Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My strength

I did an online test at a Positive Psychology site... these are my top 5 strengths.

Your Top Strength

Kindness and generosity
You are kind and generous to others, and you are never too busy to do a favor. You enjoy doing good deeds for others, even if you do not know them well.

Your Second Strength

Humor and playfulness
You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Your Third Strength

Capacity to love and be loved
You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Your Fourth Strength

Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty
You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

Your Fifth Strength

Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Great Grasshopper Uprising

It's November... time for the annual Cub Scout Bake Off. Ryan's entry - Grasshopper Pie (the under-21 version!)

It's time to go to the meeting... the kids are headed out the door and I'm gathering my keys and purse... I hear Ryan say, with some seriousness, "Uh oh!"

Uh-oh what?

I come to the front door to see Ryan and the front porch covered in minty green grasshopper creme. Greeeaaaaatttt. It's a Grasshopper Mutiny! I take the pie to the kitchen to see if it could be salvaged (luckily it could). Ryan washed his hands and wiped off his clothes then I sent him out to the porch with a big cup of water to try to wash the creme away. It wasn't going away easily so I decided to just leave it as it was and deal with it when we got back. I could let Darby, the very hungry dog, lick it up but think it could give him a tummy ache.

Fast forward an hour or so... we're back from the bake - off with a certificate for the Most Flavorsome. The porch is still a mess. I try again to rinse it off but think I need a broom to scrub or a hose to spray. I think the broom is probably locked in the shed. I check the hose but it has been disconnected for the winter already. And did I mention that it is dark now and most definitely time for bed after another long day? I again consider the option of Darby, the very hungry dog, but I think he would probably lick his tongue raw on the cement and then we'd have to add a vet bill to the disaster cleanup tally!

Also, the weird worms are back. Not as many as the other night. Maybe they like Grasshopper Pie?

I can only hope that they eat it all up before I wake up tomorrow and have to face the mess of the Great Grasshopper Uprising in the light of day...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Life just isn't fair. It's Pajama Day in Mrs. Pant's class. That part is good. The part that isn't so good is the part where I woke up at 0545 to go work out then walk the dog then take a shower so that I could put my pajamas back on to go to work. When the kids went to pajama day, they always got to sleep in then go to school in the pj's they already had on. Not fair!

In other news... there was apparently a Rubber Duckie Convention in the shower last night. This morning they were all still there. Uncle Sam with his 3 Secret Service Ducks wearing sunglasses. A random duck. And Party Duck. Who apparently had a GREAT time at the convention last night because he was head down in the shower bucket. Ha! For whatever reason, I find that very funny. Maybe that's why I love working in a preschool - it takes so little to entertain me!

So now I'm off to work in my PJ's followed by lunch at Sonic! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Michael Jackson vs. Elvis

I was putting some music on Ryan's MP3 player earlier this afternoon. I was checking the James Taylor list of songs to see if there was anything I thought he'd like. Hound Dog was there. Perfect. Ryan was watching over my shoulder. He said, Oh it's his version of Michael Jackson's Hound Dog song. Uh, no. That would be Elvis' Hound Dog song. Oh. I get them confused. They're both dead. And famous! (and singers of course.)

That just cracked me up.

Edited to add:
Ryan's favorite songs, in order, on his MP3 player...
1. Beer for my Horses - Toby Keith
2. 12 Days of Christmas (an a capella version that is quite funny, plus it is his favorite Christmas song in any version)
3. A Boy Named Sue
4. Istanbul, Not Constantinople - They Might Be Giants
5. (aw shucks... I can't remember now what number 5 was)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Watermelon with a death wish

Why do my baby watermelons have a death wish? Why do they only want to grow ON the driveway and not in the garden boxes next to the driveway? I moved one baby's vine back to the box area the other day. Today I found two more babies growing in the vines still on the driveway. Argh! Oh and don't forget... anyone who grows out into the neighbor's grass on the other side of the garden boxes also has a death wish but seem to prefer death by lawnmower. My neighbor has been very kind and patient with my out-of-control, not hardly producing, vines.

The good news - the garden, it is producing again. Yay! I had chalked it all up as dead or dying already but was too lazy to pull it all out. It seems as though it was merely biding its time, waiting for the weather to drop out of the 90s and 100s. Now I have 3 zucchini growing, a second watermelon well-established (the first - and I thought only - watermelon is waiting to be harvested), and potentially three more watermelon babies (will they survive?). Even the tomatoes (the few that I have) are ripening.

Now if I can just keep all the suicidal fruits and veggies from the Driveway of Doom, I'll have some home-grown produce in a couple weeks. Yay!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stop the Ride!

Stop the ride - I want off!!!

Seriously? Neither school nor sports have begun yet and already I'm feeling overwhelmed and behind the curve. Ack! Today I spent several hours and way too much money stocking up on school supplies, new shoes, and new backpacks for the kids. A mid-day break for lunch at Red Robin was the best part of the day.

I just got back from an emergency milk run. How did we get from 2 cartons down to zero cartons in the blink of an eye? I decided to skip the library and postpone the dry cleaners/milk shopping that would normally be done on Wednesday so that I would have time to spend hanging out with Allie and her family as well as time to work on my many administrative to-dos. And looking back at yesterday - I'm not sure how many to-dos I actually to-did. Today was the best day for shopping so that took priority. And then surprise! No milk!

So here's the question - will things get better once school starts or worse? Better would be nice but I'm fearing the latter.

(I told Ron that it was all his fault. He's out of town, therefore I am unable to function properly. Doesn't bode well for next week does it?!?)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Bucket

My goals... my values... my bucket of time...

Spending some time today working through this. It's a new year (the fall always seems like a second New Year to me, a chance to start over AGAIN and hopefully get it right this time) and time to think about how I'd like it to go.

My values...
*Home and Family, Love and Friends... these are a source of encouragement, joy, laughter, and support as well as a refuge from the wild and crazy world. I tend to be a home-body. I want to be at home, in my home, surrounded by the people (family AND friends) who love me. Home is comfortable. Home can be relaxing and quiet or it can be filled with laughter and good company. Home is where my heart is. It is where I start from and where I come back to.

*Responsibility... I have a responsibility to fulfill my obligations. I have a responsibility to care for my world and those that are in it. We have a responsibility to each other as human beings to help each other out. We're in this together.

*Flexibility, Patience, Politeness, Helpfulness, and a Sense of Humor... all key ingredients to a successful, harmonious existence on this wild ride known as life.

*Nature... being outside (in non-humid, non-mosquito infested weather!) in the quiet and peace of nature brings peace to my soul. I'm trying my best to tread lightly and to help others to do the same.

My goals...
(compiled via a quick-n-dirty 60-second write-down-the-first-thing-that-comes-to-mind session)

*Lose 10-15 pounds (always a goal of mine, especially at the end of each summer when I have gained lots of road trip vacation weight and haven't been exercising regularly!). Related goals: Training for the Turkey Trot 5k in November. I can't remember the last time I actually went out jogging...

*Create and maintain a clean, workable scrapbook workspace so that I can use it whenever I feel so inspired, rather than dreading it or avoiding it altogether. This one feels particularly daunting and impossible. Very Mount Everest-ish.

*Spend more time on various personal scrapbook projects. There are so many things on my list that I'd love to scrap but never seem to have the time. When I do have the time (or the inspiration), I am thwarted by the Scrapbooking Pit of Despair (see prior goal).

*Create and maintain a more orderly home environment. (Talk about shooting for the moon! This is also a very Mount Everest-ish task in my mind. I'm not the best housekeeper and the clutter has been building up for 10 years now.)

*Spend quality time with myself and with my family without constantly thinking about what else I need to be or should be doing, those undone tasks on my to-do list looming over me. Essentially I think I am looking for BALANCE. I don't wish to give up my activities outside the home (at least not all of them) because they satisfy my need to contribute, to help out, to be involved, and to be with people. But I also need to be at home and be mentally engaged with my family. I think finding a balance that works for me and works for my family will be a tough one.

I need to be more aware of each moment and how I am spending my time. Try to keep in mind where I'm at and where I'm trying to go and whether or not my choices will get me there. Specifically I need to better manage my time alone, my time not spent on household chores and other calendar commitments. I often have difficulty in just getting started as well as difficulty in maintaining forward progress continuously over time. I am an object at rest, that if given a choice, would prefer to stay at rest. Somehow I need to apply force regularly to overcome that inherent inertia. Deadlines help me ultimately finish a job but more specifically, deadlines set by others (rather than by me). Accountability to others. A sense of "we're in this together" and positive encouragement also help.

I want to be able to do it all. But I can't. It's impossible. All I can hope for is the ability to do it better. And so I am hoping by being more conscious of my time and how I am spending it, I will better balance what I have going at the moment without having to give too much up.

Is it hopeless?

[Why I enjoy scrapbooking...
(thought I should expand on this since it is mentioned twice in my goals above)

I enjoy the beauty and asthetics of it - putting together all the pretty papers and colors and accents. I also really enjoy the relationship aspect of it. When I'm working in my scrapbooks, I am also spending time with family and friends and loved ones, via the memories in my mind. It is a form of time together, or at least so it seems to me. An extension of the pleasure I get from spending time hanging out with people and being together with people. Capturing the stories and the memories then being able to share them again each time the books are reviewed. Why I enjoy doing books for others? I want them to have the same opportunity to open a book and share the memories.]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Age of the Telephone

Apparently 10 is the age when you start talking on the phone to your friends...

So Ryan was talking to Owen earlier today. He hasn't seen or spoken to him since before we left on our trip.

The beginning of the conversation...

Ryan: "Hi Owen, how are you?"
-very brief pause-
Ryan: "Banana"

That just cracks me up with how random it is!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The last 3 days of Big Trip 5

Day 29 – Monday – July 19, 2010

0730 Get up. Felisa is up already but Ryan and Bella are sleeping in.

Lana and Mike go to a doctor’s appointment while the kids and I hang out and be lazy. The kids watch TV and I work on blog updates.

Lana is done at the doctor so we head out for errands and lunch at Jack in the Box.

After lunch back home. I remember that I need to pay some bills.

Dinner tonight is chicken and yummy homemade noodles!

Day 30 – Tuesday – July 20, 2010

Wake up. Eat breakfast. Then get ready for our field trip to the South Carolina State Museum.

Our favorite parts:
Felisa – pushing buttons on the displays
Bella – the pirate exhibit
Ryan – the optical illusions
Lana – getting lost and the variety of displays
Sheila – the variety of displays

After the museum, lunch at McD’s.

Back home I work on my scrapbook while the kids watch tv.

Dinner tonight is macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. Yum!

Day 31 –Wednesday – July 21, 2010

0650 Wake up. Get loaded and ready to go.

0737 Leaving.

0750 Gas, $2.39/gallon

0756 Sonic for a breakfast burrito

0813 North Carolina

1024 Virginia

1127 Gas, $2.49/gallon

1134 McD’s drive-thru for lunch and iced coffee

1158 Cows. Mountains. No traffic. Coming back via Highway 29 is pretty good so far.

1127 Waltons Mountain Museum. I wonder if it is any relation to the tv show?

12:30 p.m. Albemarle, VA established in 1744. Wow – that was a long time ago!

2:25 p.m. I-66 from Warrenton. Slow as expected. 

2:46 p.m. Home sweet home! Our total mileage for the trip is 6,972. Wow – if I had realized we were that close to being over 7,000 miles I would’ve gone the long way around just to make it over 7,000! Drat!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 28

Day 28 - Sunday - July 18, 2010

0630 Time to get up. Shower, pack, load. Take pictures with Vacation Mouse.

0810 Leaving Kim's house. Jo is taking a long time to wake up this morning. Come on Jo - I don't know which way I'm going!

0826 See the statue of liberty.

0840 Leeds, AL. Stop at Hardees for one last pork chop biscuit with gravy before the end of the trip. Attempt to go to McD's for an iced coffee but the drive thru line is NOT moving so I give up and leave. Stop for gas, $2.45/gallon then back on the highway.

0915 McD's - let's try this coffee thing again!

0936 Listening to the country Top 40 countdown on the radio. There is an interview with the guy who sings "Pray for You". It helps to have the singer/songwriter's perspective and reasoning but not sure I still won't have to change the station.

0948 Finally - a cop has pulled someone over. The speed limit has been 55 forever with lots of signs about how it is strictly enforced. I'm going more than 55 but people are blowing by me like I'm sitting still. It sure doesn't seem too strictly enforced to me!

1003 - Georgia and Eastern time zone (which makes it 1103 now)

1144 Chattahoochee River

1154 Atlanta. We see the capitol dome and the olympic stadium.

12:09 p.m. Driving in and out of little stripes of rain.

12:31 p.m. Stop at Wendy's for lunch. It is our first Wendy's stop of the trip.

1:11 p.m. We are back to the East Coast traffic volume and population density. I am not glad to be back.

1:51 p.m. South Carolina. Stop at the welcome center. I answered the trivia question correctly (Sassafrass Mountain is the highest point in SC) so the kids all got little beach balls.

2:12 p.m. Driving on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway.

2:30 p.m. You can see mountains way off in the distance.

2:48 p.m. The girls are sleeping. And this is NOT a freeway as the lady at the welcome center indicated. Maybe I should've come up from Greenville to cut some of the less scenic western portion off. Or maybe not come this way at all...

2:53 p.m. Keowee River. Finally, something scenic.

3:13 p.m. Pumpkintown.

3:26 p.m. Corn cob mailbox on a cornstalk post.

3:37 p.m. Saw a turkey. Or some other big bird with a long neck.

3:50 p.m. Back to the interstate.

4:11 p.m. Sonic in Spartanburg for a snack. Ron called to report that there is nothing going on at home. Lana texted to find out what we want for dinner. 3 votes for spaghetti. 0 votes for chicken.

4:23 p.m. Gas, $2.36 p.m.

4:45 p.m. Saw the giant peach watertower.

4:47 p.m. Lightning ahead. Will we miss it or will we drive into it before we get off the interstate and head east.

4:54 p.m. Nope. Didn't miss it. Rain hits about 1/2 mile from our exit.

5:38 p.m. Arrive at Lana and Mike's.

Spaghetti for dinner. Disney channel on TV. We finally see the episode of Sonny With A Chance (Sonny with a secret) that has been advertised for the past few weeks. As I suspected, the Mackenzie Falls co-star did it. Jealousy will get you every time!

Early to bed tonight (especially if you figure in the time change today!). I was able to watch Shrek 3 until I got tired.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 27

Day 27 - Saturday - July 17, 2010

0830 Get up. Kim went to tennis so the kids and I hang out at the house. She left me in charge of Cozette. She won't come inside so I leave her out a bit longer. When I go back to get her, I'm able to pick her up (without getting bitten). I put her down inside the door. At which point she walks right over to the stairs and (again, unintentionally) goes down. (Did I mention that she is 16 years old and can't see very well anymore?) She didn't fall but she went rather quickly and against her will. She tops it all off by peeing on the carpet at the bottom of the stairs. Good grief! 16 years later and this is where we're at - cleaning up messes in the house just like when she was a puppy! Being an aunt is hard work sometimes!

12:52 p.m. Leaving for Dalton's birthday party at Oak Mountain State Park. On the way over, there was a Christmas song playing on the radio. It seemed a bit odd but I figured maybe someone had called in to request it. A little later I realize I'm hearing another Christmas song. What is going on?!? Turns out it is Christmas in July and the station is playing Christmas songs all weekend long.

After the party we stop at McD's for an iced coffee. And this McD's has brownie melts! So of course we get some then devour them as soon as we get back to the house. Mmmm.... brownie melts. Good thing they don't sell these in VA - I'd be eating way too many of them!

We let Cozette out when we get back. When it's time to bring her back in again, she has gotten spider webs all over her face from wandering under the chairs. I try to wipe them off with a towel which she does not like at all! I told her she better listen to her aunt if she wants to come back inside before her mom comes home!

5:00 p.m. Folding laundry and watching NCIS. It's a School's Out Marathon. Woo hoo! I love this show! If only they would show more of the episodes I haven't already seen a bajillion times!

5:45 p.m. Kim is back with Dalton and Lacy. Now that we are all together in the same house and no one else is around, the kids are finally playing together. Because it always rains when I come to Alabama, Kim has to grill our burgers in the rain. Heehee. After dinner the boys play one of Dalton's new Wii games and the girls are playing miscellaneous girl stuff.

9:10 p.m. Attempting to get the kids settled down and in bed. The boys are reading. Bella is asleep in no time in my bed. Lacy and Felisa, however, are having a hard time quieting down to sleep together in Lacy's bed. After a few warnings, I put Felisa in my bed to let her fall asleep then move her back after both girls are sleeping.

Kim and I watched the pilot episode of Covert Affairs. It was a pretty good show. I just might have to start watching that one. USA network always has great summer shows!

Bedtime! (Aren't you proud 0f us - we made it to bed before midnight!)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 26

Day 26 – Friday – July 26, 2010

0800 Get up. Shower.

Breakfast this morning is a feast of pancakes, bacon, and fruit. After breakfast the kids played a couple board games then headed upstairs to play video games. I finished packing then still had time to hang out. I can’t believe we’re leaving already – it seems like we just got here!

12:25 p.m. Time to load up.

Pictures with Vacation Mouse before we go…

1:15 p.m. Stop at Sonic. Felisa has decided that she likes the grilled cheese. (This is good since she has been my toughest Sonic customer, hard to please). I decided to give the Chicken Fried Steak sandwich a try (it was not bad).

1:28 p.m. Mississippi (That didn’t take long! The states are much smaller here in the east!)

1:55 p.m. There are clouds but they lack the depth and definition of those in the west. Maybe it’s because the atmosphere is thicker here at the lower elevation? That’s my latest theory.

2:00 p.m. Remember that none of my emails went out in Memphis so Kim never got my reply. Maybe I should give her a call to let her know our status.

2:02 p.m. That Praying for You song is on the radio again. I have to change the station every time it comes on. The guy singing is mad at his ex-girlfriend and so he is praying for bad things to happen to her. I just find it disturbing.

2:04 p.m. See a VW van (just the cab) with another VW van (full van) behind it. I can’t tell if the cab is towing the full van or if they are welded together to create some sort of larger vehicle. Definitely strange.

2:05 p.m. Rain clouds ahead... dark grey and not fluffy at all!

2:08 p.m. I really need to find out if gift cards can be recycled. That is the one downside to the gift card sales program at the elementary school - it encourages people to use more virgin gift cards. (Oh - I think I found one!)

2:17 p.m. Two motorcyclists have stopped under the overpass to put on their rain gear. It is starting to sprinkle.

2:20 p.m. A flash flood warning on the radio for the areas south of Memphis. "Turn around, don't drown!"

2:35 p.m. A new song on the radio about life in the trailerhood. (Oh look - it's a Toby Keith song. I love his music.)

2:40 p.m. Tupelo, MS

2:42 p.m. Natchez Trace Parkway. It has a brown sign so it must be something noteworthy. Maybe I'll have to look it up for a future trip.

2:44 p.m. I'm thinking I should try to give up caffeine and sugar when I get back. The question is, should I do it before camp or after? Or at camp? The sugar will definitely wait until after camp. The coffee though... I'm undecided. (And yes, I know I say this every year. I usually am good for a month or more but always fall off the wagon and end up back on the sugar.)

2:52 p.m. Fawn Grove Road/Dorsey is what the sign said. At first glance, I thought it said Disney, not Dorsey, which made me wonder if this is where Bambi is from.

3:09 p.m. Things I'd like to (or expect to) see while visiting the south - plantations and a Gone With the Wind museum of some sort. Might have to research that a bit more.

3:10 p.m. Alabama

3:24 p.m. Lana called with her work schedule. She's off Sunday at 3 and off Monday and Tuesday.

3:25 p.m. Hamilton, AL. Gas, $2.59/gallon. It has stopped raining for the moment but it looks like there is more ahead.

3:46 p.m. Scufflegrit Road.

3:54 p.m. Rain.

3:56 p.m. Lightning.

3:57 p.m. The deer crossing sign has been modified. The deer now has a red nose. Maybe this is Rudolph's summer home?

4:06 p.m. What is that on the side of the road? It looks like hail or snow or possibly white rocks.

4:30 p.m. Jo took us on a detour through Jasper. I found my way back onto 78 (future I-22) and now we are off of Jo's road and driving through nothing. This must be a new highway.

4:44 p.m. The radio is playing a song with the lyrics "always on my mind". Who is singing this? I think it sounds like Willie Nelson. It was in a creepy movie... what was it? I'm drawing a blank...

4:47 p.m. That's it - Practical Magic! Not a creepy movie, but that song is used in a creepy scene.

4:49 p.m. We are back on the map. Easy Money seems to be doing well in this economy. I have seen two brand new buildings (amidst many old rundown buildings) and a long line inside one of them. Anyone need a payday loan?

5:30 p.m. We have arrived at Kim's house and call for instructions on how to "break in". Cozette is staying for the weekend so I let her outside.

5:55 p.m. Cozy is walking in circles and won't settle down. She is going to be very dizzy before Kim gets home.

5:56 p.m. Cozy is now at the bottom of the stairs. There are no witnesses but we think she probably fell. I don't think she intended to go down there!

6:00 p.m. Kim is home. I go downstairs to greet her and notice the rabbit (Nibbles). The rabbit which I walked past several times already and didn't notice at all. Oops! In my defense, rabbits are small. And quiet.

Dinner was Mexican food. The kids must have been pretty hungry because they ate almost every last bite. Then home to hang out a bit before giving up because we're too old and tired.

Good night!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 25

Day 25 – Thursday – July 15, 2010


Hanging out at the house today… the girls are playing Polly Pocket and Ryan is trying to find something to do (Logan is away at Tennis camp). Darcy and Fritz and I are talking.


Swim time

Merryn has swim practice.


Logan comes home. Everyone is super happy to see each other.

Time for movies. The girls watch one movie (Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs) while the boys watch another (Pink Panther). The grown-ups hang out, looking at my scrapbooks and talking.

And then… another day done… bedtime.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 24

Day 24 – Wednesday – July 14, 2010

0640 Time to get up. Shower and get dressed then head over to the office to get some coffee and bring back breakfast for the kids. Not much there to choose from – end up with a blueberry bagel and some bread and butter.

0730 Wake up the kids.

0755 Leaving the hotel. Stop to take a picture of Buddy in front of the Buddy's Ranch House Café. The camera lens is fogging up in the hot humid air.

0808 Arrive at the Diamond Mine. Current temperatures is 76 degrees but I'm not sure what the heat index is. Ryan asks why it is so hot so early in the morning. Welcome to the South!

0920 Leaving the mine. We are hot, sweaty, dirty, and defeated. All we found were some orange and red rocks. Very nice orange and red rocks mind you. But no diamonds.

My question to the kids as we left (now that we have seen a gold mine and a diamond mine)… Would you like to have lived as a prospector during the gold and silver rush times?

Felisa – No!

Bella – Blech!

Ryan – Wouldn't be too happy

1028 Arkadelphia, AR. Gas, $2.58/gallon

1031 Sonic

1048 "Pigs!" says the sign in the corner of the field… We see what appear to be horses but no pigs. Do the pigs look different in Arkansas than they do everywhere else?

1050 Stop at McD's to get some food for Felisa (she doesn't care for Sonic too much) and to use the bathroom (Sonic didn't have one).

12:25 p.m. I'm tired today. I think it takes me about 3 weeks of road tripping to get to this point – tired and more ready to go home, less interested in stopping to see things along the way.

12:32 p.m. They are out mowing along the highway today. There is a lot of trash out here!

12:35 p.m. A lot of trucks on the road today.

12:47 p.m. Louisiana Purchase State Park. Sounds interesting. Maybe on a future visit…

12:48 p.m. Jo fell off the window. It's been a week since that last happened.

1:02 p.m. Trying to count the number of cars versus the number of trucks. This is actually very difficult to do without a sheet of paper to make tick marks or another person to split up the categories. As best as I can tell, there are about 60% semi-trucks and 40% passenger cars. It seems like there are more trucks than that per car but maybe that's just because they are so big and slow.

1:48 p.m. Mississippi River and Tennessee!

2:21 p.m. Arrive at the Ruthlings' house.

The kids are all very happy to be here. They get to play together a little before Merryn goes to her piano lesson. After piano, the kids all hit the pool for a couple hours. Then dinner, cookies for dessert, and TV time. Darcy and I watched the summer season premier of Psych and the kids played Mario 4.

10:00 p.m. Bedtime. I am so tired…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 23

Day 23 - Tuesday - July 13, 2010

0615 Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze.

0625 Alarm goes off. Have to get up even though I don't really want too.

Shower, pack and load. It is misty out this morning.

0700 Wake the kids up so they can get dressed and get over to the house for breakfast and I can finish packing and loading.

0730 Breakfast.

0838 Clearly I am not in a hurry to get going this morning since we were supposed to leave at 8:00. Go outside for pictures and get ready to hit the road.

0850 Oops - I'm lost. Took a wrong turn somewhere (Jo isn't turned on yet) and now I'm headed for the front gate, not the back gate.

0858 I think this is the wrong gate.

0903 And here we are again, at the same gate. So that means it must be the right gate (I asked Jo how to get out of here). Apparently the back gate is closer to the house than I thought.

0904 Deer crossing the road.

I take a few dead tree pictures as I head out. Not sure if any of them will turn out since it is so cloudy and gray this morning.

0933 Fredericksburg. Gas, $2.59/gallon

1000 Walmart to buy an iPod shuffle charger. For whatever reason, the shuffles refuse to charge on my computer. So we bought the cool plug charger that Dad had for his iPhone. Ron called while we were there. He's going to book us a room in Murfreesboro. As we pull out of the parking lot, Ryan has made himself a granola bar taco. (Betty sent the leftover crunchy taco shells with us as a snack so Ryan put a granola bar inside.) That kid eats the weirdest food sometimes.

1019 Buffalo in a field.

1041 Real live cowboys, on horseback, herding cattle.

1054 Stop at Starbucks in Marble Falls. I'll need caffeine to get me across the rest of Texas.

1115 Stop at the park in Burnet. The headphone splitter has gone missing. Luckily I find it fairly quickly. The park here has some ramps for skateboards, etc. Lots of kids using it today.

12:40 p.m. Arrive at Round Rock Donuts in Temple, TX. It is closed (as in out of business). I had a feeling that this wasn't the right place when I had Jo search for it but it was the only Round Rock Donuts listed in her database. Unfortunately I didn't write down the address when I looked it up online so had no idea where it should be. Turns out, this isn't it. Ryan is a little disappointed but I promise him a visit in the future. Luckily for us, Schlotsky's is right next to the open storefront and is open so we go there for lunch.

1:47 p.m. Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, TX. Our favorite parts:
Felisa - helping Bella find the scavenger hunt clues
Bella - dressing up in costume
Ryan - everything in the first gallery
Sheila - trying out the 5 pound revolver - it was heavy!

4:30 p.m. Jo took us around Dallas on the I20-I635 bypass. Much nicer than driving through downtown. Why haven't we gone this way before?

5:15 p.m. Rush hour (and construction) in Greenville, TX.

5:19 p.m. Jack in the Box for dinner.

5:33 p.m. Gas, $2.46/gallon

6:04 p.m. Construction has me stuck on the frontage road - hope I make it back to the highway soon!

7:22 p.m. Chicken truck - that's a new one. Usually it's cows and pigs headed to the butcher shop...

7:52 p.m. Nash, TN. Stop at Sonic for a snack. Turns out Sonicburgers are half-price on Tuesday nights. Woo hoo! Across the street is a scrapbook store, Scrapbookers Emporium. Too bad it's closed!

8:00 p.m. Texarkana still has construction on the highway. Will it be done by next year?

8:04 p.m. Arkansas - finally!

8:11 p.m. Kana called to talk to Bella.

8:19 p.m. Red River

8:24 p.m. Back to the tunnel of trees that surround every East coast highway. No more open fields where you can see for miles...

8:27 p.m. Jo says it's sunset. We still have one hour until we get to our hotel. Looks like we won't make it before dark.

8:30 p.m. Hope, AR. Clinton's birthplace.

8:34 p.m. FEMA temporary lodging storage. Acres and acres of white box shelters and RV trailers. Wow.

8:41 p.m. Historic Washington State Park - looks interesting. Put it on the list of future possibilities...

8:47 p.m. Ozan, AR. Population 81. Wow - that's a small town! That would be like all of the rising 5th graders in Ryan's class but no one else. Hmm... that could be a good book...

9:20 p.m. Arrive at the hotel. Queen of Diamonds Inn in Murfreesboro, AR.

9:40 p.m. All checked in and at the pool. The pool is very busy tonight (as is the hotel - all the parking spots are full).

The south in the summer is just miserably hot. It is about 80 degrees still and humid. Ick.

9:50 p.m. Killed a mosquito. I wonder how many have already bit me that I missed.

9:54 p.m. It is finally quiet at the pool - no one left but us.

9:58 p.m. Time's up!

Back to the room for showers and Disney channel while falling asleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 22

Day 22 – Monday – July 12, 2010

0815 Wake up. Looks like we slept in again today!

Breakfast this morning was Monkey Bread. When we came to the table, Bella said, “I knew it smelled like Christmas!”

After breakfast we drove to Fredericksburg to see the Museum of the Pacific War. We went through the WWII Pacific Island exhibit only. Our favorite parts:

Ryan – the re-enactment area Camp Tarawa

Bella – the PT Boat

Felisa – the hospital in the Quonset hut

Sheila – how authentic it smelled (the airplane display smelled just like a flight deck and the PT boat smelled just like a Navy ship)

After the museum we stopped at HEB to pick up a few groceries. Unfortunately we were having bad checkout-line luck today. We finally made it through in our 3rd line. This stop definitely took longer than we anticipated.

Once back at the ranch, it was lunchtime. After lunch we finally finished our game of Phase 10. Who won? Me! I won! I won! I won! Yippee! Yahoo!

After our card game we took the kids to the pool so they could swim for a bit before dinner.

After swimming, back to the house for dinner with Grandpa and Evelyn.

After dinner, I took the kids out to feed the animals. Mostly sheep tonight with a few deer. The cows down the street weren’t interested at all in our “salad bar” and deer pellets.

Finally, some time spent online trying to figure out our plan for tomorrow. We’re headed for Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas as a stopover on the way to Memphis.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 21

Day 21 – Sunday – July 11, 2010

0720 Wake up. Decide it is too early to get up and go back to sleep.

0800 Wake up again. Time to get up. Get the kids up and dressed to head to the house.

The kids made batter blaster pancakes for breakfast (it’s pancake batter that comes in a can like whipped cream).

After we were cleaned up from breakfast, the kids made the birthday cake (with Betty’s help and supervision of course!). While it was baking, we played Phase 10. We had to take a break from the game to have lunch. After lunch, rest time then cake decorating. We all ate the “test cake” as a snack then played more of our Phase 10 game and watched Mythbusters. The game still wasn’t over but we had to make dinner. Felisa was the assistant chef for Taco Night. After dinner, we ate the birthday cake and opened presents – Tierra Linda t-shirts for the kids and our own copy of Phase 10 to take home with us. And then… a few more hands of Phase 10. Maybe tomorrow we’ll actually finish the game!

Mythbusters before bed in the barn.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 20

Day 20 – Saturday – July 10, 2010

0700 Alarm goes off. Take a shower and get dressed then unload the sneakers and long pants from the car.

0800 Breakfast. Eggs, bacon and biscuits. Yum!

0830 Change into long pants and sneakers then Ryan, Betty Lou and I head to the stables for our trail ride. I rode Freddy, Ryan rode Baron, and Betty rode Rusty. I really like Freddy. He seemed to have a bit more pep in his step than the typical trail horse.

Lunch with Grandpa and Evelyn.

1:58 p.m. Leave for the airport to drop Ron off. His vacation is over…

2:26 p.m. Stop at Schlotskys for Ron to get a sandwich for later.

2:35 p.m. Sonic for one last yummy cherry limeade.

2:44 p.m. Gas, $2.62/gallon.

3:45 p.m. San Antonio Airport.

5:06 p.m. Back in Kerrville, we meet at Culvers for dinner. The ice cream flavor of the day was cookies and cream – yum, yum, yum! My favorite!

After dinner we went to Hastings to get some used DVDs for the kids and a book for me. The book selection was larger than the NM store but the DVD selection was worse. The DVD prices were better though so we found a couple to buy.

When we got back to the ranch, Betty and the kids played Clue. Then Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was on tv so we watched that until bedtime. The kids had a snack before bed and while Ryan was eating, he lost another tooth!

10:00 p.m. Bedtime!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Day 19

Day 19 – Friday – July 9, 2010

0430 It’s raining and still very windy.

0700 Wake up. Get dressed, get the kids up, tear down our wet camp. Felisa reports that Ryan lost a tooth while brushing his teeth this morning. Current temperature, 60 degrees.

0805 Loaded up and leaving the campsite. As we are driving out of the park, we see several deer along the road, having breakfast. We were talking about the weather last night and Felisa said, “Every time the wind blew, the tent whacked me in the face.”

Our favorite parts of Big Bend:

Bella – the Texas Ranger program

Felisa – camping

Ryan – the Texas Ranger program

Ron – seeing Mexico

Sheila – the ocotillo trees and the scenery

0853 Leaving Big Bend National Park

0907 See a roadrunner (finally!)

0920 There are lots of big birds perched on the fence posts this morning. Vultures, hawks…

0923 Border Patrol checkpoint. There wasn’t much traffic this morning so the agents asked a few questions. They also had a dog checking the car.

0930 Marathon, TX. Gas, $3.34/gallon. For breakfast we have gas station coffee and hostess mini donuts. We have driven about 300 miles since we left Alpine yesterday. Probably 200 miles just inside the park. Big Bend is a big place, just like the rest of Texas!

0951 No cell phone signal yet and the only radio station is broadcasting a call-in yard sale/classified ads. Has anyone seen that guy’s 3 dogs?

1010 Construction zone has us stopped.

1012 Cell phone service is back.

1014 We are following the pilot car through the construction zone. The signs say Pavement Ends and Rough Road. Those are not good signs!

1036 Stop for brunch at IHOP in Fort Stockton.

1138 After a very slow breakfast, we are back on the road.

1141 Gas, $2.98/gallon

1:22 p.m. Ozona, TX We are looking for the Crockett Memorial but can’t find it so go to the Crockett County Museum instead. Afterwards we go across the street to the park where the memorial is located. This town needs some better signs!

Favorite parts of the museum:

Felisa – the saddle room

Bella – the schoolroom

Ryan – the Alamo scene

Ron – the bank room

Sheila – the pencil collection

2:20 p.m. Make a couple phone calls to check in back home.

4:03 p.m. We are off the highway and headed for the ranch. Ryan tells Felisa to wake up and start looking out the window. He says, “Look for body parts. We might find it early this year!”

4:15 p.m. It appears to be naptime for the cows. There are a whole bunch of them lying down in someone’s front yard.

4:18 p.m. We have arrived!

Shortly after arriving, the latest band of rain hit. Pizza for dinner. The special drink of the year this year is margaritas. Yummy chocolate chip cookies for dessert. James and Betty Lou looked through my scrapbooks from last year’s trip and our Disney trip. The internet is not cooperating so not sure how much I’ll be online while we are here this year.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Day 18

Day 18 – Thursday – July 8, 2010

0630 Alarm goes off. Too early! Take a shower and start packing then wake up the kids.

0730 Leaving the hotel.

Stop at Jack in the Box for breakfast. The service is slow and no one really like their food much except me. Oh well.

0813 Betty Lou called to tell me that there is flooding along the Rio Grande and more rain in the forecast.

0858 Pass a semi loaded with pallets of onions.

0909 Border Patrol checkpoint

0937 Time change – now it is 1037

1043 Van Horn, TX. Gas, $2.69/gallon

1132 Ryan Ranch

1134 Looks like a blimp up ahead. It is at an Air Force facility.

Pass through Marfa – Ron takes a few pictures.

12:22 p.m. McD’s in Alpine, TX. Current weather, 73 degrees and cloudy. Gas, $2.74/gallon. We take our lunch to the Railroad Park to eat then visit the book store across the street. On our way to the bookstore, the Amtrak train pulls into town. We missed seeing it at the park by just a few minutes.

1:45 p.m. Back on the road. Ron picked up Subway sandwiches for dinner while the kids and I were at the bookstore. It is 108 miles to Big Bend. Looks pretty cloudy and rainy off that way. Will we get wet today?

2:40 p.m. I keep seeing random RV’s pulled off and set up along the road. Why did they decide to set up there?

3:03 p.m. Arrive at Big Bend National Park. Temperature, 87 degrees. The gate is unattended so we can’t pick up a map. Bummer.

3:47 p.m. Stop at the Castalon Visitor Center. It is closed for the season and will re-open November 1. Exactly the opposite of what is normally considered “the season”.

4:09 p.m. The road is flooded. Eek! That one was deeper than the previous flooded section. And we need a carwash for sure after spraying up all that muddy water!

4:11 p.m. Made it to the Santa Elena canyon overlook. Temperature 93 degrees. We refill all the water bottles before we take off again.

4:20 p.m. Headed for the mountain campground now.

4:24 p.m. Stop at the river access point. We wanted to dip our toes in the river but it is much too muddy. Ron slips on the mud and almost falls in! Looks like we are not dipping our toes in the Rio Grande today.

5:23 p.m. Panther Junction Visitor Center.

5:48 p.m. Just as we are about to leave the visitor center, it starts to pour down rain. We wait for a couple minutes for it to let up then we head out to the car. We get halfway to the car and it starts to pour again. Yikes! Run! That rain is sneaky. Ryan said, “just when you thought it was safe to go outside…” Gotcha! Says the rain. We decide to drive to the Rio Grande Village instead of up the mountain since it is raining on our campground right now. Hopefully it will be dry later.

5:50 p.m. And now the sun is shining…

6:13 p.m. There are vultures hanging out at the picnic/campground area by the river. I don’t think that’s a good sign…

6:48 p.m. Leaving the picnic area. The crows and the ants are already eating our crumbs. While we were here, we walked down to the river. Ron saw something crawl out of the river into the reeds. Are there crocodiles in the Rio Grande river? Then Ron threw a rock across the river. Almost hit Mexico but was a couple feet short. It was still too muddy to get down to the edge of the river. Bella was worried about the javelinas coming to get us (there was a warning sign on the picnic tables) the whole time. Now that the rain has stopped and things are drying up, we need to head back up to the mountain campground and try to get the tent set up before it rains again.

7:22 p.m. Headed up to Chisos Basin, finally. This is quite a large park! The sign says that this is bear and mountain lion territory.

7:37 p.m. We have arrived at the campground and are waiting for Ron to complete his campsite inspections to find the best spot available.

Set up camp and go for a hike. Not too far down the trail is a sign that warns of mountain lions. Do not hike with small children. Do not hike in the evening. Okay then – guess we’ll be heading back to camp! We go to the Ranger program instead. The Park Ranger gave an excellent talk on the history of the Texas Rangers.

10:50 p.m. Back in our tent and all settled in for the night. It is very windy and the big gusts make me wonder if we are going to blow away while we sleep!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Day 17

Day 17 – Wednesday – July 7, 2010

0645 Wake up. Was having some crazy bad dream.

0820 Still packing and loading. Guess we’re not leaving at 8!

0900 Shower

0935 Talk to Shannon. Gave him an ETA of 4 p.m.

0948 Pictures of all the kids together before we leave. Thomas and Seth both had grumpy faces but only Seth was crying at the “torture” of being in a picture. Thomas was suffering silently.

1001 Leaving Elena’s house in Rio Rancho… Texas here we come!

1020 Stop at Twisters to try out their breakfast burritos. Luckily there was a Starbucks right next door so I was able to grab an iced latte while Ron was getting the burritos.

1114 Horse Motel. Interesting…

12:36 p.m. 2 double horse trailers in a row. Two pickups pulling two trailers each. They were all empty and clean so I’m guessing maybe they were being delivered.

1:00 p.m. Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences, NM. A spur of the moment stop.

1:45 p.m. Leaving the museum. Favorite parts:

Bella – the fountain with the head statues

Ryan – the hand-carved wooden figures and the cowboy

Felisa – the log cabin

Ron – the Geronimo exhibit

Sheila – the local flavor (posterboards with class pictures
of each graduating senior in each graduating class and snapshots donated by
locals for example)

1:57 p.m. Gas, $2.89/gallon. I bought Ron a coke and some lottery tickets and a Hershey’s dark chocolate bar for myself

2:00 p.m. Asked the kids what their favorite parts of the trip so far are:

Bella – Colorado (specifically Casa Bonita with Jacob and Daniel) and seeing the cousins

Felisa – when Daddy came and seeing the cousins and hiking

Ryan – New Mexico, seeing the cousins

Ron – driving in the wild west, scenery etc.

Sheila – getting to see lots of different things (I look at a map and want to stop at all of the points of interest!) and the mountain drive in southern Colorado

2:09 p.m. Elephant Butte Lake. I wonder how it got its name.

2:12 p.m. Rio Grande River (again). It is starting to look more substantial, more deserving of the status of “important river”.

2:26 p.m. Hatch, NM. Lots of green chile farms. Current temperature, 93 degrees.

2:33 p.m. Sign for the NM space port

2:56 p.m. Pink Firebird in front of us with Lady Corgan all across the back window. Definitely an attention-catching car.

2:57 p.m. Sonic in Las Cruces for a snack.

3:15 p.m. Pecan orchards

3:18 p.m. Construction traffic jam

3:22 p.m. A feed store with camels, zebras, and I couldn’t see what else in cages in the parking lot.

3:26 p.m. Feed lot cows. L

3:29 p.m. Dust storm! Wow – that was a strong wind!

3:36 p.m. Texas

3:55 p.m. Hotel

4:40 p.m. Arrive at Shannon’s house. The kids play with Harley for a few minutes and the adults spend some time catching up.

5:50 p.m. Headed out to dinner at Rudy’s BBQ.

6:57 p.m. Adventure Zone for a round of mini-golf. The final score had Dana in first place. Ron and Shannon had second and third place (I can’t remember which was which) and I came in 4th. Luckily I beat the kids but not by much! That course had some crazy water hazards! I fished 3 balls out of water and we ended up losing 2 others completely. It was fun though.

Back at the hotel we had a quick swim then came back to the room for showers and Mythbusters (Duct Tape Myths!) before bed.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Day 16

Day 16 - Tuesday - July 6, 2010

0700 Wake up. Drink my coffee and read my book (that's #3 if you're counting). Ron watched Tour de France. The kids played.

1024 Load up all the kids but Seth (and he was mighty disappointed to not be going!) and head back up to the Jemez for a hike.

1045 Gas, $2.76/gallon

1:49 p.m. We have survived the hike! The trails from Battleship Rock picnic area were not well marked at all and we were starting to run low on water so didn't go as far as Ron and some of the kids would have liked. At the end we let the kids play in the river. They all got wet but Felisa and Philip were the first ones, as is consistent with their history. The favorite parts ended in a 3-2 split vote.
Bella, Ryan, and Thomas - the river at the end
Felisa and Philip - going up the cliff
Ron - exploring the trails
Sheila - the end (my spirit of adventure is much less than Ron's and I'm always happier when I know where I am and where I'm going)

2:45 p.m. We are back at Elena's.

Ron and I went to town to get the oil changed in the van. We stopped at Hastings. Lots of used video choices but not that great of prices so all I ended up with was one used book. (On Mystic Lake by Krisitin Hannah - Scattered Mom recommended her book Winter Garden which I loved. I picked up True Colors at the bookstore in Colorado last week and loved that one too. So now I'm going to have to keep reading more and more of them. Lucky for me she has written a bunch of books!) Then we stopped at the bike store. Across the parking lot from the bike store was Turtle Mountain Brewing Company so we stopped in for a happy hour snack before heading back up to the house.

Once back at home I finished my book (#3) before dinner. Looks like I'll be starting book #4 before bed tonight!

Dinner... watermelon for dessert... and time to reload the car. The cargo has become quite unruly once more.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Day 15

Day 15 - Monday - July 5, 2010

The cousins all spent the whole entire day playing with each other.

We grilled hot dogs and burgers for lunch - yummy.

I finished my second book since Saturday evening.

Ron and I went to dinner at El Pinto with Jared and Elena. Good food, good company, and great outdoor seating weather.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Day 14

Day 14 - July 4, 2010 - Sunday

0815 Get up. Ron has the coffee already made.

Spend some time relaxing, checking my email, and reading while Ron watches the Tour de France.

1000 Leave the Los Alamos house. Meet up at Sonic for breakfast burritos with Scott.

1032 Dad called - he found Ryan's DS charger. Oops! I guess that's why he couldn't find it yesterday afternoon when he was looking for it.

1108 In White Rock, visiting Travis and Leigh.

2:04 p.m. Headed for Albuquerque.

4:30 p.m. At Elena's new house - very nice. The kids are at the pool.

We ate Grandma's barbeque for dinner then ice cream for dessert. Seth was so excited for the fireworks he could hardly wait. Once they finally started they were so tiny the kids quickly lost interest. (We were looking out over the city and could see all the various displays but were too far to even hear them.) And so it is bedtime.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Day 13

Day 13 - July 3, 2010 - Saturday

0830 Wake up. The kids are playing. Ron has relocated to another room but is sleeping in.

Spend the morning drinking coffee, updating my blog, and eating a breakfast burrito. The kids go with Grandpa R to fly a kite at the park.

Around noon we head over to the reunion picnic.

After the picnic, Scott and Scott & Dar and their kids come over to the house to hang out. The kids are playing the piano which is making me a bit crazy but eventually they move on to other activities.

Grandma and Grandpa load up our kids and take them down to Albuquerque. Ron and I went to the reunion dinner at Hilltop House. After a late night Friday night, we are only too happy to be home by 10 tonight. The house is super quiet without the kids.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Day 12

Day 12 - July 2, 2010 - Friday

0445 Woken up by a thunderstorm. Bummer - now our tent is going to be wet when we take it down!

0600 Wake up. Ron and Felisa are already awake.

0615 Time to get dressed and get up so I can hike over to the bathroom.

0715 We have cleared the campsite (packed, loaded, took our tent down) and are the early birds at the pancake breakfast at the campground store. A little chilly this morning. After a delicious breakfast of pancakes, sausage, hot chocolate and coffee, we're off!

0748 Headed for Cliff Palace. We have the first tour of the day at 0900. It is 60 degrees.

0753 Ron asks me how far it is to the tour site because we are low on gas. Only 1/4 tank left. Uh oh!

0827 Cliff Palace

1004 We have finished our tour. I'm glad we had the first tour because it wasn't hot yet and because there were no people ahead of us to clutter up our pictures of the dwellings. Our favorite parts:
Bella - the house (all of it)
Felisa - the kivas
Ryan - the ladders
Ron - the view of the far mesa
Sheila - seeing it all before the crowds descended

1016 Horses! I don't they they are fenced in.

1054 We made it back to the main gate.

1106 Stop in Mancos for gas. Regular is out of order. $3.02/gallon for plus.

1115 Jo is back on duty.

1123 Cows in a trailer and dogs in the back of the pickup truck - looks like a full load!

1126 Sign says "I'd rather see a cow than a condo." I completely agree!

1146 Del Taco in Durango. But it's closed and up for sale. Bummer. Guess lunch will be delayed until the next town.

1152 Skunk roadkill. Peeew!

12:02 p.m. We need to refill our water bottles - we're all drying up!

12:03 p.m. An antler tree, made of a wire form in the shape of a Christmas tree covered with antlers.

12:21 p.m. A loose calf running down the side of the highway. He looks scared! Hope he makes it to safety.

12:45 p.m. Sonic for lunch. Gas $2.79/gallon My turn to drive again.

Listening to NPR. We need to go to the McDonald's museum I think. It is in Illinois. Hmm... I'll have to look it up.

1:53 p.m. New Mexico

2:03 p.m. Continental Divide. Darn - I missed it again! Oh well...

2:40 p.m. Ron's turn to drive again. He's bored and needs something to do!

2:41 p.m. Our batteries are dying... the cell phone, the camera, Ryan's MP3 player... they are all barely hanging on!

2:45 p.m. Ron is tired of the music on my MP3 player so we plug his in instead.

2:58 p.m. A truck just lost its wheel as we crested a hill. It was coming right at us but luckily we missed. Yikes! The driver of the (97 Toyota Landcruiser is Ron's guess) is able to stop and pull to the side. The tire appears to be still going as it rolls out of sight...

3:17 p.m. Afternoon rain showers. This will make it hard for us to dry our tent when we get to Los Alamos!

3:19 p.m. 5% oil life! Time for an oil change soon!

3:33 p.m. Espanola, NM

3:35 p.m. We just saw the second car accident in town as well as an ambulance and a police car with lights on. It's dangerous around here! Hope we arrive soon so we can relax.

3:55 p.m. Los Alamos, NM

4:11 p.m. Arrive at Grandma and Grandpa R's house.

Spend some time charging batteries and getting caught up online. Uploading pictures, updating the blog, etc. Then time for a shower before Ron and I head out to his 20-year reunion happy hour. Before I left, a slice of birthday cake for me. Yum! Two cakes and counting... how many more will I get?

I experienced first hand the social life of Friday Night in Los Alamos... not much going on which leads to creativity by the party-ers. We got home at 2 a.m. Everyone else was asleep already.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Day 11

Day 11 - July 1, 2010 - Thursday

0620 Ron opens the curtains which wakes me up. (He claims that he was closing the curtains because the sunlight woke him up. All I know is that curtains were moving and it woke me up!)

I'm awake so time for email/make plans for the day/hotel breakfast/packing.

0906 On the road. It is raining this morning. Our first stop, a drive through Colorado National Monument.

1000 Stop for pictures at Book Cliff

1005 Visitor's Center

1106 Ute Canyon

1130 Smashburger for lunch. Yum-O!

I get to drive since Ron is still acclimating to the climate (his allergies were bothering him) and the elevation (he has a headache). Delta had nice murals on the walls downtown and Montrose was bigger than I thought it would be.

1:50 p.m. Bighorn sheep sign. Usually we see deer signs. This is a new one!

1:52 p.m. Hooray we made it to Ouray! It reminds me of a European mountain town. Not sure why. But definitely looks like it would be a nice place to visit.

2:22 p.m. Red Mountain overlook. The mountain really is red - wow! Now that I have made it to the top, it is time for Ron the expert to drive us back down. Too scary for me! Actually, all I'm worried about is the brakes. Don't want to burn them up! Temperature at the top of the mountian, 68 degrees with a chilly breeze.

2:26 p.m. Red Mountain Pass, 11, 075 feet.

2:42 p.m. Silverton, CO. Will we make it to the gold mine in time for the tour at 3:00? The town has nice wide streets and cool old buildings.

2:54 p.m. Made it by the hair on our chinny-chin-chins.

4:09 p.m. Leaving the mine. It was cold in there (47 degrees) and wet! Our tour guide was Joe. Our favorite parts:
Felisa - going through the tunnel
Bella - panning for gold
Ryan - dropping his hat
Sheila - seeing all the equipment demos and the mining terminology
Ron - the drills

4:22 p.m. Wyman Hotel. Other cool place names we saw in Silverton - Cow Palace Cafe and Handlebars Saloon (with a picture of a handlebar moustache on the sign).

4:30 p.m. Just realized that I am probably sleepy because of the elevation. We've been pretty high up most of the day!

4:34 p.m. Molas Pass Summit, 10,899 feet

4:49 p.m. Stuck behind a tractor going down the pass. It could be worse - we could be stuck behind a tractor going UP the pass!

4:57 p.m. Purgatory Village and Durango Mountain Ski Resorts

5:15 p.m. Listening to NPR. Apparently onion sandwiches are the secret to Chester Reed's longevity. He retired from the postal service at 95 after 37 years of service.

5:18 p.m. Durango. 6,523 feet. I think this is our lowest elevation since we left the hotel! We eat at Steamworks Brewing Co for dinner. Not very good at all.

6:43 p.m. Animas River

8:04 p.m. Mesa Verde National Park. A long check-in process for our campsite, a long line for our tour tickets, and longer than I thought for our campsite selection.

Once our tent was set up, we went on a little hike.

9:45 p.m. Changed and into our sleeping bags. Everyone was asleep by 10.


Spent Monday in Denver with our VA friends - very fun but exhausting.

Spent Tuesday hanging around in Colo. Springs. Saw a couple friends and the Olympic Training Center.

Wednesday drove over the mountains to Grand Junction. Picked up Ron at the airport. Took Ron a whopping 6 hours to get here. I think it took me 6 hours to get to Ohio.

Today we are headed south to Silverton, Durango and Mesa Verde. Hope to be in Los Alamos by Friday night, at which point I may actually update my blog for real.

Until then...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 10

Day 10 – June 30, 2010 – Wednesday

0615 Penny has woken me up one last time.

0715 Get the kids up so they can get changed. Once they are changed I can finish packing then get the car reloaded.

0823 On the road.

0827 See Jiffy Lube. Check my oil life. We’re at 20%. I think we can make it to NM before we need an oil change.

0831 Stop at Whole Foods to buy some stye eye drops for Bella. Styes stink is what she says and I absolutely agree with her.

0839 Oops – forgot to get Jo turned on and programmed for the day.

0942 See a sign on a car for mappedtrails.com

0954 Buffalo! I guess I should have stopped at the Buffalo Herd overlook after all. I had read online that they are not always visible from that location so I didn’t bother to stop. Oh well. Maybe next time…

1015 Burger King. I did not eat breakfast so I’m starving. And I drank coffee so I needed to use the bathroom.

1034 Snow on the mountains.

1038 Dead trees. A lot of dead trees. More dead ones than live ones here. I wonder why. Mistletoe maybe?

1040 Eisenhower Tunnel, 11,013 feet

1042 Continental Divide. I had hoped to take a picture at the Continental Divide sign but apparently we are crossing it while in the tunnel. I just happened to glimpse the tiny blue highway sign marking the divide as we drove by. Darn. Guess next time I'll have to take the scenic route on 6 instead.

1043 Avalanche area! Ryan doesn't think we are in danger though.

1045 The scenery has been absolutely breathtaking today. We stop at a roadside stream and dip our toes and just relax for a few minutes.

1120 Copper Mountain exit. Not a lot of food choices and gas is expensive so we keep going. I think it's fun to look at the chair lifts and ski slopes without the snow. It looks a lot different in green!

1127 Nice bike trail between the sides of the interstate.

1129 Vail Pass Summit. 10,662 feet

1155 Burger King in Avon. These roundabouts are making me dizzy and totally lost!

12:22 p.m. Western Slope is much dryer and more desert like.

12:34 p.m. Colorado River

12:37 p.m. Glenwood Canyon. Gorgeous black rock in the canyon walls.

12:51 p.m. NoName, CO

12:53 p.m. Oil life is now at 15%

1:02 p.m. BIG traffic jam headed the opposite direction because of construction. I am so glad we are not going that way!

2:18 p.m. Dinosaur Journey museum in Fruita, CO. Our favorite parts:

Bella- The spitting dinosaur

Felisa - all the moving robotic dinosaurs

Ryan - the earthquake simulator

Sheila - the earthquake simulator

3:30 p.m. Gas, $2.75/gallon

3:40 p.m. Mike the Headless Chicken! I found out last night that this is Mike's hometown so I surprised Ryan with a visit to the statue in town. We also walked over to the Rec Center to buy a tshirt for Ryan. Before we left, I got a coffee from Aspen Street Coffee Co.

4:20 p.m. Stop at Cabela's and Mesa Mall in Grand Junction. I almost bought a copy of the Disney movie The Ugly Dachsund but decided it was a want not a need and put it back. I wasn't going to buy anything for the kids, why should I buy something for myself?

5:17 p.m. Leaving the mall.

5:29 p.m. We are stuck in rush hour traffic in Grand Junction. I see an old car that has broken down or run out of gas. Who stopped to help? The driver of another old car. All of us stuck up newer car drivers didn't do a thing.

6:40 p.m. Finally made it across town and to the hotel. Ron booked us a room at the Doubletree. We are on the top floor and have quite a view! Now we are headed back downtown for dinner (we ate at Rockslide Brewery, quite delicious, and we walked around to see all the sculptures that are part of Art on the Corner)

8:28 p.m. Back at the hotel once more. Hit the pool then showered. Ryan was sad that there was no Discovery channel at the hotel so he missed Mythbusters.

10:20 p.m. Leave for the airport to pick up Ron

10:55 p.m. Back at the hotel. Bed time!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 9

Day 9 – June 29, 2010 – Tuesday

0645 The phone is ringing which wakes me up. Once I figure out what it is, I go back to sleep. I find out later that it was Dad calling to tell anyone who was awake that there was a hot air balloon flying low across the house. Too bad we missed it!

0800 Wake up Felisa. The other kids are already awake. Shower and get dressed.

0856 Leave for my coffee date. Realise I forgot my phone and go back to get it. After I have the phone and have driven halfway to Starbucks, I realize that even though I had plugged it in last night, for some reason it didn’t charge.

Coffee at Starbucks with Margo, aka Mrs. McCoy.

1123 Back at Dad’s. I could have run away since I had no phone and no kids but decided I should stick around.

We have lunch then head out for the afternoon.

12:20 p.m. Shopping and haircuts at the Chapel Hills Mall. The kids did not ask to play in the play area. I think that it has lost its appeal a bit now that they are so much bigger than the toddlers who typically play there. The haircuts weren’t that great but at least we can see their eyes again and I found a necklace to wear with my outfit for Ron’s reunion dinner.

After the mall we went down to the Olympic Training Center. Neither Dad nor I had ever been there to see it.

Our last stop is dinner at It’z. It’s basically like Chuck E. Cheese but for an older age group. Bella played Deal or No Deal almost the entire time and ended up with lots of prize tickets. (I guess all those episodes on GSN at Grandma’s house paid off!) Ryan chose 13 plastic robots, 3 paratroopers, and a candy watch. Felisa chose a couple silly bandz and a candy necklace. Then they both donated their extra tickets so that Bella would have enough to get the Hannah Montana plush guitar.

Once we got back home, my friend Travis came over and we were able to hang out for a couple hours, mostly sans children. I hadn’t seen him in a couple years so it was nice to reconnect.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 8

Day 8 – June 28, 2010 – Monday

0555 Penny is barking. That dog needs to learn to sleep in!

0630 The kids are awake and playing very loudly. Those kids need to learn to sleep in!

0640 Get up and tell kids to be quiet.

0753 Leave for Denver.

0803 Schlotsky’s sign. Oh yeah – I forgot about Schlotsky’s. Hope I get to eat there sometime.

0806 Sonic

0820 My burrito is falling apart. Must’ve been a new guy in the kitchen this morning. Will I be able to finish is without making a total mess in the car?

0829 There is a Transportation Dept truck pulled over on the side of the highway. One of the workers is dragging a dead deer over to be thrown into the woods where nature can take care of it and no one driving by has to see it. How would you like to be in the deer body disposal business?

0832 Coal train heading south

0834 Another train heading south

0854 Wrong address. This is not a hotel. This is an industrial park. I must have switched the numbers on the street address when I entered it into the GPS.

0858 Made it to the hotel!

0925 Leaving hotel with a full car. Onboard with us today – the Kohls Family (minus Kurt who had to go to his conference downtown).

0932 As we are making a u-turn, the minivan from Texas (complete with a roof box!) who was behind us is doing the same thing. We laugh and wave to each other!

1008 Arrive at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

12:40 p.m. We have seen the amphitheater and gone on a long, hot, dusty hike. 1.4 miles with only two bottles of water for all of us. Thankfully Lynne had water and sunscreen to share. She was thankful I picked up a map at the Trading Post so we knew where we were going! Between us, we’ve got it together. Haha! Felisa and I were wearing flip-flops and Bella had on crocs. Not the best choice of footwear for such a hike but we made it. I guess next time I’ll be more prepared even if I think I’m only going just a little ways down the trail then coming back to the car.

1:00 – 3:20 p.m. Casa Bonita, or as Lynne called it, “The House of Stimulus”. The kids had fun and the adults even giggled a bit as well.

3:51 p.m. Arrive back at the hotel. The kids get changed and we head out to the pool for some swimming.

6:47 p.m. On our way to dinner at Sonic. This will be the first time for the Kohls and, believe it or not, the first time for me so far on this trip. Can you believe I made it all the way to Colorado before stopping at Sonic? Unheard of!

7:41 p.m. Done with dinner. Time to drop the Kohls family back at the hotel so they can get settled in for the night. Time for me to drive back to Colorado Springs. Maybe I can make it most of the way back before it gets dark.

7:58 p.m. Leaving the hotel.

8:15 p.m. Stop for gas in Castle Rock. $2.65/gallon

8:23 p.m. Beautiful sunset clouds tonight!

Make it back just after dark. Cannot get Bella to wake up so she can get out of the car. All of the kids go straight to bed. I think maybe they are tired tonight!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 7

Day 7 - Sunday - June 27, 2010

0715 Penny is barking which wakes me up. I'm sure the kids are probably awake as well so I go ahead and get up.

It turns out, the kids are not awake yet. I think this is the latest they have slept so far. Dad made breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sausage. Felisa ate a banana while the rest of us ate the good stuff. After my shower I went out to Best Buy to get Ryan a new MP3 player. His popcorn player is officially dead and cannot be resuscitated.

1135 Everyone is loaded into the car and headed for the Denver Aquarium.

We decide to stop for a snack before the aquarium so the kids don't get too hungry while we're there (especially since we haven't fed them since breakfast!). The Taco Bell that Jo tried to take us to was invisible to we wandered a bit and ended up finding a Burger King, overlooking the Denver Broncos Invesco Field.

The aquarium was nice (and I just realized we forgot to do favorite parts - oh no!). Then we headed over to Red Robin for dinner with Walt and Kristin. It was so great to see them, especially Kristin who I hadn't seen in a few years. We had a lovely dinner then left just as it started to rain. It was raining pretty heavily and eventually we got into some hail. Very noisy hail hitting the car!

Made it back home with no problems. I checked out some audiobooks for Ryan then uploaded his new "Red Razor". Fully charged and ready to listen to hours and hours of stories!

On tap for tomorrow... another day trip to Denver. Which reminds me, I should check to make sure I have gas before we get too far down the road tomorrow!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 6

Day 6 - Saturday - June 26, 2010

0545 Wake up. Check the time. Go back to sleep.

0615 Ryan knocks the clock off the bedside table with a huge crash. I get up to look at my cell phone to see what time it is. Ryan asks for the remote control and turns on the TV to watch. All of this wakes Bella up.

0620 Go down to the car to get the camera cords I forgot last night. So refreshing out here this morning!

Back in the room, the girls are awake watching TV and Ryan has gone back to sleep. I take a shower and get dressed.

0715 Time for the kids to get dressed.

0738 Head downstairs for breakfast. It is exactly the insanity I would expect to find on a summer Saturday morning in a completely booked hotel.

0745 Back upstairs in our room to eat breakfast. I sync the podcasts that I missed last time and add a new one that I have just downloaded.

0809 Leave the room, checking out.

0815 Loaded in the car and ready to go. This went much more smoothly than our last hotel departure.

0821 Stop to see the World's Largest Easel before we leave town.

0851 Colorado!

0854 Car Talk is just ending. It was rather funny this morning.

0955 Bypassing the Wonder Tower. Perhaps we will stop on a future trip.

0956 Finishing the Legos podcast from Stuff You Should Know (and How Things Work). Thanks to Shani for the recommendation!

1000 Ryan is whispering "sweet nothings" to his mp3 player, trying to get it to keep working.

1005 Gas in Limon, CO. $2.83/gallon. It is very busy here in Limon today. I wash the bugs off my windshield (AGAIN!) and then hit the McD's drive-thru next door for an iced coffee.

1033 See a herd of antelope lying in the grass right next to a herd of cows lying in the grass in the same field.

1036 Coyote!

1133 See the Space Shuttle mailbox - we must be going the right way!

1135 Arrive at Dad and Roseanne's place.

What follows is a nice relaxing afternoon and evening... The kids play outside, play Wii, eat lunch. I force Dad to look at my scrapbooks. We had grilled burgers and hot dogs for dinner then yummy chocolate birthday cake for dessert!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 5

Day 5 - Friday - June 25, 2010

0600 Alarm goes off. Hit the snooze. The alarm on my new phone is nicer than my old phone - not too loud and obnoxious.

0610 Alarm goes off again. Time to get up.

0700 Still loading. Guess we're not leaving at 7 after all.

0710 All loaded. Pictures taken. Leaving Good Hope. Jo tells us that our map data is more than a year old and we should go online to have it updated. No kidding she's out of date. We've seen a couple examples on this trip already!

0739 Felisa says her Ipod acts like it isn't charged. Except that I just charged them yesterday (or so I thought). This is not good. We have a lot of driving to do today!

0825 Quincy, IL. Score a surprise Starbucks Drive-Thru. Yay! Way better than the McD's coffee I was headed for right next to it.

0828 Papa Murphy's. Wow - who knew Quincy was such a happenin' place to have all these yummy food options.

0831 Stop at Hardees for some breakfast. Everything on the breakfast menu looked so good when we stopped the other day I had to come back and try something else. Today it is the loaded breakfast burrito.

0846 Mississippi River and Missouri

1008 Macon, MO. Gas, $2.57/gallon. It smells like dead fish out here. But on the bright side - the gas station had a 4-stall women's bathroom. No waiting in line! Woo hoo!

1147 Billboard ad for the billboard company... "Making heavy traffic bearable." Huh? What heavy traffic?

12:00 p.m. Ryan's MP3 player is dying a slow and painful death. Might be time to buy him a new one. He earned this one as a prize for selling Cub Scout Popcorn which is great. But I think it is reaching the end of its life expectancy.

12:01 p.m. See a mailbox in the shape of a hammer

12:11 p.m. Burger King for lunch and a bathroom break, just outside St. Joseph. I have to have one more pork sandwich before I leave the midwest!

12:29 p.m. Missouri River and Kansas. There is a rotating drawbridge downstream.

12:44 p.m. See a sign for the Lewis and Clark Auto Tour. That sounds interesting. Maybe we should see some Lewis and Clark stuff on one of our upcoming trips.

2:36 p.m. Bella and Felisa told me they saw a deer.

2:40 p.m. Bella: "This looks nice." when we are stopped for a road construction one-lane road section. It is currently one more hour until our planned stop in Lebanon, KS to see the geographic center of the US.

2:44 p.m. This is taking longer than I thought.

2:47 p.m. Finally it is our turn to pass through the single lane.

2:53 p.m. We have reached the other end of the construction zone and see a long line of cars waiting to head back to the east.

3:12 p.m. Spur of the moment detour to see the Pawnee Indian Village Museum.

3:19 p.m. Sign for the museum points us down a dirt road. Okay...

3:28 p.m. Arrive in Republic, KS. No museum in site. Has Jo led us astray once more? I check the map. The museum seems to be a bit more southwest of where we are now so I backtrack to the road that had the most recent sign on it and follow that road a little farther. The kids are asking about Jo and the museum. I told them I would have to find it the old-fashioned way, using maps and signs!

3:34 p.m. One lane truss bridge across a river

3:38 p.m. We found it! Woo hoo!

4:11 p.m. Done at the museum. Our favorite parts:
Felisa - Staring at all the purple flowers she could find
Bella - the tiny model of the house
Ryan - the original floor of the house inside
Sheila - that we found it

It is very pretty out here but I think the constant gusting wind would just drive me batty!

The trip away from the museum is much easier since a paved highway leads right into it. Grrr - Jo!

4:40 p.m. Mankato, KS for gas. $2.69/gallon. Get a bottle of water out of the cooler for Ryan.

5:09 p.m. Geographic center of the 48 contiguous United States!

5:47 p.m. World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, KS. As we drove up, one of the kids said, "That sucker is huge!"

6:02 p.m. Leaving Cawker City. We took pictures of the twine then followed the painted Yellow Twine Road up and down the 3 blocks of town to see all of the twine-inspired art in the windows. Bella needs to go to the bathroom but everything is closed so we get in the car and head west to the next town.

6:06 p.m. See a long-horn cow in the field. Does the cow ever get tired of holding those giant heavy horns up? And does it bump into things all the time? I sure would if I had big ol' horns sticking out like that, getting in the way.

6:08 p.m. Bathroom stop in Downs, KS.

7:32 p.m. Pizza Hut in Hill City, KS. We tried the local specialty of BBQ Beef pizza. It was pretty good. We took the leftovers with us so the kids can have a snack after swimming at the hotel later (if we ever get there!).

8:15 p.m. Leaving Pizza Hut

8:23 p.m. Kids turn on a movie.

8:36 p.m. I have now used up all the podcasts I downloaded before I left. Now what am I going to do? Just listen to music?

8:44 p.m. Hoxie, KS

8:53 p.m. Lightning ahead. What is it about Colby and lightning? I seem to recall there being a lightning storm a few years ago when we drove into Colby after a long day in Kansas.

8:55 p.m. There is lightning to my left and the setting sun is blinding me to the right. In the middle, rain on my windshield.

8:57 p.m. Windy out here - the dust from the dirt road is blowing out onto the highway.

8:58 p.m. Rainbow behind us and to the left. It's a very bright one!

8:59 p.m. Now a double rainbow.

9:01 p.m. Why do birds keep flying in front of me? Do they want me to hit them?

9:04 p.m. Buffalo! A herd of buffalo along the side of the road. I almost missed them because I thought they were just more cows.

9:06 p.m. Maybe all this excitement at the end of the day is our reward for surviving a long day on the road.

9:25 p.m. There is a strange orange spot up in the middle of all the rain clouds. I'm sure it's the moon but seems unbelievable to be able to see half of the moon in the midst of a storm.

9:26 p.m. I-70 - back on the interstate and catching the back end of the storm. I thought we might miss it but don't think so anymore.

9:34 p.m. RAIN! Also, there is a police car on the other side of the highway. Its lights are on and it is facing the wrong way. I wonder how many drivers are confused by his headlights shining on them.

9:35 p.m. Mountain Time Zone

8:37 p.m. Out of the rain and the temperature is 65 degrees now. I wonder if it's humid outside? It was 98 degrees earlier today.

8:56 p.m. At the hotel. There are no vacancies. Good thing we had Ron call ahead and get us a reservation! The room is nice but we are facing the front of the hotel and have a view of the drop-off roof. I go back out to the car to get the rest of the stuff and stop to take some pictures of the lightning.

9:40 p.m. Headed to the pool.

10:30 p.m. Back in the room. Showers, snacks, and finally - bed time!