Thursday, June 30, 2011

Touring the US of A

I wrote a nice lengthy blog to round out our trip to Canada. I saved it wanting to go back and add pictures, but after re-reading I decided not to post it. It just didn't reflect my happy self. In short, it was depressing! I guess I was suffering from lack of vitamin D. So I will tell ya all about the fun times we had in another blog.

So far we have travelled 1020 miles toward home! Today we are heading to Moab, UT and Arches National Park which is our half way point. We have crossed Washington State, Oregon, Idaho and into new territory: Utah.

Check! Utah off the list of states we've never been to. As you can imagine there are MANY churches here. One in every neighborhood and that is no exaggeration. But so far everyone seems very 'normal'. I haven't seen any "Big Love" type families and no one that just walked off "the compound". We walked the streets of Salt Lake City in the horrendous heat. We checked out Temple Square and played in the Snowflake Fountain from the 2002 Winter Olympics. After sweating buckets we cooled off at PF Changs where we stuffed ourselves to the gills!

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Here are some highlights from the drive so far:

The Blue Mountains in Oregon

Enormous dandelions in Oregon

Three Island Crossing on the Oregon Trail - Idaho

Wicked gorge in Twin Falls, ID

Sandstorm we passed through on the desolate Idaho-Utah border.

View from our 16th floor room at the Hilton in Salt Lake City.

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Location:E State St,Lehi,United States

Friday, June 10, 2011

The 12 Days of Canada...

Has it really been 12 days already? Time doesn't stand still rushes by like a passing freight train. There are moments of stillness, but truthfully there are not enough of those for me.

Sometimes you are handed a set of circumstances that cause a chain reaction. This is the only way I can sum up the time since I arrived here. My niece, quite unfortunately, came down with the flu the day after we arrived. The day after the girls had already played and shared a bed. You can see where I am going with thing we know it is passing from person to person within my whole family (Paul got out just in time) and every day someone new has been falling ill. We are still dropping like flies! My sister in law is the current victim. I really wish the flu was more selective. Perhaps it could not infect those on vacation? Just a suggestion. So now that we are starting to come out of our flu-fog, we have been having much more fun.

And then there's Paul. He jetted back to Houston less than 48 hours after crossing the border. He was lucky enough to miss out on the flu, but not so lucky to arrive home to a house without A/C. LOVELY! He actually toughed it out for a few days. When the technician from John Moore took a look at it and told him it had to be replaced he was wise enough to get a second opinion. I nearly keeled over when he told me the quote for a replacement was $4700! The second opinion (should have been our first call) was a trusted family friend and for a reasonable price replaced the fan and it was good to go. I am so glad for Paul's sake, not to mention you cant sell a house without A/C. He was somehow sleeping in the 89 degree temperature!

Before we got sick, we went to Grandma and Grandads (or Gigi and Poppa depending on the generation) and saw my cousin Ariel's new goats. I am curious to see what becomes of these goats. Dairy or meat? Either way they are cute and being treated with all the love and tenderness a goat needs. They seem to think Ariel is their mother. They are frantic when she is out of sight and race to her when she calls them in her high melodic voice, "goats, goats, goats." Juliane and Sydney enjoyed chasing them about the yard and watching them eat...well everything. I wonder if they thought the pine trees or Grandma's flowers tasted better? We saw the horses too, of course. These gentle beasts are magnificent. I don't know of another word that fits better. Juliane tried to give Taliesin some love, but he is not his friendly self because of his injured hoof. I have spent so many years of my life on this property. My Aunt Barb and Uncle Bob have owned it as long as I can remember. When we moved back to Langley when I was 7 years old we lived in the red A-frame house that faces the front pasture. It was here that I met my long time friend, Diana. Her parents still own the acreage next door. That's a story I will have to dedicate a future blog to. You can imagine us though, climbing the fence to get to each others house. There was a time too, right before we moved to Costa Rica that we lived in the trailer in the back 40. Nowadays, my grandparents live in the back by the barn and gardens and my Aunt and Uncle along with my cousin, Ariel, live in the beautifully redesigned A-frame in the front. The house resembles little of the home it was to me in my childhood, but it is nostalgic nevertheless. When I come back there year after year the land has a comfortable feel. It is a part of me in so many ways, like my fingerprints. I don't think about it when I am not there, but when I am, I remember its beauty and the memories that come flooding into my mind are all wonderful and pure. If you have a moment, you should really check out my Aunt and Uncle's website on their small farm:

We took all the kids last weekend for a "photo-shoot" along the banks of the Vedder Slough. It turned out to be a lovely spot for a tea party and the pictures (to be posted soon) turned out beautifully. I took them myself this time around in an effort to save some money and use some of my artistic talents.

There have been a few days on the dairy farm. This is one thing I absolutely love and miss about BC. You can get dairy products right from the farm! Actually you can get so much directly from the source. You want berries? Go pick them right from the vine. Need some corn? There's a stand around the corner. I know my Houston friends appreciate fresh local produce and there is nothing fresher than picking it up at the farm! When we go, we pick up milk and cheese, pet the calves in the barn and eat a huge scoop of ice cream.

We bought wonderful handmade soaps in historic Clayburn Village from the delightful lady who makes them in her shop. Her soap operation, aptly named Clayburn Comforts, is located in the back of her lovely renovated cottage. I could have bought the whole store, and I just might if I have the chance to go back.

Last Saturday we enjoyed a fantastic stroll through the AbbotsfordMmm! After browsing the many offerings (hanging baskets that were breathtaking!) we headed up to Tracy Cakes for lunch. This place is AWESOME! I highly recommend it. The food was to die for and especially the scrumptious mini cupcakes. I had a Neapolitan with vanilla cake topped with chocolate and strawberry butter cream frosting. SO GOOD!

Yesterday we went to Centennial Beach in Boundary Bay Provincial Park. It is quite a drive, but the park was well worth it. The playground was very cool and the beach was endless. I love it when the tide is out. You can just walk and walk for miles before you reach the water. The girls really loved dashing around and through the tide pools. I was surprised they got so wet! It was only 65 degrees! The whole reason to go was to meet up with my long lost friend, Heather. Man!! We haven't seen each other since elementary school. So crazy! It's so incredible to see how the child of your youth has grown into a sweet woman and mother. I had a great time catching up and reminiscing about the "good old Glenwood Elementary" days. I must say, Heather looks so much the same as she did back in 1988!

Today, I was on my own. My mom and dad had things going on at work and so it was me, Sydney, Juliane and Amelia. As it always goes when you want to accomplish something, there are a million interruptions. That was how this blog was written today. I think I stopped and started it a thousand times. It was written from the coffee table, kitchen island, lawn chair and bed. And now that I am finished I am too tired to look at what I said! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? Not yet...almost. It's so hard to be patient, especially when you are so close and everyone is excitedly awaiting your arrival. We are all so ready to get there!!

We are covering our last stretch of highway to the Canadian Border. The passports are out and ready for immigration. Barely a word is being uttered as we all longingly stare out the window for a glimpse of Mt Baker or a border crossing sign.

Next post will be written on foreign soil!

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Location:Washington State


Last night we finally pulled into the hotel at 10:30. Imagine our exhausted, rag-a-muffin family arriving rumpled and more than ready for bed at a lovely riverside Doubletree. Oh were we a sight to be seen!

Our exhaustion was quickly remedied with some warm chocolate chip cookies, beautiful hotel room, comfy beds and squishy pillows. The hotel was a 1970's Red Lion that had been gorgeously remodeled by Hilton into this well appointed Doubletree. They took care to modernize and upgrade without loosing the fabulous retro charm. To top it all off we really were riverside. I guess that is why the hotel is so aptly named Doubletree Edge Water. We wish we had more time to enjoy this hotel and location. Missoula is a perfectly picturesque mountain town situated alongside the Blackfoot River.

The drive through the Idaho panhandle was quick and gorgeous. The hills are lush and green dotted with azure lakes and clear roadside streams. Lake Coeur D'Alene was as stunning as last year. Of course it helps that the weather is perfect. 65 degrees and sunny. Just before we crossed into Idaho we stopped at a cool rest stop that has a large number of Ground Squirrels. We spent or wasted depending on your view 1 hour feeding pretzels to these fuzzy little guys.

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It's a beautiful sunny day in Washington State. Last night seems to have transported us back in time. We stopped at the rest area at Sprague Lake and they had powdered soap!! Paul tells me it is just like the pink powdered soap he had in elementary school. This was my first experience with the stuff. Imagine my shock when I pressed the dispenser expecting liquid! Now Paul is singing along to Rhinestone Cowboy. We are getting the full 70's experience!

Dispute only getting 4-5 hours sleep last night we are all in great moods. It's the home stretch, the weather is fantastic and we are making great time!

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Location:Medical Lake,United States

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Driving driving driving

I am so thankful for happy girls. They are both in delightful moods today. It couldnt be better timing as it has been a LONG day.

Right now we are trucking down I-90 at breakneck speed. Montana has fantastic roads and the speed limit is 75mph. You really can't do more than that safely through the mountains. Not too long ago, the speed limit signs said "Reasonable and Prudent", which what 75 is.

The GPS says we will arrive at the hotel at 10:22pm. And darkness is starting to fall over the valley. We are marking a record today in how long we have been in the car: 14 hours!! It is a record we won't soon repeat...we hope!

We are all looking forward to the last leg of the drive. The girls are eager to see their Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Paul and I are too, but we are also dreaming of sitting on the back patio at my parents house in the waning twilight overlooking the Sumas Valley and Mount Baker with a ice cold Sleemans Cream Ales in hand!

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Location:Interstate 90 Business,Butte,United States

Just go with the snow.

Sometimes the elements don't work with your plans. Sometimes you just have to work with the weather or mother earth or both for that matter. When you just go with the flow, a huge hiccup can become a fantastic adventure!

Today we unexpectedly have to take a REALLY long detour to get to our next destination. Heavy snow in the mountains has caused an avalanche on two routes and the third has had a mudslide from snow melt!

We checked the Yellowstone road status before we left and with an "all clear" we headed north to the Silver Gate Entrance in northeast Yellowstone. It was a lovely drive through Sun Valley along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. We stopped to take pictures and walk along the highest bridge in Wyoming that towers over a dizzying 1200 foot gorge. We played in the snow just outside the entrance and took a great family picture.

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Everything was set up for an awesome day. And then ranger spoke, "have you heard about the mudslide?" "No," we responded in unison. She kindly described that there was a mudslide between Tower-Roosevelt and Mammoth, which was our intended route and exit from the park closest to our destination. She also reminded us that the route to Canyon was also closed because of snow. We were trapped.

Let me explain, to get to the Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montnan from Cody, WY you have to take the CJSH and then the Beartooth Highway. There is only one way to get to Cooke City and that is via this route from Wyoming. Now thus wouldn't have posed such a huge problem had the Beartooth Pass been open for us to just zip up to Red Lodge, MT. It may have been an hour or so longer than our plan.

So, we are going with the snow. At present we are backtracking 1 hour 30 minutes to Cody, and then getting on the roundabout route to Missoula via Laurel, MT. Hopefully without any more hiccups we will be there by 9pm.

Now it can't all be bad. We are in one of the most beautiful places on earth! Although this is what we would expect from a ski vacay not a summer one!! We did tour the Lamar Valley and saw FOUR Grizzlies!! We did get to play in the snow. That sled we brought got some serious use! The vistas have been amazing and we are all still in a good mood!

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Location:Crandall Rd,Cody,United States

Are we at the North Pole?

To say there was some snow today in Yellowstone would be a huge understatement. The drifts were taller than our Honda Pilot!

The breathtaking drive to the northwest Silver Gate entrance to Yellowstone is forever imprinted on my mind. The hairpin turns and layered landscape made for an adventurous trip! It was beautiful and sunny until we reached the Bear Tooth Highway. Shortly after we made the turn the snow started to fall and in no time we were transported into a winter wonderland. "Are we at the North Pole?" Sydney asks. "No," replies Juliane, "they don't have THIS much snow!" and indeed it was deep, steep and coming down in sheets. What a sight!! Cooke City was blanketed in fresh white snow and some small houses were nearly covered completely!

We passed through the Silver Gate with ease. No lines or problems. Once past the gate we began our decent into the Lamar Valley. As we dropped in elevation the snow became less and less. Finally on the valley floor we only saw it in patches.

The Lamar Valley we were told is like the Serengeti of Yellowstone. This is where most animals make their winter home. We missed this area last year so it was at the top of our list this year. We spent three hours watching wildlife. First we saw a group of friendly Ground Squirrels. They kept coming up to the girls to see if they had food to share with them. Then just down the road from that we saw...a MOOSE!!! A huge deal for me. I have never seen a moose in the wild! So cool. Check one more thing off my bucket list! We saw plenty of Bison (Buffalo), Pronghorn and Elk in small herds. Some bison roam away from the herd (probably males) and those we saw dotting the landscape and munching grass along the roadside. Then we came across a huge group of people watching the woods. So we stopped and watched with them. It was a young black bear cub. So cute. We never saw it's momma, but I am sure she was not far off. A good reason the rangers were keeping people from getting too close. At the same time a pair of bighorn sheep ambled down the hillside right beside us snacking on grass as they went. What a great experience! Can't put a price on that.

On the way back we stopped at a roadside info station to play in the snow. That sled came in handy!! What fun we had taking turns down the hill and making a snow lady.

On the way back we hit the snowfall much earlier. Those fun hairpin turns became slick and a little scary. A few times there was a complete whiteout. But we made it back safe and sound.

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I could go on and on. It was such a great day, but I am exhausted. (we all are) and so I bid you all sweet snowy dreams from Wyoming.

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Location:Yellowstone Ave,Cody,United States

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too much snow?

Well, we headed for the East Entrance and it was closed! There was an avalanche earlier today making the road impassible. Yellowstone, as usual, is full of surprises. Lucky for us, this forces us to enjoy a drive along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway to the northwest entrance in Silver City. It also offers us a new perspective on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway. We have never driven it back to Cody. It was deemed 'the most scenic 52 miles' by Teddy Roosevelt and it really is!

We saw three buffalos so far AND snow!!

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Location:N Fork Hwy,Cody,United States


Wow! We made it to Cody. What an amazing trip!! The Wyoming Dinosaur Center was really cool. Both kids enjoyed it, but Juliane was particularly excited. "Best trip ever!" she exclaimed when we were finished. It was nothing much to look at from the outside. A large plain steel building looming off the road to seemingly nowhere on the edge of town. We were surprised and amazed at the extensive collection of fossils they had. Many were dug locally, but they also had obtained some incredible specimens the likes of which we had never seen before.

Leading up to Thermopolis, we traveled through the Wind River Valley. It is our favorite part if the drive even though it only lasts an hour or so. The road hugs every curve and bend of the eroded mountain side along the Wind River. As we snake along it through tunnels, high peaks and endless valleys our faces are pressed against the windows exclaiming loudly what wonderful sight we are witnessing. "Look at that!" "Breathtaking!!" "I see a Pronghorn!" The scenery rushing past seems like it would take years to fully appreciate. You know you cannot see it all the first time, and so you must return again and again. That is how we feel about Wyoming.

As we exit the valley we turn our eyes to another site to behold: Yellowstone! There in the distance we can see the towering snow capped ridge of this living volcano. It beacons us with promises of adventures we will not soon forget.

And so we plod along (although it is easy to speed in WY. The speed limit is 75, but you find find yourself creeping close to 85 or 90!) coming to our final destination of the day in Cody. We made it with smiles on our faces and the wind in our hair. We enjoyed a hearty steak dinner and then took a dip in the pool.

Tomorrow promises to be epic. Yellowstone has had record snowfall and the entrance (East) that we are using is only open at 10am and then again at 8pm. We have brought the girls snow gear and snuck in a sled!! We plan on a full day of fun seeing animals, geysers and springs and playing in the snow!

(please note I have been having trouble with BlogPress uploading pictures and videos the past few days. My apologies.)

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Location:Yellowstone Ave,Cody,United States

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Meandering Route

Ahh! Relax! What a beautiful chilly day it is in Wyoming! We started the day with a yummy breakfast at the hotel and then hitting Starbucks for what we thought (experience from last year) was our last Starbucks until Montana in 3 days. It's not that we only drink frothy sugar laden delights made to order by a 'professional' barrista. We just like...perhaps even need...strong rich coffee. It seems like the more north we drive the weaker the local stuff is. We even go as far as to bring our favorite brew with us. Which we will be cooking up in the hotel room tomorrow morning. For us though it more for the convenience whole traveling. So you can imagine our delight when we spotted a brand new Starbucks in Casper.

Today we are meandering across the State from south to north. There is so much we could see along the route. We made a few sight seeing stops along the way. A few for potty breaks. Thankfully we have that portable potty for the kids. Sydney is still working out her "situation", so some of the breaks have been long. A must see for us is the Jackalope in Douglas.

We have see hundreds of Pronghorn Antelopes.

We stopped at Hell's Half Acre for a spectacular sight and a little history lesson.
Now we are entering the Wind River Valley. It is our favorite part of the drive to Cody. We will stop in Thermopolis to see the Wyoming Dinosaur Center! Juliane is SO excited!! What a fun day!

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Location:Shoshoni,United States

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We have finally arrived in Wyoming. It felt like it took forever to get here from Wichita. We stopped so often for potty breaks and crabby kids...okay kid...I started to wonder if we had lost our travel mojo.

Well, it turns out that if you sit for a long time, drink more milk than usual, eat only meat and breads you get constipated pretty fast! And well if you're constipated it makes you irritable. And if, oh I'll come right out with it, if Sydney is irritable we are ALL irritable. Unfortunately for us we didn't actually figure out what the problem was until we got to Fort Collins. Poor kid!! Tomorrow we start anew with lots of apples and raisins!

It's never all crabbiness. Check out Sydney's backseat moves:

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Besides a case of backseat crankies, we spent most of the morning driving through rain across the sweeping plains. (seriously wind swept!) Every so often checking radars on our iPhones for any rain wrapped tornadoes we couldn't see, but were lurking in the back of our minds. Once we started nearing the Colorado boarder the sun shone in abundance.

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It is a misconception that Kansas is flat. Indeed it is flatter than say the Rocky Mountains, but not nearly as flat as Texas. It is a pleasure to drive there with the rolling hills and vast prairie. Sometimes it looks like you can actually see the curvature of the earth. Alas, it is only those lively hills. But the scenery certainly becomes boring after you've driven in it's hypnotic repetition. For this, I am so glad to be in Wyoming!

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We love Wyoming. This small unpopulated state is simply glorious! I really could live here and I eagerly look forward to our three days in the state. The only negative is that I have horrible cellular reception here. If I am MIA you'll know why.

I update often to Facebook with pictures and videos from the trip so if your on FB send me a friend request. Otherwise, check back tomorrow for an update!!

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Location:Missile Dr,Francis E. Warren AFB,United States

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day One - Part One

Texas goes on forever. If you have never traversed it's great expanse it's hard to imagine how enormous the lone Stat state is. Today we are traveling 604 miles. It is one of the longest legs of the drive. At Conroe, Sydney started asking, "Are we in Kansas yet?" and by 7am they were asking, "When are we having lunch?"

We stopped at Buc-ee's in Madisonville for clean bathrooms and in following our Buc-ee's pee-break tradition we bought the girls Icees. Yes, they had icees at 6:45am. And well, that's okay when you have to "be good" for 12 hours while chained to your car seat. All in all Juliane and Sydney have been very good. They have enjoyed the activity books and new art supplies I brought for them...but what they are really antsy for is the new DVDs. Not until Oklahoma, I told them. And so patiently they wait.

You might wonder "what could you possibly do in the car for all that time?" In this rat-race busy world we live in we have less time to connect with each other. The girls tell us stories and marvel at the world rushing by their windows. Paul and I take it all in. The scenery, the slower pace, each other. And we talk. Just talk. About nothing and everything. And it's wonderfully free!

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Location:Dallas,United States

Monday, May 23, 2011

Final School Farewells and Packing Packing Packing

I had forgotten how much effort and time I put into our cross-country trip last year. We decided to drive from Houston, Texas to Abbotsford, BC Canada in January. By March we had the trip planned out and our hotels booked. I researched every possible interest along the route and took out piles of guide books and books on various topics from the library. The girls and I listened to books on tape about the Louis and Clark Expedition and Sacajawea. We read stories about the Oregon Trail, prairie life and Indians. DVDs were rented and watched with awe about Yellowstone National Park. By the time April rolled around, I had set up our guest room as a staging area. We pondered and packed and repacked our clothes, toys and goodies. Being our inaugural trip, we wondered what to expect from the girls. Did we have enough entertainment for 8-12 hour car rides for 5 days straight? We followed weather patterns (tornado season) and road closures online. Days before our departure the bags had been packed and were staged by the door. We conditioned our body clocks by going to bed earlier and waking earlier so we would not be tired. And on that beautiful day in May 2010 we set off on the adventure and found ourselves well prepared, but slightly over packed. We experienced and we learned.

This time around we booked all the hotels at the last possible minute and didn't even consider packing until...well, yesterday. Looking back, I can see the difference in the stage we were in. In 2010 we had TIME. I didn't realize how much time I had! Truth be told, as your kids get older (and I know some of you are nodding "I told you so's") you really are busier! The private school Juliane attended, otherwise known as The Land Of Milk and Honey, kept me VERY busy. Somewhere between the 100 page scrapbook and the almost monthly field trips I gave up the notion that I didn't have time...I MADE time. Funny how that works, isn't it? I was also the Class Mom for Sydney's preschool. It was not nearly as demanding, but I wanted to give them as much attention (the students --I love reading to kids) and show as much appreciation for her wonderful teachers. I also took advantage of my wonderful Mother In Law since I am unable to clone myself...yet. Evelyn was there every step of the way helping take care of Sydney so I could be at Juliane's school. With a 100 page scrapbook and pictures for the DVD to fill the moms formed a sort of Mommarazzi and practically camped out at the school. Of course, none of us wanted to miss a second of their Kindergarten Year of Magic either. Oh the friendships we have formed this year. Already missing those Kinder Mommas!

Then, in the midst of it all we put our house on the market. Whoo! That's a task. I tell ya, keeping things looking model house perfect is barely possible...but it is possible. Don't worry...I am not a supermom...although I am certainly trying! I did burn the midnight oil on many occasions. And now that we have said our good byes (last year for us at the most amazing preschool, Cornerstone UMC) and have dried our tears -- mostly mine -- we are faced with the daunting task of packing.

How much do you have to pack for a month? Do you pack the snow pants and boots for the snow in Yellowstone where the temps have been in the upper 20's at night and it is still snowing? Do you even bother to pack summer items with the weather being so wet and mild in BC in June? Then you remember you have to drive all the way back in the soaring temperatures in Utah and Texas on the way home. a little bit of everything.

I hope you will all join us again on our cross country trip. We are staying some extra nights in Cody, Wyoming. Remember that from last year? Oooooh its our favorite place! And on the way home we will be coming a different way. (I am going to have to research all that from Canada) So exciting. :) I plan on blogging up a storm with my new iPhone 4. Let's see if we get better reception in Wyoming and Montana!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snow much fun!

Wow, time really does fly when you are having fun. Or if you have 2 active kids and loads of school and social commitments. My mom told me that she was never as busy as I am, which is hard to believe when I only have 2 kids and she had 4! Still, my life is an endless stream of long to-do lists, school functions, birthday parties and sports. It's all fun and exhausting. And we are loving every minute of it.

This month we have added to our to-do list by putting our house on the market which means I am constantly cleaning. Really, I am not complaining. My house looks amazing. I wish we had this motivation years ago. Everything is painted and the carpets are cleaned. I bought new towels and we had the back door replaced. We rented a storage unit so we could really de-clutter and have found we like living with less. With less there is less to clean up. It is a wonderful bonus!

Check out our beautiful abode:

Unfortunately, all this fun has made blogging take a back seat. So much for that promise. HA!

Well, in early January we did indeed make it up to BC. Man, we were in for a wonderful treat...SNOW! Up until that point it had been a mild winter in Texas and we were jonesin' for some real winter weather. It was a whirlwind trip, but we got in a day of sledding and made a snowman. The girls are still gushing about the thrills of sledding. 4 days is not nearly enough time to catch up with the fam, not to mention friends. We have our fingers crossed we will be driving up again this summer!

It had been a few years since we had flown on an airplane. I think the last time was THE time almost 2 year old Sydney screamed the whole 4 1/2 hour flight from Houston to Seattle. When we finally met up with my parents at baggage claim amid the icy glares of fellow passengers I announced that I would never get on a plane with her again. I have to admit, I did threaten her this time that if she cried at all on the airplane she would not fly again until she was an adult. In the end though, time heals all wounds and age really helps too. We all did great! Sydney was a hit on the plane with all her antics. She was remarking on every bump, turn, landing, and sound. The pilot asked them when we boarded if they would like to go upside down. Of course, they WOULD like to go upside down! When the plane turned to correct its course, she yelled above the din that we were indeed going to go upside down. I am thankful to the other passengers that they did not find her annoying and laughed along with me. Juliane was at times mortified at her sisters commentary, but that just made it all the more funny.

I have to relay one other story because it is too priceless not to share. Because of all the hype over the airport body scanners and knowing that Sydney can be sensitive to new things, I decided to prepare her for passing through security. Together, we  went on the TSA website where they have several helpful videos for kids to make the metal detectors and scanners less intimidating. Sydney asked me, "Why do I have to go through a metal detector?" And because I don't hid enough from my children told her, "well, they have to make sure people don't bring knives or scissors onto the airplane because those are dangerous." She accepted this tid-bit of information and had no further questions. The next day off to IAH we go. We get in the line for security and the girls helpfully take off their shoes and get bins for their bags. They pass through the metal detectors and when we get to the other side Sydney in her "better-make-sure-I'm-heard" voice says, "See Mommy, I didn't make that thing beep because I don't carry knives!" Nice. :) I am sure I am not the only parent whose child has said something like that...I hope.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Oh Canada!

Well, we are gearing up for another fantastic trip (albeit whirlwind) to the great snowy north...yes, Canada! Although, I hear there ain't so much snow...more like cold and rainy, but we'll take it!

A huge thank you and BlogHug to Dad. He dreamt up the wonderful idea of flying Juliane, Sydney and I up for a long weekend. The three of us are thrilled. Thank you! Thank you! Paul hit the stores to buy me some winter boots today. I am very thankful. Most people would think that I would already own winter/snow boots, but alas, I do not. Haven't since I was 15! I am looking forward to toasty warm feet on this trip thanks to my new Columbia Omni~Heat stompers. Don't ask me what "Omni~Heat" is...all I care about is they promise to keep my feet warm down to -25F!
You might be wondering why I had not blogged in so long. I have been wondering that myself, but things have been so crazy around here, more than usual I suppose. We had an amazing trip home from BC. Mom and Dad travelled with us through Washington, Idaho, Montana, where we spent the night in Bozeman. Then we meandered across the gorgeous, green rolling Montana countryside (stopping at bubbling rivers to watch the fly fishermen along the way...imagine 'A River Runs Through It')  through the West Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and into Wyoming. There were the obligatory herds of Elk and Bison and now the park was much greener than it had been in May. This time we hit all the amazing thermal spots such as The Painted Pots and The Boiling River.

We all checked Old Faithful off our Bucket Lists and continued down through the Tetons (where we saw Grizzlies!!) to Jackson Hole, WY. It is hard to describe in words how astonishingly beautiful the Grand Teton Mountain Range is. There was complete silence in our car once they came into our sights. While in Jackson, we stayed at the Painted Buffalo Inn. It was a small, cute  two-story motel, but for the price was not cute enough. At one point we all got locked in my parents room and had to wait for a maintenance man to come let us out! The town is adorable and has lots of lovely shops. I wish we had more time to browse. We rode the Gondola to the top of Rendezvous Mountain and took in the breathtaking views. Breathtaking in more than one way...the air was super thin and we were all left a little breathless after walking around and playing in the snow. 

We parted ways with Mom and Dad in Jackson and continued to make our way south. We love the wide open spaces and views in Wyoming so the drive to Denver would have been one of the best of our trip had it not been for a flat in the middle of nowhere. I had read in a guide book before taking our long trip that this stretch of Wyoming interstate was the worst for getting a flat tire. The towns are few and far between, that is IF the town even has a service station! Paul and I have had our fair share of flats in the past and consider ourselves our own pit crew. So, out we hop from the car, unload the girls and unload the back of the Pilot. A little adrenaline pumpin'...a little adventure in our adventure, right? The girls explored the tall grass at the side of the road while Paul and I tried to locate our spare tire. wonderfully located under the car. Cool, good. Now, how do we get it out? It's in its own cage under there. No worries! I am prepared for everything. Let me get the manual. Nope, that didn't help.
No worries! How about the Internet? So while I try to get a signal on my phone, Paul figures out that you can use the tire iron on this little hole in the back and voila! it lowers like magic. Ahh...we still got it. So with the tire changed and the girls safely back in the car (I am still thanking God there were no snakes in that tall grass) we head to the next town to see if we can get the tire either fixed or purchase a new one. The GPS said there was a Firestone in this little town up ahead. Good...accept it is lunchtime and businesses in this little town close at lunchtime. No worries, right? This little town happens to have a McDonald's! So, we hit Micky D's to kill time and eat. Paul heads out to the Firestone (which looked more like a tire junkyard) and they tell him, oh sorry we don't fix tires or sell them! worries...There is another Mom and Pop place up the road. HOORAY FOR MOM & POP SHOPS! Tire gets repaired while the girls and I play in the playground. They must have done a good job as we have been driving on that same plug ever since!

We pulled into Denver, Colorado at dinnertime and stayed in the posh Curtis Hotel downtown. We rolled in there all sweaty, and dirty with our day packs on and car-crabby kids in tow. They were SO happy to send us right up to our room and out of the swanky lobby. I loved this hotel...only wished it had a pool! Because of this it was probably the worst hotel for the girls. The hotel pool was our dangling carrot in the car. Be good little children and we will go to the pool.

The last day on the road we drove through some interesting parts of New Mexico and Texas. Parts I had never seen and am happy to have. Did you know New Mexico has a volcano? We were just driving along when I spotted a weird small mountain up ahead. Is that a volcano? It was! Capulin Volcano is located in northeastern New Mexico. If you are ever there, you should check it out. We just saw it from the road. By the time we were approaching it we were all SO ready to get to Amarillo so we skipped the tour and the delay of arriving at our hotel (and some good Texas BBQ). Next time we will have to check it out. I have heard that it is extremely interesting to walk through the crater. Another sight on our way to Amarillo that I had NO idea was located in Texas was the Route 66 Cadillac Ranch! How cool is that? Yet another spot we will have to explore on our next trip across the nation. They still encourage vandalism of the cars...kind of like an ever changing piece of art. Between Amarillo and Houston we just drove. Like barn sour horses we were so excited to get home, sleep in our own beds, play in our backyard and go to our neighborhood pool. The adventure of travel is a wonderful experience, but after awhile it is nice to come home.

So, back to the reason I think that blogging took a backseat. I believe it started when I broke my phone. I stupidly dropped it and cracked the glass thus distorting the screen image so badly that I could hardly type. Those iPhones are kinda fragile and as self punishment for being careless I didn't get another phone until........NOW! Ah Ha! Just in time for blogging our next trip! I know it wont be the last. We have big plans this year, so keep checking up and I will keep the posts coming.