.

Also at the museum: A telegraph… from a girl who was disappointed that her beau would not be coming to town as soon as she had hoped and who was very disappointed. Ron said it’s just like a text message and that some things never change!
And… Ryan bought a train whistle with his money from Grandma D, because Mr. Wyman had one.

2:32 p.m. Leaving Pecos. Next stop, Carlsbad Caverns.

3:07 p.m. Orla, TX. A faded sign in Orla read Long Way To Anywhere From Orla. We went around the corner and saw a blue highway sign which read Next Fuel Service 60 miles and then 90 miles. Guess they weren’t kidding and we really are in the middle of nowhere!

3:20 p.m. Tasting the famous Pecos cantaloupe jelly beans that Ron bought at the museum gift shop. Tastes just like cantaloupe – amazing!

2:24 p.m. Time change! Which means we have more time to spend at the caves.

2:25 p.m. SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT! Just ran into a swarm of bugs. Yuck!

2:26 p.m. Look – another car on the highway! It’s amazing how many miles and miles of open space there are out here.

2:35 p.m. We can see the Guadalupe Mountains and NM from here. We’re about 6 miles from the state line.

2:41 p.m. NEW MEXICO!!!
Ron says “We’re in the countryside of NM now”

2:50 p.m. The GPS tried to send us to the caverns via “unnamed road” and now it’s sending us down a road to Slaughter Canyon… No thanks! We changed the route to what looks like the main entrance.

2:56 p.m. Carlsbad Cavern Park Entrance

3:00 p.m. Minnesota truck ahead of us is going too slow… we’re going to miss the last cave tour!

3:04 p.m. Ryan and Bella are talking about cracked open heads. Ryan’s talking about Allie’s brother, Owen, and Bella is talking about Ansley’s brother and they just aren’t listening to what the other one is saying. This is an example of how NOT to communicate.

3:08 p.m. Parked. Hurrying to get in before the Natural Entrance closes at 3:30 but we need to stop at the potty first because there won’t be any bathrooms in the cave and everyone needs to pee. Ron is frustrated because he wants to walk down into the caves instead of taking the elevator. I think we should take the elevator anyway because the Big Room tour is supposed to take 1.5 hours and the Natural Entrance walk is another 45 minutes added on. I don’t think Felisa will be willing to walk that far or be underground for that long. Ron says “But I drove 2000 miles to get here” I say “I’m not carrying a whiny baby”. I won this time but if we ever come back, we’ll be walking the whole way – no elevators!

Favorite Parts of the Cave:
Ryan: Giant Dome
Bella: the pools
Felisa: “Don’t do mine.” (is this kid still 2 years old or is she 3 years old? Why won’t she cooperate with my site reviews?!?)
Melissa: Bottomless Pit
Ron: Cave Man
Sheila: Crystal Spring Dome

At the end of the walk we all stopped to go potty… because we can. Who knew there would be bathrooms in a cave?! And as Ron says: “Why not? How oftern do you get to use a bathroom 600 feet underground?!)

5:08 p.m. Headed back down. From the top we could see Texas where we were earlier. Elevation at the cave entrance is 4447 ft and the Big Room of the Cave was 750 feet below that.

5:19 p.m. 20 miles to the town of Carlsbad.

5:29 p.m. Sprinkling on us… just enough to count as rain for the day. Which means it has rained every day so far.

5:40 p.m. Pizza Hut for dinner. When we got there, anther car pulled in next to us. Amazingly enough, the family inside that car waited for us to unload before opening their doors. I didn’t think anyone ever did that anymore. Another reason to move out of the impolite, rush-rush DC region.

6:48 p.m. Leaving Pizza Hut. My turn to drive.

7:15 p.m. Listening to the news on the radio, talking about the heat wave and the jet-stream hugging the Canadian border. Ryan said we should get a hotel room in Canada tonight. A few minutes later we pass a car from Canada. Whoa – weird! 

9:18 p.m. Arrive at hotel in Roswell. Roswell smells like cows – must be all those feed lots we passed on the south side of town. Decide to skip the evening’s alien festivities and go to the pool instead. While we were at the pool, Melissa and I found a black bug in the hot tub. We rescued it and left it on the side. It crawled around for a few minutes then it slipped on the edge of the drain strip between the pool and the hot tub. Oops! We sat there on the edge for a few minutes then Ron sent me to the pool with Felisa so he could warm up in the hot tub. When I got over to the steps, I felt something tickling my hand. I looked down and there was the black bug! It must have managed to crawl out of the drain and onto my hand. I left it on the window ledge with good luck wishes. After all, I had seen it use 2 of its lives already and how many lives do bugs get anyway?!

10:00 p.m. Pool is closing…Get the kids upstairs and changed for bed.

11:00 p.m. The girls are asleep. Ryan is still awake. He objects when we change the channel so I tell him it’s 11:00 and would he please just go to sleep already! Melissa is taking a shower. Ron asks what’s taking so long and I said she’s a teenage – she’s grooming. Did she take her cell phone in the shower with her? he asks? Of course – what if her boyfriend calls and she misses it?!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July, Texas-Style

Big Trip 2... Day 6... July 4, 2007… Wednesday

0645 Wake up

0810 Leave for parade. Only 10 minutes behind schedule which really isn’t bad for getting 10 people up, dressed, and fed. We’re following Betty Lou to Fredericksburg. Ron says “This gal drives fast – hold on everybody!”

0811 Wow – there’s people on this ranch too?!?! So far we’ve seen a lot of animals but I think those are the first people we’ve seen besides our own.

0815 Cows

0816 Weather report on the radio is forecasting 1-3” rain today with up to 5” in a few areas. That’s a lot of rain. Not sure what area the forecast covers so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. It has rained every single day so far on our trip.

0825 Sun is coming out.

0830 I wonder how close I am to Pioneer Woman’s ranch? I think she might be in OK somewhere.

0833 Pass a pretty stained glass tower at the end of someone’s driveway
Pass a parade float on the way to the parade.

Arrive in Fredericksburg. Our early departure pays off… found a parking spot on the main street. Now just have to find something to do until the parade starts at 1000.

1:04 p.m. Parade was good. I was surprised to see the whole parade come back again, going the other way on Main Street. It’s like getting two parades for the price of one! Before the parade we walked down to the park a couple blocks away and toured the pioneer memorial garden and let the kids play on the playground. During the parade, Betty Lou pointed out a float with the missing leg guy riding on it. How funny is that to see the guy who lost his leg in the field last year riding in the parade this year!?! After the parade we walked around town and did a little more shopping. Picked up some Texas wine for myself and Christy. Bought an iron wall hanging (Ron wants to know why we always buy metal when we come to Fredericksburg!), a cowboy hat for Ryan and a few other things. We came out of a shop at 1205 and it was poring down rain. I laughed when I checked my watch because earlier this morning I had told Betty Lou that I didn’t mind if it rained today as long as it was between 12 and 5 pm so that the parade and the fireworks could still happen and not be cancelled. Someone must’ve been listening to me! Since it was raining, we decide to go into Wheeler’s for lunch. Yummy homemade hamburger buns!

Now load up and head back to the ranch…

1:17 p.m. Gas, milk, and beef jerky stop. Saw a real-life Texan (cowboy hat, jeans, and boots on!) inside the minimart.

1:23 p.m. Call Grandpa R.. Says he is prepping the house. Not sure what sort of preps are necessary really… we’re just looking for a place to hang our hat for a few days!

1:44 p.m. Back at the ranch.

Spend a sleepy, rainy afternoon relaxing. The girls were asleep when we got home so Ron volunteered to lie down with them. He ended up getting a nap but Bella and Felisa woke up as soon as we got back. We put together some puzzles, played Peter Pan (an original board game that Betty Lou has had since Dominique was a little boy), and even got in a few minutes of outside playtime between rainstorms.

Enjoy another delicious meal. It has been very enjoyable having the whole family together at the big table for every meal. Something we don’t do enough at home. We discussed houses for sale in the neighborhood. After dinner, Betty Lou drove us around the ranch to see different houses that are for sale. I could see living out here.

Fireworks are cancelled due to rain. We were going to go with the neighbors to view them from the hospital helo landing pad. Oh well, maybe next time. It was good to get to bed early though since we leave in the morning for New Mexico.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Remember the Alamo!

Big Trip 2... Day 5... July 3, 2007… Tuesday

0715 Wake up.

0755 A hummingbird flew into the window. Doesn’t look like he’s going to wake up.

0825 Ryan is working on his farm workbook. When we were talking about coming back to the ranch he was excited because he would be able to finish the farm activity book he started last year.

0905 Breakfast then out to feed the animals. We found some “goat hair” stuck in the fence but it definitely didn’t get the interest that last year’s leg did. I told them I was walking in my sleep last night, wandering through the yard and I got my hair stuck in the fence but they don’t believe me for some reason. They think it probably just belongs to a goat. Bella tried it on but Ryan and Felisa ran away from it. After we fed the animals we head back to the guest house to get changed (need to wash our jammies so we don’t sleep in chiggers or sulphur powder tonight!). I got to try out the electric incinerating toilet “Ol’ Sparky” and the shower at the new guest house. The kids are playing happily, perfectly content with a handful of toys and a little imagination. Is there a lesson here for me perhaps?

12:12 p.m. Power is flickering. No more computer/blog time for me. Guess I’ll get caught up on today’s handwritten entries.

12:15 p.m. Okay that didn’t take long!

Before lunch the kids are playing outside. I see Felisa touch one of the cacti before I can get the door open to stop her. Oh well. Guess it’s her turn to learn the “Never touch a cactus!” lesson. Ouch!

1:40 p.m. Loaded and ready… heading to San Antonio. Betty Lou is able to come with us so I don’t feel so bad about running off and leaving our hosts behind.

1:41 p.m. See a baby deer along the road – so cute! Ryan says “It has white spots so it can hide in the grass.”

1:42 p.m. Waterfall and water over the road. Antelope, horses, deer, wild turkeys, spiral-horn antelope (Can’t remember what it’s really called.) Bella says “It’s just like the pretend one upstairs!” Ryan starts a running report for me to record in the notebook: “Lots and lots of trees and bushes. Lots of mailboxes. I don’t see any arms or legs or heads or…” Mom: “We saw some hair this morning, does that count?” Ryan: “Okay. We found our thing for this summer.” Mom: “What will we find next year?” Bella: “Horses and cows in the road.” Ryan: “No, we’re talking about person things to find.” Then Ryan continues his report for the notebook, using a reporter’s voice this time: “Water washed out by rocks…Lots of rocks…No water…A rock stream right in front of the river…Oh my gosh it’s covering the trees!” And I think there was probably more but I just can’t right fast enough to get it all down.

1:55 p.m. 3 swans swimming on the lake. Bella: “Maybe one of them is the ugly duckling.” (“The Ugly Duckling” is one of the books she has been practicing her reading with at home.)

1:56 p.m. See a few elk under the trees.

1:57 p.m. Brainstorming ideas for the name of this year’s scrapbook… Ryan: “If you give a mouse a triangle trip.” (because our route is like a triangle) Melissa: “If you give a mouse a country.”

1:59 p.m. Mile Marker 505 on I-10 (505 miles to El Paso/NM border) which means we are at the half-way point of I-10 which goes from Santa Monica, CA to St. Augustine, FL. Wow.

2:00 p.m. Betty Lou: “You know it’s a Texas town because it has a Dairy Queen in it. Kerrville has 3 Dairy Queens.”

2:05 p.m. Reading two books at once is giving me a headache. Ryan and Bella are both reading out loud to me at the same time. I have to look at Ryan so he knows I’m listening and I have to help Bella with some of the words so I’m getting a little dizzy. I’m also scrunched in the very back row since I gave my seat to Betty Lou. Are we there yet?!?

2:13 p.m. Raining… I think we should call this the Rainy Vacation.

2:21 p.m. Passing a BIG house for sale… a big house with a zebra!

2:22 p.m. How about “If you give a mouse a raincloud… which follows you everywhere you go”

2:23 p.m. Raining hard again.

2:31 p.m. And now the sun is shining.

2:36 p.m. Passing George Strait’s old house. Sold it and moved over a ridge or two farther from the highway.

2:55 p.m. Downtown San Antonio.

2:56 p.m. Sitting between Ryan and Bella, trapped between all the chatter and noise is giving me a headache!

2:59 p.m. And it’s raining again.

3:00 p.m. San Antonio was built over a river so there’s a whole other layer down below.

3:02 p.m. Passing the Menger Hotel where Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Rough Riders.

3:03 p.m. Ryan and Bella are telling the bible stories they learned in bible school last week.

3:05 p.m. Parked.

5:37 p.m. Back in the car after our San Antonio adventures. We toured the Alamo, walked along the Riverwalk, and ate dinner at Rio Rio. When we first arrived at the Alamo, Ron asked Ryan if it looked like in the movies. Ryan said yes but it was hotter than the movies!

Our review of our San Antonio Adventure… First question was: general impression and the second question was: favorite part.
Ryan: Cool//Looking at weapons of the Alamo
Bella: Nice//Sitting at dinner and talking
Felisa: “Don’t do me. I don’t want to do anything!”
Melissa: Hot but worth it//Weapons and the Riverwalk entrance because it looked like Atlantis
Ron: Cool to see it again//$6.75 jumbo margarita
Betty Lou: Very hot//Spending time with the our family
Sheila: Smaller than I imagined it would be and I was surprised that it was surrounded so closely by the city – right in the heart of things rather than set apart//Gift shop – lots of cool western themed stuff
Bella bought a pony in a bag at the Alamo, using her money that Grandma D. gave her. As soon as Felisa saw it, she wanted one also but it was too late, we had already left the Alamo. (They have been sharing it very nicely though)

On the way back to the car we passed the Guiness museum, a Ripley’s haunted house, and a Davy Crockett Adventure. Tickets for the Davy Crockett adventure (a 5 minute “small world” type ride) was $16/adult and almost as much for the kids. And I thought the $8 boat ride through the Riverwalk area was expensive. At least that one would’ve lasted 45 minutes. Needless to say, we didn’t do any of them!

5:43 p.m. A little rush hour traffic. And it’s raining. At least the rain held off while we were in town.

6:15 p.m. Stop at Best Buy for Betty Lou.

6:18 p.m. Leaving Best Buy… back on the highway.

6:19 p.m. It seems like Saturday to me. My days are so mixed up now that we’ve been on vacation. Leaving on a Friday and having a Wednesday holiday coming up aren’t helping any.

6:24p.m. Ryan, Bella, and Melissa are looking at the pictures on my camera and laughing. Good memories and good pictures… what more could you want from a vacation?

(joke-telling as entertainment for the ride home)

6:55 p.m. Felisa needs to go potty. Lucky for her there is a rest area coming up. After this one, the next rest area is 120 miles away.

6:58 p.m. Rest area. This rest area is at the highest elevation on all of I-10.

7:25 p.m. I don’t remember now what happened but Bella said: “That scared mytummy out of breath!”

7:30 p.m. Home again at the ranch.

The girls went to bed early with Ron. Ryan and Melissa played risk with Dominique. I worked on catching up my blog but I still have a long way to go!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Floating Across Texas

Big Trip 2... Day 4... July 2, 2007... Monday

0500 Alarm goes off... I can hear the rain already. I really don't want to spend another day driving in the rain.

This is why we aim for an early departure... we said we'd leave at 5:30 but didn't make it out until 6. If we had said 6 then who knows how late we'd leave!

0610 Gas and coffee in Germantown. They have Deluxe Coffee cup lids here!

0614 Snacks for the kids. We have modified the lid of the snack box with some rubber non-skid. We don't want a repeat of the cell phone into the tissue box incident. We all know teenagers can't live without their cell phones!

0617 Miles to go... 759.4 Estimated time by the computer... 14:02

0621 What did I do with the egg I was using in bible school on Friday?!?! Did I throw it away in the classroom or did it get packed into my boxes of supplies? Those supply boxes are sitting in the basement at home. Which means we could be coming home to a rotten egg. Oh no!

0635 Slight detour... somehow we got sucked off the highway into a gated community. We got in the front gate but now we can't find our way out! Finally we wind our way out and find a road back onto the highway. The GPS definitely came in handy this time.

0640 Crossing the Mississippi River into ARKANSAS

0641 Melissa - "Can I go back to sleep now?" Me - "Yes. We're in Arkansas now so there's nothing to see."

0650 There was a semi in the tree at the rest stop. Oops! Guess he fell asleep before he parked.

0651 Oh joy... raindrops.

0705 Need to send a postcard to Marta. And someone else. But I can't remember who.

0804 Black and white striped prisoners collecting trash along the highway. I didn't know they still made those types of prison jumpers!

0823 440W bypass headed around Little Rock

0932 Cows... all laying down. Melissa says this means rain. Is that true? (Okay- I just googled this and according to this is true. The website also says this about cows: If you see nine cows in a shed with a gray bull next to the door, and all of them lie on the same side, you are in luck, because you will be granted one wish.) And not to give away the ending but... the cows were right!

0950 Christy texted Melissa... we need a GPS tracker on the car so she can track us online. An upgrade for next year maybe?

1005 All but Bella are awake. We are looking for a Sonic and a BATHROOM! That coffee I drank this morning has gone right through me.

1015 Horses for sale. Do you think we have room in the car for one?

1023 Felisa is singing - "Oh happy days we're going to Texas!" Very cute.

1024 TEXAS!!! Only 500 more miles until we get to Kerrville.

1026 Stop at Chik-Fil-A in Texarkana (the TX side). The breakfast burrito is very yummy. Also, while we were eating this morning, Ryan commented on how sweet the grapes were. I said that was because everything is sweeter in Texas. Melissa said it was because God blessed Texas with his own hands. Ryan didn't get the joke but Melissa and I thought it was hilarious! After breakfast the kids played on the playground for a few minutes while Ron went next door to Starbucks. I think he was trying to sneak in a little internet time. Part of the kids' game involved Bella telling Felisa to run away because she was "going to explode!" I just don't understand sometimes but they were having a lot of fun so I guess it doesn't matter what I think.

1130 Leaving Texarkana.

1133 Call Lynne to ask her about the bible school egg. She doesn't recall packing it in my boxes and thinks I probably threw it away. I sure hope she's right! Lynne told me that Logan saw his mom throw a 6-pack plastic soda ring in the trash and got really upset - made her take it out of the trash and cut it up. His older brother said that Logan's VBS teachers must have been really smart because his teacher didn't teach him that. So I guess we can call the week a success... we taught one child one thing. And we had fun.

1135 Horses, cows, sheep, and a bull all in the same field. That farm must be a de-segregated farm!

1139 A discussion between Ron, Melissa, and I about the soda rings. Ron says we are teaching the kids to become environmental wackos and it doesn't matter if they are cut up or not because all VA trash goes to the landfill and not into the ocean. Melissa and I said we are teaching them to make doing the right thing a habit, regardless of where the trash ends up. And what if a crow or a raccoon tears open the trash bag on the curb then the ring falls out and floats down the sewer to the river and a fish dies. And what about in Happy Feet - a penguin almost died from a soda ring around his neck. I say Better Safe than Sorry.

1148 Rain. Rain. Rain.

1152 Bella is reading her Disney Princess collection easy reader book. I'm glad to see her voluntarily reading. Sometimes she doesn't like to do it because it is still hard work. However, I have also noticed that if something is her idea or something she really wants to do, she'll try hard and do it. If it's my idea or someone else's idea, she will give up instantaneously.

1159 Passing Elk Meadow Game Ranch. They offer guaranteed hog hunts. Great.

12:01 p.m. How long before they remember that I told them they could have a movie after we ate? I'm certainly not going to remind them as long as they are all content without it.

12:06 p.m. Crossing the Sulphur River. It looks like the water level is running a little high... the bottom branches of the trees are all underwater.

12:09 p.m. Still raining and it's getting harder. Cross over another high river. Oh and we can't see the road...

12:10 p.m. A semi-truck blows by us like we're standing still. Melissa says it looks like it is "disappearing like a ghost".

12:12 p.m. Lightning! And Thunder! Because, you know, it wasn't already exciting enough...

12:13 p.m. Car off the road oln the other side. Must've been driving too fast.

12:17 p.m. Rain is a little lighter now. More like regular rain and not the torrential downpour of earlier.

12:20 p.m. Ryan is playing Leapster in his sleep. His eyes are closed but his fingers are still moving. Oops - he just jerked awake!

1:08 p.m. Felisa is playing with the spinning rabbit toy that Logan gave her. I think it is so sweet how all the kids were playing together so nicely. Logan especially was very sweet and took good care of the two girls while also doing "boy stuff" with Ryan. It was very nice of him to give the toy to Felisa to keep since she liked it so much.

1:21 p.m. My turn to drive. Stop at McD's for ice coffee and a bathroom. Apparently they don't have the ice coffee here since the girl at the counter looked at me like I was crazy. Which is really disappointing - I wanted an ice coffee!

2:52 p.m. We are driving past an Owens Corning plant. The kids are watching The Pink Panther. What a coincidence... driving past an Owens Corning plant miles from home at the same time that the kids are watching the Pink Panther, who happens to be a spokesman for Owens Corning.

3:07 p.m. Italy, TX has a really cool caterpillar shaped building wearing cowboy boots.

4:55 p.m. Finally find a Sonic in Temple, TX after a very long, drawn-out, roundabout search.

5:03 p.m. At the gas station, there is a fly in the car. Ryan says its a housefly because they live in houses and this fly thinks our car is an RV. Get it - RV, housefly...

5:06 p.m. Now I'm riding in the back and Melissa has taken over my seat in the front. How did that happen?

5:07 p.m. A big forklift-type truck pulls out in front of us. Felisa says it looks like big teeth.

5:35 p.m. Uh-oh emergency alert on the radio... Heavy rain and flash floods to the west.

5:36 p.m. Goats

5:44 p.m. Felisa is playing with her action fingers.

5:45 p.m. My notebook has been kidnapped for review.

5:56 p.m. Ryan spies a playground store.

6:03 p.m. My hands have been recruited to Felisa's game. Maybe she'll go to sleep soon if she has a hand to hold?

6:04 p.m. Billboard with a real wrecked car stuck to it... "They buckled up and lived."

6:05 p.m. Passing UT campus. Traffic jam ahead... good time to get off the highway!

6:07 p.m. Texas State Capitol Building

6:55 p.m. Leaving the capital. The building was nice. Pretty quiet after hours. Beautiful architecture. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to get in after regular business hours. Personally, I prefer it that way. If only all our tourist stops could be quiet and empty, open only for us...

7:07 p.m. Made it out of downtown and onto 290 West... heading into some very dark rainclouds.

7:15 p.m. Big storm ahead. Big lightning too! Ryan asks, are we sure we want to go this way?!

7:20 p.m. It's getting very dark. Well, except for the brilliant flashes of lightning.

7:24 p.m. Now the kids are too engrossed in their movie to even notice the rain.

7:30 p.m. Dripping Spring, TX is really dripping today!

7:32 p.m. Yikes! We are doused by a humongous splash from the Hummer in the next lane. That got the kids' attention!

7:34 p.m. Drainage ditches are raging rapids and there is flooding everywhere!

7:37 p.m. Whoa! That's a lot of water!

8:00 p.m. Johnson City, TX - former home of President Lyndon B. Johnson

8:10 p.m. Longhorn cows

8:12 p.m LBJ ranch

8:15 p.m. Sheep

8:20 p.m. I'm not sure we'll make it to the ranch before dark. We are racing the sun.

8:39 p.m. Deer!

8:53 p.m. Cows in the road... just minutes after the kids said, "What if there are cows in the road"

9:00 p.m. Dusk (not dark... just dusk!) and we arrive at the ranch.

9:45 p.m. Tour of guest house, unload the bags, then sleep! Wow, what a crazy long day on the road this was.