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...