Sunday, November 29, 2009

1st Thanksgiving in the RV!

Hello all and Happy Thanksgiving (a couple days late!) Our 1st Thanksgiving in the RV was not much different than the ones in, well, a house! The boys watched football while the girls watched them throw things at the TV and listened to them yell at the Packers. Nothing new!

I personally could care less about football (unless Jordy Nelson is playing that is) and I also think the Packers are very good! But I’m out ruled on that one so I just keep my mouth shut. I always tell Z-man that they couldn`t do any better when he yells at them and that they are really good and trying their best and all you can do is yell at them! He just looks at me like I have no idea what’s going on. Anyway, you probably don`t want to hear what Z and Dad do to the poor Packers. But I WAS a little disappointed at the beginning of the game when Jords dropped the ball! For no reason at all!! Oh well. They won anyways so what`s the point of screaming at them.

You probably want to hear about the meal, right? Well, hold on, I`m almost done! So, the last thing I want to say is how Z is obsessively…obsessed with football. You probably already know but this is “behind the scenes” with Jordy. Before the game: Z is checking what other people are saying about who`s going to win, and checking scores and whatever else he does to get ready for the game. After the game: Z is checking what people say the Pack could`ve done better, the scores, the interviews. It`s absolutely pathetic!!! Everybody just sits there rolling their eyes at him. Well you`ve probably heard enough so I`ll stop there.
Alright, our RV is built like any other RV. Small. Well smaller than a house that is. With really no counter space at all cooking it tough! Our oven is about 12” X 12” and the stove has three teeny burners. Mom had to cut off a big bone in the center of the turkey for it to fit. Our counter space consists of a cutting board over a sink, and a little extra square counter that flips up and down. It`s a little hard for Mom but she manages. The Kitchen, as some of you might know, is in the same room as: Z-man`s bed, Toley, Kik and my bed, the TV room, and the Dining room. So when Mom cooked dinner the window`s were all fogged up and it`s practically a sauna up on the overhang! You can`t go up there without getting sweaty! That`s why Toley and I are usually stuck up there.

Also are table is pretty small, so when we`re eating, Toley, Kik and I are on one bench, Mommy and Daddy are on another bench, and the BFG (since he has too big of feet! Heehee) is at the end of the table on a fold up chair. But since it was a special event, we figured out a way to fix that up. First, since the table is directly perpendicular with the couch, we got an extra table from the storage underneath, put one leg down, and put it right next to the table and the other side we kept the leg up and put a lap desk and a couple books under it to make it even. Then we spread a tablecloth over the whole thing and voila you have a…10ft. long table! (Not really 10ft. but you know) So Toley and I sat on one bench, Kik and Daddy sat on the other, and Z and Mommy sat on fold up chairs on either sides of the add on table. It was really good, but I`ll admit we all ate too much! But that’s what you do on thanksgiving isin`t it? That and thank God for all the good food and family fun!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Bryce, Zion and The Hoover Dam

After we left Colorado, we headed through the not-so-beautiful plains of Utah. We planned on going to Bryce Canyon, Zion and The Grand Canyon. After some research we found out the part of Grand Canyon we were going to see was on an Indian Reservation. It was extremely pricey, so we scratched that idea. But we continued to Bryce Canyon, which turned out well worth the trip. (The collage is of Bryce)

Bryce Canyon is orangey rock, like the Grand Canyon except it was carved by weather (wind etc…) instead of by water. We took a great family hike down to the bottom and got some great snap-shots. We split ways at the bottom and the BFG and Dad took a longer hike while the four of us headed back. It was beautiful and we liked climbing in and around the rocks.

Zion is very different from Bryce so it is hard to compare the two. While Bryce is rocky and dry, Zion is very green and…watery. I think I like Bryce better, but loved them both. We took another family hike to “The Emerald Pools” which turned out pretty but not quite worthy of the word Emerald!
It was warm in the sun and there were lots of Cactus around the trail. We enjoyed romping around and exploring the “pools.” Once again the boys went on, while we headed back. They took a different trail to “Angel’s Landing” Mommy went back and forth about going, and was glad she didn’t after the boys related the story.
To get there, it is a steep hill with chains to hold onto so you don’t fall. Daddy wouldn’t even let Z go all the way up because it was too steep; Dad even said, “I’m surprised more people haven’t died.” Yikes!

It was pretty though and we had a great time and have enjoyed lots of National Parks. After Zion we went to an Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, which was less then desirable. Las Vegas isn’t my favorite place to be, too dry anyway.
While there we decided to take a trip to the Hoover Dam, which was neat to see, but not too much of an eye opening experience. We took a walk over to Dam and looked around; it was pretty amazing what they had done. Afterwards we headed to Lake Mead, the lake made by the Hoover Dam. We played around in the water a bit. It was pretty warm, although that’s not saying much since I’m used to Lake Superior, but it was fun.
We left Vegas on a Sunday afternoon for California. There was lots of traffic; we guessed everyone was going home from Vacation in Las Vegas.

We finally made it though and settled into a nice campground.


Monday, November 23, 2009

More Dear Friends

Hi all!

Happy Thanksgiving. We will be spending Thanksgiving somewhere in CA, not sure where, but it will be interesting to cook a turkey in a teeny tiny oven, that is for sure!

This letter is kind of a sequel to the other "Friends" letter I wrote.

After we left Utah, we headed to CO to visit a bunch more people. We decided that we should hit the mountains before the snow fell and we were glad we did. We had such a great time.

Our first stop was to see my cousin Diane and her family. Diane and I are the oldest (me) and youngest (her) girls on my dad's side of the family. There are three boys in between us and since there is such a big age difference, we never really got to spend a whole lot of time with just us, so this was a real treat for me. She and her husband Kenne were more than wonderful as we settled into their neighborhood, ate some awesome spaghetti and meatballs and played with their adorable kids - three boys no less! We had some late night chats and good food. Not to mention that fact that Diane's dad was there, my uncle whom I don't see that often and my other cousin Karl. All are now living in CO and it was great to be able to see them and chat a while. I found out that Karl, like me, is into healthy eating. As we were heavy into one of our food discussions, Diane walked by, heard what we were saying and said, "Oh this is great! Karl finally has someone to listen to him talk about all his organic food issues!" HA! It was funny because I am sure my family feels the same way about me :)

Anyway, our girls had a great time playing with the boys and little baby Nico (who was only 7 weeks!!) was more than adorable, as you can see!!! Gotta love babies!!!

Totally adorable Nico at about 7 weeks!

Next we drove down to the Air Force Academy where Zman took a tour, we got settled and ready for the next big day - Army/Air force football. Unfortunately, Army stunk! UGH! but, the game and tailgate were fun. Dad's friend Jon AKA "Homer" came down for the game, so it was nice to hang around with him for a while.

Jon, Isaac, Todd and Zach enjoying the first half of the Army/Air force game. That was the only enjoyable half. Isaac was fascinated to learn that Jon was once a member of the Army parachute team. After the guys jumped, he couldn't ask enough questions, so I, being the great mom, sent him to sit next to Jon and ask HIM a hundred questions. He has young kids, so he was a good sport about it all.

Next was a nice long stay at the Koehlers. Rob and Chris have been long time friends. We met while we were all in grad school at IU in Indiana. Our two oldest boys are the same age and they were best of friends for many years. We hadn't seen them in almost 9 years and WOW, have things changed. All our boys are now taller than the parents - by far!

Rob and Chris were just great and it was so nice to talk with them, hang out and just see how life is going in CO. Chris and I were very close and it was just awesome to see her again after all these years. Rob too was great. He got us tickets to the game, busted on Zman, totally hung out with Kik and let us borrow the car. What a treat! They are just a great family and it was fun to see how grown up their boys are. They are super kids and I wish we had more time to be with them.

Funny Kik line: Rob had been totally hanging out with Kik all day and was just super with him. Kik loves people who give him their undivided attention and answer his incessant questions. At dinner that night Rob had changed and Kik said to me - "Mommy, where is that fun guy in the blue shirt?" HA! "right next to you sweety!" Too cute!

Kevin, Alex, Nicole, Jordan and Zach all snuggled around a very asleep Isaac. I kept forgetting to take pictures, so I made all the big kids, after a super fun game of "Catch Phrase" go in and get around Isaac for a group shot.

I am sure you are wondering how Kik got to sit in a real firetruck! Well, Rob and Chris's smoke detectors are wired directly to the fire department. And, being my mothers daughter, I am not a very neat cook. I let one of my meals over flow in the oven and when we opened it up the room was filled with smoke! We tried in vain to get it to blow out the door, but sure enough, the smoke detector started screaming. Chris called, but they were already on their way. En route they were finally gotten a hold of, but they came anyway. Kik was thrilled and I was embarrassed! Chris tried to make me feel better by letting me know it wasn't the first time and surely wouldn't be the last!

Next was a quick little dinner with a great friend of mines daughter Heather. Heather is a great gal and is on her way to be a missionary in a place FAR away! She came to our RV and had a spaghetti dinner with us and it was so nice to chat with her about her future and what has been going on in her life. She is totally sweet and a breath of fresh air! I failed to take a picture with her, which makes me crazy! Maybe I can dig one up from long ago :)

OK, only a few more to go! We drove up to Boulder to visit another roommate of Dad's - Steve AKA "Gumby" Don't ask me about the nicknames? I don't get it! Steve and his wife Jennifer were fun to hang out with. They too live in a nice neighborhood and our eye sore of an RV stained that landscape for a long weekend! We got snowed in and had to stay an extra day or so. It was fun. They have three children and all the kids hit it off doing this and that. One liked to sit on the couch all day and watch football like Zman and the other two liked hanging with the girls playing around, having a snowball fight and playing flashlight tag. Steve and Jennifer were more than gracious and we had a nice time while in Boulder. Jennifer took me on a tour of Celestial Seasonings and Steve and dad hung out remembering old times. The funniest part was when Steve asked us over and long are you going to be doing this?? how long??? How long??? HA!!

Last, but not definitely not least was our trip to Frisco to see an old friend of mine, Kathy. Our mothers met before we were born, so we have grown up together. We live totally different lives, but still seem to have a lot in common. I didn't get as much time with her as I would have liked, but between hitting the road and her working, that is the way it went. We did get to have lunch and go for a walk around Frisco and it was great. We had a nice talk and good food and I hope to see her again soon - sooner than last time!

Once again, God has blessed us with such wonderful friends and family. People are always so willing to open their doors to us and let us stay, feed us and give us a much needed relief of just stability, even if for only a day or two. We love you all so much and had a super time! Thank you!!!

XO Mom

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Springs

Since our last post in Wyoming we headed down into Colorado. We stopped in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy. The first evening there, the rest of the family went on a bike ride to the BX/Commissary while I stayed home. This turned out to be a pretty good idea, because the first thing I heard when the girls got home was what a HUGE hill they had to climb and how Dad is soooo mean and how it wasn’t fair that I got to stay home. This put me in a better mood since I was actually kind of bored staying home.

The next day Dad and I took another college tour, this one was at USAFA. The first stop was at the air field where we got to see some gliders from the Soaring program. These were pretty cool. They get towed into the air and then released and are able to glide for up to six hours! The next thing we saw was a training room for the Jump program. The room had all sorts of equipment to prepare for jumping out of planes. They also had a wall with pictures of situations that most jumpers would not prefer to run into. Looking at these kind of curbed my interest for free fall but we’ll see. Our last stop was “the Hill”, which is pretty much the entire cadet area. The first thing we saw was the Cadet Chapel. The Chapel is the largest tourist attraction in the state of Colorado! It was pretty sweet. It had Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist churches/temples. After that, we took the normal college tour: classrooms, student area, library and dorm rooms. I must say that the dorm rooms were probably the nicest dorms I had seen to date. So, overall the biggest thing I learned was that the Air Force has it easy! No offense to all you USAFA grads. After the tour I went to meet Dad (who had ditched me after the Air Field) and Mom at the gym to watch some Army vs. Air Force boxing. Unfortunately Army failed to represent, but it was still fun; and I enjoyed listening to dad reminisce about his boxing career as a cadet.

The next day we woke up and got ready to tailgate for the Army vs. Air Force football game. This led us to realize that we had virtually no Army gear. So Mom, Toley and I headed to Fort Carson for some last minute shopping. During that time Dad moved the RV to the field to get a good spot for tailgating. By the time we got there the place was packed! It took us about 15 minutes to drive the 50 yards to the spot. Our tailgate party wasn’t the grandest ever, but it was fun. Dad’s old roomy, Homer came to hang out as well. He actually came up with the clever idea of doing some cut and paste with the GO AIR FORCE BEAT ARMY signs to read GO ARMY BEAT AIR FORCE. So what if they were blue and white! The game itself was a bit of a disappointment, although not altogether unexpected. The Black Knights started off well and kept it close the first two quarters and then they fell flat on their faces, losing 35-7. Oh well.

We spent the next few days with old time friends. We hadn’t seen them in nine years after we met them back in Indiana. So it was really cool to see them. Mom is going to write another friends blog, so I will stop there. We also got to go to “Focus on the Family,” where we took a tour of the place and got to go to Whit’s End and have a Wodfamchocsod!

Then on Wednesday Dad decided to take me to run “the Incline” after our friend Rob, who is the assistant coach of the USAFA lacrosse team, told us he was taking the team. Now, the Incline is a mile long stair, which at the base is already 6,500 ft and rises to 8500’! This altitude makes it a little tougher to climb and the fact that the stairs aren’t much of a staircase at all doesn’t help. It’s really a mile of railroad ties from an old tram that gave rides to Pike’s Peak. So, since I never really have much of a say in these things, off we went. It ended up not being that bad, my dad did it in 31:45 minutes and I did it in 34:50…………I am trying to think of a good excuse for being slower than my old man, but I can’t come up with anything good. After that we ran the three miles back down. Nothing like another character building experience.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hiking the "Little Hill" in WY

Hi! I`m finally writing again. It always takes a while for me to write, I can never get motivated. Well anyways….. after - Utah I think it was, we went to Wyoming, where we stopped at a campsite in Rawlins; which is really quite hard to say when it`s 1st told to you! Just as we got there, our Father (who cannot sit still for one second) decided we should go on a hike. While Toley and I tried to get out of it by saying we would help Mommy cook dinner, Kik was in the RV basement getting his camelback ready. If Kik`s going to go (Daddy says) then you can go. So after some moaning and groaning from the big kids, we finally set off. Some of you may know this, but Wyoming is SO windy! Probably most of you know too, it`s even windier on a mountain. So up we go on this “little hill”, as Dad calls it, to a large cross at the top. We took Konig along too. As we first started walking, Konig started sniffing something. Toley and I went to look and it turned out to be 3 deer legs, but no Deer-YUCK! It was really gross so I won`t go into details. After we finished gagging, we kept going. It was very comforting to know a story Mom once told us when she and Daddy drove to Alaska over 17 years ago. After they crossed into Alberta, Canada, Daddy (as you all know) had to go hiking. As he climbed the hill, he was stopped by a rattlesnake and did not go any further. Since Alberta, in my opinion, is directly north of Wyoming and rattlesnakes may be hanging out on that “little hill” in Rawlins, I was concerned. But after a little reassurance from Dad that there were NO rattlers on that “little hill” I was fine. Also, Wyoming is very dry so there`s a lot of cactus growing on the ground (and little hills). We hiked and hiked and picked cactus out of our socks and hiked some more. After about 45 min we finally reached the top. There was a cute little wooden cross up there (which wasn`t so little cause it was taller than Z-man) but it was cool. There were a lot of crosses at the top of mountains in Garmisch and I never got to get to the top to see one. So that was pretty neat for me. After a couple pictures and videos, along with my expertise in “Flipping,” (Kik word) we headed back. It was so windy and cold too! When we got back, we were cold, tired, and full of cactuses, but mom had a nice warm dinner waiting for us all to enjoy! All in all it was a great hike!:)


Monday, November 9, 2009

By the numbers II...

1 Nov 2009 (Sunday)

Days on the road since Z-man and Dad left Mqt: 81

Miles driven: 11,875
Gallons of gas: 1,311 (9.06 MPG)
Campsites: 33
US States: 21 (MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, WV, VA, MD, DE, NJ, PA, NY, MN, ND, MT, AK, WA, OR, ID, UT, WY, CO)
Canadian Provinces: 4 (OR, AL, BC, YT)
Cars seen during one three hour stretch (0630-0930) driving in the Yukon Territory: 3
Cars seen during one three minute stretch on US 5 in Seattle: 300
Crappers replaced: one
Days since broken shower identified: 68
Number of RV dealers visited who have proven unable to fix/replace the shower: 3
Old friends (or, rather, long time friends) seen: 7
Longest time since last seen friend/relative: 19+ years (Steph)
Colleges visited: 5 (IU, WVU, Penn State, UAF, BYU)
Packer losses to the most hated rival: 2
Number of times that Brett performed better in a Viking uniform than he had in 16 years in Green and Gold: 2



Monday, November 2, 2009



We were going to save this blog about friends for another time, but we have seen so many friends and have many more to see, that we thought we would split them up.

When we started this trip we made lists of places we wanted to see. The sights that we have seen so far have been beautiful and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything, but something changed when we visited our friends in WA. Now that we have seen many different families that we know, it has actually become the highlight of our journey. We are still seeing the beautiful sights of N. America, but the people we see mean so much more to us. The times we have spent with them, even though short, have been the best part of our trip.

Our first stop, as my husband alluded to in one of his blogs, was to see our friends Jim and Pam and their son Josh (they have a daughter Mele in the Army whom we will visit early next year). They welcomed us into their home, fed us, let us do laundry, and were just great friends all around. We were neighbors when we lived in WA 10 years ago and it felt like we never left. Pam is an unbelievable cook and I always enjoy watching her in the kitchen and eating ANYTHING she is cooking! Not to mention the great chats. Jim even worked out a way for Dad and Z to tour the Seattle Seahawks practice field and training center. That was the best thing ever, according to Z!

Next we went to see Dad’s old roommate from West Point -- Paul and his wife Kristie, along with Jackson and Hannah -- their sweet kids. They, too, welcomed us into their home and survived the loud noises of 4 additional kids in their house and a large dog taking over their backyard. We had a great time with them: talking, hiking and having an adult night out to dinner! What a treat. I even got to cook in their BIG kitchen, which is a great thing for me!!! Their hospitality was awesome and as we drove south to Portland we realized how much we would miss them as well as Jim and Pam.

In amongst the WA visit, one of my closest friends Debbie and her husband Bill flew out to Seattle for a wedding. It was so funny to see her there in the middle of our visit. We are both from NJ and grew up together and to see each other outside of our hometown was a bit strange. We only had a few short hours together, but it was great to see her and Bill. We talked like old times, but every time she leaves or I leave -- which is usually the case-- I find myself wishing that we lived closer. We couldn’t be more different in many ways, but we have a history and an understanding that you don’t often find. Great to see you, Deb!! Not to mention the fact that they are baby-sitting our cat! He loves it there and it will be hard for everyone to drag him away! But I am sure the mice, birds and rabbits will be happy to see him go. Not to mention the neighbors :)

Next on the list was a trip to Oregon to visit Dad’s cousin Stephanie and her family. She has teenagers, so you know how busy they can be. We spent most of the time chatting with Steph. She was a great hostess and cooked us all a yummy dinner and dessert. Steph is an author and she and her husband, Tim, have lived in almost as many different places that we have -although the places they have been are cooler! It was great to chat with her about her writing, her travels and her family. The last time we all saw each other was right after we got married! Time sure does fly.

This picture I took of the cousins isn't great, but that is what
you get when you use a cell phone!

Last, but not least we drove to Utah to visit friends that we had met in Germany. Dave and Judy were more than friendly and our time there was both a learning time and a fun time. All three of the big kids hung out with their kids. Best of all was our own private tour of Salt Lake City with Dave as our tour guide. My husband really enjoyed working with Dave and had described him as tremendously knowledgeable in many areas, level headed and quite humorous. His wit and the fact that he is a lawyer who analyzes things with a lawyers mind was what Dad found interesting and enjoyable. Dave and Judy and family are Mormons. Although I have read and heard a lot about their religion, it was fascinating for me to hear about their tumultuous history and why they believe what they believe. Salt Lake City is the most amazing place to hear and see the Mormon history. Although we might disagree on some levels in our faith, it was a good time to gain some knowledge and understanding of the Mormon religion. The way they honor the family is a lesson that all of us could learn from. The kids fell right back into chatting and hanging out with each other and I know that they wished to stay longer. The food and fellowship were great and we so appreciate all their hospitality.

Crazy dress up time! YIKES

Jim, whom I mentioned at the top of this blog, is actually Pastor Jim and I remember a sermon he preached 11 years ago on how much we love and enjoy looking at beautiful Mount Rainier and scenery in general. We ooh and aahh at the landscape. We anticipate those clouds moving each day in order to get a glimpse of the awesome mountain. But he reminded us that there are beautiful people all around us, sitting right next to us that should be looked at with love, admired and oohed and aahhhed at as well. He is so right. It is the people that you meet along the way that make life so much better.

Thank you friends. You all went out of your way to make our stay with you a special memory that will stay in our hearts forever.

Blessings, Mom