Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 14

Day 14 – Sunday – July 31, 2011

0330 Darby wakes me up. He’s bumping into the closed doors in the dark. Guess he wants to go out. Once we get outside, I can hear coyotes howling. Then they all start yipping and it sounds like they are getting closer. Yikes! I grab Darby and go back inside. Of course now I’m wide awake so I read for awhile.

0500 Finally ready to go back to sleep.

0815 Wake up.

0935 Leaving for mass. Two moms and 7 kids.

1115 Mass is over. That was a really long homily! Interesting, but long.

1140 Back home. Darby doesn’t want to eat or drink today.

12:00 p.m. Pizza leftovers for lunch.

Elena and I hang out all afternoon with Mark and Bella while the other kids play and play.

6:00 p.m. Grandma and Grandpa are finally back. They had to go to Los Alamos again today to finish at the house and turn the keys over to the tenants. Elena made spaghetti for dinner.

After dinner the kids play more.

9:00 p.m. Bedtime. I finished my first book earlier and am starting my second book now.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 13

Day 13 – Saturday – July 30, 2011

0621 Get up. Put Darby out. Start the coffee. Shower. Straighten up the car a bit and get ready to reload.

0805 Wake up Felisa and Ryan. Bella was already awake.

0908 Car is loaded. Pictures are taken. We are ready to go.

0913 The girls are putting dates on their new little calendars. Which reminds me – we missed Seth’s birthday last week. Oops! Guess we’ll get him something when we get there.

0915 Starbucks Drive Thru

0922 Good-bye, Pikes Peak. I’m going to miss you!

0950 Thinking about Brandee… Interesting how people’s lives are often nothing like what you imagine.

1013 Sonic in Pueblo West. Excruciatingly slow service!

1026 Eating my breakfast burrito. Not sure why it took so many years for this inspiration to strike, but putting green chiles on the burrito instead of jalapenos is much yummier! Of course, this won’t work at every Sonic but at least at the locations with green chile cheeseburgers on the menu!

1033 Tie-dye grenade decal on the SUV in front of me. The colors are pretty but not what I would expect to find on a hand grenade. I wonder what the message is exactly.

1039 Evraz billboard. Rocky Mountain Steel company. Which is the logo that was on the Frisbee Dad gave to Bella. Now we know what Evraz is.

1100 Rest stop.

1121 Cows.

1126 Call from Grandma D. Said the yardwork was done and it looks good. Nice to know things are still happening when we are away. She talked to the girls for a while.

1142 A rock formation that looks like a lizard with a spiky back.

1156 Trinidad. Sign warns us to watch for wildlife on the road.

1158 Ron called.

12:11 p.m. New Mexico. Raton Pass. Now for a little social studies lesson, compliments of Wikipedia…
Raton Pass (7834 feet or 2388 meters elevation) is a mountain pass on the Santa Fe Trail along the Colorado-New Mexico border in the United States. Raton Pass is a federally designated National Historic Landmark. Ratón is Spanish for "mouse."
The pass is located on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Trinidad, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico, approximately 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Santa Fe. The pass crosses the line of volcanic mesas that extends east from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains along the state line, and furnishes the most direct land route between the valley of the Arkansas River to the north and the upper valley of the Canadian River, leading to Santa Fe, to the south.
12:18 p.m. Capulin Volcano National Monument. Sounds interesting. Maybe we should go there one day.

1219 Traffic jam at Raton exit. Good thing I wasn’t planning to stop here.

12:40 p.m. A flipped car on the highway. Looks very recent. Very scary. Lots of people helping already and I have no special skills to offer. Say a prayer and slowly ease past the scene.

12:51 p.m. Ambulance headed north from Springer. Wonder if it’s headed to the accident scene.

1:13 p.m. Sheep in Wagon Mound.

1:17 p.m. Antelope

1:50 p.m. Las Vegas. Stop at Taco Bell. Darby is going on strike and refuses to get back in the car.

2:00 p.m. Leaving Taco Bell. Darby actually bites at the bag, trying to eat the tacos. Bad dog!

2:02 p.m. Stop next door at Sonic for a cherry limeade. It’s happy hour so my drink is half price!

2:12 p.m. Stop for gas, $3.69/gallon. There are lots of motorcyclists in town today. Buddy is not very happy about this.

2:20 p.m. Darby is still not cooperating. He won’t move all the way into his spot in the middle and is crowding Ryan’s feet and legs. What has gotten into that guy today?

2:36 p.m. Amtrak – passenger train headed north.

2:40 p.m. Pecos River

2:41 p.m. Looks like rain up ahead.

2:47 p.m. Motorcyclists have pulled over to put on rain gear.

2:48 p.m. Lightning and another motorcyclist gearing up.

2:49 p.m. Buddy is in timeout for trying to eat Darby’s food. He’s cheering about being in shotgun so I put him on his head. Then he starts cheering about riding upside-down shotgun. That dog is trouble! Since he’s having too much fun being punished I send him back to Felisa. How’s that for punishment – the fun is over!!!

2:51 p.m. Raining

2:57 p.m. Pecos National Historical Park. Another interesting sounding spot.

3:08 p.m. 63 degrees. It has gone down 20 degrees after the rain. Much more refreshing than the east coast where it usually becomes a sauna after the rain.

3:26 p.m. Back up to 83 degrees. No rain here!

3:38 p.m. stone carving. I’ll have to look that one up but not sure we have room in the van for a giant carved rock!

3:45 p.m. Rio Grande River

4:02 p.m. We’re here but no one is home! All the doors are locked so we go to Elena’s to get a key.

Dinner is pizza from Dion’s. Very yummy.

Lots of thunderstorms roll through in the evening. The cousins are all happy to be together again.

And finally… bedtime!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 12

Day 12 – Friday – July 29, 2011

Breakfast with Brandee, a friend from high school. We brought our youngest girls along so they can entertain each other while we talk.

Next up – errands. We went to the bank to deposit the kids’ piggy bank money (I was going to do it before we left but never got around to it), Costco (why not?), and Smashburger (again!). This time I had the Colorado Dog… delicious!!! Definitely my favorite thing to order there. Yesterday I had a burger, which was good, but this was yummy!

When we got back I walked Darby while the kids continued their mission to turn into Wii-heads.

Dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse. Another friend, Jason, that I had been trying unsuccessfully to meet up with, was heading out while we were waiting for a table so I at least got to see him for a minute!

After dinner we went to Borders to check out the going out of business sale. Each of the kids got a book. Felisa picked out our calendar for next year. I was voting for frogs but we ended up with something else.

9:47 p.m. I have decided that the kids need to go to bed right now!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 11

Day 11 – Thursday – July 28, 2011

0615 Wake up.

0730 Coffee. Breakfast. Shower. Kids are playing Wii of course.

1030 Gutter guys are here to fix the downspout.

1134 Dad leaves for his class.

1146 We head out to Smashburger for lunch. Quite delicious, just as we remembered!

12:45 p.m. At Target to get some dog food. Which they do not have. But we did get: Broncos t-shirts for the kids, new goggles for the kids, school uniform gear, a solar lantern for our new porch – all on my ticket. Ryan spent ALL his money to get a new 3DS. Bella used part of her birthday Target card to buy another Selena Gomez CD.

2:30 p.m. Back at the house. Darby needs a walk so we decide to explore the open area behind Grandpa’s house. Ryan got cactus-ed, ouch! And Darby stepped on an ant hill (so we all ran for our lives!!!). Quite the little adventure.

Back at the house it was time for more Wii while I got sucked in by the Oregon Trail game on Facebook and did a few blog updates.

5:20 p.m. Grandpa is home from school. We go out to dinner at TGIFridays.

After dinner, gas for $3.39/gallon.

7:40 p.m. Off to meet Travis for drinks at the Buffalo Wild Wings place. It was pretty loud in there but we did more talking in the parking lot before we left.

10:06 p.m. Home! Made it before the door was locked… The kids got busted. Ryan was still up playing Wii. Claims he didn’t know it was so late… Everyone go to bed right now!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 10

Day 10 – Wednesday – July 27, 2011

0610 It’s time to get up. I can’t sleep anymore. The sun is up and my body is still on Central time. I let Darby out to go potty and he comes back with another rawhide!

I drink coffee, check my email, etc. A nice lazy morning.

0710 Dad is up.

0730 The kids are up. They eat breakfast and then are back on the Wii again.

After lazing around for a while it’s time to go on our field trip for the day. I move all the stuff from the front passenger seat into the back where the luggage was so that Dad can ride with us in the same car.

0959 Leave for the chiropractor’s office and our hike.

1013 Oh look – a Schlotsky’s! Maybe we should have lunch before our hike.

1015 Arrive at the chiropractor’s office just on time for Dad’s appointment.

1020 We are all roaming up and down the sidewalk with Darby while we wait for Dad. I suddenly realize that Schlotsky’s might be closed. It is only 1020 – not exactly lunch time. 

1028 Dad is done.

1030 Schlotsky’s is open! They open at 1030 and we are the first customers! Two other guys come in a few minutes after us so clearly I’m not the only crazy person who eats lunch at 1030.

1105 Darby gets to try out the new collapsible water bowl that Dad bought for him. He likes it!

1139 Arrive at Seven Falls.

1242 We are done at the falls. Whew! 185 steps to the eagle’s nest viewing platform (we skipped those and rode the elevator up and back but Ryan ran back down when we were done). The website said that dogs are allowed but I was envisioning stairs not Cliffside ladders. There is no way Darby can go up with us. So I guess that means we won’t be hiking either since the trails start at the top of the 224 stairs that go up along the falls. Darby and Grandpa waited at the bottom. Bella did the first half of the stairs then went back down to wait. Apparently she doesn’t love the water enough to be willing to climb all the way to the top.
Our favorite parts:
Ryan – the stairs. All of them!
Bella- the water
Felisa – the view
Grandpa – the nice cool cave path to the elevator
Sheila – the scenery
Darby – the elevator

On our way back from the falls, we decide to take the scenic route through Garden of the Gods. First we drive through Old Colorado City. Then I make a wrong turn (was it my fault or was it Grandpa’s fault? We may never know!) so we end up going through Manitou Springs as well. The scenic scenic route! Garden of the Gods was pretty busy so no one wanted to stop. Bella had fallen asleep of course anyway. She missed the firemen that we saw arriving to rescue a stranded rock climber. Ryan and Felisa easily noticed the signs that said No Rock Climbing. Guess those climbers don’t know how to read, right? Rock Ledge Ranch was open though so I decided to stop there since we hadn’t done that part of the park before.

1:26 p.m. Rock Ledge Ranch. Part of the ranch has farm animals. Darby was very interested in the pigs and the chickens. A few baby chicks kept coming out from holes in the bottom of the fence but they all went back in rather than running away. The demonstration at the blacksmith shop was interesting too. The men working there had made some cool stuff.

2:37 p.m. Stop at Sonic for a snack.

When we get back there is some loud mountain thunder (it’s just louder out here!) and a little bit of rain. Any guesses what the kids were doing? Did you guess play Wii?

5:10 p.m. Dinner at 3 Margaritas with Shannon and Dana.

After dinner, Dana introduces us to one of her family traditions – ice block sledding. Sounds strange but turned out to be a lot of fun.

After sledding, back to Grandpa’s so the kids could shower off all the dirt and grass stains. I did laundry also – lots of grass to wash out!

10:00 p.m. Update Facebook and then bedtime!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 9

Day 9 – Tuesday – July 26, 2011

0630 Darby wakes me up. Get dressed, walk Darby, get my coffee and check emails, etc.

0740 Wake kids up.

0805 Breakfast

0837 A call from Vic’s Tree Service to see if we still want the cherry tree trimmed.

0843 Leaving the hotel.

0911 A train blasts his horn. Yikes! What is it with these trains trying to give me heart attack?!

0916 A train pulling mostly cars of automobiles.

0924 An ambulance passes us.

0931 A six engine train. The train before this one had one engine and just three cars. There sure are a lot of trains on the tracks today.

0938 Platte River

0945 Fort Kearny

1039 Leaving Fort Kearny.

1046 A swarm of large bugs flies right into my windshield. Thump, thump, THUMP! Yikes!

1049 Gas, $3.97. I don’t think so! That is not even close to the $3.69 price on the sign so we go to a different gas station.

1051 Lawnmower crossing in the crosswalk.

1053 Stop at Burger King. They do not have the pork sandwich I am looking for but they do still have breakfast food available. The guys working give me directions to find a Caribou Coffee shop nearby.

1102 Boogaarts Food Store. Really? A food store with a name that looks like boogers?

1105 Gas, $3.79/gallon. Clean windows too!

1124 I cannot find the coffee place. I am giving up and going back to the highway.

1126 Found it! It’s next to the gas station and across the street from Boogaarts. So that’s why I missed it the first time – I was distracted by the boogers!

1128 An older couple from out of state parks in the lot next to us. They have a hanging clothes rod in the back seat. I haven’t seen one of those in years. I commented on it and Felisa told me that Grandma Ford has one. I bet it’s the same one I remember from all those years ago!

12:00 p.m. Museum of Military Vehicles. Ryan wants to stop. I told him maybe next time.

12:21 p.m. Arrive at the Sod House Museum

12:50 p.m. Leaving the sod house. 258 miles to Grandpa Ford’s house… Our favorite parts of the museum:
Ryan-barbed wire statues
Felisa – how the walls are made of grass
Bella – the house
Sheila – the house

12:54 p.m. Platte River channel bridge – the water looks pretty high

1:11 p.m. North Platte Visitors Center sign – looks like a good place to visit on future drives.

1:23 p.m. South Platte River

1:25 p.m. Burger King in North Platte – pork sandwich, yum!

1:38 p.m. Felisa tells us that we have to be careful with Grandpa Ford. He’s a trickster grandpa!

1:39 p.m South Platte River

1:40 p.m. Darby ate one of Ryan’s chicken nuggets. Oops! Someone forgot to be careful and someone else got a treat as a result!

1:41 p.m. Truck of pigs pulled over by the police.

1:43 p.m. Haystacks! Very unusual – usually you see the rolls and occasionally the large bales.

1:52 p.m. Old West Vacation Trail… that sounds interesting. Might have to look it up!

2:01 p.m Mountain Time Zone

1:09 p.m. Fur Trade Museum, 170 miles. Apparently a little off our route but maybe something for another time…

1:13 p.m. Kenney Chesney’s bus just passed us going East. I wonder if he was really on board.

1:18 p.m. A news story about how the “Smurfs” are in danger of heatstroke during the movie premier event in New York City.

1:24 p.m. We are off the Oregon Trail.

1:45 p.m. Colorado

2:13 p.m. Thinking about what other stuff we can get rid off as we unpack.

2:36 p.m. I’m craving a wagon train book after all this Oregon trail following and pioneer site visiting.

2:38 p.m. I should call Scott to see if he’ll come down to the springs.

2:59 p.m. Jo recalculated… and on the very first try came up with the route I want to follow rather than trying to get my to u-turn my way back to her original route. Will wonders never cease!

3:01 p.m. No gas for 75 miles!!! Uh oh. Guess we’d better turn around and go back the other way for a couple miles before we get on this highway!

3:06 p.m. Gas, $3.64/gallon. It smells like stinky cows out here in Brush.

3:25 p.m. Big scary truck with an oversize load met us on the 2-lane highway. Yikes!

3:30 p.m. Did I hear that correctly? Is there a new Toby Keith CD coming out?

3:47 p.m. Lightning ahead

3:49 p.m. Last Chance, CO. Last chance for what?

3:52 p.m. Let It Rain is playing on the radio just as we appear to be heading into a rainstorm.

3:54 p.m. Ryan comments on how we are all alone out here in the prairie. No cars ahead of us nor behind.

4:00 p.m. Passing through a windfarm and there is more lightning.

4:11 p.m. There are signs posted that say No Snowplowing 7 p.m. – 5 a.m. I wonder why?

4:14 p.m. It’s raining!

4:22 p.m. Just as I think we are headed out the other side of the rain storm, it starts to rain even harder.

4:24 p.m. Minor flooding on the roads in Limon.

4:28 p.m. A mobile coffee shop trailer for sale. Anyone need a job?

4:29 p.m. Wet cows lined up along the fence, staring at me. What do they want???

4:33 p.m. A llama with a dangling lead rope is roaming the field. That seems dangerous to me. Isn’t he going to get caught on something?

4:43 p.m. Half of Ryan’s tooth fell out. Apparently the other half is still in his mouth, still hanging on.

4:47 p.m. Trucks with red flashing lights are driving on the other side of the highway. They don’t look like police or fire. I wonder why they have red lights. I thought those were only for official business.

4:52 p.m. El Paso County – yay!

5:05 p.m. I can see Pikes Peak – yay! We’re almost there!

5:26 p.m. Dad called. He’s home from school. What’s taking us so long?!

5:31 p.m. News story – about 240 Air Force Academy cadets have been quarantined with the flu. Because basic training isn’t hard enough already…

5:37 p.m. Academy Boulevard. The new Woodman Road overpass is finished – very fancy!

5:42 p.m. Made it to Grandpa’s house.

We were there for less than five minutes when Darby came in from the backyard with a rawhide bone he had found. He seemed quite pleased with himself!

6:21 p.m. I go out to pick up Papa Murphy’s Pizza for dinner. Yummy! For whatever reason, I didn’t get to have any on our trip last summer.

The kids play Wii before and after dinner. Darby continues to find more and more bones but this time they are unidentifiable animal bones. We let him keep the rawhide but confiscate the others.

Time to watch the weekly episode of Scooby Doo (thanks for recording it for us!) and inflate the air mattress to get ready for bed.

10:00 p.m. Bedtime!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 8

Day 8 – Monday – July 25, 2011

0640 Wake up. Take Darby outside. Get dressed.

0705 Wake kids up. Get the car loaded and take our final pictures.

0805 Leaving Grandma’s house.

0806 Stop at the post office to mail the bills. There is fresh oil on the road. Don’t want to drive on that!

0813 See a truck full of pigs headed to you know where.

0818 Foggy out in the cornfields this morning.

0823 Hang a right at the corner of Corn and Soybean.

0824 Why does Jo like to drive the back roads through the corn fields?

0827 Still foggy.

0830 A gravel road? Really, Jo?

0839 Ryan sees a wolf (?)/coyote (?)/some sort of not-a-dog in the field.

0844 Crossing train tracks. See our first cows of the day in the field.

0846 Trivia on the radio… Apparently the average person has 12 different addresses in their life.

0850 See grave diggers working in the cemetery.

0858 Crossing the Mississippi River into Burlington, Iowa. That’s new bridge – very fancy. (a cable-stayed bridge) Burlington is a much bigger city than I was expecting.

0904 Gas, $3.59/gallon

0910 Stop at a very noisy McD’s (construction in the parking lot) for some iced coffee and a breakfast sandwich.

0919 Ethanol plant

0929 Racine Avenue… only one letter missing!

1011 Passed a farmhouse with a dj truck outside.

1015 American Gothic House. It’s a brown sign. I wonder if it means gothic as in architecture or gothic as in spooky.
1017 Darby really wants to help Ryan eat his beef jerky.

1023 Ottumwa, IA

1050 Albia, IA - potty break

1134 Text from Ron – the movers are at the new house and starting to unload.

1141 I am enjoying the rolling hills of Iowa. Very nice to look at.

1148 Pass a barn that has a yellow slide coming out the side.

12:00 p.m. Subway for lunch

12:13 p.m. Pass a daycare center/preschool. Why are all the playgrounds always out in the sun with no grass, no trees, no shade?

12:40 p.m. Searching for the Bridges of Madison County… see a sign for John Wayne’s birthplace.

12:55 p.m. Stop at the birthplace. Got a map of where the covered bridges are. There is one at the city park nearby. Apparently there is also a maze and a tower there at the park.

1:15 p.m. At the park. Take a picture by the bridge then the kids go through the hedge maze while I try to convince Darby to drink some water before he has a heat stroke.

1:40 p.m. We have found Clark Tower. Very cool! We also decided that the windy forested road through the park to the tower would also make a nice hike. While at the park, the kids defend Prince Cookie from the invading Ogre Army. Ryan killed 30 ogres, Bella killed 10, and Felisa killed 20. Now we must journey on to find another fortress for the Prince where the Ogres can’t find us.

1:54 p.m. Leaving the tower. Hot and sweaty but it was a lot of fun. Darby still won’t drink any water. Hopefully he’ll cool off quickly in the air conditioned car.

2:23 p.m. Stop at Hogback Bridge.

2:39 p.m. Call ahead to the hotel to make a reservation. Jo’s ETA to the hotel is 7 p.m.

2:50 p.m. Cow swimming hole

2:55 p.m. On I-80 West… off the back roads and onto the interstate

3:14 p.m. Antique Country Road… which reminds me – I forgot to look up the location of the American Pickers shop so that we could stop by.

3:20 p.m. Happy face water tower- Adair, IA

3:33 p.m. East Nishnabotna Creek… I wonder where that name comes from.

3:44 p.m. I keep feeling like I have driven this way before. And I’m sure I have at some point in my life. But when?

3:57 p.m. Rest Area 1 mile ahead. Then a sign for a Modern Rest Area 14 miles ahead. What’s the difference?

3:58 p.m. Oh, that’s the difference. The first (non-modern!) rest area is for parking only – no facilities.

3:59 p.m. Passed by a minivan from New York also with a roof-box.

4:03 p.m. Oh I think I remember – it must have been the year we went to Mount Rushmore. We drove east across South Dakota then dropped down through Iowa. So I’ve been here before, just headed in the other direction.

4:14 p.m. Union Pacific Railroad Museum – sounds interesting for a future stop.

4:26 p.m. Gas, $3.43/gallon

4:30 p.m. Once again Jo has led me on a wild goose chase where there is NO Starbucks!!! Grr!

4:41 p.m. Nebraska and the Missouri River

4:43 p.m. Oh yay. A traffic jam. Yuck!

4:59 p.m. Paypal offices

5:12 p.m. Platte River

5:14 p.m. I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. And it’s making me feel nauseous.

5:16 p.m. Lady Gaga is on the country radio station. Apparently one of her new songs, You and I, is about Nebraska where she is from.

5:26 p.m. A car with a Broncos sticker. Go Broncos!

5:34 p.m. And now it’s the country version of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way

5:37 p.m. Sonic for dinner. Apparently the carhop is new. At least that’s what the manager told me when I had to go back in for the second time to get more stuff she had left out of our order.

6:01 p.m. Finally leaving Sonic.

6:17 p.m. A sign for the Keg Bar. Happy Hour is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. That’s a long happy hour!

Driving through downtown Lincoln. It would’ve been much faster to go back the way we came to Sonic than to drive 8 miles across town. Thanks for nothing, Jo.

7:17 p.m. Plainsman Museum sign

7:31 p.m. Platte River

7:47 p.m. Hotel.

Uh oh – no pool at this hotel! But they do take dogs… sorry kids!

I take Darby for a walk while the kids watch tv. I call dad to check in for tomorrow.

9:30 p.m. Tell the kids to go to bed then I take a shower.

After my shower time to update my blog and pictures.

11:31 p.m. Bed time. I’m hungry and it’s late. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 7

Day 7 – Sunday – July 24, 2011

0630 Darby wakes up. I ignore him until about 650 then I give up and take him outside. Then back downstairs to read until others wake up.

Coffee and breakfast.

Cartoon Network.

A thunderstorm rolls through so no trip to the park. Ron and Naomi don’t answer the phone so not sure if they have Tegan and Briley with them today. So looks like another quiet day around the house.

Lunch is ham salad, corn curls, cheese cubes, and Pringles. Donuts and thin mints for dessert.

I take Darby for a walk before it rains again, though it looks like the storm is headed out.


The kids have decided to change Darby’s name to Rover, to see if it makes a difference. He seems to come (or not come!) to both names equally.

Lana came to visit again and brought me an iced coffee from McD’s. Buddy tried to drink it so I told him he would be grounded from pizza and cheeseburgers for a month if he drank my coffee. Then I had to put him in timeout while he settled down a bit.

We went to dinner at the Chinese buffet. Delicious as always. Black pepper chicken – yum! After dinner we went to Kmart. Lana needed more tape for her bandages. Grandma needed more milk (we used it all!). I needed some Kitchen Cooked potato chips (I’m pretty sure I can squeeze two bags into the car). Bella decided she needed a new shirt. Felisa bought a candy bar (couldn’t find any other cute clothes besides what Bella bought). Ryan used his money from Lana to buy some beef jerky for the road.

Once back at the house I straighten and re-arrange the car a bit. Darby gets in because he doesn’t want to get left behind. I told him we weren’t leaving yet but he didn’t believe me. Back inside to pack the bags then more GSN before bed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 6

Day 6 – Saturday – July 23, 2011

0640 Darby wakes me up. Met the neighbor’s dog, Puddles, out in the backyard. Then back to bed to read while I wait for others to wake up.

0740 Girls are awake so we go upstairs. Coffee and breakfast.
Uncle Neal came by to visit so talked to him for a bit. Just as we are about to head out to the park, Ryan finally wakes up (10 a.m.!). I tell him to meet us there after he eats breakfast and gets dressed.

We only last about half an hour at the park because it is already hot and sticky. We spend the rest of the morning and afternoon inside with the a/c and the tv on.

2 p.m. Grandma goes to pick up Lana and bring her back for a visit. (She can’t drive with bandaged hands!)

Beef and noodles for dinner – yum! Then a little more GSN before Grandma takes Lana back home. Harry Potter is on tv but we’ve all seen it before and there are way too many commercials so we all give up and go to bed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 5

Day 5 – Friday – July 22, 2011

0530 Wake up. I seriously need to figure out a better way to turn the alarm off on my cell phone. Walk Darby then get ready to go.

0605 Get Ryan up.

0610 Meet Mom and the girls at Bob Evans for breakfast.

0730 The kids go to the IRS building with Mom for a little field trip. I go back to the hotel to load the car and feed Darby.

0826 Leaving the IRS building, all passengers aboard.

0834 McD’s to get an iced coffee for the the road.

0847 See a deer in the bean field eating breakfast.

0904 Driving on Route 66.

0930 Done with our stop in Lincoln, IL. We saw the largest covered wagon (complete with an Abe Lincoln statue driving), the park where Lincoln used to play ball, and the Courthouse where he served as a lawyer.

0947 See a Kitchen Cooked truck. Yum! Can’t wait for some yummy potato chips!

1013 Dead tree- nice one!

1018 In the cornfields again. Almost miss a turn. I think the corn confuses Jo. We were lost in the cornfields last year too!

1022 We get a free car wash from the corn sprinklers! A feature only found on the back roads.

1029 The song about taking the back roads comes on the radio – perfect timing!

1041 Havana, IL – made it back to Hwy 136 and across the Illinois River.

1047 Ran over a giant fuzzy caterpillar. At least, I think that’s what it was.

1111 See two trains side by side on the tracks.

1113 One of the trains honks its horn. Yikes! That scared me!

1124 Interesting program on NPR about ants.

1128 Stop at Burger King in Macomb for lunch.

1145 Grandma’s house!

Darby and Lady are co-existing pretty well. We go to Ponderosa for dinner. Back home we watch America’s Favorite Videos.

9:00 p.m. Bedtime!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 4

Day 4 – Thursday – July 21, 2011

0550 Darby wakes me up. I decide to go ahead and take him out so there are no accidents. Unfortunately the alarm was on and I set it off when I open the door. Oops!
I work on updating my blog while I wait for others to get up. I know they were awake but hopefully they went back to sleep.

0645 Shower time.

Fritz is up and makes coffee and pancakes.

0730 Ryan surprises me by being the first one up.

0800 Ryan wakes up Bella and Felisa.

0849 Car is loaded and we are back on the road. Sadly another short visit but I didn’t want to plan to stay too long with anyone along the way since I wasn’t sure how the dog would behave. Next year we can stay longer.

0931 The car thermometer says it is 91 degrees! Already?!

0932 Detour around an accident on I-55N.

0943 Mississippi River and Arkansas

1010 Darby is stretched out on his side and actually Sleeping! Finally!

1045 Sonic. They have fried pickles on the menu but no one is interested in trying them. Then off to the gas station to fill up. $3.52/gallon. I check the map again to decide which way we should go.

1117 Missouri

12:20 p.m. Stop at a park in Sikestown. It is ridiculously hot (car says 102) and the kids just sit on a bench in the shade. Ron calls to tell me that he broke down in the Mojave Desert, about 35 miles from Barstow. Not good!

12:41 p.m. Stop at Burger King to get lunch for the kids.

12:53 p.m. Finally back to the highway. That park detour was way too long. Bad Jo!

2:52 p.m. St. Louis Arch drive-by. Did not intend to pass this way but I missed my exit so we ended up driving right by. Hope the picture Ryan took turns out!

2:56 p.m. Mississippi River – Illinois

3:15 p.m. Sandy called with our official moving weight. 19,820 pounds. Which means we are over weight and will have to pay the excess.

3:26 p.m. Tractor in the road. We are already on a detour from construction on the highway and now we have to pass a big tractor. I’m getting tired of driving!!!

3:50 p.m. See a sign for the local police station. Tell the kids I’m going to drop them off. When we get off the exit, there is a police cruiser on the side of the road. “Oh look!” I said. “He got my message and is here to pick you up!” So convenient – just open the door, push the kids out, and peel out! Haha. Just kidding. Sure was funny though.

3:52 p.m. Jack in the Box for a snack. Gas, $3.69/gallon. Darby gets a potty break. And it is still crazy hot outside!

4:50 p.m. Ron calls again. He has been towed to a local repair shop. They can get a new axle from the junkyard and fix it in the morning for just $1000. Which is a lot. But cheaper than it would be at the dealer. I am not looking forward to the next few months’ credit card bills. Even though the move is mostly reimbursed, it is still expensive.

4:54 p.m. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Maybe we should go to one sometime.

5:14 p.m. Culvers sign. Oh yeah – I forgot about Culvers!

5:29 p.m. Grain elevator museum. The sign is faded. I wonder if it still exists.

5:30 p.m. Smiley Face water tower

5:53 p.m. Hotel. Finally!

Mom comes over and we all go to dinner at Steak-n-Shake. The kids go to swim at Mom’s hotel since she has a bigger pool. The girls spend the night there but Ryan comes back to our room where he can have his own bed. I need to update my blog but I’m just too tired. Maybe I can get caught up at Grandma’s house and then upload at my next internet stop after that. And now it is time to go to bed since we have to wake up early for breakfast tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 3

Day 3 – Wednesday – July 20, 2011

0615 Wake up. Take Darby out to go potty.

0630 Julie leaves for work. Walk Darby and give him breakfast.

0730 Wake the tired kids up.

0820 Loading the car. A guy is in the parking garage washing his bike which has created a river behind the car. It is so deep, it gets into the top of my sandal.

0827 Leaving.

0828 Crossing the river by accident. Oops! That’s okay – Jo will help us find our way back.

0831 Crossing back over the Tennessee River. Back on track!

0840 Georgia

0844 Tennessee and central time zone

0750 Crossing the Tennessee River – again! This time it was intentional.

0804 Alabama

0812 First dead armadillo on the side of the road.

0840 Hardees for food. The drink machines are all out of order.

0845 Across the street to Sonic for coffee. We are in Scottsboro, Alabama

0857 Piggly Wiggly – such a funny name for a grocery store

0858 Gas, $3.45/gallon. Miles travelled so far, 683.

0923 Second dead armadillo

0945 Passing the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Ryan wants to stop but we can’t. No dogs allowed. Ryan says, “Man, Darby, you’re really holding us back!”

1005 Rhodes Ferry Park in Decatur, AL. Spur of the moment stop for Darby and Bella, my water girl. So here we are again along the Tennessee River!

1051 A patch of trees all broken on the top half. Would a tornado cause that?

1058 Armadillo #3.

1124 McD’s for lunch. Call Lana. She fell into her grill Tuesday night so she won’t be able to watch Darby this weekend. Uh-oh!

1156 Armadillo #4.

1159 Coon Dog Cemetary. Interesting. Is it really a cemetery for dogs or is it just named for a particular location?

12:14 p.m. Mississippi

12:50 p.m. Corinth City Park. Darby needs a break – again! – and Jo found this awesome park for us. It is very hot today but the playground is great. I am surprised to see a lot of people at the park in the hot weather. I guess maybe this is the usual temperature for where we are.

1:09 p.m. Leaving the park.

1:23 p.m. My toe still hurts. I stubbed it on a big rock at the park just as we were headed back to the car.

1:58 p.m. National Bird Dog Museum. Maybe Darby would like to stop there!

2:15 p.m. Tennessee

2:33 p.m. Arrive at the Ruthlings. We are early (they didn’t get my message!) but they are on the way home from the store so we only have a few minutes to wait.
The dogs meet each other. Bailey is not too happy to see another dog but they all settle in pretty well. The kids swim and have a water balloon/water gun fight while the adults chat. Hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner then we take the dogs for a walk. The kids play more while the adults chat more then it is finally time for bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 2

Day 2 – Tuesday – July 19, 2011

0700 Wake up. Walk Darby.

0720 Get coffee in the lobby and then check email. Shower then girls wake up.

0807 Ryan is finally awake. Kids get dressed and brush teeth.

0821 Breakfast. This hotel has a cool machine that cooks pancakes for you. Just press the button, wait a couple minutes, then two pancakes pop out the side onto your plate.

0858 Kids and dog are fed. Darby has surprised me this trip by actually eating. Usually when we travel, he won’t hardly eat.

0917 Leaving hotel.

0953 Darby has his head down. Is he asleep? Uh oh. He must have heard me thinking about him because he just lifted his head to look at me. Guess he wasn’t asleep.

0958 Rough road sign. Just after we hit a rough patch of road. Aren’t those signs supposed to be posted before the rough road?

0959 I wonder what that’s all about.

1010 Felisa asks me if we will be stopping at Sonic on this trip. What kind of question is that? Of course we will! It’s like she doesn’t know me at all.

1043 Tennessee state line. Cheers from the back row.

1045 Gas, $3.57/gallon. Miles driven so far, 378

1111 First Sonic sign spotted

1143 Davy Crockett Birth Place State Park. Might be a good place to stop on a
future trip.

1144 Pass a truck weigh station. Which reminds me that we haven’t heard from the moving company yet. Are we over our weight allowance? Perhaps no news is good new.

12:01 p.m. Sonic for lunch. Darby has a big drink of water. Ryan tastes the ocean water (sprite + blue coconut) and says it is good.

12:29 p.m. Back on the highway. Darby is sad that we are eating in front of him again.

12:42 p.m. Billboard for the Titanic at Pigeon Forge. Which really makes me wonder what Pigeon Forge is exactly.

1:21 p.m. Felisa sees a United Van Lines truck. It can’t be ours though – it’s too small.

1:35 p.m. Tennnessee River

2:07 p.m. Rest stop. Darby had to go! Also, saw a cool bug. Some sort of big moth or butterfly.

3:13 p.m. Georgia

3:16 p.m. Rock City. And just like on the billboard, there’s a big waterfall on the side of the mountain. Wow!

5:11 p.m. D’Arcy calls. Checking in for tomorrow. I’m glad she called because I needed to talk to her but keep forgetting to call when we stop.

5:19 p.m. Leaving Lookout Mountain and Rock City. Our favorite parts:
Bella – everything
Ryan – the view (best view ever!)
Felisa – Fairytale Caverns
Darby – cool caves and water to drink

5:22 Tennessee

5:47 p.m. Arrive at Julie’s house

Once we get in, we decide to walk over to see the fountain and choose Mellow Mushroom for dinner. Best. Pizza. Ever! So good! Then back to Julie’s to watch Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes and wait for the sun to go down behind the mountain. Once it has cooled off a bit, we head out to walk across the Walnut Street Bridge. On the other side the merry-go-round closed before we got across the bridge so the kids played in the fountain at the Coolidge Riverside Park then we walk back across. We finish off the night with ice cream. We finally get back to Julie’s at about 10:30 p.m. and get ready for bed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 1

Day 1 – Monday – July 18, 2011

0600 Alarm goes off. Wake up just as it gives up and stops beeping.
Fold laundry. Repack suitcases. Shower and get dressed. Wake kids up. Finish loading car.

0845 Help Alexis load Moses in the car for his trip to the vet.
Take pictures outside.

0909 Finally we are ready to leave. Our beginning mileage on the odometer is 86,884. Big Trip 6 has begun.

0912 At the UPS store to drop off the box of cable boxes. The car is so full I almost had to drive with it on my lap!

0916 Gas $3.82/gallon

0935 Leaving McD’s, breakfast and coffee in hand. Darby does not like it when we all eat in front of him in the car but he’s going to have to get used to it!

0950 Stop at the Manassas rest stop so I can figure out exactly where I’m going and get Jo set. I think this is the first time I’ve ever stopped at the Manassas rest stop. Usually just drive right by!

1009 Snack box is cracked open for the first time.

1020 Driving through Warrenton, off my usual path. This place has really been developed a lot!

1033 See a vulture perched atop a dead deer in the median. Guess he’s staking his claim on lunch.

1041 Cows!

1055 Shenandoah National Park

1111 Our first stop on Skyline Drive is the tunnel overlook. Very hazy today so we can’t see clearly in the distance. Still a nice view though.

1118 Pinnacles Overlook.

1137 Elevation 3.680 feet – highest point along the drive

1141 Timber Hollow Overlook. At the overlook there is a sign that says the Appalachian Trail is only 50 yards away. Cool!

1200 Franklin Cliffs Overlook

1210 Big Meadow Visitors Center. The kids see deer as we pull in but I missed it. Other than birds and insects, I have seen no wildlife along the drive today. I was really hoping to see a bear! I let the kids go into the visitor’s center to look around. I tell them to come back in 5 minutes. 15 minutes later I see them finally come out of the exhibit area then go immediately into the gift shop. Another 5 minutes and they finally come back. Another water break for Darby and we’re back on the road.

1253 See deer crossing the road.
It has been so amazingly quiet out here on the drive today. Not a lot of traffic. And when you are driving by with the windows open it is just so peacefully quiet out in the woods.

1:07 p.m. South River overlook – our last stop in the park

1:38 p.m. See the first cornfields.

2:30 p.m. Stop at Hardees for lunch

3:07 p.m. Arrive at Natural Bridge. Tickets are expensive. We walk down the many steps to the path. Already Darby is hot. Hike to the bridge. Hike a little farther to the Monacan Indian Village. Darby won’t drink from the water bottle or from my hands. Afraid he will get heat stroke so we head back without seeing the salt mines or the waterfall. Bridge was cool but not nearly as great as all the billboard hype. Ryan comments that we always look like a bunch of city slickers when we hike on vacation. Gave the kids 5 minutes again but this time also gave them my watch. They arrived back outside just in time!

4:23 p.m. Leaving Natural Bridge.

5:45 p.m. Arrive at hotel. Thank goodness because I am so tired today. Darby drinks a lot of water. Kids watch t.v. while I walk Darby and call Grandma and Mom to confirm plans.

We leave Darby in the room alone while we go across the street for dinner at Shoney’s. I think he stayed awake the whole time we were gone but he was good. We stayed with Darby for a little while then hit the hotel pool. After swimming and showers, we all watch The Incredibles on tv before bed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


292. That's our final box count. 3 women. 2 days. 292 cardboard boxes assembled, packed, sealed, and inventoried.

I hope they are lightweight boxes full of feathers and air. Maybe Harry Potter knows a spell for that which he could share with me?

Now the girls are having a box fort competition to see whose fort is the best with the most boxes and which is the most comfortable.

On one hand, I would like the boxes to be gone so that I could walk through the house again. On the other hand, when the boxes go so do my bed and couch and therefore my comfy sitting spots.

Less than 12 hours until loading begins.

Boxes - Day 2

The packing continues... yesterday was the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs as well as the Scrapbooking Pit of Despair etc.

On tap today... the main level of the house (kitchen, dining room, living room, pantry room) and the rest of the basement (media room/storage and laundry room/tool room).

The jury is still out - will we be over weight??? We'll find out (maybe) tomorrow.

Our packing crew of 3 women is very efficient. Nice and friendly as well. Will our driver and movers be good too?

Felisa said that the Minotaur might be living in our house somewhere because the Minotaur lives in a maze. Darby has not reported any Minotaur sightings yet but I'll let you know if we find him.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Live from the front porch's the National Geographic Channel!

As I was headed out to dump the trash, I saw a praying mantis eating a junebug on the glass door. The porch light was on and made the perfect spotlight for us to watch from the underside as he (she?) enjoyed a nice bedtime snack. It ate the whole thing!