Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a blue moon

I like that expression. Not sure why. May be connected to our Full Moon adventures.

So apparently tonight is a blue moon. Felisa and I noticed the moon Monday night and talked about how it was almost full. I noticed it again last night when I put Darby out - nice and bright though I couldn't actually see the moon since it was behind the trees.

According to the internet, a New Year's Eve Blue Moon only comes once every couple decades.

So... Happy New (Blue) Year everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The rain is coming down now, melting all the snow. But at least it didn't start raining until late afternoon so it was a White Christmas for most of the day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is it because I'm selfish?

So Mom's not coming tonight. Or tomorrow. I'm sure it's because I decided that it would be better if we had a quiet Christmas morning, just the 5 of us, before she and other people came over for the afternoon and Christmas dinner and after we are all together tonight for dinner and church.

I thought it was because that would make Ron happy. But now I'm wondering if it's really because then I don't have to stress about whether or not Ron is grumpy and whether or not Mom is feeling slighted because my husband is being anti-social. Which means it's really about me. It's quite possible neither Ron nor Mom feel that way. I'm making assumptions and I'm making decisions designed to make my life easier without completely considering others. Which on a regular day is okay but when it comes to family things and holidays, well, that's selfish behavior.

So, I guess I'd better go apologize to Mom.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


So here I sit, in bed, drinking coffee, surfing the net, and dreading the endless list of tasks to complete in the next two days before Christmas. Beside me sits Felisa. Except she's not actually sitting, per se. It's more of a bounce, kind of like Tigger. She's so happy, so excited about Christmas coming, so full of energy. She's counting the days until Christmas. She said that she wishes she was born on a holiday. She has even started planning her birthday party, telling me who to invite and what to write on the invitation. "Come to my party and bring your favorite webkinz. Webkinz, yea!"

The complete opposite of me! yawn... Guess I'd better get up and get the show on the road!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Serious Snow!

Wow - now that's some serious snow!

The Blizzard of 2009 is underway. We're at about a foot of snow already and it continues to snow and blow. Ron bundled up the kids, packed a bag of emergency supplies, and took the kids and a sled and headed up the street for a snow adventure. I'm sure they'll be having a great time. While they're gone, I need to keep working on household chores and Christmas projects. It'll be hot chocolate time when they get back!

In other news...

Wednesday night was pie-throwing night at the Pack meeting. I had two whipped cream pies thrown at me by my cubs. Ryan and Owen each got me with one. Very sticky! The first one ended up down my shirt and the second one was smeared in my hair! Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the sticky mess when I got home that I forgot to take my cell phone out of my pocket. It went through the wash Thursday afternoon. It's alive. Sort of. But barely. Hope Santa brings me a new one in my stocking because it doesn't look good for the long-term recovery.

Last night was Ryan's Friday Funday. Owen, Jacob, Winslow, Claire, and Zoe came over to hang out, eat pizza, ice cream cake, and watch a movie (Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian). Santa came by on the firetruck. Unfortunately he ran out of gas at the corner. The kids all thought that was funny. But then they got cold so went back in to finish the movie. It was snowing already at 10 when I was driving the kids home. Then I went out in search of gas to fill up the cars. Only one station in town was open with gas to sell. Yikes!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Decade

I have been a Mother now for a decade. 10 years! I still have no idea what I'm doing - I just make it up as I go along. It has been a wild ride at times but enjoyable all the same.

Happy 10th Birthday, Ryan!


In other news...

The poor tooth fairy just can't catch a break in this house. She forgets to stop here sometimes. She has been set up (Ryan decided to test her once). And most recently, her generous tooth offering was blown away and given to the wrong child. She left $2 (I'm sure it was to help Bella overcome the suffering of having to go to the dentist and have the tooth pulled). But it was paper money and it must have blown off the tooth dish when the door was opened. Ryan found it on the radio. Asked Bella about it. Bella said it must be Felisa's because Felisa usually forgets to put her money in the piggy bank. So Ryan gave it to Felisa. Then Bella complained to Grandma Duffield that the tooth fairy didn't come. Seriously! What does a tooth fairy have to do?!?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Over the river and through the woods

to grandmother's house we go...

Time for a mini Thanksgiving road trip!

0856 Drop kids at school

0910 Arrive at the bank to get signature cards for the Brownie bank account

0950 Arrive at another bank to deposit my checks

1010 Home to pack

1106 I've got most of our stuff gathered. Now it's time to load the car.

12:12 p.m. Half of the pile of stuff is loaded. The mail has arrived and I have spoken to the dental insurance company about the big bill that just arrived. Dishes are done. GPS Lady has been programmed. Making good progress.

12:13 p.m. We are officially out of paper towels. There are none in the car and none on the shelf. I have to leave the roll in the kitchen for Mom to use while we're gone. Looks like I have to make a quick stop at the store before we leave.

12:21 p.m. Broke a nail already. Happens every time. Good thing I packed the nail clippers!

12:41 p.m. Ready! Off I go...

12:43 p.m. Drop off a house key with Christy.

12:54 p.m. A traffic jam already! So much for a quick trip to the store!

1:10 p.m. Done at Safeway. Got my iced latte and paper towels.

1:30 p.m. Kids are loaded. Leaving school and officially on the road. Pretty much on schedule so that's good. Now I hope there's not too much traffic headed out of town.

1:43 p.m. Ugh. Traffic ahead in Tyson's corner.

1:56 p.m. Maryland!

2:34 p.m. Our first mountain... Braddock Mountain, 985 ft.

2:37 p.m. Listening to the news on the radio. An airline kept people on the tarmac for 6 hours overnight because the airport wouldn't open after they were redirected due to weather. Yikes - that's a long time to be trapped on a plane. Also, a man who was thought to be in a coma for 15 years was actually coherent the whole time but unable to move or communicate. Double yikes!

2:40 p.m. Passed by the Medina Sherriff. With Ohio plates. And a prisoner in the back. So is it really a prisoner being extradited? Or his he mad at his family and making them ride in the back behind bars?

2:46 p.m Cows! It's officially a road trip now - we've seen our first cows.

2:50 p.m. Sheep too

3:18 p.m. Signs for Western MD Rail Trail. Sounds interesting. Like it might be a place to bring scouts to hike.

3:21 p.m. See a Herbie look-alike being towed behind an RV. It looks just like him but without the number 53

3:50 p.m. Cumberland, MD - stop at Taco Bell. This place reminds me of Trinidad, CO. It's a town in the mountains, below the highway, and with lots of old brick buildings. Cool.

And now I have to wake up the kids so we can get on the road for Day 2... looks like you'll have to wait until we get back to read the rest of the story!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

*I just read someone's post on Freecycle for a Spanish/English dictionary. Which reminded me that I wanted to get a dictionary. Just a small one to keep somewhere so that I can look up words... Wait - was that a dream? I think it was just a dream about needing a dictionary. I also dreamed about a vacation to Disney World. But then I remembered that we had already banked our points for the year and couldn't actually go until next year. Which was okay because I had no money anyway. Hmm... maybe I should put "restful sleep without crazy dreams" on my Christmas list this year!

*I don't like defending my parenting decisions. I'm sure no one does. But I did feel a tiny bit of satisfaction when Bella woke up with her temperature down to 99 this morning. See - no trip to the doctor necessary. Tylenol every 4-6 hours, not necessary. Just a bit of vitamins, immune system boosting, and lots of rest. One dose of Tylenol before bed each night to get her started on some restful sleep without totally cancelling the fever that is fighting the germs. So far she's still hanging in the 99 range. Hope she stays there.

*Ryan is half sick. It hurts to cough and one side of his body has a fever. The other side is just fine, thank you very much. Funny, huh! So far he is not as sick as Bella was and hopefully will stay that way and get better fast.

*We leave in one week for our drive to Illinois. Thanksgiving at Grandma's this year. I'll miss my friends here but I've missed the Thanksgiving that I had almost every year growing up. This year is the year. So all you germs hanging around my house better be gone by then!

*Darby peed on Bella's bed. Again. Second day in a row. Seriously - what is it with that dog?!?! Yesterday I was wondering whether I would rather have the known dog problems that we have now or the unknown problems our next dog will bring. Then again, we could always just not have a dog... Felisa would never stand for it though. Of course, I'd be willing to trade a dog for a horse or two... Maybe I should put that on my Christmas list too!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

And then I freaked out...

So here we are in a new month... any chances things will be any calmer this month? More organized? Less busy and stressful?

Hahahahahahaha! Ha! Ha. ha....

Okay, maybe not. But ever the optimist, I will hold out hope regardless.

So, I've been fighting a cold this week. Of course, because this was the long weekend that the kids went away to the beach. What could be more disruptive to my hopes of great productivity in my endless hours of childfree time than microbes. Ugh. Nothing major - just a slight scratchy throat and the sniffles. That is, until about 2:30 this afternoon. That's when I ran head-on into the brick wall of microbes. Perhaps I have been less than careful the last two days about resting and not going crazy. Oops! So I promptly took a shower (can it be considered promptly if this shower was in fact about 8 hours after my morning workout?!?) and curled up in bed with The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Too bad I had to uncurl back out of bed 15 minutes later to pick up the kids because I was so ready to just close my eyes and nap..... and nap..... and nap.... Oh well. Off to school I go. Home again, home again, jiggety jig. Felisa's hungry. Ryan is hungry. Bella wants to go to Grandma D's house. I don't know what to cook for dinner. The laundry needs to come in off the line (the laundry that I just hung out there before my shower) because giant black clouds appeared almost out of nowhere.

Fast forward to now... I have pulled in the laundry, delivered the girls, and started spaghetti for dinner. I decided to go online and check the credit card balance, fingers crossed that today was the beginning of the next billing period. Sigh of relief... it is. But then I freaked out because OMG that's a big balance! Combination of factors. Last month was good. Next month hopefully won't be too bad. But in the meantime - Ack!

Alrighty then, time to log on and pay the mortgage. Today is payday - woo hoo! So I logged on. And then I FREAKED OUT!!! because the pending payment was no longer pending. And the deposit was not in the account. Ron's paycheck disappeared into thin air! Double Ack! Deep breath... call the bank... everything is okay. The money is in the process of posting to the account and will be visible again at midnight. Whew!

Dinner should be ready enough in about 5 minutes that I can retreat back to my bed where I will be dutifully resting until about 6:45 when I crawl back out to go to the Brownie Leaders' Meeting. The plus side of this is that since I have a brownie meeting, Ron has to take the girls to cheer practice. Which means he will be subjected to the ear-splitting screeching of 20 kindergarten and first-grade girls, and not me. I wouldn't wish that horrible noise on anyone. I am, however, happy that I won't have to listen this week.

Oh except that it's 5:30 now. Which means Mom will be stopping by in a few minutes. Waaaahhh.... I want a nap!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm busy. The end.

Someone pointed out to me that I hadn't updated my blog in over a month. How was he supposed to know what's going on in my life? That someone was Ron. And I suggested an actual conversation as I was sitting right next to him!

As you can probably guess by my abscence, I am busy. Too busy. I've got to admit that my new volunteer responsibilities (scouts) are taking more time than I thought they would. Two sports for Ryan and cheerleading for the girls and Brownies, Cub Scouts, and Daisies... totally wreaking havoc on my calendar. I have something to do each and every day and am often double or triple booked. The baseball season is almost over. Soccer is almost over. Cheerleading is almost over. Thank goodness! I don't know what activities we'll have this winter but I know none of them start before January. Phew. A small break.

Tonight was the Halloween Parade. It is the 10th one since we moved here. Ryan was just a baby and all the neighbors we met told us to be sure and check out the parade. We've been to at least half of them since that first one. And tonight for the first time we waked in the parade. The Cub Scouts were walking and collecting canned food for the food pantry. Bella and Felisa were able to walk along, in costume (an angel and Scooby Doo). I'm surprised that I didn't hear more whining from them about having to walk but a few friends were there so I think that distracted them. Bella was SOOO hungry she said but didn't say she was tired. Ryan's arms were sore from carrying the banner. And Felisa got to ride in the wagon that a friend's dad was pulling. The hardest part, other than my lack of enthusiasm for the activity, was walking home after the parade. The minivan needs new wheel bearings and since we had to walk anyway, I decided that tonight would be the best time to drop it off at the shop (Ron is out of town and unavailable to help). Which meant we had no ride home after. Which also meant we had to wait longer before we got back to the bathroom. My little Scooby made it almost all the way home (about 3 blocks shy) when she just couldn't hold it anymore. So she had to pee in someone's front yard, along the curb. I felt bad but couldn't think of an alternative other than peeing in her clothes and having to walk home all wet (oh, the tears there would have been!). It was dark. No one saw us. (A car came right afterwards - phew, that was close!) And I was saying that it was no different than if we were walking our dog and the dog peed at the edge of the grass. Then I laughed - it was a dog! Scooby! Ha ha ha! I feel bad, I really do. But it was an emergency!

I've been doing some filing this week for Christy's office. Working ALL day while the kids are at school is hard. I wake up - get the kids to school - go to the office - leave the office - pick up the kids - do homework - go to various activities - come home and collapse in bed. How do working moms do it? Too hard for me. I'll try to keep my temp working status for as long as possible.

Ron's parents are coming - yay! Taking the kids to the beach - yay!

And now I will stop the random rambles and get to sleep.

The summary - I'm busy. The end.

See you next month - maybe sooner next time but don't hold your breath. And maybe next time I'll take the time to put my thoughts together into a coherent story rather than the insanity that is my life which I have presented here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wake Me Up When September Ends

That's the song that was playing on the radio this evening as I headed home from the baseball game. I'm not sure that things will be any calmer by then so maybe you just shouldn't wake me up.


*Bella's birthday is Thursday. We have Cub Scouts that night. Her party isn't until Oct. 5 so not sure what we'll do family-wise before that.

*Our block had another yard sale this weekend. Made $150. The house however is a disaster-strewn mess, leftover from our last minute grab and dash to get more junk outside. Therefore, it is very difficult to tell that anything is missing. My Scrapbooking Pit of Despair is particularly discouraging and lacking hope. No light at the end of that tunnel!

*Ron cleaned up the living room/entry way. So at least it looks clean when you walk in the door. Just don't come any farther into the house than about 10 feet!

*Subbed at Parkwood today. Going again tomorrow. Then errands then picking up the kids then soccer then... so on and so forth until another day has passed with very little to show for it.

*What do mosquitos eat? I mean, besides me. They LOVE me. I'll be glad when they are gone for the season. Scratch, scratch, scratch.

*Cut my finger Saturday on a VERY SHARP knife. Monitoring it twice daily to decide whether or not we'll have to amputate or at least go to the doctor for stitches and/or better bandages. So far, it seems to be doing okay. Knock on wood.

*Boys are home from baseball (We do these forever and a day two hour long games in shifts this season!) so it's time to go. Dishes and laundry and a mile-long to do list await me.

Until September Ends...

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Feet HURT!

We went downtown today - had a fabulous time. Wandered about the Air and Space Museum (oh how I love free museums!) and ate lunch there as well. Missed the rain shower while we were inside the museum and walked home (well actually, back to the train station and then to the car) without getting wet.

Only one little problem... my shoes. Oh my! You would not believe the blisters I have now as a result. I would have been better off wearing my flip-flops which I specifically didn't wear because I don't find them practical for traipsing about town, on and off trains, and walking several blocks at a time. Instead I wore my very cute - but oh so impractical as it turns out! - Skechers. I have 4 pairs of Skechers. Two of them I've had for over a year and love. The other two pairs I bought this spring/summer, thinking that they would be the perfect summer version of my winter ones that are so comfy. Nope. Both new pairs have given me immediate blisters.

My feet hurt so bad today that I wanted to cry. And take off my shoes. Which is not a good idea when walking the streets of a major city. So I didn't. Cry or take off my shoes. Well, okay - maybe I was crying a little on the inside. But I put on a brave face for my kids and they had no idea.

I put a bandaid on my heel this evening, in hopes that it will help me sleep. The neosporin stung. It's not supposed to. Even now, it still hurts just sitting here. And my poor little baby toes... oh, it's awful! Those blisters haven't broken yet and I'm still undecided as to whether or not I'll pop them. First Aid Class always told us not to pop them because it makes them more susceptible to infection. We'll see...

And in the meantime, I will be wearing only flip flops for the next week while I heal.


Ron came back. Apparently when I heard him saying that he was going to check messages in the evening when he got back to the hotel, what he actually said was that he was on his way to the far corner of the earth and that I would not get a peep out of him again until he showed up on the doorstep, whenever that might happen to be. Maybe Friday. Maybe not. [edited to add that he called me as soon as he got my messages Friday morning.]

So - my apologies for not listening. He has been instructed though, that next time he must tell me to my face before he leaves so that a bad cell phone connection won't muddle the message. Of course that won't help my distracted brain even in person but it's worth a shot!


Ryan lost another tooth at lunch today. The couple sitting next to us at the food court thought it was funny. Marta was a bit shocked initially until she realized that he had lost a tooth, not found something weird in his food.

We have unpacked the tooth that fell out somewhere along the way while on vacation this summer. It was safely stowed in a ziploc baggie in my purse. Now it is in a dish with the newest lost tooth, awaiting the tooth fairy's arrival. I hope she doesn't miss our stop!


I went to Safeway tonight. I needed to exchange our $3 winning lottery ticket to buy a (winning) $333 million dollar ticket. I also needed to stop next door at Baja Fresh to buy Ron some taquitos for a snack. So as long as I was at Safeway anyway, I figured I might as well go ahead and do my grocery shopping for the next week. I got everything I could remember from the list (I left the list at home since I wasn't planning to shop when I left!). I got into a very long line (only two cashiers working on Friday night), and waited patiently. Once my order was tallied and my payment submitted, the computer froze up. There's no way to know if my payment went through or not so I end up waiting for several minutes while the machine rebooted. The cashier moved the other customers to the next lane and I waited for the manager to come back and finish the transaction. So far it looks like the payment has posted only once but I have the manager's name written on my receipt in case I'm due for a refund caused by a double payment.

I'm not sure how lucky I am tonight, given what happened but... I bought a ticket anyway. I'll let you know if we win. :)

When I got back to the car, there was a stuffed bunny sitting on my roof. It must have fallen from a car parked there before me. So I'll post a lost and found note on Craigs' List on the off chance someone is looking for it. I couldn't just throw it back down on the ground and leave it in the parking lot and I didn't know what else to do so I brought it home with me.


I thought there was more but it's getting late and I'm tired so I guess I'll leave it at that for today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Ryan has a Peanuts daily calendar. He brings me the used pages to read when he's done. My favorite from the last batch was Snoopy's Sleepy Foot.

"My stupid foot's asleep... Feet shouldn't fall asleep... Feet should stay awake in case you have to go someplace in a hurry!"

I love Snoopy... He makes me smile.


In other news...
Ron is away on business and incommunicado. He warned me that he wouldn't have his phone with him during the day and would check messages when he got back to his room. Haven't heard a peep from him since then. Which was 36 hours ago. And in the past 36 hours I have had an unofficial job offer from Parkwood which turned out to be a mute point since I was offline while visiting Aunt Lana in SC and the job was offered to someone else (and accepted by the someone else). And I have to go downtown DC tomorrow to meet Marta and her kids and I'm not sure when would be the optimal time to leave so I need his rush hour traffic advice. As usual - when I can't talk to him I have lots to say. When he's right here next to me - nothing important to talk about. Murphy's Law I believe it's called...

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
~ H. Jackson Brown

Well then... guess I'd better stop whining and get to work!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I am feeling overwhelmed and conflicted today.

Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of junk in my house that needs to be sorted-purged-put away.

Conflicted about where to start.

Though the where-to-start problem was partially solved yesterday when Ron convinced me to move the desk from the pantry room (where it was buried under and behind a lot of junk) into the space by the kitchen. We then put the bar from that space into the pantry room. Now the pantry room is cleaner. And there is junk piled all over the TV room. And I have a nice desk near the kitchen.

I did the easiest cleaning up of this new junk pile yesterday. I also sorted the kids' artwork but ran out of pages for my kidzworxx albums and didn't get it all put away. But at least some progress was made. I ordered refill pages and think they should arrive by Wednesday.

Another item (or rather pile of items!) unearthed in this move was my completed scrapbooks. December 1999-October 2002. I had them on the coffee table yesterday but moved them to my desk last night when my friends were here for dinner. Today as I looked at the large stack of books I was feeling conflicted about the books. Why are they so big and heavy? Why do I have them? I'm going to have lots more before it's all said and done. What will I do with them all? Maybe I should stop scrapping.

Today I cleared off the shelf where I have been wanting to keep the scrapbooks so that the kids can look at them more often. I looked through the books as I put them on the shelf. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of the family. I enjoyed looking at my various layouts and styles. I'm glad I have them.

See -conflicted.

And now I am back to conflicted about what to do next. Every single little bit of this all-consuming junk is overwhelming me. It's the time involved. When I look at it, all I see is the vast amounts of time it will take to deal with it. And I feel discouraged and quite certain that I'll never finish. Not only that but that I will most certainly spend many hours and have not much to show for it.

Not enough time.

Just not enough time.

But I really want to have it done. I can envision the freedom and peacefulness I will feel when I'm done. Even though I know I'll never really be Done because clutter control is an on-going task, I am at the moment about 10 years behind in the process and not feeling peaceful at all.

I don't know what Ron sees when he looks around.

I see time. Or a lack thereof.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So now I'm going to go back downstairs and try to take another nibble from the elephant.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Day 22

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

?? o'clock - wake up

0230 - wake up. Felisa is scratching her bug bites.

0530 - alarm goes off.

0547 - time to get up

0555 - wake up Ron and go down to the lobby to get coffee

0610 - wake up the kids - time to get dressed and go

0621 - leaving the hotel

0632 - sunrise - the GPS switches to daytime colors

0640 - Ohio

0659 - crossing a cool triangle bridge

0725 - see a trailer labelled as belonging to Tony Suit. No idea who that is. (Looked him up - apparently he is a sky diver and was on a road trip!)

0735 - Stop for gas. $2.52/gallon. Tony Suit is there too! Felisa wakes up to say "The sun is up."

0752 - Back on the road with some coffee and food. The kids all turned down a trip to the bathroom. Hope we don't regret that later. This service plaza was not crowded at all.

0855 - On the south side of Cleveland. The girls are asleep and Ryan is in his "road trance". Do you think maybe he's just sleeping with his eyes open? We have made it through Ohio almost without stopping. Keep on moving - Virginia here we come!

0930 - See trucks with triple trailers. Yikes!

0950 - Toll booth

0953 - Pennsylvania

0954 - Another toll booth. Glad we have EZPass!

1010 - Emergency pull off on the side of the road. Felisa has to go to the bathroom. What did I say about not regretting the lack of a bathroom stop earlier?

1025 - At McD's for breakfast

1120 - It is misty out here.

1122 - See a flock of wild turkeys.

1147 - Lots of dead trees along the highway.

1159 - Stop for gas. $2.60/gallon. This service plaza is much busier than the one in Ohio. Maybe because it's lunch time!

12:03 p.m. Eleanor called. Darby has a tummyache.

12:14 p.m. Allegheny Mountain Tunnel

12:58 p.m. Breezewood Interchange

1:21 p.m. Maryland

2:40 p.m. Virginia. And we're back in too-much-traffic land.

2:51 p.m. Highway 123 - getting close!

3:05 p.m. We're home!!! Our starting mileage was approximately 52,100. Our ending mileage was 58,822. Okay, math whizzes - how many miles did we drive? 6,722

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Day 21

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wake up. Eat breakfast at the hotel. This hotel is very busy - lots of people! After breakfast we drove over to the ferry dock to catch the ferry for Mackinac Island.

0930 - Star Line Hydro-Jet Ferry. We sat on the top deck and ended up getting very wet from the spray!

1000 Arrive at the dock. Walk through downtown to the Butterfly House.

After the Butterfly House we climbed the stairs higher up the island then proceeded to follow Ron wherever he took us. We climbed stairs to Pt. Lookout and Fort Holmes. Then we headed down some stairs, past Skull Cave, and on to Fort Mackinac. While there we watched the Drilling and Rifle Firing demonstrations. By this time we were all quite hungry so we ate lunch on the balcony of the Fort, overlooking the town and the harbor.

Our final activities of the day - Ron and Ryan rented bikes and rode around the island. The girls and I took the horse-drawn carriage tour. Oh and a last-minute dash to buy some fudge.

5:05 p.m. On the ferry back to the mainland.

Stop for gas, $2.59/gallon.

On the road, headed for home. If we drive straight through we'll be home before noon tomorrow.

6:38 p.m. Pine trees on stilts.

8:20 p.m. Stop for dinner at Burger King. Much discussion about whether or not we are going to drive through the night or stop somewhere. I prefer to drive in the daylight but am not opposed to driving straight through. Ultimately we decide to stop somewhere.

10:00 p.m. In Ann Arbor, MI. We stop at the Hampton Inn but there are no vacancies. GPS Lady says there is an Embassy Suites in town so we head for that. Apparently we misunderstood her because when we arrive, it is the Embassy Hotel and it looks awful! Dodging construction zones as we continue across town, we did a drive-by of University of Michigan.

10:34 p.m. Finally... a hotel... Sleep Inn in Milan, MI.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Day 20

Monday, August 3, 2009

0730 Wake up. Get coffee. Wake up the kids, grab a quick breakfast.

0910 Leaving hotel.

0915 Stop at the shipwrecks tour gift shop so Ron can buy a souvenir hat and t-shirt.

0924 Stop at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore again. The sign says it should be open but no one is there.

As we leave town, there is a brief discussion about where we are going exactly. We were not thinking of the same place so good thing we checked before we got too far down the road! Next stop, Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.

1100 Lower Falls at Tahquamenon State Park. Entrance fee is $8 and it's raining. So we decide to skip it.

1112 Welcome to Paradise! Paradise, Michigan that is.

1120 Oh that is funny! We passed a set of mailboxes. One was a regular box. The other was about 6 feet higher and had a sign on it that said Winter Delivery. Do you think they might get a lot of snow here in the winter?!?

1122 Lots of places for sale here. Maybe they are empty lots.

1123 Whitefish Point - the cranberry capital of Michigan apparently.

1126 Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Much more crowded than I expected it to be. Perhaps the rainy weather is driving all the tourists here since they can't do anything else? To add to the atmosphere, the foghorn is blowing. Fog, wind, rain - perfect weather for a shipwreck museum!

12:41 p.m. Leaving the museum. On our way out we picked up a quick lunch. Basically snack bar/vending machine food but it's the only food around so we'll take it! Our favorite parts of the museum/lighthouse:
Felisa - the beach graveyard of ships
Ron - brass ship nameplates
Ryan - museum
Bella - the girl's room in the lighthouse keeper's house
Sheila - the museum and all the stories (including the story of the ghost of 3-Finger Kirby)

1:06 p.m. Movie time. Now showing - Open Season 2. It's ironic that now they are bugging me to watch it because they hadn't chosen this movie sooner to watch. It was one of the new (used) ones we picked up before we left on the trip but they hadn't watched it so I finally told them they had to watch it next. I said that before we got to Grandma's house in Illinois and they have been bugging me now to watch it. Be careful what you ask for, right?

2:02 p.m. Soo Locks in Sault Saint Marie. It is still raining so our visit is short. Fortunately we were able to catch the tail end of a ship passing down through the locks. I was expecting more of a series of locks as opposed to just one. Even still, it was interesting. We also saw the bridge to Canada and could just make out a bit of the Canadian shore through the mist.

3:30 p.m. Crossing the Straits of Mackinac. Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Huron on the other. We have now seen all 5 of the Great Lakes this summer!

3:40 p.m. Hotel

After we check in, we went for an early dinner at Dixie Saloon. Then we toured the Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw which is now a museum.

Back at the hotel we checked the beach. Looks good but cold. The kids all voted to go to the beach rather than the pool so after a short rest, we went out. It was cold but that didn't stop them from swimming in Lake Huron! After 40 minutes, we pulled them shivering and blue out of the water and went back to the room for showers. Ron and Ryan went to see the Laser Light Show but it doesn't start until 10 so they came back. I tried to do some laundry but the dryers are out of order. I certainly don't need a bunch of wet clothes so we'll just make do for a bit longer.

Tomorrow we are headed to Mackinac Island and then start our drive towards home. 3 weeks is shorter than our other trips but it still seems just as long!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Day 19

Sunday, August 2, 2009

0800 Wake up. Get coffee. The breakfast room is crowded.

0945 Leaving the hotel for the day. Brr! It's chilly out here this morning!

0952 Stop to by shipwreck tour tickets for later.

1015 Miners Castle Overlook. And then we decide to hike the mile trail down to the beach. Apparently when Ron sees a trail, he wants to hike it. We made it all the way to the beach, played in the sand, and almost stayed dry. Then we walked all the way back up to the top. We stopped at the gift shop and the ranger there recognized Vacation Mouse. Said she remembered reading "When you give a mouse a cookie" when she was a kid.

1155 Back at the car. Our favorite parts:
Bella - the beach
Felisa - finding the frog
Ryan - hiking
Ron - taking pictures on the beach
Sheila - the scenery

Ryan was looking for a notebook in the gift shop. Apparently he forgot to pack one and needs one to write down all of his ideas. That kid thinks a lot!

12:10 p.m. Back at the hotel. Leftover pizza and PB & J biscuit sandwiches made out of breakfast food we grabbed this morning.

12:38 p.m. On our way to the Glass Bottom Boat Shipwrecks Boat Tour. I have a sunburn already from the morning outside, even though most of it was spent in the shade. Sheesh.

What lies at the bottom of Lake Superior and quivers?
A nervous wreck!

Ha ha! We saw three shipwrecks on our tour as well as a lighthouse, some of the colored sandstone similar to that found in the Pictured Rocks, and some bald eagles.

Our favorite parts of the tour:
Ron - scenic views
Ryan - being outside on the boat deck
Felisa - watching the waves and the wake of the boat
Bella - the water
Sheila - the shipwrecks

3:20 p.m. Stop at Muldoon's Pasty for a taste of a local favorite food.

Then back to the hotel for a quick contact lens rescue then to the bookstore/coffee shop. Once fortified, we head back over to Munising Falls to try again. An easy short walk but with more stairs. Nice waterfall. There is a sign there for a trail to Miners Castle (where we were this morning) - 7 miles! No thanks.

5:15 p.m. Sand Point. Hmm... looks sunny here. This is the beach we saw from the boat, voted in the top 10 by The Weather Channel. The sand is nice, not rocky. The water is cold but very clear. And I really think this water is warmer than the ocean water at the big beach in New Jersey. We walked along the sand and even found our own shipwreck! Then Ron and I sat on a log and watched the kids play in the water. Amazingly enough, they kept their clothes dry!

Our favorite parts of the beach:
Bella - being a Water Spirit
Felisa - walking on the beach
Ryan - the shipwreck
Ron - sitting on the beach
Sheila - the shipwreck and the clear water

6:00 p.m. Leaving the beach. It's too early now but I think this beach would be an excellent place to see the sunset.

6:10 p.m. Arrive at the Dogpatch for dinner. The kids are joking about what sort of dog dishes they might serve here- Chubby Cheeseburgers, Furry Heart French Fries, Skies Salad, Corny Casserole... (those are all names of Felisa's stuffed dog crew). Once again the service is questionable. The food is decent but nothing to write home about. Ron ate the fresh fish buffet but freshwater fish is too fishy more me.

8:15 p.m. Swim time again. The pool was the same but thankfully this time the hot tub was HOT!

After swimming, Ghostbusters in on. We watched it at the beginning of our trip while staying in Kentucky.

Bed time!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Day 18

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Breakfast a la hotel.

We decide to swim before we leave so the kids can enjoy the slide. Aren't we nice?

1015 Leave the hotel. What did I learn this morning? I prefer to be the one rushing people out the door, not the one being rushed out the door.

1025 Ryan is reading the list of holidays in his Boys book again. Mike the Headless Chicken came up again. (Oh look - he even has a festival!)

1116 Lake Michigan - Green Bay, Wisconsin

1158 A sign for Livin' Large Limo Service - right next to a fleet of school busses. And not a single limo in sight!

12:10 p.m. Stop at Culvers for lunch. More yummy custard!

1:02 p.m. Michigan

1:05 p.m. Technical difficulties - please stand by. Your movie will be starting momentarily (I hope).

1:07 p.m. Fixed! Now showing... Open Season

1:41 p.m. Eastern Time Zone. Huh. That was a surprise! Hadn't really thought about it but wasn't expecting it already.

2:58 p.m. Gas, $2.58/gallon

3:57 p.m. Camp Hiawatha. Didn't know that was a real place.

4:07 p.m. Munising, MI and Lake Superior.

4:12 p.m. Arrive at our hotel.

6:15 p.m. Stop at the scenic overlook on our way to dinner. We can see our hotel and the lake but most of the view is overgrown.

6:30 p.m. Dinner at Main Street Pizza. The service was ridiculously non-existent but the pizza was delicious!

After dinner, we drove over to Munising Falls for a hike. By the time we get there it is starting to rain so we skip it. Back to the hotel...

8:40 p.m. Swim time. The pool is a usual hotel pool cool - not the coldest but could stand to be a bit warmer. The hot tub was a big disappointment - barely warm. :(

After swimming, hot showers then bed time.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 17

Friday, July 31, 2009

0700 Up and shower

0730 Wake up the kids

0855 Car is loaded. Ready to go - just need to take pictures first.

0910 Leaving Grandma's house

0922 Stop at McD's for iced coffee

0950 Carthage, IL - my birthplace. Felisa wants to know which house I lived in but of course I have no idea. I told her she would have to ask Grandpa or Grandma F that question.

1017 Back on track... I wasn't listening to GPS lady and was following the wrong highway. Oops! Only ended up about 4 miles too far north.

1025 Nauvoo. Stop at the Visitors Center, gunsmith's house and shop, 1840's school house, and brick yard. Picked up another brick to add to our collection.

1215 leaving Nauvoo

1235 Take a two block detour to drive along the Mississippi River in Dallas City. Felisa found a tire in the river.

1:25 p.m. Burger King in Monmouth for lunch. We are only about 30 minutes from Grandma's house - not making much progress, are we?

1:45 p.m. Gas, $2.49/gallon

2:05 p.m. No Starbucks! GPS Lady lied to me! Grr!

2:26 p.m. Ron called - he's on his way home from work then heading to the airport.

3:12 p.m. Ron called again. His flight has been delayed and won't be arriving until 8:15 in Milwaukee.

3:27 p.m. Culvers in Rock Falls, IL - the kids ate more yummy frozen custard and I got a burger and an iced coffee. I turned it into an iced coffee float with a couple spoonfuls of Bella's custard. Yum.

3:58 p.m. Called the cheese-making history center in Wisconsin. They are closing in a few minutes. Guess we won't be stopping there. No one is interested in Ronald Reagan's birthplace either (about 14 miles from here). So I guess we'll just keep driving.

4:03 p.m. Felisa killed the fly that was hitchhiking with us.

4:05 p.m. Uh oh - another fly is still buzzing around.

4:06 p.m. The toll road accepts EZPass. Woo hoo!

4:29 p.m. Corn truck (that's what Felisa told me to write in my scrapbook - it's a big semi full of corn on the cob!)

4:44 p.m. We have picked up a lot of traffic volume since we got on I39 north.

4:54 p.m. Stuck in a traffic jam outside Rockford, IL

5:15 p.m. Felisa needs to go to the bathroom. Of course. Because we just passed the last exit before toll and there is nothing ahead of us but lots and lots of traffic on an overpass. So instead I bail out onto the toll road going the other direction. Don't know how far the exit is going that way either but at least we would be moving rather than all jammed up. We end up driving 8 miles going the other way.

5:25 p.m. Walmart bathroom in Belvidere, IL. We passed the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant along the highway.

5:42 p.m. Back in the car and back on the road. For some reason I am becoming insanely grumpy this afternoon. Maybe it's because we are traveling with a deadline today. I prefer to drive without deadlines.

6:03 p.m. Wisconsin - finally!

6:10 p.m. Gas, $2.45/gallon

6:19 p.m. More (*$#*^#( construction. I am sick of orange cones. They haven't caused significant delays, fortunately, but still. Ugh.

7:00 p.m. Stop at Fazoli's for dinner. Ryan finds it hilarious that the italian place has a drive-thru.

7:43 p.m. We have finished our dinner and through the magic of GPS lady, found a playground. Weatherstone Park in New Berlin, WI.

7:48 p.m. ABORT!!! This park has way too many mosquitos, is too sandy, and the swings are too high for the kids to use. How come GPS Lady didn't warn us?!?

7:52 p.m. Grandma D called and talked to the girls.

8:15 p.m. At the Milwaukee airport. The signage for the cell phone parking lot could use some serious improvement. I drove around the terminal loop like 3 or 4 times trying to figure it out. Also, if we park for longer than 30 minutes here we have to pay. Not cool.

8:34 p.m. Pick up Ron! While we were waiting, we saw his plane land. Fun!

9:34 p.m. Arrive at our hotel in Sheboygan. The pool has a water slide but it is closed to kids after 9 p.m. Bummer. Once we settled in, Ron took the kids on a field trip to the gas station to pick up some snacks.

Another long day on the road.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 16

Thursday, July 30, 2009

0800 Wake up. Bella is already awake. Wonder how long she has been awake and what she has been doing. She wouldn’t go upstairs on her own.

Breakfast and coffee.

Get everyone dressed so we can go to town to get the oil changed. After our oil change we went to Walmart to buy potato chips. We also found a pair of white tennis shoes for Bella’s cheer uniform but they didn’t have Felisa’s size. That would have been just too easy! I also bought two pairs of black leggings to wear under their uniforms on cold game days. After Walmart we hit the McD’s drive thru so I could get an iced coffee. Then back to Grandma’s for lunch. Grandma had almost finished our laundry by the time we got back.

After lunch I packed up the green beans Grandma gave me – yum – and loaded them in the car then cleaned out a bit of trash in preparation to drive again tomorrow.

Then it was time to go to Tegan’s house to play. The kids stopped at the park on the way so they could play on the see-saw again.

We went out to dinner tonight to Ponderosa buffet. The kids had been asking to go to a Ryan’s Restaurant buffet so this satisfied them.

After dinner we watched Wheel of Fortune then went back to play with Tegan one last time before we left town. When we got home, we all took foot baths in the kitchen sink - even me! I sure don't fit like I used to, that's for sure! But the good news is we all went to sleep with clean feet. No more black soles!

Downstairs before bed Bella said that she hoped to find Care Bear before we left tomorrow. She's lost? Yes. I told the kids to look around the bed, under the covers, etc. They found her, though I'm not sure how. The bed has a shelf headboard so there is several inches of dead space under the shelves, between the mattress and the walls. Care Bear was in there. Got lucky on that one.

Another relaxing day in Good Hope…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 15

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I slept in! We all slept in, in fact. The girls and I woke up at about 0830 and Ryan came
up about a half hour later. Coffee and breakfast. The kids played all morning while I relaxed, read the paper, and watched TV. After lunch (mmmm – ham salad!) the kids wanted to go to the park again. I had to move my car so that Grandma could drive to pick up fresh corn on the cob for dinner. Since I was moving the car anyway, we drove over to the school playground for a change of pace. On the way back, we drove past the other park and Uncle Ron’s house. We saw Tegan out playing so we decided to stop for a bit. Then back home to Grandma’s. Ron came over to work on the yard and brought Tegan to play for a bit. Then it was dinnertime. After dinner, we walked back up to the park and to play with Tegan. Uncle Randy was home so we were able to say hi to him and meet his new puppy, Dakota. Then it was time to get ready for bed so we all came back to the house.

A nice relaxing day in Good Hope…

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 14

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

0615 Wake up.

0635 Wake the kids up. They are very sleepy and don’t want to get up. I remind them that they can sleep in the car. Unfortunately, I cannot.

0650 All our bags have been loaded into the car. We go back inside for a quick breakfast.

0710 Leave the hotel. It is very foggy this morning.

0715 Stop for gas. $2.25/gallon. Find the post office on the GPS.

0735 We are on the turnpike now. We couldn’t find the post office or the historic marker for Route 66 in town. Oh well. Now there is a sign that says “Do not drive into smoke.” Okay… does that apply to fog also because it is very foggy out here today!

0740 We can see our hotel. Guess we just went in a big circle!

0741 Speed limit 75?!? Alrighty then – let’s get going!

0743 There is a commercial on the radio for dental services. $35 for a tooth extraction. $350 for dentures. $1,800 for an implant. Those prices sound low to me. I wonder what Grandma Duffield would think.

0752 We just passed the third sign telling us not to drive into smoke. Which makes me wonder… smoke must be common out here or else there wouldn’t be posted signs warning us. What would be the cause? Forest fires? Or maybe ranchers burning the fields.

0756 I’m really hung up on this smoke thing. What am I supposed to do if there is smoke? Stop on the highway and wait for it to clear? Drive in reverse to the last exit? Will there be police or firefighters out directing traffic?

0759 The signs advertising the attactions of each town are listed in a bullet list format. I just realized that each item is marked with a small outline of Oklahoma. And Oklahoma looks like a hand with a pointing finger. I wonder if that is intentional.

0802 Are those spiderwebs? Or some sort of grass? There is some sort of plant all along the roadway and it looks like the top of the grass has a dew-covered spiderweb on it. On all of the grasses. There are so many that I’m thinking they couldn’t possibly be spiderwebs. Could they? They really look like webs. Hmm.

0813 Missouri

0906 Call Grandma with our ETA. She has already started dinner preps.

0913 Wow those cows are really close to the highway. I don’t see a fence. Oh wait – those aren’t cows. Those are round bales of hay. Oops! Maybe I should get more sleep before driving – I’m seeing things!

0922 Traffic jam. Just two miles before my exit. Why couldn’t the traffic jam up after my exit instead? Once we get through, I still have no idea what caused it.

0940 Small Town USA vs. big cities - Are the people outside of the major cities more American than those living in cities? They certainly seem to have a greater sense of community. This is a big question and I don’t know the answer.

1034 I have been listening to the local news on the radio for the last half hour. And now it’s the Trading Post show. It’s like Craig’s List meets the Classified Ads over the phone broadcast on the radio. People call in with what they have to sell or what they want to buy and give their phone number. One after another.

1039 – Screech! Hold on kids! There’s a post office so we can mail our postcards!

1040 – Sonic for lunch.

1102 – Checking the map. Leaving Sonic.

1118 – Crossing the Lake of the Ozarks again. It’s a big lake and it seems to have lots of inlets with lots of water/beach access. It reminds me of going to the beach and Long Beach Island. Definitely a vacation getaway spot. And the main drag is very busy for a Tuesday morning. I can’t imagine what it would be like on the weekends.

12:02 p.m. Jefferson City, MO. Crossing the Missouri River and we can see the top of the Capitol Building. I don’t think I would have been able to remember Jefferson City as the capital of Missouri if you had asked me before.

12:10 p.m. Current stock prices are on the radio. I’m not sure if I understand it correctly but I think they are saying that a cow is approximately $100 and a pig is $25.

12:43 p.m. Stop in Mexico, MO for gas. $2.35/gallon.

1:03 p.m. Passing Darby’s Gym.

1:07 p.m. We are now on a two-lane highway with cornfields on each side. We are in the Midwest now!

1:44 p.m. See a park with a playground so decide to pull over and let the kids play for a few minutes. We are in Center, MO.

2:31 p.m. Crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

2:59 p.m. Fairgrounds with a carnival. I think we saw the same fairgrounds with a carnival last year too.

3:44 p.m. Am I lost? Or is the GPS lost? I’m on a new-looking 4 lane divided highway and didn’t see any signs telling me to turn. The GPS shows me driving off-road. So I’m going to just keep going and see what happens.

3:48 p.m. Ah, there we are. Back on the road. Guess that means the GPS was lost!

4:03 p.m. Arrive at Grandma’s house.

We enjoyed a delicious beef and noodle dinner then the kids wanted to go to the park to play on the see-saw. And finally, bed time. I’m tired and hopefully can sleep in tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 13

Monday, July 27, 2009

0605 - Up. Yawn! Shower. Get kids up. Load. Go to the house to drink some coffee.

0715 - Time for our good-bye pictures with Vacation Mouse and Betty Lou.

0722 - Leaving. There is lots of traffic on the ranch this morning. I met two cars on the road!

0752 - Fredericksburg. Gas, $2.34/gallon. Two men in a repair truck at the next pump notice my VA license plate and tell me they each have a son living in Virginia also.

0843 - Listening to the radio. The station advertises itself as "a mixed tape like you once gave a boyfriend or girlfriend but less cheesy". Hmm. Sounds interesting. I do love me a good love song.

0852 - Marble Falls, TX. Betty Lou called to tell me that there is free coffee today at McDonalds and there is severe weather forecasted for Dallas area and Oklahoma.

0935 - McDonalds in Lampasas. The drive-thru line is so backed up that people are waiting in the street and I can't even get into the parking lot. The kids are hungry (and so am I!) so I decide to change my route in hopes of finding another McD's sooner than if I stay on the back roads.

0955 - McD's in Copperas Cove. When I opted to wait and eat on the road I certainly didn't think I'd come so close to missing breakfast hours!

1025 - Done at McD's. Check the map to make sure I know where I'm going next.

1038 - Killeen, TX home of Ft Hood army base. I'm listening to the song about the Big Green Tractor and I just don't get it. Guess I'm city girl after all.

1101 - Temple, TX. Giant taco sauce packet on the Taco Bell billboard. Too bad Ryan didn't see it. We're back on I-35 and I had forgotton how busy this road is.

1130 -Okay it took us 4 hours to get back to Waco. I think that's about how long it took us to get down to the ranch from here last week.

1132 - Pass the Texas Ranger museum. Looks nice. Maybe we'll go there someday.

1151 - I have been listening to this weather forecast all morning and it's driving me crazy. "Highs today in the mid 90s. Lows tonight in the low 70s." That's it. Nothing else. No percentage of rain chances. No mention of cloudy vs. sunny. And what about the weather tomorrow? That is just not a weather report to me.

12:21 p.m. Hit the rest stop south of Waxahachie before we get into Dallas traffic. The kids get a snack from the snack box. It is cloudy now and the temperature has dropped from 93 to 84.

12:43 p.m. Starting to sprinkle and there are dark clouds ahead.

12:47 p.m. Raining. Because it's Dallas. And it always rains when we drive through Dallas. The rain missed us last week when we drove through so it's making up for it today. We usually don't backtrack on our trip. We pass along parts of the same route from year to year but don't retrace our steps on the same trip. So, a change of pace this year with a re-run of I-35.

1:20 p.m. See a sign for 75 North. Which makes me feel better. I knew that was the road I was looking for but was starting to doubt whether I knew which way to go through the Dallas highways to get there.

1:19 p.m. There are fancy new overpasses here. Cool-looking.

1:33 p.m. It is still raining and now the temperature is down to 72. And on the radio is a song singing, "let the rain come down".

1:35 p.m. Construction traffic jam. A pickup truck tried to cut across the grass to the service road to avoid the traffic and now it's stuck. Oops.

1:38 p.m. I see flashing lights up ahead.

1:52 p.m. Take advantage of the barely moving traffic to call Ron and ask him to reserve us a hotel.

2:01 p.m. Finally make it past the accident. So I guess it wasn't a construction jam but rather an accident jam that just happened to be in a construction zone.

2:08 p.m. Melissa, TX

2:13 p.m. Anna, TX. So do you think they were sisters? Did they have a rich dad to give them each their own town?

2:50 p.m. Stop for gas, $2.34/gallon, Sonic, and Arbys in Denison, TX. We're almost to the state line! Unfortunately it is starting to rain again. The kids start a movie. Ice Age, the Meltdown is playing.

3:26 p.m. Oklahoma!

4:44 p.m. McAlester, OK. Pass the Union Stockyards. So what is a stockyard, exactly? Apparently it is a place to hold animals temporarily while they are being sold. Which is kind of what I thought but now I know for sure.

5:o5 p.m. Lake Eufala. This lake is huge! We've been following and crossing several times.

5:33 p.m. Bathroom break. This should be our last stop before we make it to the hotel. Thought maybe I should get it done now before we get into Muscogee where there may be more traffic.

5:41 p.m. 3rd dead armadillo today. Poor things!

5:59 p.m. See sign for Muscogee castle. Hmm. Wonder what that is. Ahhh... the renaissance festival. And other activities. Oh and I see from their website that we can rent the castle too. That would be fun. Expensive. But fun.

6:08 p.m. Finally - dry road!

7:01 p.m. We're on Route 66!

7:03 p.m. There is an old closed Sonic for sale. Do you think it would fit into my suitcase?

7:07 p.m. Finally made it to the hotel. We are all happy to be out of the car.

In the room, the kids are watching Chicken Little until they get hungry. Ordered pizza from Pizza Hut down the street and we all went to pick it up. I ordered a small and cheesesticks so that we wouldn't have leftovers. Wow- that is a SMALL pizza! Hardly larger than a personal pan pizza and cut into 4 slices. I'm pretty sure there won't be any leftovers from that and I might not even get any!

Swimming then showers and postcard writing. Then time for bed. And blog updating. Because when we leave tomorrow, I will be without internet access until next Friday night.

So until then...

Some interesting tidbits about Vinita, OK where we are staying tonight:
Vinita is the second oldest town in Oklahoma and was founded in 1871 when the railroad came through. It was originally named Downingville but the name was changed to honor Vinnie Ream, the sculptress of the life-sized statue of Lincoln at the United States Capitol.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 12

Sunday, July 26, 2009

0630 - alarm goes off - I'm still tired!

I'm not sure what sort of crazy dreams the girls were having last night but they are both sleeping upside down on the beds, with their heads at the foot of the beds. I go to the office to start uploading Felisa's Mutton Bustin' video. It certainly isn't the best video out there (Ron says he can't even see her!) but it's better than nothing.

0700 - time to wake the kids up

After breakfast, we drive across the ranch to meet the Hicksons (our rock hunting teacher) at the creek bed. He helps us find fossils and once we get started, he identifies what we find on our own. There are a bunch of shells down here. The girls give up on the fossils after a while but have fun playing in the creek. After some searching in the creek, we drive over to the gravel pit to look for more shells and artifacts. There are a lot of interesting-looking flint nodules over here and soon we have a sizeable (and heavy!) collection of rocks to bring home with us. By 1000 we are getting hot and thirsty so we load up to head back to the house. Mr. Hickson was very nice to help us and even gave each of the kids a bag of polished stones to bring home.

Once back at the house, I have to box up the rocks/fossils and load them in the car. Clean out the trash and get the bottom layer packed. I went to the barn for a few minutes and when I got back to the car, Sunny was sitting in the back seat looking at me. I tried to take a picture but she jumped out to quickly.

Ryan is working out on the elliptical trainer in the barn. Too much excess energy? When he's done, he comes to the house to report his result. 207 calories burned in 20 minutes. At least it's a constructive way to use his energy, right? Maybe it just seems strange because I prefer to be a couch potato myself. I'm certainly not going to discourage it. Exercise is healthy!

After lunch Betty helps us get the toys put back away properly then we play Mexican Train dominoes. It was a lot of fun. The girls stuck it out for 4 rounds then went to play and came back for the final (12th) round. Ryan won the game. I was second and Betty Lou was third with only one point more than me. Between the two girls, Felisa won.

When we finally finish playing dominoes, dinner is late. Oops! Fajitas for dinner then brownies for dessert. At dinner we ended up talking about our names and how they were chosen. Fun and interesting.

After dinner I choose a route for tomorrow and download pictures. Betty Lou takes the girls for another ride around the ranch on the mule before it gets dark. I finish loading most of the stuff into the car and the kids play in the dark with Ryan's night vision goggles and their glow-stick bracelets.

Ron called and talked to the kids for a bit before bed.

Finally, it is bedtime. I am so tired today. Not really in the mood to drive all day tomorrow but oh well. Hopefully I will sleep well until the alarm goes off bright and early tomorrow morning!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 11

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Up early today for our trail ride. Everyone is tired with our TV hangovers, me included. We head inside for breakfast. After breakfast, the girls stay home with James while the rest of us go to the stables for our ride. The weather was perfect with a nice breeze and my ancient knees didn’t ache as much this year as they did last year which made it even better!

After the ride, I shower and spend some time uploading photos to Facebook and Smugmug. Double loading takes more time but again, I try to keep our fans happy.


After lunch, Betty Lou and I make the monkey bread for tomorrow’s breakfast. Then we all enjoy some quiet time, resting before the rodeo tonight. The kids probably would have enjoyed less quiet time but oh well. Too bad for them.

Finally, time to get ready for the rodeo. Long pants for the kids so they can enjoy the kids’ activities at the rodeo. Long pants for me so it’s fair – we’re all equally hot. We drove into Kerrville and had dinner at Culvers. Good food and even better frozen custard for dessert. Then on to Hunt where Crider’s Rodeo is.

At the rodeo, we signed the kids up for the kids’ participation events. Felisa was entered into Mutton Bustin’ and Ryan and Bella were in Calf Chasing. Then we spent some time looking at all the cows and bulls waiting in the pens.

The Mutton Bustin’ was pretty wild. Felisa ended up with what was probably the toughest sheep. As the gate opened, the sheep tripped and she started to fall off. Then the cowboys put her back on and the sheep took off. She fell fairly quickly. Her official time: 5.27 seconds. She was dusty and crying but eventually recovered. And now we can joke about whether or not she wants to ride another sheep!

The rodeo was an amateur rodeo. Which means that a lot of ropers missed the calf and none of the bull riders made it to 8 seconds. But it was a nice evening, a good atmosphere, and lots of fun. Any time I get to hang around horses and cowboys, I’m a happy girl!

Our favorite parts of the rodeo:
F – Not the sheep. Definitely not the sheep. No way. Not the sheep. NOT the sheep. (gee, do you think maybe she was still in shock when we did this poll?) Her favorite part – sitting on a horse.

B – making new friends

R – Finding a boot (during the calf chase, a kid lost his red boot. Ryan thought it looked like a money-winning ribbon so he picked it up)

S – cowboys and seeing the animals in the holding pen

On our drive home we saw a LIVE armadillo (well, actually, I was the only one who saw it, running into the brush on the side of the road), a raccoon, and back at the barn, a frog. I really enjoy being able to see so many animals all around out here.

And finally – bed. A late night. Tomorrow we have to get up early for more rock and fossil hunting.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 10

Friday, July 24, 2009

At breakfast this morning, we noticed some deer and sheep across the street. So after breakfast we grabbed our food buckets and headed out. Unfortunately the animals this year are either not hungry or very shy because as soon as we headed out, they all started to walk or run away. Betty managed to entice a couple of them up to eat but most of the group stayed back away from us.

So, now what to do? Betty needed to run an errand in town so we all piled into the car and headed out. Betty dropped the kids and I off at Hastings while the rest of them went to Lowes. Then they came back to pick us up. The man they needed to see at Lowes was on a lunch break so we decided to go to lunch too. Yummy food at a little hole in the wall Mexican place called Conchitas. Then back to Hastings for us while the others went back to Lowes. After they picked us up again, we drove across the spot in town where the Chisholm trail started in Kerrville. Then we went to the Museum of Western Art. There were paintings, sculptures, and saddles. But what the kids enjoyed most was the Children’s Area. A conestoga wagon, clothes to dress up in, dishes to cook with, and supplies to pack. They had a great time there until we had to drag them away. After the museum we decided to go ahead and stop at the store to buy more milk since we were already in town.

Ron had called while we were at the grocery store so I called him back once I was home and settled in with my drink. Sweet sparkling wine we bought at the store, with fancy sugar around the rim. Yum. Ron reported that I have received a few complaints about my lack of blog updates. Since I have no wireless connection, I can only be online in the barn office. Which is hot. And by the end of the day, I am generally not interested in sitting in the hot office typing. But I’ll do my best to get another day or so up online later. Gotta keep the fans happy… :)

After dinner we went rock-hunting out in the back, outside the fence. Then we drove to another place on the ranch to look for more. We also saw a few animal skeletons while we were out there.

After our dusty rock-hunting we had more cake for dessert then headed for bed. When we got to the barn, we found that the new episode of Wizards of Waverly Place was on. Wizards vs. Vampires, part 1. So we all watched that. The kids still didn’t want to go to sleep but I told them to sleep anyway. That worked for Ryan and Bella. Felisa was still awake for awhile longer. And even after she fell asleep, I couldn’t. Must have been the coffee I got at the bookstore this afternoon… Eventually, sometime after midnight, I fell asleep.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 9

Thursday, July 23, 2009

When we woke up this morning, we heard Sunny barking. I look out the window to see what she’s barking at and there are cows out there. Cows, just wandering along the road, right outside our window. Now that’s something we don’t see everyday!

After breakfast, Betty Lou and I went to get the mail and check on a neighbor’s house. The house had been empty for awhile so we found lots of dead scorpions. And a dead, shriveled up tarantula. Yuck! The scorpions and tarantulas are a part of Texas I could certainly do without. And, lucky us – there was even one live scorpion. Luckily it wasn’t moving too fast (on its deathbed perhaps?) so Betty Lou stepped on it.

When we got back to the house, there were a few wild turkeys nearby so I grabbed my super-zoom camera and went back out to get some turkey pictures. Finally, after 4 years, we can add some good turkey pictures to our collection of cool animal photos taken at the ranch.

Now it’s arts and crafts time. Betty Lou bought some foam crowns to decorate and some paint-by-number pictures. The kids always enjoy doing crafts here at the ranch. Once the crowns are done, Betty has found some tulle leftover from another project so craft time evolves into dress up time.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however. Now it’s time to bake our cake for the birthday party later. Betty, with her immense amount of patience, lets the kids help her make the cake and the frosting. I hide in the other room, working on my scrapbook. Bella decides to make a pretend cake at the same time as the real cake so Felisa runs back and forth giving her the play by play of what’s going on in the kitchen. My favorite directions: “Now you have to scrape it all out of the bowl into the pan. And sometimes you have to use your fingers.”

While the cake is baking, we eat lunch.

After lunch, we load up the mule and drive back over to check the mailbox again. The mailbox is next to the stable. The farrier is at the stable today so we got to go watch while he worked. He was very nice and explained what he was doing while he did the entire process from start to finish on one of Doc’s feet.

Back home after that adventure, the cake has cooled and it is time to decorate it. And what goes with birthday parties besides cake? Pinatas! We took the kids outside and lo and behold – the tree has grown another piñata. One per year! Either the piñatas are getting weaker or the kids are getting stronger because they had it busted open lickety split. The piñata had a yo-yo for each of them plus candy and toothpaste. 9 out of 10 dentists approve piñatas with toothpaste!

Dinner time.

After dinner, we went to a neighbor’s house to feed the animals. Not many animals showed up and those that were there were a bit skittish so we decided to save the food for later. We were admiring the log furniture on the deck when Felisa spotted an hand reaching out of a box. Another body part has been discovered on the ranch! This time it was a full wooden arm with a plastic hand on the end. Pretty fancy. We are thinking that perhaps Dr. Frankenstein’s great grandson lives here on the ranch and is secretly trying to build another monster. Unfortunately for him, he always hides his parts where we can find them. Guess he’ll have to find another arm to use.

Can this day hold any more fun and excitement? Why, yes it can! We loaded up the mule once more and headed for the pool. This time I got to drive. Yikes! We made it there and back without any trouble and enjoyed a very refreshing swim.

Back home again, we showered then had birthday cake for dessert. Happy Birthday to Us!

And now - Good Night. I’m exhausted!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 8

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wake up at about 7:30. The kids are all still sound asleep. So I go ahead and read the email I downloaded last night. Fiddle with the wireless again but still can’t figure it out. Oh well – a little down time will be good for me, I suppose. At about 8 or so, the kids wake up and we all get dressed to go to the house for breakfast. More hanging out and playing… Found a scorpion in the guest room. Ick! Betty Lou caught it with the tongs then I took a picture before she flushed it down the toilet. The kids got to help Betty Lou make chocolate ice cream for dessert later. After lunch, more playing while I try to get my blog typing caught up. I’ll load up later when I go back to the barn… The girls have rediscovered the hammering toys to my disappointment. Just as I’m about to go stark raving mad, they finally get the pegs hammered into place so they can use the tables to make donuts. Whew – that was close!

All in all, a nice relaxing day around the house.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 7

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

0651 – Alarm goes off. Oops! Looks like I forgot to reset my alarm for a later time when I decided to sleep in today.

0725 – Time to get up.

0820 – Ron is online. The kids get to talk to him. His hotel room looks a lot like our hotel room!

0858 – Take the luggage to the car. Ugh – it’s humid today. So much for fixing my hair! Go back inside for a quick breakfast.

0914 – Leaving the hotel.

0934 – Pass a building that looks like a caterpillar. Monolithic Domes.

1022 – Stopped by a train in Waco. Ryan counted the cars – 11. That’s a pretty short train!

1023 – Arrive at the Dr Pepper museum. Lots of interesting tidbits about Dr Pepper over the years. We bought some glass bottles to bring home and got a fresh one from the Soda Fountain. Everyone tried it – even Bella! Ryan and I were the only ones that really liked it. When we first pulled up, the kids didn’t believe me that I like Dr Pepper and have been drinking it since high school. Just because Ron always drinks Coke and I don’t drink a lot of sodas at home. Who knew I was keeping my soft drink history such a secret!

12:20 p.m. Stop at Jack in the Box for lunch. Another bad experience. The service was very slow and just before we left, we saw a giant cockroach crawling across the floor. I think it had touched my toes. I felt something tickly and thought it was just a fly buzzing around. When I finally looked down, the nasty cockroach was about 3 inches from my foot. YUCK!!!!! I’m not sure why I still like Jack in the Box so much and why I keep going back. I always have a mediocre to bad experience there but like the food. Especially the heart attack in a box, Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges.

1:25 p.m. Okay, I have just seen the 4th sign today with an actual truck or car hanging high above the roadway on the sign. The first one was a semi tractor. At first it didn’t look real because there was nothing around it to offer perspective. But when we passed it, it was definitely the real thing up there!

1:41 p.m. Stop for gas. Forgot to stop while at lunch in Waco and when we exited from the interstate, there wasn’t anything around. I was starting to get a bit nervous! The GPS is taking me a different way to the ranch so I’m playing along out of curiosity. I feel better now that I have a full tank of gas to go with all the cactus I am seeing! $2.29/gallon.

2:30 p.m. Marble Falls. Ryan just tried out his new audiobook CDs I had burned before we left and none of them are working. I knew my CD burner was having trouble but I didn’t realize it wasn’t working at all. What a waste of time that was! He is disappointed and I feel bad.

3:07 p.m. Pass by Wildflower Hills. I had planned to stop here today but the girls are asleep. It is close enough to the ranch that we could maybe come back later in the week.

3:09 p.m. See two camels in someone’s yard. Felisa will be sad she missed them.

3:17 p.m. Stop for a snack at Sonic in Fredericksburg.

4:02 p.m. We made it to the ranch! Yea!

We go to the pool for the weenie roast but it’s the wrong week. So we swim anyway then go back home to eat hot dogs for dinner. The kids got to ride in the back of the mule which they thought was a lot of fun. Then playtime while I tried to get online. No luck with the wireless. I can get on with my laptop if I plug in with the modem cord in the office in the barn. So guess I’ll be checking in once or twice a day while we’re here. Where’s my technical guy when I need him? Oh yeah – he’s in California. The kids and I had to tag team the satellite box since the remote wouldn’t work unless I was across the garage bay in the office (and the tv is in the guest room!) but we got the Disney channel on for one show before bed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 6

Monday, July 20, 2009

0430 – Wake up. Go to the bathroom. Hear a thud from upstairs. Wonder if someone fell out of bed.

0500 – Hear someone crying. Go to check it out. It’s Merryn. Her ear hurts.

0645 – Wake up. My legs are red and itchy. I am covered with mosquito bites! Aaaaarrrrggghhh! Consider taking Benadryl to cancel the out of control itching but can’t take it since I’ll be driving today.

0808 – The bags are packed. The car is loaded. Good-byes have been said and now it is time to go.

0830 – Starbucks for coffee. I know that once I cross the river into Arkansas there isn’t much around for many miles. My GPS has been a little inaccurate this morning and it took us longer than it should to find this Starbucks.

0908 – Mississippi River and Arkansas

0948 – Stop at McD’s for breakfast and potty break. Get gas. $2.35/gallon. Start a movie for the kids. They chose to watch Hotel for Dogs again.

1130 – Little Rock, Arkansas. It’s raining.

1152 – Sign for Hot Springs National Park. Consider stopping. I didn’t research the park or any stops in Arkansas so decide to just keep going. Maybe I can get through Dallas before rush hour.

1155 – First dead armadillo sighting.

12:18 p.m. – Arkadelphia, AR. There are a lot of combination copycat names here in Arkansas. Arkadelphia, Texarkana…

12:23 p.m. Sign for Crater of Diamonds. Consider stopping again. I’m talking to Ron at the time and he tells me not to stop in Arkansas. He’s on the way to the airport for his business trip to CA. I told him that we have passed two airports already today but haven’t stopped at any. He tells me about the benefits of flying versus driving. Hmmm… :)

12:25 p.m. There is an SUV with Texas plates that has luggage tied to the roof. It’s making me a bit nervous. One of the bags doesn’t look all that secure to me!

12:37 p.m. A truck carrying a house is taking up more than it’s share of the road. I end up driving on the rumble strip which elicits a “Whoa!” from Ryan as he notices the very large house outside his window.

12:39 p.m. The second dead armadillo sighting.

1:02 p.m. The song of this summer is “Sounds Like Life to Me” by Darryl Worley. Last year it was the "Good Time" song by Alan Jackson. You know – the song that they play over and over and over again… Of course they do it with lots of songs. So what I really mean is - the one that they play over and over again that I enjoy listening to.

1:04 p.m. See a cool small RV called a BT Cruiser. Looks nice and it looks like something small enough I could actually drive it. I’ll have to look it up when I get to the internet again.

1:19 p.m. Dead Armadillo #3

1:22 p.m. Texas. There is a lot of construction on all of the overpasses in Texarkana. Looks like Texas is getting a face lift.

1:26 p.m. Stop at Taco Bell for lunch.

2:05 p.m. Gas, $2.23/gallon. Can’t find Waxahachie on the map. Maybe Ron made it up. Maybe we don’t really have a hotel to stay at tonight. Maybe we’ll be trapped in Texas forever… Which seems more and more true as we are eternally stuck on the access road detour paralleling the highway. We can see the highway. We just can’t get onto it!

2:24 p.m. MY LEGS ITCH!!!!! *^&$(($% Mosquitos!

2:42 p.m. Listening to the radio. The song has the word Raindrops in it. At the very next instant, it starts raining big loud drops onto the car. Whoa – crazy!

3:17 p.m. Cows swimming… Okay, they aren’t really swimming. But there is a group of them hanging around a pond. One cow is standing out in the center of the pond as if she is swimming. A few others are wading in the edges of the water. Felisa is sad because she didn’t see it.

3:28 p.m. “Blame it on Texas. Don’t blame it on me!” A song on the radio. These lyrics could come in handy later if the kids start complaining about how long the drive is.

4:30 p.m. Dallas, TX. I remember crossing this reservoir a couple years ago.

4:38 p.m. There is a hospital for sale. Hmm. I’ve never seen a hospital for sale before.

4:45 p.m. Traffic jam.

4:47 p.m. The cause of the jam – a broken down dump truck on the road.

4:52 p.m. We have made it onto I-35 E south! So far so good getting through Dallas.

5:20 p.m. Arrive at the hotel. Looks like there is a place called Waxahachie after all. It was hard to find though – had to call the hotel for directions since the email with the reservation in it didn’t have a good address for the GPS to use. AND – it doesn’t smell like Cows here. Cool.

After we settle in, we go next door for dinner at Carino’s. About half-way through our meal, another patron came over and told me that my kids were very well behaved and should be proud. He gave us an extra coupon that he had for a free dessert. I love it when the kids’ good behavior is recognized and rewarded by strangers. They certainly don’t need it all the time but an occasional “atta boy” helps reinforce what I’m trying to teach them.

Then you’ll never guess what happened after dinner… That’s right. We went swimming! Then shower, TV, and bed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 5

Sunday, July 19, 2009

0730 – Get up. The house is quiet except for the kids playing video games upstairs. I decide to go ahead and take my shower and get ready for the day.

Fritz came home from church, made coffee and pancakes for breakfast. The kids went swimming again. Then more hanging out and playing until lunch time. Fritz had to go to work again and Logan went to a friend’s house for awhile.

The kids found a frog in the pool and decided to rescue it. We loaded up the frog into a pitcher and loaded up the kids into the car and took off for the pond at the park. He is now living happily in the pond with all the other frogs, fish, and turtles. The kids played for a bit then we went back home to make dinner. Chicken and rice - yum.

After dinner Bella wanted to swim again so they all hit the pool. D'Arcy and I sat outside and talked while the kids swam. Fritz came home from work and Logan came back from his friend's house. He was later than he was supposed to be and not answering his cell phone so got into a bit of trouble for that. Once Logan was back, all the kids went back upstairs to play more video games. Felisa fell asleep up there. We made the others go to bed at 10:30. Then finally time for bed for the grown-ups too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 4

Saturday, July 18, 2009

0600 – Get up. Start downloading pictures. Head downstairs for coffee. Come back and start packing.

0724 – Leave the hotel. Tortured the children by forcing them to carry heavy bags so that we could make it to the car in one trip rather than me doing it all in several trips.

0754 – Sonic for breakfast. Sonic tastes much better than McD’s but it is much slower. While we are waiting, the kids and talk about whether or not we should move to Kentucky. Felisa says yes because there are horses. Bella says yes as long as everyone can have their own bedroom in the new house. Ryan says yes as long as we move to a big house. I asked Ryan if he was going to help me clean the big house but he didn’t have an answer for that.

0844 – Central Time Zone – Now 0744. I forgot about that! I was stressing because we weren’t going to make it to Mammoth in time for the 0900 tour. But now we will make it!

0845 – We made it in time for the tour but the tour was already sold out when we arrived. Oh well. Bought tickets for the 0945 tour then went on a short hike behind the visitor’s center then stopped back at the car for pre-tour snacks and water.

0945 – Time for the New Entrance tour. Sold out at 118 people. Yikes! That’s a lot of people to go walking through a cave with. It took 3 buses to get us all over to the entrance. The first part of the tour was a series of many, many steps down and around through an area the ranger called Pits and Domes. Then we met up in ampitheater and talked about how the river used to flow through this part of the cave until it eventually moved down lower. After this little talk, we all followed along through the horizontal portion of the cave. This part was like walking through a dry riverbed canyon in the southwest except that it was completely underground. Finally we arrived at the Frozen Niagara portion of the tour. This part was more typical of other caves we have been in with the flowstone and the stalactite/stalagmite formations.

Our favorite parts:
R- Pits and Domes
F – Frozen Niagara section – naming all the formations
B – the Thanksgiving turkey formation
S – Frozen Niagara

It was generally a good tour though it would have been more enjoyable with fewer people. In a large group such as that, there is a lot of stop-and-go and bottlenecking while the group squeezes through and walks along the passageway. And of course the people behind us (two different groups – one group before the ampitheater break and another group after) were talking THE ENTIRE TIME. Ugh.

12:00 p.m. – Leaving Mammoth Cave

12:30 p.m. – Traffic jam. Yuck. Turns out to be a 15 minute delay caused by a minor accident.

1:23 p.m. Tennessee

1:45 p.m. Jack in the Box for lunch! Yum!

2:30 p.m. Finished with lunch. Fill up the gas tank before we get back on the road. $2.33/gallon

3:45 p.m. Rest stop

4:48 p.m. Pass a sign for Fort Pillow. Did I read that wrong? Or is there a story there that I don’t know? It certainly doesn’t sound like a very ferocious name for a fort.

5:45 p.m. Arrive at the Ruthlings. I had guessed that I would be arriving at around 5:45. Couldn’t have been more exact if I had tried!

The kids started playing together immediately. D’Arcy and I talked. We ordered pizza for dinner. Fritz came home from work. After dinner the kids all went for a swim. At 10:30 we started trying to get them settled down for bed. By 11 the tv/games were off and everyone went to bed. I found out the next morning that they had been awake until 1 in the morning. Yikes!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 3

Friday, July 17, 2009

0720 - Time to get up. Decided to sleep in today!

0730 - Going downstairs to get coffee. The kids are all still sound asleep.

0745 - I have checked my email. Time to take a shower perhaps? And the kids are still sleeping.

0840 - Going down for breakfast.

0903 - Leaving the hotel for the day's adventures.

1st stop - Frazier International History Museum
Our favorite parts:
R - the sword fighting demonstration and acting out all the mannequin displays
B - being corn (sounds like a strange answer doesn't it? During one of the mannequin display re-enactments, she chose to be the corn spilling out of a bag.)
F - Fontaine Ferry carnival games
S - seeing the English history related to the book I read last week

2nd stop - Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum
Our favorite parts:
F - the giant bat
R - Bud's Attic scavenger hunt
B - Fastball pitching machine display
S - factory tour

So we're done with what I have planned for the day. And it's only lunchtime. Hmmm. Now what are we going to do? I suggest lunch in Indiana (it's just across the river - we can see it from here!) and a drive-by of Ft. Knox. Of course, I'm having trouble finding my way to the highway I need to get across the river (the GPS doesn't help if I don't have a destination to plug in - there's no category for "random lunch in Indiana"!) I spot a McD's and decide to go ahead and grab some food for our drive. Finally make it onto 65N and head across the river. Loop around and we're back in Kentucky in no time. The drive to Ft. Knox was much longer. Once we got down to the base, we stopped at the Patton Museum and saw a bunch of tanks. Then we drove past the US Gold Bullion Depository. I let Felisa take the picture since we weren't allowed to stop. Don't want to get arrested so early in the vacation...

Back at the hotel... the kids play a bit while I try to decide whether or not we should go to the Louisville Riverbats Baseball game tonight. I'm tired. Going to the game would require me to drive back downtown, find parking in an unfamiliar city, and then deal with the crowds. So I let the kids decide. The girls voted No. Ryan said he didn't care either way. So, No Game it is. I feel kind of bad but it's just not my forte. It's something Ron would be good at. And since the kids don't seem to mind... So instead we went to Pig City BBQ for dinner. Then back to the hotel for a quick swim (the breeze was a bit chilly!) before the premiere of Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana.

Back on the road again tomorrow...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 2

Thursday, July 16

0630 - Alarm goes off. I am very sleepy and do not want to get up but I do anyway. After the snooze of course.

0700 - Go downstairs to get some coffee. Felisa decides to come along.

0730 - Back downstairs again with everyone to have breakfast.

0800 - Leaving the hotel for a day of fun and excitement. 1st Stop - Kentucky Derby Museum

1037 - We have finished our time at Churchill Downs. Our favorite parts:
R - making a (pretend) bet
B - the dresses
F - racing the (pretend) horse
S - seeing the horses on the track. I horses. It's actually kind of crazy how giddy and excited I was when we saw the horses out on the track.

1045 - Sonic for lunch!

1110 - Thomas Edison's House Museum - a pretty quick stop. As Ryan said when we left, "That was a small house!" And there are actually a lot of very small houses still around that we saw while driving through town.

12:30 p.m. Driving down the highway and two identical new cars from North Carolina pass me. Obviously together but I can't even begin to imagine what the deal is there. Guess I'll file that under "Unsolved Highway Mysteries".

3:27 p.m. We have finished our visit at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. We had to drive an hour each way but I thought it would be nice to see the horses up close. The girls even got to have a pony ride. We saw some retired champions as well as some girls practicing vaulting with a new horse. Our favorite parts of the horse park:
R - vaulting
B - pony ride and the playground
F - vaulting
S - the horses. All of them!

Took the scenic route home - lots of nice horse farms around here. Maybe we should move to Kentucky.

5:00 p.m. Stop at Schlotsky's for dinner. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my new GPS? (Thanks, Ron!)

After dinner back to the hotel for TV, swimming, and more TV. For some reason these kids are not tired. I, on the other hand, am exhausted! Why? Why? Why?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 1

0500 - alarm goes off

0514 - get up

0608 - car is loaded - it seems way too empty compared to how much we usually bring. what big thing are we forgetting? Or how many small things?

0611 - Leave. Less than a block from home, I've already made the GPS lady mad. "Recalculating..."

0615 - Forgot the gummi bear vitamins. Oh well. Not worth going back for them.

0616 - This is the first trip in a while that we start out heading west. Seems like I'm going the wrong way!

0625 - Pick up an erratic driver. This guy is all over the place - weaving in his lane, riding bumpers then slowing down then speeding way up again. I think I'll get ahead of him and out of his way before he causes an accident!

0637 - I was just thinking that the traffic would ease up a bit as we get away from town. Then I passed the Haymarket exit - and everyone is getting off there. I wonder why...

0640 - Ugh. The crazy driver is back.

0650 - Okay that time he was way off in the shoulder. Time to call him in.

0656 - First cow sighting of the trip.

0657 - Police car passes me. Hope he's going after that crazy guy.

0702 - Dismal Hollow Road. Gee, how would you like to live there? No thanks!

0716 - See a hot air balloon.

0730 - Stop at McD's in Woodstock for breakfast.

0757 - Done with breakfast

0758 - Gas. $2.39/gallon

0803 - Car Wash! The kids are so excited. Will this be the best part of the day?

0809 - All clean. But darn - there's still a spot in the middle of my window. Grrr.

0828 - Sign that the rest areas are closing. I wonder if that's permanent or temporary.

0852 - my lack of working out lately is making me feel guilty (plus fat and sluggish!)

0954 - driving in the mountains - time to try out my new "car tunes" transmittor. Works but it is really hard to see the display and not run off the road. I need an assistant!

1008 - Felisa says Not the highway! I ask her why and she says because it is boring. Nothing to look at but trees.

1021 - West Virginia

1048 - Leaving the rest area. Picked up some brochures. Perhaps we can take the scenic route for a bit. The kids start a movie.

1102 - Give up the scenic route. It's not all that scenic and the kids aren't paying attention anyway.

1121 - try the scenic route again

1152 - WV seems to be using trimmed branches as erosion control along the steep mountain roadsides.

12:52 p.m. Done with our stop at New River National River which included a walk down and back up A LOT of steps. When we got to the top the kids made these comments.
B - I think I just got skinnier!
R - I burned, like, 10 calories!
F - I wish I was still a baby! (we were talking about how babies got to be carried and didn't have to walk -we saw one on the trail)

So funny! I offered to do a Favorite Parts survey but the girls declined since it was such a short stop. Ryan offered his favorite: Everybody's comments. I think it looks like a fun river for rafting.

1:11 p.m. Wendy's for lunch. I forgot to order food for Felisa so we went through the drive-thru twice.

1:33 p.m. Back on the highway. We got a bit side-tracked today...

1:53 p.m. Pass a truck full of pigs on the way to become bacon.

1:56 p.m. Toll booth. Doesn't do much good to have EZPass if there isn't an EZPass only lane. Still had to wait in line to get through.

2:01 p.m. My legs are sore today. I have just figured out that it must have been from walking Tuesday morning. I think I need new shoes before I go back to Boot Camp.

2:08 p.m. Charleston, WV - crossing the Kanawha River

2:50 p.m. SCORE - I found a Starbucks with a Drive Thru. The kids are all asleep so I didn't want to stop but I was getting very sleepy. Too bad they all woke up anyway. Oh well. At least we didn't have to get out of the car.

3:08 p.m. I can see Ohio across the river.

3:11 p.m. Kentucky

3:30 p.m. Stop for gas $2.43/gallon

4:16 p.m. See signs for Bath County and Licking River. Hmmm... is that like a sponge bath?

4:17 p.m. Palamino Cows! Not really but they were the light palamino color and that's what Felisa called them.

4:32 p.m. See a sign for a hospital. The girls start telling me that Ruff Ruffman show said that if you sleep at the hospital you can have ice cream for breakfast. And you can order whatever you want to eat. I must have been at the wrong hospital before because I didn't get ice cream for breakfast!

4:50 p.m. No horses! We're in KY for crying out loud. Where are the horses? There is lots of hay but no horses anywhere.

5:02 p.m. Horses - finally!

5:18 p.m. Crossing the Kentucky River.

5:54 p.m. Arrive at the hotel. Yea - just under 12 hours on the road today... whew. Talk about starting off not easy.

Once at the hotel, we had free hot dogs, broccoli casserole, and apple pie for dinner. Then swimming (yucky gnats outside tonight), showers, watching TV (Jeopardy, Disney Channel, and America's Funniest Videos). And then I had to go back out to the car to fetch some bedtime snacks because we're all hungry! I found a Sonic - only 2 miles away. I seriously contemplated putting them all in the car and going there but resisted the temptation. We'll be going there tomorrow for sure though!

Spent some time trying to figure out what we'll do tomorrow - looks like Horse Day. Friday will be Museums and Baseball. Then on the road again Saturday... And now I have to convince Ryan to go to sleep. It's 11:00 and I'm tired!