Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Next Leg of the Trip

We are not your typical road trippers. We don't just drive from point A to point B following the shortest route possible. Oh no. We will go far out of our way to find cool, fun things to do. And that is how we ended up driving through Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado on our way to Utah from Louisiana. The direct route would have taken us through Kansas, but where would the fun be in that?

Day 1 took us from Louisiana to Kerrville, TX. We had debated about spending a few days in the hill country of Texas, but since we had seen it before when we lived in San Angelo, TX, we decided to use our time on other things. But we thought Kerrville was a great little town. We ate at a fun Mexican restaurant then wandered around a park by the river. A nice evening after a long drive.

The next day began the real adventures. Our fun stop for the day was Carlsbad Caverns. It's a National Park in a bit of an out of the way place. But since we were driving right by it, we stopped. The kids were a bit whiney and misbehaved while we were in the cave, but Anton and I really enjoyed it. The cave is huge and full of beautiful formations.

The kids were able to pick out the ones called popcorn by the time we left. I love forcing nature and culture upon my kids.

Day 3 was the true reason we drove this out of the way route: Roswell, NM. I couldn't pass up the chance to see the International UFO Museum and Reasearch Center.

Sadly, it wasn't anywhere near as kitchy and tacky as I'd hoped it would be. It was much more informative than entertaining. But never fear, we found a little place down the way that was all I was looking for in Roswell and more. This place was called Area 51 something or another and it was a gift shop full of alien themed stuff. However, the best part was the little room off of the shop that was full of different alien scenes that you could pose with and take pictures in. It was so cool.

I took a million pictures in there, but figured I'd spare you all and only show a couple.

It was so tacky. I loved it. We had lunch at the only themed McDonalds in the world. It was UFO themed, of course. Lots of fun.

The next 2 days we spent getting to and spending time in Colorado. We visited with my friend Julie and had the fabulous surprise of having my friend Emily come into town while we were there too. We all just hung out and ate fabulous food and had a great time. Sadly I didn't take any group photos.

Next stop, Dinosaur National Monument. We spent two days exploring there. The first day we drove through the canyon area. Such beautiful views, and the smell of the dessert/mountains was so delicious. It was such a difference from the humid mildew smell of Florida.

We camped that night along the Green River.

It was the perfect weather for camping, and our campsite was right next to the river. It was great. The kids actually slept well. We hadn't been camping since Alex was a little baby. We didn't bother with a campfire at all, so it was really only half camping. But we had fun anyways. We took a little hike and the kids were so proud of themselves for being such good hikers.

The next day we went to the dinosaur part of the park.

I think Ella and Alex were a bit disappointed when it was all over and we had seen no real dinosaurs. They didn't quite get it that the bones in the rocks used to be dinosaurs. We did about half of a guided hike around the park, but gave up after the long windedness of the ranger and the heat got to us. The really cool dinosaur quarry that they have there is closed because the foundation is falling out from under the building.

We finished off that day by driving the rest of the way to Salt Lake. And that is where we are now. It was a pretty good trip. Every day there were moments where we wished we could pull over and throw the kids out. But overall, we had a really good time. But this hasn't ended our adventures. They continue still here in Utah. Just you wait until you see all the fun things we've been doing here!

Louisiana One Last Time

Although it was a bit out of our way from Memphis, we couldn't leave the South without paying one last visit to my sister in Louisiana. We will be sad to not get to see them as often any more, and I know the kids will miss getting to pretend to be country folks.

We did the usual activities that we do at Aunt Andrea's. We hit up the water park.

Ella and Alex love that place. Alex went down that slide soooo many times. The kids also did their regular horse rides while we were there.

They were grins from ear to ear the whole time.

I really do think they would choose to go live with Andrea and her horses if I gave them the choice.

But I know the true reason we were invited to spend some time in Louisiana. It was to conveniently have me in town for a birthday party. And since I was already there, gee, do you think you could make a cake? I see how it is. But I don't mind being used. Especially when I get to make a fun cake.

My nephew was having a cowboy birthday party. And here is the cake I made:

Pretty cool, huh? My favorite parts were the sheriff stars and fringe.

This was such a fun cake to make and surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. The party was really fun too. Andrea had come up with all sorts of fun cowboy themed games. The kids looked for candy in the haystack, pop the rattlesnake balloons, watergun shoot offs, and cow roping. Though I think only the men played the last one.

Anton took advantage of the wide open spaces during the part to give Alex some flying lessons.

So between the partying and all the fun hanging out, we had an awesome time. It will be sad to only see them on occasional holidays from here on out. But maybe we can convince them to come and visit us sometime soon! We'll miss you Andrea!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Catching Up

So my goal of writing about all of our various roadtrip stops seems to have fallen by the wayside. We are now at our extended layover in Utah and I haven't written a thing about what we've done thus far. So this will be a catchup post. The Cliff's notes version, if you will. As much as I would love to write detailed accounts of every event, I know that it will never happen. So a summarized version is better than nothing. Here goes.

Our first stop was Memphis where Anton ran his first 50 mile Ultra-marathon at Oak Mountain Park. Of the 80-some people who entered the race, he was only 1 of 8 who actually finished the full 50 miles. I am so proud of him. He wanted to finish the race in under 12 hours and he did it in 11 hours, 54 minutes and 8 seconds. He had to walk quite a bit, but he finished. He was sore and blistered, but he prevailed.

While Anton was running, I took the kids to the coolest children's museum I've ever been to. They had a water play area, real fire trucks, police cars, airplanes, climbing toys, puzzles, and more and more. It was awesome. If any of you are ever in Memphis, you must go there.

The next day we made the obligatory Memphis visit to Graceland. I honestly wasn't too terrible impressed. I think if I was more of a diehard Elvis fan I would've liked it more, but I expected more glitz and glam.

Some of the displays were cool though, and I thought the one on his military service was interesting. But overall, I wouldn't go back again if I was in Memphis. One of those do once things.

We hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch so Anton could get one of the collectable glasses. Then it was off to take a bus tour of town. This was a pretty cool tour in that the tour guide is a musician. They play and sing the songs that go along with what you are seeing on the tour. They also hand out instruments for everyone to play along. It was a lot of fun.

The next day found us at the Pink Palace museum. There was a bunch of other stuff we wanted to do, but found out they were all closed on Mondays. But the Pink Palace turned out to be really fun. They had displays on everything from dinosaurs to the Civil War to circuses to grocery stores. Our favorite part was the section they had on treasure hunting. We played in there so long we missed the IMAX show we were going to go to. Oh well.

From there we headed over to Beale Street for some famous Memphis BBQ. We ate at the Pig on Beale. It wasn't the best BBQ I've ever had. In fact, the stuff my sister made for us the next week was better than what we had here. But it was a necessary stop and we had fun regardless of the fact that the food wasn't that great. Plus, it was really fun watching to servers fighting over who got to serve our table.

And then the heat of Memphis finally got to us. So we went to the mall. It was the only air conditioned place we could think of where the kids could run around and it didn't cost anything. They had a great play space and us adults were able to just relax. Malls are always my favorite vacation stops. :)

So that concluded our Memphis stop. Next it was on to my sister's house in Louisiana. But that will need to be a post all it's own.

Monday, August 4, 2008

On Our Way

After much rearranging, sorting, and even more cleaning, the movers managed to get all our stuff boxed up and on the truck and away it went. We made one last visit to our empty house before heading on our way ourselves.

Ella and Alex had been at friends' houses the whole time all of this was going on. When we got to the house, Ella rushed in to look for her books. She came walking back out slowly with tears welling in her eyes. It was so sad. But I explained to her that her books were on their way to Washington near Grandma and Grandpa and she cheered up. Then promptly went and used the bathroom that I had just been cleaned. Oh well.

I was afraid we weren't going to fit everything in our car, but Anton the superpacker managed to get it all in there and even left room for the kids!

As we were driving away I realized that in the stress and business of the whole moving thing we kindof neglected to really say goodbye properly to most of our friends. So for those of you who didn't get an official goodbye, goodbye! Though I'm kindof glad I didn't get real goodbyes because I'm not very good at them. I usually end up crying. Besides, this world is so small you end up running into people you know everywhere. Also with blogs and the internet noone is ever very far away.

But we need to send out super special thanks to the people who helped us out watching kids and cleaning houses. So Tonia, Brooke, Jacquee and David, a huge thanks to you guys. I could never have done it all without you. My baseboards had never looked so clean, nor probably ever will. :)

I'll be keeping you all updated as we make our various stops across the country, so keep your eyes peeled. If you happen to be driving down the road and see an overloaded minivan with the mom crawling into the back seat to discipline her children, it's probably us!