Thursday, August 28, 2008


"The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself."

Franklin Roosevelt

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday Notes

Some notes from yesterday while I'm drinking my coffee and mentally preparing for today...

*We went school supply shopping. Target first where we found everything but the erasers and glue sticks. I picked up some plain t-shirts for the girls and some jeans for Ryan. My grandma told me I needed new underwear (she had done some of my laundry while we were on the road this summer) so I bought some.

*We were hungry so went to Burger King for lunch. The kids got to play on the playground though they decided it wasn't as exciting as all the taller McD's ones we visited on our trip. There were negotiations between Bella and Felisa over whether or not to switch happy meal toys. Felisa would not give in so Bella had to settle. We also had a discussion about why Burger King is called Burger King. After all, a king is a person, not a burger. Or a restaurant. I tried my best to explain but she wasn't buying it.

*Next stop... Car Wash!!! The kids have been begging all summer to go to the car wash. We couldn't go before because the rooftop box was still on the van. Today though, the box was off (thanks Shani!) and we went to the car wash. It was quite possibly the highlight of the day. They were all very happy that I decided to pay for the long car wash not just the short one.

*On to Staples. Finally. Ryan had been declaring his love of office supply stores all morning. I can't blame. I love them too! We managed to get out of there without buying too many crazy extra things but we did go up and down all the aisles oohing and ahing.

*Last stop - Safeway. Ryan objected because he thought we were done. I think the length of time spent shopping was just too much for him. You know, he used to be my best shopper when he was younger. After all, I started him out before he could even crawl. Oh well. All the kids got donuts and Ryan got to pick out my coffee. For some reason he really likes to choose the coffee. Maybe it's because he likes to operate the pouring and grinding mechanisms.

*A little rant about Safeway... They have TVKarts now. Really? TV Karts? Our kids are so mind-numbingly incapable of surviving 30 minutes in the grocery store without watching TV?!? And I can only imagine how many commercials there are. Buy fruit snacks! Buy sugar! Buy! Buy! Buy! There didn't appear to be too much room for actual groceries in the cart and I'll be surprised if they're not broken in a week. The plastic car carts that my kids like have already lost half the steering wheels. Why on earth are people so incapable of caring for things? Especially things like these carts that don't belong to them? What are those other kids doing for crying out loud?!?
Safeway - I am NOT happy with your decision to offer TVKarts.

*Okay... let's see now. What else was there? Oh yeah. Dinner. I picked up a Rotisserie chicken (on sale for $4!) and some country crock already prepared mashed potatoes (I'll do anything to avoid cooking it seems!). So look - dinner! And minimal effort on my part. Anyway, Felisa declared dinner to be not as good as daddy cooks. I about choked on my chicken. Boy is that girl confused! Daddy doesn't cook! Which I immediately pointed out to her. I did say though that dinner was not as good as it is when daddy is home eating with us. Because it wasn't. The chicken was dry and the potatoes tasted funny. But whatever - it was dinner.

And that's about it. Today we have a couple errands. I need some anti-itch creme since I lost the one we brought with us on vacation and this bee sting is ITCHING LIKE CRAZY!!! Later tonight we have putt putt golf with the Cub Scouts. Oh joy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bumblebito Buzzito

Oh my god!

Bella and Kana (and then me when I went to rescue them!) were just attacked by a swarm of bees!

Apparently the girls decided to slide on the plastic slide over on the side of the house. And apparently some bees have taken up residence there this summer. Must've been while we were on vacation because this is the first time anyone has really been over there since before we left.

They both came running up the stairs and back inside. I saw two dark bugs on Bella's shirt and thought they were beetles. I shoo-ed her back outside to brush them off. I went outside to help at which point I realized they were bees. And they weren't just on her shirt - there were at least 10 of them stuck in her hair. So Shani and I are frantically trying to brush them off. Then they were in my hair. And then one stung me on the arm. Finally Kana is clear and then Bella is clear and I am clear. We slam the door and commence freaking out! Well, Bella and I were freaking out anyway.

I sat with Bella on the couch for a few minutes trying to get her to stop crying and calm down. Skippyjon Jones, one of her favorite books, was within reach on the bookshelf so I offered to read it, hoping for a distraction. And ironically enough the villian in the story... is a bumble bee! I mean really, what are the chances?!

So Bella has gone to her room to watch a movie and I gave her two motrin because she said her head hurts. I can't tell if one stung her there or not but maybe the motrin will help.

And I just have to say... Bee stings, well, they sting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If It's Not One Dog, It's the Other

Last night was one of THOSE nights...

I had the opportunity to go to sleep earlier than what has become my usual midnight or beyond, but I wasn't tired. I did finally fall asleep some time after 11 while trying to watch the women's final gymnastics event.

At 1:00, Darby woke me up, whining to go out. By this point I had already had at least one weird dream and pushed Felisa off of me at least 5 times. I kept covering her up, hoping that if she were warmer, she would stop tossing and turning ALL OVER ME!

Darby and Cody went out and I went back to bed.

Sometime around 3, Cody started barking at who know's what. Which is probably what woke Bella up because a minute later, she was in bed with me. I told her to lie down and gave her a blanket to cover up with. Cody came back to bed as well. So bed total: 2 kids, 1 mom, and 1 dog.

At 4 Darby had to go outside again. At this point I start to put everything together. He had a soft poop last night when I wallked them before bed. Which means he has diarrhea AGAIN! That dog has been sick more often in the last few months... when you add his freak-out carpet-licking, paper-and-plant-eating episodes it's at least once a week.

Cody didn't want to go out at 4 so the two of us sat on the white couch and tried to not wake up too much while we waited for Darby to come back.

When we were all finally back upstairs, I was hearing phantom noises and had to check at least 3 times that both dogs were still in the room and not out causing trouble somewhere in the house.

I was able to go back sleep which left plenty of time for more weird dreams and more restless Felisa. Darby was whining again at 8 but it was time to get up anyway. My stirring woke up the girls. We all went downstairs where we found Ryan and Cody watching TV.

Grandma D came by and is walking the dogs now. I gave the kids breakfast. Now I need a shower and we all need to get dressed to go to the farmer's market and various other playdates and errands.

Monday, August 18, 2008


We're home (in case anyone didn't know - I thought I had posted a message to that effect but I guess not since there isn't one here!). We ended up arriving back two days early.

I'm enjoying a few minutes of quiet this afternoon... listening to some music while I work on my digi scrapbooks. The kids took Darby for a long walk with Grandma D and now they are at her place "watching and eating". I even moved my laptop from the bedroom to the dining room table for a change of scenery.

The weather is hot today.

The kids are bored with each other after an entire summer together. They play well for awhile but then they start picking and arguing. I'm ready for them to go back to school and be with their friends. Then they'll be happy to see each other here at home.

Melissa leaves tomorrow for college. All of us are going to miss her. Ryan was crying in the closet for awhile this afternoon because he was sad about her leaving. Daddy is gone and Melissa is gone and [3 teachers at his school] are all retired and gone... Heartbreaking I tell you.

Ron seems to be doing fine in Afghanistan... 4 meals a day and a job to do. He says he misses us and asks for pictures daily.

I got to go to Artie's with Bill and Christy the other night while the kids were all having sleepovers (at Zoe's and at Grandma D's). Yummy tuna, a margarita, and good company. Haven't spent much time with Shani yet but hopefully that will work itself out once we get our school year routine settled. I need someone to drink the vacation wine with...

The house was clean when we arrived but was trashed again in short order. I think I finally have everything unpacked except the kids' backpacks (which they should be doing, not me) and a bag of food souvenirs in the kitchen. Which means all the mess now is regular every day mess. Joy, joy.

Obviously I really don't have anything to say today so I'll let it go at this...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walking in Memphis

We're here in Memphis - decided to skip St Louis completely and get on down the road...

Went to Graceland today.

My outgoing email is blocked so I won't be able to answer any messages until tomorrow night when we get to the hotel.

Almost home!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Day 22

August 10, 2008 – Sunday – Day 22

0740 Wake up

Enjoy a nice quiet morning then leave to take Grandpa R to the airport.

1052 Pigs! Finally! We have been looking for pigs since we left and these are the first ones we’ve seen.

1113 Leaving the Peoria airport. I went inside to use the bathroom and bought some postcards and picked up a free Home magazine while I was in there. Some funny quotes from Felisa so far this morning:

“The corn rides again.”
Upon sighting many many cornfields along the road once more.

“I’m the expert.”
She had been “navigating” us to the airport and we mentioned something about knowing which way to go and that’s what she told us.

1140 Felisa rolled her window down while we were driving through Farmington. It scared me since she hadn’t asked first but she did meet my open window requirement of “not on the highway”. I have no idea why that girl always wants the window down in the car. Anyway, she had put the window down so that Hot Dog could get some fresh air.

1230 Bella has developed some sort of fixation with her lips. What is that noise called? Raspberries? But not against the skin. Just flubbing her lips to make cat purring sounds, horse sounds, car sounds… She has been doing it seemingly almost nonstop for over a week now. Good thing she sits all the way in the back row so I don’t hear it as much.

1235 Back at Grandma’s and starving for lunch. Yummy ham salad again and other assorted leftovers.

After lunch we went to Uncle Ron’s house and the kids played with Tegan while the rest of us hung out on the porch. The weather has been amazingly perfectly glorious ever since we got to NM. I love it!

Dinner out at the café in Bushnell then home to unpack and repack the van. The last repack was in Albuquerque and we were in serious need of reorganization! While I was doing that the kids were practicing a play. We watched “Animal Band in Birmingham” then it was bedtime. I started putting together a small package for Ron to mail from here tomorrow.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Day 21

August 9, 2008 – Saturday – Day 21

Wake up when Bella comes back to bed. The kids were all playing musical beds last night. All 3 of them started in my bed watching Looney Tunes. Bella, the only one who didn’t want to watch the movie, was the only one awake at the end of the movie. Since Ryan was asleep in her spot, she went to sleep with Grandpa R. In the middle of the night, Ryan woke up and said, “Why am I sleeping in this bed?” and went to Grandpa’s room. Sometime in the early morning Bella started roaming and eventually came to my room and went back to sleep.

Breakfast and coffee then a trip to the post office to check the mail. Grandma was going to go without me but I made her wait. When I was a kid I always walked to the post office with Grandma.

Lana went to town to get a haircut and buy more bags of Kitchen Cooked chips for all of us to bring home. Yum!!! Unfortunately I forgot to get my entertainment out of the car so no cross-stitching or crocheting or reading (except the newspaper) until she gets back. There’s no internet so I can’t even waste time online. Oh well, maybe I’ll work on a few scrapbook pages. My next quarterly deadline for CM is September 30 so I need to get at least one book finished by then.

Uncle Ron came by with Tegan to play with the kids. She was shy at first but then didn’t want to leave. We promised to come up to their place to play after lunch.

Ham salad and chicken salad for lunch – yum! And Kitchen Cooked chips of course.

The kids had fun playing at Tegan’s. Felisa and Tegan got wet watering the flowers so Tegan reluctantly loaned Felisa a dress for the day. Once again Tegan didn’t want to see the kids leave. It was good for all of them to play together since Tegan’s an only (though not for long!) child and my kids haven’t had many other kids to play with this trip.

We drove to town so Emilio could see downtown Macomb. Then home in time for dinner. Grandma made goulash and mashed potatoes (she dug the potatoes from her garden just this morning!). After dinner it was time for our daily park trip.

The kids are watching Pink Panther and the grown-ups are watching Family Feud on GSN. Lady (Grandma’s cat) is looking at me… apparently I’m sitting in her chair. So she walks over to my black bag with the scrapbooks inside and sits down on top of it. I guess she showed me!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Day 20

August 8, 2008 – Friday – Day 20

0610 Wake up. Talk to Ron online.
0715 Breakfast
0803 Leave the hotel.
0840 Stop at McD’s for coffee and a potty break. I realized a few minutes ago that the girls hadn’t gone potty yet this morning. I figured it would be wise to stop at the next available bathroom before it turns into an emergency pee on the side of the road incident. As luck would have it, the next available stop was McD’s so I could get my iced coffee as well. Yea!

1110 Des Moines, IA - See a sign for Sonic and stop since this may be my last chance (well, at least until after we drop off Lana and head home). Plus, it’s been at least a week since I last ate at Sonic…

Here’s what we ordered:
Ryan: hot dog and strawberry slush
Bella: grilled cheese, tots, and water
Felisa: Chicken strips and strawberry slush
Grandpa R: #4 grilled chicken sandwich and a coke
Lana: #8 grilled chicken wrap and a diet dr. pepper
Sheila: #12 Super Sonic breakfast burrito with tots and cherry coke

I had to write it down so I could get the order right so I figured I might as well record it for posterity…

2:05 p.m. Mt. Pleasant, IA stop for gas. $3.65/gallon

2:45 p.m. Illinois! And the Mississippi River! Once we were across the river we could see the flood damage in Gulfport. There is still standing water a third of the way up houses and buildings and you can see the water line where it was higher before. The road is closed so we go the long way around the Good Hope.

3:15 p.m. See a sign for Roseville. Felisa is happy to have a place with her name.

3:33 p.m. Arrive at Grandma’s!

The kids played for a bit then we had beef and noodles for dinner. Super yum! After dinner we went to the park then home for popsicles and then finally bed time. The kids were not tired at all (something about riding in the car all day…) so I put in a movie for them. Of course that means they are all in my bed so there is no room for me until the movie is over. Guess I’ll go upstairs and watch TV with the grownups for a while. Felisa came up after about 20 minutes so I had to go back down and squeeze in on the edge.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Day 19

August 7, 2008 – Thursday – Day 19

0614 Wake up
0650 Go downstairs for breakfast
0733 Loaded and leaving the hotel.

We decided to drive through Custer State Park again since it seemed like the most direct, least curvy road way to get up to the interstate in Rapid City. I’m really glad we did because along the way we saw lots of animals. Wild turkeys (even babies!) crossing the road, deer, a chipmunk (trying not to get run over), mule deer, and… buffalo! A huge herd of them! And since I downloaded my other buffalo pictures and realized that very few of them turned out, I was able to take bunch more. Yea! Hopefully these turned out better. If not then I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

0930 On the way to Wall Drug in Wall, SD. We passed a truck pulling a motorcycle trailer. On the back of the trailer was a sign that said “Just Married”. Not 30 seconds later we saw a billboard that said Free Coffee and Donuts for Honeymooners. How weird is that!!!

1048 Leaving Wall Drug. Big. And Crowded. But kind of fun, at least in the backyard where the covered wagon, giant roaring dinosaur, and 8-foot jackalope were.

1130 Stop for gas ($3.83/gallon) and lunch in Kadoka, SD. There is just a whole lot of nothing out here.

12:22 p.m. Leaving lunch. I miss McDonalds… We haven’t seen one since Denver.

12:43 p.m. Time change. It’s now 1:43 p.m. I really don’t like giving my hours back on the return trip!

2:59 p.m. McDonald’s!!! Iced Coffee!!! Yippee! Yahoo! Oh and we also just crossed the Missouri River. It was actually blue. I don’t think I’ve seen a blue river in a while.

4:05 p.m. Stop at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Interesting. A good distraction from the miles of prairie. And since crossing the river, we are back to miles of corn fields.

4:50 p.m. Leaving the Corn Palace. We bought cheddar popcorn as a snack for the kids. We still have about 2 hours to the hotel.

7:00 p.m. Iowa! Cross the Big Sioux River. We can even see Nebraska just across the river. If I wasn’t so tired of driving, I would cross the river just so I can add Nebraska to our list of states for this year!

7:10 p.m. Arrive at the hotel in Sioux City, IA It smells like cows here.

7:34 p.m. Dinner at HuHot Mongolian Grill. Delicious food but there was a large group of loud obnoxious teen girls at the table next to us. The handful of adults were just as bad as the kids.

8:40 p.m. Leaving dinner. It still smells like cows.

8:43 p.m. Stop at the gas station next door. Gas is only $3.49/gallon. Wow!

Back to the hotel for swimming in the cold pool then bedtime. I was hoping for a chat with Ron but it’s Friday there so I guess he’s sleeping in (Fridays and Sundays are the slow days).

Oh! I forgot!

I realized today while driving that I forgot to tell the story about the motorcycle dude that flipped me off yesterday. For no good reason!!!

We had stopped at the bathroom then went on the short hike. While we were hiking, a motorcycle had gone into the ditch somewhere up in the curvy hilly road we had just driven down prior to stopping. The park rangers closed the road at the bottom of the hill so the cyclists could wait on the flat road while a tow truck was pulling the bike out. When we came back to the car, a ranger was there holding up traffic. He told me what happened and asked which way we were headed. I told him we were going the other way so he said to go ahead.

About 5 cars/bikes or so back in the line, a motorcycle dude flipped us off after he (I can only guess) arrived to see us pulling out of the parking lot and driving away. I suppose that he thought we were the cause of the holdup. I really have no idea what his problem was.

I bounced his bad energy off and turned it into good deeds and public service... I stopped at every car and group of bikes down the rest of the line and explained why everyone was stopped. And all of them were very nice and thanked me for telling them.

So there - mean, grumpy, rude biker dude. Take that!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Day 18

August 6, 2008 – Wednesday – Day 18

0645 Wake up

0700 Get out of bed

0740 Go down to breakfast – made it just in time to beat the rush

First stop of the morning is the Crazy Horse Monument. Looks like we beat the crowd here to which is great. We take our time looking through the museum and the gift shop then take the bus tour a little closer. By the time we’re ready to go, the crowds have descended. Our favorite parts:
Felisa: getting a rock
Bella: bus tour
Ryan: nature gate
Grandpa R: Korczak the sculptor
Lana: the history behind the monument
Sheila: the family aspect and getting a rock

10:58 p.m. Leave Crazy Horse

We spend the next two hours driving around the Wildlife Loop of Custer State Park. We saw more buffalo, mule deer, prairie dogs, and burros. We took a 3 minute hike in the prairie since there was a trailhead right next to the bathroom (We had to stop for Felisa). Lana, Bella, and I all got our feet wet when crossing the stream.

1:25 p.m. Back in Custer for lunch at Pizza Hut.

After lunch we had quiet time. The kids were in Grandpa’s room playing and watching TV while he was napping.

5:00 p.m. Time to hit the pool.

6:15 p.m. Time to shower and get ready for dinner.

We went to a different restaurant for dinner and were seated at the teepee table. That’s right – a table inside a teepee! The kids thought that it was great fun but I was a little too tall so my head kept brushing up against the side.

Then… back to the hotel and bedtime!
Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam...

Most of my buffalo pictures were less than spectacular but this one was awesome I thought!

Just a teaser to hold you over until I can get more posted...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Day 17

August 5, 2008 – Tuesday – Day 17

0154 Wake up. For no reason that I can discern other than to see what time it is.

A BIG thunderstorm rolled through at I don’t know what time then…

0400 Wake up to register Felisa for gymnastics class. Online registration starts at 0500 Eastern Time and this class always fills up before I can get in. So this time I’m biting the bullet and waking up in the middle of the night to sign up!

0540 Calendar feature of my cell phone rings to remind me to register for gymnastics. I was nothing if not thorough in my backup systems this time!

0600 Alarm – time to wake up

0720 Breakfast at the hotel. The serving area was way too crowded so we grabbed what we could and went back to our room to eat.

0754 Leaving the hotel, headed for South Dakota

0809 Ryan remembers that he left his CD bag in the hotel room. He was staying in Grandpa’s room and apparently neither one of them did a thorough check before they left. So we turn around and go back to get it.

0826 Leaving the hotel again.

0949 South Dakota!!!

0952 Motorcyclists heading in the opposite direction. Each one of them points out the roadkill to the next guy behind.

1030 Arrive at Custer State Park.

1115 Stop to see the buffalo along the side of the road.

1124 Stop to see the burros on the side of the road. Someone is feeding them and when he runs out of food, they come looking to us next. Two of them have their heads stuck in the driver’s side window. We barely escape…

12:00 p.m. Arrive at Mount Rushmore. Along with about a million motorcyclists (or so it seems) and a bunch of other tourists. By this point I am tired from driving on the very curvy road and I have a headache from the constant sound of motorcycles on the road. I’m also getting a bit hungry which is never good for my attitude. We took pictures then went to the gift shop. Then it was time to escape the insanity and head for our next stop.

12:48 p.m. Leaving Mount Rushmore

1:11 p.m. Stop at the Golden Spike restaurant outside Hill City. Hill City was closed to cars. Only motorcycles could drive into town. Everyone else had to go around on the truck route. Lunch turned out to be surprisingly good. The food came out very quickly and it was actually not busy so it was calm and quiet. A nice change after spending the morning on the road. And did I mention too many motorcycles?!?

1:58 p.m. Leaving lunch.

2:07 p.m. Stop at Prairie Berry Winery for a taste. Interesting wines. Most of them are made with different berries from South Dakota. As usual, I definitely liked the sweet wines best. Between Lana and I, we picked up 6 bottles then wondered which child we should evict from the car to make room for the wine. Ultimately there was room for all the kids and the wine. Phew.

2:50 p.m. Stopped at Cosmos Mystery Area. This place had been recommended by a friend of Lana’s as fun, especially for the kids. Lana ended up with a headache, I remained a skeptic, and the kids had a blast! Basically you tour a cabin built on a “hot spot” in the area which pulls things in strange directions such that you can practically stand on the walls without falling.

3:36 p.m. Done with our touring for the day. Time to head back to our hotel in Custer and relax a bit.

We went across the street to Dakota Cowboy Café for dinner. Another pleasant surprise in that it was quiet and not super busy. We even ordered smores for dessert… cooked the marshmallows over a small fire right at our table. Fun!

On our way home for dinner, we noticed the gas station across the street was almost empty so we went directly over. Every gas station we had passed today had been overflowing with motorcycles. So time to get our gas while the getting is good!

Back at the hotel it was swimming time then bed time. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!

(License plates: British Columbia, Connecticut - only 4 states left to find and we'll have all 50!)

Holy Motorcycles, Batman!

So we made it to Custer today. So did a lot of people. All of them on motocycles!

We went to Mt. Rushmore, a winery, and Cosmos Mystery Area. Everywhere we looked, everywhere we went, there were the motorcycles. They were ahead of me, behind me, and coming at me in a steady stream from the opposite direction. All day long. If only the engines weren't so loud...

We also got to see a herd of buffalo and made smores at dinner.

So that's the highlight reel... a detailed post to come probably tomorrow.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Day 16

(I have backposted below the Rock Story for anyone who is interested in Days 13-15)

August 4, 2008 – Monday – Day 16

0545 Penny is barking which wakes me up.

0605 Get up and start getting ready.

0630 Wake up the kids and start loading the van.

0712 Leave

0715 Pass a house with a space shuttle mail box.

0716 Dad called – we forgot the sippy cups.

0718 Back to pick up our cups and Ryan’s Gatorade. And leaving again…

0835 Stop in Parker for gas and breakfast. $3.87/gallon.

0837 Pull across the street and stop again. Bella has a bloody nose and needs a new shirt.

0910 Arrive at Denver Airport to pick up Grandpa R.

1000 Stop at first available gas station for another clean-up. This time Bella threw up. She says she was reading too many princess stories so maybe she was just car sick. Guess we’ll be doing laundry at the hotel tonight.

1054 Wyoming!

12:03 p.m. Leaving the Old West Pioneer Days Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming. There is not immediately obvious place to stop for lunch so I get back on the highway figuring I’ll stop and the next exit or two.

Turns out there is nothing at the next exit and before I know it, there’s a sign telling me No Services for 50 miles!

12:14 p.m. The prairie out here is very windy and empty.

We passed an accident. Looks like two pickups flipped. No one appears to be hurt and a few other people have already stopped to help.

12:45 p.m. Buffalo Grill in Chugwater, WY is the next available food. And the only services for another 30 miles according to the blue sign on the highway. So, Chugwater it is. Population 244. Not much going on except a few motorcycles who have also stopped to eat at the Buffalo Grill. Oh and a word of advice – when the sign says “dip” you should SLOW DOWN. A LOT! While we were eating, a few guys came in and got to talking about the accident. No one was hurt. One guy was driving a pickup and towing another one behind him. They think the tow bar broke and the gusty wind caused the accident. Eavesdropping pays off because now I know a little more!

1:37 p.m. Leaving lunch.

2:07 p.m. Stop in Wheatland, WY for gas and coffee. $3.99/gallon. No McD’s so I have to get iced coffee from Burger King. Not my favorite but it’ll do. Lana ordered an iced tea. She added her splenda then took a drink. That was NOT iced tea! I tasted it as well (by request) and agreed with her diagnosis. Coke. With Splenda. Which in case you were wondering is not actually very good at all. Yuck!

Continue our drive towards the hotel. There are several trains out today and we even saw a section where they were building NEW train tracks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen NEW train tracks before.

3:35 Arrive at the hotel in Lusk, WY. Pretty small town. Nice hotel with a HEATED pool and flowers hanging outside all the rooms.

4:45 p.m. Go to the pool for an hour to swim. Amazing how much more fun it is when the water isn’t ice cold. They also had two floating lounge chairs that we all enjoyed using.

7:15 p.m. Back from dinner at the Outpost Café. Good food. Good service. Sometimes small towns are the best place.

9:00 p.m. Get the kids settled for bed. Ryan will sleep with Grandpa in his room. I start the laundry.

Chat with Ron…

Work on updating blog when I realize I forgot the laundry! Go quickly to change it. Notice a minivan with the light on. The family just went inside so I’ll check again on my way back as it may be on a delay. When I pass by again, the light is still on. I knock on the door to tell them. She gave me a bit of a look but after our dead battery in LA I figure better safe than sorry!

And now it is 10:18 and I’m waiting another 15 minutes for my laundry to hopefully be dry so I can go to bed.

The Rock

We went out to dinner tonight at a new steak house that used to be a different chain steak house. While we were there, Ryan needed to use the restroom. When he came back to the table, he had a small rock. He put it down on the table top next to his plate.

Ryan: Look! I found a rock in the bathroom!
Me: Where in the bathroom?
Ryan: I found it in the bathroom.
Me: But WHERE in the bathroom?!?
Ryan: On the toilet.
Me: And you put it on the table?!?
Ryan: Well, I washed it off.

Okay then. What more can I say to that?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Day 15

August 3, 2008 – Sunday – Day 15

0640 Wake up

0846 Leave the house, headed for Cave of the Winds. We tried to go to Cave of the Winds last summer but the line was waaaaaaay too long so we’re trying for an early morning tour this time. As we’re headed out the door, we see a snake in the front garden.

0911 Arrive at Cave of the Winds.

1100 Leaving… good tour. Took less than 2 hours all together including a 45 minute tour and shopping time. Our favorite parts survey:

Felisa – going into the cave
Bella – the frozen waterfall
Ryan – cave bacon and the frozen waterfall
Grandpa F – “cool” cave and watching Lana hit her head (gee, aren’t brothers just so nice…)
Rosanne – cave bacon
Sheila – Tall Man’s Headache, Fat Man’s Misery (Tuck, suck, and duck. With any luck you won’t get stuck!)
Lana – No blood after hitting head and the frozen waterfalls

1118 Stop at Primos Pizza in Woodland Park for lunch. Mmmm… Chicago Deep Dish pizza…

12:37 p.m. Leaving lunch

1:04 p.m. Arrive at Florissant Fossil Beds. We shopped (of course!) and added more critters to our travelling zoo. Then we watched the movie about how the fossil beds were formed (volcanic ash trapped insects, leaves, and redwood trees). We went on a short hike but it was spitting rain so we didn’t do the whole trail.

2:38 p.m. Leaving the fossil beds.

3:00 p.m. See a very furry llama alongside the road. Makes me think of Mama Llama. But Mama Llama is much less furry and much cuter!

3:42 p.m. Back at the house.

On our way back down the mountain I checked my oil life. I’m at 20% now. Hmm. Guess I need an oil change soon. I went to Jiffy Lube and the girl there remembered me (and all my kids) from last year. After I get back from this errand we all went out to dinner at Texas Land and Cattle. After dinner there was a full rainbow and some pretty cool clouds above the mountains with the sun setting.

Once back at the house it was time to get the van back into travelling order and start the packing for our departure tomorrow.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Day 14

August 2, 2008 – Saturday – Day 14

A nice relaxing day. The kids played all morning while the grown-ups relaxed and visited. Then we loaded up and hit the stores. Target and Costco and lunch at Red Robin. Then I got to go out by myself for an hour or so and I hit the scrapbook store, the teacher supply store, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. Everyone was full from lunch so we had leftovers for dinner then enjoyed some more peaceful evening air on the back porch.

License plate update: Alaska! Two of them! Woo hoo! Now I have mainly New England states left to find.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Day 13

August 1, 2008 – Friday – Day 13

Once again the 13th day of our trip falls on a Friday. Friday the 13th in a way. Weird, eh?

0610 Wake up. Get to have a little online chat with Ron while Lana is getting dressed. Then it is time for the kids and I to get dressed.

0733 Leave the room with all our gear, ready to check out of the hotel. The Colorado morning air is cool, crisp, and refreshing. Ahhhh….

0834 Leaving McD’s after another fine golden arches meal. The kids got to play at the playplace and we even saw the Durango Scenic train pulling out of the station.

0925 Stop for gas in Pagosa Springs, CO. $3.95/gallon.

1020 Impromptu stop alongside the river that we are following as we cross the mountain pass. We walk over and admire the river then take a few pictures before heading back to the car to continue our journey.

1131 Stop at Wendy’s for lunch in Alamosa. After lunch Lana heads across the parking lot to Walmart to buy more film while I start getting the kids shoed and sunscreened (changing from our flip flops to more suitable hiking shoes with socks as well). There is a horse trailer parked next to us with 3 horses. While we are waiting, three young cowgirls come out and hop into the truck. I took a picture but I was trying to do it without them noticing so it’s not perfect. Hopefully Ron will like it though – I took it just for him! I also made sure Bella and Felisa noticed that they were cowGIRLS getting into the truck with the cool horses.

1:29 p.m. Leaving the visitor’s center at Great Sand Dunes. Time to find a trail for a hike.

We stopped at the bathroom in the campground near the trailhead. On the door was posted a sign about bears in the area. Lana said it made Bella nervous. Our hike was short – the kids wimped out. They were complaining of being too hot. While it was definitely hot and sunny, I didn’t think it was unbearable. I think the problem though was that we weren’t walking towards the dunes but rather were just skirting them on kind of an overlook trail. So we went back to the car and drove over to the dunes parking lot. There was a small stream of water at the edge that we had to cross and there were lots of people playing in the sand and the water – kind of like at the beach. We made it across without getting our shoes too wet then we started the long hot walk across and up the dune. Bella and Felisa were still whining but Ryan was determined to make it at least up to the top of the first small hill. I took pictures to prove we were there then we went back to the car. Amazingly Bella was suddenly full of energy and ran almost the entire way back to the water’s edge.

I decided that the water at the sand dunes falls into the category of “just weird water”. I felt the same way after visiting the Great Salt Lake oh so many years ago.

2:58 p.m. Leaving the sand dunes and headed for Colorado Springs. But first, time for our favorite parts survey:
Felisa: Going up the first hill
Bella: Walking through the water
Ryan: emptying his shoes of all that sand when we got back to the car
Lana: the view
Sheila: Being on the dunes and seeing (what I believe to be) Pikes Peak

On our way out, I stop at the trash cans so Lana can empty our trash bag. It takes few minutes because the park has installed bear-proof cans. And the how-to-use-bear-proof-trash-can labels have been torn off. I told her that you just have to be smarter than the bear!

3:30 p.m. Blanca, CO has a dead tree sculpture that is playing the fiddle! Now that’s a cool dead tree!

*side note here—for some reason I am fascinated with dead trees and taking pictures of dead trees. So now it’s become a joke about all the pictures of dead trees I’ll have in my scrapbook. But really, they are quite pretty in their own way.

4:27 p.m. We have made it back to the interstate. No more winding 2-lane mountain highways.

5:56 p.m. Arrive at Dad’s house.

The kids played and we all had BBQ for dinner. After dinner we sat out on the patio and enjoyed the view and some nice, cool, refreshing Colorado air while the kids ran around burning off their all-day-in-the-car wiggles until bedtime.

License plate game update: Hawaii! And Minnesota and Idaho!